About Kampong Gelam Precinct

Located just a stone’s throw away from Bugis MRT, Kampong Gelam is a historical precinct that has distinctively been known as a vibrant port town for two centuries with its history linked to Singapore's development. The precinct derived its name from the Gelam trees (Melaleuca cajuputi), which grew in the area and was commonly used by Orang Laut to construct boats and firewood.

Kampong Gelam rose to recognition in 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles established a treaty between the British East India Company, Temenggong Abdul Rahman and Sultan Hussein to set up a trading post in Singapore. In 1822, Liutenant Jackson drew up a town plan which further accelerated Kampong Gelam's development. These developments facilitated the growth of trade at a brisk pace, giving rise to Kampong Gelam’s reputation as a prosperous port town.

The area rapidly became the centre for the Malay and Muslim communities and immigrants from the region, such as Celebes (present-day Sulawesi), Java, Banjar, Sumatra and Malaya. They came to trade and work, settling in and around Kampong Gelam. 

Today, Kampong Gelam is  a flourishing centre of Malay and Islamic culture, with the Sultan Mosque, madrasahs (religious schools), printing houses, and streets bustling with specialised trades of all kinds. The vibrancy of trades, diversity of ethnic communities, and flurry of activities make up the dynamic Kampong Gelam landscape as we know it today.

Kampong Gelam’s cultural identity is enriched by the vibrant cultural activities and diverse heritage trades and businesses operating in the neighbourhood.

230818 MHC Beats on Baghdad Street_067     

Groove in the streets with Beats on Baghdad Street, a series of outdoor performances featuring local performing arts practitioners and groups that showcase the vibrancy of Malay arts and culture, organised by MHC.

Follow @malayheritage on social media to stay tuned!



Discover the living stories of Kampong Gelam through Kampong Gelam Citizen Engagement Project, a project that documents and celebrates the precinct’s heritage through the lens of its heritage businesses — uncovering details of their journey, their craft and how they have contributed to Kampong Gelam’s cultural identity.

Click here to find out more!


Owing to its dynamic history and as a hub that attracted people from different places, Kampong Gelam today is host to diverse specialities and flavours. From murtabak, nasi padang, to prawn
noodles, visitors today are able to satisfy their quest for food from traditional eateries, to crops of modern cafes. The diversity of food and culture available in the proximity means that there is
something for everyone. Don’t forget to come with an empty stomach and explore the rich local and international cuisine that can be found here!

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