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Discover Singapore: History of Bugis Street and Things to Do There

June 9, 2021
Bugis Street

Visitors call Singapore a paradise for various reasons. One among them is that it is an amazing shopping destination for travellers as well as locals in Singapore. Though the country has many such destinations that sell the best brands and their products, there is a place that is quite popular than all other places in Singapore - Bugis Street. This shopping destination is known all over the world for its collection of products that come with reasonable prices and mouth-watering delicacies. Bugis Street is a fun and friendly place where anyone can spend their time shopping to their heart’s content and engaging in other pleasurable activities.

History of Bugis Street 

Bugis Street lies in an extensive area located within the Bugis Junction. The Chinese-educated community referred it to as “Xiao Po” in the past. This street was renowned all over the world from the 1950s to the 1980s as a lot of transsexuals and transvestites used to gather at the street during the nights. This made Bugis Street one of the most notable destinations for foreigners. 

The street went through a major urban redevelopment during the mid-1980s to make it into a retail complex consisting of restaurants, shopping malls, and nightspots along with roadside vendors. With the development of Bugis MRT Station at this place, the nightly transgender sex bazaar culture eventually stopped. This marked the end of a very unique era in the Island country. 

New Bugis Street

The Bugis Street that exists now is a broad road between the building of Bugis Junction shopping complex. As per the Singapore Tourism Board, Bugis Street is developed from New Bugis Street, which was formerly called Albert Street. Many foreigners now visit the place for it being “the largest street-shopping location in Singapore.” The Singapore Tourism Promotion Board attempted to bring back the exotic atmosphere of Bugis Street after its development. Were they successful? We will leave it up to you to decide. Bugis Street is dear to not just foreigners, but also Singaporeans. 

Things to Do in Bugis Street

Go Shopping

It’s really hard for any visitor to not explore Bugis Street for shopping since shopping is one of the best activities to do here. The markets here are the largest and cheapest ones in Singapore city. You can take back loads of shopping bags with a great number of things such as clothes, souvenirs, shoes, electronics, accessories, and many more. The eight hundred plus stalls of this street have the latest items in fashion, and that too at a fair price. The markets of Bugis Street also underwent a makeover. They are now have a sprawling roof to make it easy for visitors to shop both in rain and sun.

Bugis+ and Bugis Junction

You will find two urban malls named Bugis+ and Bugis Junction here.

Bugis+ is a new ten-storeyed mall that offers all the new leading food and fashion brands. 

Bugis Junction is located above the MRT station, and it has a leading chain of pushcart stalls and stores that sell the best souvenirs. You can also experience the first sky-lit shopping experience of the city in this mall. 

Doing an Amazing Food Tour

This popular street is also a haven for food lovers. The food stalls here offer an array of different tasty cuisines that offer good value for money. Visitors can get to try Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, Asian, and Vietnamese delights that are mouth-watering. The Thai Ice Milk tea and Thai Ice Lemon Grass can freshen you up after a long day of shopping at Bugis Street. The food stalls here offer a very different vibe and they offer an incomparable gastronomical experience to every visitor. 

Exploring Haji Lane

Haji Lane is a hidden gem and hipster lane - a colourful street located at one corner of Bugis Street. Many people miss entering this place since it is located at a corner of Bugis Street. You will spot cafes, eateries, bars, boutiques with painted wall murals on both sides of Haji Lane. This lane has several restaurants that offer the best local delectables at Bugis Street. Some shops at Haji Lane sell unique gifts, accessories, shoes, bags, clothes, and much more. This is a perfect spot for people who would like to take a little break from the crowd at the major attractions of Bugis Street while they shop. You can go around to view antiquated shophouses with various designs. People who are not fashion-savvy will live this experience.

Visiting the Kuan Yin Thong Hood Cho Temple

Kuan Yin Thong Hood Cho Temple is a Buddhist temple located near Bugis Street. It is built in a typical Chinese style in 1884. It is one of the temples that is most visited by everyone as people believe the wishes come true when one comes and prays here. Cundi Bodhisattva is the major deity of this temple, which means the God of Mercy. The temple opens on Chinese New Year Day and it stays open for the entire night. 

Hajjah Fatimah Mosque 

Hajjah Fatimah Mosque was built by combining Islamic and European architectural style back in 1846. The combination of different styles of architecture has given the mosque a distinctive appearance. It is named after a woman, Hajjah Fatima. She arranged the money for its construction. The mosque has a prayer hall, an ablution area, and a pleasant garden. Many Singaporeans, as well as foreigners, have also started addressing the mosque as “The leaning tower of Singapore.”

Exploring Arab Street

Arab Street is a testament to the presence of Arabs who were one of the early settlers in Singapore. Visitors regard it as one of the coolest places in Singapore since a lot of redevelopment took place there. The redevelopment maintained the original identity of the street even though they changed it into a well-trodden hangout place for night owls. Many cafes line the avenue in front of the Sultan Mosque. The Street is home to quaint gift shops and a nifty museum that showcases life during the 60s and 70s in the island.

Visiting the Malay Heritage Centre

The Malay Heritage Centre is both a museum as well a cultural centre. It mainly focuses on the indigenous Malay population. It is a good place to explore the well-worn traditions of the Malay population, which also involves the Bugis people. The museum has permanent galleries as well as exhibitions of art, films, drama and other contemporary and historic creative works for people to explore. The museum is located in the original settlement of the Malay population - Kampong Glam Neighbourhood.

Go See the Chijmes

Chijmes was once the convent of the Holy Infant Jesus Middle Education School. It now has a plaza with cafes, restaurants, bars. It has a dreamy courtyard that serves as a throwback to simpler times. The interior transformation of Chijmes is as fascinating as the external contrast between Chijmes and the area surrounding it. It has a huge hall that boasts a great Gothic design and therefore it is available for rent as well as for viewing.

What are you waiting for? Go explore this wonderful street and experience these activities all by yourself!

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