If searching for things to do in Little India, Singapore, this guide has got you covered. From the vibrant floral garlands hanging from shop fronts, the fragrant aroma of spice and incense, the non-stop music, friendly locals and not forgetting the best Indian food in Singapore – Little India is a feast for the senses and a place you’ll never forget.
There are around 250,000 Indian people who call the vibrant streets of Little India home, and their culture is apparent around every corner. From temples bustling with celebration, crowded markets and colourful saris – we could’ve spent hours simply walking around absorbing the sights and smells.
To help with planning your Singapore itinerary, however, we have created this guide of top things to do in Little India Singapore so you know exactly where to go, where to eat and even where to shop.
WHERE IS LITTLE INDIA, SINGAPORE?
Serangoon Road is the main artery of Little India. Established in 1822, Serangoon Road is one of Singapore’s oldest roads. If you head South West, you’ll be treated to a fusion of authentic restaurants serving the best Indian food in Singapore and shops stocking everything from jewellery to cosmetics, incense to tea.
To the South East as far as Jalan Besar road there’s a myriad of streets ready to be explored and running parallel to Serangoon Road is Race Course Road, home to one of the most popular things to do in Little India – visit Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple.
THINGS TO DO IN LITTLE INDIA SINGAPORE
If you’re visiting Singapore on a budget, you’ll be delighted to know that the majority of things to do in Little India are free or very cheap. Although we will warn, it’s the place to come for the best Indian food in Singapore, so it is dangerously easy to spend your entire budget on food. From historical temples to the best spots for shopping, here are our top things to do in Little India.
1. Learn the History of Little India at The Indian Heritage Centre
Location: 5 Campbell Ln, Singapore 209924
One of the first things to do in Little India is to visit the Indian Heritage Centre. This provides a fascinating insight into the history of Indian life in Singapore. The contemporary exterior of the building is worth visiting for alone. Inspired by an Indian stepwell it’s fabulously juxtaposed against the narrow, colourful shophouses of Little India.
Once inside, the centre showcases artefacts and exhibits over four floors which depict the historical link between India and South East Asia dating as far back as the 1st Century all the way to the present day. It’s the perfect place to start your day in Little India or for a refreshing escape from a humid afternoon.
Admission is free to residents or SG$6.00 for visitors, note it’s closed on Mondays.
2. Visit one of the Oldest Temples in Singapore – Sri Veeramakaliamman
Location:141 Serangoon Road, Rochor, Singapore, 218042, Singapore
Chinatown is home to the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, but Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is not much younger and is equally as striking. Built in 1881, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is one of our favourite free things to do in Singapore is named after the Goddess Kali who is known as the destroyer of evil. Inside the temple, there are even scenes of Kali adorned in a garland of skulls as well as more tranquil images of her with sons Ganesha and Murugan.
Despite air raids in World War Two, the temple, fortunately, survived with minimal destruction although it has been renovated since. It is one of the most fascinating things to do in Little India to appreciate the Hindu culture as well as admire the colourful structure and images.
Like all religious sites, don’t forget to remove shoes before entering and dress appropriately. Always seek permission before photographing locals or inside the temple itself.
3. Admire The Temple of 1000 Lights
Location: 366 Race Course Rd, Singapore 218638
Although not particularly big, the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya temple can be easily spotted due to the colourful exterior and vibrant leopard and tiger statues which guard the entrance. The statues are in homage to the Haw Par brothers (founders of Tiger Balm) who are said to have provided funding for the temple.
Founded in 1927, the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple is often referred to as the Temple of 1,000 Lights. This nickname is due to the 15-meter high statue of a seated Buddha inside the temple which is surrounded by several lightbulbs to create a stylised aura.
You can witness these bulbs illuminated during the early evening. As one of the most prominent Buddha temples in the city, it is one of the most popular things to do in Little India Singapore.
Admission is free, and the public can enter between 8 am and 4:45 pm every day.
4. Photograph the Beautiful Masjid Abdul Gaffoor
Location: 41 Dunlop St, Singapore 209369
Located on the edge of Little India on Dunlop Street, Masjid Abdul Gaffoor is a colourful mosque which welcomes all nationalities. Instantly recognisable by the sundial above the main entrance, which has 25 rays adorned with Arabic calligraphy. Each ray represents one of the 25 chosen prophets and is the only one of its kind in the world.
It is believed the mosque was built between 1907-1910, although majorly revamped and reopened in 2003. Despite being small, the unique architecture and vibrant exterior have proved a visit here to be one of the most interesting things to do in Little India Singapore.
Whether you want to immerse yourself in celebration of Islam and Singapore’s eclectic cultural scene or simply snap a few photos – Masjid Abdul Gaffoor is a worthwhile stop during your time in the city.
Visitors are welcome out with prayer times and cloaks are provided to cover up.
5. Admire the Iconic Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
Location: 397 Serangoon Road, Kallang, Singapore, 218123, Singapore
Sri Srinivasa Perumal is similar in appearance to Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple due to the tall Gopuram which spans over 5 tiers and depicts the numerous incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The history behind the 20 metres tall Gopuram is fascinating as it’s relatively recent in comparison the temple itself which was built in 1855.
The Gopuram was added in 1966 costing SG$300,000 but paid for by a donation from P.Govindasamy Pillai who was one of the earliest Indian migrants in Singapore. From his thriving general stores in Little India as well as renowned philanthropic works, his success flourished. His legacy is still continued by his sons today.
A visit to Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple is one of the most amazing things to do in Little India Singapore, especially during the Thaipusam celebrations (held each February) as it is the starting point for Kavadi carriers.
6. Watch a Bollywood Movie at Golden Village City Square
Location: 180 Kitchener Rd, #05 – 02 / 03, Singapore 208539
If searching for things to do in Little India Singapore when it’s raining, a toe-tapping Bollywood Movie is the perfect escape from the city’s infamous rainstorms. Alternatively, if looking for a place to escape the heat head to the Golden Village, City Square which is just minutes from Sri Srinivasa. Expect music, romance, action, drama (and refreshing air-con) filled few hours as you get engrossed in the enticing world of Bollywood.
The cinema is also known to feature Chinese and Korean films as well as Hollywood & Bollywood blockbusters. As a heads up, many blogs recommend The Rex Bollywood Cinema on 2 Mackenzie Road which used to be THE Bollywood theatre, but unfortunately it is now permanently closed.
7. Photograph the Vibrant House of Teng Niah
Location: 37 Kerbau Rd, Singapore 219168
Photographing the rainbow-coloured exterior of the House of Tan Teng Niah has become one of the most popular things to do in Little India thanks to Instagram. It is one of the last remaining Chinese villas in Little India and due to its vibrant exterior, a world-famous backdrop for tourists.
Named after the former owner Tan Teng Niah who was a businessman that owned numerous sweet-making factories along Serangoon Road. The building was originally built for his wife and had a far less striking green and white exterior. The primary colour palette is a more recent addition as is the commercial offices which reside inside the house.
Although visitors can no longer enter, it is a spectacular place to photograph from outside, and a visit here is one of the most popular things to do in Little India Singapore to capture the vibrant charm of the area.
SHOPPING IN LITTLE INDIA
Shopping is one of the best things to do in Little India Singapore. From endless jewellery counters to floral garlands and Kumkum powder – there are so many treats and treasures awaiting you on a Little India Shopping trip. These are the places we recommend.
8. Pick up a Bargain At the Mustafa Centre
I don’t know what to love more about the Mustafa Centre – the fact you can shop there 24 hours a day, or the fact it stocks over 300,000 items. It’s like a real-life Amazon! If a Little India Shopping trip is high on your bucket list, you cannot miss this iconic mall which was began as a garment shop in 1971. Fast forward to today, it now spans over 4 floors and stocks everything from nose rings to spices, visa services to even a hotel!
9. Shop ‘Til You Drop At Little India Arcade
Dating back to the 1920s, the Little India Arcade is a collection of shophouses that are dangerous for anyone visiting Singapore on a budget as it’s too easy to shop all day here. The narrow alleys sell all sorts of tempting souvenirs from colourful textiles to traditional sweets and even henna tattoos. The early colonial architecture makes the area even more inviting and a popular place for tourists visiting Little India searching for a bargain or memorable trinket from their travels in Singapore.
10. Browse the Historical Sungei Road Thieves’ Market
One of the top things to do in Little India at the weekend is to visit the historical flea market which is situated just off Dunlop Street up Jalan Besar. Selling an eclectic mix of bric-a-brac, the market was notorious for selling a bit of anything and everything hence no one knew the origins of the items and assumed they might be stolen – hence the Thieves’ Market. No Little India Shopping spree would be complete without a browse here, with an unrivalled assortment of items on offer from mobile phone chargers to books, it’s an amusing few hours and a fun thing to do in Little India Singapore.
There has been word of closing Sungei Road market in recent years, at time of our visit the market was still running, but stay up to date via their Facebook page prior to your visit to avoid disappointment.
LITTLE INDIA SINGAPORE RESTAURANTS
It’s no secret if you’re after the best Indian food in Singapore you need to visit Little India, but with so many market stalls, restaurants and street food it can be overwhelming deciding where to go. The restaurants in Little India were our favourite from our entire Singapore itinerary, and we’ve rounded up our favourite three which you cannot miss!
11. Grab a Bargain & Bite to Eat at the Tekka Centre
Location: 665 Buffalo & Serangoon Roads, Little India
One of the most exciting things to do in Little India Singapore is to visit the Tekka Centre for a browse and bite to eat. Not only is it one of the busiest hawker centres in the city but home to the best Indian food in Singapore. Mere steps from the MRT station, the colourful exterior makes the Tekka Centre unmissable.
Although it serves up authentic Indian favourites such as rich curries you can also sample Singapore signature dishes such as duck rice. Don’t forget to try chi kak kueh for desert – despite its unappetising seaweed green colour, it is a delicious sweet treat made of sugared mung beans.
Once you’re full, head to the higher floors to shop like a local. Selling everything from tailored suits and saris to Bollywood movies, its one of the best places for a Little India shopping spree.
The Tekka Centre is open from 6:30am to 9pm – making it an ideal spot for breakfast, lunch or for dinner if looking for something to do in Singapore at night.
12. Treat Yourself at Banana Leaf Apolo
Location: 54 Race Course Rd, Singapore 218564
One of the best restaurants in Little India for authentic, heart warming food is the Banana Leaf Apolo. Earning its name from the Indian culinary tradition of serving food on fresh banana leaf – adding further flavour.
Although there are 3 outlets dotted around Singapore, a meal here is the best way to end your day in Little India in its landmark restaurant. Serving traditional North & South Indian cuisine it offers a variety of dishes to suit all palettes.
For the daring type, try their signature fish head curry (not near as daunting as it sounds) or the favourite vegetable biriyani or chicken masala. Wash it down with a jug of refreshing homemade lemonade or local beer. We will warn it one of the more expensive restaurants in Little India Singapore but a well earned treat after a busy day.
13. Dine Like a Local at Komalas Vilas
Location: 76-78 Serangoon Rd, Singapore 217981
We have saved one of our favourite things to do in Little India until last – dining at Komalas Vilas. This family-run restaurant is a Little India institution and in our opinion serves the best Indian food in Singapore. Better yet, it is incredible value for money with main courses around SG$7.00 as well as combo/meal deals for even less.
Again there are several outlets, but the original is on Serangoon Road, Little India and has been queued out the door with locals and tourists alike since 1947. The restaurant specialises in South Indian vegetarian food and to this day it is the best paneer curry and Gobi Manchurian we have ever had.
We would book flights back to Singapore for the food here alone and had we known it’s open from 7:30am to 10:30pm I would’ve happily dined here for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Hopefully if you’re wondering what to do in Little India, our guide has offered some inspiration. From shopping, eating, capturing the colourful architecture and admiring the beautiful temples, there is something to suit all budgets and travel styles. Although this list is our favourite things to do in Little India Singapore, we would love to know if we’ve missed any highlights or hidden gems – let us know your favourite foodie finds or shopping spots we’ve missed in the comments!