Bright, beautiful and buzzing – Little India is a must-do with kids, whether you live in Singapore or are just visiting. Here's how to navigate the 'hood…
Singapore may be small in size, but it’s big in colour, culture and incredibly diverse neighbourhoods. One of the most colourful of all? Little India, of course! And with Deepavali just around the corner, it’s the perfect pocket of the island to introduce your kids to temples rich in history, soak up delish local eats and visit the famous stores for Indian sweets and knick-knacks… It’s all here in our guide to acing Little India with kids. Let the walkabout begin!
Exploring Little India with kids
Where should you start?
Start your adventure at Little India MRT, on the Northeast line (purple) or the Downtown line (blue) and head for the Race Course Road exit – the race course was a part of Singapore’s colonial era, which is long gone, although the name stuck. Wander along Buffalo Road until you reach Tekka Market.
Awaken the senses: Tekka Market
Repening on 30 September 2023!
Tekka Market is a fun and curious place. If you have early risers (is there any parent who doesn’t?), it’s best to get there before 9am when the wet market is up and running (it opens at 5am for the really early birds). It is the largest wet market in Singapore, so you’re in for a treat if you’re hunting for fresh produce. Look forward to freshly grated coconut, meats that can be filleted for you, and the freshest foods and veggies – not only that, you can also expect to find novel ingredients used in Indian cooking or even some superfoods! For example, keep a look out for Indian gooseberries which are great sources of Vitamin C and other kinds of interesting ingredients from mustard oil to puffed rice. Prepare to fully awaken your senses with everything from fish and meat to fresh flowers and fruit to see and smell.
Once you’ve had your share of looking for fresh groceries, head to level two of Tekka Market to try on and buy Indian fashion, from luxurious saris, Punjabi suits to salwar kameez and costume jewellery. Haggling is absolutely encouraged, if not expected. You can also find tailors who can help with alteration services and more. Additionally, there’s a hawker centre in Tekka Market where you can indulge with the kiddos in a variety of local cuisine and get some iced sugarcane juice, freshly squeezed or other kinds of local drinks! It’s just the perfect treat to beat the heat.
Fun family activity: Find unfamiliar fruits and veggies in the wet market and ask the stallholders if you can try them – they are usually happy to let you have a free taste test before you buy!
Where: Tekka Market, 665 Buffalo Rd, L1 Tekka Centre, Singapore 210665
Sweet treats for the kids (and grown-ups!): Little India Arcade
Look out for a building as bright as the wares you’ll find inside! A short stroll from Tekka Market will lead you to Little India Arcade on Campbell Road. This colourful 1920s building is hard to miss!
Here, you’ll find the whole Indian shopping experience: perfect for nabbing wooden elephants, peacock feathers, hand block printing blocks, embroidered bags, Bollywood movie DVDs, dazzling bangles, and Indian sweets. Moghul Sweet Shop is worth tracking down for its traditional Indian desserts, including spicy samosas… yum!
Fun family activity: This is the spot to get your hands decorated with a gorgeous henna tattoo. Pick from traditional designs or even cartoon characters, and then wear your art proudly. Henna body art can last up to three weeks. You can also go on a peacock feather hunt! The perfect memento after a trip to Little India with the kids, we think!
Where: 48 Serangoon Rd, Singapore 217959
Fill your tummy: Restaurants in Little India
Locals and visitors alike all agree that Banana Leaf Apolo along Race Course Road is THE place to eat at lunchtime and is renowned for its fish head curry. Make a reservation because there’s always a queue. Be patient if you chance upon it because the wait is absolutely worth it. If curry – fish head or otherwise – is not your thing, then feast on biryani, naan or fluffy prata. Picky eaters can plump for plain, but the more adventurous should give prata stuffed with cheese, meat, and eggs a whirl. Another place for good naan is Usman’s Restaurant on Serangoon Road – you can’t go wrong with cheese or garlic naan! Looking for a kid-friendly option that’s fun and a textural delight? Try Kailash Parbat for their array of chaat or Indian street snacks that are made from crisps, puffed rice and more!
Fun family activity: For a more novel lunchtime dining experience, try Lagnaa Barefoot Dining – the clue is in the name! Sit barefoot on the floor and chow down on some delish Indian food.
Where: Banana Leaf Apolo, 54 Race Course Road, Singapore 218564; Usman’s Restaurant, 238 Serangoon Rd, Singapore 218085; Kailash Parbat, 93 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207669 and Lagnaa Barefoot Dining, 6 Upper Dickson Rd, Singapore 207466
Soak in the culture: Temple time!
Now that you’re all shopped out, full to the brim with wonderful food and probably sporting a henna tat, it’s time to take in some culture. Hinduism is evident in Little India, and there are plenty of temples to explore. We particularly like the Sri Veeramakakaliamman Temple, dedicated to the goddess Kali. Don’t forget to check out our guide to Singapore temples for more cultural hotspots in the area. A must-do if you’re bringing the kids to Little India!
Fun family activity: Count how many times you see Lord Ganesha (Kali’s son, who has an elephant head) in the temple.
Where: Sri Veeramakakaliamman Temple, 141 Serangoon Rd, Singapore 218042
Check out Mustafa Centre
It is impossible to venture into Little India without being lured into Mustafa Centre on Syed Alwi Road. This enormous department store stocks everything but the kitchen sink (and probably even kitchen sinks). Ace your Singapore supermarket experience in the grocery section before heading into the electronics department to look at all the latest gadgets your kids think they want. It’s open till 2am daily, so you have all the time in the world (but maybe not all the patience).
Fun family activity: Make a list of obscure items you might need for your kitchen cupboards, and then challenge the kids to track them down.
Where: Mustafa Centre, 145 Syed Alwi Rd, Mustafa Centre, Singapore 207704
Go on a local history lesson: Indian Heritage Centre
The galleries in the ultra-modern Indian Heritage Centre are chronologically arranged and span the period from the first to the 21st century (yes, kids, there’s stuff in there that’s older than us). Lots of fun history to be learned, plus there’s air conditioning! Psst: for more museum recommendations, check out our guide to kid-friendly museums and exhibitions in Singapore!
Fun family activity: Grab a copy of the Little India Heritage Trail booklet at the Visitor Centre and go exploring to tick off all the recommended sites.
Where: Indian Heritage Centre, 5 Campbell Ln, Singapore 209924
All that glitters IS gold: Serangoon Road
The streets are not paved with gold, but Serangoon Road is paved with jewellery shops selling authentic gold! For a truly impressive array of 18k and 22k gold, there are stores galore showcasing the prettiest earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets. We love browsing Malabar Gold and Diamonds and Ishtara Jewellery, to name a few. This is also the part of the ‘hood to wind up your day with a super-relaxing massage in one of the Ayurvedic medicine centres – the guys at Kerala Ayurveda Centre will soon bring you some inner calm (despite having the kids in tow!).
Where: Malabar Gold and Diamonds, 114 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207682; Ishtara Jewellery, 111 Serangoon Rd, Singapore 218016; Kerala Ayurveda Centre, 43 Chander Rd, Behind Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, Singapore 219544
Fun family activity: Keep an eye out for the fortune-telling parrot that can often be found somewhere along Serangoon Road. He’s a pretty clever bird!
Loved exploring Little India? Check out our guide to Kampong Glam too!