Malay Heritage Overview

The Malay Heritage Center is a social and cultural centre for Malay Singaporeans, as well as a very famous museum. This Heritage Center is located in the heart of Istana Kampong Gelam and is famous for preserving Malay Singaporeans' history and legacy. The Malay Heritage Centre is a must-see for anyone interested in learning about the Malay Singaporean way of life and how the Malays and Singaporeans' cultures were intertwined.

Sultan Ali, the son of Sultan Hussein Shah, constructed the Malay historical centre in 1840. Once upon a time, the Malay Heritage Center was the Malay Singaporeans' royal fortress. It is now the Malay community's cultural and social hub in Singapore. It's also a museum that exhibits antiques and is dedicated to preserving the Malay Singaporean heritage. The heritage centre is located between the Istana Kampong Gelam and the Istana Kampong Gelam. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong refurbished the palace and declared it open in 2012.

The museum displays Istana Kampong Gelam's history as well as objects from the National Collection and the Malay Community. The sultans of Kampong Gelam had rich cultures and the Malay Singaporeans have tried to keep their legacy alive through the heritage centre. Visitors interested in exploring more about Malay culture can find a wealth of information here. The colourful exhibits and historical artefacts show the relationship between the Malay culture and Singapore culture, making it an enriching experience for those interested in Singapore travel packages.

Also, learn about other Malay cultures and the seafaring of the Bugis people. Originally, the Kampong Gelam was built on wooden stilts, where the ground floor, called ko long, was used as storage, work area, or children’s play area. The upper floor, called panggung, consisted of the sleeping quarters and the main living area.

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• Being a Malay house, you have to open your shoes to enter into the heritage centre, respecting the Malay culture.
• Traditionally, the house was built on stilts where the ground floor was used as a work area or storage. So, you will start your tour from the top floor.
• It was the home of Sultan Ali, so you can closely feel the rich heritage, culture of the Malay group and the royal family.
• There are six galleries that take up two levels that have historical artefacts.
• You can find a map as soon as you step foot into the Anjung (welcome area) on the top floor. The digital wall projects three options, monsoon, kingdom, and trade.
• Take a stroll around the spice garden where you can see the real spices and take a whiff of their strong fragrance.
• There are various workshops and fun activities that are held all through the year like cooking demonstrations, movie nights or scavenger hunts, and game nights.

How To Reach

Malay Heritage Centre is just 10 mins from the train station so you can take an MRT to reach here. You can also travel by bus. There are various parking spots near the heritage center so you can also drive here. You can also take taxis or cabs.

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Best Time To Visit

The Malay Heritage Center can be visited any time of the year because of the tropical climate of Singapore that remains the same throughout the year. The best time to visit the heritage center during the day is before 11 am because their free guide service for an hour by their volunteer starts at 11 am.

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Other Essential Information

Tips For Visiting Malay Heritage

  • Children under six years can get free entry into the Malay heritage center
  • The First caretaker of persons with disabilities can get free entry into the heritage center.
  • You have to open your shoes to take a tour of the heritage center.
  • Your mobile phones have to be switched off while visiting the galleries.
  • No running around is allowed in the heritage centre.
  • The tour of the heritage center starts from the top floor.
  • It is the premises of Istana Kampong Gelam so you will have to walk through the area to reach the heritage center. Although, the walk is very short but beautiful.
  • You can also visit the Sultan Mosque that is also on the premises of the Istana Kampong Gelam.
  • Senior citizens have to be of the age of 60 or above.
  • Valid identification must be provided if requested. 
  • A volunteer gives a free guide around the heritage center every day for one hour and that starts at 11 am. So, it is recommended to time your visit accordingly.

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Day Wise Timings
Normal Timings:
Normal Timings:
10:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
10:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
10:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
10:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
10:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
10:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Point of Interest for Malay Heritage
Spice garden

Spice garden

The spice garden at the Malay Heritage Centre has lots of plants and trees of different spices. There is a description of each plant on the iPad installed near each plant. There are various species of herbs and plants that can be used for different medicinal as well cooking purposes.

There is also a scent garden within the spice garden where there are spices kept in small cupboards. You can open the cupboard and take a whiff at the scent.

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Permanent Galleries

Permanent Galleries

The Malay Heritage Centre has got six permanent galleries that are spread out across two levels. During your visit to the galleries, you will come across exhibits featuring stories and artefacts from Singapore's national collection as well as from a number of community contributions.

The antiques in the permanent galleries complement MHC's focus on Kampong Gelam's historical significance as a thriving port town prior to Raffles' arrival in 1819, and also show how Singapore Malay society is becoming increasingly urban and cosmopolitan.

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Pinisi and kerises

Pinisi and kerises

After seeing the map at the Anjung (welcome area) on the top floor of the heritage center, you can move to the inner rooms to witness the rich cultures. There is an exact model of the “pinisi”, which is the traditional sailing ship with two masts. There are also “kerises”, which is a Malay word for daggers, which signify power. You can also see coins from the 18th to the 20th century.

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Tourism Board Alliances

Malay Heritage FAQs

Who built the Malay Heritage Centre?

The Malay Heritage Centre was constructed by George Drumgoole Coleman who happens to be an Irish civil architect. He has also played a very instrumental role in the design and construction of the civil infrastructure of Singapore in the early days. 

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How much time is required to explore the Malay Heritage Centre?

If you are taking a guided tour at the Malay Heritage Centre then it would take around 45 minutes for the complete exploration tour. In a single session there can be about 20 participants.

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What are some of the things that you should keep in mind while visiting the Malay Heritage Centre?

  • You should not run around the galleries as well as litter around. 
  • You should switch off your mobile phones. 
  • You should not speak loudly to disturb fellow travellers. 
  • The entry to the centre is free but you need to pay admission charges for certain selected programmes. 
  • The vehicles of the visitors should be parked along Aliwal Street or Pahang Street or Kandahar Street.

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Why visit the Malay Heritage Centre?

If you're interested in learning about Singapore's Malay community's rich tradition and culture, the Malay Heritage Centre is a must-see. You will also discover more about Kampong Gelam, which was a bustling port town before 1819. During this exploration tour, you will learn about the Malay community's rich heritage and culture.

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