Welcome to Bras Basah.Bugis

Welcome to Bras Basah.Bugis

The Bras Basah.Bugis (BBB) precinct is Singapore’s arts and heritage district. Charmed with a unique mix of the rich heritage of Singapore's past and the modernity of art and architecture, BBB is a living representation of a modern city that thrives on its vibrant and energetic creative communities while also treasuring the heritage that our forefathers have laid.

BBB is also one of the oldest districts in Singapore – Bras Basah was one of the most ethnically diverse of its time, with Jews, Europeans, Eurasians, Malays, Indian, Armenians and Chinese living alongside one another; while Bugis was a bustling place of trade and entertainment.

In recent years, BBB has become the creative heart of Singapore, with a concentration of art schools, museums, galleries, and cultural collectives such as the National Museum of Singapore, National Archives of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, Peranakan Museum, Children’s Museum of Singapore, and the National Design Centre.

BBB’s architecture is a unique and exhilarating mix of old and new, with churches and cathedrals such as the Armenian Church of Saint Gregory of the Illuminator, Chinese and Hindu temples, and colonial-era buildings standing alongside stunning pieces of contemporary architecture such as the School of the Arts (Singapore’s only high school for the arts) and the National Library.

BBB is also a lifestyle destination with its many malls and lifestyle clusters, such as CHIJMES, The Cathay, Bugis Junction and Bugis Street capitalising on heritage, design and the arts for a distinctive shopping experience.

Finally, BBB also has a vibrant events calendar, with exhibitions and festivals taking place all year round, culminating in the annual Singapore Night Festival in August where Singaporeans and visitors alike take to the streets, literally, to celebrate and party through the night.


View of Bras Basah Road and Bencoolen Street
Image courtesy: National Archives of Singapore

Bras Basah Road is a one-way road that starts from Orchard Road and ends at Raffles Boulevard. It intersects several streets and roads, such as Bencoolen Street, Waterloo Street and North Bridge Road. Some of Singapore’s oldest landmarks were built along Bras Basah Road, many of which still stand today.

Constructed using convict labour, the road appears on G.D. Coleman’s 1836 Map of Singapore as Beras Basah, which means “wet rice” in Malay. The road was so-called because in the early days, wet rice was laid to dry here on the banks of the “freshwater stream” (now the Stamford Canal).

Bras Basah was once marked out by Sir Stamford Raffles as the European part of Singapore Town and had served as the suburb to the busy city centre which wrapped itself around Commercial Square (now known as Raffles Place). As a result of its central location, the Bras Basah area was considered an ideal location for the establishment of schools and places of worship to the ever-growing multicultural communities that have sprung up along with the development of Singapore.

Bugis is a street located in the Rochor area of the central region. Bugis Street was originally between North Bridge Road and Victoria Street, which is today the entrance to Bugis Junction.

This road is a reminder not only of the Bugis settlement near Kampong Glam in the early days (1820s) of colonial Singapore, but as a place of revelry for Bugis traders. At the time of Raffles’ founding of Singapore, there was already a small community of Bugis seamen and merchants settled near the Sultan’s compound at Kampong Glam. The village (Kampong Bugis) was located along Rochor River up the Kallang River near Kallang Bridge. Raffles therefore allocated this area to them, near where their trading boats could be sheltered in the river; hence Bugis Street came into being. Bugis traders would also come to Singapore from Sulawesi for trade and after disposing of their goods (ranging from gold dust to slaves) they would gather at Bugis Street to eat, drink and make merry until the early hours of the morning.

From the 1950s to the late 1970s, Bugis Street was perhaps the best-known tourist attraction in Singapore. This was the street where transvestites would parade from midnight into the early hours of the morning. The street at night used to be lined with food and drink stalls and other consumer and tourist-related goods stalls.

Singapore Night Festival

The Singapore Night Festival is the National Heritage Board’s signature arts and cultural festival in the vibrant Bras Basah.Bugis district. A key event in the regional festival calendar, the annual festival provides a platform for artists and stakeholders to meet, create and collaborate to present world class acts and to transform familiar spaces in the arts and heritage district for festival-goers.

A highlight of the festival is the interactive light installations titled Night Lights, which produces artworks that dot the district, or turns the facades of buildings in the vicinity into ephemeral works of wonder. Since 2008, the Singapore Night Festival has presented a diverse mix of artworks and performances by local and international artists, featuring cross-disciplinary acts and influences which continue to push the boundaries, and enthralled millions of festival goers.

Visit Singapore Night Festival website.