Bugis, Singapore

Bugis Street, Singapore


Bugis has a colorful past and originally named after the bloodthirsty race of pirates who prowled in the Straits before the arrival of the British. The area where Bugis Junction now stands was the original home of Singapore's small Hainanese community, famous for their large contribution to Singapore's culinary culture, before they moved to Beach Road in the early 20th century to make use of the docks and seafront.
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Bugis was also home to Singapore's Japanese community before World War II. It was originally populated by girls from poorer parts of Japan, who came to Singapore to work as prostitutes. The community grew and in its heyday (just prior to World War II), were running many businesses and even had their own school and newspaper. However, the British repatriated all ethnic Japanese in Singapore after World War II and did not allow any Japanese to enter Singapore for the next few years, spelling a temporary end for the Japanese community in Singapore.

For a long time after the war, Bugis Street was Singapore's equivalent of Thailand's Patpong, a red-light district known for its bars and prostitutes including transvestite (nicknamed "katies"). Beyond the sleaze, Bugis was also a popular destination for cheap goods and foods sold by pushcart vendors. From the 1950s to 1980s, Bugis was a popular destination with Western tourists, sailors and overseas military personnel on their rest and recreation.

Bugis Street, Singapore

Entrance to the Bugis Street mall

In 1985, Bugis was redeveloped and gentrified with a vengeance. Gone are the sleazy and colourful days of Bugis and today transformed into a sanitised shopping district popular with both Singaporeans and tourists. The Bugis MRT Station on the East-West line is the primary entry point into Bugis. If arriving by bus from Malaysia, you are most likely to be dropped off at either the Queen Street Bus Terminal or Golden Mile Complex, which lie on the edges of Bugis. Exiting from Bugis Station, the key roads are Rochor Road and Victoria Street.

Food stalls in Bugis Street by Jfkjaya

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