Peninsula Plaza Singapore’s Little Burma

A peninsula is a landmass connected to the mainland by water on three sides but separated from it by land. Peninsula Plaza is a mall in Singapore’s Little Burma neighbourhood that connects Burmese people to their homeland. The 30-story Peninsula Plaza, designed by the Alfred Wong Partnership and erected in 1980, is an office structure as well as a one-stop service centre for all things Burmese.

The office buildings in the grey ribbed tower block and a shopping centre in the base are shown. In response to the scale of the St Andrew’s Cathedral just across North Bridge Road, a set of volumes was built between the tower and the podium to break down the mass of the building.

Aerial View of Stamford & North Bridge Road, Singapore. Image Source (Flickr)
St Andrew’s Cathedral and Peninsula Plaza. Image Source (State of Buildings)

Singapore has long enjoyed a favourable relationship with Burma, making it easier for Burmese to obtain work or study permits in Singapore. There are currently around 200,000 Burmese people and workers in Singapore. Peninsula Plaza has evolved into Singapore’s Little Burma, thanks to its role as a one-stop service centre for the market.

Peninsula Plaza Sports Shoes Factory Sale. Image Source (maresmeoncologic.cat)
Peninsula Plaza, Little Burma Market. Image Source (The Heartlander Tourist)

With a few exceptions, the majority of businesses on this street are Burmese-owned and run. There are visa agencies, travel companies that specialize in Myanmar flights, minimarts selling Burmese goods and crafts, and restaurants and eateries serving Burmese food with a distinct fish sauce or ngapi.

In addition, there are numerous one-man betel nut vendors strewn about the stage, as betel nut chewing is common in Myanmar. Peninsula Plaza is particularly crowded on weekends when it becomes a meeting place for the Burmese.

Myanmar Burmese Food. Image Source (SkipQoo)
A betel nut seller at work. Image Source (Frontier Myanmar)

Our landmarks and streets bear testament to Singapore’s long-standing relationship with Myanmar. There are Burmese Buddhist temples like the Maha Sasana Ramsi in Balestier, streets named after places in Burma such as Irrawaddy Road, Mandalay Road, and Rangoon Road, not to mention Haw Par Villa, a magnificent theme park brought to us by the Burmese brothers Boon Haw and Boon Par.

Exploring Little Burma at Peninsula Plaza. Image Source (Peninsula Plaza)
Little Burma at Peninsula Plaza Shops. Image Source (AsiaOne)

Singapore’s multi-cultural society is enhanced by diverse foreigner enclaves like the Golden Mile Complex and Peninsula Plaza, which bring a new vibrancy to the country. When compared to how ethnic communities such as Chinatown were assigned to different groups in the Raffles Town Plan, these foreign settlements have gone through a natural yet gradual process. The neighbourhood comes together from all around Singapore at this time since the small businesses arrive to provide items and services from their homes. With the help of each other, supply and demand grows.

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