Getting Henna in Little India, Singapore

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Everyone was right – Little India WAS worlds away from the rest of Singapore. The city-state’s immaculate streets were suddenly filled with every color of the rainbow.  Swaths of crimson and azure silk hung from fabric shops; gold jewelry glittered from glass-covered cases.

But it was still Singapore – still clean, still orderly, still marvelous!

While exploring the neighborhood, I ducked into the Little India Arcade as a shortcut to the bakery I had noticed earlier.  But upon entering, I found something even better:

HENNA!  By a REAL henna artist!

I’ve had a few henna tattoos in the past (mostly on Venice Beach in Los Angeles), but they’ve mostly been lame.  (Come on, if you were 17 years old, wouldn’t you get “sexy” in Chinese and insist it was just because you liked the way the character looked?)

I told the artist to do whatever she wanted. She began drawing swirls, flowers, and curlicues.  It was as if she read my mind!

Total cost: S$12 ($10 USD) for both hands.

Worth it.

To my surprise, the henna was red underneath the black crusty shell.  And it continued to darken for the next few days.

The lady told me that it would stay for two to three weeks. However, five days later, I had my surfing lesson in Bali and after a few hours of swimming in the ocean, it was nearly gone!  I just scrubbed the rest of it off, rather than deal with the patchiness.


It was great while it lasted, though. Amusingly, everyone in Bali would compliment me on the henna – then wish me a happy honeymoon and ask where my husband was!  (Henna is customary in Indian weddings, though brides usually get it all the way up their arms and legs.)

If you’re spending time in Singapore, it’s well worth popping into Little India to have a look – and get some new body art!

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21 thoughts on “Getting Henna in Little India, Singapore”

  1. I love henna. It’s so disappointing when you get it done in touristy places only to find out hours later once you take the stuff off that it wasn’t real henna. Real henna stains your skin either red/orange and then continues to change to a dark brown. I did the tourist henna in Mexico and ended up with a black anchor on my stomach that looked like it was drawn on with black marker. It made for a really cool looking tan line, but for a few days it was an eyesore.

    1. If you get a henna tattoo again, make sure that the henna being used is BROWN instead of black. Black henna ink is more likely to cause skin reactions (eww) and it is not natural. From what I remember it also doesn’t as long.

  2. Henna is awesome. A friend of mine and I were obsessed with it for a while in college, and we were constantly having Henna parties and drawing designs on each other. We are NOT artists, though, so sometimes it turned out looking pretty lame. Haha.

    This is beautiful, though! Shame it didn’t last very long. 🙁 Maybe something about the salt water broke it down faster than normal?

    It must have been fun watching the artist work, though! It looks so intricate.

  3. My friend went to India and brought some henna back with her and after a fuzzy night at an Iowa State University festival I woke up with a squiggly depiction of the ISU campanile coving my entire back and up my neck complete with a boy and girl kissing, moon, and animals 🙂 Yours looks great!

  4. Hey, you didn’t mention the SMELL! (Ugh.) When my friend got married, her entire bridal party got henna’d …between that and the saris we got to wear, she had the most beautiful & colorful set of wedding photos I’ve ever seen. Did your artist suggest putting a bag over your hand and covering it in a lemon-sugar mixture to prolong the dye? I’m not sure it would have mattered with all the water time you got though. Still, she did a great job….you could be a henna hand model if this travel writing thing doesn’t work out! 🙂

  5. i can’t believe u did both hands full of henna for SGD$12!?! I went to litttle india and did one hand for SGD$0.50 only. i think the woman conned u out as she saw u were tourist. while i’m local?
    & my pattern was wonderful like yours!! or maybe u went to the wrong shop. :/

    1. may i know exactly where? when i was young, i used to have a hand done with a small and boring design for $5

  6. I actually had a henna tattoo done on my hand in school for free! I was so obsessed with it but after a few weeks it was gone and I was so sad but it was beautiful though

  7. Hii there!! Iam Anisha from India..I would love to welcome you in case you want to visit India..Also please let me know if someone is in Singapore..I will be visiting Singapore anytime in September, and since I will be travelling alone , I will highly appreciate your company 🙂

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