Singapore has capitalised on its energy, enterprise
and skills of its inhabitants to create something approaching
a tourist mecca. Although many tourists only stop over for a couple
of days, in transit to somewhere else, many are beginning to stay
This is where the first impression is that of
man’s achievements; the efficient Changi
Airport is repeatedly voted on of the world’s best.
The world firsts are becoming commonplace – Suntec
City has the biggest man-made fountain; the Night
Safari is the first night zoo.
The most efficient way to get to know local culture is by walking,
especially around Chinatown, Little India
and Geylang Serai in the heart of the city. In
just these areas, it is easy to see how Singapore’s successful
economy is based upon ancient rituals, traditions and beliefs.
It is this combination that entices visitors to these areas. For
those wanting pure consumerism and entirely modern architecture
then Orchard Road should appeal.
Not all urban landscape – there is an importance placed
on the environment. Areas of natural beauty, with a little help
from humans, have been developed heartily. These include Sungei
Buloh Nature Park, Singapore Zoological Gardens,
the Night Safari and Bukit Timah Nature
Reserve. For history buffs and culture vultures, there
is an impressive selection of museums, exhibitions and architectural
Singapore Tourism Board
Tourism Court, 1 Orchard Spring Lane
Telephone: 6736 6622 or 1800 736 2000.
Fax: 6736 9423.
Web site: www.stb.com.sg
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 5.00 pm, Saturday
8.30 am to 1.00 pm.
There are also Visitor Centres at Suntec City Mall,
3 Temasek Boulevard; 1st Floor, Liang Court Shopping Centre,
177 River Valley Road; Prinsep Place, 44 Prinsep
Street; Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street; and Sunshine
Plaza, 91 Bencoolen Street.
Admission packages are available for Singapore Zoological
Gardens, Night Safari
and Jurong Bird Park. Tickets
valid for 6 months from the date of purchase and cost S$32 (S$17
for children) for the three attractions.
Key Attractions in Singapore
Chinatown’s dates back to 1821 when the 1st Chinese junk
carrying immigrants arrived from Fujian province. Much has been
reconstructed and the old shop-houses restored. It is one of the
most interesting places to visit, with lively street scenes
rich with traditional architecture and customs. Its 4 major areas are Bukit Pasoh, Kreta Ayer, Tanjong Pagar and Telok
Kreta Ayer is the centre of the commercial district, where you can find Smith Street with its many attractions including the remains
of the famed Cantonese Opera House, Lai
Chun Yuen, the tradition lives on with daily singing
at the Chinese Theatre Circle. Smith Street is
also known as Food Street, along with Trengganu
Street, makes a bustling eating and shopping
quarter. Outside the souvenir and clothes shops, visitors will see many tables on the pavements filled with diners enjoying cheap Chinese
food until midnight.
At Chinatown Complex, on the corner of Sago Street
and Trengganu Street, fresh food is bargained at the ‘wet
market’, while eating stalls on the 2nd floor
carry on until late. This part of the city has the customary medicine
halls, where there are an excellent selection of Chinese herbs with proficient
advice on hand.
Telok Ayer was the landing place for the Chinese
early immigrants, who formed the
most important part
of the Chinese community, and visitors can find the foremost Muslim and Chinese temples here. Tanjong
Pagar lies on the
of Chinatown. A well-preserve
area with older shop houses, it is now a more upmarket business
district, and good for nightlife. Bukit Pasoh was
before the centre of the Chinese culture in Singapore. Previously
it had the reputation for being seedy, with gang associations
and prostitutes, but it is now more upmarket with cafés
and boutique hotels.
In Chinatown, you can find all of Singapore’s religions.
The Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple,
South Bridge Road, is located within Telok Ayer. An impressive grouping of national monuments such as Al-Abrar
Mosque, Fuk Tak Chi Museum, Nagore Durgha Shrine and Thian Hock Keng Temple are also situated here.
Transport: MRT Outram (W2), then a 10-minute
walk to Smith Street.
Little India, located north of the colonial district, provides a perfectly diverse flavour of the
island with colourful,
crowded and noisy streets that display a significant part of Singapore’s history. When Sir Stamford Raffles arrived in 1819,
he landed with an entourage of 120 Indian assistants and soldiers
who dwelled in Chinatown. Cattle-raising near the Rochor
River brought them into the region now known as Little
India and, by the turn of the century, it became a flourishing business
For today’s tourists, the activities of interest are mainly shopping,
eating and places of worship,
particularly along Serangoon Road. The smell of
spices emanate from the shop houses, while the normal restaurants
provide some of the best cuisine east of Calcutta. The Little
India Arcade and Zhujiao Centre are
converted shop-houses saris, selling handicrafts and spices, while
fortune-tellers use small parrots to pick cards that will reveal
A taste of the Indian subcontinent can be experienced, from Ayurvedic
medicine shops, Bengali teahouses and flower-garland
sellers to the sounds of Bollywood music from
the many CD shops. Conservative and religious life style can be seen at the very impressive temples of Sri Srinivasa Perumal, Sri Veeramakaliamman and Temple of 1,000
Lights. During Hindu festivals, this part of the city becomes busier. Fairly less conservative and more marketable wares
are on sale at the Mustafa Centre, a place that sells electronic and household goods where you can find some of the cheapest
prices in town.
Established in 1887 and decreed a National Monument
in 1987, Singapore’s most renowned place is one of the
world’s grandest Victorian grand hotels.
Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, Charlie Chaplin and Noel Coward
made it a popular hideaway. It still oozes tradition, especially
since its S$160 million renovation in 1991, based on the hotel’s
heyday of 1915.
To experience the Singaporean lifestyle, be parts of Afternoon tea in the Tiffin Room,
a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar
or try a drink under the high ceilings of Bar & Billiard. There are 70 regional
and specialty shops, restaurants and performances at the Victorian-style
playhouse, Jubilee Hall. There is a
museum housing the bewitching Raffles memorabilia, with photographs
of some of its more well-known guests over the last century, as well as
Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Noel Coward’s
diary recounting the death of his travelling companion is
Telephone: 6337 1886.
Fax: 6339 7650.
Web site: www.raffles.com
Transport: MRT City Hall Station, then short
walk to Beach Road.
The award-winning Night Safari, next to the Singapore Zoological Gardens, is touted as the world’s first night
zoo. More than 90% of animals are nocturnal, so by opening in the evening
and using clever lighting techniques to recreate an almost natural
habitat, it gives visitors spectacular experience to have chances to see
animals at night when they are most active.
Situated within over 40 hectares (100 acres), it is home to more than 1,200
animals of 110 species in 8 zones that recreate geographic
setting. These include the African savannah, Nepalese river valley,
South American pampas and Burmese jungle. A 45-minute tram ride provides a relaxing alternative
to the 3 Walking Trails. The twice-nightly Creatures of the Night show has employees grappling
with some of the less dangerous species. Show times are at 8.00 pm and 9.00 pm.
180 Mandai Lake Road
Telephone: 6269 3411 or 3412 (24-hour information).
Web site: www.zoo.com.sg
Transport: SBS bus 138 from Ang Mo Kio MRT or TIBS bus
927 from Choa Chu Kang MRT.
Opening hours: Daily 7.30 pm to 12 midnight.
Admission: S$15.60; tram rides S$5; concessions
The ‘tropical isle of tranquility and peace’, Sentosa
Island is a purpose-built island theme park and a contrast to the city’s
Some places of interest on this island are: Underwater World which is
one of Asia’s largest tropical ocean atriums with over 2,500
marine lives in an 80 metre or 262 feet submerged tunnel; Dolphin
Lagoon, a show with a pink dolphin; VolcanoLand,
recreates a journey into the centre of the earth; the 37 metre or 121 feet
Merlion; and Magical Sentosa, a musical fountain
show on twice every evening.
The Museums located on this island are: Images of Singapore,
using waxwork figures to depict the social and cultural history
of Singapore; and Fort Silosa, recreates the
bunkers and underground passages used in the island’s defence.
The island also has several beaches, hotels, golf and restaurants,
native food and arts. Free monorails or buses are available around
Sentosa Island and travellers can get off at any station.
Telephone: 6275 0388.
Fax: 6275 0161.
Web site: www.sentosa.com.sg
Transport: Orchard bus E from Orchard Road; or
Sentosa bus A and C from World Trade Centre and Tiong Bahru MRT;
or cable car from Mount Faber.
Opening hours: Attractions times vary; usually
daily 9.00 am to 7.00 pm (or as late as 10.00 pm).
Admission: S$2 (exclusive of transport to the island).
Extra charges for each attraction ranges from S$3–17.
Supreme Court and City Hall
The Supreme Court, dating back from 1939, is 1
of the last colonial buildings in the city. Its Corinthian columns encircle the stately interiors featuring murals by Italian
artist Cavaliere Rodolfo Nolli. Nearby is
the huge architecture
of City Hall, constructed in 1929 and the sight
of the Japanese surrender to Lord Mountbatten in 1945. It was
on these same steps that the Prime Minister of the time, Lee Kuan
Yew, emotionally declared Singapore’s Independence from
Organised group tours can visit the premises by appointment, with the
guide to the Supreme Court, and anyone can attend most
open court hearings. For the visitors who wish to learn more about the local
judicature, the Multimedia Gallery is worth seeing, where
presentations of the workings of the court are screened on the
hour during office hours.
St Andrew’s Road
Telephone: 6332 4270.
Fax: 6337 9450.
Web site: www.supcourt.gov.sg
Transport: MRT City Hall; then walk across the
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 5.30 pm,
Saturday 8.30 am to 1.00 pm.
Jurong Bird Park
Jurong Bird Park is the largest bird park in South-East
Asia, and a refuge for over 8,000 birds
of 600 different species from all over the world. Worth seeing are
the Waterfall Aviary, at 30 metres
or 98 feet, the world’s highest man-made waterfall; the South-East
Asian Bird Aviary, with a thunderstorm simulated every
day at noon; and Jungle Jewels, featuring hummingbirds.
Travellers can dine at the Lodge on Flamingo Lake which
is encircled by 1,001 flamingos, or can have breakfast on the Song
Bird Terrace. Bird shows and feeding times feature macaws,
flamingos, hornbills and cockatoos. One of the most interesting shows
is the Penguin Parade, with over 200 penguins
of 5 species. A monorail covers the entire park.
2 Jurong Hill
Telephone: 6265 0022.
Fax: 6261 1869.
Web site: www.birdpark.com.sg
Transport: MRT Boon Lay Station, then SBS bus
194 or 251 from Interchange.
Opening hours: Daily 8.00 am to 6.00 pm.
Admission: S$12; S$3 (monorail); concessions
Singapore Art Museum
Once the St Joseph’s Institution, the city’s
1st all-boys school, established by French Catholic monks, is one of the most impressive constructions in Singapore. The museum's exhibits are predominantly 20th-century
South-East Asian art with paintings and sculptures. Though the museum specialises
in the local art, it broadened its scope to include the
rest of Asia. There are free guided tours daily in English at
11.00 am and 2.00 pm, and at 3.30 pm on Saturdays.
71 Bras Basah Road
Telephone: 6332 3222 or 6375 2510 (recorded information).
Web site: www.nhb.gov.sg
Transport: MRT Dhoby Ghaut.
Opening hours: Monday 12 noon to 6.00 pm, Tuesday to Sunday
9.00 am to 6.00 pm or until 9.00 pm on Friday.
Admission: S$3; some temporary exhibitions extra;
free after 6.00 pm on Friday.
Singapore Science Centre
The Science Centre with over 850 exhibits, mostly interactive, is the city’s largest collection devoted
to the wonder of science, and was recently expanded. There are the Discovery Zone (for young children), the Matemagic, Human Body, Space Science, Biotechnology, Energy, the Hall of Aviation,
the Hall of IT and the Web of Life in its
exhibition halls – all explaining the science in creative interactive ways.
Outside are the Ecogarden and the Kinetic
Garden, a first of its kind in Asia, which showcases
interactive sculptures and science displays. There is also an
Omni-Theatre with varied screenings.
15 Science Centre Road
Telephone: 6425 2500.
Fax: 6565 9533.
Web site: www.science.edu.sg
Transport: MRT Jurong East, then SBS bus 66 or
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10.00 am to 6.00 pm
(last Omni-Theatre show 8.00 pm).
Admission: S$6; plus S$10 (Omni-Theatre).
Singapore Cable Car
This newer addition to the country, provides city views
from a spectacular height. Spread out over 1,750 metres or 5,740 feet, the Singapore Cable Car is the 1st cable car in South-East Asia and is the only one that crosses
a harbour. It makes stops at 3
stations, and travellers can board at all the 3 stops. Mount
Faber is the 2nd highest hill and is a lush tropical forest; Cable Car Towers is at the rooftop
of a skyscraper, near the World Trade Centre and with views over the bustling harbour; while the 3rd station
is on the Sentosa Island, the trip affords
fantastic views of the sea. It is also possible to travel in a
glass-bottomed car, making the journey even more spectacular.
Mount Faber (Cable Car Towers),
3 Maritime Square (Sentosa Island)
Telephone: 6270 8855.
Fax: 6273 4639.
Web site: www.cablecar.com.sg
Opening hours: Daily 8.30 am to 9.00 (last
cable car leaves Sentosa).
Price: S$8.50 (normal cabin); S$15 (glass cabin).
Asian Civilisations Museum
Located in a restored neo-classical building dating back to 1910,
the Asian Civilisation Museum specialises in the multi-ethnic heritage of the region,
particularly Chinese history, art, symbolism, connoisseurship and
the Chinese scholar tradition. The museum houses a variety of Buddhist
artifacts, Imperial porcelain, 17th-century
Ming-style furniture and displays of Peranakan
culture. It is seen as a showcase for the culture’s
development. Free daily guided tours are provided at 11.00 am and 2.00 pm,
and Saturdays at 3.30 pm.
39 Armenian Street
Telephone: 6332 3015.
Fax: 6332 7993.
Web site: www.nhb.gov.sg
Transport: MRT City Hall, then walk along Stamford
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9.00 am to 6.00
pm (until 9.00 pm on Fridays).
Admission: S$3 (concessions available).
Changi Prison Chapel and Museum
This chapel and museum is a historical reminder of the city’s
moments. During World War II, 3 years of confrontation
with the Japanese saw some 50,000 civilians and soldiers jailed
in Changi Prison. The chapel was 1st constructed
by the wartime prison inmates, and is now a monument to those
prisoners of war. Photographs, letters and drawings in the museum
describe the daily life of the prisoners. The important part of the exhibition
is a series of paintings, called the Changi Murals,
recreated from those painted by the British Pow Stanley
Warren. Services are held by the Changi Christian
Fellowship every Sunday from 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm. There are
also daily guided tours on the hour.
1000 Upper Changi Road North
Telephone: 6214 2451.
Fax: 6214 1179.
Web site: www.changimuseum.com
Transport: MRT Tanah Merah, then SBS bus 2.
Opening hours: Daily 9.30 am to 4.30 pm; guided
tours on the hour from 10.00 am.
Admission: Free; S$6 (guided tours); concessions
Singapore Botanic Gardens
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a great respite
from Singapore’s urban surrounding. It is
a very typical example of
city’s lush park with a mixture of primary jungle
and elegant flowerbeds and shrubs. More than 3,000 species of plants
thrive in the gardens, which also serve to educate and conserve.
Set in over 52 hectares or 128 acres, it is home to more than
half a million plants. The National Orchid Garden has the world’s largest orchid display with more than 60,000
plants. It is also popular for open-air concerts.
Telephone: 6471 7808.
Fax: 6472 3033.
Web site: www.nparks.gov.sg
Transport: SBS bus 7, 105, 106, 123 or 174 from
Orchard Boulevard. Shuttle bus at weekends every hour 7.00 am to 7.00
pm from opposite Orchard MRT.
Opening hours: Daily 5.00 am to 12 midnight; daily
8.30 am to 7.00 pm (National Orchid Garden).
Admission: Free; S$2 (National Orchid Garden).
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is one of the only 2 nature reserves within city boundaries
in the world. It is set in 164 hectares or 405 acres of land and is 12 kilometres or 7.5 miles from the heart of the
city. The other reserve is in Rio de Janeiro. This reserve
features more species of trees than the entire North American
continent and is one of the few places in the city that is not
man-made. Many species of larger animals were almost
vanished but today it is possible to get a glimpse of a flying
lemur, long-tailed macaque monkey or anteater. The reserve has
the island’s most interesting and enjoyable walking and cycling trails but the paths are well marked
as they meander through the jungle, in the company of exotic butterflies,
birds, monkeys and squirrels. Bukit Timah Hill,
the city’s highest peak is at 164 metres or 538 feet.
177 Hindhede Drive
Telephone: 6468 5736 or 1800 468 5736.
Fax: 6462 0723.
Web site: www.nparks.gov.sg
Transport: TIBS bus 171 from Orchard MRT or Newton.
Opening hours: Daily 7.00 am to 7.00 pm.
Chinese and Japanese Gardens
At the very
western tip of the MRT line and lying side by side, these
gardens represent contrasting landscapes. The Chinese Garden, set amidst its 13 hectares or 32.5 acres of land, depicts the Imperial
Sung Dynasty style, echoing the grandeur of the
Beijing Summer Palace with its pagodas and bridges. This also houses the largest Suzhou-style bonsai garden outside of China, with over 1,000 plants, and a seafood restaurant.
The Japanese Garden, set in 13 hectares of land, emphasises Zen
simplicity with stone lanterns, summer houses and Zen
rock gardens. Classical Japanese motifs create a soothing surrounding.
The Chinese Gardens also have the largest selection of turtles
and tortoises in the world, with more than 200 species.
1 Chinese Garden
Telephone: 6261 3632.
Fax: 6261 1390.
Transport: MRT Chinese Garden.
Opening hours: Daily 9.00 am to 10.00 pm.
Admission: Free; S$5 (special exhibits).