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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Singapore Sightseeing
Singapore Sightseeing Guide - TravelPuppy.com

Overview

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 longer.

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 heritage.

Tourist Information

Singapore Tourism Board
Tourism Court, 1 Orchard Spring Lane
Telephone: 6736 6622 or 1800 736 2000.
Fax: 6736 9423.
Email: stb_sog@stb.gov.sg
Web site: www.stb.com.sg or www.visitsingapore.com
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.

Passes

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

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 Ayer.

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 suburb 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, on 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

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 district.

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 your future.

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.

Raffles Hotel

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 completely interesting.

Beach Road
Telephone: 6337 1886.
Fax: 6339 7650.
Email: raffles@raffles.com
Web site: www.raffles.com

Transport: MRT City Hall Station, then short walk to Beach Road.

Night Safari

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).
Fax: 6366 3309.
Email: info@zoo.com.sg
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 available.

Sentosa Island

The ‘tropical isle of tranquility and peace’, Sentosa Island is a purpose-built island theme park and a contrast to the city’s frantic surrounding. 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.

Sentosa Island
Telephone: 6275 0388.
Fax: 6275 0161.
Email: administrator@sentosa.com.sg
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 Malaysia.

Organised group tours can visit the premises by appointment, with the helpful and experienced 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.
Email: supcourt_qsm@supcourt.gov.sg
Web site: www.supcourt.gov.sg

Transport: MRT City Hall; then walk across the Padang.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, Saturday 8.30 am to 1.00 pm.
Admission: Free.

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.
Email: info@birdpark.com.sg
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 available.

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).
Fax: 6334 7919.
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.
Email: enquiry@science.edu.sg
Web site: www.science.edu.sg

Transport: MRT Jurong East, then SBS bus 66 or 335.
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.
Email: cablecar@singnet.com.sg
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.
Email: nhb_acm_pa@nhb.gov.sg
Web site: www.nhb.gov.sg

Transport: MRT City Hall, then walk along Stamford Road.
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 more shocking 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.
Email: changi_museum@pacific.net.sg
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 available.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a great respite from Singapore’s urban surrounding. It is a very typical example of the tropical 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.

Cluny Road
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).

Other Attractions

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.
Admission: Free.

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).