was established in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles of the British East
India Company, who suggested that parts of the town be set aside
for the many ethnic groups. There are still pockets where more
traditionally exclusive enclaves exist, especially in Arab Street, Chinatown, Serangoon
Road (the Indian community) and Padang Square
with its strong colonial associations.
The most convenient way to explore the
of the city is on foot:
the traditional style buildings, customs and food of the diverse
ethnic districts are in enchanting contrast to the large and impressive shopping
arcades of Raffles City and Orchard Road.
Orchard Road is the ‘Fifth Avenue’
or ‘Oxford Street’ of Singapore, and
with its tremendous lavish malls. Shops range from megastores to hawkers
of souvenirs, including coffeehouses and restaurant outlets.
The Singapore Marriott Hotel offers the corner bar which is a prime spot overlooking the fascinating city.
Arab Street is
the centre of the Arabian quarter, and an ideal
area for shopping. Other parts for great shopping activities include Baghdad and Bussorah Streets, whereas the Sultan
Plaza is the centre for clothing sellers. Singapore’s major Muslim place of worship is the golden domes
of the Sultan Mosque and nearby are 2 historic Muslim burial
Chinatown, somewhat overwhelmed
the rapid growth
of the Business District, is a busy colourful area with teahouses, shops and eating outlets, as well as
several temples like the Fuk Tak Ch’i
in Telok Ayer Street and the Temple of
the Calm Sea. Ancient arts and crafts of calligraphy,
fortune-telling and papermaking are practised, and foodstuffs
and traditional goods can be purchased.
Singapore's very typical
architecture – the shop house with a moulded front, shuttered
upper floor and an arcaded front – is much in evidence.
The centre of Little India, Serangoon Road is
the Indian quarter from Rochar Canal to
Lavender Street. At the southern tip of Serangoon Road, visitors can find the Zhu Jiao Centre,
area of Little India. Some other places of interest are Farrer Park, the Sri
Veeramakalimman Temple, and the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial
Hall in Race Course Lane.
A trip without visiting the Raffles Hotel would consider incomplete as the Raffles Hotel is one of the most well-known hotels in the world.
A ‘Singapore Sling’ in the Long
Bar is de rigueur; or drop into the Writers’
Bar which provided inspiration for Noel
Coward, Somerset Maugham and Joseph
Not far from the Rafles Hotel lies the CHIJMES complex which was
reconstructed out of the former Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus,
whose Gothic shell is the basis for a series of plazas that house bars, restaurants and shops. A statue of Sir Stamford Raffles
was established on the banks of the Singapore River
on the part where it is believed to be his first steps into Singapore.
Close by is Parliament House, the oldest government
building in the city/state, which dates back from the 1820s. Boat
Quay and North Boat Quay, on both banks
near the Raffles statue, has become one of Singapore’s most
popular bar and recreation areas, with traditional shop houses changed over to restaurants and clubs.
forms a triangle defined by a bend in the Singapore River. It is
an area of colonial ‘godowns’ (eastern
term for warehouses) that changed over to a
of outdoor eating places,
bars, clubs, souvenir shops and mobile stalls that display the ‘Old
Singapore’ tourist experience, if occasionally tacky.
Riverside Walk, on the opposite riverside, the
entire area is worth seeing. West of Clarke Quay lies Mohammed Sultan Road which is Singapore’s trendiest bar and club
Parks & Gardens
The Botanic Gardens
Set within over 47 hectares or 116 acres of lush tropical parkland and jungle,
the Botanic Gardens are located to the west of the city
(Napier/Cluny roads), featuring an excellent collection of animal and plant
life. Visitors have opportunities to see the National Orchid
Garden which houses the largest selection in the world inside the gardens.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 5.00 am to 11.00 pm and until midnight at
weekends and public holidays. Admission is free.
Bukit Timah Reserve
Located on Bukit Timah Road in the northwestern side of the Botanic Gardens, the Bukit Timah Reserve founded in 1883,
Singapore’s last stretches of original and manicured tropical
gardens. It also contains lush plantation with
clearly marked trails which lead up to Bukit Timah,
the highest hill in the city.
Admission is free.
On Fort Canning Rise, the Fort Canning Park is spread out nearly 3 hectares or about 7 acres of parkland. It was an ancient fort of the Malay kings where visitors can still see the colonial ruins of the British citadel, as well as a 19th-century Christian cemetery. The
Battle Box inside the park is the command bunker of the World
War II defence of Singapore, a museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday 10.00 am to 6.00 pm,
with a small admission fee.
Mandai Orchid Garden
Orchid Garden is the commercial orchid farm, with a hillside
unusual and interesting
orchid species and an amazing water garden.
Opening hours: 9.00 am to 5.30 pm daily. An admission fee is charged.
The Kranji War Cemetery and
The Kranji War Cemetery
and Memorial is located northwest of the Mandai Orchid Garden, commemorating
all those who fell in the catastrophic campaigns in the defence
of Singapore during World War II. The cemetery and grounds are open
every day. Visitors are not permitted to put flowers on the graves.
Singapore Zoological Gardens
Towards the north, the Singapore Zoological Gardens is a largely
open zoo, using natural barriers rather than bars. There are more than 170 animals,
which include many rare or endangered species, such as orangutans, Sumatran
tigers, Komodo dragons and clouded leopards. Attractions
include ‘wild breakfast’ or ‘afternoon
tea’ and ‘Animal Showtime’.
One much publicised attraction is the Night Safari;
a combination walking and tram tour of predominantly nocturnal species.
Opening hours: 8.30 am to 6.00 pm daily, and 7.30 pm to 12 midnight daily for the Night Safari.
Hindu and Buddhist temples, mosques,
Catholic and Anglican cathedrals are all
believed to be encountered during a relatively brief walk around
some of the central parts of the city.
A few of these include: St Andrew’s Cathedral, the Cathedral
of the Good Shepherd, the Al-Abrar Mosque, the florid Kong Meng
Sang Phor Kark See Temple Complex, the Chettiar Hindu Temple and
the Sri Mariamman Temple.
Some other places of interest are the Singapore
Art Museum, the National Museum & Art Gallery;
the Asian Civilisation Museum; Merlion
Park; the Thong Chai Medical Institution;
the Singapore Mint Coin Gallery; the Singapore
Crocodile House (feeding time is at 11.00 am, crocodile wrestling
is at 1.15 pm and 4.15 pm); and the Fort Cannings Aquarium
in River Valley Road, with more than 6,000 species of freshwater
and marine animals. And not to be missed is Singapore’s performing