A wander around town reveals gleaming modern skyscrapers looming above ornate temples. Just when you’ve glimpsed the future, you can step into the city’s past with a tour around a war memorial. Eat delicious Asian dishes for less than 5 SGD at a hawker centre (open-air food court), or experience fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant. If you’re after retail therapy, you’ll find designer stores aplenty on Orchard Road, and hidden gems in the bohemian Haji Lane boutiques. Kick-start your days like a local in Tiong Bahru’s trendy cafés, which serve up brews to please even the pickiest of coffee lovers. Take afternoon tea at Raffles Hotel and enjoy a spot of people-watching, then sip cocktails at one of the elegant rooftop bars.
Consistently Voted as one fo the worlds best hotels, A Sanctuary in a Great Central Location, Luxurious Chi Spa - treatments that reflect a true sense of Singapore.
Free Shuttle Bus to Business and Shopping Districts, Great Location only a 5 minute walk from Orchard Road, Winner of the Tripadvisor - Hall of Fame Certificate of Excellence
Only Beachfront Resort in Singapore located on Sentosa Island, Home to one of Singapores Largest Childrens Club The Cool Zone, Close to Southeast Asias First Univesal Studios.
Full of Historical Charm, Long Bar - Home of the Famous Singapore Sling, Resident Historian - take a tour of Raffles to learn about its storied past.
Award Winning 5* Hotel in the heart of Marina Bay, Situated right on the, trackside of the annual Sinagpore Grand Prix Formula One Race, Direct Access to Marina Square Shopping Mall.
Full of Historical Charm, Long Bar - Home of the Famous Singapore Sling, Resident Historian - take a tour of Raffles to learn about its storied past.
From being an island-off-a-peninsula to a global trading powerhouse, Singapore has carved out a unique character for itself.
Its Malay, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian and British influences make themselves seen and heard at every corner. Here’s where to get the best overview of Singapore’s rich and complex history.
A few hours in the National Museum of Singapore – Singapore’s oldest museum – near the Orchard Road shopping district, will be well spent. Its Singapore History Gallery immerses you in thousands of years of local history, while the four Living Galleries bring you back up to date on current culture and food.
Take a guided tour around the underground Battlebox, where the British surrendered to the Japanese during WW2. The former British command centre is now a museum, which offers guided tours and explains the momentous decision to surrender.
Esplanade Park, in the central Riverside (Civic District) area, is home to The Cenotaph, the Lim Bo Seng Memorial, and the Indian National Army Monument. The Cenotaph’s relatively tranquil setting, near the business district, is ideal for stepping away from the city’s buzz to pause and reflect.
The Chinatown Heritage Centre is the perfect starting point to learn about Singapore’s Chinese heritage.
Inside the intimate rooms and passages, you’ll get a feel for how early Chinese immigrants lived, worked and socialised – not least because the building is a converted trio of real shophouses.
The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) sits right by the river on Empress Place. The magnificent Empress Place Building is now home to almost a dozen galleries, leading you through 5000 years of Asian history.
The Peranakan Museum, showcases the history and culture of Peranakans (‘local-born’) descendants of Chinese, Indian and Eurasian immigrants who first settled in Singapore. Here you’ll see intricate beadwork tapestries, ornate ceramics, and elegant antique furniture up close, as you explore this vibrant culture.
The Singapore City Gallery brings city planning to life, thanks to a dazzling array of interactive exhibitions. Check out their huge architectural model of the city – without needing to leave the ground you’ll get a striking bird’s eye view, and you’ll come away with a feeling that Singapore’s modern journey is only just getting started.
On the surface, Singapore is an affluent city-state lined with shimmering skyscrapers. Billion-dollar man-made Supertrees and giant greenhouse domes dot the coastline at Gardens by the Bay. A collection of swanky five-star hotels, including the limelight-grabbing Marina Bay Sands, offers upmarket accommodation. Orchard Road covers the whole shopping spectrum, from high street to high-end. And a fusion of cuisines is served up in gourmet restaurants.
The past makes its presence felt through elegant colonial architecture and military history sites, and the ornate temples and museums brim with art and artefacts.
Despite the range of cultural backgrounds, Singaporeans live together harmoniously. The city-state's unique cultural melting pot is all the more apparent when you head out to try the wide range of cuisines on offer.
The Singapore Philatelic Museum guides you through Singapore’s settlement, traditions and social changes.
You could also let your inner child run free down memory lane at the MINT Museum of Toys. Packed with tens of thousands of vintage toys from around the world, it also gives a glimpse into past events and trends – plus, you can take home traditional-style Singaporean toys and collectables.
Sentosa Island features sandy beaches, sumptuous spas and luxury hotels. You can walk across, but the Singapore Cable Car offers the most scenic route to the island.
If you’re interested in Singapore’s trade and maritime history, then the Maritime Experiential Museum brings it to life, from the bustling bazaars to the high seas.
Meet the sharks from a safe distance at S.E.A. Aquarium’s Shark Seas habitat, or get a taste of life at the bottom of the sea in the giant Open Ocean.
The incredible Lake of Dreams display will round off your day in a blaze of colourful pyrotechnics, water cannons and fire effects, set against the open waters and night skies.
The stylish Gardens by the Bay are a must-see, and they’re a perfect way to relax and escape the city heat. Tiptoe between the giant, tree-shaped trellises, called 'Supertrees' on the gently bobbing OCBC Skyway, for a unique take on Singapore's skyline. After dark, see the gardens in a whole new light during the nightly light show, as the man-made trees twinkle in time to a lively soundtrack.
Discover the historic quarters of Chinatown, bustling with markets selling souvenirs, including the classic waving cat, delicate bales of silk, or gold jewellery and a range of other traditional crafts.
In such a diverse city, where so many architectural styles live side by side, Chinatown’s South Bridge Street is particularly special: here you can admire three different places of worship. The colourful and ornate Sri Mariamman Temple, built in 1819, is the oldest Hindu temple in the city.
Jamae Mosque features a striking jade-green exterior. Lovingly maintained since it was built in 1820, it’s an original Singaporean gem.
Far newer but just as richly detailed, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum holds precious relics – including what’s thought to be the Buddha’s own tooth, kept in a huge gold structure.
From local laksa and comforting chicken rice to British-tinged Hainanese oxtail stew and sushi, you can eat well wherever you are.
The hawker centres of Chinatown serve up a fusion of flavours and tastes from across the region and beyond. In the UK, rarely do you expect to find excellent food served from a place where the menu comes in the form of illuminated food photos.
In Singapore, it's quite the opposite. Make sure Maxwell Hawker Centre is on your must-visit list. If you prefer authentic Indian food, explore the menus in Little India's Tekka Centre, where a trip up to the first floor leads to a rainbow of Indian fashions and stunning photo opportunities.
With a diverse range of shopping malls spanning the entire street, Orchard Road is an ideal rainy day destination. If you’re a lover of retail therapy, a shopping spree in Singapore is something you’ll want to add to your bucket list.
Head to ION Orchard for luxury fashion, accessories, and gourmet dining. For more authentic wares, the quirky 313@Somerset or Orchard Central is a cool and inspiring place to shop fashion, beauty, local brands and interior products from local designers.
Singapore’s luxury hotels offer something to suit you. If you’re looking for that classic colonial Singapore experience, there’s no better place to stay than Raffles. Oozing old-world charm, this stylish hotel is the most iconic place to stay in the city. The serene surroundings of Sentosa’s modern W Hotel include a sumptuous spa, perfect for a pampering session after a busy day’s sightseeing.
For more contemporary surroundings, check into the Marina Bay Sands Hotel - a stand-out feature of the Singapore skyline. A place to see and be seen, the hotel features a rooftop infinity pool amongst its many luxurious features.
Enjoy an English afternoon tea, complete with delicate cakes and nibbles, at the Raffles Hotel. If you’d like something a little bit stronger, it’s worth remembering that this is the birthplace of the Singapore Sling. For more of the tastiest cocktails and the best views, try 1-Altitude on top of One Raffles Place, Lantern Bar at Fullerton Bay Hotel, or the Aura Sky Lounge at National Gallery Singapore.
Whether you’ve flown or sailed in, you’ll be right there among the bright lights and energy. But how do you take it all in?
Multitasking is the best way to get the most out of a flying visit. Choose one or two activities from our selection, depending on how long you’re staying, and don’t worry – you’ll never be too far from Changi Airport or either of the ports you’re docked at.
If you’re coming into the Marina Bay Cruise Centre, point your camera towards the terminal’s roof. It boasts a stunning ‘wave’ design, which looks as if it’s moving. From there, you can see the Straits of Singapore and the city’s downtown skyline.
Meanwhile, docking at the Singapore Cruise Centre puts you just across a small stretch of water from the action-packed Sentosa Island.
Hop over to see the S.E.A. Aquarium, Maritime Museum, and a range of restaurants. Stay until evening and you can watch one of the water and laser shows that take place nightly on the island.
Orchard Road is the main shopping destination in Singapore; in this hot and humid city it’s a pleasure just to glide through its air-conditioned shopping malls. You can also explore the outdoor art installations along Orchard Road within an hour. There are three different art trails to choose from, all giving you a glimpse into Singapore’s growing local and international visual arts scene.
The legendary Raffles Hotel, on Beach Road, is the jewel in Singapore’s old colonial crown.
Say hello to the traditional Sikh doormen, then take afternoon tea. Or, splash out on a Singapore Sling – which, of course, was invented in Raffles’ Long Bar.
Over on Empress Place is the beautiful Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. Guarded by the original 1800s statue of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, it also hosts free lunchtime concerts.
By night, the architecture comes alive with stunning lighting – perfect for photo opportunities.
The iconic 8.6-metre-tall Merlion (half-fish, half-lion) statue lives at Merlion Park on the waterfront. Get a shot from behind to capture it against the ultra-modern skyline – and you’ll see the past, present and future of Singapore, all in one go. Alternatively, take the Singapore Cable Car – and your camera – to enjoy the view from Mount Faber to Sentosa Station.
Fort Canning Park is lovely for a leisurely stroll, but is also packed with treasure. Formerly known as ‘Forbidden Hill’ – Bukit Larangan in Malay – this landmark is home to, among others, the Battlebox WW2 underground military complex, ASEAN Sculpture Garden and outdoor concerts.
It’s also a stone’s throw from the National Museum (linked by a handy escalator), and the Orchard Road shopping district.
Wherever you look, you’ll discover layers of detail about Singapore’s history, culture and language.
For instance, the Merlion’s body represents Singapore’s origins as a fishing village, while the lion’s head literally refers to Singapura – ‘lion’s head’ in Malay – the original name for Singapore. It also faces east, which is the direction associated with prosperity.
The Lion City knows how to serve up a colourful feast for the eyes. Now a UNESCO Creative City of Design, it’s got a bold approach to arts and culture settings.
Magnificent old colonial buildings have been transformed into popular arts spaces, and brand new venues are adding modern flavour to the skyline. And that’s just for starters – the independent and underground scenes offer countless cultural gems.
Here are our picks for what to see and do across Singapore’s arts, design and architectural scenes.
Start your journey at the National Museum of Singapore, the nation’s oldest museum. Located in a stunning neo-classical building, the museum focuses on Singapore’s rich history and culture, while also hosting a number of major events throughout the year. The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) and the National Gallery Singapore are two must-sees for art and film lovers.
The SAM lives in a restored 19th century mission school; since 1996 it’s displayed one of the world’s largest collections of Southeast Asian art. As a bonus for film fans, the SAM at 8Q extension hosts a gallery for film screenings. You won’t leave empty handed, either, as the upmarket Supermama gallery shop has a fine selection of gifts.
The National Gallery visual arts museum, housed in the former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings, has the largest public collection of modern Singaporean and Southeast Asian art. Learn more about Sinagpore’s art history through the museum’s guided tours and lectures, and a special series of activities aimed specifically at families and students.
If you’re interested in where art and science meet, then the Artscience Museum on the Marina Bay waterfront is a must. The striking lotus-shaped building hosts an incredible 21 gallery spaces, and features exhibitions around popular films, art, history, space exploration and local culture.
You can take home a unique keepsake, too. The museum’s FabCafe runs workshops where you can let your creativity run wild – and a 3D printer or laser cutter can make your vision a reality.
Tucked just around the corner from the bustling Orchard Road shopping malls is the Museum of Art & Design (MAD) on Tanglin Road.
It’s a more intimate space than its grander counterparts, with just two gallery levels, and a chilled-out alfresco garden dotted with art pieces. Recharge during the day with a stroll in the garden and light lunch in the café, or visit the cigar and whisky bar in the evening.
While you’re still by Orchard Road, pop into the Naiise boutique for locally-designed souvenirs, clothing and home accessories.
Literature lovers should make a beeline for Books Actually. Located on Yong Siak St in the stylish Tiong Bahru area, you can soak up some of the local bohemian charm, and pick up quirky handcrafted gifts. If you’re looking for imaginative children’s gifts, then Woods in the Books a few doors down is full of delights.
In a place where glittering skyscrapers, elegant colonial buildings, and old Chinese shophouses live side by side, the architecture lover is in for a treat here.
You’ll want to start with the icons, like the spectacular Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. Located at the mouth of the Singapore River, it features two buildings (a concert hall and theatre) with rounded, spiky roofs – which led to it being nicknamed the ‘durian’, after the distinctive local fruit.
The Civilian War Memorial (aka ‘the Chopsticks’) is a striking tribute to the tens of thousands of civilian victims of WW2. The 1967 structure is also a symbol of unity – the four parts represent the Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian communities. The War Memorial Park is a quiet, tranquil space for reflection, particularly during the memorial service held on the 15th of February every year.
To get a sense of Singapore’s roots, visit the Thian Hock Keng Temple. Just west of downtown Singapore, this important Hokkien temple is the one of the oldest in the city. It’s dedicated to Mazu, a goddess of the sea – appropriate, given that the original Chinese immigrants came by sea. The temple itself was originally built without the use of any nails, and has been restored with UNESCO award-winning care.
Singapore has a rich heritage and an important place in world history, especially during the Second World War. There are four main memorial sites: Esplanade Park, the War Memorial Park, Kranji War Memorial, and Changi Museum. Each tells their own moving story of Singapore’s wartime past.
Situated in the central Civic District, Esplanade Park is home to the Supreme Court and City Hall. Although right in the heart of bustling Singapore life, the buzz fades away to a reflective atmosphere as you stroll through.
There are three memorials here: The Cenotaph, the Lim Bo Seng Memorial, and the Tan Kim Seng Fountain. All three are grouped together as a single national monument.
The Cenotaph honours 124 military personnel from World Wars I and II. Standing almost 60 feet tall, it’s made of local white granite.
The Lim Bo Seng Memorial honours just one person: well-known Hokkien businessman and Major-General, Lim Bo Seng, renowned as a hero for his actions during the Japanese occupation of Singapore. You’ll see a distinctive Chinese-style pagoda, set on a platform, made from concrete and marble with a bronze roof.
While not a war monument, the ornate Tan Kim Seng Fountain (named after a local Chinese philanthropist) offers a glimpse into Singapore’s history. Built in 1882, it’s a colourful tribute. The elegant Victorian fountain features four classical Greek muse figures in white, standing out against the bright blue tiers.
Not grouped with the other monuments, the Indian National Army Monument marker is another important site. Along with 10 others, it was built in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Also in the Civil District is the War Memorial Park on Beach Road. In the centre of the park is the iconic Civilian War Memorial, dedicated to the non-military victims of the Japanese occupation.
Designed by renowned local architect Leong Swee Lim, the striking monument is known affectionately as ‘the Chopsticks’ because of its four 230 feet-tall pillars.
As well as paying tribute to the city’s multicultural identity and unity, it’s a poignant final resting place for many of those lost during the war. A memorial service is held on Total Defence Day, which takes place every year on 15th February.
You may want to set aside a bit more time to visit the Kranji War Memorial. On the north side of Singapore, it’s almost 14 miles from the city centre in a quiet hillside neighbourhood. You’ll feel the difference in the serene atmosphere.
There are four memorials here including the adjoining Kranji Military Cemetery. The largest memorial is the star-topped Singapore Memorial, in tribute to the Commonwealth personnel.
The site is easy to reach by bus or MRT, with its own terminal stop, a 15-minute walk away. You will be able to get a handy route map from the station. Once you’re there, it’s a climb up three flights of steps – which is accessible by foot only.
To learn about Singapore’s wartime history during the Japanese occupation, head east to Changi, near the airport. The site of the infamous former Changi Prison site has a fascinating ‘Talking Map’ exhibition in its museum, which traces the events leading to the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942.
The site aims to educate younger generations about the horror and heroics during the war in Singapore. View the photographs, drawings and letters by prisoners on a 45-minute guided tour. It has collected nearly 5000 records of registered Civilian Internees who were interned in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation.
In-house tours are available (around SGD 12 per adult). If you wish to explore further, there are coach tours and trails (at around SGD 60 per adult). Otherwise, visit the surrounding historical areas, including Changi Village, Changi Beach, old Changi Jail and Selarang Barracks.