Things to Do in Singapore - page 2
Singapore’s premier retail street, Orchard Road is a one-stop destination for everything from giant shopping malls, upmarket hotels and fine-dining establishments to basement food halls and entertainment complexes. There’s something for everyone in the famous district, which is named after the nutmeg plantations that once occupied the area during the 19th century.
Located on the left bank of the Singapore River, the Padang (Malay for field or open ground) represents the very essence of colonial Singapore. It was selected by the founder of modern Singapore, Sir Raffles, as a recreation area when he laid out the plans for the city and is surrounded by some striking colonial architecture.
A long stretch of flat green land, the Padang was the hub of colonial life, used primarily for sporting events and recreational activities. In 1834, the Europeans began hosting a New Year Regatta at the Padang, which soon expanded into an annual sports day.
Today the Padang is the site of the Singapore Cricket Club and the Singapore Recreation Club. It’s a place where the locals still gather to walk and socialise together and where sporting and social events take place. It has also become a key attraction for visitors to Singapore, who come to marvel at the grandiose colonial architecture in the area, including St. Andrew's Cathedral, City Hall, and the Supreme Court Building.
The Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay is a futuristic grove of man-made, treelike vertical gardens that mimic the function of real trees. A top Singapore sight and architectural wonder that’s home to more than 160,000 plants, the Supertree Grove offers shade during the day, a light-and-sound spectacular at night, and panoramic city and garden views.
Ranked among the world’s largest bird sanctuaries, the Jurong Bird Park is home to an astounding 5,000 birds representing 400 avian species. Each habitat is designed to mirror a naturalistic environment. Walk through the Waterfall Aviary—the world’s largest walk-in aviary—or meet colorful Australian lories in the 9-story Lory Loft. You can observe toucans and parrots from the South American tropics inside Jungle Jewels; watch penguins glide through the water at Penguin Coast; or see the world’s most comprehensive collection of pelican species at Pelican Cove. Guests can witness birds’ behaviors during a live show, and kids can cool off at the Birdz of Play splash zone.
The flamboyant blue-and-green façade of the Tekka Center marks one of Little India’s top attractions—a hawker center and shopping mall known for its range of goods and affordable prices. The ground-level food hall sells a huge assortment of Indian and Chinese specialties.
Formerly known as Telok Ayer Market, Lau Pa Sat (or “old market” in Hokkien) has a long and rich history. The cast-iron, Victorian-era, octagonal structure that houses Lau Pa Sat is one of Singapore’s oldest buildings, and features high ceilings, a main hallway, and eight radial passageways spanning 59,202 square feet (5,500 square meters). Located in the heart of the central business district, it’s one of the most popular food markets, or hawker centers, in Singapore.
As Singapore’s oldest museum, the National Museum of Singapore serves as the country’s definitive historical record. Built in 1887, the national treasure contains precious artifacts and fine art, including a selection of watercolors from William Farquhar.
Reigned over by the grand Masjid Sultan Mosque, Arab Street brims with Middle Eastern restaurants and shops selling textured linens and sari materials. Here, the ornately-tiled seating areas of Middle Eastern restaurants spill out onto the sidewalk and serve delights such as falafel and hummus.
A national monument and the city’s largest cathedral, the St. Andrew’s Cathedral that now stands in civic district of Singapore, has a long history and is actually the latest (and oldest) iteration of the structure. Sir Stamford Raffles chose the site for the church in 1823 and the foundation stone was laid in 1934. Funded by Scottish merchants, the church was given the name of the patron saint of Scotland and is the oldest Anglican house of worship in Singapore. After the original church was struck by lightning—twice—it was deemed unsafe and closed in 1852. The church was rebuilt and consecrated in 1862. During World War II, the church was utilized as an emergency hospital during air raids; it was deemed a national monument in 1973.
It’s easy to spot St. Andrew’s in the midst of the sleek glass buildings that dominate the business district of Singapore. Pristinely white, the exterior of the building gleams in the hot Singapore sun; the interior is blessedly cool and the various historic plaques and beautiful stained glass windows will attract your attention. Grab a pamphlet from the entryway for a self-guided tour, or join one of the free guided tours that take place twice daily.
Dating back to 1859, the Singapore Botanic Gardens displays a collection of some 10,000 types of plants—mostly tropical flora—across 183 landscaped acres (84 hectares). The expansive grounds are home to the National Orchid Garden, with its impressive collection of 60,000 colorful orchids representing 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids.
More Things to Do in Singapore
Sentosa Island is home to nearly 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of white sandy beaches, Siloso, Palawan and Tanjong Beaches. Of the three, Palawan Beach(Pulau Palawan) is most geared toward families. This long stretch of sand features a fountain playground, shower facilities, a hawker center selling inexpensive food, themed islets for picnicking and a suspension bridge linking the beach with the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia.
An amphitheater at Palawan Beach(Pulau Palawan) hosts the Animal and Bird Encounters, a series of reptile and bird displays included in the price of Sentosa admission.
The flamboyant entryway to the Sri Mariamman Temple—a six-story ‘gopuram’ tower adorned with colorful sculptures of deities and mythological beings—is one of Singapore’s most unmistakable landmarks. Dating back to 1827, it’s Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple and one of the most visited monuments of Chinatown.
Topped by two gleaming golden domes, Sultan Mosque (Masjid Sultan) is Singapore's oldest—and arguably most aesthetically pleasing—mosque. Located in the historic district of Kampong Glam, the mosque was declared a national monument in 1975 and has since been a focal point of the Muslim community in Singapore—it can more than 5,000 worshippers at once.
Singapore is city that resembles a patchwork quilt of different Asian cultural influences, and if you want a broader understanding of these regional cultures, a visit to the Asian Civilizations Museum is in order. Housed within the nineteenth century Empress Place building, the museum is the first of its kind in the region to examine the may ethnic groups that make up modern Singapore.
Divided into 10 themed areas, the museum displays an exquisite collection of art and artifacts from China, India, Southeast Asia and even Turkey and Islamic Asia. The West Asia galleries are particularly interesting, as they examine an area of the world responsible for the birth of three religions: Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
For the most rewarding museum experience, plan your visit during one of the daily guided tours of the collection, available in English, Mandarin and Japanese (French and Korean less frequently).
Reached by cable car and affording views over Singapore Harbour and Sentosa Island, Mt Faber Park is one of Singapore’s oldest and most popular green spaces. The lush rainforest-clad hilltop is more than just a recreational area—it also offers hilltop dining, shopping, and entertainment.
Set in downtown Singapore and built in 1943, the historic Esplanade Park is one of the oldest of its kind in the country. The park is home to a great deal of historical landmarks and significant monuments, including the Cenotaph, Tan Kim Seng Fountain, Lim Bo Seng Memorial, Dalhousie Obelisk, Indian National Army Monument, and Queen Elizabeth Walk. The latter covers a significant area and was completed in 1953 in honour of Queen Elizabeth's coronation in the same year.
Trees, shrubs, and other green areas make up a lot of the park, and a great deal of effort has been taken to recreate habitats similar to those found in natural forests and woodlands. During the day, Esplanade Park is ideal for relaxing, or for taking a stroll and reflecting on Singapore’s history at the Lim Bo Seng Memorial and the Cenotaph. By night, it’s a great place to marvel at the Singapore cityscape and catch the impressive Marina Bay Sands light show.
Not just for history and culture buffs, the Malay Heritage Centre is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in learning about the rich heritage of Singapore’s Malay community. Set in a grand former royal palace, you’ll see galleries focused on the history of Kampong Gelam, along with an interesting collection of artefacts from the National Collection and the wider Malay community.
Built 160 years ago, the former Istana Kampong Glam was once the royal seat of the Malay sultans in Singapore. Beautifully restored to its former glory, the Malay Heritage Centre sits within well-preserved grounds that can be explored as part of a Kampong Glam and Sultan Mosque walking tour.
Spanning 121 acres (49 hectares), Resorts World Sentosa is a massive, integrated destination resort. Featuring six uniquely themed hotels, a casino, a luxury spa, museums, theme parks (including a water park), and a large variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options, the resort has something for travelers of every age.
The multicultural Katong district of Singapore displays architectural influences from Britain, Portugal, China, France, and Malaysia. There are many beautiful villas and mansions here that once belonged to the wealthy elite. Nowadays, this residential district is worth visiting for its food and Peranakan (Straits Chinese) culture.
The Cavenagh Bridge, Singapore’s only suspension bridge, was built in 1869 to provide a quicker way of crossing the Singapore River. The bridge was actually built, tested, and disassembled in Glasgow before being shipped to Singapore in pieces and reassembled. It remains one of the city’s top architectural achievements.
If you want to see a Singapore largely devoid of tourists, head to the new town of Ang Mo Kio (AMK) in the north central region of Singapore. While considered a new town, AMK was originally settled by rubber plantation workers in the late nineteenth century and has since matured into a thriving (and densely populated) community.
Singapore is home to culture, fashion and style. No place is this more evident than on the streets of its hippest suburb, Tiong Bahru. This former housing complex was constructed in the 1930s. Early on, it was notoriously known for the wealthy businessmen kept their mistresses tucked away in the quiet estate. Today, Tiong Bahru attracts a diverse lot of residence who call the art deco building with rounded terraces home. Old folks wander into the streets as the sun rises and by dusk, youthful professionals are heading out to enjoy the lively nightlife scene here.
Specialty shops that showcase quirky items and designer fashions make this suburban neighborhood a destination for locals (and travelers!) seeking to update their style with something unique and one-of-a-kind. And those in search of some serious eats will find food carts, restaurants and lively coffee shops that offer up tasty local cuisine, as well as the opportunity to interact with Tiong Bahru’s stylish local set.
Veiled in mist and home to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, the Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay is a must for first-time visitors to Singapore. Marvel at orchids, pitcher plants, and ferns from the tropical highlands, and stroll along the vertiginous Cloud Walk and Treetop Walk.
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