Experience the history of the Lion City through some of its most exciting – and unique – tourist attractions
Singapore is a modern-day metropolis with an abundance of skyscrapers and iconic landmarks — come see Singapore through some of its most famous destinations, and gain insight into the stories behind them.
Now home to an array of shops, bars and restaurants, CHIJMES used to be a Catholic convent school way back in the 1800s. The compound houses several buildings of varying architectural styles and set up during different points in history, such as an orphanage, a dormitory and a Gothic Chapel.
The complex was renamed CHIJMES in 1990, a reference to the convent’s acronym and the sound of its tower bells. After redevelopment work, CHIJMES has grown into the well-loved dining and nightlife enclave that it is today.
30 Victoria Street, Singapore 18796.
9.30am – 6.30pm daily.
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
Originally named after its neighbouring Esplanade Park, one of the oldest public parks in Singapore, the iconic 60,000-square-metre Performing Arts centre is affectionately dubbed ‘The Durian’ by locals due to its spiky architectural exterior. Having been in the works since the 1970s, the Esplanade was set up as a hub where Singaporeans can engage with and be inspired by the local arts and culture scene.
Since opening its doors in 2002, the Esplanade has revolutionised the Arts in Singapore and grown into a bustling hub for shopping, dining and entertainment. The venue showcases a range of performances all year round, from free shows held by the bay, to yearly festivals such as Baybeats, da:ns festival, Huayi – Chinese Festival of Arts, and many more.
1 Esplanade Drive, Singapore 038981.
Catch a glimpse of Singapore’s most majestic icon, the Merlion, a mythical creature that’s half-fish and half-lion. The Merlion combines two elements of Singapore’s identity – its body symbolises the fishing villages of Singapore’s past, while its lion head is a symbol of Singapura (lion city in Malay).
The Merlion, built by local craftsman Lim Nang Seng, was first unveiled on 15 September 1972 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. The icon was originally positioned at the mouth of the Singapore River, but was later moved to its current spot overlooking the bay at the Merlion Park.
One Fullerton, Singapore 049213.
Standing at 165 metres above ground is Asia’s largest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer. Launched in 2008, the wheel is a favourite tourist attraction due to its vantage point offering stunning panoramic views of Marina Bay and the city. Over the years, the Singapore Flyer has also become a significant feature in the backdrop of the FORMULA ONE Singapore Grand Prix Marina Bay Street Circuit.
30 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039803.
8.30am - 10.30pm daily.
Old Parliament House
Now known as The Arts House, the Old Parliament House is probably the oldest surviving colonial structure in Singapore. In 1826, the original building was designed and built by architect G.D. Coleman as a neo-Palladian residence. The former Parliament House was gazetted as a national monument in 1992 and in 2003, was converted to The Arts House – which has been a polestar for the Arts in Singapore since.
1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429.
10am - 10pm daily.
National Gallery Singapore
What is now the National Gallery Singapore used to be two national monuments: the former Supreme Court and City Hall. Located in the heart of the civic district, both buildings have borne witness to several of Singapore’s historical milestones. First constructed in the 1920s and 30s, both the former Supreme Court and City Hall are now home to Singapore’s largest museum, housing a vast collection of artwork within its historically rich halls.
1 Supreme Court Lane, Singapore 178879.
10am – 7pm on Sundays to Thursdays and public holidays.
10am – 10pm on Fridays, Saturdays and eves of public holidays.
The Istana, which means ‘palace’ in Malay, is the official residence and office of the President of Singapore. The iconic venue is where the President receives and entertains state guests, and is also home to the Prime Minister’s office.
Standing on what used to be a nutmeg plantation, the Istana grounds are a sanctuary of flora and fauna amidst the bustle of the city. Be sure to time your trip to The Istana, as its grounds are only open to the public on select days each year.
Orchard Road, Singapore 238823.
More information on visiting days and hours here.
The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
The Fullerton Hotel Singapore of modern day is a five-star hotel known for its stately seat overlooking the Singapore River. But it wasn’t always the address of luxury. Originally built as a fort in 1829, the building later also became home to the country’s General Post Office in 1928. This now 400-room heritage hotel has a grandeur that speaks to its rich history, with its imposing Neo-classical façade and elegantly sky-lit central atrium.
1 Fullerton Square, Singapore 049178
Opened in 2010, the Helix Bridge is the longest pedestrian bridge in Singapore and serves as a link way between Marina Centre and the Bayfront area. Its unique form is modelled after the double helix DNA, symbolising “life and continuity, renewal and growth”. Look out for the pairs of coloured letters ‘c’ and ‘g’, as well as ‘a’ and ‘t’ on the bridge, which represent the four bases of DNA — a fun detail that will please the science nerds among us.
Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 038981
Parkview Square was designed by Singapore’s DP Architects and James Adams Design of USA, and is especially significant due to its Art Deco inspired design.
The exterior of Parkview Square is a majestic amalgam of bronze and glass, and its distinct architectural style has led locals to refer to it as ‘Gotham building’. Aptly so, as the façade bears an uncanny resemblance to the buildings in Gotham City from the Batman series.
600 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188778.
9am – 6pm on weekdays.
In the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District stands the Cenotaph, a war memorial built in memory of the 124 British soldiers who fought and died in World War I and World War II. The memorial was unveiled on 31 March 1922 and has stood in the Esplanade Park since, with a sobering inscription at its base which reads, ‘They died that we might live.’
Connaught Dr, Downtown Core, Singapore 179682.
Marina Bay Sands
First opened in 2011, Marina Bay Sands has established itself as one of Singapore’s most versatile attractions. You can opt for a luxury stay at their 55-storey hotel, shop till you drop at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, or soak up a little art and culture at the ArtScience Museum.
Marina Bay Sands’ sloping towers and sky-high Infinity Pool have interesting stories behind them, too — Tower 1 of the hotel has a 26-degree slope, which is considered prosperous since the individual digits add up to 8, a lucky number in Chinese culture; and the Infinity Pool is an auspicious symbol of a lake at the top of a mountain.
10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 01895.