Art abounds in Singapore, from world-class galleries to unexpected street corners. Join us on a journey that will enrich you with new perspectives.
Day 1: Artwork and inspiration
National Gallery Singapore
Spend the morning at the National Gallery Singapore. Once Singapore’s former Supreme Court and City Hall, this repurposed space is perfect for visitors looking to immerse themselves in the world of local and Asian art. Besides boasting the most comprehensive collection of Southeast Asian art in the region, the gallery’s halls have been graced by the artwork of both international icons and prominent local artists, ranging from Yayoi Kusama, Ai Wei Wei and Mark Rothko to Liu Kang and Tang Da Wu.
To experience a fusion of gastronomic excellence and artistic presentation, have lunch at Odette. Helmed by chef Julien Royer, this restaurant prides itself on serving up dishes that are as delicious as they are beautiful to behold. The establishment was awarded two Michelin stars in 2018, and is famous for turning Western staples like foie gras into exquisitely-plated works of culinary art.
Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay
Experience the breadth of artistic talent that the Lion City has to offer at Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay. This vibrant, multi-disciplinary space is fondly referred to as ‘the durian’ by locals due to its distinct architecture, which resembles the thorns of the spiky fruit.
The establishment features a regular calendar of events and exhibitions, ranging from family-friendly theatrical performances to live music showcases and visual arts displays, making it the perfect place to catch a matinee.
Culture lovers hoping to gain insight into the intricacies of theatre production should sign up for the Esplanade Backstage Tours. This two-hour-long experience pulls back the curtains on the inner workings of the island’s largest performing arts centre, with a tour of the venue’s concert halls, orchestra pits and dressing rooms.
Around the neighbourhood—Marina Bay
In the evening, take a walk around the Marina Bay neighbourhood, where you’ll be able to marvel in the artistry of contemporary architecture. We recommend strolling across the Helix Bridge—a triumph of modern architecture—and making your way towards Marina Bay Sands®.
An iconic element of Singapore’s skyline, this soaring structure was designed by the acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie, who drew inspiration from a deck of cards to conceptualise the building.
Inspiring art can be found around Marina Bay Sands® as well. Make your way to the hotel lobby to experience Wind Arbor, a shimmering sculpture that covers the western façade of the hotel atrium. Rising Forest, by Zheng Chongbin, employs trees in ceramic vessels to create an illusion of a tree canopy that extends into the building.
Alternatively, learn how the realms of imagination and innovation intertwine at the ArtScience Museum™. This lotus-shaped building’s awe-inspiring architecture houses a range of exhibitions, revolving around themes like space travel, human augmentation and mathematical paradoxes.
Day 2: Bustling streets, diverse culture
Once a thriving port town and Singapore’s oldest urban quarter, Kampong Gelam was once the seat of Malay royalty in Singapore, and a melting pot of Malay, Arab and Bugis communities.
From afar, you’ll be able to see the beautiful golden dome of Sultan Mosque—your first site of exploration. One of the focal points of Singapore’s Muslim community, this place of worship was first built in 1824 for Sultan Hussein Shah, Singapore’s first sultan (monarch), and was gazetted as a national monument in 1975.
The mosque provides tours for walk-in visitors who’re keen to learn more about Islamic tradition, as well as the history of the mosque. Be sure to check out their website for specific visiting hours and appropriate dress codes.
Malay Heritage Centre
Learn more about Kampong Gelam’s rich history at the Malay Heritage Centre. Housed in the palace of Singapore’s first sultan, the establishment boasts a range of exhibitions, programmes and activities centring on Malay culture and tradition.
Past highlights include studies of traditional Malay medicine, showcases of 19th-century lithography and literature, and exhibitions exploring the roots of the Bugis people.
Aliwal Arts Centre
Aspiring performing artists and lovers of the stage should make Aliwal Arts Centre their next stop. This multidisciplinary performance venue is home to some of Singapore’s most talented thespians, dancers and opera practitioners. From live percussion concerts to festivals celebrating afro beat and urban art, you’re certain to find an event that will inspire your inner performer.
Around the neighbourhood—Haji Lane
It’s not hard to see why Haji Lane is a favourite haunt of local artists, musicians and other creative types. Nestled in the heart of Kampong Gelam, this hip enclave is bursting with street art adorning shop walls and shop corners, and is home to both hidden bars and quirky boutiques.
As you make your way down the narrow street, you’ll inevitably notice the striking street art on the walls of the area’s buildings, ranging from the Mesoamerican-inspired motifs adorning Piedra Negra to the striking realist murals at Club Singapura.
There’re tons of other great bars in the vicinity, including Good Luck Beerhouse—which boasts a tasty selection of craft beers on tap—and Bar Stories, which offers up liquid inspiration in the form of personalised cocktails.