Take in some of Singapore’s most famous sights and discover our island’s rich history with this day-long itinerary.
9am: Stroll at Fort Canning
History amidst a lush sanctuary
Begin your journey through Singapore’s vibrant past with a morning stroll at Fort Canning Park.
Formerly known as Bukit Larangan (Forbidden Hill), this verdant park was a former seat of power in Singapore for the Majapahit kings of the 14th century and Singapore’s former colonial rulers.
History buffs should embark on the Battlebox Tour—which delves into the history of Fort Canning and its role during World War II— while food lovers may want to take a jaunt on the Spice Garden Trail, a walking trail replete with the plants and spices used in Singaporean cuisine.
10am: National Gallery Singapore
Art and inspiration abound
Spend the rest of your morning exploring a world of art and inspiration at the National Gallery Singapore.
Formerly our city’s Supreme Hall and City Court, this beautiful Neoclassical building now houses the world’s largest collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian art, with more than 8,000 pieces on display.
If you’re feeling peckish during your visit, consider having lunch at National Kitchen by Violet Oon—which serves up a range of classic Peranakan* dishes. Alternatively, book a table at 3-Michelin-starred Odette, famous for its beautifully plated dishes and French-inspired cuisine.
*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
Hip modernity and rich heritage
Once home to opera houses, coolies and opium dens, Chinatown is a tantalizing blend of both past and present. Take a stroll through the neighbourhood, and you’ll find both traditional tea houses and age-old places of worship side by side chic galleries and hip cafes.
For a taste of Chinatown’s history, head over to Thian Hock Keng on Telok Ayer Street. Dedicated to the sea goddess Mazu, our city’s oldest temple was constructed without the use of a single nail.
With its majestic gopuram (grand tower) and beautiful architecture, Sri Mariamman Temple—located along South Bridge Road— is not to be missed. When you’re done snapping shots outside, be sure to step in to admire the stone effigies and beautifully painted murals of the temple’s interior.
If you’re looking for an alternative lunch spot, Chinatown Complex on Smith Street houses the island’s largest hawker centre, with a range of dishes like popiah (fresh spring roll with vegetables and assorted filling), kway chap (broad rice sheets in soya sauce broth) and chendol (shaved ice dessert with coconut milk, pandan flavoured jellies and palm sugar). When you’re done, be sure to check out the many souvenir shops that line Pagoda Street, or pick up bak kwa (barbecued meat) from the stores along New Bridge Road.
Action and adventure await
Local legends purport that Sentosa was once the haunt of pirates and a resting place for warrior spirits, but adventure of a wholly different sort awaits modern-day visitors to the island.
Now one of Singapore’s most iconic destinations, this island resort is home to pristine white beaches and endless thrills for avid action seekers.
To soak up the sun and enjoy the surf, make a beeline for Palawan or Tanjong Beach. If action is what you crave instead, you’ll want to brave the rollercoaster rides at Universal Studios Singapore or the heart-pumping obstacles and ziplines at AJ Hackett Sentosa.
8pm: Raffles Hotel
Savour old-world hospitality
Spend your evening revelling in both modern hospitality and old-world heritage with dinner and drinks at the Raffles Hotel.
This storied establishment has hosted a who’s who of notables—ranging from Queen Elizabeth II to Ernest Hemingway—but its most surprising ‘guest’ was a tiger that escaped from a circus along Beach Road and ended up in the hotel’s Bar and Billiards Room.
If you’re hankering for global flavours, Raffles Hotel boasts a range of dining establishments, including modern French restaurant Le Dame De Pic, steak house Butcher’s Block and The Tiffin Room, which specialises in North Indian cuisine.
8pm: Boat Quay
Stories by the river
Our nation’s history and this iconic waterway are indelibly intertwined. It was at the river’s mouth that Sir Stamford Raffles first disembarked upon reaching Singapore, and where Sumatran prince Sang Nila Utama first gave our Lion City its name.
Dock hands used to ply their trade along the district’s three quays, but these days, you’re more likely to find a range of bars, clubs and restaurants. Round off your adventure by knocking back a margarita and indulging in Mexican fare at Cafe Iguana or indulge in a piping hot bowl of broth at Song Fa Bak Kut Teh.