Things to Do in Singapore
Mount Faber Park, one of the oldest green spaces in Singapore, is also one of the best places to go for views over the city and Singapore Harbour. More of a large hill than a mountain, the slopes of Mount Faber are covered in lush rainforest, and if you want to get to the top, you have two options.
Budget travelers looking for something free to do can hike to the peak. The path is paved the entire way up and shaded for most of the way, but bring plenty of water, as Singapore can get hot and humid. If you’d rather save your energy, you can ride the Singapore Cable Car to the top.
No matter how you get to the summit, set aside some time to wander the gardens and take in the views from several lookout points. Mount Faber is also home to the Jewel Box, a shopping, dining and entertainment venue and one of the most romantic spots in the city for dinner.
Arab Street is a small area of Singapore, not far from the busy Bugis Junction in the Kampong Glam district. The area is full of unique shops and a vibrant street life. Many visitors discover Arab Street when visiting the grand Sultan Mosque (Musjid Sultan), a large and beautiful building built in 1924. In the surrounding streets, keen shoppers can find the most wonderful selection of fabric; find yourself some gorgeous sari material or wonderfully textured linens and have it sewn up by the tailors located upstairs. There are plentiful cafes, great Middle Eastern food and even luxurious spa treatments available.
Other popular goods for purchase include spices, woven baskets and fresh fruit. The more ambitious can try a shisha (hooka-style pipe) in one of the many late-night cafés, or listen to the live music at venues such as Blue Jazz. It’s not all laid back and traditional in this area though. Head to Bali Lane for hardcore punk music and gothic glam clothing!
Katong District is one of the more noticeable neighborhoods in Singapore, lined with 19th century villas and mansions belonging to some of the richest folks in the country. With many of its inhabitants coming from the Far East, the town is also known for its restaurants and cafes, which offer Peranakan cuisine as well as spicy local foods.
A taste of old Singapore, the history of Katong features the stories of businessmen from England, Portugal, China and France, who all made their wealth there. Because the town fell under the rule of British colonialism nearly 200 years ago, a lot of the structures that stand today were built using British architecture. Luckily, what does exist is in pristine conditions as Katong is known as one of the cleanest areas in Singapore.
As a known destination that is also conveniently located by the sea, there are a number of modern accommodations as well as lovely souvenir shops and shopping centers.
There are a number of places to scope out Singapore’s cityscape and the historic Boat Quay is among the best. Once the epicenter of maritime trade, the famous Quay now boasts loads of great restaurants and bars housed in well-preserved old shop houses. Complete with open-air terraces, these mainstays of the Quay are heralded for not only their terrific viewpoint, but reasonably priced sea food as well.
Open through the late hours of the evening, one can sit back there and take a midday break from the urban sightseeing or have a romantic dinner as the city lights glimmer on the waterfront. The pedestrian area also contains a few great nightclubs and pubs, for those looking to stay out a bit later.
Among the structures you can spot from the Quay are the Parliament House and Empress Place Building along the North Boat Quay Promenade as well as the famous Fullerton Hotel.
The Kranji War Memorial, located in northern Singapore, is an impressive structure built in 1946 immediately following the Second World War to commemorate the soldiers from the allied and regional countries who fought and died protecting Malaysia and Singapore from the invading Japanese forces.
Made up of a cemetery of nearly 5,000 servicemen and a separate memorial bearing the names of more than 24,000 others, the war memorial is divided in three segments to represent the different branches of the military, the Air Force, Army and Navy. Of the tombstones, about 850 remain without names.
Upon entering the memorial, there is a large bronze door nearby a reference book for each of the names within. On Remembrance Day, which is typically held in November, there is a rather large service at the memorial to pay tribute to those who lost their lives.
More Things to Do in Singapore
The Raffles Landing site in the Boat Quay area of downtown Singapore is the apparent location of the landing place for Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 when he signed a treaty that established modern day Singapore. Marked by a white marble statue about 20 feet, or about 6 meters tall, the statue depiction of the father of Singapore is dwarfed by the surrounding office towers that now exist in the area, but nonetheless tells a historic tale of the founding of the country.
As the landing site is believed to be along the banks of the Singapore River, it is said that Raffles was able to establish a treaty with the local rulers within ten days of arriving that would pave the way for the construction of the city’s sprawling metropolis. History aside, the statue is located in an open outdoor space that provides a great view of the buildings located in the opposite southern banks as well as an opportunity to take a quiet walk and relax.
Orchard Road means one thing: shopping! Relentlessly lined with flashy shopping malls and upmarket hotels, Singapore’s premier shopping street is cheerfully lined with plenty of shady trees, seating and flower boxes. You’ll find luxury flagship stores from Dior to Armani, huge shopping malls like Ngee Ann City, department stores, cinemas and entertainment complexes.
Head to the basement food halls dotted along Orchard Road for a cheap and filling lunch, and come back at night to while the evening away at a nightclub. Orchard Road stretches west from Istana Park, home to Singapore’s president, to the botanic gardens at its western end. It’s a long, long stretch of road, but the street’s MRT stations, Dhoby Ghaut and Orchard, will help you get around.
Home to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay offers travelers access to incredible indoor mountains that climb high into veils of cloudy mist. Visitors can explore tropical canopies and rainforest vegetation while wandering along bridges that crisscross through nine vastly different zones.
Crystal clear glass panes hang high above the forest floor. The start contrast between breathtaking Mother Nature and the city skyline beyond the dome is just one of the reasons a visit to Singapore’s Cloud Forest is not to be missed.
Having moved from the prison site to its new location directly across the Changi Gaol in 2001, the Changi Memorial and Chapel is a testament to those prisoners of war who were made to suffer and perish during World War II.
In the memorial, several artifacts from the period show how Singaporeans, particularly those prisoners being held in the Changi prison, had suffered under Japanese occupation during the war. Boasting tons of personal affects including emotional letters, drawings and photographs, the memorial tells the stories of more than 50,000 people who had been there between 1942 and 1945.
Entrance is free or for a nominal fee, visitors can elect to embark on a one hour guided tour of the complex that goes through paintings made years later by several internees who recreated what life as a POW was like inside the prison. Visitors can also purchase an audio tour or stop over to watch one of a few informative videos with footage from the era.
One of the most famous shopping areas in Singapore, Bugis street is the home of some 800 busy shops, but it is perhaps the history there which makes it one of the more interesting landmarks in the country.
In the 1950s, Bugis Street gained notoriety as a place where transgendered locals would come down to hang out, driving a tourism boom that made it ideal for grabbing some push-cart, or hawker, food while enjoying a variety of inexpensive merchandise.
Today, the area is much more tamed and where the retail scene is still very much alive, but less of a scandalous place than it once was. Nonetheless, visitors still enjoy going to Bugis to listen about the history as well as get their hands on great local foods, candy and some of the most fashionable clothes in Singapore.
Joo Chiat is an eastern Singapore residential neighborhood noted for its Peranakan culture. Peranakans are descendants of 15th- through 17th-century Chinese and Indian immigrants who ultimately married non-Muslim natives from the Malay Archipelago. The neighborhood is named after Chew Joo Chiat, a wealthy landowner who once owned most of the land in the area.
Today, Joo Chiat is best known for its rows of traditional Peranakan structures—colorful two-story shops and terrace homes with ceramic tiles, ornate facades and Chinese motifs. These shop-houses dominated the area back in the 1920s and 1930s. The Katong Antique House is a fully restored Peranakan family home with antiques and artifacts on display, and Rumah Bebe is a shop and restaurant noted for its well-preserved façade. This is an ideal place to purchase handicrafts and gifts to bring back home with you.
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