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Perfect 1 day in Singapore

Take in Singapore’s most famous sights in just one day and see for yourself how far they have come since their independence in 1965.

09:00  Chinatown Heritage Centre

Visit Duration: 1 hour

Chinatown’s unique heritage in Singapore is kept alive in the Heritage Centre which is housed within three restored shophouses. The memories, traditions and history of Singapore’s Chinese community are preserved here. The centre covers the Chinese heritage from the original sinkhehor migrants who made their way to Singapore under grueling conditions in the 1800s. It covers the years of Chinese corruption in Singapore and the many success stories. It is the only site in Singapore which puts a spotlight in the lives of the Chinese and has recreated the interiors of 1950s shophouses where the Chinese lived and worked. Visitors can get a realistic idea of how life was 60 year ago for the Chinese residents.

The three levels of the Centre are divided into 13 stations each telling the individual stories of the original tenants of the Pagoda Street shophouses. There is the Kitchen Outhouse; the Tailor’s Shop; “Leaving for Nanyang” or Southeast Asia; Coolies; Carpenters; Vices; Prostitution; Clans; Roots; Festivals; Food; Chinatown Personalities and the Shophouses. Shophouses are unique to Singapore. They consisted on a shop on street level with living quarters on the upper levels. Several families would stay in different rooms and share the amenities.

In addition to the exhibition areas of the building there is also an authentic restaurant on site and a store selling traditional craft items and souvenirs.

Address: 48 Pagoda Street, Singapore 059207
Phone Number: 65 6325-2878 Admission: Adults S$10, children S$6 (3-12yrs
Opening Hours: Daily 9:00am-8:00pm
Transportation: 5-min walk from Chinatown MRT


10:00 Sri Mariamman Temple

Visit Duration: 1 hour
0.1 KM, 2 minutes walking from Chinatown Heritage Centre

Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple was constructed in 1827 for use by immigrants from Nagapatman and Cuddalore in Southern India. It was originally constructed of wood but in 1843 took on a more sturdy form made with plaster and brick. The temple is dedicated to the goddess of healing epidemic diseases, Mariamman. The temple stands in the heart of Singapore’s Chinatown and has a stunningly beautiful façade that will take your breath away. The tower entrance (gopuram) was completed in 1962 and is modeled on the intricate sculpture work of temple architecture in Southern India. The tapered tower entrance has six tiers covered with detailed sculptures of individual deities, mythological animals and spirits. The figures are made of plaster and painted in bright colors. There are even figures depicting the Sepoy soldiers from the British Raj. On either side of the tower are statues of Murugan and Krishna.

The deities of the temple are all brightly colored and elaborately decorated. The temple is surrounded by perimeter walls with several entrances but the main entrance is the one beneath the tower. Ornamental mouldings decorate the walls and painted plaster figures sit on top of the compound walls at various points. Within the outer walls there are several courtyards, halls and shrines. In the main hall there are gorgeously ornate columns supporting a ceiling with frescoes. The central shrine is home to the statue of Mariamman but a number of other deities are housed in shrines and pavilions (Vimana). This temple is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in art, architecture, religion or culture. If you are lucky enough to be in Singapore in October/November you could see the Fire Walking Ceremony (Theemithi).

Address: 244 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058793
Phone Number: +65 6223 4064
Admission: Free; S$3 to take photographs
Opening Hours: Daily 7am to 12 noon, 6pm-9pm
Transportation: MRT to Chinatown


11:05 Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Visit Duration: 1 hour 0.2 KM, 3 minutes walking from Sri Mariamman Temple

This beautiful Tang-style Chinese Buddhist temple holds the sacred tooth of Buddha. The temple was constructed in 2007 and although a recent addition to the temples of Singapore it lacks nothing in style and ornamentation. In addition to the architecture and the relic itself the temple holds several pieces of Buddhist art worth seeing. The temple was designed by the Chief Abbot of the temple, Shi Fa Zhao. The design concept uses elements of the Tang Dynasty architectural style as well as the Buddhist Mandala which is symbolic of the Buddhist universe.

On the first level is the Mountain Gate, a front courtyard with drum and bell towers, the Hundred Dragon Hall, Universal Wisdom Hall and a rear courtyard. On the third floor of the temple is the temple museum where there are other relics including bones and even tongues! Buddhists believe that spiritual energy is left in relics or Sarira even after the death of a sage. The museum aims to exhibit artifacts from the entire Asian region to encourage an understanding of Buddhism. Artifacts on display come from China, Korea, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Southeast Asia and other countries. The Eminent Sangha Museum holds cultural performances, lectures and screenings on Buddha related subjects.

The highlight of a visit to this temple is the Sacred Light Hall on the fourth floor where the famous tooth is kept. The tooth is kept in a large stupa made of 320kg of gold. It is possible to view the stupa from the public viewing area as only the temple monks are allowed to enter the Sacred Light Hall. On the top level is a roof-top garden for contemplation. There is a pagoda on the roof with a Buddha prayer wheel. Also on the roof you can get a good look at the bronze roof ornaments and the ceramic roof tiles.

Address: 288 South Bridge Rd., Singapore 058840
Phone Number: +65 6220 0220
Admission: Free, donations welcome
Opening Hours: Temple daily 7:00am-7:00pm; Buddhist Cultural Museum and Relic Chamber daily 9:00am-6:00pm, Emiment Sangha Museum Daily 7am-7pm


13:25 Asian Civilizations Museum

Visit Duration: 2 hours 1.2 KM, 15 minutes walking from Thian Hock Keng Temple

This museum aims to present an integrated view of pan-Asian cultures. The museum highlights the civilizations which make up the nation’s multi-ethnic community. The collections reflect the country’s ancient history and the cultures which settled here over the last 200 years from other parts of Asia. In particular the museum looks at the groups which arrived from China, South Asia, West Asia and Southeast Asia. There are eleven galleries in the museum divided into five sections covering the cultures and civilizations from China, South Asia, West Asia and Southeast Asia as well as the Singapore River. The galleries are arranged in themes rather than in chronological order. There is use of multimedia, interactive displays and virtual hosts. Using the ExplorAsia zones visitors can get to know the various aspect of each civilization.

From the Singapore gallery there is a large window with a view overlooking the river and city. This gallery looks at the stories from the coolies’ to Chettiars, the indigenous people of the area and the arrival of Europeans. Among the artifacts on display throughout the museum there are textiles, traditional costumes, ceremonial items, tools, art work, jewelry, metalwork, weaving, masks, musical instruments and much more.

Among the highlights of the collection is the Dehua porcelain figures, Taoist statues, Chola bronzes, woodwork from Southern India, Tibetan bronzes, colonial prints, Javanese temple sculptures and Peranakan gold.

The building which houses the museum functioned as a government building for many years. It sits on the bank of the Singapore River and was designed by JFA McNair in the 1860s. It was constructed by convict labour. In the 20 th century it was named the Empress Place Building in honor of Queen Victoria and housed almost all the government bureaucratic offices. It was used as the Citizen’s Registry, Immigration Department. The architectural style is neo-Palladian with beautiful columns and a stately appearance.

Address: 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555
Phone Number: 65 6332-7798
Admission: Adults S$8, children, students and seniors(over 60 with ID) S$4; Family ticket (up to 5 people) S$24. Discounted admission on Fri 7-9pm adults S$4, children and seniors S$2. Under 6 years free
Opening Hours: Daily 10am-7pm, Fri 10am-9pm Free guided tours in English Mon-Fri 11am, 2:00pm, Fri 11:00am, 2:00pm, 7pm, Sat 11am, 2pm, 3pm. Spotlight tours Tues, Wed, Thurs 1pm. Gallery in Focus Tours, Mon, THurs 1pm
Transportation: 5-min walk from Raffles Place MRT


15:30 Merlion Park

Visit Duration: 1 hour 0.5 KM, 7 minutes walking from Asian Civilizations Museum

This park gets its name from the famous statue which adorns its lawns. The Merlion is a fish and lion mix and the national symbol of Singapore. The park is located near Marina Bay and is home to two of the famous Merlions, the mother Merlion and her cub. The park was designed as an emblem for the Singapore Tourism Board in 1964 and officially opened in 1972.

The Merlion figure with the head of a lion and body of a fish perched on a wave became so popular it became a cultural icon. It represents Singapore’s origins as a fishing village. The original name was Singapura or “lion city” in Malay. The statue itself stands in front of the Hotel One Fullerton. The Merlion is 8.6 meters tall and weighs 70 tons and its cub is 2 meters high and weighs 3 tons. It is constructed from cement fondue and was created by Lim Nang Seng. The Merlion faces east which is the traditional source of prosperity and a fountain pours out of its mouth. When the Esplanade Bridge was completed in 1997 the statue could not be viewed from the waterfront as before. This resulted in the Merlion being relocated 120 meters from its original position to where it stands today in front of the Fullerton Hotel.

Throughout Singapore you can find 5 of these famous figures, two in Merlion Park and the others at Mt. Faber, Sentosa and the Tourism Court. Tourists come to the park to pose for a photo with the beloved Merlion.

Address: 21 Esplanade Drive, Singapore 038980
Admission: Free admission
Opening Hours: 24/7
Transportation: 15-min. walk from either City Hall or Raffles Place MRT


16:40 Original Statue of Raffles

Visit Duration: 1 hour 0.7 KM, 10 minutes walking from Merlion Park

Along the Singapore River promenade you will come across two statues of Singapore’s founding father, Sir Stamford Raffles. One of the statues is at the Raffles Landing Site and is made of white polymarble. It is a replica of the original which once stood at the Padang but now stands outside the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall at Empress Place.

The statue began life in 1887 on Jubilee Day when it was installed at the Padang. It was relocated to Empress Place on 6 th February 1919. The statue was created by Thomas Woolner. It stands 2.43 meters high and is made of bronze but over the years has turned black. This has gained it the nickname the “Iron Man.” At the foot of the sculpture of Raffles standing proudly with folded arms is a map of Malacca. Raffles’ foot stands on British Malaya. In 1943 the statue spent a brief time in the Syonan Museum (Raffles Museum) and it is rumored that the Japanese intended to melt it down for the war effort. However it survived and in 1946 resumed its position on Empress Place. Plaster casts were taken of the bronze Raffles and the polymarble replica created and erected in 1972. One other statue of Raffles exists in Singapore; this time of a seated Raffles that can be seen at Westminster Abbey.

Address: 10 Empress Place, Singapore 179557
Admission: Free admission Open Hours: 24/7
Transportation: 10-min. walk from City Hall, Clarke Quay, and Raffles Place MRT


17:45 Esplanade Park

Visit Duration: 1 hour, 30 mins 0.5 KM, 7 minutes walking from Original Statue of Raffles

This centrally located Singapore park is bound by Connaught Drive, Esplanade Drive, Stamford Road and the left bank of the Singapore River. The historic park was established in 1943 and was redeveloped in 1991. The park is home to several landmarks and points of interest. Esplanade Park is essentially a long open stretch of ground along the seafront. The park was originally called Padang which means field in Malay.

In 1819 when Sir Raffles landed in Singapore the area that Esplanade Park now occupies was covered with low vegetation and a few elementary huts. The area was developed in the 1820s. Angsana trees and Raintrees were planted around the open field. In 1843 land was reclaimed stretching out the park area. The park area was used for large events like the New Year Regatta, cricket events, horse riding, pony races and the New Year’s Eve firework display. Landfill further expanded the Esplanade in 1890 and a new sea wall and road were constructed. More land was reclaimed in 1922.

A number of monuments and memorials are positioned throughout the park. The Cenotaph was constructed in 1922 to recognize the 124 soldiers who died in World War One battles. The Tan Kim Seng Fountain was created in 1857 and relocated to the Esplanade Park from Fullerton Square. A Lim Bo Seng Memorial was established in 1954 in memory of WWII martyr Lim Bo Seng. The beautiful Theatre on the Bay was constructed at the far end of the park and modeled on the Sydney Opera House. At night the park is beautifully lit and the surrounding landmark buildings are also illuminated making it the ideal place for an evening stroll.

Address: Connaught Drive, Singapore
Phone Number: 1800 4717300
Admission: Free admission
Opening Hours: Daily until midnight, the park is lit from 7am to 7pm
Transportation: 10-min walk from City Hall MRT


20:45 Night Safari

Visit Duration: 2 hours 21.3 KM, 88 minutes by transit from Esplanade Park

Night Safari is a unique safari park which is only open at night (7:30pm to midnight) and offers visitors the opportunity to experience the animals at night. Unlike some zoos where night conditions are recreated with lighting, here you can see the real animals in the real night! They react and behave naturally as it is really night time. Artificial lighting which resembles moonlight has been added at strategic points so that you can get a good look at the creatures. The park is one of several animal-related attractions run by the Wildlife Reserves Singapore. It is not the same as the zoo which is nearby. 2,500 animals live here. Visitors can take a tram ride through the park or walk along set trails. There are also restaurants and live shows.

At the site there is a 20 minute live presentation “Creatures of the Night Show” which introduces visitors to the night life of animals. Otters, binturongs, civets and more “perform” for audiences. There is a fire eating show called “Thumuakar.”

The newest attraction at the Night Safari is the Wallaby Trail focused on the animals of the Australian outback. Other trails include the Fishing Cat Trail which simulates a walk through the Singapore jungle at night; Leopard Trail where you will see the big cats and East Lodge Trail where animals from the savannah and tropics live. For a special experience you can buy food and feed the wild animals. There are five restaurants in the Night Safari for the humans!

The highlight of the Night Safari is a ride on the Tram Safari which takes you through the park for 40 minutes, through 7 geological zones to see the animals. On board there is Japanese and Mandarin commentary.

Address: 80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826
Phone Number: 65 6269-3411

 

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