Asia Pacific Guides™
Singapore in two days… Day 1: Chinatown, the Singapore River, museums, the Colonial District, Raffles Hotel, Little India and the Night Safari 7am: Our day starts at Chinatown MRT Station, from where we will proceed, via exit A, to Pagoda Street Narrow Pagoda Street, where Chinatown has started its life from, almost 200 years ago, was restored and the old houses where poor families of Chinese migrants had to cram in tiny flats are now housing shops and cafés.
Turn left as you leave the temple and take a few minutes' walk to Sri Mariamman Temple, on 244 South Bridge Road (near the corner of Pagoda Street), one of Singapore's earliest and most significant Hindu temples, which was built originally in 1827, as a simple wood and palm structure, dedicated to Mariamman, the main South Indian mother goddess and a protector from diseases. The existing brick building started its life in 1843 and has since been expended and modified a few times. You can then proceed to visit neighboring Masjid Jamae Mosque, which was built in the 1820s and features an eclectic architectural style. Discover Singapore with those who know it best! Click here to view our choice of city-tours and activities. The Eu Yan Sang Medical Hall, on 267 South Bridge Road, just across the street from the Hindu temple, specializes in Chinese herbal medicines which are prepared on spot, right before your eyes... Even if you don't feel like trying any of their 'exotic' products, it is still recommended to visit the place.
From here, we will take a pleasant stroll through Chinatown's historic streets, including Trengganu, Temple Street and Smith Street to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum: An impressive Tang-style building on 288 South Bridge Road (corner of Sago Street), where the relic of the tooth of Buddha is kept, in a gold stupa. Other than the holy remnant, there is a lavishly decorated temple here, and a Buddhist Culture Museum, where hundreds of beautiful Buddhist artifacts are on display. Daily, 7am – 7pm (The holy chamber can be seen
9am – 12noon and 3 – 6pm), Free entry. Website
9 – 9:30am: Walk back to Chinatown Station and take the MRT to Clarke Quay (one station away). Leave Clarke Quay MRT Station via exit E, turn left and left again, to the riverfront promenade and onwards, via Read Bridge to Clarke Quay, the middle of the three historic quays along the Singapore River, which has been restored quite a few years ago and became one of the city's best Wine and Dine areas… The old godowns have been painted vivaciously and were converted to restaurants, cafés and resto-bars, where you can unwind for a while and stretch your legs, before moving on…
Take a bumboat from the jetty next to Clarke Quay and ride down the Singapore River a few minutes, to the "Merlion" statue. Soaring to a height of almost nine metres, facing Marina Bay, The statue-fountain of "The Merlion" is one of Singapore's best known landmarks: This imaginary creature was invented back in the 1960s, as a logo for the tourism board and has since become a symbol of the city. It incorporates a body of a lion, which signifies the lion from the legend about the founding of Singapore, and a tail of a fish, which signifies the city's relationship with the ocean. Walk back a few minutes and cross the river on historic Cavenagh Bridge, which was built in the 1870s and still boasts the 1910s police notice at each of its ends, restricting cattle and horses from crossing it…
Although Singapore has one of the best publictransport systems in the world, taking the Singapore City Hop-on Hop-off Tour is highly recommended, as it takes you directly to the various attractions and saves you the time and hassle of waiting for a bus or walking…
As soon as you cross the bridge, turn left to visit "Raffles Landing Site": A white statue of the bright British administrator marks the actual point where Sir Stamford Raffles and his fellow Brits first laid foot on Singaporean soil, back in 1819… Along the promenade, you can also see groups of beautiful lifesize bronze statues, called "People of the River", which depict the daily lives of Singapore's precolonial inhabitants. The imposing Neo-Palladian building, right behind the "landing site", accommodates the Asian Civilisations Museum, one of Singapore's most recommended museums, which displays the cultures of Asia's tribes and nations, with emphasis on those ethnicities that created Singapore. Exhibits are rich and fascinating and include ethnic costumes, traditional jewelries, ancient books, sculptures, religious artifacts and what not… Tuesday – Sunday : 9am-7pm (till 9pm on Friday),
Monday : 1pm – 7pm, Website
12noon / 12:30pm: After visiting this splendid museum, we can proceed to visit other enchanting colonial buildings in the vicinity: The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, just across the street from the museum, was built in the 1850s to accommodate the town hall of early days Singapore. The small, bright white obelisk at the entrance to the garden (facing Singapore River) is called Dalhousie Obelisk. It was built in 1850 to commemorate the second visit to Singapore of the then Governor-General of India, James Andrew Broun-Ramsay (the Marquis of Dalhousie). On the other side of the museum, just a few steps from Raffles' Statue (corner of Old Parliament Lane and Empress Pl), there is another beautiful NeoPalladian building which was built in 1827 by a wealthy Scot merchant, named John Argyle Maxwell, and housed Singapore's parliament from independence till 1999. It had later been converted to an art-centre, where young local artists can perform their works. The Arts House at the Old Parliament, as the place is currently called, hosts art exhibitions almost all the time and there's a nice café too… Daily, 11am – 9pm, entrance is free
Walk out of the Old Parliament and turn left to Old Parliament Lane. After a minute stroll you will reach the street corner, where you turn left again, to Parliament Place. On your left hand side you will see a small bronze elephant that was given as a gift from King Rama V of Siam (who became known thanks to the novel "Anna and the King of Siam"), as a token of appreciation after his visit to Singapore in 1871. Click HERE to find some of the best rates for hostels and low-cost accommodations in Singapore and Asia !
Across the street, on St. Andrew's Road, you can see two of Singapore's most beautiful colonial buildings: The Old Supreme Court was built in the late 1930s and features classic motifs, such as Corinthian columns and Roman pediment, and The City Hall Building, right next to it, had its "fifteen minutes of fame" on 12 September 1945, when the Japanese General Itagaki surrendered to Lord Mountbatten, towards the end of WW II. The two historic buildings are about to become the "National Art Gallery" by 2013
From St. Andrew's Road, turn to Coleman Street and walk along it to the corner of Hill Street. The redbricks building of Singapore's oldest existing fire station can be seen on the other side of Hill St. It was built in the early 1900s and currently accommodates the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery: A small museum where you can learn about the history of firefighting and civil defence in Singapore, and see some antique fire engines and other firefighting equipment. Open daily (except Mondays), 10am - 5pm and
admission is free. Next in line is the Armenian Church, Singapore's oldest existing church, which can be seen on the other side of the corner (60 Hill St.). The bright white church was built originally in 1835, when a wealthy Armenian community still thrived in this part of the world. Designed by George Coleman, who is responsible for some of early Singapore's nicest buildings, it features both neoclassical motifs and traditional Armenian elements (Daily, 9am – 6pm, free entrance). Continue along Coleman Street and turn right to Armenian Street, which will lead you to the Peranakan Museum: 'Peranakan' is a Malay term that describes those non-Malay who were born in Southeast Asia, particularly descendants of Chinese traders, who married local women and developed a distinctive culture, lifestyle and cuisine… This fantastic museum is probably one of the if not the only place on earth where you can familiarize yourself with this unique culture, through an array of rich exhibits, including costumes, embroidery work, wedding paraphernalia and what have you…
CHIJMES (pronounced Chimes) started as a complex of catholic convent buildings, back in the 1840s, and has been beautifully restored before converted into a thriving food, shopping and entertainment complex. There is also an art gallery re and live performances take place on weekends and public holidays. Recommended restaurants in CHIJMES include: Tatsu Teppanyaki (Japanese Teppanyaki cuisine), Lei Garden Restaurant (Well known Chinese - Cantonese restaurant), Bobby's Taproom Grill & Ribs, Carnivore Brazilian Churrascaria and Hog's Breath Café (Casual, American-Australian resto-bar, serving steaks, burgers and their likes...). Leaving CHIJMES, turn left to Bras Basah Road and after five minutes or so, left again, to The Raffles, one of the world's most classic hotels, where you can enjoy a cocktail at the famous Long Bar, where the Singapore Sling was invented, or opt for the more aristocratic Bar & Billiard Room, where Singapore's last tiger was shot. "The grand old dame", as the Raffles is often called, has started its life as a rather humble 10-room colonial bungalow, back in 1887, but has quickly become one of Southeast Asia most glamorous hotels, attracting guests like Rudyard Kipling, Charlie Chaplin, Queen Elizabeth II and Elizabeth Taylor, just to name a few… There is a small museum on the arcade's 3rd floor, where you can see nostalgic paraphernalia from the hotel's past (free), and a beautiful shop where you can purchase the hotel's vintage novelties. Daily, from morning till late (The museum opens daily, 10am – 7pm), entrance is FREE
Daily, 9am – 7pm (from 1pm on Monday / Until
9pm on Friday). Entry fees apply. Website As soon as you leave the museum, turn left to Armenian Street and after a couple of minutes, right, to Stamford Road (next to historic Vanguard Building) and almost immediately left again, to Victoria Street. A minute or two after entering Victoria Street you will see the entrance to CHIJMES on your right hand side. This is where you can have your lunch break (Tip: Go for a quick and light lunch and leave some room in your tummy for Little India's snacks and street-foods).
4:30 – 5 pm: Turn right to Beach Road as soon as you leave the Raffles and walk a few minutes to City Hall MRT Station from where you take the train to Little India (You first travel to Dhoby Ghaut, where you have to change trains and continue one more station, to Little India): Visit Tekka Centre, on Buffalo Road, right next to exit-E of MRT Little India, where a huge wet market, a food centre and quite a few authentic shops can be found… The hawker centre boasts a good selection of vegetarian food stalls that serve different Indian cuisines, as well as vegetarian Malay and Chinese delicacies.
Continue to Serangoon Road (a couple of minutes away), cross it to the other side and visit Little India Arcade – An indoor market which occupies a cluster of old shophouses and boasts dozens of stalls where you can buy everything India has to offer… From there continue walking along Campbell Lane, turn left to Clive Street and right to Dunlop. On the corner of Dunlop and Clive, there is a well-known emporium shop, called Haniffa Textiles, which has been selling Indian clothes, as well as cameras, watches, suitcases and what not for the last 50 years or so… After strolling along Dunlop, walk back to its other end and turn right to Serangoon Road and right again, to Upper Dickson Road, which runs parallel to Dunlop and boasts some more authentic shops and eateries. Nibbling snacks from authentic eateries is one of the most enjoyable sides of strolling the streets of Little India. Komala Vilas, on Serangoon Road (Between the corner of Dunlop and Upper Dickson) has been serving scrumptious vegetarian fare at reasonable prices for God knows how many years... Kulfi Bar, on No. 15 Upper Dickson, is known for its lovely home-made Indian ice cream (Kulfi), while Sakunthala's Restaurant, on 151 Dunlop, serves a variety of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian specialties and is particularly famous for its Dosa (Thosai): A South-Indian style crispy crêpe, stuffed with various fillings and served with different sauces and deeps on the side...
Continue walking up along Serangoon Road and visit authentic temples such as Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, on 141 Serangoon Road, which was built in the 1880s in honor of Kali, Shiva's wife and destroyer of evil, and Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, on 397 Serangoon Road, which was built in 1855 for Vishnu, one of Hinduism's three major deities, or, more precisely, for Krishna, who is one of Vishnu's avatars. As you leave the temple, turn right to Serangoon Road and walk two – three minutes to the corner of Owen Road, where Claremont Hotel is located (opposite Fortuna Hotel): This is where you can board the direct bus to the Night Safari. BusHub operates direct buses from the city centre and Little India to Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari. The bus picks up passengers from here at 6.30pm / 7.25pm / 8.25pm (make sure to be there at least 10 minutes before then).
The Night Safari is the world's first "nocturnal zoo". Its most notable tenants include Lions, Tigers, Leopards and various wild cats, alongside Hyenas and other Canids, like Foxes, Jackals and Wolfs. Obviously, there are many other interesting night animals that are not carnivores, from Rhinos and Hippos to Tapirs, Anteaters and giant bats (flying foxes). Night Safari: 7:30pm – 12 midnight (website)
After visiting the Night Safari, you can use Bushub to travel back to town (see details)… Good night !
Day 2: Singapore Botanic Gardens, Jurong Bird Park, Kampong Glam (Arab Street), the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands 7am: We start our day trip in Singapore Botanic Gardens. To get there: Take bus Nos. SBS 7, or 123, or 174, or SMRT 77, or 106 from the bus-stop on Orchard Boulevard, next to Orchard MRT Station, or from Somerset Road, next to Somerset MRT Station, or take 105 from Scotts Road (Far East Plaza). Enter the gardens from the main gate (Tanglin Gate), on the corner of Cluny and Napier Road and take a pleasant stroll through the various sightseeing spots, like the Swan Lake, the Swiss Granite Fountain, the Bonsai Display and the Sun Garden, where various species of cactus can be seen, before proceeding to the gardens' main highlight – The National Orchid Garden, where you can see the world's largest collection of tropical orchids, including some 2,000 hybrids… Continue through the Palm Valley and the "Rainforest" to the Visitors' Centre and Casa Verde café, where you can have your breakfast and onwards, to the Evolution Garden and the northern side of the gardens, where the spanking new Botanic Gardens MRT Station is located. Singapore Botanic Gardens open daily, 5am –
12midnight, entrance is free (National Orchid Garden is open daily, 8:30am – 7pm and there is a small admission fee). Click here for a map of Singapore Botanic Gardens, which specifies the various sightseeing spots.
10:30am: Take the MRT to Buona Vista Station, change trains (within the station) and proceed to Boon Lay MRT Station, where you take bus Nos. 194 or 251 (from the neighboring bus-interchange) and travel to Jurong BirdPark. The "Singapore Flexi Pack" allows you to save over 40% on Singapore's BEST attractions and sightseeing.
Jurong BirdPark, one of the best bird-zoos on earth, occupies an area of 50 acres and makes home to almost 10,000 birds, belonging to 600 different species... It boasts the world's largest collection of hornbills and toucans, as well as the world's largest walk-in aviary and the tallest manmade waterfall on earth, and runs plenty of bird shows and other fun events that appeal to kids and adults alike… Jurong BirdPark is open daily, 8:30am - 6pm
(Website) 2 pm : Travel back to Boon Lay Station (using bus nos. 194 or 251) and take the MRT to Bugis Station (no need to change trains enroute). From Bugis MRT Station: Take exit-B, turn right to Victoria and start walking along the street. Cross Ophir Road and then turn right to Arab Street: The main thoroughfare of Kampong Glam area. The main thing here are the textile shops, where you can choose from a wide choice of exotic fabrics, but there are also shops that sell carpets, weaved rattan basketry and brass and copper bric a brac, as expected from a street with such name… Bali Lane and Hajji Lane run parallel to Arab Street and boast some nice Middle Eastern cafés, where you can have your lunch, as well as a few groovy secondhand shops. From Arab Street, enter Muscat St. and you will immediately find yourself in front of Masjid Sultan, Singapore's largest and most significant mosque, which its golden onion domes can be seen from quite far. Built in 1928, this impressive mosque features both Muslim-Indian architecture and Neo-classic motifs. Bussorah Street, the pedestrian mall in front of the mosque, boasts a few nice cafés and restaurants where tired tourists can chill out for a while...
Cross Kandahar Street, on the other side of the mosque, and enter the compound of Istana Kampong Glam, which houses the palace of Ali Iskandar Shah, Sultan of Johor and the son of Hussein Shah, who authorized Raffles to build Singapore. This imposing building was built in 1835 by George Coleman, one of early Singapore's most famous architects, and combines Palladian style with local Malay motifs. Nowadays, there is a Malay Heritage Centre here (which is closed for renovations at the time of writing), which boasts a nice museum where you can learn about the history and culture of Singapore's Malay community. Daily, 8am – 9pm (The museum is currently closed
for renovations), Website, Free entrance Turn right to Kandahar Street as you leave the compound, and at the end left to North Bridge Road and immediately right, to Jelan Pisang. At the end of the short street, turn left to Victoria Street and walk along it for a few minutes crossing Arab Street and Ophir Road to Bugis. How to find the best deals in Asia ? Instantly compare the world's leading hotel-websites and get the BEST rates for accommodation in Macau, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Taipei and elsewhere in Asia!
You can unwind a bit at air-conditioned Bugis Junction Mall, where a good choice of cafés and restaurants can be found, or head to Bugis Village, on the other side of Victoria Street, where a "night market" is held every evening, with a good choice of street stalls and quite a few hawker stands, where you can indulge on authentic street foods. 5:30 - 6 pm : Take a cab from Bugis to the Singapore Flyer (It is just a short ride) Singapore Flyer, the world’s current largest Ferris wheel soars 165 M (550 ft) above the city and affords stunning views of Singapore and its environs… The best time to ride it is at around 6:30 - 7pm, which is twilight time in Singapore almost all year around, and that is when you will be able to get a fantastic view of the city, as it lights up like a Christmas tree...
From here you can take a pleasant 10 minutes' stroll via Hellix Bridge (a high-tech looking bridge that links Marina Centre with Marina Bay Sands and offers lovely views of the new city centre) to Marina Bay Sands
here is the Sands SkyPark - An enormous sky terrace that is perched across the three hotel skyscrapers, at a height of more than 200 metres, and offers breathtaking views across the metropolis.
(Tip: If you feel too tired, you can also take the MRT from Promenade Station, to Bayfront Station) :
Two other recommended places to end the day at are New Asia Bar, on the 71st floor of the Swissôtel The Stamford Hotel, right next to MRT City Hall Station, or 1-altitude, the world's highest alfresco bar, which is perched atop of 1 Raffles Place (adjacent to Raffles Place MRT Station), at a height of 282 m.
Marina Bay Sands, Southeast Asia's newest and most popular mega-attraction, boasts an ostentatious casino (Singapore's first), a fantastic shopping mall and almost endless dining and entertainment options, although the real hoo-ha
The See Singapore Attraction Pass can save a lot of money for those of you who wish to make the most of their precious holiday time… You can take a Singapore River Cruise, or ride the world’s largest observation wheel, visit one (or more) of Singapore's fantastic museums, see the world's largest collection of tropical orchids at the National Orchid Garden, visit Jurong's BirdPark and Singapore Zoo, join a guided walking tour and much more…
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