Museums Tour, Singapore

Museums Tour (Self Guided), Singapore

Singapore's crazy population mix means that there are museums dedicated to the culture of each community that makes up the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural nature of this island state. This self-guided tour will take you through museums that display the Asian way of life, art and religion.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Museums Tour Map

Guide Name: Museums Tour
Guide Location: Singapore » Singapore (See other walking tours in Singapore)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
  • Chinatown Heritage Center
  • Asian Civilisations Museum
  • Singapore Philatelic Museum
  • Peranakan Museum
  • National Museum of Singapore
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum

1) Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum (must see)

Located in Singapore's Chinatown, this opulent cultural monument is cherished by the local Chinese who make up the overwhelming majority of the city-state's population. The temple's majestic outside appearance is equally matched on the inside.

Always lit up at night, it is open to visitors 24 hours a day. The dress code is strict and demands women to cover their shoulders, with a conservative dress or slacks advised for the lower part. Likewise, men are prohibited from wearing shorts or tank-tops, but oddly enough shoes are permitted for all, as are non-flash photos in some places.

Locals go in to pray regularly and you may find here a monk conducting a prayer or chanting in a microphone quite often. Set in the rear are the statues of Buddhas each overseeing a certain astrological sign, but the key figure in the main hall is Maitreya, a Buddha that is yet to come to Earth, the wooden statue of which here is believed to be 1,000 years old.

One of the temple's floors is fully filled with statues, among which is that of Guan Yin – Chinese Bodhisattva, Goddess of Compassion, Mercy and Kindness. Further up, in the mezzanine, there are life-sized wax sculptures of present and past leaders of the Temple – quite rich in detail actually (even showing wrinkles on hands!) and fit to rival any wax museum in the world. Also here is a balcony from which one can observe, through the drapes, the huge main prayer room down below, on the 1st floor.

Finally, the 4th floor is where the ultimate treasure of the temple is found – the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic Stupa reportedly containing a tooth of Gautama Buddha himself, discovered in 1980 at a Burmese monastery. Now encased in a golden chamber behind glass panels, it can't be inspected up close, but there is an accompanying scale model at the front which can be viewed at any time.

Another must-see within the temple is the orchid garden on the rooftop featuring an enormous “prayer wheel” inside a pavilion of 10,000 small Buddhas lining the walls. Most people aren't aware of this garden, so it is very quiet and relaxing up here – an ideal setting for reflection prior to hitting the streets of Singapore's Chinatown once again.

Non-flash-photos are permitted in some places, but not in the relic chamber.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-7pm
Chinatown Heritage Center

2) Chinatown Heritage Center

Located within three beautifully-restored shophouses on Pagoda Street, the Chinatown Heritage Centre tells the stories of Singapore’s past.

The center really gives you an insight into the life of the Straits Chinese who came to Singapore, living in the shophouses and carry on their trade in a single room shared with all their family members. The recreations of the various trades plied by this hardworking community - tailor, shoemaker, dressmaker, doctor etc. - together with the communal kitchen and toilet areas is a real eye opener into their living conditions in the 1950s.

The audio guide explains who lived behind the shop front and house, and how the tailor, apprentices and his family worked and lived together as well as the coolies and Samsui women in the floors above.

In addition to its exhibits, the Chinatown Heritage Centre holds various workshops and story-telling sessions for visitors who want to learn about the Chinatown history. Those looking to bring home a memento can find a range of books, postcards and prints by local artists.
Asian Civilisations Museum

3) Asian Civilisations Museum

The robust former Empress Place Building, located at the mouth of the Singapore River, is one of the city's architectural treasures – elegantly proportioned and symmetrically laid out, adorned with many decorative features, such as exquisite plaster mouldings, architraves, and cornices. Completed in 1867 and named after Queen Victoria, it still wears the original Neoclassical Palladian exterior, despite having undergone a series of renovations and extensions, featuring same Roman Doric facade for the principal storey with pitched clay tile roofs, arcaded verandahs and timber-louvered French windows that used to keep the interior cool and well ventilated in Singapore’s tropical climate before air-conditioners were installed and which caught the attention of many migrants sailing into Singapore harbor over the years.

Today, this white two-storey edifice houses the Asian Civilisations Museum that ambitiously tries to pull together the various threads of Asian civilizations, from the Middle East to China, thus helping to better understand and appreciate all the different cultures that went into making Singaporeans what they are – a cosmopolitan nation.

Informative and well-presented, with special exhibits not often seen in public, this museum has a few highlights worth mentioning, starting with the Hindu-Buddhist gallery and its beautifully-lit displays featuring a stunning 18th-century Burmese Buddha head and a large bronze drum. The Chinese influences are also well represented, from tomb remains to ceramics over a thousand years old that have been recovered from a shipwreck found in 1998. All in all, the recovered cargo comprises more than 60,000 well-preserved pieces, including gold and silver items produced in China during the Tang dynasty. In the small Malay World section, look out for a spectacular Kelantan Makara, a huge goggle-eyed mongrel creature once used in rituals, while elsewhere you will find exquisite examples of porcelain, textiles, lacquerware, costumes and traditional huge procession statues.

The museum also has a restaurant, called “Empress”, serving traditional Chinese cuisine in a contemporary waterfront setting, plus a cafe, called “Privé ACM”, where you can relax at the alfresco area, enjoying view of the Singapore River and the city's business district skyline. The museum shop carries souvenirs and a wide range of books on Asian art.

You can take one of the free English tours which are very worthwhile, usually beginning in June and running at 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 3pm most days; and if you plan to go to more than one museum, consider getting a multi-museum pass while you're here.

Opening Hours:
Sat-Thu: 10am-7pm; Fri: 10am-9pm
[English Guided Tours] Mon-Fri: 11:30am/1:30pm/3pm; Sat, Sun: 11:30am/1:30pm
Singapore Philatelic Museum

4) Singapore Philatelic Museum

Editor's Note: The museum is closed for redevelopment until 1st of December 2020.

The Singapore Philatelic Museum deals with post offices in Singapore and with stamps. It is for those interested in rare stamps. It gives some information about Singapore's history and its philatelic heritage. There are permanent and temporary exhibitions. Also there is a shop where you can buy stamps.

Operation hours: Monday: 1 pm - 7 pm; Tuesday - Sunday: 9:30 am - 7 pm.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Peranakan Museum

5) Peranakan Museum

Editor's Note: The museum is temporarily closed for revamp.

Peranakan Museum in Singapore is the first museum dedicated to Peranakans in the world. Peranakans are descendants of Chinese immigrants of the late 15th and early 16th centuries who moved to Nusantara, Malaya, Java and some other places. There are ten permanent galleries that display Peranakan culture, their way of life and their traditions. Do not miss the Peranakan Wedding Bed. Mrs. Quah Hong Chiam of Penang delivered the first seven of her 11 babies on this very bed.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
National Museum of Singapore

6) National Museum of Singapore (must see)

The National Museum of Singapore is the oldest museum in the city. It displays collections related to the history of the city and the archaeological values of Singapore and Asia. The museum's building is designed in the Neo-Palladian and Renaissance styles. There is a glass rotunda.

Its most precious artefacts are the Singapore Stone, the Gold Ornaments of the Sacred Hill from East Java, Daguerreotype of Singapore Town which was one of the earliest photographs of Singapore, the will of Munshi Abdullah, the portrait of Frank Athelstane Swettenham, the hearse of Tan Jiak Kim, a Peranakan coffin cover, the mace of the City of Singapore commemorating King George VI's raising of the island's status to a city in 1951, the Xin Sai Le puppet stage, William Farquhar's drawings of flora and fauna and the portrait of Shenton Thomas, who was the former governor of Singapore.

Why You Should Visit:
A good place to understand Singapore's national pride and collective identity.
The building itself is flashy, with a very modern addition and interesting details all around.

Be sure to take one of the complimentary guided tours. They last an hour and the guides are knowledgeable and entertaining.
The 3rd level of the museum has an exit to Fort Canning Park. From there you can explore the park and visit the Battlebox, a museum/tour of a military bunker located inside the hill.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-7pm

Last admission times:
Gallery10: 5pm; Glass Rotunda: 6:15pm; All other galleries: 6:30pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Singapore, Singapore

Create Your Own Walk in Singapore

Create Your Own Walk in Singapore

Creating your own self-guided walk in Singapore is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Singapore Introduction Walking Tour

Singapore Introduction Walking Tour

Malay legend has it that a long time ago the Sumatran prince, who sought shelter from a storm, ended up on the island of Temasek where he saw a strange animal believed to be a lion. He then founded a city there and named it Singapura which in Sanskrit means the “Lion City”. In the 14th century, Singapura found itself “between a rock and a hard place” when the neighboring realms of Thailand...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Chinatown Walking Tour

Chinatown Walking Tour

The Chinese make up a majority of the population in Singapore. Chinatown is, therefore, a district full of valuable historical monuments, fascinating museums, and tasty food markets. There are also many wonderful shop-houses that sell exotic items to be found nowhere else. This self-guided tour will take you through the most popular places in Singapore's Chinatown.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles
Singapore Shopping Tour

Singapore Shopping Tour

Singapore being a melting pot of Asian nations, you can pick up stuff from all across Asia here. This self-guided tour will take you through pedestrian shopping plazas, historical shop-houses in Chinatown and local ethnic markets. Enjoy!

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles
Colonial District Walking Tour

Colonial District Walking Tour

Singapore was first established as a trading post in Southeast Asia by the British India Company in 1819. Its strong colonial heritage has left a number of European style buildings lining the banks of the Singapore River in the heart of the city center. This self guided tour leads you through Singapore's Colonial District, taking in some of the most famous landmarks in the city along the way.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

12 Singapore Foods You Should Not Miss

12 Singapore Foods You Should Not Miss

Food is a national passion for Singaporeans. Locals think and talk about food incessantly, often thinking nothing of travelling for miles across the island and queuing for hours just to taste one of their favourite dishes. Singaporeans abroad will bemoan being parted from their favourite foods,...
Traveler's Guide to Singapore: 15 Souvenirs to Bring Home

Traveler's Guide to Singapore: 15 Souvenirs to Bring Home

Known as one of the Four Asian Tigers (or Dragons), Singapore is a thriving metropolis and one of the most fascinating tourist destinations in Asia. Home to multi-ethnic community, the city carefully preserves and proudly exhibits its colorful identity, manifested - among other forms - in the...