Singapore: Colonial District Cultural Walking Tour (Self Guided), Singapore

Singapore's culture is a combination of Chinese, Hindu, Arab and other cultures. People living in Singapore are immigrants from different parts of the world. This self-guided tour will lead you through the Colonial District also known as the Civic District, where you can see how these different cultures were integrated to make up this city-state's culture.
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

Singapore: Colonial District Cultural Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Singapore: Colonial District Cultural Walking Tour
Guide Location: Singapore » Singapore (See other walking tours in Singapore)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Asian Civilisations Museum
  • Victoria Theater and Concert Hall
  • Arts House
  • Singapore Philatelic Museum
  • Peranakan Museum
  • National Museum of Singapore
  • Singapore Art Museum
  • Chijmes
  • Raffles Hotel Historical Building
  • Civilian War Memorial
Asian Civilisations Museum

1) Asian Civilisations Museum (must see)

The robust Empress Place Building, a Neoclassical structure named after Queen Victoria and completed in 1865, houses the Asian Civilizations Museum that ambitiously tries to pull together the various threads of Asian civilizations, from the Middle East through to China, thus helping better understand and appreciate all the different cultures that go into making Singaporeans what they are – a cosmopolitan people.

Informative and well-presented, with special exhibits that are not often seen in public, this museum has a few highlights worth mentioning, starting with the Hindu-Buddhist gallery and its beautifully lit displays that feature 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 discovered in 1998. All in all, the recovered cargo comprises more than 60,000 well-preserved items, including gold and silver objects, 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', featuring traditional Chinese dishes in a contemporary waterfront setting, and a cafe, called 'Privé ACM', where you can relax at the alfresco area, enjoying the Singapore River view 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 are planning 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
Victoria Theater and Concert Hall

2) Victoria Theater and Concert Hall

The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall is a complex of two buildings and a clock tower joined together by a common corridor and is located in the civic district of Singapore. On 6 February 1919, which marked the centenary of Singapore's founding, a statue of Stamford Raffles by T. Woolner was moved from the Padang to the front of the memorial hall. The statue was complimented with a new semicircular colonnade and a pool. In the lead-up to World War II, the memorial hall was used as a hospital for victims of bombing raids by the Japanese forces during the Battle of Singapore before their successful occupation of the colony. During the occupation, the buildings themselves escaped major physical damage, although the colonnade was destroyed, and Raffles's statue moved to the National Museum. The hall also served as the venue for Japanese war crime trials. In 1954, the memorial hall underwent renovations by Swan & Maclaren, and on 21 November, it was the venue where the People's Action Party was founded. The town hall was also internally restructured to allow air-conditioning and soundproofing to be added. It was reopened as the Victoria Theatre. In 1979, the memorial hall was renovated again to accommodate the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), upon which it was renamed as the Victoria Concert Hall.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Arts House

3) Arts House

The Arts House in the Old Parliament displays the latest work done by Singapore's artists. The art represented here inspires the visitors and is part of the heritage of the city. It is also an interactive gallery where people connect with the authors of the works of art through entertainment events.
Hours: Mon - Sun: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
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
Singapore Art Museum

7) Singapore Art Museum (must see)

Editor's note: Currently closed for redevelopment. Museum programming continues at partner venues and spaces until the buildings re-opens.

The Singapore Art Museum exhibits Singapore's national art. It owns an amazing collection of 7750 pieces of Singaporean and Southeast Asian Contemporary Art as well as numerous international artworks. It is rated among the finest art museums that live up to exacting international standards. Here, you can admire paintings, sculptures and installations by local and world-famous artists. It also offers interactive experiences in art.
Sight description based on wikipedia

8) Chijmes

To experience what is unique about Singapore's lifestyle visit Chijmes. It was founded in 1854 and used to be the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus. Today it is a national heritage site with its fine Gothic architecture and amazing history. CHIJMES gradually turned into a popular dining, shopping and entertainment place. CHIJMES Hall and chapel are wonderful places for hosting musicals, recitals and theatrical performances.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Raffles Hotel Historical Building

9) Raffles Hotel Historical Building

The Raffles Hotel historical building is a symbol of Singapore and one of its principal sights. It was built in the name of the founder of the city, Sir Stamford Raffles. There are restaurants, a museum, a beautiful tropical garden and an old theater in Victorian style. The hotel has rooms that once belonged to famous people from all over the world.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Civilian War Memorial

10) Civilian War Memorial

The Civilian War Memorial is a part of the heritage of Singapore and one of the most important historical landmarks of the city. It is dedicated to Singaporeans murdered during the Japanese invasion. The monument tells a lot about Singapore and its population. It is made of four identical pillars, 70 meters tall, that represent the integration of the four main races living together in Singapore - Chinese, Malay, Indian and other races and is set in the War Memorial Park.
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.
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Singapore without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Singapore, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 Km or 3.5 Miles
Singapore: Colonial District National Monuments Walking Tour

Singapore: Colonial District National Monuments Walking Tour

The Colonial District was founded by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles on the east bank of the Singapore River. There are monuments that are recognized all over the world as symbols of Singapore and they evoke the city-state's rich historical past. This self-guided tour will lead you to the most famous national monuments of the Colonial District:

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Romantic Singapore Walking Tour

Romantic Singapore Walking Tour

Singapore is both romantic and exotic. With its multicultural population it offers great cuisine. Due to its location, its seascape and cityscape are unique and make Singapore an absolutely romantic place. Enjoy romantic and intimate moments by visiting the places mentioned in this self-guided tour:

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Singapore Museums Walking Tour

Singapore Museums Walking Tour

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.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 Km or 3.4 Miles
Singapore Landmarks Walking Tour

Singapore Landmarks Walking Tour

Singapore is an island, a city and a state. Its population is a melting pot of all Asian people. The Chinese, the Hindu, the Arab, each has his own historical monuments and landmarks that represent his culture. Visiting this city you will be left with the impression of having visited China, India and Arabia. This self-guided tour will lead you through the following cultural monuments as well as...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Singapore: Chinatown Walking Tour

Singapore: Chinatown Walking Tour

The Chinese make up a majority of the population in Singapore. Chinatown is, therefore, a district full of valuable historical and architectural monuments. There are Chinese, Hindu and Moslem places of worship in this locality. 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...  view more

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

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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...
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,...