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

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.
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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: 3.3 km
Author: vickyc
1
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.

Tip:
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
2
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
3
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
4
Singapore Philatelic Museum

4) Singapore Philatelic Museum

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
5
Peranakan Museum

5) Peranakan Museum

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.

Operation hours: Daily: 10 am - 7 pm; Fridays: 10 am - 9 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
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.

Tip:
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
7
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

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
9
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
10
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.
Shopping Areas Walking Tour of Singapore

Shopping Areas Walking Tour of Singapore

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: 4.4 km
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
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
Art Galleries of Singapore Walking Tour

Art Galleries of Singapore Walking Tour

Singapore Art is a mixture of the art of the Asian nations that compose its population. There are a lot of marine landscapes and island idylls. Just take the self-guided tour that follows in order to explore and discover Southeast Asian art.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 km
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: 4.2 km
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: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.8 km

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

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Singapore for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Singapore has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes


To save yourself time and money visiting Singapore's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the iVenture Card, Singapore City Pass, or Singapore (Attractions) Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Singapore's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows user to skip lines at major attractions, thus saving precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels


Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Singapore hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, Grand Park City Hall, Swissotel The Stamford.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Singapore, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours


We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Singapore typically costs somewhere between US$15 and US$80 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Singapore from the open top of a bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs).

- No trip to Singapore is complete without a visit to the local Chinatown renowned for its rich culinary secrets craving to be unwrapped. Embark on a 3.5-hour walk through Singapore’s Chinatown for a generous dollop of delectable authentic Singaporean treats and insight into this melting pot of culinary and cultural traditions.

- Come to appreciate Singapore in its nighttime ambiance complete with a sumptuous Asian-inspired dinner on a 4-hour experience including a visit to the bustling night market at Bugis Street, iconic Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, and many other interesting places along the way.

- Dive into the past of Singapore on a historical tour to find out how the city came to be evolving from a small fishing village to a great seaport, find out what prompted the Brits to colonize it, marvel at the city's magnificent colonial architecture, enjoy a delightful three-tier Afternoon Tea, and more.

- Get yourself up close with Kampong Glam, one of Singapore's charming neighborhoods, once the seat of the Malay royalty; see how it was before the British took over and what's become of it since.

- Pedal your way around Singapore on a 4-hour bike tour to appreciate the city's most spectacular sights stopping at some of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions along the way from a knowledgeable group leader.

Day Trips


If you have a day to spare whilst in Singapore, why not use it to get some out-of-town experiences like a round-island tour, or perhaps visit the Sentosa Island, Kuala Lumpur, or Batam. For as little as circa US$70 to US$190 per person you will get a chance to discover Singapore’s history, visit a fun-filled island to observe nature at its best, get an interesting insight into life and history outside Singapore’s city center, admire spectacular pieces of architecture and gardens, venture north into Malaysia’s high-octane capital, take a sightseeing-cum-shopping day trip (ideal for those traveling on a budget), and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Singapore, and transported either by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, private vehicle, or a high-speed boat (whenever applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.