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Singapore is home to a wide spectrum of entertainment options – but eclectic bars & Michelin-starred restaurants are not all that it has to offer.

Singapore is also home to many historical and award-winning locations that incorporate the Chinese, Indian, Malay & Arab cultures that have become a part of Singapore over time. Here are the 25 best places to visit for art, culture & design lovers.

 

Asian Civilisations Museum

Video Credit : Urban Redevelopment Authority

For what is arguably the best place to learn about Singapore’s history (which traces back to the 3rd century) and pan-Asian heritage, head to the elegantly built Asian Civilisations Museum which is located right by the Singapore River. Their Gallery collections include Trade, Faith & Belief, and Materials & Design – each of which contains art & artefacts from Singapore’s rich Asian culture. A list of their current exhibitions and events – which include a Light to Night festival and lunchtime concerts can be found here.

 

Kampong Glam

Video Credit : SingaporenBeyond

Home to the famous Sultan Mosque, Kampong Glam is Singapore’s oldest quarter. Bursting with Malay culture, Kampong Glam also houses the Malay Heritage Centre – once the royal seat of Malay sultans in Singapore – now a place to learn about the history & culture of Singapore’s Malay community. Shoppers can head to Haji Lane, which houses shops selling everything from antiques and clothes, to perfumes, Persian carpets and other traditional wares; while restaurants offering a wide array of delicious cuisines will definitely tempt you to try their delicacies. A visit during Ramadan will allow you to wander through their buzzing night markets for a truly colourful experience.

 

Fort Canning Park

Video Credit : John Paul See FORT CANNING PARK Singapore - Journey Back in Time at New Gardens

A place for nature, music and history lovers to unite, Fort Canning Park is more than just a scenic spot to enjoy the surroundings. History buffs can visit the Maritime Corner – which traces the progression of Singapore from being a trading post to becoming an international maritime centre – or the Fort Gate – remnants of a fortress built in the 19th century. The scenic gardens are also a setting for frequent musical performances & concerts as well as other events such as Ballet Under the Stars & Shakespeare in the Park.

 

Parkview Square

Video Credit : Our Grandfather Story

Boasting stunning architecture, Parkview Square is technically an office building (albeit one of the most expensive office buildings in Singapore) that also houses the Honorary Consulate of Oman, as well as the embassies of Austria, Mongolia and the UAE – and bears a striking resemblance to Gotham City (by popular opinion). The exteriors have a distinctly art deco look, while the interiors are starkly modern. Visit their aptly named Divine Wine Bar, where wine is stored in a 3-storey chiller and is brought to you by a “fairy” who flies up (aided by a harness) to collect your choice of vintage.

 

Raffles Hotel

Video Credit : CNA First look inside the new Raffles Hotel Singapore

Named after Singapore’s founder, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, you’d be hard pressed to find another establishment that more clearly represents Singapore’s colonial history. Home to Singapore’s oldest standing bar (in its original location) as well as the birthplace of the Singapore Sling cocktail (quite a claim to fame), Raffles Hotel is a must-visit location to see some stunning architecture and indulge in some 19th century-style luxury.

 

Dempsey Hill

Video Credit : Joe Cheung Singapore Dempsey Hill after rain. Aerial footage

In the heart of the city but with a distinct country feel, Dempsey Hill certainly lives up to its tagline “Paradise found”. Originally a nutmeg plantation, and later on sold to the British to be used as army barracks, Dempsey Hill is now a place where visitors can eat, drink, shop, stroll along on walking trails, or check out some fantastic contemporary art – all in the midst of lush and abundant nature. If you decide to stay for the weekend, there is certainly no shortage of activities for everyone – including art, pottery & chocolate-making classes, as well as plenty of activities for children.

 

National Library Building

Video Credit : National Library Singapore The Stacks Episode 16 – Contrafactur des Scharmutz els der Hollender

Home to not just libraries, but 14 tropical gardens, as well as a glass room on the top floor that provides spectacular 360° views of the city, the National Library Building also hosts numerous exhibitions, events, programmes and even storytelling sessions, each of which are directed towards different ages, from small children to seniors.

 

Gardens by the Bay

Video Credit : Gardens by the Bay

Arguably Singapore’s most famous attraction, Gardens by the Bay is actually a collection of 8 individual attractions, which include the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest, the Dragonfly & Kingfisher Lakes and – of course – the Supertree Grove and OCBC Skyway. In fact, there is so much to see here, just one visit might not cut it. Visit in the daytime to see the gardens and flowers in all their sunlit glory, as well as at night to see the Supertrees lit up in a truly magnificent light show.

 

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Video Credit : nationalparksboard

Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site (other UNESCO World Heritage destinations include The Great Wall of China) and spread over 82 hectares, the Botanic Gardens are a place to enjoy the great outdoors and see the thousands of plant species that inhabit the gardens. Divided into sections, the Botanical Gardens are home to the Ethnobotany Garden, the National Orchid Garden, the Ginger Garden, the Rain Forest, and the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, which was designed specially for little ones to enjoy. Events such as concerts, tours, performances & movie screenings also happen frequently, and there are plenty of dining options for those so inclined (all that walking can really work up an appetite).

 

Bras Basah Complex

Video Credit : CMK TV

Originally a place where book merchants as well as book trade-related merchants would gather to sell their wares in the early 1980s, Bras Basah Complex now houses galleries, bookstores, numerous art-related trades, specialty stores, and restaurants; a comprehensive list of which you can find here. In addition to being a book lover’s dream destination, Bras Basah Complex also hosts events, such as their upcoming Music Festival and bi-annual Book Fair – bringing a touch of old-world charm to a very modern city.

 

Emily Hill

Video Credit : Discovery Walking Tours TV

Serving as a facilitator between arts & businesses, as well as home to numerous artists & creative organisations, Emily Hill is a charming Colonial-era mansion situated amidst scenic greenery on Upper Wilkie Rd. Visit their popular Kult Kafe, which hosts regular outdoor screenings of films, poetry performances, samba dancers, DJs and live bands, as well as a first-Sunday-of-the-month event which offers BBQ, drinks and great music as well as art activities that everyone can enjoy.

 

PARKROYAL on Pickering

Video Credit : WOHAarchitects

If expansive and stunning sky gardens are your thing, you can’t miss a visit to PARKROYAL on Pickering. Described as “Hotel of the Future” by Forbes Magazine, PARKROYAL boasts more than 15,000 square metres of gardens, waterfalls and planter walls, and houses over 10 different flora species in a design inspired by the rice terraces of Bali which is brought to life in a ‘hotel-in-a-garden’ concept. Visit their exclusive lounge on the top floor to take in Singapore’s scenic skyline and have a cocktail or two.

 

The Interlace

Video Credit : Trends Ideas

As its name suggests, The Interlace is a residential development, featuring 31 horizontal apartment buildings interlaced with each other in a hexagonal shape to form ‘vertical villages’. An architectural wonder, it was named “World Building of the Year” at the 2015 World Architecture Festival. Designed by German architect Ole Scheeran, the buildings are designed to guarantee privacy for the inhabitants – and inspire wonder in casual passersby.  

 

Sentosa Island

Video Credit : Overseas Attractions

For pristine white-sand beaches, beautiful rainforests & plenty of themed attractions, head to Sentosa Island. Interact with nature & wildlife on Palawan Beach, swim with the dolphins at Dolphin Island and just generally enjoy island life. A guide to all the attractions on Sentosa Island can be found here.  

 

Gillman Barracks

Video Credit : Marcus Tan Exploring Singapore: Gillman Barracks (Instagram-worthy place?)​

Different from what one might expect from a former (1930s) British army barracks, Gillman Barracks is now home to a dozen galleries displaying local and international contemporary visual art, making it a hotspot for art aficionados. Spread over 5 buildings, there is plenty to see, explore, and appreciate here.

 

Orchard Road

Video Credit : Island Hopper TV

Offering some truly spectacular architecture along with retail therapy, Orchard Road is a go-to place for not only shopping, but clubs, cinema, restaurants, art galleries, hotels and bars as well. There is certainly no shortage of entertainment on this street! Don’t miss the light show put on by the ION Orchard Shopping Mall to entertain passing spectators.

 

National Design Centre

Video Credit : WEB STRUCTURES Spotlight on: National Design Centre, Singapore

A Mecca for design-lovers, the National Design Centre is home to the National Design Council offices, as well as studios, galleries and a prototype workshop. Their Fifty Years of Singapore Design exhibition acknowledges Singapore’s 50th year of independence, showcases how design in Singapore has developed over time, and features 300 designs from industries like Visual Communications, Fashion & Accessories, Environmental Design and Product & Industrial Design. Their designer boutique and café offers both a quick bite to eat, and a delightful browse-through for shoppers.

 

Keong Saik Road

Video Credit : Discovery Walking Tours TV Keong Saik Road Singapore Walking Tour

Formerly a red-light district, Keong Saik Road is now home to a collection of award-winning restaurants, bars, shops and other venues that bring together traditional and modern Singapore. Get your fill of traditional eats at the Keong Saik Bakery and don’t forget to visit the Ripple Root Wall Mural – a stunning display of street art – before indulging in some Asian-inspired cocktails at Gibson.

 

HortPark

Video Credit : Brian Ong Singapore Parks and Gardens - HortPark

Love gardening? You’ll definitely want to visit HortPark, which offers recreational, educational, retail and research activities through guided tours, workshops and events such as Gardener’s Day Out. If you’re there just for the serenity and scenic views, HortPark will not disappoint, with its dreamy landscape of lawns & greenery on which you can picnic. Stop to enjoy a glass of wine at their bistro while you soak up the sunshine.

 

Indian Heritage Centre

Video Credit : AList SG Indian Heritage Centre

If you’re looking for your fix of biriyani or dosas, or just want to take in some of Singapore’s Indian culture and history, head to the Indian Heritage Centre in Singapore’s Little India. This 4-storey building houses five permanent galleries, as well as a museum shop and numerous activity spaces. The impressive architecture was inspired by the baoli (an Indian stepped well) and hosts year-round programmes & exhibitions that provide a glimpse into Indian culture & history in Southeast Asia.

 

National Gallery Singapore

Video Credit : CNA Light show at National Gallery | Singapore Bicentennial 2019

Housing the world’s largest collection of modern art from Singapore & Southeast Asia in a beautifully restored building is the National Gallery Singapore. The Gallery currently has eight ongoing exhibitions, including "Between Declarations and Dreams" – art of Southeast Asia since the 19th century – and Siapa Nama Kamu (translating to “What is your name?) which displays art from Singapore since the 19th century; serving as a depiction of Singapore’s history & culture. Apart from the art collections and exhibitions, the National Gallery also has a Library & Archive section and hosts numerous events for all ages. Head up to the AURA bar for spectacular views of Singapore’s famous skyline, and design lovers can further enjoy the Gallery’s ground floor shop & café.

 

South Beach Hotel

Video Credit : Suma Lifestyle JW Marriott Singapore - Formerly The South Beach Hotel Singapore

Impressive architecture, unbeatable views and lavish luxury with a state-of-the-art microclimatic canopy, South Beach Hotel is worth visiting for the views alone. Surrounded by restaurants, bars, eateries and other venues for entertainment, it’s a great place to visit to take in the splendour of design, impeccably executed by Foster + Partners.  

 

Tiong Bahru

Video Crerdit : Discovery Walking Tours TV River Valley Singapore to Tiong Bahru Market Singapore Travel Guide (2019)

Technically a residential neighbourhood with art deco style architecture, there is a lot to appreciate in Tiong Bahru. Explore local bookshops with literature from Singaporean authors & poets, take a heritage tour to explore Tiong Bahru’s history, visit the Bird Singing Corner, DEGIOSART Gallery, or have a bite to eat at one of the numerous cafes in the area. There are plenty of boutiques for the retail-therapy inclined, and many of the restaurants display interesting murals & pieces of art that fascinate customers.

 

Marina Bay Sands Hotel and ArtScience Museum

Video Credit : Asian Explorer ArtScience Museum in Singapore

One of Singapore’s most iconic buildings – and a truly breathtaking sight to behold – is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. An engineering & architectural marvel, the hotel houses a Skypark Observation Deck, from which you can take in what is said to be the best view in the city; while the nearby lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum’s rotating exhibitions and collections (displayed in 21 galleries) explore the relationship between art, culture, science & technology. Numerous bars & restaurants, places to shop, entertainment and attractions take up residence in Marina Bay Sands, so it’s well worth a visit.

 

Southern Ridges

Video Credit : En Route Traveler Walking Singapore's Southern Ridges Trail

If a walk through the trees with a scenic view of the city, the harbour and the Southern Islands sounds like your thing, visit the Southern Ridges, which is made up of Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve. Enjoy a walk along the Henderson Waves, a 10-kilometre walkway that spans two hilltops 36 metres above road level, where birdwatchers and other nature lovers will be able to spot various wildlife along the way, surrounded by unspoiled, natural foliage.  

 

Comments

Rated
7.5
Richard
ELITE
781 comments
11 November 2019
Singapore is also home to many historical and award-winning locations that incorporate the Chinese, Indian, Malay & Arab cultures that have become a part of Singapore over time.
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Rated
8
Jane
CONTRIBUTOR
3 comments
7 November 2019
As a former docent at the ACM (as well as other museums) & owner of a tours business focussing on heritage & culture, I must commend you on this excellent list! We run tours/ walks/ events at all these places & think you’ve chosen well. Thx Jane (janestours.sg)
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Jane, coming from you this is great feedback. Christina does a wonderful job working through the many options we have collated and her writing skill is honest and from the heart. Thank you for your feedback.
Rated
7.5
John
ELITE
190 comments
4 November 2019
The morning walk on Singapore's Southern Ridges' trails through Henderson Waves, Hill Top Walk - with a scenic stop at Telok Blangah Park, and Forest Walk is gold. An undiscovered gem in Singapore for everyone to do not once but everytime they visit Singapore
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Rated
7.5
Krystal
CONTRIBUTOR
25 comments
4 November 2019
I really liked watching the Dempsey Hill Video. This was filmed just after the rain stopped. You can see a lot of moisture still in the air and distant objects are hazy giving the footage a mystical feel. Thank you for sharing.
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Rated
8
John
ELITE
190 comments
4 November 2019
Watch the Fort Canning Video it is extraordinary. This video certainly gives an excellent overview of what to expect at Fort Canning. Nice camera work at the opening scene, as well as the closing scene, ending with footsteps walking away
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