Start at the beginning of Singapore’s modern history, the Raffles Statue that marks the place Stamford Raffles is thought to have landed on January 29, 1819. Opposite, on the south bank of the Singapore River, are the towering office blocks of the Financial District and bustling Boat Quay – a row of converted shophouses and godowns that now house a slew of restaurants and bars. Turn left and cross the iron-link Cavenagh Bridge, built in 1868. Across the river on your right is the Fullerton Singapore, formerly the General Post Office. The Asian Civilisations Museum at Empress Place is on your left. This huge neoclassical building was designed as a Court House and was renamed the Empress Place Building to commemorate the reign of Queen Victoria, Empress of India. Walk on towards the Dalhousie Obelisk and then to two fine, colonial buildings – Victoria Theatre, completed in 1862 as the Town Hall, and Victoria Concert Hall, added in 1905 and now home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. In front of the buildings stands the original statue of Raffles. Stop in for Hainanese chicken rice at Yet Con Restaurant.
Memorials & Raffles Hotel
Merlion Park is at the centre of Singapore’s colonial district. It is also walking distance to Esplanade Park, full of memorials worth noting, including the pagoda-like Lim Bo Seng Memorial, the Indian National Army monument and the Cenotaph, dedicated to the soldiers who died in the two World Wars. The final memorial in the Park is the Tan Kim Seng Fountain, a beautiful Victorian fountain unveiled in 1882 in recognition of Mr. Tan's donation towards free piped water for the town. Cross Connaught Drive to the 'Padang' and then to Stamford Road for a closer look at the Civilian War Memorial, whose four pillars have earned it the nickname "chopsticks". It symbolises citizens from Singapore's four main races who died during the Japanese Occupation. Time for some lunch and relaxation now, so cross Beach Road and then Bras Basah Road to that venerable outpost of colonialism – Raffles Hotel. Cool off in the third floor museum for a dose of Raffles memorabilia before tucking into lunch at one of its several restaurants and cafés. Do try Doc Cheng's with its East-West cuisine and a Singapore Sling at The Long Bar. Then spend an hour or so at the hotel's shopping arcade where you will find exclusive brands like Tiffany & Co.
Fort Canning Park
Fort Canning Park was once the quarters for the Malayan rulers of Singapore. The tomb of Sultan Iskandar Shah is believed to be in the park. Wander around and admire the many oddities seen here, including the sundial, Singapore’s first Christian cemetery, and the modern music and performance venues before crossing Coleman Street to tour the Substation. The old power station has been converted into an art space with rotating exhibitions, performance pieces and a fun outdoor café. Next door is the Armenian Church, built in 1835. Walking up Victoria Street you will pass the Stamford House, a former hotel that is now an upmarket shopping arcade with a reputation for excellent antiques. Finally you arrive at Chijmes, a breathtaking Gothic structure adjacent to the historic Caldwell House. Stop in to admire the stained glass, murals and more that was preserved when Chijmes was renovated from a convent into a shopping mall.
Sentosa & Siloso Beach
This island is easy to get to from the historic centre of Singapore is dedicated to the historic and natural heritage of the area. With so much to do, it can be hard to decide what to see first. A great place to start out is the Merlion Walk along Imbiah Lookout. This whimsical path takes you past fountains, gardens and more, ending at a statue of the Merlion. Next head up to the Sky Tower to get a panoramic view of the area. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Malaysia. Next stop is Asia’s biggest aquarium, Underwater World. From an underwater tunnel you can walk through a living coral reef, view native sea species and more. Finally, make a stop at Siloso Beach to enjoy a sandy respite. This completely man-made beach is a favourite for volley ball enthusiasts, and the boardwalk has plenty of interesting shops. Around sunset, Café del Mar is one of the most romantic spots in town.
Encompassing the area between South Bridge Road and the Singapore River, Chinatown is a lively mix of old and new that is easily explored on foot. Not all the newcomers who settled in the area were from China, however. First, start out at the Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple. Next door is the equally important Jamae Mosque. The minarets of the mosque show Chinese influence, but the temple was originally built by South Indian Muslims, also known as "Chulias". From here make your way down Cross Street through the heart of Chinatown to Telok Ayer, turn left, and head towards the longest operating Chinese temple in Singapore, Thian Hock Keng. Retrace your steps back to Cross Street and then continue down Telok Ayer to the Fuk Tak Chi Museum. This is the first Chinese temple in the area, and it now serves as a street museum dedicated to Chinatown’s culture and heritage. It is also adjacent to the Far Eat Square, a commercial interpretation of "Old Chinatown" shophouses where you can find excellent dining and shopping.