With a rich, storied history, a vibrant culture, and fantastic views of the Central Business District, Singapore has come a long way in the last six decades. Whether you choose to sail down the Singapore River or hop onto a bumboat to fish for your dinner, every facet of this beautiful city is bound to fill you with amazement and awe. Yes, exploring everything when there are so many things to do in Singapore in one day is difficult. However, you can pretty much cover most of the old and the new. All in all, contrary to popular belief, packing about fifty years’ worth of history in one day is very much possible.
Singapore’s history is peppered with conflicts and periods of peace, and this has given way to some beautiful buildings that still stand testimony to those times. The best part is probably the fact that all you need is a bus ride to get where you want to be. Along with the LRT and MRT networks, and bus aggregators like redBus, the entirety of the city is yours to explore. You will notice that Singapore monuments have this unique architectural style, which is a blend of European and Chinese styles that are beautiful to look at. To help you plan, here are some of the top three must-visit landmarks of Singapore that are steeped with history –
Old meets new at the Padang
The Padang serves as one of the most significant historical regions in Singapore. If you are staying in and around Kuala Lumpur, then hop onto any city bus that’s numbered SPG1 or SPG2. If you are new to the city and arriving from the airport, then it would probably be a better idea to book bus tickets beforehand.
The significance of this place as the region where Singapore gained independence attracts a lot of visitors, so plan accordingly. There are some historic buildings here as well, like the old Supreme Court and the former City Hall. The latter has now been converted into the National Gallery Singapore so visitors can experience the city’s culture first-hand. From the ramparts of these old buildings, you can also look over the modern Central Business District that’s the hub of all official trade and technology. You can also take a quick walk down the Old Parliament Lane and see the statue that was built to commemorate the landing of Stamford Raffles on the city’s shores.
Cruising on the Singapore River
With its prime geographic location, Singapore has a rich maritime history since ancient times. Featuring in as one of the most serene things to do in Singapore, a cruise over the river is something that you definitely shouldn’t miss. Not only will this afford you with a unique look at Singapore history, but it will also give you some time to soak in the natural beauty of the city from a watery vantage point.
During the 18th century, this river was the central hub of all maritime trade and helped earn the city’s tag as home to the world’s third-busiest port. The cruise will take you on a route that allows you to take a good look at Clarke Quay, Marina Bay, and Boat Quay. There are hundreds of restaurants, shops, and homes scattered across these quays, so you can treat yourself to some shopping after alighting from the boat. If you aren’t staying nearby, then you can book bus tickets to travel.
Chinatown just cannot be missed!
A central area where the old and the new meet and merge again in typical Singaporean style. Transport yourself back in time with traditional tea houses that have been operating for centuries, along with hawkers. Don’t be surprised to see modern chic stores as well because that’s the unique aura of Chinatown. Add some hipster cafes into the mix serving up some delicious food, and you have yourself an absolute potpourri of Singaporean culture. Some decades back, this area was home to several opera houses that splashed it with colors. Even opium dens competed with these operas for space along with wet markets and hawkers selling anything from fish to clothes.
Head over to the Thian Hock Keng temple that’s a stone’s throw away. It’s located on Telok Ayer Street and is the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore. Don’t forget to pop into the famous Sri Mariamman temple that’s on South Bridge Road. Not very far as you can leg it. If you want to soak in some more of Singapore history, then a visit to the Tea Chapter on Neil Road and the Yixiang Xuan Teahouse on Tanjong Pagar Road is a great option. Once you work up an appetite, move towards Maxwell Road Food Centre that has some tantalizing delicacies like fish soup, goreng pisang, Chinese porridge, etc.
There you have it! If you visit these three areas, you would have experienced at least 50 years of Singapore history. Of course, there are several more areas, but these are a great place to start. Later, you can also take a bus from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and start backpacking to Malaysia. You can reach most of these places by booking bus tickets from redBus, which will surely have a bus route to these locations.