City Center
Boat rides - Start your visit to Singapore with a ride on a "bumboat" on the Singapore river. Bumboats are traditional boats that carried cargo back and forth from warehouses to ships. Before you board, kids will want to check out the bright colored boats, with painted eyes on the bow. Boats leave from Boat Quay, North Boat Quay, Clark Quay or Clifford Pier.
For a harbor cruise, pick up a boat at the World Trade Center. From Clifford Pier, you can buy tickets for a cruise around the Southern Islands on an ornate Chinese junk, a replica of an imperial Ming Dynasty boat. This cruise also includes high tea, and a stop at the island of Kusu.
Asian Civilizations Museum - Visit this museum for a taste of the different cultural traditions that combine in Singapore - Islamic, Buddhist, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian. There are Batak wood carvings and masks from Sumatra, elaborate gold and silver jewelry, carved stone and bronze Buddhas from South India, intricate Chinese jade and Chinese puppets, exquisite Islamic calligraphy in the form of birds or lions. Click here for more info.
Fort Canning Park - Six hundred years ago, the Malay kings ruled from this point. The last of the Malay kings was buried at the bottom of the hill. When the British arrived in the 19th century, Sir Stamford Raffles, built his government house here, and later the hill was defended with Fort Canning. In World War II, the operations center for the British Malaya Command was located in a bunker in the hillside. Today on the hill, there is also an artificial lake, sculpture garden, and picnic areas.
Fort Gate is all that remains of Fort Canning. As you pass through the gate, climb the stairway up to the gate roof. Good views of the park.
The Battle Box (Canning Rise) - During World War II, this underground operations center issued the surrender of the British in February 1942, and Singapore fell to the Japanese. The bunker has been restored, and a multimedia exhibit dramatizes these wartime events.
Central Fire Station (Hill St.) - Visit the oldest fire station in Singapore. Still a working fire station, Heritage Gallery has historic fire engines. Every Saturday from 9am - 11am is open house. Walk-in visitors are welcome - demonstrations and firefighters put out a fire.
National Museum of Singapore - In the Singapore History Gallery, find out the history of this vibrant trading city - earliest settlers on the island, immigrants from China, trade from the Indonesian archipelago, founding of a British trading post by Sir Stamford Raffles, Japanese occupation in WWII, plus eleven different national treasures. The Living Galleries have exhibits about food, films, popular songs, and puppetry.
Arab Street - If you love gorgeous fabrics, take a walk down Arab Street. Originally a neighborhood of Muslim traders, the area still has an Islamic flavor. The shops are stuffed to the gills with silks, and hand-done batik. Also look for beads in the shops - you'll find something special to bring back for beadwork. While you're in the vicinity, pass the Sultan Mosque, impressive with its golden dome and minarets, a center of the Islamic community in Singapore
Little India - From Arab Street, cross over the Rochor Canal to Serangoon Road, a neighborhood teeming with Hindu temples, shops with saris and spices. (On Cuff Road, one spice shop still grinds spices by hand.) In flower shops, watch garland makers creating beautiful flower leis. Have your hands painted in traditional henna designs, or your fortune told by a parakeet (the bird picks out a card with your fortune on it.) Shop for bangles and other lovely Indian jewelry, or a Kashmiri shawl. The Cultural Corner at the Little India Arcade has videos and other exhibits, where you can learn more about Indian culture and customs.
Don't miss the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, one of the oldest Hindu temples in Singapore. The gopurum (tower gate) is intricately decorated with gods, goddesses and fantastic animals. Inside the temple is a statue of Kali, with the elephant-headed Ganesha on one side, and Murugan, riding on a peacock, on the other.
Stop into the Temple of a Thousand Lights, the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple to see a large footprint of the Buddha and a big 50 foot Buddha, adorned with colored lights. For a small fee, you can spin the wheel of fortune to have your fortune told.
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