Singapore will play host to the 18th ASEAN University Games in July 2016, where athletes from 11 Southeast Asian nations will compete for top honours at these games. If you are new to Singapore, check out some of the must-see sights featured in this short guide to the Lion City!
No trip to Singapore is complete without a picture with the original Merlion statute – the 8.6 metre tall landmark is an unmissable icon and national personification of the city state. Designed by Singapore artist Lim Nang Sang, the statute was unveiled in 1972 at the mouth of the Singapore River before being moved to the current site in front of the Fullerton Hotel in 2002.
First-time visitors to Singapore should also take a tour of the National Museum of Singapore to learn more about Singapore’s development over the centuries, and the Asian Civilisations Museum for exhibits on Southeast Asian culture and history. Also, do check out the two latest additions to Singapore’s art scene; the National Gallery Singapore and the Singapore Pinacothèque De Paris (SPDP).
While you are in the civic district, drop by The Armenian Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, the oldest Christian Church in Singapore and a National Monument of Singapore. Completed in 1836 when the Armenian Community in Singapore was influential, Singapore’s Armenian Church has influences of Armenian Church architecture and borrows from British neoclassical style.
Spend a day or two wandering through the historical streets of Chinatown to immerse yourself in the district’s rich history. Besides the five-foot ways and various speciality shops, Chinatown is home to some of the oldest places of worship in Singapore such as the Sri Mariamman Temple (the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore), the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, and the Jamae Mosque.
Head up north to Little India where you will find one of Singapore’s most vibrant districts. Here, explore the Sri Veeramakaliamman and Sri Srinivasa Perumal temples along Serangoon Road, and drop by the 24-hour Mustafa Centre or the various shops in the area for shopping. At Kampong Glam, pay a visit to the Malay Heritage Centre where you can get to know more about Singapore’s Malay history and culture, take a guided tour at the impressive Sultan Mosque, and wander through the many colourful streets in the area.
These districts are also great places for an introduction to Singapore’s unique food culture on a budget. Enjoy a plate of Hainanese Chicken Rice and Char Koay Teow at Chinatown’s Maxwell Food Centre, or chicken dum biryani and Indian Rojak at Tekka Centre in Little India. Whilst in Kampong Glam, don’t forget to indulge in the delicious Malay “kueh” (cakes) and Nasi Padang, or a delicious Murtabak at Zam Zam or Victory restaurants.
If nature is your thing, the Garden City has plenty in store for you. Do not miss the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a 156 year old tropical garden that was recently inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. With more than 10,000 species of flora and various recreational facilities spread over its 82-hectare area, there’s always something for everyone to do here.
Equally impressive is the spanking new Gardens by the Bay, a 101-hectare horticultural park that is right in the centre of the city. The Gardens boasts two impressive conservatories (entry fees apply), the Cloud Forest that is home to the world’s tallest man-made waterfall, and the Flower Dome that replicates a cool-dry Mediterrnean climate.
If time permits, head down to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, the largest nature reserve in Singapore with 2,000 hectares of forest cover and home to a diversity of plant species. Key attractions within the Nature Reserve include the TreeTop Walk, a 250-metre suspension bridge that connects the two highest points in the nature reserve, and the Jelutong Tower, a 7-deck observation tower that allows visitors a spectacular overview of the surrounding tropical rainforest.
Like our guide to some of the sights in Singapore? Stay tuned for most posts on Singapore closer to the games period at aug2016.sg!