The post on our visit to Singapore in December has been long overdue and finally we are happy to share the wonderful experience with you all. Singapore is a cosmopolitan city with Malay, Tamil and Chinese descendants living harmoniously for many generations. The city’s architecture is also perfect blend of eye-catching colonial structures, modern skyscrapers along with colourful Chinese temples and beautiful Malay houses.
Apart from a fun-filled day at Universal Studios in Sentosa Island, we spent the other three days within the main city exploring in a leisurely pace.
We started the heritage tour of the city by visiting the Peranakan museum, a Historic building displaying the colourful history of the Peranakan community (a native-born of foreign ancestry) and their contribution to the vibrant Singapore. The museum is housed in old Tao Nan School and is a must visit if you are interested in the culture and heritage of the various immigrants in Singapore. The 12-day wedding rituals, intricate antique jewelry, wide collections of porcelain and various priceless artifacts are some of the highlights of the museum. The entry fee to the museum is $6 SGD.
Second day we decided to explore the two of the ethnic neighborhoods of Singapore: Chinatown and Little India. Both are a vibrant locality with spirit of its own, bustling with life throughout the day and a place of familiarity to its Chinese and Indian Immigrants, respectively.
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is one of the must visit places while you’re in Chinatown. The temple is built in Tang Style and the colourful details inside the temple are worth taking a look at. During our visit we got an opportunity to catch a glimpse of Buddhist monks offering prayer to the majestic 15 feet statue of Maitreya Buddha in the main Hundred Dragons Hall. Taking time from the temple tour we watched the devotees offer orchids, scented candles and incense sticks as a part of their prayer and the whole experience was so serene and peaceful rejuvenating our mind, body and soul.
The sacred Buddha Tooth Relic is located in the inner Chambers of the fourth floor, which is an elegant room with beautiful paintings and carvings adorning the walls of the room. Also do not forget to visit the museum that houses relics related to Buddhism collected from various countries and the rooftop garden where the Vairocana prayer wheels are located. The entry to the temple complex is free but do remember to wear appropriate clothes.
Few minutes walk from the Buddha temple is The Mariamman Temple, one of the oldest Hindu Temples in Singapore. The temple is listed as a National Monument and is a prominent temple for the Hindu community. The temple has an artfully designed Gopuram (main entrance), which is built in typical Dravidian style. As you walk around the temple premises you will notice Indian women in traditional attire offering prayers to the Goddess Mariamman.
After the Chinatown tour, we moved on to Little India a place where you can easily indulge in an authentic Indian meal, shop for flowers, jewelry and traditional attires. The uncanny resemblance to a local Indian market is easily noticeable as you wander the streets of Little India. We made a quick visit to the Mustafa Centre, which is a 24-hour shopping mall and then proceeded to have lunch at one of the Indian restaurants there.
Asian Civilisation Museum
Our last stop was the Asian Civilisations Museum located at Empress Place. The museum showcases the rich culture and heritage of Asia, more importantly its influence on Singapore. During our visit the museum was housing “China Mania!” a special display on Chinese Porcelain dating back from year 800-1900. The three-floored colonial structure is a perfect place to visit if you are interested in understanding the evolution of Asian culture.
Merlion and the Singapore River Cruise
On our third day in the city we were blessed with pleasant weather and hence we decided to take a tour in the iconic bumboats. After clicking good number of pictures with the Singaporean legend the Merlion, we took a ride in the Singapore River Cruise.
The 40-minute boat ride that gives you detailed commentary on historic landmarks like Fullerton Hotel, Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, Raffles Landing point and the modern structures like the Esplanade and the Marina Bay Sands. You can hop into to the boat from various pickup points and the tickets to the cruise cost $22SGD. Although we took the cruise in the daytime, the best time to enjoy the ride is during the night, as you will also get a chance to watch the Marina Bay Sands laser show display (which we missed unfortunately 🙁 ).