Things to Do in Singapore
The Kranji War Memorial, located in northern Singapore, is an impressive structure built in 1946 immediately following the Second World War to commemorate the soldiers from the allied and regional countries who fought and died protecting Malaysia and Singapore from the invading Japanese forces.
Made up of a cemetery of nearly 5,000 servicemen and a separate memorial bearing the names of more than 24,000 others, the war memorial is divided in three segments to represent the different branches of the military, the Air Force, Army and Navy. Of the tombstones, about 850 remain without names.
Upon entering the memorial, there is a large bronze door nearby a reference book for each of the names within. On Remembrance Day, which is typically held in November, there is a rather large service at the memorial to pay tribute to those who lost their lives.
Having moved from the prison site to its new location directly across the Changi Gaol in 2001, the Changi Memorial and Chapel is a testament to those prisoners of war who were made to suffer and perish during World War II.
In the memorial, several artifacts from the period show how Singaporeans, particularly those prisoners being held in the Changi prison, had suffered under Japanese occupation during the war. Boasting tons of personal affects including emotional letters, drawings and photographs, the memorial tells the stories of more than 50,000 people who had been there between 1942 and 1945.
Entrance is free or for a nominal fee, visitors can elect to embark on a one hour guided tour of the complex that goes through paintings made years later by several internees who recreated what life as a POW was like inside the prison. Visitors can also purchase an audio tour or stop over to watch one of a few informative videos with footage from the era.
Merlion Park is not as much a park as it is a standing symbol for all of Singapore. Spread out over 2,500 square meters, or about 27,000 square feet, the park is perhaps most famously known for its centerpiece, a 2 meter tall, or seven foot, Merlion cub fountain at the center.
Because of the great city view from the park, which extends out to the Marina Day Sands , the waterfront park has become a busy destination around clock, with access open 24 hours a day. The park is centrally located on One Fullerton near to the busy Central Business District.
Drawing over a million visitors each year, the park’s Merlion cub was first unveiled to the public in 1972. A large public event was recently held for the 40th year anniversary of the occasion.
One of the more famous neighborhoods in Singapore, Kampong Glam is a preserved town once home to the Malay and Muslim elite that inhabited it prior to British colonization in the early 19th century. Although the town was comprised of a multitude of ethnic groups over the last few hundred years, much of this pristine town has been restored to its former beauty, with strips of colorful shop houses now home to modern businesses.
Among some of its other key features includes one of the most important mosques in the country, the Sultan Mosque. It also has a peaceful pedestrian walk called the Bussorah Mall as well as the recently opened Malay Heritage Center, which contains loads of cultural pieces and history showcasing the lives of Malay Singaporeans. As a destination for foreign visitors, the town itself now has several local restaurants as well as art galleries textile and carpet shops to peruse.
The oldest mosque in Singapore, the Masjid Sultan, is located in the Malay-Muslim quarter of town. The sheen of the two distinguished golden domes that top it, as well as its colorful yet tasteful façade, has made it one of the premiere destinations for visitors of any faith.
Standing on a site totaling 44,228 square feet (4,109 square meters), the massive interior two-stories high can hold about 5,000 faithful Muslims, with separate conference rooms and auditoriums to seat many more. It is also decorated with handcrafted motifs, golden floral patterns and calligraphy to top it all with intricate design.
Having long been a hub for local commerce and art, the mosque is also known to have been the place of several historic events, including where several racial riots took place in the 1950s.
More Things to Do in Singapore
Arab Street is a small area of Singapore, not far from the busy Bugis Junction in the Kampong Glam district. The area is full of unique shops and a vibrant street life. Many visitors discover Arab Street when visiting the grand Sultan Mosque (Musjid Sultan), a large and beautiful building built in 1924. In the surrounding streets, keen shoppers can find the most wonderful selection of fabric; find yourself some gorgeous sari material or wonderfully textured linens and have it sewn up by the tailors located upstairs. There are plentiful cafes, great Middle Eastern food and even luxurious spa treatments available.
Other popular goods for purchase include spices, woven baskets and fresh fruit. The more ambitious can try a shisha (hooka-style pipe) in one of the many late-night cafés, or listen to the live music at venues such as Blue Jazz. It’s not all laid back and traditional in this area though. Head to Bali Lane for hardcore punk music and gothic glam clothing!
For sub-continental color, cuisine, atmosphere and bustle, head to Singapore’s Little India, one of the island’s most vibrant and authentic precincts. Shops, restaurants and colorful Hindu temples line the streets of Little India, and the best thing to do here is to just take a walk and drink it all in.
The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is dedicated to the bloodthirsty god Kali, Sri Srnivasa Perumal is dedicated to the more peaceful Vishnu, the Taoist Leong San See Temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, and the Temple of 1000 Lights features a gaudily lit Buddha.
Come to Little India to sample terrific curries, dosas and banana-leaf thalis at restaurants, street stalls and cafes. Shop for everything from incense to saris, and lose yourself in the interestingly named Thieves Market, where anything and everything is for sale.
Lining the Singapore River, the renovated riverside warehouses and ‘godown’ shophouses of historic Clarke Quay make up one of Singapore’s major wining and dining precincts.
Now pedestrianised and home to shops, restaurants, nightclubs, river cruise bumboats and floating cafes, the precinct pays homage to Singapore’s river trade and colonial history.
Clarke Quay is a good place to look for varied cuisines, from Italian to brewhouse and fine French, and relaxed outdoor bars with riverfront views. It’s also where you’ll find Singapore’s wild Reverse Bungy adventure ride.
Orchard Road means one thing: shopping! Relentlessly lined with flashy shopping malls and upmarket hotels, Singapore’s premier shopping street is cheerfully lined with plenty of shady trees, seating and flower boxes. You’ll find luxury flagship stores from Dior to Armani, huge shopping malls like Ngee Ann City, department stores, cinemas and entertainment complexes.
Head to the basement food halls dotted along Orchard Road for a cheap and filling lunch, and come back at night to while the evening away at a nightclub. Orchard Road stretches west from Istana Park, home to Singapore’s president, to the botanic gardens at its western end. It’s a long, long stretch of road, but the street’s MRT stations, Dhoby Ghaut and Orchard, will help you get around.
One of the most famous shopping areas in Singapore, Bugis street is the home of some 800 busy shops, but it is perhaps the history there which makes it one of the more interesting landmarks in the country.
In the 1950s, Bugis Street gained notoriety as a place where transgendered locals would come down to hang out, driving a tourism boom that made it ideal for grabbing some push-cart, or hawker, food while enjoying a variety of inexpensive merchandise.
Today, the area is much more tamed and where the retail scene is still very much alive, but less of a scandalous place than it once was. Nonetheless, visitors still enjoy going to Bugis to listen about the history as well as get their hands on great local foods, candy and some of the most fashionable clothes in Singapore.
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