Singapore is a small island state in Southeast Asia that has a rich history. Although it is full of manmade attractions that make tourists come visiting from all parts of the world, the state has preserved numerous historical sites. Foreign tourists, students, and even businesspeople visit these historical sites to understand the history is Singapore and her evolution from ancient times to the current date.
If you are planning to visit Singapore for a vacation, business trip, or to settle as an employee, it is worth visiting one or more of these spectacular historic sites in Singapore. Each has a guide or detailed literature describing the history behind what you see.
Without further ado, let us dive deep into these spectacular historical sites to have a peek of what you will get when you visit.
National Museum of Singapore
This has to be the first on the list because it is by far one most visited historical places in Singapore according to government data. Being the oldest museum in the Lion City, it has artifacts that display the history of the country. It was started in 1849 as a library and museum.
The institution holds numerous events throughout the year in line with the history of the state. Thus, it is worth looking at the government website for better planning.
The museum is open every day from 10 AM to 7 PM to both locals and foreigners. Although there are guides who prefer to take you through as a group, you can still learn much of the history from the literature displayed alongside the artifacts. If you want to access the museum, it is located on Stamford Road.
Singapore Art Museum
This is an incredible museum for people with an interest in art. However, everyone else will also enjoy viewing various artwork of various people both in and out of the country. The museum started in 2006 and sits in a restored 19th-century school. Since it is the first art museum in the island state, the government is keen to collect the work of famous artists across the world and preserve it here. You will find art that is as old as the 18th century and as new as the current time. They have done a great job to explain the source, year, and inspiration of each displayed work. The museum is easy to locate along 8 Queen Street, and according to the current director, Dr. Eugene Tan, people can visit any day they wish. They are busy during the weekends and holidays when people are free to visit.
This is another museum that is popular in Singapore for preserving the Peranakan culture and history. It explains how these communities lived in Singapore and neighboring countries like Malaysia. As the attendants take you through history, you will have the urge to learn more. Initially, it was the Asian Civilization Museum, but the name was changed to give it more meaning and generate interest. There is no other such museum in the world, which makes it popular and worth visiting it along 39 Armenian Street. Since it was started in 2008, it has evolved to be a great center of information. People are free to flock here every day to learn and enjoy.
Mint Museum of Toys
You may wonder what is so historical about toys, right? But this museum has an incredible surprise for kids and adults alike since it has a big collection of vintage toys dating back to mid-19th century. They have no limit on the age of toys, and by now, they might have collected even older toys. They have toys from other parts of the world, particularly Asian countries such as China, which have close ties with Singapore.
If you are visiting the state with kids, this is a place that you should not miss. It is located along 26 Seah Street in Singapore, and since it opened doors in 2007, opens every day from 10 AM. Just like any other museum in the country, you might be lucky to catch specially-organized events that will make a visit to this venue very memorable.
Civilian War Memorial
This memorial was started in honor of civilization victims of the Japanese occupation in the state during World War II. They either fell fighting or were tortured as they fought towards getting a free country. Although it was opened in 1967, its work was not complete until 2002. The architect behind the incredible design is named Leong Swee Lim.
Today, it is appreciated as a great heritage site with a rich history for people to learn. Both holidaymakers and students enjoy visiting this place. It is located near the Esplanade MRT station, and just like other heritage sites in Singapore, it is open to everyone. You can access it from dawn to dusk without anyone questioning your reason for being there.
Kranji War Memorial
This memorial site is also dedicated to fighters who died during the Japanese infiltration during WWII in Singapore. Thus, it has a lot of similarities with the Civilian War Memorial we have discussed above. However, if you visit this site, which is located at 9 Woodlands Road, you will be met by several war graves and a public cemetery bearing the names of fallen soldiers who kept the Japanese at bay.
These soldiers are not only from Singapore but also other countries such as Sri Lanka, China, and Malaysia, just to name a few who gave the state military support. As such, this historical site has a lot of significance to the country. During Remembrance Day, the Singapore military performs a guard of honor at the Kranji War Memorial in respect of these soldiers. You are allowed to pay a visit to the memorial site during the day time to learn more. The doors are open even during the weekends.
Thian Hock Keng Temple
If you like, you can call it “the place of heavenly happiness.” It is a very popular monument that you can visit any day of the week. Although it was built in the 1820s in honor of Mazu, a Chinese goddess of the sea, it was only listed as a national monument in 1973. Initially, immigrants from China and seafarers would visit this temple to give thanks to the goddess for protection when on the seas, which made it very popular.
Fast forward to today and it carries significance in displaying the history of Singapore as a state. It also portrays her great ties with the east. Many Chinese in the country also visit the temple to worship Mazu. On the other hand, tourists from all corners of the world come here to learn and enjoy the architecture of this amazing temple. It is located along Telok Ayer Street in the Chinatown complex. Access to the public is controlled and guided to avoid distracting the worshipers.
Masjid Sultan Mosque
Sultan Hussain Shah of Johore built this mosque in 1824 without knowing that it would get the attention of the country in later years and be listed as a national monument in 1975. He built it next to the palace where he lived with the intention of having a place to worship. It’s no wonder why it is called the Sultan Mosque. Soon, worshipers would come from far and wide to worship here. The mosque is at 3 Muscat Street in Singapore and carries the tradition of Indo-Saracenic architecture, which makes it very popular among tourists.
Just like the temple we have discussed above, you cannot be here at any time. The entry for tour purposes is restricted to specific times for the sake of worshippers. However, no one will deny you entry as long as you are within this time. There is someone posted to narrate the history to people who visit the mosque.
Istana Kampong Glam Palace
The palace is located near the Masjid Sultan Mosque and was built by Sultan Hussain Shah of Johore in 1819 as his home. The land, 23 hectares, was given to him by the British East India Company. Later the land was reduced to pave way for a major road in Singapore. Throughout the history of this palace, it was reconstructed several times for varying reasons.
Although the palace stayed intact for many decades since the Sultan died in 1835, Singapore only recognized it as a national monument in 2015. People can now visit the palace at any day to get a tour and learn the rich history hidden within its gates. So, if you are a student, tourist, or explorer, this heritage site is worth visiting whenever you are in Singapore.
Sri Mariamman Temple
Singapore has a rich history with Hindu people from India and other parts of Asia. Thus, this temple plays a big role in backing up such history. in 1827, Naraina Pillai, a leader of the Indian community in Singapore in those years, founded the temple. It has been intact for almost two millenniums with just a few renovations. The Singapore authorities listed the temple as a national monument in 1973. It is located along 244 South Bridge Road inside the Chinatown complex.
Most of the Hindus in Singapore conduct their worship here today. Thus, access to the temple by the public is still highly regulated. If you plan your time well, you will get to enter this temple and learn the history behind it in detail.
This site has a rich history of how the British used this bomb-proof bunker to take shelter during WWII. It was their headquarters since the superiors would feel that they could remain safe as they strategized the moves to kick the Japanese out of Malaysia. It is inside of this historic site that the British made the decision to give Singapore to the Japanese in 1942.
Today, it is a crucial historic site that is visited by numerous tourists across the world and the locals as well. It is located in Fort Canning Park, and although it is open daily to the public, the tours into the bunker are usually guided. As such, one has to make their booking in advance and get a ticket at the indicated time.
Ancient forts were made to defend the country against an invasion coming through the sea. They would be built on a high shore or cliff, and Fort Siloso is no different. Although there were other two main forts in Singapore, this is the only one preserved to date. The cannons, which were the major defense weapons, are still visible in their places.
You can access this fort through Siloso Road and visits starts at 10 AM every day. They have very informative tours on any day that you can join without prior booking. Besides this, you can also enjoy other activities that are near the fort such as a visit to the Surrender Chambers to learn the effects of the war between the British and Japanese in Singapore.
Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall
This hall is dedicated to various art-related activities in Singapore. However, many people come here to learn and understand the history behind this hall that was built in between 1862 and 1909 following the style of neoclassical architecture. It was only listed in 1992 by the Singapore authorities as a national monument. It is located at 9 Empress Palace, which is a short distance from the Asian Civilization Monument.
Apart from sightseeing, one can visit the hall to enjoy various art events that are hosted here. Many of them are child-friendly unless guided otherwise by the appropriate websites. These websites also sell tickets for these concerts and events.
This is an inclusive list of popular spectacular historical sites in Singapore. At least some of them will interest you and a visit will be worth your time. Follow the guides that we have given to ensure that you have an easy time visiting them. If you do not like exploring by yourself, look for guided tours that cover the sites and monuments of your interest. Have fun!