With so many cultures and cuisines packed into this island nation, we reckon you can soak up more culture here per square foot than anywhere else in the world. Take in art, history, and heritage influences from India, China and Malaysia. Here are our top five spots to experience Singapore’s unique culture…
© The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Singapore's Chinatown at sunset
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
Visit this beautiful, well-maintained temple to see the temple’s namesake: the left canine tooth of Buddha. While you’re here, see the giant prayer wheel and visit the stunning roof garden; if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a service and enjoy the chanting of the monks. If you’re dressed for the Singapore heat rather than a demure temple visit, you can cover up with one of the provided sarongs.
Chinese Heritage Centre
Trace the history of the early Singapore pioneers from China and get a snapshot of their world when they arrived. The Centre’s permanent exhibition specializes in the study of the overseas Chinese population: admire the recreated interiors of the original shops and homes of Chinatown’s early residents. After stepping back in time, stroll around the Yunnan Gardens and the Nantah Lake.
Also known as Masjid Jamae, this is one of the oldest mosques in Singapore: established in 1826 (and rebuilt in the 1830s). This Chinatown landmark (the landing side for immigrants who arrived by sea) was established by early immigrants from India, who had a significant influence on colonial Singapore. We also recommend heading to Arab Street for the majestic Sultan Mosque.
Haw Par Villa
This outdoor art gallery and cultural theme park has to be seen to be believed. It’s the creation of the two brothers behind Tiger Balm, the special herbal formula that soothes aches (thus this landmark is also known as Tiger Balm Garden). Wander the park to see 150 dioramas showing scenes from Chinese mythology and take in 1,000 statues and colorful pagodas for free.
Asian Civilisations Museum
Get a comprehensive view of the diverse Asian civilizations that make up Singapore’s history in one spot at this museum. The must-see exhibit is the Tang Shipwreck, with artifacts from nearly 1,100 years ago on display. Marvel at 60,000 ceramics, gold cups and silver, as well as ninth-century bowls and mirrors that were rescued from the ocean. You can also explore exhibitions devoted to the various Asian religions, ethnography, archaeology, and art that have shaped Singapore’s landscape.