Temples of many different religions are scattered around Singapore. Leong San See Temple on Race Course Road has wonderful frescoes and decorated carved animals. Kong Meng Sang Phor Kark See Temple Complex on Bright Hill in the largest temple complex in Singapore. There is also an Armenian Church.

The Temple of 1000 Lights contains a glazed 50-foot-high statue of Buddha; Thian Hock Keng Temple— built in 1840 as a tribute to the queen of heaven and protector of sailors—is an interesting temple on Telok Ayer Road; and Fuk Tak Ch'i Temple on Telok Ayer Street combines elements of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. The German Girl Shrine is a Singapore shrine dedicated to an unnamed German girl who has become a local deity. St. Joseph's Church, the first Catholic church, in Singapore is a Neo-Gothic colossus with a rich architectural history.

Thekchen Choling Singapore is a Tibetan Buddhist Temple that encompasses both the Tibetan and Chinese traditions, Founded by Singapore-born Lama Thubten Namdrol Dorje in 2001, it is often alive with the sound of bells and healing chants. Thekchen Choling, meaning “Great Mahayana Dharma Temple,” is named after the monastery of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and houses one of the biggest collections of mantra wheels in Singapore. The temple conducts regular weekly teachings in English and Mandarin, chanting and prayer sessions that you can attend or observe. As a place of both spiritual and physical healing, Thekchen Choling also provides free traditional Chinese medicine medical consulting service, acupuncture service and medicine. Nearest MRT Station: Farrer Park MRT (NE8), seven minute walk from Exit H.

Tan Si Chong Chu Temple was established around 1876 as the Tan clan's ancestral temple and assembly hall. Said to have excellent "feng shui", it is steeped in history and was built according to Southern China architectural style with gracefully-sweeping, curved roof ridge enhanced with upturned eaves, wooden carvings and ornamental gable eaves set in granite columns. The original decorations of the temple are very well preserved, particularly the altars, with their ancestral tablets. From 1889 until the Japanese invasion in 1942, the temple also housed a Chinese school. Nearest MRT Station: Clarke Quay MRT (NE5). Six minute walk from Exit B.

St Andrew's Cathedral in the downtown area is one Singapore’s grandest historical buildings. According to Singapore Time Out: “This impressive Gothic edifice was built by Indian convict labourers and consecrated in 1862. The original church (another of George Drumgoole Coleman’s creations) was replaced by a neo-classical building that was pulled down in 1855. In 1870, St Andrew’s became a cathedral, and has played a central role in Anglican mission work in the region ever since. Despite the flashy new glass Welcome Centre, it’s not really a showpiece. The transepts are more redolent of small-town English church halls than a grandiose cathedral, while the nave, with its ceiling fans and scattered supplicants, gives the sense that this is a working church. Brass wall plaques tell tales of personal suffering and professional sacrifice (it is striking how many of those commemorated died young), and guided tours highlight distinctive features, such as the Coventry Cross behind the pulpit (made from nails from the bombed ruins of Coventry Cathedral in 1940). Nearest MRT Station: City Hall MRT Interchange

Famous Chinese Temples in Singapore

Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple (in Toa Payoh) is one of the grandest temples in Singapore. The 40,000 square-meter site was originally owned by Low Kim Pong, a wealthy Chinese Hokkien merchant and devout Buddhist who donated the land after a dream led him to a chance meeting with a family that had taken Buddhist vows.

A national monument, this Buddhist temple was completed in 1908 and commemorates Buddha's birth and death. The temple has an elaborately decorated gateway, reached by a bridge, which opens into a courtyard. Take a walk in the courtyard to admire the numerous beautifully carved Buddhas on display.

Thian Hock Kheng Temple means The Seafarers’ Temple. In a place like Singapore, where Chinese immigrants first came in boats, there is bound to be a temple dedicated to Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea. The Thian Hock Keng Temple was erected in 1821 by seamen grateful for safe passage, and stands where Singapore's waterfront used to be, before the land was reclaimed.

Take in the remarkable architecture of the temple that’s been built in traditional southern Chinese architectural style, with stone, tiles and wood, dragons and phoenixes, detailed carvings, intricate sculptures and imposing columns – all amazingly assembled without nails. You may also want to check out a plaque presented by Qing Dynasty Emperor Guang Xu in 1907, evidence of the temple's stature in both Singapore’s and China’s history and lineage.

Hours and Days Open: Daily; Website: home.html; Admission Fee: Free admission. Address: 158 Telok Ayer St., Tel: (65) 6423 4616 Nearest MRT Station: Telok Ayer MRT (DT18). Three minute walk from Exit A.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum

The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum (in the heart of Chinatown) is a living cultural monument featuring exhibitions relating to various facets of religious arts and culture of Singapore. It also houses what Buddhist leaders regard as the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic in a stupa composed of 320kg of gold donated by devotees. This $62 million dollar temple was erected to house the left canine tooth of Buddha, reportedly recovered from his funeral pyre in India in the 6th century B.C.

The building was conceptualized and designed by local venerable Shi Fa Zhao, aided by a team of local and overseas consultants. Its grand design is based on the elements and history of Tang Dynasty and the Buddhist Mandala, the latter which is a representation of the Buddhist universe. So expect to find lots of references to both aspects, such as bone and tongue relic elements. The temple prides itself on the research made to ensure accuracy and authenticity on the design and monuments found here. Other highlights found in this building include the Buddhist Culture Museum, Eminent Sangha Museum, Tripitaka Chamber, and a Theatre for cultural performances, talks and films.

According to Time Out Singapore: “Scan through various displays of rare artefacts detailing the history of Buddhism and the different traditions practised in Asian countries at the Buddhist Cultural Museum. On the same floor, located at the rear of the hall, you’ll find the Sacred Buddha Relics Chamber. This houses what are regarded as the Brains, Blood, Muscle and Flesh Relics of Buddha. Another must-see is the 15-foot Maitreya Buddha that sits on the ground floor of the main hall.” [Source: Time Out Singapore, May 18 2019] Nearest MRT Station: NE4 DT19 Chinatown (Exit A)

Singapore Hong San See

Hong San See temple (on Mohamed Sultan Road) was built between 1908 and 1913 and was originally located at Wallich Street in Tanjong Pagar in 1836. Established by the Hokkien people of the Lam Ann clan, this temple is dedicated to Guang Ze Zun Wang, the God of Fortune. It later relocated to Mohamed Sultan road, and the temple now draws worshippers from different dialect groups.

Designed by Lim Loh, a well-known contractor, the temple, with its axial planning, courtyards and walled enclosures, is built in the southern Chinese traditional temple style. The prayer and entrance halls are richly decorated, with light reflecting the beautiful wood carvings from China. Four carved granite columns with entwined dragons and two dragons in pearl on the roof ridges are also a display of the Lam Ann clan heritage.

The Hong San See Temple was designated as a national monument in 1978. In 2010, it was also honoured with the Award of Excellence in the 2010 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The façade and the interior of the temple have gone through numerous restorations, with the first in 1868 when the old temple was at Tanjong Pagar area. Apart from Guang Ze Zun Wang, other deities worshipped here include Buddha and Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. Nearest MRT Station: Somerset MRT (NS23), 12 minute walk from Exit A.

Sri Veeramakaliamman and Hindu Temples in Singapore

Sri Mariamman temple (244 South Bridge Road) contains elaborate frescoes of Hindu deities and a spectacular roof decorated with dozens of life-size figures of gods and beasts painted with psychedelic colors. Chettiars Temple on Tank Road is another Hindu temple.

Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (At the heart of Little India on Serangoon Road) is dedicated to the ferocious Hindu Goddess of power, Kali. Her images – often portrayed with many pairs of arms, each carrying a weapon – are depicted on the walls of the mandapam or worship hall. Built in 1855 by Tamil labourers, the temple has a South Indian architectural style. The gopuram or tower, a common element in South Indian temple architecture, was built at a height so that it can be seen from a distance, allowing devotees to say their prayers from a distance even if they cannot visit the temple.

If you’re wondering why tiny bells cover the temple doors, you’d be interested to know that they’re meant for devotees to ring before entering, for their requests to be answered. Walking in, you’ll also see the well-decorated ceilings with statues of mythological Hindu deities, while a main shrine houses a jet black statue of Goddess Kali, flanked by her sons Ganesha and Murugam. Hours and Days Open: Daily 8:00am - 12.30pm, 4:00pm - 8.30pm; Website:; Admission Fee: Free admission 141 Serangoon Rd Singapore 218042, Tel: (65) 6295 4538 Nearest MRT Station: Little India MRT (NE7 / DT12). Four minute walk from Exit E.

Mosques in Singapore

Sultan Mosque (on North Ridge Road) is one of the most interesting sights in Singapore. It contains massive golden domes and a vast prayer hall. Other interesting mosques include Abdul Gaffoor Mosque on Dunlop Street and Nagore Durgha Shrine at 140 Telok Ayer St.

Jamae Mosque (218 South Bridge Rd ) was built in 1826 and was the first of three mosques in Chinatown erected by the Chulias, who were Tamil Muslims from the Coromandel Coast of Southern India. Together with its neighbour, Sri Mariamman Temple, the mosque stands out in its predominantly Chinese location.

One of the oldest mosques in Singapore, Jamae Mosque is also known Chulio Mosque. The site's architectural style is eclectic, and the intricately designed palace facade features tiny doors and cross-shaped windows. While the entrance gate is South Indian style, the two prayer halls and the shrine are in the Neo-Classical style typical of famed colonial architect, George Coleman – and are sure to please architectural fans everywhere.

Hours and Days Open: Daily; Website: jamae_chulia/index.php; Admission Fee: Free admission Nearest MRT Station: Chinatown MRT Exit A; walk to the end of Mosque Street

Sultan Mosque

Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque) lies at the heart of Kampong Glam, the Maly part of town. The best view of the Sultan Mosque is probably from the end of Bussorah Street in the Kampong Glam district, a street that’s home to coffee houses, as well as antique and traditional clothing stores. From this vantage point, you’ll enjoy the sight of the striking golden dome, beneath which lies the beating heart of the Muslim faith.

The earlier mosque on this same site was erected in 1825 with a S$3000 donation from East India Company. A century later in 1928, Denis Santry, an architect of Swan and McLaren, employed the Islamic-Saracenic style that combines ideas from Indian and Islamic traditions, designing a Mosque that incorporated the use of minarets and balusters.

For a chance to be part of the lively festivities around here, visit the Sultan Mosque during the fasting month of Ramadan or Hari Raya Haji. While you’re here, look carefully at the shimmering necks of the domes – you might realise that it’s actually made by the bases of thousands of ordinary glass bottles.

In the shop houses around the Sultan Mosque you will find things like rattan cradles, prayer mats, jewelry, and camel-skin bags. The area is also a good place to sample Malay food. Bussorah Street has been turned into a pedestrian thoroughfare. During colonial times, this was the heart of the Arab kampong and catered to the Muslim community’s religious needs. Nowadays, you’ll find an eclectic mix of old haberdasheries and new shops selling local wares, such as versions of the famed Singapore Airlines kebaya dress, decorative trinkets and accessories, and books relating to Arabic and Muslim culture and religion. Hours and Days Open: Sat to Thu 9:00am - 12:00pm, 2:00pm – 4:00pm; Fri 2:30pm – 4:00pm; Website:; Admission Fee: Free admission. Address: 3 Muscat St Singapore, Tel: (65) 6293 4405 Nearest MRT Station: Bugis MRT Station


Many of the museums in Singapore don’t have such great collections. Especially the high-profile ones are often more outstanding for their architecture and innovative packaging than their contents. Many of Singapore’s most prominent museums are housed in colonial era buildings that were extensively renovated in the 1990s and early 2000s. The waterfront is the centerpiece of Singapore's imaginative rethinking of historic buildings. Next door to Empress Place, is the Old Parliament House, built in 1827. After parliament relocated to a newer building in 1999, the building was renovated as part of a general makeover and became of the ArtHouse.

Singapore Science Centre (Jurong East MRT Station) was established in 1970 and is rated as one of the best institutions of its kind in the world. Its five exhibition galleries contain over 500 exhibits, many of them hands on and participatory. The center is designed mainly for kids but also has research facilities and hosts public lectures and scientific conferences. Its Omni-Theater, opened in 1987, houses a 274-seat omniplanetarium where images and films are projected onto a curved viewing area, extending over the audience's heads and beyond their peripheral vision, giving the illusion that one is immersed in what ever is being shown. The Omni-Theatre, which is equipped with state-of-the-art IMAX technology, is aid to be Singapore’s only domed cinema.

Singapore Discovery Center brings to life The Singapore story with five galleries of interactive and multi-sensory exhibits. Highlights include the Visionarium, the world’s first and largest interactive design studio with a 360-degree wrap-around screen, and the iWERKS Theatre, a flat-screen theatre that projects conventional and 3D giant screen movies. [Source: Time Out Singapore] Nearest MRT Station: 10 minute walk from Joo Koon MRT Station.

National museums: 8Q SAM, Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), National Gallery Singapore, National Museum of Singapore, Peranakan Museum and Singapore Art Museum (SAM). Heritage institutions: Chinatown Heritage Centre, Chinese Heritage Centre, Civil Defence Heritage Gallery, Heritage Conservation Centre {HCC), Indian Heritage Centre (IHC), Malay Heritage Centre, National Archives of Singapore (NAS), Police Heritage Centre, Reflections at Bukit Chandu (RBC), Science Centre Singapore, Singapore City Gallery (URA), Singapore Discovery Centre, Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Teochew Cultural Centre

Other museums: Tools of Old Singapore Museum, ArtScience Museum (Marina Bay Sands), Baba House (National University of Singapore), The Battle Box, Fort Siloso (Sentosa), Fuk Tak Chi Museum, Images of Singapore (Sentosa), The Intan, JCU Museum of Video and Computer Games, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (National University of Singapore), Madame Tussauds Singapore (Sentosa), Maritime Experiential Museum & Aquarium (Sentosa), Mint Museum of Toys, Nei Xue Tang Museum, NUS Museum (National University of Singapore), Parkview Museum, Red Dot Design Museum Singapore, The Republic of Singapore Navy Museum, Singapore Philatelic Museum (SPM), Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris, Singapore Coins and Notes Museum (SCNM), Sports Museum, and The Gem Museum

National Gallery

National Gallery is a huge museum housed in neoclassical buildings that used to contain Singapore’s Supreme Court and City Hall, where the Japanese surrendered in World War II.. The largest museum in Singapore, it has a large collection of South-East Asian art from the 19th century to and a number of kid-friendly exhibits and installations and frequently-changing high-profile exhibitions.

Rosemary McClure wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Paris-based architects Studio Milou joined the buildings by adding a filigreed roof with glassed-in areas and canopies that create a light-filled four-floor atrium. Modified catwalks link the two buildings, and rooftop gardens add a place to view the city. The result is visually spectacular: the two colonial buildings restored and unified to create a state-of-the-art museum. [Source: Rosemary McClure, Los Angeles Times, December 19, 2016]

“Inside, galleries house more than 8,000 modern Singaporean and Southeast Asian works, spanning years, techniques and artistic movements. The art tells a lot about the island: There are colonial prints and botanical paintings, animals, abstractions, fish markets, old Malay villages and an 1849 wall-sized painting by Raden Saleh called "Forest Fire" that depicts a frenzied scene of tigers at the edge of a precipice as the jungle blazes behind them.

“When the museum opened in November 2015, Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, told guests that he hoped the new gallery would help the city-state become dedicated to culture in the same way that other great cities such as New York, Paris and London are dedicated. "I hope that through the many exhibitions and activities ... we will discover new perspectives of who we are," he said. Singapore's goal for the first five decades of its existence was to become a commercial success; its new goal, experts say, is to become a creative success. The National Gallery is a major step along that path. Nearest MRT Station: City Hall MRT station. Take Exit B. The Gallery is approximately a seven minute walk via the Art Connector.

National Museum of Singapore

National Museum of Singapore (Stamford Road) houses several interesting displays on ethnic cultures in South East Asia. The virtual reality exhibit entitled "VR: The Dawn of a New Reality," offers 30 electronic experiences including walking on lava, designing a kitchen, cyberloving and solving a murder.

The National Museum has displays of Singapore's social and culture history and houses an impressive jade collection and a small but excellent collection of Oriental ceramics that belong to the National University. According to Time Out Singapore: “Previously known as the Singapore History Museum, the National Museum of Singapore is the largest local museum. It comprises two main galleries: the Singapore History Gallery, which traces the history of Singapore from its beginnings in the 14th century to the present day, and the Singapore Living Galleries, which focus on four themes: food, fashion, film and photography. From. [Source: Time Out Singapore, May 18 2019]

Nearest MRT Stations: 1) Bencoolen Station (DT21) on the Downtown Line and walk 350 meters via Bencoolen Street; 2) at Bras Basah Station (CC02) on the Circle Line and walk 250 meters via Bras Basah Road and Bencoolen Street; 3) Dhoby Ghaut Station (CC01/NE06/NS24) on the Circle/North-East/North-South Line and walk 450 meters via Orchard Road; 4) City Hall Station (EW13/ NS25) on the East-West/ North-South Line and walk 600 meters via Stamford Road to the National Museum.

Singapore Art Museum

The Singapore Art Museum and is expected to re-open in 2021. Singapore Art Museum (adjacent to the National Museum of Singapore) is housed in a restored 19th century Catholic School with a Romanesque entrance, classical columns, filigree floor tiles and a pressed-steel ceiling. Inside the spacious galleries, which were created from former classrooms, are 3,000 mostly 20th century paintings and sculptures. There is an impressive collection of jade objects.

According to Time Out Singapore: “This former Catholic school for boys was revamped in the early ’90s when there was a policy of converting old colonial buildings into public museums. Because of its small, unusual and hidden gallery spaces, it has never held blockbuster shows. Instead, it specialises in smaller exhibitions, mostly 20th-century Asian visual art, often drawn from its own collection of South-East Asian ‘pioneer’ art. [Source: Time Out Singapore, May 18 2019]

Asian Civilizations Museum

Asian Civilizations Museum (on the Singapore River across from the Fullerton Hotel) was opened in the mid 1990s in the colonial-era Ta Nan School Building. The first museum in the region to represent an integrated perspective of pan-Asian cultures and civilizations, it boasts 11 galleries showcasing more than 1,300 artefacts from the civilisations of China, South-East Asia, South Asia and West Asia. It has an excellent collection of rare artifacts and a permanent display on Straits and Chinese and Chinese religion and culture. U.S. President George W. Bush watched a Javanese gamelan performance here.

The Asian Civilizations Museum is the centerpiece of Singapore's imaginative rethinking of historic buildings in Singapore's colonial waterfront area. Wayne Arnold wrote in New York Times: “On the Singapore River steps away from the spot where Sir Stamford Raffles is supposed to have first landed, the British used Indian convicts to build Empress Place in the 1860's. Named for Queen Victoria, it housed part of the colonial administration, and later served as headquarters for independent Singapore's immigration department. [Source: Wayne Arnold, New York Times, April 25, 2004]

“Fittingly enough, Empress Place is now a museum celebrating the ancient cultures that collided to create the polyglot that is modern Singapore. Indian tourists are now pouring into Singapore, along with tour groups from China, shoppers from Indonesia and backpackers from Britain. Tourism here has largely recovered since the outbreak of SARS.

“Empress Place was reopened in March 2003 as a second branch of the Asian Civilizations Museum, and displays a permanent collection of artifacts from China, India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Outside, along the river, is one of Singapore's most pleasant restaurants, IndoChine, where the lights of Boat Quay serve as a romantic backdrop for dinner.” Nearest MRT Station: Five minute walk from Raffles Place MRT ..

Maritime Experiential Museum

Maritime Experiential Museum (Resorts World Sentosa) offers an innovative look at the history of the Maritime Silk Route. It is the first and only museum to showcase the maritime history of Asia, featuring over 400 rare objects and a variety of interactive and audiovisual touches take you on a journey of epic voyages. Opened in October 2011, it boasts a 360-degree Multi-sensory Typhoon Theatre and consists of more than 10 interactive points as well as an experience to board on the authentic harbour ships from Asia docked outside the museum. It is the permanent home of the Jewel of Muscat, a gift from the Oman Government.

According to Time Out Singapore: “Go on a voyage with well-known seafarers like Marco Polo and Sang Nila Utama to learn about the Maritime Silk Route. Sink into its rich trade history with 15 thematic galleries. Be wowed by the life-sized Jewel of Muscat – a ship built like a 9th century Arabian Dhow. Have a go at tying classic mariners' knots at the Learning To Navigate chamber – a brand new interactive section modelled after a ship’s lower deck. Don't miss the typhoon theatre's 4D show of a ship navigating a tumultuous storm. [Source: Time Out Singapore, May 18 2019]

Be awed by the life-sized replica of Admiral Zheng He’s Treasure Ship (Bao Chuan) and his massive fleet – a sight to behold! The Treasure Ships were believed to sail along with 30 to 40 medium-sized ones such as horse ships, supply ships, combatships, water tankers and patrol ships - which provided all supplies requiredfor their voyages.

Visit the 8 ports of call at the SOUK where visitors will be fascinated by the sight, smell andsounds of the people and cultures and the interesting stories about these ports along the maritime trade routes. Have fun and learn more about the maritime trade, the people and cultures at the various exciting interactives which are located along the SOUK and basement of the museum.

One of the key highlights of The Maritime Experiential Museum is the “Jewel of Muscat”, a full-sized replica of a 9th-century dhow which is a gift from the Omani Government. Be awed and fascinated by how the people reconstructed the dhow and their voyage on the historic maritime route between Oman to Singapore mainly by wind power and celestial navigation. Try your hand to navigate through the seas using the “kamal”, an ancient Arab navigation tool!

Experience the wrath of the sea in the Typhoon Theatre, a 360-degree multimedia theatre that takes visitors on a perilous voyage on board a 9th-century Chinese junk. Laden with cargo, the ship runs into a storm. The sea roars, the skies darken and the ship rolls, pitches, turns and finally sinks. At the end, the ship’s passengers find themselves in the depths of the ocean, up close with the shipwreck.

Hours and Days Open: Museum: Mon – Thurs 10:00am - 7:00pm; Fri – Sun 10:00am – 9pm; Typhoon Theatre: 10:00am - 8:00pm daily; Admission Fee: General Admission: Adult - $5, Child (4 yrs old to 12 yrs old) - $2, Senior Citizen (65 yrs old & above) - $3. Typhoon Theatre Admission: Adult - $6Child (4 yrs old to 12 yrs old) - $4, Senior Citizen (65 yrs old &above) - $3 Nearest MRT Station: HarbourFront MRT (NE1/CC29), 11 minute walk from Exit E.

ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands

ArtScience Museum (Marina Bay) melds art and science in lotus-flower-shapped building divided into 21 gallery spaces designed to host world-class exhibitions. Its roof is retractable, providing a waterfall through the roof of collected rainwater when closed in the day and laser shows when opened at night. The 13-minute light and laser show features music by Singaporean artist Iskandar Ismail and utilizes its multicolor lasers, lights, fountains and video projections. It is also is eco-friendly: The light show is provided by 250,000 energy-efficient LEDs.

Among the shows it has hosted are sets, costumes and props from films like Titanic and Harry Potter; and Future World, designed by Japanese arts collective teamLab, that takes visitors on an interactive journey of lights, digital art and magic; and the Minimalism: Space. Light. Object. The grand opening was was a Mongolian-themed ceremony complete with horses and "warriors" presided over by Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Vegas Sands Corp. [Source: Time Out Singapore, May 18 2019]

Kumi Matsumaru wrote in Daily Yomiuri, “The asymmetrical museum reaches as high as 60 meters, as if flowering alongside the hotel's three 55-story towers. "There already are great museums in this country, but there had been no museums linking arts and science. Actually, I think this is the world's first museum mixing arts and science," Moshe Safdie, the renowned architect who is responsible for the resort's overall design, said a day before the opening. [Source: Kumi Matsumaru, Daily Yomiuri, April 17, 2011]

"These shapes...from the outside...some say lotus, some say a hand of welcome," the veteran architect said enthusiastically. Surely, the museum resembles a gigantic flower with 10 petals floating in a giant pond or even a massive hand with 10 fingers. "And, because of the geometry, every room inside has a slightly different shape. While the museum holds special content, the building itself expresses content."

Befitting the country's status as one of the four Asian Tigers, the museum's permanent collection showcases the nation's cultural and financial wealth, which along with temporary exhibitions are exhibited in 21 galleries covering 6,000 square meters. One of the four opening exhibitions is Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds, which runs until the end of July. The event showcases 60,000 important marine archaeological finds of the late 20th century, mostly objects transported from China by a ninth-century Arab dhow whose wreck was found in 1998. Pointing at a large number of mass-produced ceramics and early examples of traditional blue-and-white china, Julian Raby, the exhibition's curator, proudly said the collection confirms the existence centuries ago of a maritime silk route between China and West Asia. Van Gogh Alive, scheduled to open Saturday, looks at his paintings from 1880 to 1890, accompanied by sights and sounds. The show runs until Nov. 6.In addition to exhibitions, the museum also will host related talks, tours and film screenings.” Opening Hours: 10:00am – 10:00pm daily, including public holidays; Website: ; Nearest MRT Stations: Bayfront, Promenade, or Marina Bay stations

Heritage Centers

Indian Heritage Centre (Rochor) features a glowing glass façade inspired by stepwells commonly found in South Asia. The building is a little over-the-top modern looking for neighborhood filled with shophouses. It contains a large number of artefacts it its five galleries. They document and explore the history and culture of Indians, particularly in relation to Singapore, all the way from the 1st century to the present day. [Source: Time Out Singapore, May 18 2019]

Malay Heritage Centre (the historic Istana Kampong Gelam) traces the history of the Malay community from the days of the earliest settlers and the sea faring might of the Bugis villagers to the golden years of the Malay entertainment industry. Featuring six sub-galleries, exhibits include the history of Kampong Gelam and contributions made by various Malay pioneers. The displays are well- presented with a lot of information on the history of Malay culture, with some interesting stuff on things like Malay music jukeboxes.

Describing the Malay Heritage Centre when it was being built, Wayne Arnold wrote in the New York Times, “Workers are converting the palace of Singapore's erstwhile sultan into a new Malay Heritage Center. After the sultan sold his domain to the British, his descendants vainly pursued claims to the surrounding property. Their palace fell into disrepair; eventually the family was evicted. Just outside the palace gates, the Yellow Mansion once occupied by the sultan's chief minister is now Tepak Sireh, a Malay restaurant, named after the traditional boxes used to hold betel nut. Tepak Sireh caters wedding receptions and also offers a delicious lunch and dinner buffet (alcohol is not served). Just pile some rice onto your plate and then choose from selections ranging from mutton curry to prawn sambal.” [Source: Wayne Arnold, New York Times, April 25, 2004] Nearest MRT Station: Ten minute walk from Bugis (EW12) station.

Arts House

The Arts House (housed in the Old Parliament House) a multi-disciplinary arts venue which plays host to art exhibitions and concerts. Built in 1827, the Old Parliament House is the oldest government building and perhaps the oldest surviving building in Singapore. The building was home to the Parliament of Singapore from 1965 to 1999, when it moved to an adjacent new building.

Wayne Arnold wrote in the New York Times: In 2004, “the Old Parliament House was inaugurated anew as the Arts House, a cozy complement to the Esplanade designed to demonstrate Singapore's commitment to reviving its artistic life as its commercial muscle falls under China's shadow. The Parliament's old chamber, with its high-backed leather chairs, has been left intact, with only a simple stage added. Other rooms have become a gallery, recital room and theater. Now, instead of political debate, it is host to plays, art films and concerts. [Source: Wayne Arnold, New York Times, April 25, 2004]

Hours and Days Open: Box Office Hours and Days Open: Monday to Friday: 10:00am - 8:00pm; Sat 11:00am - 8:00pm; Website: : General Admission Charges: Free admission, except for ticketed events. Address: Old Parliament Lane Singapore 179429, Tel: (65) 6332 6900 Nearest MRT Station: 10 minute walk from City Hall, 15 minute walk from Clarke Quay.

NUS Museum

NUS Museum (National University of Singapore) is an Asian art museum has over 7,000 artefacts and artworks divided across four collections. The Lee Kong Chian Collection consists of a wide representation of Chinese materials from ancient to contemporary art; the South and Southeast Asian Collection holds a range of works from Indian classical sculptures to modern pieces; and the Ng Eng Teng Collection is a donation from the late Singapore sculptor and Cultural Medallion recipient of over 1,000 artworks. A fourth collection, the Straits Chinese Collection, is located at NUS’ Baba House.

Hours and Days Open: Tues to Sat 10:00am - 7.30pm; Sun 10:00am - 6:00pm; Closed on Mondays and Public Holidays; Website: Free admission. Address: University Cultural Centre National University of Singapore 50 Kent Ridge Crescent Singapore 119279, Tel: (65) 6516 881 Nearest MRT Station: Kent Ridge

Opera Gallery

Opera Gallery(ION Orchard Mall) is a must-visit if you're into high end art and rich enough to afford it. The gallery has been bringing masterpieces of art to Singapore since 1997 and the collection here includes pieces by Picasso, Buffet, Dali, Gauguin, Miro, Braque and Chagall. You can also find regional art by top Asian artists like Chu Teh Chun and Zao Wou Ki.

Started in 1997, Opera Gallery Singapore was the first international outpost of this French name that now has branches in New York, Miami, Hong Kong, London, Monaco, Dubai and Geneva. You can also trust that you’re buying from the experts as the space is well curated, with the gallery's founder, Frenchman Gilles Dyan, being one of only 38 certified experts in European Contemporary Paintings accredited by the European Chamber of Art Expert Advisors.

The 743 square meter gallery’s recent sales have included a 1967 Picasso in colour pencil, the Homme Margeur de Pasteque et Flutiste, for about $1.8 million, and a piece entitled Howdy Doody by Andy Warhol for $240,962 to passing customers. Aside from priceless masterpieces by the old masters, you can also find regional art by top Asian artists like Chu Teh Chun and Zao Wou Ki. Hours and Days Open: Monday to Friday: 11:00am-8:00pm; Saturday-Sunday: 10:00am-8:00pm; Tel:(65) 6735 261; Nearest MRT station: Orchard MRT Station.

Offbeat Museums in Singapore

Some of the quirky museums in Singapore include the Changi Prison Museum and Chapel (Pasir Ris MRT station), which records the life of allied POW's during the Japanese occupation of Singapore in World War II (currently undergoing a major redevelopment and is slated to reopen in 2020); Chinaman Scholars Gallery (Chinatown) is where tourist can experience the life of a Chinese scholar first hand. The Urban Redevelopment Authority building on the corner of Maxwell Read and Kadayanallur Street features s scale model of Singapore as it looks now and how it envisioned to look in the future. Some of these museum may be temporarily or permanently closed, or closed at the time you visit, so check out the last information on them online.

Among some others are 1) the MINT Museum of Toys (City Hall MRT station), private five-story museum considered to be the largest collection of its kind in South-East Asia, with 50,000 pieces of vintage toys. from more than 40 countries, with some dating back to the mid-19th century; 2) Singapore Chinese Opera Museum (Rochor MRT station), on the second floor of a Kampong Glam shophouse, with styles, costumes and props used by different types of Chinese opera in Singapore; 3) Peranakan Museum (City Hall MRT), a popular three-story museum about the Peranakan culture in Singapore, documents and artefacts of Peranakan culture (Chinese-Malay), with artifacts, docuements and interactive and multimedia displays; [Source: Jaclynn Seah, Occasional Traveller July 14, 2017]

4) Civil Defence Heritage Gallery (City Hall MRT station) is in the historical Central Fire Station, Singapore oldest fire station, and is popular among parents with young kids. The striking red-striped, red-bricked colonial building gallery showcases Singapore’s civil-defence developments from the nineteenth century to the present. In addition to antique fire engines and interactive stations where you can experience what fire fighters have to go through in an operation, visitors can ascend the hose tower, which was Singapore’s highest viewpoint in the 1920s. Time Out Singapore, May 18 2019]

5) The Singapore Maritime Gallery covers Singapore’s shipping and maritime history. 6) the Former Ford Factory has been recently renovated and is where Singapore surrendered to the Japanese in WWII. 7) Reflections at Bukit Chandu is a memorial for a courageous Singaporean army brigade faced down the Japanese invaders in WWII and sadly lost. 8) The Swiftlet Garden Museum is run by a company that sells birds nest products and features a bird calling demonstration.

Republic of Singapore Air Force Museum (Paya Lebar MRT station) traces the development of the Republic of Singapore Air Force with air force artefacts and dioramas with audio-visual effects. The outdoor gallery showcases fighter planes such as the A4-C Skyhawk, the SF 260 Marchetti and the Hunter Hawker. Singapore Sports Museum (Kallang MRT station) follows the history and development of various sports in Singapore. In the Traditional & Indigenous Sports Gallery, you can learn all about local games such as Chinese hopscotch, Chapteh and Five Stones, while the country’s top sportsmen and women are honoured in the Our Heroes Gallery. [Source: Time Out Singapore, May 18 2019]

Parkview Museum (Rochor MRT station) also known as the ‘Gotham City’ building houses the largest collection of Italian art in Asia, as well as an extensive range of contemporary art from across Europe and Asia. The private gallery also hosts exclusive exhibitions, themed showcases and guided gallery tours for art aficionados. The Vintage Cameras Museum (Bugis MRT station) contains over 1000 vintage cameras, including a massive Rollei camera, novel old-school spy cameras and pistol cameras.

The Battle Box (City Hall MRT) is hour-long tour to a World War II underground command centre, where guides tell the story of how Malaya and Singapore fell to Japan in just 70 days and explain the roles that the bunker played during the war while taking you to replica and real genuine rooms used in the war. Red Dot Design Museum Singapore (Marina Bay MRT) is an offshoot of the famous red dot museum in Germany, the largest exhibition of contemporary design in the world. It is located in the Red Dot Traffic building, a grandiose colonial style structure. Hours and Days Open: Mon, Tues and Fri 11:00am - 6:00pm; Weekends 11:00am - 8:00pm; Website: General Admission Charges: Adult $8; Student $4, Children (under 12) $4. 02-15, Red Dot Traffic Building, 28 Maxwell Road, Tel: (65) 6534 7194 Nearest MRT Station: Four minute walk from Exit B of the Marina Bay MRT station:

Intan Tea Museum

Intan Kueh Tea: Jaclynn Seah wrote: “A yummy museum experience! Most institutions will have you scurrying for the exits if you pull out a snack amidst the exhibits, but at The Intan, the Nyonya kueh you are served is considered an integral part of the visitor experience...The Signature Tea Experience usually costs $60 for a minimum of 4 guests (it used to be $45 for a minimum of six guests) and is open by appointment only. [Source: Jaclynn Seah, Occasional Traveller July 14, 2017]

“Owner Alvin Yapp wanted to create a unique and intimate way for people to understand Peranakan culture, which resulted in the Intan Signature Tea Experience, an hour-long session where he personally guides you through his tiny two-storey shop-house space filled with an array of Peranakan artefacts. Yapp caps off the tour with traditional Peranakan snacks and tea.

“It’s a truly personal way to learn about this unique culture — there are no placards or artist statements, but ask a question about any of the knick-knacks in any corner of the house and Yapp will give you a spiel that covers anything from the significance of the object to Peranakan culture, or how he managed to collect it. The museum is unusual as it is actually Yapp’s current abode — his room is on the second floor — and is located in Joo Chiat, a traditionally Peranakan neighbourhood. The Intan is located at 69 Joo Chiat Terrace. Nearest MRT Station: Eunos EW7.

Singapore Philatelic Museum

The Singapore Philatelic Museum is closed from March 2019 to December 2020. Singapore Philatelic Museum feature philatelic materials of Singapore dating back to the 1830s and an extensive collection of stamps from member countries of the Universal Postal Union. Housed in a former school, It’s also a working post office: where you can make your own stamps and few postcards.

Jaclynn Seah wrote: “They did a great job of making stamps more than just tiny bits of paper – this is a whole interactive exhibit about food in Shakespeare’s era and has stamps showcasing these food items The Singapore Philatelic Museum (SPM) is the only place in Singapore where you can personlise your stamp sheet, thanks to the MyStamp Service, which allows you to print your photo in the tab next to an actual stamp. It costs around $23 to create one and makes for a unique and personalised souvenir. You can also get a special SPM postmark on your letters if you mail them from the SPM mail counter. You can bring along your own photo – I didn’t know about it beforehand so they took a photo of me outside the museum and used that. You have to use both the photo and the stamp together if you do intend to send this in the mail! [Source: Jaclynn Seah, Occasional Traveller July 14, 2017]

“One might imagine that a museum dedicated to stamps might appeal only to those with a serious interest in philately, the study of stamps. However, the various exhibitions covering themes ranging from Singapore history to pop-culture heroes like Harry Potter and Shakespeare don’t just showcase stamps in all their finery. The stamps form parts of exhibits that tell a larger story of a particular moment in history in a surprisingly interesting way. The interactive exhibits also make the SPM a popular choice for schools and families, especially during school holidays and weekends. I was honestly expecting to be bored here but it turns out I really enjoyed my visit. Thanks to Adeline who gave me an awesome tour of the place!

Singapore Philatelic Museum is located at 23B Coleman Street. Opens 10:00am-7:00pm daily. Free for Singapore Citizens & Permanent Residents, for visitors it’s S$8 for adults and S$6 for children Nearest MRT Station: MRT is City Hall Interchange (EW13/NS25)

Singapore Musical Box Museum

Musical Box Museum houses an extensive collection of music boxes Jaclynn Seah wrote: “Collectors always leave me in awe with their dedicated passion for a specific item. Something about single-mindedly amassing a huge number of a particular object and then seeing it all in one place strikes me as impressive. In this case, that item is the musical box, of which the founder of the museum Mr Naoto Orui has over 40 pieces from his personal collection displayed here in this little museum. [Source: Jaclynn Seah, Occasional Traveller July 14, 2017]

“What do musical boxes have to do with Singapore anyway? These fancy music playing items always struck me as a very European affectation, a frivolity that only the rich could afford because it’s mostly decorative. It turns out that back in Singapore’s British colony days, local craftsmen were taught by the British to repair musical boxes and even went on to make some of their own. In fact, you can even see a rare musical box produced in the 1800s that was made in Singapore, one of the reasons that the founder wanted to set up the museum here in the first place.

“What I also found fascinating is that musical boxes aren’t just table-top sized – in fact some of these contain their very own marching band. Some of the big ones are large enough to rival grandfather clocks and contained 7 or more different instruments inside! The guide carefully wound up some of these boxes (some are even coin operated) to show us the mechanical workings of the musical box and the songs they play. It’s not all musical boxes though, you can also see some old school gramophones and random decorative items, definitely something you don’t quite expect to see in Singapore.

“Also another bonus is that in the same Chong Wen Ge compound, you can have a drink and some snacks at the Peranakan Tile Gallery, which is more of a cafe cum shopfront for tiles sold by Aster by Kyra, but what’s fascinating is that these people have quite an impressive selection of Peranakan tiles that were salvaged from old shophouses that were demolished – you can get replicas of course but you can also buy the originals if you are willing to fork out quite a lot more!

Singapore Musical Box Museum is located at 168 Telok Ayer Street, Chong Wen Ge next to Thian Hock Keng Temple. Opens 10:00am-6:00pm (last tour 5:00pm), closed on Tuesdays. Costs S$12 for adults, S$6 for concession tickets. Includes cost of mandatory tour (40-60 mins) that starts on the hour. Nearest MRT Station: Closest MRT is Telok Ayer (DT18) or Raffles Place Interchange (EW14/NS26)

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is Southeast Asia’s first natural history museum. Spread over two floors, 15 zones and 2,500 square meters, the exhibition gallery is home to 2,000 specimens of Southeast Asia plants and animals. The biggest draw are three 150 million-year-old dinosaur fossils.Jaclynn Seah wrote: “Three huge dinosaur skeletons take up the main exhibition space. There is an outdoor area upstairs outside, and the building itself is practically a hanging wall garden.” [Source: Jaclynn Seah, Occasional Traveller July 14, 2017]

This museum at the National University of Singapore campus and is a little hard to get to. But “it’s definitely a place worth spending a few hours in if you love animals and biodiversity. Lots of interactive and digital displays to teach you about biodiversity in Singapore and around the region, the museum is presented very beautifully and a wonder for animal lovers to behold. I was there on a weekday afternoon so the place was pretty empty and I had all the space and time to linger at the exhibits. There are some pretty fine skeletons on display – 3 large dinosaurs and of cause the skeletal remains of the sperm whale that washed ashore on Singapore’s west coast a bit further inside.

The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is located at the National University of Singapore, 2 Conservatory Road at the Faculty of Science. Opens 10:00am-7:00pm, closed on Tuesdays. Note that there are 3 sessions of tickets available based on entry time – 10:00am, 1:00pm and 4:00pm. Tickets cost S$16 for adults, S$9 for children 3-12 years (Singaporeans and PRs), and for visitors its S$21 for adults and S$13 for children. You can buy tickets beforehand online or at SISTIC counters, and you can get tickets at the museum itself but it’s NETS and Credit Card only. Nearest MRT Station: Dover EW22.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Singapore tourism websites, Singapore government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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