The Hidden Gems of Singapore
Whilst most of us associate Singapore with somewhere to transit on the way to Europe or for its shopping, there is of course a lot more to this small country- and I was lucky enough to get a small glimpse of it.
Singapore has a long and exotic history and so the best way to experience it would be on one of the fantastic walking tours by ‘The Original Singapore Walks’ company.
These tours do not have to be prebooked, just meet the guide at the appointed starting point and off you go. Their award winning guides are not only full certified by the Singapore Tourism Board but are also highly versed in history and heritage.
The walks cover diverse areas like the colonial district, Chinatown, Little India and the Kampong/Arab street area. They also have World War II tours that take in historic areas during the defence, capitulation, and occupation of Singapore.
As you have seen on our web site we have been lucky to be in the Winners Circle of My Travel Group in 2016 and 2017. Part of this prize is a conference trip away with the other top 20 winners. In 2016 the trip was to Singapore and whilst there we were treated to a “tasting plate” of the Original Walking Tours, a snippet each of 3 of their best tours.
We visited the Kampong area to view the Old Royal palace and Sultan Mosque. Really a lovely little area with original and colourful wooden Kampongs; a vast difference from the glass and concrete high-rises of modern Singapore.
From there we were taken to Little India with the first stop at the Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple. The guide told us wonderful Hindu stories that accompanied the pictures and statues all around the Temple. From the temple it was on to the street markets. Here your senses are really assaulted with the sights, smells and sounds. An array of goods are sold from Hindu statues to jewellery to incense to spices to clothes to Indian sweets and delicacies with each hawker trying to outdo his neighbour in volume to attract your attention.
After all the hustle and bustle of Little India it was nice to get a breath of fresh air at Fort Canning, our next and final stop. A relatively new museum/exhibition has opened here at Fort Canning, the Battlebox.
Opened in February 2016 it is the site of the Allied command during the battle of Singapore and the place where the Allies made the final decision to surrender to the Japanese.
Battlebox is located 9 metres underground and has 29 rooms comprising of barracks, offices and communications rooms used by Allied Command to co-ordinate the defence of Singapore.
Abandoned for over 40 years it has been restored along with wax dummies of the Allied leaders including in the conference room where the final meeting took place to surrender Singapore in 1942.
Visitors can only enter accompanied by one of the excellent guides who are a fountain of information and statistics. You are led through the rooms with running commentary from the guide describing the incidents and battles all leading up to the capitulation. The commentary is interspersed with video presentations showing actually film footage, photographs and interviews with survivors. The tour takes approximately an hour and is well worth the visit for anyone interested in modern history.
The Original Singapore Walks varies in price from approx. SGD38 per person.
Entry and tour of the Battlebox starts from SGD18 per person.
When I visited in 2016 I stayed at the Fairmont Hotel which was perfectly positioned. Located directly over an MTR station it is also connected to a department store and across the road from famed Raffles Hotel so not far for you to get your Singapore Sling. The hotel also has great views to the Singapore Flyer and the spectacular Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Cherrybrook Travel can of course help you to put together your ideal trip to Singapore, whether a stopover on the way to somewhere else or a trip to Singapore on its own.