1 - Asian Civilisations Museum
Start on Boat Quay outside the Fullerton Hotel, a grand colonnaded edifice near the mouth of the Singapore River that was once the city-state’s General Post Office but is now an iconic luxury hotel. Cross the pedestrian bridge to the left bank of the river and another huge British colonial building stands ahead of you, home to the Asian Civilisations Museum. This 14,000 sqm repository of history focuses on the many ancestral cultures of Singapore’s multiethnic population. More than 1,300 artefacts are displayed from all corners of the continent – it’s a fascinating insight into Singapore’s rich heritage. Open daily 10am-7pm; tel +65 6332 7798; acm.org.sg
2 - Art-2 Gallery and Fort Canning Park
Follow the riverfront promenade upstream for five minutes, under Elgin Bridge and onto Hill Street, where the old police station has been turned into an arts and culture centre. Here you’ll find Art-2 Gallery, which specialises in contemporary sculpture, paintings and ceramics, with bold exhibitions from regional artists featured regularly.
Right behind the building Fort Canning Park spreads out over rising ground. Stamford Raffles built his home atop the hill, which later became the British Army’s
Fort Canning barracks. Crisscrossed by walking trails shaded by enormous old trees – from banyans to kapoks and teraps – the park is both natural retreat and historical gold mine. There’s an old Christian cemetery, the shrine of Sultan Iskandar Shah, and Fort Canning Arts Centre is a venue for many outdoor events, from ballet to
Art-2 Gallery open Monday-Saturday 11am-7pm; 140 Hill Street; tel +65 6338 8713; art2.com.sg
3 - Clarke Quay
Exit the park from one of its southwest gates and cross River Valley Road – you’ll find yourself in Clarke Quay’s main entertainment, dining and nightlife mall. The riverside area on both sides of the water was once a bustling commercial district with shophouses and godowns (warehouses for merchandise) lining the waterfront and alleyways. These were redeveloped and spruced up, and now play host to a glittering array (especially at night) of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and retail outlets. You can cross the water via the pedestrianised Read Bridge (Malacca Bridge) but the north side has more than enough options to keep you busy. Most places open around noon, and keep going until the early hours.
4 - Hong San See Temple
Back on River Valley Road, turn left and catch a cab for the short ride northwest to the Hong San See Temple in Mohamed Sultan Road. A tranquil break from the modern pleasures of the quay districts, this unpretentious Buddhist temple is more than 100 years old, set on a small, feng shui-friendly hill, and comprises traditional buildings set around courtyards with colourful statues. Designated a national monument in 1978, it is a model of good cultural conservation. Open daily 7am-6pm; 29 Mohamed Sultan Road.
5 - The Warehouse Hotel
It’s time to cap off your exploration with a refreshing drink or delicious meal. Head south down Mohamed Sultan Road and left onto Saiboo Street, cross the bridge over Robertson Quay and on the riverside to the right you’ll see an attractive white building that blends Singapore’s history with modern luxury hospitality. The Warehouse Hotel, which opened in January this year, is a converted 19th-century godown that cleverly combines industrial and heritage aesthetics with hip, luxurious comfort in its cavernous lobby bar and lounge and relaxed restaurant Po. Depending on the time of day and your appetite, either sip one of the hotel’s imaginatively curated cocktails, or sit down for a hearty meal of classic Singaporean specialities cooked with an eye on authenticity – it’s old-style local comfort food elevated to fine-dining standards. 320 Havelock Road; tel +65 6828 0000; thewarehousehotel.com