the POSH guide
The best of Southeast Asia

Singapore's Asian Flavors

The British imported Chinese workers as well as peoples from other parts of the empires. These groups often congregated into their own districts, giving Singapore areas with distinctive buildings and styles. Take a walk down Arab street, where you'll find fabrics from across Asia. Not far from here, along Serangoon street, is "Little India." Of course, there's also a Chinatown.

Over the last few years or so, numerous "historical" areas have been developed, such as Bugis Junction, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Tanjong Pagar. These are very tourist-oriented areas, where the development has a Disneyland quality to it. The buildings have been completely gutted, and some even built from scratch, to conform to an ideal of what we think old Singapore should look like, rather than what they really were. That doesn't make them bad places for eating a relaxing dinner, though.

Our favorite is Clarke Quay. It has the requisite compliment of far too many restaurants to choose from easily, but unlike Boat Quay just down the river, it also has carts and small curio shops to poke around in while trying to decide what kind of food you're in the mood for. Not that Boat Quay is without its own charms. Almost all the dining area is right on the river. Across the river, the neo-classical museum is brightly lit at night, making a highly romantic setting for an intimate dinner. After dinner, take a stroll down past the end of Boat Quay where the plaza of a large modern office complex affords many places to sit and watch the lights play on the water. At this point you're not far from what is currently the most popular club in Singapore, Centro.

Cultural Center

Esplanade Cultural Center
The oddly domed Esplanade, Singapore's new cultural center.

An impressive new cultural center opened in October 2002 on the waterfront near Suntec City. The center has theaters, concert halls and galleries. The building itself promises to be controversial, as many compare it to a pair of gigantic housefly eyes.

Even if you're not interested in a cultural performance, the center is worth checking out for the fantastic view from the food court in the rear. From here you get a gret view across the harbor to the relocated Merlion with the skyscrapers of the the business district in the background. The view is slightly better in the daytime than it is at night, but its a great place for lunch or dinner. There are several restaurants ranging from quick-service to fine dining formats.

Cultural Tours

Our partner Viator offers a number of day trips that focus on the multi-cultural history of Singapore. A selection is shown below, or view the entire list of available Singapore excusions.

Singapore's Chinatown Trishaw Night Tour  
Duration: 4 hours
$ 52.96

Explore Singapore's vibrant Chinatown on a balmy evening tour that's filled with activities. After exploring Singapore's Chinatown and enjoying a Chinese dinner at a Chinatown restaurant, you'll take a tour with a difference by trishaw through Singapore's exciting Night Market then cruise along the Singapore River by traditional cargo boat.

The four-hour evening tour of Singapore's Chinatown offers rare insights into Chinese history in Singapore. You'll visit the Yong Galley, the fine art of calligraphy is demonstrated by the Master Calligrapher who will convert your name into auspicious Chinese characters on a red fan which is yours to keep as a souvenir. You'll also have the opportunity to wander along Chinatown's narrow lanes at the Night Market and test your bargaining skills with street vendors selling souvenirs, fashion, leather goods and much more.

The highlight of the Singapore Chinatown evening tour is your trip through Chinatown's exuberant Night Market by trishaw. You'll thread your way through the market's hustle and bustle by the chauffeured limousine of times gone by, traveling through Chinatown to Clarke Quay. Here you'll take a cruise along the Singapore River in a bumboat, the traditional cargo boats once used to ferry goods up and down the river. You'll see Singapore lit up at night, highlighting the beautifully restored shop houses, the modern skyscrapers of the financial district, colonial buildings and the iconic Merlion statue. The cruise disembarks at the Esplanade Theatre by the Bay venue on the waterfront.

More information & booking »

Singapore Peranakan Trail Food Tasting Tour  
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
$ 39.23

A culture tour of the unique "Peranakan" people in Singapore. Take the Singapore Peranakan Trail with food tasting tour and look into the history and lifestyle of the Peranakan people through an exhibition of their finest clothes, jewelry, furniture, customs and festivals. View traditional Peranakan shophouses dating back to the early 1920's, and area that still draws people for the delicious local food.

Take a colorful journey into the history, lifestyle and unique character of the Peranakan people in Singapore. Walk through a spice garden - the original site of the first Botanic Gardens.

Next, off to Katong and Joo Chiat, bustling enclaves well known for their rich cultural mix, with residents from various communities such as the Peranakans, Eurasians, Malays and Indians adding to the cultural fabric of Singapore.

See rows of colorful traditional Peranakan shophouses dating back to 1920s and 1930s amidst an area that draws people from around the island for delicious local food. Stop for a Peranakan beading demonstration followed by tea and sampling of some Nonya delicacies.

More information & booking »


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