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The best of Southeast Asia

Singapore Historic Districts

Boat Quay
The restaurants of Boat Quay with Singapore's high rise towers in the background.

 
The British imported Chinese workers as well as peoples from other parts of the empire. 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 are 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 to 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.

Walking Tours

Each of the districts is small enough to easily see on foot. Our partner Viator offers a range of guided walking tours to lead you around each district.
 

Singapore's Chinatown Night Walking Tour  
Duration: 2 hours
$ 23.54

Experience a Chinatown Night Walk like no other! Follow the guide as you boldly walk the streets to trace the red light district in Chinatown, from past to present. Learn about the lives of those who were embroiled in such vices. Who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of a meat shop in action.

The lantern beckoned him. The new 'ah ku' was pretty, fresh from Canton. High on opium, he made his way unsteadily towards the gas-lit brothel. In 1887, the brothels in Chinatown were as many and as close together as the teeth of a comb. Combine that with the proliferation of opium and gambling dens, it was sin city. It is no accident that Chinatown was also known as 'Bu Ye Tian' - The Place of Nightless Days. Discover vice and tragedy in the shadows of Chinatown by night.

Join the guides who are experts in Singapore's rich heritage and colorful history. We will venture into the fringes where entertainment, in its rawest form, is still practiced today. Tread with us as we go where many men have gone before! Highlights on this walk include Food Street, Street of the Dead, a barbequed pork shop and venturing through numerous back alleys and through a Red Light District.

Please note: This tour contains adult themes, therefore if you choose to take children under 18 years of age, we recommend parental supervision and guidance.

Finalist of Singapore Tourism Awards for Best Sightseeing/Leisure/Educational Programme 2005

More information & booking »
 

Kampong Glam and Sultan Mosque Morning Walking Tour  
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
$ 23.54

On this award winning tour, visit the ancient burial grounds where the forgotten Tombs of the Malayan Princes rest. Highlights on this walk include the Sultan Mosque, an antique store, understanding traditional Indonesian medicine and Arabic goods, the Old Royal Palace and Tombs.

How was Singapore sold to the British for 60,000 Spanish Dollars? Find out about the man who did it, and the man who forced him to. No one remembers the sultans that used to rule, except the guides on this tour. The old Royal Palace, the Sultan Mosque, the Tombs of the Malayan Princes: they all carry an air of royalty snatched away too quickly. Uncover a curious blend of Malay folk traditions and Islam in the legends of the mysterious 'keris' (dagger), exotic perfumes, 'jamu' remedies to every conceivable ailment and the story of the faith that is so often misunderstood. Don't miss this hidden cultural enclave where Singapore's indigenous culture still thrives.

Join the guides who are experts in Singapore's rich heritage and colorful history. Highlights on this walk include the Sultan Mosque, an antique store, understanding traditional Indonesian medicine and Arabic goods, the Old Royal Palace and Tombs.

Winner of Singapore Tourism Awards for Best Sightseeing/Leisure/Educational Programme 2004

More information & booking »
 

Singapore Boat Quay Historical Pub Walking Tour  
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
$ 23.54

Swig, swagger and stagger around Boat Quay and drink in the history, art, culture and scandal of this former swampland and made easier for parched throats with some of the world's finest brew on Singapore's first-ever pub walk.

Take a break from the official history of the Singapore River. This is the walk if you want the alternative story - a perfect cocktail of bank breakers, vandals, terrorists, drugs and one fine lady.

Heard of the English knight loved by two women but despised by a man of the cloth? The father and son team that did the Empire proud but were labeled as vandals by some? What about the man with no head for figures who broke the Queen's Bank? Or the lawmakers who pushed opium?

Savor these tales while imbibing ales in charming pubs along the picturesque river bank. Swig, swagger and stagger through the back lanes of history. Highlights on this Walk include the Asian Civilisations Museum, Boat Quay, Cavenagh and Elgin Bridges, Street of Mercy, Brokers' Alley and historical pubs.

More information & booking »
 

 

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