FunEmpire® Singapore Blog

10 Best Historical Places in Singapore [2024]

Welcome to FunEmpire Singapore's Blog 👋

We’re committed to bringing you the best local group experiences and activities in Singapore for team building, celebrations and gatherings. Our editors adhere closely to our strict editorial guidelines to maintain the high quality and accuracy of each article. We only recommend what we love, and hope you love them too. Learn about our story.

Historical Places Singapore

Best Historical Places Singapore
Best Historical Places Singapore

Things to do in Singapore are not all about shopping malls and modern skyscrapers. Underneath its modern authoritarian state lies a layer of old-world heritage sites offering a glimpse into Singapore’s pre-colonial past as a Malay kingdom, its Japanese occupancy in the Second World War, and how Singapore became the nation we see today.

The best historical places in Singapore for 2024 are Fort Canning Park, Raffles Hotel, The Civilian War Memorial, National Gallery Singapore, and Sultan Mosque

This article will bring you through the top historical places in Singapore, highlighting their history and how they have become today.

Quick Summary

  • Best historical places in Singapore for 2024 are Fort Canning Park, Raffles Hotel, The Civilian War Memorial, National Gallery Singapore, and Sultan Mosque
  • Chosen historical sites in Singapore should be able to provide differentiated experiences in both their tangible and ephemeral features, such as their cultural meaning, architecture and history, in order to present wholeness and coherence of the city’s heritage.
  • Singapore’s historic places offer insight into the rich cultural and historical pasts that forged the identity of the city-state over centuries.

Key Considerations

  • Cultural Significance: Look for sites that reflect the diverse heritage of Singapore.
  • Architectural Beauty: Prioritize places with unique and well-preserved architecture.
  • Historical Context: Select locations with rich and compelling historical stories.
  • Accessibility: Ensure the sites are easy to visit and have proper amenities.
  • Educational Value: Opt for places that offer informative tours or exhibits.
  • Visitor Reviews: Check feedback from previous visitors for insights and recommendations.

Best Historical Places in Singapore

1. Fort Canning Park

Fort Canning Park
Fort Canning Park

Fort Canning Park in the heart of modern Singapore is green and full of secrets and ghosts. It used to be home to Malay rulers and, during the Second World War, was a fortified military post. It has witnessed some of the most important events in modern Singaporean history.

There is the WWII Battlebox, an underground bunker at the Fort Canning site, and remnants of 14th-century trade have been uncovered by archaeological sites that are now dotted like jewels in the park of the hill. One can almost hear the rustling movements of buried tongues in the leaves of the majestic trees.

2. Raffles Hotel

Raffles Hotel
Raffles Hotel

Head to the 5‑star luxury Raffles Hotel, named after the 19th-century British founder of Singapore. Rudyard Kipling and Elizabeth Taylor were among those who stayed in this colonial creation. It sits behind elegant high columns topped with corinthians and expansive verandahs.

And you might want to try a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar — complete with peanut shells on the floor, where the drink was also concocted.

3. The Civilian War Memorial

The Civilian War Memorial (Credit: Google Maps)
The Civilian War Memorial (Credit: Google Maps)

The Civilian War Memorial reminds those who visit Singapore’s great loss during the Second World War and memorializes the multiracial unity of Singaporeans who suffered during the Japanese occupation.

It is sometimes known as ‘The Chopsticks’ because of its four long pillars: a place of tribute, memorial service, and repose that reflects upon the forbearance and fraternity of Singaporeans.

4. National Gallery Singapore

National Gallery Singapore
National Gallery Singapore

Soaring above the vast atrium of the Singapore National Gallery are the grand fronts of the old Supreme Court and City Hall buildings, the national museum housing the planet’s ‘finest collection of modern Southeast Asian art’ – a mouthwatering line.

Visitors can visit art gallery at the cores of Singapore’s heritage and history, to see how and what contemporary Singaporean artists create in response.

5. Sultan Mosque

Sultan Mosque
Sultan Mosque

Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam has a gold-domed exterior and intricate decorations. Built in 1824 for the first Sultan of Singapore, Sultan Hussein Shah, this is the heart of the Muslim community in Singapore.

It is impossible not to admire its façade and interior if you are interested in culture and religion in Singapore.

6. Thian Hock Keng Temple

Thian Hock Keng Temple (Credit: Google Maps)
Thian Hock Keng Temple (Credit: Google Maps)

Thian Hock Keng Temple, in Chinatown, is the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore, built for a Chinese sea goddess (Ma Zu Po) of the 17th Century. It is a prominent example of traditional Chinese architecture with its intricate carving and colorful tiling.

It was home to early Hokkien immigrants who offered prayers for a safe sea journey. The beautiful buildings and historical background make Thian Hock Keng Temple a popular site for Chinese culture.

7. Sri Mariamman Temple

Sri Mariamman Temple (Credit: Google Maps)
Sri Mariamman Temple (Credit: Google Maps)

Particularly picturesque because it is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, Sri Mariamman Temple was built in 1827 and features a multicolored gopuram or tower covered in sculptures of gods.

It’s still a main gathering place for the Indian community, as it hosts annual celebrations such as Deepavali and Thimithi, where devotees burn incense in honor of the aspects of God, before walking over hot coals as a test of faith.

8. Haw Par Villa

Haw Par Villa
Haw Par Villa

It is unlike any other heritage destination in Singapore. Haw Par Villa was built by the Aw brothers, founders of Tiger Balm, from scratch, literally, as one visitor explained. Photo supplied. It was not ‘restored’ or saved from declining fortunes.

Instead, it is filled with more than 1,000 statues and dioramas, whose vibrant and often surreal scenes exemplify Chinese mythology and folklore and give visitors an entertaining and alternative experience to more formal heritage sites.

9. Chijmes

Chijmes
Chijmes

Chijmes started life as a convent and a school. Now it’s a swanky lifestyle complex with chandeliers and great architecture just the way it was when it was a school – Gothic chapel, cloistered hallways, timeless gentleman’s club glamour. Chijmes – a good example of ‘adaptive reuse’.

10. The Battlebox

The Battlebox (Credit: Google Maps)

Just behind Fort Canning Hill is the Battlebox, the old British underground headquarters used during the Battle for Singapore. The Battlebox, now a museum, is conducted as a guided tour with interesting input about the decision-making processes leading up to the surrender of Singapore, recreated in real-time and with dialogue. The Battlebox experience is one of many historical experiences that try to re-enact the reality of war on-site.

Historical Places Singapore

To retain our heritage sites, spectacular historical places, we must ensure that we don’t bury the past under the present. It is a way of understanding how we came to be at this juncture of time. For these functional and beautiful touchstones of Singapore’s past, we should not just value the education they provide but also know that they make our heritage richer and more memorable to everyone who visits.

Whether a colonial landmark or a sacred temple, each archival and historical site here adds a poignant color to Singapore’s kaleidoscopic and rich heritage here. So don your walking shoes, and take a history walk to preserve the past and understand the present of this remarkable city.

Check out some of our other related articles and guides below:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you have any questions about Historical Places in Singapore, you can refer to the frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the Best Historical Places in Singapore below:

What is the significance of Fort Canning Park?

Fort Canning Park is of great historical importance because it was once the seat of ancient Malay royalty, as well as a WWII mobilization center ford factory. It features attractions like the Battlebox and various archaeological sites.

Why is Raffles Hotel famous?

Famous for its colonial history, grand architecture, famous patrons (chieftains of industry, literary greats, and celebrities) and globally recognized drinks like the Singapore Sling, the Raffles Hotel is a quintessential modern-day Singaporean landmark.

What can visitors see at the National Gallery Singapore?

Visitors can explore the works of art in the collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian art, as well as antiquities from around Asia in the former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings. As the former centers of British and Japanese colonial rule in Singapore, the old court building and city and town hall now blend historical architecture with contemporary art.

What makes Sultan Mosque unique?

The gilt dome and elaborate designs of the Sultan Mosque mark one end of bustling Kampong Glam, a corner of Singapore where the diverse Muslim community has gathered their memories and traditions.

How does the Civilian War Memorial honor history?

The four pillars of the Civilian War Memorial stand as a monument to the many civilians who lost their lives in Singapore during the occupation by Japan in the Second World War. This national monument reminds Singaporeans, both early immigrants and newcomers to the country’s history now, that they are united in a place tainted by racist wickedness.

Rachel Tan avatar

Article by

I'm currently the editor at FunEmpire Media. I've over 8 years of experience in the media industry discovering the best local businesses, places and things to do. From lifestyle, entertainment, food, travel, education and more, I strive to curate the very best in Singapore. Singapore.

Related Articles