Asian Civilizations 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 Civilizations Museum. This 150,000-square-foot repository of history focuses on the many ancestral cultures of Singapore’s multiethnic population. More than 1,300 artifacts are displayed from all corners of the continent – it’s a fascinating insight into Singapore’s rich heritage. The Asian Civilizations Museum is one of four museums in Singapore. Open daily 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Fridays to 9:00 PM; tel +65 6332 7798; acm.org.sg
Art-2 Gallery and Fort Canning Park
Follow the riverfront promenade upstream for five minutes, under Elgin Bridge and onto Hill Street. Here you’ll find Art-2 Gallery, which specializes in contemporary sculpture, paintings and ceramics, with bold exhibitions from regional artists.
Behind the building, Fort Canning
Park, where the British Army once had its barracks, spreads out over rising ground. Crisscrossed with beautiful walking trails shaded by enormous old and exotic trees, the park is a natural retreat and historical gold mine. There’s an old Christian cemetery, the shrine of Sultan Iskandar Shah, and Fort Canning Arts Centre where many outdoor events are held. Art-2 Gallery open Monday-Saturday 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM; 140 Hill Street; tel +65 6338 8713; art2.com.sg
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 pedestrianized Read Bridge (Malacca Bridge) but the north side has more than enough options to keep you busy, including the exhilarating G-Max Reverse Bungy. Most places open around noon, and keep going until the early hours.
Hong San See Temple
Back on River Valley Road, turnleft and catch a cab for the short ride northwest to the Hong San See Temple. A tranquil break from the modern pleasures of the quay districts, this unpretentious Buddhist temple was built between 1908 and 1913. Established by the Hokkien community in Singapore, its name means “Temple on Phoenix Hill” in Chinese, and is dedicated to Guang Ze Zun Wang, the God of Fortune.The temple is situated on a feng shui-friendly hill with traditional buildings set around courtyards with colorful statues. It was designated a national monument in 1978. In 2010 an extensive four year renovation was completed. It’s regarded as a model of good cultural conservation. Open daily 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM; 29 Mohamed Sultan Road.
The Warehouse Hotel
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. The Warehouse Hotel, which opened last 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. Try one of the hotel’s imaginative curated cocktails and a Singaporean specialty cooked with authenticity – it’s old-style local comfort food elevated to fine dining standards. 320 Havelock Road; tel +65 6828 0000; thewarehousehotel.com