Singapore’s diverse heritage is just waiting to be explored, with old-world monuments, buzzing neighbourhoods and culinary adventures across the city. We’ll take you to the heart of this vibrant destination, with exclusive access to historic icons, fascinating walking tours and dining experiences to remember. From taking a rare climb up the Victoria Theatre to meeting renowned chef Violet Oon, here are 3 extraordinary things to do in Singapore on a staycation with Trafalgar.
1. Discover Singapore’s iconic monuments with a local expert
While many have set eyes on the two most famous landmarks in Singapore’s Civic District – The Arts House and the Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall (VTVCH) – few can say they’ve had an encounter as intimate as this.
You’ll get to meet our Local Expert, renowned heritage blogger of The Long And Winding Road, Jerome Lim, and enjoy an exclusive tour of these grand old buildings. As a passionate history buff, Jerome will share all kinds of fascinating trivia, anecdotes and untold stories you can’t find in a guide book.
He’ll also take you up the VTVCH’s 54-metre high clock tower, which dates all the way back to 1905. It’s a historic first, with the clock tower open exclusively to Trafalgar’s guests.
You’ll be one of the rare few who get up close to the intricate clock and the centuries-old bells. They’ve chimed every hour on the hour for over 100 years and sound the Westminster Chimes, the melody made famous by Big Ben in London.
You’ll also get some of the best views of the city from the top of the tower. Keep an eye out for the National Gallery, the Singapore River, and the lush green Padang among the stunning landscapes. You’ll be sure to snap some gorgeous photos and leave knowing you’ve had a truly unique adventure – with an amazing story to share with friends and family!
Note: The Arts House will be closed from 1 December 2020 – 31 March 2021.
EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Singapore’s Heritage Highlights
Explore the vibrant heritage of Kampong Glam
Singapore is famed for its incredible blend of diverse neighbourhoods – and Kampong Glam may be one of its best. Originating as a bustling port town, Kampong Glam is the oldest urban quarter in Singapore. It was once home to Singapore’s early migrants, including the Arab, Chinese, Malay-Muslims, Javanese and Bugis communities, and later became one of the seats of Malay royalty.
Today, Kampong Glam is a hub of rich history, superb restaurants and trendy shops. You’ll explore it all on a walking tour with your Travel Director, starting at the Malay Heritage Centre, set in the former palace of the Malay Sultans. You’ll catch a glimpse of the iconic golden-domed Sultan Mosque, then discover the hidden gems as you wander the colourful alleyways with your local guide.
Learn the stories of Singapore’s early migrants, admire the 19th-century shophouses, and soak up the street art and lively atmosphere. After working up an appetite, it’s time to check out Kampong Glam’s amazing dining scene. You’ll have lunch in a local restaurant, perhaps trying out delicacies like Nasi Padang and Malay Kueh. Then be sure to spend some time exploring the shops selling gorgeous fabrics and clothing.
Head to Haji Lane, where you’ll find quirky boutiques, or wander down Arab Street for traditional treasures like Persian rugs and handmade perfumes. You can even stop by Gelam Gallery on the back alleys of Muscat Street. It was the first outdoor gallery in Singapore and it’s the perfect spot to snap some beautiful photos.
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Enjoy an incredible dinner at National Kitchen by Violet Oon
Singapore is home to some of the world’s greatest dining experiences – and Violet Oon’s National Kitchen is at the top of that list.
We’ll take you for an unforgettable ‘Be My Guest’ dinner at this iconic restaurant set in the National Gallery. As soon as you set foot inside, you’ll be wowed by the lavish grand hall. With dark wood, floral tiles and magical lighting, you’ll feel like you’ve walked into an old-world Singaporean salon. There’s also the scenic terrace with wonderful views of the Padang and Civic District.
While the atmosphere is warm and inviting, the real star of the show is the food. Violet Oon is the ultimate celebrity chef, having cooked and written about Singaporean food for over five decades. She specialises in upscale Peranakan cuisine, reflecting her heritage, and that means you’re in for local favourites and modern spins on her 50-year-old recipe collection.
The food is elegant and soulful, a unique blend of Chinese, Malay and Indonesian flavours, all telling the story of Singapore’s heritage. You can try everything from hearty beef rendang to fried butter prawns. Or how about daging chabek beef cheeks in a rich sambal, or baked cod in a creamy laksa sauce? And don’t forget dessert, with upside-down pineapple cake, black rice and sago pudding, and sugee cake all up for grabs.
You’ll even get to meet Violet Oon herself, as she’ll join us during the dinner to speak about the inspiration behind her incredible Peranakan dishes. You’ll leave feeling enriched with an insight into Singapore’s history and satisfied after a luxurious meal you won’t soon forget.
Our new tour, Singapore’s Heritage Highlights, is part of our Near Not Far series of tours and is exclusively available to those living in Singapore. This tour was passionately created by Singaporeans for Singaporeans, and will give you a whole new appreciation for your own backyard.