As one of the most important religious sites in the country, the catholic monument known as Chijmes is a former convent school with more than 130 years of history. Residing in a central area along Victoria Street, the restored complex today serves as a commercialized hub for visitors looking to experience a bit of history while enjoying the modern accommodations inside that includes shops, fine restaurants and even an entertainment center.
The large modern complex is open both day and night, hosting a plethora of celebrations and events such as private cocktail parties and lunches, as well as musical and theatrical performances. To match Singapore’s diverse history and peoples, the restaurants inside offer menus featuring several kinds of cuisines, from French to Italian to Cantonese.
Joo Chiat is an eastern Singapore residential neighborhood noted for its Peranakan culture. Peranakans are descendants of 15th- through 17th-century Chinese and Indian immigrants who ultimately married non-Muslim natives from the Malay Archipelago. The neighborhood is named after Chew Joo Chiat, a wealthy landowner who once owned most of the land in the area.
Today, Joo Chiat is best known for its rows of traditional Peranakan structures—colorful two-story shops and terrace homes with ceramic tiles, ornate facades and Chinese motifs. These shop-houses dominated the area back in the 1920s and 1930s. The Katong Antique House is a fully restored Peranakan family home with antiques and artifacts on display, and Rumah Bebe is a shop and restaurant noted for its well-preserved façade. This is an ideal place to purchase handicrafts and gifts to bring back home with you.
At approximately two miles (3.3 km) long, Changi Beach is a gorgeous stretch of beach that is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. It’s one of the oldest coastal parks in Singapore and has managed to retain a laid-back feel that is refreshing in the hustle and bustle of this very modern city. From the beach you can see Palau Ubin, one of the few undeveloped places left in the country.
From barbecuing on the beach to jogging or cycling on the wide recreation path, this stretch of white sand is a popular place to gather on the weekends to catch up with friends or simply enjoy the sunrise or the sunset. Along with the recreational activities, Changi Beach is also a location of interest for wildlife lovers. Several types of seahorses and pipefish are monitored in the waters off of Changi Beach and many different species of birds have been spotted from the land.
Armenian Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator is the oldest Christian church in Singapore, completed in 1835 by an Irish civil architect key in the construction of the country’s overall infrastructure. A towering all-white structure, the church is adorned with numerous crafted pillars and features an entrance framed with classical pediments.
Aside from admiring the exterior façade, the church is surrounded by an open garden and at the back a peaceful cemetery that was never used as a burial ground. The tombs there were brought over from a site in Bukit Timah when it was exhumed. Even though the last regular services in the church halted in the 1930s, the interior still has alters and between them, a royal red carpet leading up to the nave.
Overall, the church is a standalone example of tranquility in busy Singapore. Every now and then the church is the site for art exhibitions, but other than that it is open for visitors to see.
Built within an old Chinese School, the Peranakan Museum explores the culture, traditions, artwork and history of the Peranakan communities. Travelers can explore three floors of interactive exhibits that link Singapore’s modern culture to its Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian and European roots. Some of the museum is geared towards the younger set, making it ideal for visitors with small children. Travelers agree the reasonable fee and interesting galleries—like the traditional houses and wedding dresses—are the perfect way to spend an educational afternoon (especially on a rainy day!).