Things to Do: Colonial Singapore

Colonial Singapore

Your guidebook, grade school teacher or inflight magazine will tell you that Singapore was once part of the magnificent British Empire of the Victorian Era, before the Empire was sold off to Disney. What is now Singapore was first settled in the white people version by the British, and some of the most interesting historical things to see around town are left over from those days.

We'll take you on a walking tour (which can include a boat ride) that brings you past some of the highlights.

Raffles Hotel

Start your Imperial jaunt at Raffles Hotel (nearest MRT is City Hall, not Raffles Place by a l-o-n-g shot). This is where One stayed if One was an Upper Crust Colonial and Capitalized Too Many parts of speech in the old days. Elegant, expensive, full of tradition and expensive, Raffles is still the highest priced bed and breakfast in town. You can expect to start at around US$300 a night, and that's for a bunk in the car park. The hotel was refurbished a few years back and is worth a visit.

Start out front, on Beach Road. This in fact used to be water's edge, and the mighty ships would dock right in front of the hotel in Ye Olde Days. The land has been reclaimed and the glory years are recalled mostly by the road name. The doorman is also famous, and institution in Singapore, and will somewhat gladly pose for photos with you even if you are not a Gueste.

Inside, be advised that Proper Dress is required for the lobby and you will be asked to leave if you are wearing shorts, a tank top or anything else that would also be out of place in a mosque. Don't even think about asking to use the toilets, but they are in the back near the big wooden stair cases, plus there are others outside.

The restaurants off the lobby are a bit pricey (duh), but follow your way outside (if you are lost, have your kids start talking loudly about their favorite violent computer games and the staff will throw you out in the correct direction) to the bakery where you can have reasonably priced pastries in a pretty cool Victorian looking parlor. You'll pass the famous Long Bar, where they invented Singapore Slings, but since alcohol is served they prefer your kids shrivel up and blow away. It would be wrong for me here to suggest one parent take the kids around the corner for pastries while the other studied the Long Bar.

You'll see a nice fountain; right next to it are perhaps the nicest and cleanest toilets we saw anywhere. Encourage their use, and you even have the fountain there for inspiration if young Biff can't make Big Potty right away ‘cause of jet lag.

User Feedback

Related Singapore Articles