Singapore: An Urban Jungle Surprise
August 27, 2016
by Lai Arocha
“Singapore is what your city could become if everyone obeyed the rules, did their jobs diligently, and just shut up. When your city gets to be this paragon of efficiency and discipline, would you still want to live there? Singapore is a model city, which is terrific if you happen to be a model human.”
– Jessica Zafra (Twisted Travels)
As I am writing this Singapore is currently celebrating their 51st founding anniversary. As the festivities progresses it is only appropriate that the focus of my first ever blog post would be on my most favorite and go-to Urban Jungle: Singapore!
I plan to write and share a series of blogs on Singapore. First on the series is our Museum Trail. Singapore offers great museums to locals and foreign visitors. The fees and directions on how to get there will be discussed below. But first let me share our go-to hotel in Singapore.
The best way to experience and to taste Singapore is by walking. By that you need a good pair of walking shoes, have a good stretch and walk.
Our favorite hotel (budget friendly) is the YMCA located at One Orchard Road. It is pretty convenient considering that it is a stone throw away from the National Museum of Singapore and one of Singapore’s central station, the Dhoby Ghaut Station. So commuting via the MRT should not be a problem.
Unlike other budget hotels I’ve been to, YMCA- One Orchard is clean and always smells fresh. Reception is very efficient and accommodating. I even got an additional discount on my first visit on top of the our promo. Rates include a hearty breakfast, that is a mix of Continental and Asian selections. Not exactly a 5-star but good enough to jump start your day of walking. Early booking guarantees a promo. Check out their website here for upcoming events and promotions : http://www.ymcaih.com.sg/. I usually take the early bird booking to get a cheaper deal. They also have a roof deck pool that guests can use which is perfect relaxation after a day of exploring.
The infamous Marina Bay Sands surfboard viewed from YMCA pool roofdeck
Best way to immerse in the country’s past, heritage and culture is to take Singapore’s museum trail. Singapore has a lot of museums to offer with its state of the art galleries. Here is a tip, we availed the Singapore museum pass and it is guaranteed to save you a few couple of bucks! We did our museum tour back in 2014 and a three day unlimited museum pass cost $20 (SG) . Museums are clustered together and it will only take five minutes (or less) to get to the next museum. We bought our unlimited museum pass in the National Museum of Singapore. Students get a discount if you present your school identification card. Be mindful that almost all of the Singapore Museums opens at 10 AM and closes at 7 PM so plan your visit well 🙂 The following are categorized under the National Museum. Not featured here though is the Asian Civilizations Museum that is also considered as a National Museum .
The National Museum of Singapore
The National Museum viewed from YMCA roof deck
First stop is the National Museum of Singapore. Coming from our hotel in YMCA, we walk our way to the National Museum which is just across the street! How convenient 🙂 Located at 93 Stamford Road, the museum opens its gate from 10 AM to 7 PM. The National Museum is hard to miss with its grandiose white colonial structure. It roughly takes 2 minutes walk from Dhoby Ghaut MRT station and five minute walk from the Bras Basah MRT station.
Regular fees for foreigners is at $10 (SG) students, PWDs and seniors are discounted at $5(SG). Permanent galleries are free. This is one of the biggest and the oldest in Singapore built in 1887.
When we visited in 2014 the Children’s Galleries were the memorable exhibitions with interactive and fun activities for the kids. Children flocked the museums in throngs accompanied by their teachers, nannies and parents.
The Peranakan Museum
Next on our list is the Peranakan Museum. Roughly three minutes from the National Museum passing through the Singapore Management University (SMU) you’ll find yourself in this quaint artsy street that housed this charming building located at 39 Armanian Street.
Peranakan showcases the mix of culture in Southeast Asia brought about by trade in the Ancient period. What is interesting here is the colorful semblance of pink, purple and yellow as their prevailing colors of the culture. Very chic and girly. Peranakan is a Malay term that literally translates as “born of” meaning a child that is a mix of ethnic origins. One of their permanent galleries housed a wall of famous and notable Peranakans in history. Each floors housed galleries that depicts the rich culture of the Peranakans showcasing their origins, wedding traditions, language and fashion, religion, food and festivals.
What did I tell you? Too pink! These are meticulously hand painted too!
The Philatelic Museum
The third on our museum trail is the Singapore Philatelic Museum. Located at 23 Coleman Street about two to three blocks from the Peranakan. Philatelic is one of my favorite because of their fun curated exhibits. No wonder its a hit among kids and teens alike. For some a dedicated rare stamp museum may be boring but this museum won’t dull you. In 2014, we were able to catch a Marvel and DC Comics exhibit and in 2015 Elvis was exhibited. The featured exhibits I attended to were fun and interactive 🙂 Check out some of my snaps.
The Singapore Art Museum
One of the premier museums in Singapore that deals with Singapore contemporary art is the Singapore Art Museum or as the Singaporean affectionately refer to as SAM. Located at 71 Bras Basah Road. It is only two minute walk from Bras Basah MRT station and it is relatively close to the first three museums mentioned earlier. SAM not only offers visual arts (paintings) but you’d be surrounded with different sorts of up and coming art forms exhibition as well as a collection of modern Southeast Asian Arts. I enjoyed my tour of the museum. It is well curated, each exhibition has its own character that signifies the growing art scene not only in Singapore but also in Southeast Asia. Some of the featured art installations are pretty wild and eccentric which makes it all the more interesting. I took some snaps too, check it out.
Here are other museums that is worth checking out while in Singapore.
- Art Science Museum
- Mint Museum of Toys
- Malay Heritage Museum
- Lee Kong chian Natural History of Museum
- Baba House
- Madame Tussauds Singapore and the Images of Singapore
- Chinatown Heritage Center
- Indian Heritage Center
- Singapore Discovery Center
- Reflections of Bukit Chandu
Hope this blog helps. If you like this post, please feel free to share.