The Colonial District is one of the first places many visitors to Singapore head towards, due to its location on the Singapore River and the beauty of its surroundings. The area forms the very heart of Singapore, with its neo-Palladian buildings lining the banks of the Singapore River. A walk through the district allows you take in some of the most famous landmarks in the city.
The best place to start is at Raffles Place MRT (underground/subway) station, so you can appreciate the towering skyscrapers of the financial district before you begin your walk back in time among the colonial buildings.
The towering skyscrapers of Raffles Place — Photo courtesy of Marianne Rogerson
From here, you can stroll along the Singapore River towards the Fullerton Hotel - built in 1928 and named after Robert Fullerton, the first Governor of the Straits Settlements. It used to house the General Post Office, Inland Revenue Authority, and other government offices but opened as a hotel in 2001.
Singapore's colonial buildings line the banks of the Singapore River — Photo courtesy of Marianne Rogerson
From here, cross the Cavenagh Bridge, the oldest bridge in Singapore, and check out the Asian Civilizations Museum. This impressive neo-palladian building was designed in the 1860s as government offices, then renamed in the early 20th century in honor of Queen Victoria. Today it safeguards over 13,000 artifacts, and explores the history of the cultures brought to Singapore by the nation’s different ancestral groups.
The Cavenagh Bridge is the oldest bridge in Singapore — Photo courtesy of Marianne Rogerson
Next to the museum, you’ll find Raffles Landing Site, where Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Modern Singapore is believed to have first stepped ashore on 29th January 1819.
Beside the statue you’ll see the Arts House, Singapore’s oldest surviving government building and former Parliament House, and next to this is the Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall originally built as the Town Hall in 1862, and now home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
The Arts House is Singapore's oldest surviving government building and former Parliament House — Photo courtesy of Marianne Rogerson
Across the road from here brings you to the Padang, set out in Raffles’ Town Plan of 1822 as a recreation area, and still the site of frequent cricket and rugby matches. It's home to the Singapore Cricket Club, the Old Supreme Court Building and St Andrews Cathedral, all impressive colonial buildings.
The Padang’s most important feature, however, is City Hall, the site of many pivotal moments in Singapore’s history, such as the surrender of the Japanese forces in 1945 and the swearing in of the first Prime Minister of independent Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. It's currently under renovation and due to open as the National Art Gallery in 2015.
From here, it's just a short walk to Singapore’s most famous colonial landmark - Raffles Hotel, where you should seek out the Long Bar and reward your walk with a Singapore Sling.