Article by: Monster Day Tours
If you’re planning a trip to Singapore, there’s no shortage of things to do on the sunny island. From a world-renowned night safari to cheap Michelin-starred food, there’s something for everyone to do in the vibrant city.
Acclaimed attractions and museums aside, Singapore is also known for being a cultural hotspot, with various races living together. For those looking for a more off-the-beaten-track itinerary in Singapore, here are 4 lesser-known spots you should visit on your next trip to the Little Red Dot!
Nestled in the heart of the Malay ethnic neighbourhood Kampong Gelam, Masjid Sultan or Sultan Mosque is one of the most iconic buildings in the area! Named after Sultan Hussain Shah, the building is a reminder of Malay royalty that used to live in the neighbourhood.
Its origins date back to 1824, but the current building was only completed towards the end of 1932. Although fundraising started in 1924, it proved tough as these were the years that lead up to the global economic recession, and construction was done in phases to allow worshippers to continue visiting the mosque.
One lesser-known fact about the building’s architecture has to do with its magnificent gold domes! If you look closely, the base of each dome is made of black glass bottles, which were donated by the poor. This ensured that the community could contribute to the mosque’s construction, regardless of their economic background.
The mosque represents the solidarity and unity of Muslims in Singapore, and overlooks the nearby Kampong Gelam precinct. The mosque also provides informative guided tours, so if you’re planning to drop by for a visit, do check if there’s a tour available then.
#Tip: The mosque also makes for a gorgeous Instagram photo, so make sure to bring your cameras along!
Another hidden gem nestled in Singapore’s ethnic neighbourhoods is the gorgeous former House of Tan Teng Niah! Found in Little India, this two-storey villa is the last standing Chinese Villa in Singapore, and holds much history within its walls.
The villa was built in 1900, and as its name suggests, was the residence of Mr Tan Teng Niah, a Chinese businessman who owned several sweet factories in the area. Although the house is known for its kaleidoscope of colours, this only happened after its restoration in the 1980s, with the different colours influenced by the vibrancy of Indian culture.
The architecture of the house also tells the tale of racial harmony in Singapore, with Chinese, Malay and European styles incorporated into the building’s design. The house was said to have been built for Mr Tan’s wife, and if you look closely at the doors at the entrance, you can still see the faint inscription ‘Siew Song’, which means elegant in Mandarin.
Although the former house of Tan Teng Niah is more commonly known as an Insta-worthy spot in Singapore today, its preserved heritage status ensures that many generations to come will be able to learn more about its story through the architecture of the building!
Another must-visit spot to learn more about Singapore’s interesting cultural background is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple located in Chinatown!
Home to many revered Buddhist artefacts, the temple is also home to a Buddhist Culture Museum on the third floor, which is a great place to learn more about the religion. Built in 2007, the temple was designed based on various elements of Tang Dynasty architecture and cost over $70 million to build!
Some of the more well-known relics found in the temple include the left canine tooth of Buddha, which is displayed on temple grounds and is where the temple got its name from. While only monks are allowed into the relic chamber, you’ll still be able to catch a glimpse of it from the public viewing area.
The temple also offers weekly guided tours on Saturday, with each tour bringing you through the different floors and halls of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. Do note that you’ll need to register online for the tour before heading down!
#Tip: When visiting the temple, don’t forget to explore the nearby streets of Chinatown to learn more about Chinese culture in Singapore as well!
To learn more about Singapore’s history while exploring the nightlife scene, a trip to the Singapore River is the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone!
The Singapore River plays an important role in Singapore’s history, as it used to be a bustling trade port prior to its redevelopment in the 1980s. Today, it’s one of the most well-known dining spots in Singapore, with the old warehouses and bumboats turned into trendy restaurants and sightseeing boats!
One must-visit spot is Cavenagh Bridge, the oldest bridge along the Singapore River, It still stands in its original form, and was designed to provide a convenient link between the north and south banks of the Singapore River. If you pop by today, you can still see the official police sign placed at the ends of the bridge, serving as a reminder of how far Singapore has come since then.
The street hawkers and hawker centres that used to be found in the area were replaced by swanky restaurants and bars as Singapore progressed, and the area is now home to award-winning restaurants and even some clubs!
#Tip: Plan your visit in the evening so you can watch the bustling nightlife and city lights slowly come alive as you take a stroll down the river.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, travelling is tough now, with many countries not open to international visitors yet. If you’re looking for a safe way to explore Singapore still, Monster Day Tours offers virtual tours of the island! The Singapore-based walking tour company offers a variety of different ‘live’ virtual tours that explore Singapore’s neighbourhoods, including Little India, Chinatown, Kampong Gelam and more!
To find out more about these virtual tours or sign up, visit www.monsterdaytours.com for more details.