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Take a Walk Through Singapore's Colonial District

Home > Singapore > Afternoon Tea | Travel | Walks
by Karen Ross (subscribe)
I love walking, and I love eating good food. The more I eat, the more I need to walk, so I plan to walk all around the world, eating good food, at nice places. It's a worthwhile quest and I'd love you to follow at www.walkeatshare.wordpress.com
Published August 19th 2016
Then Treat Yourself to Afternoon Tea at The Fullerton Hotel
I love the eclectic mix of architecture in the city of Singapore; towering skyscrapers, gravity defying building designs, a boat atop three towers, man-made trees that simulate photosynthesis and classic British Colonial buildings. The skyline is a visual feast.

Here's a lovely, self-guided walk you can do, along the Singapore River, to take in some of Singapore's most famous colonial buildings.

The weather is most likely to be steamy, so wear a hat and take a bottle of water to drink along the way. Allow at least an hour, then time for afternoon tea.

Singapore River
Singapore River


The best place to start is at Raffles Place MRT station. Singapore's Mass Rapid Transport system (MRT) is super-efficient and easy to navigate. You'll find Raffles Place quite easily.

Raffles Place MRT
Raffles Place MRT


Look to the sky as you exit the station. The towering skyscrapers of the financial district make a stark contrast to what lies ahead along the river.

Skyscrapers in the financial district
Skyscrapers in the financial district


Head towards the river and down the steps where you should turn right. One of the first things you are likely to see is a collection of bronze figures known as 'The River Merchants'. It's a sculpture by Singaporean artist, Aw Tee Hong, and depicts the scene of a prominent merchant negotiating with a Chinese trader and a Malay chief, while Indian and Chinese coolies load goods onto a bullock cart.

I've been told of a requirement whereby each new building in Singapore City must incorporate artwork into its design. I'm not sure if this is fact but the claim is certainly supported by a plethora of visual treats all around the city. You'll see lots more as you walk along the river.



Close by is The Fullerton Hotel, built in 1928 and used to house the General Post Office, Inland Revenue Authority, and other government offices. It opened as a hotel in 2001 and it offers a sumptuous buffet each evening as well as delightful afternoon tea each day.

The Fullerton Hotel
The Fullerton Hotel


You might like to come back to The Fullerton for afternoon tea or a drink after the walk. I did.

Head for The Cavenagh Bridge, it's the oldest bridge in Singapore, dating back to 1870.

Cavanagh Bridge
Cavanagh Bridge


It's an ornate pedestrian bridge and looks lovely at night when it is lit up.

Singapore's oldest bridge
Singapore's oldest bridge


You'll see an original sign which prohibits heavy vehicles, cattle and horses.

Don't ride your horse
Don't ride your horse


Just across the Cavanagh Bridge is The Asian Civilizations Museum. Designed in the 1860s as government offices, it was renamed in the early 20th century in honour of Queen Victoria. It houses over 13,000 artefacts, and explores the history of the Singapore's various original cultures.

Asian Civilisations Museum
Asian Civilisations Museum


Next to the museum, you'll find Raffles Landing Site, where Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Modern Singapore is said to have first stepped ashore in January 1819.

Raffles landing site
Raffles landing site


Across the river, you'll see a row of former warehouses and trading establishments flanked by their modern-day counterparts. The financial district old and new.

Former warehouses
Former warehouses


Beside Sir Stamford's statue, you'll see the Arts House, Singapore's oldest surviving government building and former Parliament House.


Old Parliament building
Old Parliament building


And nearby, more art sculptures serving as memorials to significant characters in Singapore's history.

Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh


The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall was originally built as the Town Hall in 1862, and is now home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

Just outside the main door stands what is arguably the most famous sculpture in Singapore. It's another version of Sir Stamford Raffles and it was originally located just across the road in the middle of Padang. Apparently, it cost $20,446.10, an astronomical price in 1887 when it was first unveiled. It was moved here in 1919 during the 100th-year celebration of Modern Singapore.

Another Sir Stamford Raffles
Another Sir Stamford Raffles


The Padang is home to the Singapore Cricket Club and was, in fact, set out in Raffles' Town Plan of 1822 as a recreation area. The Padang's most important feature, however, is City Hall, where first Prime Minister of independent Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was sworn into office. Now the National Art Gallery in 2015.

National Gallery
National Gallery


There's a fantastic restaurant on the fifth floor called Aura. Definitely worth a visit if you have an evening free. Oh, and make sure you book a table at the Skylounge for an after dinner drink. The view of the city lights is magical.

Along the road from The National Gallery, opposite The Padang, is Saint Andrew's Cathedral, the country's largest.

St Andrew's Cathedral
St Andrew's Cathedral


By now you'll be thirsty, so I suggest you head back towards the river and over The Cavanagh Bridge to The Fullerton Hotel for afternoon tea.

The Fullerton Hotel entrance
The Fullerton Hotel entrance


The lobby is both vast and cool with plenty to see. Have a look around while you cool down and prepare for a refreshing cuppa.

The Fullerton Heritage Gallery on level one has a fascinating collection of photographs, maps and stamps dating back to 1832.

Former Post Office
Former Post Office


Now be warned, afternoon tea here does not come cheaply. However, the choice of tea is pleasing, the serves are generous and the staff are attentive. Enjoy your reward after a steamy walk.

Afternoon tea
Afternoon tea
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Why? You'll see architecture, art and history along Singapore River
When: Anytime
Where: The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore
Cost: Walk for free. Take plenty of money for afternoon tea.
Your Comment
I explored Singapore a year ago, Karen, and loved it!
by Elaine (score: 3|5154) 701 days ago
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