Posted on August 04 2022
As we move into the month of August, the nation’s set to celebrate its birthday once again. Our ‘little red dot’ has come a long way since the time before Raffles, during the British Colonial period to its fall to the Japanese before emerging as ‘One People, One Nation, One Singapore’. There are so many places where kids can learn all about our history varied cultures that make up our modern day multi-faceted society. Here are our top 15 places where you can bring the kiddos for an educational and fun day out learning about our history.
Images Of Singapore (Part of Madame Tussauds Singapore)
Address: 40 Imbiah Road Imbiah Lookout, Sentosa Singapore, 099700
Opening Hours: Daily from 10am to 6pm (last entry at 5pm)
Images of Singapore is a must-visit for all who would like to find out the birth of Singapore. Here, they’ll get to discover the colourful story of Singapore, from a humble fishing village to 21st century powerhouse. You can walk through different sets that include special effects and immersive installations. In addition, you can also witness Raffles signing of the treaty as well as witness the successful Singapore of the late 1800s. How about checking out what it’s like in the 1900s Chinatown with cramped workers’ living quarters? Kiddos can also watch footage of Singapore between 1945 and 1965.
Address: 2 Cox Terrace, Singapore 179622 (Fort Canning Park)
Opening Hours: Fridays - Sundays & Public Holidays 9.30am to 5.30pm (last tour slot: 4.30pm), Mondays - Thursdays: Closed
Embark on an unforgettable journey into the Battlebox which is an authentic World War II secret Command Centre built nine metres underground in the late 1930s. It was part of the headquarters of Malaya Command, the army which defended Malaya and Singapore in WWII. It was inside the Battlebox that the British made the decision to surrender Singapore to the invading Japanese on 15 February 1942. The Battlebox is a great adventure for the kiddos as they get to explore the labyrinth of rooms and corridors and view amazing wartime artefacts,
Reflections At Bukit Chandu
Address: 31K Pepys Road Singapore 118458
Opening Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays 9am to 5.30pm (Last Admission at 4.30pm, closed on Mondays except Public Holidays)
Reflections at Bukit Chandu is a museum situated on top of a small hill and housed in a restored pre-war bungalow. It pays tribute to the 1st Malaya Brigade, C Company, 1st Battalion, The Malay Regiment and its last stand on the hill the museum is named after. The Malay Regiment began as an 'experimental company' of 25 recruits in 1933. Within ten years, it had become a well-trained regiment of nearly 1,400 men. The museum chronicles the story of the Malay Regiment from its origins to its fateful stand against the Japanese at the Battle of Pasir Panjang in 1942. When war broke out in the region in 1941, the Malay Regiment found itself at the frontlines. This section traces the Regiment’s story during the defence of Malaya and Singapore, culminating in the battle of Bukit Chandu in February 1942. By the time Singapore surrendered, more than 100 men of the Malay Regiment had been killed in action.
Address: 3 Muscat Street, Singapore 198833
Opening Hours: Saturday to Thursday: 10.00 am to 12.00 pm and 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm
Standing tall in Kampong Glam, the Sultan Mosque or Masjid Sultan was built in honour of Sultan Hussein Shah in 1824. It serves as a reminder that Kampong Glam used to be the seat of the Malay royalty and where various immigrant Muslim communities used to reside. The mosque was rebuilt in 1928 and completed in 1932 by Denis Santry, an Irish architect in an Indo-Saracenic style that mixes traditional Hindu and Islamic elements with European architectural features. Kids can visit the mosque and find out more about the various immigrant Muslim communities of our past. The mosque also provides a range of community services and organises numerous social and cultural activities.
Fuk Tak Chi Temple & Museum
Address: 76 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 048464
Opening Hours: Daily from 10am to 10pm
Set up between 1820 and 1824 by Cantonese and Hakka immigrants, the Fuk Tak Chi Temple is dedicated to the Chinese deity, Tua Pek Kong. This was where many Chinese immigrants gave thanks for their safe journey to Singapore. As donations poured in, the temple was built in brick in 1825. The temple later became the headquarters for the Cantonese and Hakka communities, even functioning as a welfare association where disputes were settled. Aside from the temple grounds, you can also visit the Fuk Tak Chi Museum to learn more about the first Chinese settlers in Singapore.
Address: Siloso Point, Sentosa
Opening Hours: Fort Siloso & Surrender Chambers : 9am to 6pm; Exhibits open at 10am
Located on Sentosa, previously known as Pulau Blakang Mati, Fort Siloso was one of the many coastal fortifications built around the 19th century by the British and remains the most well-preserved coastal fort in Singapore. The Fort was built on Mount Siloso, where the name “Siloso” is said to be derived from a Malayan word meaning “rock”, a possible reference to the rock outcrops that once stood at the western entrance to the present-day Keppel Harbour. The Fort played an important role in the Battle for Singapore and served as a Prisoner-of-War camp during and after the Japanese Occupation. Kids can explore the on-site military that contains a comprehensive collection of WWII memorabilia, including coastal guns, the remains of fortified military structures and tunnels, as well as an interactive video documentary, complete with wax figures of Japanese and British soldiers at the Surrender Chambers.
St Andrew’s Cathedral
Address: 11 St Andrew's Rd, Singapore 178959
*The Cathedral Nave is currently closed for restoration. Guided tours are temporarily closed.
If you head to City Hall, you’ll see this remarkable cathedral that is Singapore’s oldest surviving Anglican place of worship. What’s more, it is the seat of the Anglican bishop of Singapore. The cathedral bears witness to the spread of Anglicanism in the region. As well, it reveals the contributions of the local Scottish, English, and Indian communities in the growth and development of colonial Singapore. St Andrew’s Cathedral is still an important place of worship for the Anglicans in Singapore today. It conducts services in different languages, including English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia, and Burmese. Visit their website for a virtual tour of the premise and find out more about its expansive history.
Former Ford Factory
Address: 351 Upper Bukit Timah Road Singapore 588192
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 5.30pm
The Former Ford Factory makes for an interesting day out for the kids as they will soon learn that this Art Deco building was home to Ford Motor’s first car assembly plant in Southeast Asia. Not only that, historically it was here on, 15 February 1942, that the surrender of Singapore to the Japanese was signed. After the fall of Singapore, the factory was taken over by Nissan to assemble military vehicles for the Japanese war efforts here. It was then returned to the British and Ford Motor Company after the end of World War II. It shut down in 1980. In 2006, the remaining factory was declared a national monument. It houses a permanent World War II exhibition on the war and its legacies.
Kranji War Memorial
Address: 9 Woodlands Road Singapore 738656
Opening Hours: Daily 7am to 6.30pm
The Kranji War Cemetary is the resting place of over 4,000 servicemen and women from Britain, Australia, Canada, India, Malaya, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Sri Lanka who died during World War II. This site is also home to the Singapore War Memorial, on whose walls are inscribed more than 24,000 names of members of the Commonwealth land and air forces with no known grave. The casualties listed not only include those who were lost in the fight for Malaya and Singapore but also those who fell in Indonesia. Furthermore, those who died in captivity, including those who lost their lives during the construction of the Thai-Burma Railway or lost at sea while being transported to other imprisonment locations are also commemorated here. As well, the memorial also commemorates airmen who died during operations over the whole of southern and eastern Asia and the surrounding seas and oceans.
Changi Chapel And Museum
Address: 1000 Upper Changi Rd North Singapore 507707
Opening Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays 9.30am to 5.30pm. Closed every Monday except Public Holidays. Last admission at 5pm.
Newly revamped in May 2021, the Changi Chapel And Museum houses eight galleries that document the history of the area. It takes you through the war era with videos and interactive screens. You can have the kids explore the recreated prison cell to show how it was like for the prisoners-of-war then. As you enter the museum, there’s a replica of St George’s Church, which was one of the chapels and places of worship that were built then. Those with an interest in history have the opportunity to browse through artefacts collected and displayed in the museum. This can also be an educational journey for little ones, where they can get the chance to see rare items dating back to the war.
Thomson Nature Park
Address: Off Old Upper Thomson Road
Opening Hours: 7am to 7pm daily (entering or remaining in the park after 7pm is not allowed)
Thomson Nature Park features easy trails that you can take the kids on to bask in nature and simultaneously learn about its cultured past. This 50-hectare park is the site of a former Hainan Village with five trails spanning 3.8 km around the former village's road network. These trails enable you to get an insight into the ways of life during the kampung days as well as into the variety of floral and faunal species found in Thomson Nature Park. The Ruins and Figs Trail will be an eye opener for kids to experience the heritage highlights of the Hainan Village through carefully conserved ruins. Additionally, the Stream and Ferns Trail showcases the freshwater habitat in the park and great diversity of ferns and aquatic animals. Along the trails are signboards that provide more information about each ruin and the Hainan community that lived there till the 1990s.
Sri Mariamman Temple
Address: 244 South Bridge Rd Singapore 058793
Opening Hours: Daily 6am to 12noon, 6pm to 9pm
This ornate temple sits at the heart of Chinatown and has been a distinct landmark to Hindu worshippers as well as Singaporeans. How is this historically significant? The building of Sri Mariamman Temple was the inspiration of Mr Naraina Pillai, a clerk with the British East India Company in Penang. Mr Pillai is known to have accompanied Sir Stamford Raffles (Founder of Singapore) on his second visit to the island in 1819. Not only that, it was Mr Pillai who set up the first brick kiln in Singapore. He also rapidly established himself in business and was regarded as a leader of the Indian community. During the colonial years, the temple served as a refuge for new immigrants. It also serves as a main venue for Indian community activities. The main festival celebrated at the Sri Mariamman temple is Theemithi (Fire walking ceremony) that’s held annually in October and/or November.
Address: Off Changi Point
Pulau Ubin, meaning ‘Granite Island’ in Malay, is known for its granite quarries until the 1960s and 70s. It’s located off the North-Eastern coast of the island and is one of Singapore’s last traditional kampongs (villages). What’s more, it was once home to hundreds of families, but today fewer than 50 residents remain. It was historically significant during the colonial era as the British depended on the granite quarries to supply Singapore’s construction industry. Granite from the island were transported and used to construct a lighthouse on Pedra Branca Island to mark the eastern entrance to the Singapore Strait. More significantly, the granite from Pulau Ubin was used extensively in the construction of the Singapore-Johore Causeway.
Presently, you can easily plan a day’s adventure to the island. Bumboats are readily available at the Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Upon reaching the island, you can choose to rent bicycles to explore the quarries or you can hire a van to take you to Chek Jawa Wetlands to marvel the flora and fauna of the marshes.
Thian Hock Keng Temple
Address: 158 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 068613
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 7.30am to 5.30pm (last entry at 5pm)
Thian Hock Keng Temple (or "Temple of Heavenly Happiness") stands amidst the bustling Telor Ayer Street that is lined with hip joints and restaurants. The temple was build in 1839 with the support of prominent members of the Hokkien community, such as philanthropist Tan Tock Seng. It is Singapore's oldest Chinese temple and is dedicated to Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea. Early Chinese immigrants came here to give thanks for their safe passage across the waters of the South China Sea. Visit their website for more information.
Address: Labrador Nature Reserve, Labrador Villa Road, Singapore 119187
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Labrador Battery is an often overlooked section of Labrador Park. In the past, it was under the Faber Fire Command and had a pair of six-inch guns and was manned by gunners from the 7th Coast Artillery Regiment. This was a multi-ethnic unit. Local Malays operated the searchlights, Indians operated the guns, and British artillery regulars served as the Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and officers. The Indians and British were from the Hong Kong and Singapore Battalion, Royal Artillery (HKSRA). What’s significant about this battery? It sank a Japanese ammunition vessel travelling west on 12 February 1942 in a joint effort with the Siloso Battery. As well, it aided the Malay Regiment in its heroic fight on Pasir Panjang Ridge. After the fall of Singapore, the guns of the battery were destroyed so that it would not fall into enemy hands. As you venture into Labrador Park, take a stroll to this area to learn more about the battery. Better yet, plan a day out to Fort Siloso and Images of Singapore as well to fully immerse the kids in knowing the colonial war effort during the Japanese Occupation.
Photo credits: @familyearthtrek, Battlebox Facebook Page, Reflections At Bukit Chandu Facebook Page, One Kampong Gelam, Chinatown Singapore, National Heritage Board, Roots, Battlefield Tours Singapore, State of Buildings, The Travel Intern, SilverKris, Chinatown Singapore