20 Historical Places in Singapore Every History Buff Should Visit

Singapore Historical Sites

Kranji War Memorial, Indian National Army Monument, The Civilian War Memorial, Changi Prison, Mint Museum of Toys, Sultan Mosque, Thian Hock Keng Temple, Former Ford Factory, House of Tan Teng Niah and many more.

Although blessed with sweeping natural landscapes, Singapore can prove to be quite the happening visit for the connoisseur of history as well. Ranging from elaborate museums to war monuments, the historical places in Singapore offer an invigorating insight into the culture and heritage of the island city. 

With its history steeped in colonial conflict, Singapore does not want war monuments. In fact, the Kranji War Memorial, the Civilian War Memorial and the Indian National Army Monument are regarded as some of the most popular of Singapore historical sites. The city is also vested with some of the most unique and elaborate museums in the world, the National Museum of History, the Museum of Toys and the National Art Gallery being some prominent names in the list. 

The historical attractions in Singapore also shed light on the various cultures that have found home in the city. The Asian Civilizations Museum, for example, offers an excellent insight into the Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian communities that thrive here. The Thian Hock Keng Temple, NUS Baba House and Malay Heritage Centre only add to the cultural experience here.

Here is the list of best historical places in Singapore:

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Long tern pass holders of Singapore can now enter its premises Updated: 20 Nov 2020

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Kranji War Memorial

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Paying tribute to all those who lost their lives in the Second World War, the Kranji War Memorial is one of the most monumental historical places in Singapore. A central pylon stands tall at the heart of the cemetery, topped with a star and a prominent part of the area’s skyline.

Surrounding it are acres worth of gravestones, standing as homage to all those fallen warriors of the commonwealth. Every year, on the Sunday closest to November 11, a memorial service is held here.

Location: 9 Woodlands Rd, Singapore 738656
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Indian National Army Monument

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One of the eleven monuments erected in Singapore as a memorial to the Second World War, the Indian National Army Monument details an intriguing portion of the country’s history. In 1942, when the Indian Freedom Struggle was at its peak, the Indian National Army was set up as an army in exile in Singapore.

Towards the end of the war in 1945, just when the Japanese had surrendered, freedom fighter and army leader Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose set up the commemorative monument in Esplanade. Although the memorial was later demolished by British forces, parts of it still remain as one of the most prominent Singapore historical sights. 

Location:  1 Esplanade Dr, Singapore
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The Civilian War Memorial

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Remarked for its minimalistic yet elegant look, the Civilian War Memorial is one of the most harrowing historical places in Singapore. Located along Beach Road, the Civilian War Memorial pays tribute to all those ordinary lives that were lost during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.

Four identical pillars stand tall in unity, symbolic of the four main ethnicities that were persecuted during the war- Eurasian, Indian, Malay and Chinese. Beneath the Memorial is a chamber containing the exhumed remains of civilians gathered from mass graves across the country. 

Location: Bras Basah Road and Beach Road intersection, Singapore 189701
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National Museum of Singapore

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With its history dating back to the 19th century, the National Museum of Singapore is the country’s oldest Museum. For those looking to explore the culture of the city, the Museum might just be the most significant of Singapore historical sites.

The permanent exhibits here- Singapore Gallery and Life in Singapore- detail the history of the city in paintings and other historical artefacts. The Museum also conducts a host of events throughout the year, from art installations and festivals to film screenings and performances.  A selection of cafes and restaurants add to the experience here.

Location: 93 Stamford Rd, Singapore 178897
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Sultan Mosque

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Formerly the royal mosque of Sultan Hussein Shah, Singapore’s Sultan Mosque serves as a focal point of the city’s Muslim community. With its massive golden dome dominating the Muscat skyline, the Mosque is one of the most impressive historical places in Singapore.

The impressive domes are decorated with glass bottle ends at the bottom, all contributed by lower income Muslims, stressing on the inclusive nature of the monument. During the month of Ramadan, the night markets around the Mosque all come to life, and can be quite fun to explore.

Location: 3 Muscat St, Singapore 198833
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The Battle Box

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Officially known as the Fort Canning Bunker, the Battle Box is an underground command centre that remained operative throughout the years of war. Initially forgotten, the command centre was rediscovered towards the end of the previous century and turned into a museum.

One of the most popular tourist historical places in Singapore, the Battle Box offers special guided tours on a daily basis. Visitors get to explore the underground rooms and corridors here, kept intact since its initial days. Several items and artefacts used by the Singapore Army are kept on display here as well.

Location: 2 Cox Terrace, Singapore 179622
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Mint Museum of Toys

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One of the most unique Singapore historical sites, the Mint Museum of Toys showcases a select display of vintage toys and collectibles, including vintage posters, confectionery boxes, advertising signs and more.

The Museum is divided into four zones- Outer Space, Characters, Collectibles and Childhood favorites, each one stocking its own set of wonders. Attractions at the Museum include the first Alice in Wonderland toy owned by Alice Liddell, the only known complete batman robot toy and a century old Steiff Teddy Bear. The Museum also conducts seasonally themed exhibitions where they unbox newer toys collected from across the globe.

Location: 26 Seah St, Singapore 188382
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Fort Silos

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A part of the erstwhile ‘Fort Singapore’ established during the Second World War, Fort Siloso stands testament to the country’s maritime past. Now functioning as a Museum, Fort Siloso features a host of wartime memorabilia including coastal guns, preserved tunnels and other artefacts dating back to the second great war.

An interactive video documentary sheds light on the Fort’s history, while wax figures showcase the surrender of the Japanese and British soldiers in the Surrender Chamber. 

Location: Siloso Rd, Singapore 099981
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National Gallery Singapore

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Ensconced within the City Hall and the former Supreme Court is the National Gallery of Singapore, the city’s biggest art museum.  The superior collection of Singaporean and South Asian art here details the culture and history of the place.

Visitors can also avail guided tours, lectures and artist talks to gain a deeper insight. The Museum also houses the country’s first art education centre, where families and students get to immerse themselves in a dynamic range of creative activities. 

Location: 1 St Andrew's Road, Singapore 178957
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Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

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Nestled in the heart of Little India, the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple tells a fascinating story of colonial Singapore. Dedicated to the Goddess Kali, the temple was initially built by migrant workers who had emigrated to Singapore for work.

Later, during the war era, the temple had transformed into a shelter for all war refugees who sought the protection of the Goddess here. One of the most spectacular historical places in Singapore, the temple is known for its elaborate carvings, its towering gopurams and the superior sculptures that adorn its walls.

Location: 141 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218042
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Thian Hock Keng Temple

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Steeped in heritage, Singapore’s oldest Chinese temple demands a visit. Built in the 19th century, this ancient temple was dedicated to Mazu, the Chinese Goddess of the Sea. In its early days, the temple would be flocked by fishermen and traders asking for the Goddess’ blessings for safe passage.

The temple is remarkable in its traditional Chinese designs, with its wall adorned with elaborate motifs of dragons and fishes. The roof ridges, designed with broken porcelain pieces, add to the charm of the place.

Location: 158 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 068613
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Former Ford Factory

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Detailing the fall of Singapore, Former Ford Factory is one of the most interesting of Singapore historical sites. The Factory witnessed the British surrender to the Japanese forces in the fall of 1942. Now, it houses several exhibitions detailing the same.

The Factory details the harrowing events of the past through three intertwined narratives- the Japanese atrocities, the defenses of the British and the suffering of civilians. A display of personal items and oral recordings stand testament to the authenticity of the exhibition. Visitors would also get the unique opportunity to walk into the boardroom where the surrender officially took place. 

Location: 351 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 588192
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Asian Civilizations Museum

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A melting pot of race and culture, the Asian Civilizations Museum details a graphic history of the many communities that have found their place in the country. The Museum delivers more than just a history lesson- a dynamic collection of sculptures, live exhibits, paintings and other art show how ancient cultures come together and blend into beautiful forms.

The Museum also conducts several interactive programmers, like the annual Rivers Night, for visitors to better connect and interact with the cultural art. 

Location:  1 Empress Pl, Singapore 179555
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House of Tan Teng Niah

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Standing in the heart of the Little India locality, the house of Tan Teng Niah stands out in all its glory. The house was initially built by local businessman Tan Teng Niah, whose factory was in the neighborhood. Since then, it has undergone several restorations, yet stood its ground even when the other merchant houses around it were razed down.

It is not the house’s history that makes it popular, however, but its sheer vibrancy. Painted in a splatter of bright yellow, orange, blue, green and red, the quirky beauty of Tan Teng Niah outshines its neighboring buildings, making it one of the most beautiful historical places in Singapore. 

Location: 37 Kerbau Rd, Singapore 219168
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The Majestic

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Standing testament to the Chinese heritage of Singapore, the Majestic in a 20th century opera house in the heart of Eu Tong Sen Street. The palatial building was built in 1927 by Eu Tong Sen for his wife, when she was refused admission elsewhere.

For years thereafter, the performance halls at the Majestic were filled with traditional Cantonese performances bringing their culture to life. Today, the Majestic is a thriving shopping mall. Apart from its many retail outlets, the building is known for its fantastic architectural styles, blending Cantonese designs with Western ones.

Location: 80 Eu Tong Sen St, Singapore 059810
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Central Defense Heritage Gallery

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Housed within the Central Fire Station in Singapore, the Central Defense Heritage Gallery details the history of firefighting in the country. With displays of antique fire engines and equipment, the Museum exhibits showcase the evolution of firefighting from the 19th century till the present age.

Several interactive stations offer a clear insight into what the firefighters go through when tackling a fire. There are also several guided tours up the Station’s hose tower, which was the highest point in Singapore up to the 1920’s.

Location: 62 Hill St, Singapore 179367

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NUS Baba House

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Housed within a traditional Peranakan terraced house, this unique Museum sheds light on the Peranakan community that has thrived in Singapore since the 19th century.

The first two floors at the Baba House are stocked with a number of traditional Peranakan antiques and decorative items, while the third floor conducts regular exhibitions with Peranakan themes. The Museum also conducts heritage tours on previous appointments. 

Location: 157 Neil Road, Singapore 088883
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Changi Prison

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One of the most harrowing historical places in Singapore, Changi Prison stands testament to the incessant Chinese genocide at the hands of Japanese oppressors. After the Japanese occupation post 1942, several prisoners of war were incarcerated at the Changi Prison under unimaginably cruel conditions.

Now a fully functioning Museum, the Changi Prison details its oppressive history through remnants of texts, photos, documents and parts of the original prison. The prison is divided into zones marked chronologically, like ““unprepared surrender”, “the occupation begins' ', “living under the Japanese flag”, and so on. The Museum doubles up as an art gallery as well, displaying paintings, murals and quilts that relate to Changi history.

Location: 982 Upper Changi Rd N, Singapore 507709
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Istana Kampong Gelam

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Those looking to explore the rich heritage of the Singaporean Malay community will feel right at home at the Istana Kampong Gelam, or the Malay Heritage Centre. Built in the early 19th century by Sultan Ali, the centre once served as the Malay royal seat in Singapore.

Now, it serves as a splendid museum with interactive exhibits that detail the country’s past. Five permanent galleries stand testament to its Malay heritage through paintings, pictures and sculptures. In 2015, the Museum was also declared a national monument. 

Location: 85 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198501
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St Andrew's Cathedral

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Established in the 19th century, St. Andrew’s is one of the oldest Anglican cathedrals in the city. Boasting of neo-Gothic architectural style, St. Andrew’s is a marvel to witness.

Three stained glass windows on Church apse pay tribute to three figures in the city’s colonial history that helped the Church come into existence. The Church is now a declared National Monument, and is regarded as one of the most important Singapore historical sites.

Location: 11 St Andrew's Rd, Singapore 178959
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People Also Ask About Singapore

  1. Which are the best places to visit in Singapore?

    1. Mint Museum of Toys: One of Singapore’s most unique historical attractions, the Mint Museum of Toys warrants a visit. The Museum houses an impressive collection of antique collectibles and toys dating back to the 17th century. The museum is divided into several zones, such as Characters and Childhood Favorites, each housing exhibits pertaining to its themes. It regularly conducts Unboxing events as well.

    2. Gardens by the Bay: Spanning across 101 hectares, Gardens by the Bay is a stunning natural park stretching along the Marina Reservoir. A great location for family outings and romantic getaways alike, the Gardens are known for their lush, manicured lawns. Its Flower Dome is the largest glass greenhouse in the world. The Gardens are riddled with other resplendent attractions as well, such as the Floral Fantasy, an indoor plant nursery that is designed after popular fairy tales.

    3. Universal Studios Singapore: One of the biggest family destinations in Singapore, Universal Studios is the biggest theme park in the city. The Studio features over 28 extensive thrills and attractions, divided into 7 themed zones. Offering rides of all intensities, the Studio caters to visitors of all ages.
  2. Which are the best Museums to visit in Singapore?

    1. National Museum of Singapore: Established in 1887, National Museum is the oldest Museum in the city. Within its ornate Neo Palladium structure, the Museum houses galleries that detail the country’s past through immersive exhibitions. The History Gallery here offers a pictorial depiction of the evolution of Singapore from as early as the 13th century.

    2. National Art Gallery: Home to over 8,000 pieces of Southeast Asian artwork, National Art Gallery is among the most sought-after Singapore historical sites. The venue highlights the work of pioneer artists like Georgette Chen, Cheong Soo Peng, and Liu Kang, who are now heralded as the forefathers of the traditional Nanyang Art style.

    3. Asians Civilizations Museum: One of the most unique historical places in Singapore, the Asian Civilizations Museum seeks to deliver a comprehensive overview of the various Asian communities that have found home in Singapore. The interactive exhibits and galleries at the Museum are replete with sculptures, pictures and textual testaments that detail the evolution of the cultures.

    4. Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum: Singapore’s Natural History is home to an impressive collection of natural flora and fauna dating back to the 13th century. Apart from its various galleries and exhibits, the Museum is best known for its three dinosaur skeleton remains, nicknamed Apollonia, Twinky and Prince.
  3. How many days are enough for Singapore?

    About 10-15 days would be ideal for a comprehensive tour of Singapore. Two weeks would let one explore all of the city’s major attractions as well as take part in most of the popular tourist activities in a hassle free manner.
  4. How to reach Singapore?

    By Air: Singapore is well connected to the rest of the world by air. Seletar and Changi are the two main airports here, although the latter is the most accessible to the public. Several airlines, such as Malaysian Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Thai AirAsia and Singapore Airlines travel between Singapore and other major destinations around the world.
    By Sea: Surrounded by the sea, Singapore welcomes several luxury cruisers from the neighboring south east Asian countries. The Marina Bay Cruise Centre and Singapore Cruise Centre are two of the most popular docks here.
    By Road: Singapore is well connected to Malaysia by road, and can be travelled to from here. There are several interstate bus services connecting Malaysia to Singapore. One can also drive to Singapore from Malaysia.
  5. What is the best time to visit Singapore?

    Although Singapore remains ideal for visit throughout the year, the dry season between February and April is regarded as the best time. During these months, the weather here remains extremely pleasant, with scanty rainfall and plenty of sunshine, making it the perfect time for sightseeing activities.