I’ve always written about beautiful places I’ve been to, where are the beautiful spots, best cafes and restaurants to go to, etc, but I’ve never written about my own home country, Singapore.
So today, I’m gonna share with you what I think are insta-worthy places in Singapore!
1) House of Tan Teng Niah (Little India)
Possibly most colourful and insta-worthy place in Singapore, the House of Tan Teng Niah sits proudly in the centre of Little India. However, unlike the rest of the attractions in this list, the House of Tan Teng Niah isn’t really Indian. As any linguists may have already realised, this building’s routes lie firmly in the Chinese colonialisation of Singapore, and is the only survivor of its type in the neighbourhood.
Situated just a minute’s walk from Little India MRT Station is the Residence of Tan Teng Niah. While the choice of psychedelic colours on the exterior post-restoration is subject for debate, one cannot argue that this eight-room Chinese villa screams for attention in the vicinity of Kerbau Road.
The history of the building goes back to 1900, when Tan Teng Niah who was one of the few prominent Chinese businessmen in Little India, built it for his wife. This building is one of the last surviving Chinese villas in Little India.
A few Chinese businessmen decided to set up business in Little India following the success of the cattle trade. They were usually in the businesses of rattan works, pineapple factories, and rubber smokehouses. These industries may seem unrelated to the cattle trade in the area but there was a far-reaching commercial relationship which made sense.
The wet environment of the area provided the abundant amounts of water which rattan works required. Recycled rattan by-products and the dregs of pineapple skins from the factories then went into the cattle feed. Bullock carts were readily available and that facilitated goods transportation such as rubber sheets prepared by the rubber smokehouses.
Tan Teng Niah was one such owner of a rubber smokehouse and his legacy would continue to survive today at 37 Kerbau Road as the Residence of Tan Teng Niah.
The best time to visit to capture the vibrant colours is around noon (no shadow casted) but it can be extremely hot and scorching, If photography is not critical, visit during the cooler part of the day in the morning or early evening. If you visit in the evening, you can also dine alfresco and order from a restaurant that now occupies the building or from a hawker across the street.
As the premises house several business, it is not possible to visit the interior of the house, it is definitely a colourful visit.
2) ArtScience Museum: Future World
You don’t have go too far to find insta-worthy places in Singapore!
Look no further than the Singapore ArtScience Museum, which houses renowned exhibitions that push the boundaries of science, technology and knowledge.
We’re in for a whole new treat because Future World recently added 10 new installations!
3) Peranakan Houses at Koon Seng Road
Now, you know how much I love a beautiful and colourful backdrop! So it’s a no-brainer that these Peranakan Houses at Koon Seng Road made it to list of insta-worthy places in Singapore.
What does Peranakan mean? Peranakan descendants are of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay Archipelago, including British Malaya (now Malaysia and Singapore) and Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).
The road is actually named after Cheong Koon Seng, born in the 1800′, who was one of the first thirteen students at Singapore’s Anglo-Chinese School. Until the 1970’s, the area was inhabited by Peranakan Chinese, which explains the colourful and unique Chinese architecture to be found in the area.
The houses were built in the 1920’s and 1930’s but it was until the early 90’s that they were to be officially marked for conservation.
These perfectly painted Peranakan-themed houses are now a popular spot for budding photographers, tourists and fashion models visiting the city looking for a colourful backdrop for their photography. Each house is painted in a different pastel, and each property tells its own story.
They say some of the houses are still lived in by the original families that moved in during the 20’s and 30’s, while many moved out due to violence in the area during the 1970’s allowing a new generation of Singaporeans’ to take over.
4) Japanese Cemetery
Established in 1891, the Japanese Cemetery Park was used to serve the burial needs of the Japanese residents in Singapore. In 1891, three brothel keepers, Futaki Takajiro, Shibuya Ginji and Nakagawa Kikuzo obtained permission from the government to build a cemetery for the destitute Japanese prostitutes who breathed their last in Singapore but had no final resting place.
The founders of the cemetery were also rubber plantation owners, hence they used some of their land to serve as land for the cemetery. As a reminder of their deeds, there are still two huge rubber trees commissioned as heritage trees within the compound of the cemetery.
After World War I, industrialisation grew at an astonishing pace in Japan, and hence the composition of the Japanese community here evolved to include people from other sectors, such as agriculture, retail, fishing. The cemetery later grew to include the tombs of these people. As the community became wealthier, the architecture of the tombs took on more ornate and elaborate styles. Design features included stone sculptures of Jizo (a Japanese deity) or Corinthian-styled columns, and plots were also demarcated with fences and gates.
It is now the largest and most well-preserved Japanese cemetery in Southeast Asia, measuring approximately 30,000 square metres, and houses around 1000 graves. The cemetery was closed to burials in 1973 and named a memorial park in 1987. The Singapore government transferred custodial rights over the cemetery to the Japanese Association in 1969. Today, the Japanese Association continues to manage the affairs of the cemetery.
Just before entering and when leaving the cemetery, I did a silent prayer stating that I was not here to disturb the peace of the dead.
While walking about the cemetery, useful information board will tell you more about the history of the Japanese Cemetery, which I found very useful and knowledgeable.
Hope you enjoyed this post!
Stay tuned for part 2, which will be out next week!