What to Do in Singapore’s Central Business District

 Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images
Posted August 07, 2017

These are the best places to visit in Singapore’s Central Business District.

Although Singapore’s glorious food scene has been documented extensively, it’s rarer to hear about the Southeast Asian city’s emerging cultural world, whose profile was raised recently with the opening of the stunning new National Gallery. Luckily, several of the best arts and cultural sites are within walking distance of The Central Business District—a hotbed of modern architecture—where most business travelers stay while visiting Singapore. So in between meetings and trying out the delicious street food at the city’s endless hawker stands, check out the five places here to get a big dose of culture.

Singapore National Gallery

In downtown’s Neoclassical former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, the Singapore National Gallery showcases a vast collection of 19th- and 20th-century Southeast Asian art. In fact, the $530 million project is angling to become the region’s premier art destination, similar in size to Madrid’s Prado and Paris’s Musée d’Orsay. The interiors are as exquisite as the exteriors, with galleries in former courtrooms, while rooftop gardens feature reflecting pools.

Peranakan Museum

The Peranakan Museum explores the culture of the Peranakan (descendants of 17th-century Chinese and Indian immigrants who married local Malays). Inside, you’ll find artifacts ranging from ceremonial jewelry to nyonya porcelain vases.

Singapore Art Museum

The country’s first art museum, which opened 20 years ago, focuses on contemporary art and is housed in a restored 19th-century mission school.

Marina Bay Sands

This is the place to experience a different kind of culture—one whose architecture is steeped in the here-and-now, showing off Singapore’s ultra-modern side. Designed by U.S.-based Moshe Safdie, the casino hotel is a mini-city that has 2,560 guest rooms and seven restaurants helmed by such renowned chefs as Daniel Boulud, Guy Savoy, and Tetsuya Wakuda. The three-acre SkyPark has a 500-foot infinity pool. The atrium-style casino's chandelier is made of 132,000 Swarovski crystals. At night, head to the two floating nightclubs—the perfect end to a day in Asia's eye-popping new playground.

Art Science Museum

Singapore has gone on a recent building spree, rolling out a casino, a river safari, rooftop sky-parks, lush beer gardens, eco hotels, and even a floating Louis Vuitton Island. Even so, Marina Bay Sands' ArtScience Museum, which opened in February 2011, stands out among all the glitz and hype. Designed by Moshe Safdie to illustrate the symbiotic relationship of art, science, and technology, the lotus-shaped museum has a roof that transforms rainwater into a central atrium waterfall and pond, plus 50,000 square feet of glimmering gallery space for exhibits like "Leonardo da Vinci's Flying Machine" that attempt to bridge art and science.

Raffles

Even if you aren’t staying here, it’s worth a peek inside this 1887 hotel for the historical atmosphere. Its undergone several contemporary face-lifts but stays true to its colonial-style past. Sikh doormen welcome guests in the main driveway and suites are done up in antiques and Oriental carpets.

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