Guide to culture in Singapore

On first appearance, Singapore’s modern 21st century skyline suggests there is little in the way of history and culture to discover, but this could not be further from the truth.

Singapore is best described as a rich melting pot of cultures, made up of ethnic Chinese, Malays and Indians with a substantial population of Eurasians for good measure.

Each of these communities has their own ethnic neighbourhoods such as Little India and Chinatown, which still maintain strong cultural and religious roots.

These are the best places to explore Singapore’s cultural diversity through its rich variety of cuisine, art, religion and architecture.

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Tucked away among all the high rise skyscrapers are numerous Hindu and Buddhist temples, imposing mosques and churches. In fact there are even multi-faith establishments where Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims come to worship under one roof. Despite its headlong rush to modernity, Singapore still features eye catching colonial architecture, gothic revival churches and charming Chinese shop houses.

Few nations can offer such a varied mix of accessible cultures which is probably best illustrated in its traditional crafts and arts heritage. The island is filled with insightful museums and arts centres where you can explore ‘Peranakan’ culture and social history. Singapore has also been highly influenced by Western culture and you will see colourful examples of east meets west in pretty much every aspect of daily life.

Very few places can offer as much variety as Malay folk music, Chinese opera and epic Hindu dance dramas. Communication and interacting effectively is pretty easy in Singapore, although there are some common sense rules of etiquette to bear in mind. Singapore’s many places of worship also feature some of the island’s most exotic architecture. And festivals provide the perfect opportunity to explore the island’s rich cultural heritage through its cuisine, art, music or even sport.