Five tours to check out

Double Lives

What: On this tour designed by guide Lee Ai Ling, learn the hidden stories behind some of the monuments in the civic district.

For example, the site of the Former Hill Street Police Station, now a government building, used to be where fancy arty shindigs were held in the 1800s, and firefighters from the Central Fire Station had a bad reputation as robbers.

Monuments: Central Fire Station (above), Former Hill Street Police Station, Former Parliament House (present-day Arts House)

Remembering Singapore's Old Waterfront

What: Discover the monuments and sites along Collyer Quay that stand where Singapore's historic waterfront used to be. The tour is designed by guide Alvin Yeo, who will also point out interesting facts about the skyscrapers in the area when he leads the tour.

Monuments: Former Telok Ayer Market (present-day Lau Pa Sat), Former Singapore Conference Hall and Trade Union House (present-day Singapore Conference Hall, above)

Historic sites: Former Singapore Polytechnic (present-day Bestway Building)

Hidden Hands

What: Find out about the "invisible" forces that helped build Singapore's oldest Anglican church, the St Andrew's Cathedral, and the former Empress Place Building, which is now the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Created by guide Sam Yun-Shan, the tour sheds light on the early colonial engineers and convict labourers who toiled in the past to construct these iconic buildings.

Monuments: St Andrew's Cathedral (above), Former Empress Place Building (Asian Civilisations Museum)

A Stroll In The Jewish Quarters

What: Guide Catalina Tong shares her in-depth knowledge of the old Jewish quarters, located in the areas near Sophia Road and Selegie Road, in this tour.

Interesting facts include how the former Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlet at Waterloo Street, owned by the prominent Sassoon family, used to serve kosher food to the Jewish community in the area.

The tour includes a visit to the oldest surviving Jewish synagogue in South-east Asia, the Maghain Aboth Synagogue.

Monuments: Maghain Aboth Synagogue (above)


Stories Of Kampong Glam

What: The Istana Kampong Gelam, now the site of the Malay Heritage Centre, is the latest building to be gazetted a national monument. In this tour created by guide Kenneth Soon, you will learn how to identify gelam trees that gave the vicinity its name and describe what life in the neighbourhood was like.

Look out for a special Banyan tree that has a secret of its own.

Monuments: Sultan Mosque and Istana Kampong Glam (above)

November tours are all fully booked. Go to for information on upcoming tours. Tickets cost $5 and are available on

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2015, with the headline 'Five tours to check out'. Print Edition | Subscribe