Things to Do in Singapore: Take a Walk Down Our Heritage Trails
If you’re interested in history, you might be surprised to find that young, metropolitan and future-oriented Singapore had quite the rocky one. Grab your notebook and camera, take a moment to reflect, and embark on a war heritage trail through these three sites that have weathered the nation’s past.
Reflections of Bukit Chandu
Recount the tale of how a 1,400-strong army from the Malay Regiment heroically fought against 13,000 Japanese soldiers in the Battle of Pasir Panjang – the last ferocious combat before Singapore’s brutal fall in February 1942.
Relive the heroics of Lieutenant Adnan Saidi, who led a platoon of 42 soldiers against the rapidly advancing Japanese soldiers. Despite being vastly outnumbered, Lieutenant Adnan rejected the very idea of surrender, and for two days fought amidst severe conditions until he succumbed to a gun injury.
In this restored colonial bungalow, you will find historical artefacts, maps and other interactive exhibits that take you through the events that went down in this part of the Japanese invasion during World War II. You’ll have to be physically fit to access this site, however, since getting here involves a 15 minute uphill walk!
Where it’s at: 31-K Pepys Road
Operating hours: Tue – Sun, 9 am – 5:30 pm
Admission fee: Adult $2; Students and Senior Citizens $1; Free admission for Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents
Memories at Old Ford Motor Factory
This former Ford motor car assembly plant – the first of its kind in Southeast Asia – marks the site where the British surrendered to the Japanese during World War II. Through the photographs, diaries and ration books on display, you’ll come to learn about life under the Japanese Occupation from 1942 to 1945.
The museum also features a large Talking Map reconstructed from topographic maps of that era, where you can trace the route that the Japanese had taken into Singapore. Guided tours run every Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm.
Where it’s at: 351 Upper Bukit Timah Road
Operating hours: Mon – Sat, 9 am – 5:30 pm; Sun 12 pm – 5:30pm
Admission fee: $3; Free admission for Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents, Singaporean student pass holders, children under 6, and to all on Open House Day
Changi Chapel and Museum
Who were the Prisoners-of-War during the Japanese Occupation and how did they live? This site chronicles their horrific stories in the form of letters, drawings and photographs of those who were interned at Changi Prison between 1942 and 1945.
Pick up an audio guide to listen to their experiences, or join a 45-minute guided tour to get an in-depth understanding of what went on at the site. For those of us who have grown up in times of peace and prosperity, this makes for a sobering visit that should not be missed.
Where it’s at: 1000 Upper Changi Road North
Operating hours: Daily 9:30 am – 5pm
Admission fee: Free