1. Took a respite from the Central Business District in Singapore’s largest cathedral
Most would probably find the Central Business District synonymous with huge crowds marching rapidly from one destination to another. But yet right in the heart of the Central Business District sits St Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore’s largest cathedral. Conveniently located beside City Hall MRT (take Exit B), its Neo-Gothic architecture is a treat to the eye among the skyscrapers in its vicinity. The cathedral is open to the public from Mondays to Saturdays 9am to 5pm, but the fences running along its perimeter seem to keep most out of the crowd which was fairly empty even on a Saturday afternoon. One can access to the cathedral through the main entrance hidden behind the cathedral’s Welcome Centre along North Bridge Road just outside Exit B or the side entrance at the junction of North Bridge Road and Coleman Street.
Although St Andrew’s Cathedral takes the title of the largest cathedral in Singapore, its huge grounds are largely unoccupied, with the cathedral situated in the middle and large fields spreading out on all four sides. Its interior, though quaint, pales in comparison to its pristine white façade and time would be much better spent appreciating the external architecture while lounging on the shaded benches scattered around the premise. People familiar with the crowds and hectic rush synonymous with the Central Business District will find the calm and quiet of this cathedral surreal.
Free tours are conducted by members of the cathedral daily from Mondays to Saturdays at 2 timeslots (10.30am – 12.00noon or 2.30pm – 4.00pm, except Wednesday mornings and Saturday afternoons). More information on the tours can be found here.
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St Andrew’s Cathedral
11 St Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178959
Tel: 6337 6104
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm | Mon to Sat
2. Had a brush with the law
To enter the Central Business District’s most serious sector, head down along North Bridge Road and take a left turn to Parliament Place which runs between the Supreme Court (look out for the building’s UFO inspired crown) and Parliament House. Unfortunately, both places are closed on weekends. If you’re visiting on a weekday, try popping in for a hearing at Supreme Court or a Sitting Day at the Parliament House. There are also tours available for both the Supreme Court and Parliament House. Take note of the dress code if you are visiting.
1 Supreme Court Lane, Singapore 178879
Tel: 6336 0644
1 Parliament Place, Singapore 178880
Tel: 6332 6666
The Academy Bistro
1 Supreme Court Lane, GF Supreme Court, Singapore 178879
Tel: 6332 4365
Opening hours: 8.30am to 6pm | Mon to Thu | 8.30am to 10pm | Fri | Closed on Sat, Sun and public holidays
3. Dropped by the first Parliament House and oldest performing arts venue
Not all is sombre in the Central Business District. Hiding behind the current Parliament House is Singapore’s first Parliament House which has been refurbished into The Arts House since 2004. Aiming to develop and promote literary arts in Singapore, The Arts House hosts a wide array of free and paid events throughout the year. You can even catch a show at the Chamber where the original furnishings of the Old Parliament House (imported from London) have been retained.
The Arts House
1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429
Recently opened after a $158-million refurbishment, the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall held an Open House on 19 and 20 July 14 with free performance and guided tours. There are currently no updates on upcoming events or tours but with this brochure, self-guided tour is easy enough!
Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall
11 Empress Place, Singapore 179558
4. (Wished I) pampered myself to an afternoon tea fit for a queen
After exiting the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, continue along Empress Place, go pass the Asian Civilisations Museum and cross the pedestrian Cavernagh Bridge. This would bring you to The Fullerton Hotel, situated close to some of the tallest buildings and landmarks in the Central Business District. Sprawled across the main lobby is The Courtyard, a restaurant which serves afternoon teas (Mon to Fri, 3pm to 6pm and Sat, Sun and public holidays, 2pm to 4pm and 4.30pm to 6pm) and chocolate buffets (Fri and Sat, 8pm to 11pm). The Courtyard tries to live up to its name with the high ceiling, tall plants and sky lights and to top it off, the air-conditioning will shield you from the unforgiving Singapore heat. I’ve yet to try the afternoon tea and buffet but you can find reviews here, here, here and here. True foodies might want to give this a miss as the ambience seems to be the highlight rather than the food.
After the sinful indulgence, you can walk off the food while enjoying the art pieces on display around the lobby and at The Fullerton Heritage Gallery.
From The Fullerton Hotel, you can visit The Fullerton Waterboat House which is now a location for fine dining. Then take the underpass over to One Fullerton where you can see our famed Merlion. One Fullerton now houses mostly restaurants and pubs but head towards Clifford Pier and you can see some interesting art installations.
Follow the wooden decked promenade which takes you through Clifford Pier, The Fullerton Bay Hotel as well as the Customs House. The historical architecture makes the area a treat for the eye but most of these places are converted to dining places (full listing here) so there’s not much exploration left to be done. But do not miss visiting The Fullerton Bay Hotel, whose grand entrance is matched by its equally gorgeous interiors. Like The Fullerton Hotel, The Fullerton Bay Hotel too has a huge restaurant in its lobby. The Landing Point also offers afternoon teas and chocolate buffets, and personally I would pick this over The Courtyard for the views of the Marina Bay precinct. Reviews here and here. If you’re not about to splurge on food, there are good spots near the main entrance with comfy sofas for a short break and some people watching.
Download The Fullerton Heritage Trail Map for a self guided walking trail around the Fullerton Heritage precinct. Guests of Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel can get complimentary guided tours.
The Fullerton Hotel
1 Fullerton Square, Singapore 049178
1 Fullerton Road, Singapore 049213
The Fullerton Bay Hotel/ Clifford Pier
80 Collyer Quay, Singapore 049326
70 Collyer Quay, Singapore 049323
5. Revelled in a movie against the backdrop of skyscrapers
Afterwards, cross over to Marina Bay Sands via Marina Boulevard. On the third Friday and Saturday of each month at 7.30pm, DBS screens free movies at the open space outside Marina Bay Sands (take the exit leading towards Marina Bay City Gallery). The screening dates for each month can be found here and you can vote to screen your favourite movies here. Bring along a mat and picnic food and enjoy the movie against the backdrop of the Central Business District.
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands (exit leading towards Marina Bay City Gallery)
10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956
Date timer: ~3 hours (excluding the movie)
Any of you have taken the tours at the Supreme Court or Parliament House? How was the experience?
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