24 January 2019 by Tim Tan
The Singapore Bicentennial, brought on by the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819, is set to make this nation one of 2019’s destinations to watch. Our Asia specialist Tim Tan, who lived in Singapore, gives us an insight into the country's Bicentennial celebrations.
From extravagant events and festivals along with the grand reopening of the iconic Raffles Hotel, it’s a wonderful chance to discover the city’s history and celebrate its changing fortune. After Raffles’ Landing, a free port and open city was established, bringing in influences from across the world – and his actions are still felt to this day. Around every corner, you’ll find a celebration of the bicentennial. Enjoy everything from Asia’s greatest light show – where the likes of shining octopuses and neon tunnels light up – to augmented reality trails that project historic details over the trails and streets of Singapore’s modern cutting-edge. Then there’s the city’s museums displaying special exhibitions too, such as The Fort Canning Centre, presenting the city’s most iconic moments of the past, and the Asian Civilisations Museum, showcasing south-east Asian artefacts that reflect Sir Raffles’ role as an avid collector.
Raffles Hotel, Singapore
Singapore is a wonderland of hidden greenery and dazzling architecture, from its cutting-edge glass skyline to its beautiful Gardens by the Bay. Yet there’s still an extraordinary melting pot of cultures to immerse yourself in, from the multi-tiered temples that scatter around Chinatown to resplendent Little India and the Arabic Quarter’s 19th-century mosque.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown, Singapore
It’s the city’s colonial heritage that’s the draw for many visitors, though, and there’s perhaps nothing more iconic than Raffles Hotel itself. Here, whitewashed colonnades and palm-tree lined gardens host smart courtyards, chandelier-adorned gourmet restaurants and rooms that were refreshed for its August 2019 reopening. It all includes the opulent Long Bar for a taste of that iconic Singapore Sling – all alongside the five-star service that gained Raffles its esteemed reputation back in the 1800s.
Singapore Sling, Raffles Hotel
For even more authentic culture, the buzzing hawker markets are a true rite of passage for any Singapore traveller and one of the island’s biggest draws. Enjoy everything from Singapore's famous chicken rice and spicy satay skewers to fluffy dim-sum dumplings in a hub of delicious and varied cuisine showcased at its diverse best.
To find out more about how to experience Singapore's bicentennial, check out our Singapore itineraries below.