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Where are you headed this weekend? How about making it more exciting by exploring some of the interesting historical sites in Singapore with your friends or family? The country might just be a quinquagenarian but look deep enough and you’ll see it’s rich history, dating back to even before the Japanese Occupation or its fishing village days.
Explore the stories of the past by experiencing first-hand the places where history happened — all within the Changi Precinct. From attractions such as the newly refurbished Changi Museum to the preserved Johore battery, there’s plenty to discover!
1. Changi Chapel & Museum
What better place to begin understanding the trials and tribulations of colonial Singapore than at the Changi Chapel & Museum?
After a temporary closure in 2018, the newly refurbished museum is back! If you’re a historical buff or possess a curious mind, you’d be fascinated by the museum’s new multimedia offerings — such as a digital display showcasing more than 50,000 in-depth war stories — that give a deeper immersion in the harrowing events that unfolded during the Japanese Occupation.
If you’d like, the museum also offers an hour-long guided tour in both English and Chinese for free too! To round off the experience, why not grab some specially designed souvenirs or books about the war from the Changi Chapel & Museum shop? You definitely wouldn’t want to leave empty-handed after the emotive affair. Read our detailed guide to find out more about what you can do at the Changi Chapel and Museum!
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday — 9:30am to 5:30pm. Closed every Monday except Public Holidays. Last admission at 5.00pm.
Address: 1000 Upper Changi Road North, Singapore 507707
Entrance Fees: Free for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents. Visitors are encouraged to book their tickets online.
2. Old Changi Hospital
Let’s face it, you can’t talk about historical buildings in Singapore without mentioning Old Changi Hospital.
This stunning relic dates all the way back to the 1930s, when it was formerly called the Royal Air Force Hospital before it was taken over by the Japanese during World War II. It was later reclaimed and handed over to the government of Singapore, which converted it to the Singapore Armed Forces Hospital and eventually renamed Changi Hospital.
Though the former hospital only served as a healthcare facility for prisoners-of-wars during the Japanese Occupation, popular hearsay claims the medical institution houses all sorts of vengeful spirits — tortured or executed by the Kempeitai (Japanese Military Police) — along its abandoned corridors today.
Regardless of whether it’s pure fodder for haunting stories or not, the historical architecture — coupled with its dilapidated appearance — makes it a hot photo spot for cyclists and hikers. Slap your smart watches on and make a day out of your hiking or cycling venture!
Entry isn’t allowed, but viewing from afar is okay (and spooky enough). We recommend trekking through Changi Walking Trail to check out the different heritage trees and taking a short detour to Old Changi Hospital, before getting on the Changi park connector for a seamless walk to Changi Village!
Address: 24 Halton Road, Singapore 506997
3. Changi Prison
This maximum-security prison was built by the British in 1936, though it ended up being used as the Japanese military police headquarters during the Japanese Occupation.
Post-war, it resumed its purpose as a civilian prison. Much of its original structure has been done away with to make way for a new and improved prison complex in 2004. The prison’s entrance gate, 180 metre-long wall and two corner turrets are what’s left of the old Changi Prison, and have been pretty much integrated into the new complex.
Since it’s located right next to the Changi Chapel & Museum, it’s definitely worth a side tour to see the impressive structure for yourself before heading on over to Changi Village to gorge yourself silly on the plethora of food available!
Address: 982 Upper Changi Road, Singapore 507709
4. Singapore Changi Airport
Of course, no trip to the Changi precinct is complete without heading to Singapore Changi Airport itself! Considering its bright, shiny and downright luxurious appearance today, it’s understandable if you might not have considered it to be a historical monument.
The crowning jewel of Singapore’s aviation industry serves as a reminder of the country’s brave move to pivot what would’ve been a regular airport to a world-famous travel destination.
Once you’re done pigging out and taking photos for the ‘gram, head on over to the Changi Experience Studio, where you’ll get to experience the airport like you’ve never done before! Learn about Singapore’s aviation history from the seven stations at the Hanging Gardens, race along the runway, or even try your hand at running the airport — there’s just so much to do!
Changi Experience Studio
Opening Hours: 11:00am to 8:00pm. Last admission at 7:00pm.
Address: 78 Airport Boulevard, Singapore 819666. Located within Jewel Changi Airport, Level 4
Entrance Fees: For Singapore Residents, Adults — S$19, Children/Seniors — S$13. Promotional prices and passes are available here.
5. Johore Battery
Just a 15-minute drive from Singapore Changi Airport is Singapore’s ‘Monster Guns’.
If you’re on a date with bae, here’s a chance to flex those muscles and attempt to lift a dummy 15-inch gun shell that weighs a whopping 800kg. It sits next to a one-to-one replica of the first naval gun — complete with the turret — at Johore Battery, on top of where the three original guns used to be.
Photos of British soldiers manning and cleaning the original guns are plastered around the area, though it’s really hard to fathom a gun of this magnitude until you see it in person.
Visitors can also check out a nearby walkway that showcases the labyrinth of underground tunnels that once stored ammunition for these gigantic guns.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm
Address: 27 Cosford Road, Singapore 499549
6. Changi Beach Park
Among all the landmarks in Singapore mentioned so far, this is probably the most deceptive of all — the pristine Changi beach famed for its breath-taking vista and advantageous view of overhead planes holds a dark past.
A historical site marker — found along Changi Coast Track, in front of Changi Beach Carpark 2 — documents the systematic purge of Chinese men known as the Sook Ching Massacre that occurred during the Japanese Occupation. To add to the historical vibe, dotted around the area are also several buildings from colonial Singapore that were used in that era.
The stretches of pristine white beaches along the park make it prime for a picnic with friends or family, coupled with delish home-cooked food and your trusty portable speakers. Alternatively, you could take a walk along Changi Boardwalk and admire the view of the Straits of Johor, before heading to the nearby Changi Village for a relaxing seafront dinner.
Opening Hours: Open 24/7
Address: Changi Coast Track. The WW2 historical marker is located in front of Changi Beach Carpark 2
An unconventional day trip it might seem, but a visit to these landmarks makes for an enriching and educational way to get in touch with the country’s history. These are must-visit historical sites in Singapore nohistory buff would want to miss out on.
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