In the last 20 years the island-nation of Singapore has transformed itself from a bustling commercial city into a vibrant cultural one – a leading Asian centre of art, music and design. It boasts remarkable museums and galleries, a fine symphony orchestra and an energetic and outward-looking culture. Our new tour has been timed to coincide with Singapore Art Week, held every January. The itinerary combines Singapore’s complex heritage, tropical gardens, the visual arts and live performances. Enjoy five-star accommodation close to venues we visit, and a varied program designed to appeal to cultural travellers.
The vibrant visual arts and design scene of one of Asia’s most dynamic cities
Singapore’s melting pot: local Peranakan culture, British colonialism and globalisation
The history and design of the Asian tropical garden, from classic principles to stunning orchids
The complex heritage of the British, from fine architecture to resistance at Changi
Extensive collections of traditional and modern Asian art, at public and private galleries and museums
Striking and cutting-edge architecture and design
Attend Singapore Art Week, an enriching series of events and exhibitions
Curator-led tours of public and private galleries participating in Singapore Art Week
The Asian Civilisations Museum, perhaps the world’s finest survey of South East Asia’s cultural heritage
The recently-opened National Gallery, a vast and impressive museum with fine regional art
Gillmann Barracks, the British colonial barracks converted into a centre for contemporary art
The Arts House, Singapore’s Neo-Palladian former parliament building and multi-disciplinary arts venue
A performance by the well-regarded Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Day 1: Meet your fellow travellers over dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 2: Visit the Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan House Museum. Lunch at a Peranakan restaurant then visit Fort Canning. Early evening visit to Gillman Barracks arts centre.
Day 3: Early visit to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, including the Orchid Garden. Morning visit to the National Gallery historic wing and current exhibition. Evening performance by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
Day 4: Optional visit to Gardens by the Bay Complex. Visit Fort Canning Park and the small Changi Museum on the site of the former POW camp, near the airport.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Singapore Airlines has several daily flights from Australian capital cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Thursday January 17: Arrive Singapore
Many day flights from Australia arrive in the late afternoon. Meet your fellow participants and tour leader over drinks at the bar of the Fullerton Hotel, then proceed to dinner on the banks of the Singapore River, adjacent to our hotel. Overnight Singapore (D)
Friday January 18: Heritage and Art
We begin our program with the Asian Civilisations Museum, housed in the historic Empress Building close to our hotel. A curator introduces us to the main collections of the museum and any special exhibitions which are showing. After a break we head to the National Gallery of Singapore for the first of two visits. Our initial investigation covers the permanent collection, located in the court rooms of the former supreme court building. These galleries not only showcase the visual world of the region in the 18th and 19th centuries, but also contain important historical displays relating to colonial Singapore. On the roof of the museum there are elegant bars and restaurants with great views over the city. After lunch we visit the Peranakan Museum, generally regarded as the best museum of its type in the region. The collection is a delightful journey through a unique culture, surveying decorative arts, domestic architecture and design. In the early evening we head to Gillman Barracks, about 30 minutes out of the city centre. These former army barracks have been converted into a contemporary art precinct. During Singapore Art Week they host exhibitions from leading European and regional commercial galleries. Overnight Singapore. (B)
Saturday January 19: Orchids and Orchestras
Early this morning we head to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, carved out of a remaining section of Malay forest not far from the city centre. Our visit concentrates on the fine orchid garden. We then return to the National Gallery to inspect both the Singapore Art Week galleries and the visiting international exhibition timed to coincide with the fair (details expected September-October 2018). We enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants atop the Gallery. This afternoon there is the option of visiting the Singapore Art Museum, housed in a historic building near Raffles Hotel. During Singapore Art Week, this museum is usually dedicated to film and contemporary art. This evening we attend a performance by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, either in the Victoria Hall or the visually striking Esplanade Theatre. (B, L)
Sunday January 20: History and Happenings
After checking out of the Fullerton Hotel, we head to Fort Canning Park to visit the Fort Canning Bunker, popularly known as the Battle Box. The complex includes a telephone exchange, signals and operations rooms, sleeping quarters and a cipher room for coding and decoding messages. It was used from 1936 right up to the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in World War II. We then head to the Marina Bay Sands complex, another striking piece of contemporary architecture. The main commercial galleries of Singapore Art Week are to be found in the exhibition halls here, and there will be time to explore them and have a light lunch. If you prefer you can visit the remarkable (if somewhat vulgar) Gardens by the Bay, directly outside the Marina Bay Sands. In the afternoon we head to Changi Airport. Depending on the time of participants’ flights, there may be time to visit the small museum on the site of the notorious former Japanese POW camp at Changi before arriving at the airport. (B)
Holds a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Education. He is a director of Academy Travel and leads tours to Europe, Scandinavia, the US & Australia.
Robert Veel is a cultural historian with over 20 years’ experience leading tours to Italy, the USA, Scandinavia and Turkey. He has a strong personal interest in the visual arts, architecture and music, and is a founding director of Academy Travel.
Robert holds a BA, Dip. Ed and M.Ed, all from the University of Sydney. He worked as a lecturer at the University of Sydney before a long stint at the University’s Centre for Continuing Education, lecturing in Italian history and culture and working as Assistant Director. Robert continues to teach occasionally in Continuing Education courses.
Robert’s historical and artistic knowledge stretches from the Middle Ages through the early 20th century. In Italy he has led many tours focusing on the Medieval and Renaissance periods. In the United States he likes to focus on the founding of the Republic and the Gilded Age of the early 20th century. In Scandinavia he is particularly interested in national identity and its role in Scandinavian literature, design and architecture. Robert speaks fluent Italian.
Robert led his first tour to Italy in 1990 and has not looked back! He has led more than 50 tours and designed many of Academy Travel’s most popular tours, including Sicily, New York, Rome and Venice residential tours, and our Scandinavia tours. More recently Robert led the first offering of Academy Travel’s tours to Tasmania and New Zealand.
We asked Robert, what do you enjoy most about leading tours?
“I really enjoy travelling with like-minded, interested travellers who are up for a bit of an intellectual adventure. It’s often the unexpected things that create the ‘shared joy’ of group travel”, says Robert “a wonderful, but little-known painting, a great performance or a fabulous meal. These are the things we travel for.”
“Over the years travellers have commented on my seemingly boundless enthusiasm. It’s true that I am curious about most things – people, places, history and artistic expression. There’s a kind of alchemy when this enthusiasm rubs off on others – hopefully with a bit of useful information as well!”
The Fullerton Hotel was commissioned in 1919 as part of the British colony’s centennial celebrations. The neo-classical style building was opened in 1924 and housed the General Post Office, the Exchange, the Singapore Club, the Marine Department and the Import and Export Department. Today it is a five-star hotel and is perfectly located within walking distance of the major galleries and museums which form the core of our itinerary. The hotel has numerous cafes, bars and restaurants, an outdoor pool, fitness centre and spa.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.