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 and an energetic and outward-looking culture. The itinerary combines Singapore’s complex heritage, tropical gardens, the visual arts and vibrant food culture. Enjoy five-star accommodation close to venues we visit, and a varied program designed to appeal to cultural travellers.
Singapore’s complex history, from British rule to its transformation in the 21st century
Singapore National Gallery, a vast and impressive museum of regional and international art, including contemporary works on display in the Singapore Biennale
The Asian Civilisations Museum, housed in the historic Empress Building
Contemporary architecture – with buildings by Renzo Piano, I.M. Pei, Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid and Moshe Safdie, emblems of Singapore’s growth as a cultural centre
The orchid gardens at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, carved out of a remaining section of Malay forest
Fort Canning Park, touring the Fort Canning Bunker
Day 1: Meet your fellow travellers over welcome drinks.
Day 2: This morning, visit the Asian Civilisations Museum and the main collection of the National Gallery, with lunch at the National Kitchen restaurant inside the museum. In the afternoon, tour the National Gallery’s rooftop installation, an art project by Charles Lim, followed by an evening stroll the Marina Bay precinct to witness the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Day 3: Take a contemporary architecture tour with commercial and public buildings created by some of the world’s leading architects, visit the Kampong Glam district to the east of the city centre, and dine in the Michelin-starred Labyrinth restaurant, located in the Esplanade theatre complex.
Day 4: This morning we visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens, with their stunning orchid collection, followed by an exploration of the works in the Singapore Biennale at the National Gallery. We then visit Fort Canning Park and take a tour of the bunker where the Allies surrendered to Japan in WWII. The tour wraps up with high tea at the Fullerton.
The tour begins and ends at our hotel in Singapore. Singapore Airlines has several daily flights from Australian capital cities at times that coincide with the start and end of our tour. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L, D, Canapés (C) and High Tea (HT)
Thursday January 23: Arrive Singapore
Many day flights from Australia arrive in the late afternoon. At 6.00pm we meet in the hotel reception and head to a nearby venue for welcome drinks and finger food. Overnight Singapore. (C)
Friday January 24: Heritage and art
We begin our program with the Asian Civilisations Museum, housed in the historic Empress Building close to our hotel. The museum’s beautiful displays survey the decorative arts of various South East Asian cultures. 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. As well as surveying the painting in the region from the 18th to the 20th centuries, these galleries also contain important historical displays relating to colonial Singapore. We have lunch at the National Kitchen restaurant inside the museum, showcasing Singaporean dishes. After lunch we visit the National Gallery’s rooftop installation, an art project by Charles Lim, with more than 30 plant species. This evening we stroll the Marina Bay precinct to witness the Chinese New Year celebrations. Overnight Singapore. (B, L)
Saturday January 25: Modern Architecture and Kampong Glam
Much of today is dedicated to a survey of Singapore’s remarkable modern architecture. In the last 15 years the skyline of Singapore has changed dramatically, with commercial and public buildings created by some of the world’s leading architects, such as Sir Norman Foster, I.M.Pei, Moshie Safdie and Dame Zaha Hadid. For early risers there is a pre-breakfast excursion to the Henderson Waves, suspended 36 metres above parkland and forest in the southern ridges. We return to our hotel for breakfast and continue our survey by foot and coach, visiting buildings including the Marina Bay Sands, the Park Royal hotel and the neo-Deco Parkview building. After a break we visit the Kampong Glam district to the east of the city centre. This traditional neighbourhood is comprised of colonial shop houses and is a centre of the Malay community with active mosques and food from throughout the Islamic world. This evening we dine in the Michelin-starred Labyrinth restaurant, located in the Esplanade theatre complex, itself a striking modern building. Labyrinth serves sophisticated Singaporean cuisine. Overnight Singapore. (B, D)
Sunday January 26: Singapore Biennale and WWII
This morning there is an optional early morning visit to the orchid gardens at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, carved out of a remaining section of Malay forest not far from the city centre. After breakfast and checking out of the Fullerton Hotel, we return to the National Gallery of Singapore to view the contemporary works on display in the Singapore Biennale, surveying the work of 27 of the international and Singaporean artists selected for this year’s program. In the afternoon we visit Fort Canning Park to tour the Fort Canning Bunker. It is here in February 1942 that the allies surrendered to the Japanese. 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. The tour wraps up with High Tea at the Fullerton Hotel. (B, HT)
A cultural historian and founding director of Academy Travel, with a strong interest in visual arts, architecture and music.
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. www.fullertonhotels.com/the-fullerton-hotel
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, taxis or public transport are 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
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
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?
Our 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
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. We aim to be fair and reasonable in all our dealings with our clients. We aim to provide full and accurate information about our tours and promptly provide information of any changes or alterations that take place before departure.