The cultural melting pot of Singapore means that the number and variety of religious sights to visit is staggering. The government’s promotion of racial harmony means that all races and religions live side by side in overlapping communities, and it’s not uncommon to find a Chinese Temple, a Mosque, a Church, and a Hindu Temple all within a short walk of each other.
A visit to one of these many varied places of worship is an excellent way to learn about the religion, culture, and background of the devotees who worship there, and they are often architecturally worth a visit too. Here is a selection of those especially worth visiting:
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
This staggering building not only houses one of the most revered relics in the Buddhist world, but also has an excellent museum where you can learn all about Lord Buddha, and feast your eyes on some of the world’s most beautiful Buddhist artefacts.
Thian Hock Keng Temple
Singapore’s oldest Chinese temple and possibly its most picturesque also. Erected in 1821, nearly all of the materials used to construct the temple came from China, and some even from the boats the immigrants arrived on. Take your time to wander through the courtyards and admire the rooftop dragons, ceiling mosaics, gold-leafed details and the intricately painted doors.
Kuan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple
One of the most popular temples in Singapore, attracting an estimated 1,000 devotees every day. The temple is dedicated to the Kuan Yin (also called Guanyin), the goddess of mercy and is seen by devotees as a saviour, hence her popularity. Keep a look out for devotees kneeling before the deities seeking divine intervention in the important decisions in their lives with the help of “Qian” or fortune sticks.
Presiding over the Arab Quarter, this mosque with its huge golden dome and four minarets, is the largest and most stunning mosque in town and can accommodate 5,000 devotees in its main hall. It was built by Sultan Hussein Shah in 1824 with a $3,000 grant from the East India Company as part of the handover treaty.
Sri Mariamman Temple
Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple can be found in Chinatown and dates back to 1827. Dedicated to Goddess Mariamman, the Goddess of healing, its distinctive colourful gopuram towers above the entrance, covered with figurative sculptures of gods, goddesses and mythological beasts. The Theemithi festival (fire walking ceremony) held annually in October/ November draws thousands of devotees and tourists.
Sri Veerama Kaliamman
This temple in the heart of Little India is dedicated to Krishna. Statues of him can be found throughout the temple, along with his consorts Lakshmi and Andal (the goddesses of wealth and beauty respectively), and his vehicle, the mythical bird Garuda. The temple is most famous as the starting point for the annual Thaipusam festival, when devotees walk the streets carrying kavadis (cage-like constructions) supported by giant metal skewers pierced though their tongues and cheeks.
See more suggestions in our Top 10 picks of Religious sights in Singapore list