Modern Singapore is a decidedly secular place. It is, however, also a vibrantly diverse city with a mix of ethnicities and cultural influences, and there are rich pockets of religiosity worth visiting for tourists in search of the spiritual.
The Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Little India is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu the Preserver that is easily recognizable by the 60-foot-high series of sculptures depicting Vishnu in the nine forms in which he has purportedly appeared on earth. Etiquette dictates that you remove your shoes upon entering and if you want to participate in a little ritual and offer either a coconut or a banana along with a slip of paper with your name written on it to a monk, who will chant appropriately on your behalf and anoint your forehead with ceremonial ash. The temple is open daily 6:30 a.m.-noon and 6 p.m.-9 p.m.
The Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam was originally constructed at the behest of the East India Company sometime in the early 1820s, and was razed and rebuilt in 1928 by the architect who designed the Victoria Memorial Hall. As much a relic of colonial rule as a place of worship, the mosque is quite a sight, with its golden domes and minarets glistening in the sun, and the walls within, adorned as they are with green and gold mosaic tiles. The site is open daily 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Thian Hock Keng Temple (or Temple of Heavenly Happiness) in Telok Ayer is one of Singapore’s oldest and largest Chinese temples. The temple was dedicated to Ma Chu P’oh (goddess of the sea) by Hokkien people grateful for successful voyages in the China Sea. The main temple is Taoist, but the temple at the back is Buddhist and is dedicated to Kuan Yin (goddess of mercy). The complex is open daily 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.