An Amazing Race through the heart of the Civic District

“Avoid this area”, they said. “It’ll be teeming with tourists”, they said. There might be some truth in the latter but that doesn’t mean you should take heed of the former.

What awaits at the Civic District is this sprawling, beautiful district, home to many of Singapore’s historic buildings and leading arts and cultural institutions. With the Civic District becoming a more pedestrian-friendly, green area, it is one of the best places in Singapore to achieve full-on zen mode.

It is worth the Saturday exploring.

TSL's very own instastory filter

This Instastory filter was designed and made by TSL!

It would be a bummer not to make use of the pedestrianised roads and passageways connecting iconic landmarks around the Bay, so TheSmartLocal teamed up with the Ministry of National Development (MND), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and NParks, to organise a first-of-its-kind Amazing Race Instawalk in the Civic District on 22 April 2017.

Re-Discovering The Heart of Singapore In The Civic District - #InstaWalk With MND Singapore
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Re-Discovering The Heart of Singapore In The Civic District - #InstaWalk With MND Singapore

We were also joined by influencers Nedra (@nedface), Marc (@sh3ngy) and Guoxin (@9oh9x) on this day of fun and games. Before you continue reading about the challenges at each pit stop, take this brief moment to live vicariously through our #iWalkCivicDistrict video:

Pit stop #1: Esplanade Outdoor Theatre

Challenge: Take an Instastory with a new friend

esplanade outdoor theatre

The rain made it the perfect lazy Saturday morning to sleep in, but nobody wanted to miss the Instawalk just because of a little drizzle. It was as early as 8.30am when participants arrived at the starting point of the Amazing Race – the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre, overlooking stunning views of the Bay.

Split into five teams, they were equipped with their race packs containing the necessary equipment to brave the rain, sun, hunger and mozzies.

contestants gathering to meet at the outdoor theatre

After some mini icebreakers with the TSL team, Instagram influencers and each other, the first challenge was to take an Instastory with a new friend. Pretty simple you might think but the challenges just went uphill from there.

Thankfully, even the sun wanted in on the Instawalk action and came out from behind the clouds. The rain stopped and the race started proper!

Pit stop #2: Jubilee Bridge

Challenge: Make a #reflectiongram of Singapore’s distinctive skyline

The Jubilee Bridge was swarming with tourists in search of the best photography spot. But that didn’t stop us from embarking on the next challenge – taking a #reflectiongram on the Jubilee Bridge.

using the mirrors for the perfect reflection shot

With each group leader providing 2 mirrors, it was up to the participants’ creativity to conjure the best #reflectiongram. Working it from different angles, we received curious gazes from tourists but that was no cause to falter.

Source: @adblehs

There was no better way to commemorate over 50 years of independence than to capture Singapore’s breath-taking skyline from the Jubilee Bridge, which was officially opened on 29 March 2015 to celebrate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee.

Pit stop #3: Esplanade Park

Challenge: Strike a yoga pose

guides from URA and NParks giving an introduction of Esplanade Park

learning more about Esplanade Park

Guides from URA and NParks giving an introduction of the Esplanade Park.

Most of the participants were introduced to the Esplanade Park for the first time. They were greeted with a newly built children’s playground – complete with old-school swings and a merry-go-round – a perfect addition to the park to make it more family-friendly. After which, they were introduced to the various gazetted national monuments like the Lim Bo Seng Memorial and Tan Kim Seng Fountain, both built in recognition of their contributions to Singapore.

A waterfront plaza just beyond the Esplanade Park led to picturesque views down by the Singapore River – a quiet area for anyone who wants to read, write, draw or simply take photos of the nearby Fullerton Hotel.

an attempt to do yoga at the playground

Did you know that yoga buffs actually come here to practice against this serene backdrop? So, it was no surprise that the challenge was to recreate a yoga pose! Participants attempted twists and turns until they got into the desired yoga pose. The rest of the time was spent enjoying the zen walk through the park and taking as many pictures as possible.

Pit stop #4: Empress Lawn at Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall

Challenge: Recreate a scene from Inception

The refurbished Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall could satisfy any craving for architectural symmetry. The foundation stones of this building have been around since 1855 and careful refurbishment has ensured that everyone can continue to enjoy performances in this cultural landmark.It is, after all, Singapore’s oldest performing arts venue.

The sprawling Empress Lawn right in front is also a popular spot for music performances and other exciting events.

Trying to be just like Sir Stamford Raffles.

The challenge was taken indoors where they could enjoy the white-washed interior and take their Inception-inspired photographs.

Pit stop #5: Asian Civilisations Museum

Challenge: Take a shot of your own reflection

A short stroll from the Empress Lawn brought the participants to the Asian Civilisations Museum – a colonial British-style building home to over 1,300 artefacts from all across the region.

playing around with the art installation

There was not enough time to let everyone go in and view the artworks, so the challenge was brought outside where the participants got to play around with a peculiar art installation – five large metal balls.

Source: @thesmartlocalsg

The challenge here was really simple: all participants needed to do was to take reflection shots of themselves in these reflective balls. Easier done than said.

Pit stop #6: Raffles Landing Site

Challenge: Werk it like Sir Stamford Raffles

We went back in history as if we were in the shoes of Sir Stamford Raffles when he first stepped foot on Singapore in 1819. It might seem like just a statue but everyone had fun imitating the iconic “Sir Stamford Raffles” pose.

A creative, mind-bending take on Sir Stamford Raffles. Source: @cookiesnqream

Pit stop #7: National Gallery

Challenge: Guess the right answers to a pop quiz

two buildings into one

Next up, we headed to the National Gallery Singapore. What used to be two separate buildings, the former Supreme Court and the City Hall, were refurbished and combined into a single venue encompassing both classical and modern architectural elements. It is now an art museum with a collection of over 8,000 artworks.

It was apt to challenge the participants with a questionnaire on art and history. They were given a choice between “Old” and “New”. For “Old”, participants had to answer five questions on the history of the two buildings before they transformed into the National Gallery. For “New”, they had to guess where certain art installations were found in Singapore.

the usual shot at the steps

Everyone took to the steps after finishing up the challenge. The mandatory Gossip Girl photo was shot multiple times.

Pit stop #8: Raffles Terrace @ Fort Canning Park

Challenge: Identify the structures around the area

up the stairs to fort canning park

This was the last leg of the race and it could be said that the walk to Fort Canning Park was a challenge in itself. After an arduous climb up over 100 steps, the teams reached the Raffles Terrace at Fort Canning Park.

The challenge was to identify the three navigational structures at the Raffles Terrace but with the help of the NParks guide who introduced the Raffles House, Flagstaff, Lighthouse and Time Ball, the challenge was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Pit stop #9: Fort Canning Green

Challenge: Find the headstone of George Coleman or take a picture with “five stones”

fort canning green

chilling out under the shade

Fort Canning Green was the grounds for the first Lady Gaga concert, the first Laneway Festival and multiple Shakespeare In The Park performances. On this day, it was more for learning about the history behind Fort Canning Green.

a group actually found the headstone

One group managed to find the headstone!

There was a choice between “Headstone” or “Five stones” – in the former they had to find the headstone of George Drumgold Coleman, one of the pioneer architects of Singapore, while the latter was a photo challenge to come up with the most creative shot of five stones.

Source: @thaqifahhalim

It wasn’t easy finding the headstone so most went for the photo challenge instead.

Pit stop #10: Fort Gate

Challenge: Take a group photo

going through the sally port to get to the fort gate

the dark tunnel gave a sense of adventure

The final pit stop was the Fort Gate. Participants ventured through the Sally Port – an underground tunnel which led them straight to the Fort Gate. This is one of the last remnants of army barracks during World War II, including what used to be an underground command centre, now called The Battlebox – a World War II museum.

group shot in front of the fort gate

teams got to go up the fort gate

All they had to do here was to take a group picture and that was it. They completed the Amazing Race!

The finish line

Finally, it was back to air conditioning inside the Old Married Soldiers Quarters. This was the gathering point for all participants at the end of the race.

There was one more component left to the race and that was the photo challenge. Contestants got down to choosing their best photos, making their edits and posting them on Instagram for the judges to pick the winners for Perspective, Roots, Contemporary and Best Team Photo.

Perspective: @ivho

Roots: @visualdivision

five stones through a mirror

Contemporary: @jm24travelz

reflection shot in the civic district

Best Team Photo: @thesmartlocalsg

After the prize presentation, it was time to bid farewell to the new friends made at this Instawalk in the Civic District. Everyone definitely had something to take away – new friends, new discoveries and new perspectives.

new friends at instawalk

The Civic District has definitely transformed into a more people-friendly public space! It has so many iconic landmarks to visit and exciting things to do. Look out for events like Car-Free Sunday SG or the thrilling Marina Bay Singapore Countdown, organised by URA.

Look out for the next #Instawalk

Source: @joel_s

We’ve ventured to the Jurong and Bedok heartlands, the enclaves of Little India and Tiong Bahru, and now experienced the zen vibes within the Civic District. Next up, we have Queenstown.

join us on the next instawalk

To find out when our Queenstown Instawalk is happening, follow @thesmartlocalsg and @MNDsingapore for more updates. For more inspiration on what you can do in the Civic District, check out all the photos from this Instawalk at #TSLWalks and #iWalkCivicDistrict.

Hope to catch you at the next Instawalk!


This post was brought to you by the Ministry of National Development.