Gold galore, jaw-dropping artwork, 300-tonne statues and Buddha’s tooth: we’ve been on the temple trail around Singapore and have found 15 amazing temples to explore with the kids.
If you are looking for some cultural fun with the kids, have grandparents in town who need entertaining with an interesting activity or two, or simply fancy adding some serious colour and history to your life, then maybe it’s time you started exploring the beautiful Buddhist and Hindu temples in Singapore. These 15 gems can be found in neighbourhoods all around Singapore. So gather the troops, bring the cameras and head off on a temple trail sure to wow the family!
A note on visiting temples
Temples are places of worship, so be sure to respect the local customs. Some temples might require that you cover up and/or remove your footwear before entry, so be sure to keep to those rules. Additionally, some temples might not allow menstruating women to enter – so be sure to check on that too. You could also ask about any customs you might be unsure of.
Buddhist and Taoist temples to visit in Singapore
1. Thian Hock Keng Temple
With its Southern Chinese architecture, Thian Hock Keng (pictured above) is one of the oldest Hokkien temples in Singapore. And it was originally completed way back in 1842 (no, kids, we don’t remember it being built). The main temple is dedicated to Ma Zu, the Taoist Goddess of the Sea (the area used to be a coastal road back before land reclamation started!). The smaller temple at the back is dedicated to Guan Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy.
Thian Hock Keng Temple, 158 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068613
2. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
Head over to this site for a visual feast and history lesson the whole family will love. While the temple may be relatively new (it was opened in 2007), it has become a focus for anyone heading to Chinatown. This is one of the best spots in Singapore to catch the celebrations on Vesak Day, one of the most important holy days for Buddhists worldwide. The architecture was inspired by the Chinese Tang dynasty, and the temple was specifically constructed to house the tooth relic of Buddha (the tooth fairy didn’t get that one, kids). Along with thousands of pieces of gorgeous artwork related to all things Lord Buddha, there’s also a museum, a library, a garden, a vegetarian restaurant and a bookstore on-site! Visitors are requested to come along dressed modestly (no mini-skirts or hotpants, folks).
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, 288 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058840
3. Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist Temple
You’d be forgiven for thinking you had teleported to Thailand when you visit the original part of this Thai Theravada Buddhist Temple. Though it was first constructed in 1925, as you pass through the modern part of the building, it’s clear to see why this amazing structure was nominated for the 2014 World Architecture Festival Awards. The new construction, completed in 2014, houses the new monks’ quarters, meditation halls, classrooms and a museum. We love the traditional vs modern take at this seriously cool temple.
Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist Temple, 50B Jalan Bukit Merah Road, Singapore 169545
4. Burmese Buddhist Temple
Few will fail to be impressed by the 10-tonne, 11-foot white marble Buddha statue residing at the Burmese Buddhist Temple, which arrived in Singapore from Mandalay in 1918. The statue boasts the worthy accolade of being the largest pure white marble statue of Buddha outside of Myanmar. Once you have been wowed by Buddha, check out the on-site Bodhi tree whose origin traces back to the original Bodhi tree where Buddha attained enlightenment. Part of the temple dates back to 1875, which makes this pick the oldest Theravada Buddhist temple in Singapore.
Burmese Buddhist Temple, 14 Tai Gin Road, Singapore 327873
5. Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery
Also known as Siong Lim Temple and Shuang Lin Temple, this is the oldest monastery in Singapore, having been completed originally in 1902. The architecture was modelled on the Xi Chang Shi Temple in Fuzhou, South China, and visitors fail to tire of the beautiful seven-storey pagoda. The layout was designed in the traditional Heyuan Chinese courtyard style. And with three prayer halls, a rock garden, wall carvings and a collection of Bonsai trees, this is definitely a pick to get Instagram going into overdrive.
Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery, 184 Jalan Toa Payoh, Singapore 319944
6. Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple (Temple of 1000 Lights)
Influenced by Thai Temple styles, the centrepiece of this temple is an unmissable 300-tonne, 15-foot statue of Buddha, surrounded by – you’ve guessed it – 1,000 lights! The temple was created by Thai monks back in 1927, and visitors will also love other cool features. This includes a huge Buddha footprint inlaid with mother-of-pearl, a reclining Buddha and a heap of colourful murals telling the tales of Buddha as he searched for enlightenment. A wax model of Gandhi and figures of the Hindu elephant god Ganesh can also be found on site.
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple, 366 Race Course Road, Singapore 218638
7. Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
Also known as Bright Hill Temple, it’s Singapore’s largest Buddhist temple. The temple was built in the early 20th century to spread Buddhism as well as provide lodging for monks. Covering 12 hectares, the monastery consists of prayer halls, shrines, and decorations. There’s also a large turtle pool, a serene garden, a crematorium, and a columbarium. Two statues to look out for – a statue of Avalokitesvara standing between the Dharma Hall and the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas, and a 13.8-metre, 55-tonne bronze Buddha statue in the Hall of No Form. The temple also features the Bodhi Tree that was brought as a sapling from the sacred Bodhi Tree where Buddha attained enlightenment.
Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, 88 Bright Hill Road, Singapore 574117
8. Kwan Im Thong Hood Chod Temple
Do not miss this iconic Chinese temple on Waterloo Street on your next temple jaunt! Dedicated to the Kuan Yi or the Goddess of Mercy, the Kwan Im Thong Hood Chod Temple is a traditional Chinese temple of much significance to Buddhists in Singapore. As Sri Krishnan Temple (scroll down!) is nearby, devotees are flocking to either temple. This practice of “cross-worshipping” is normal amongst Singaporeans, and you and your little ones can do the same while adhering to the rules of each temple!
Kwan Im Thong Hood Chod Temple, 178 Waterloo Street, Singapore 187964
Hindu temples to visit in Singapore
9. Sri Mariamman Temple
The biggest and oldest Hindu temple in Singapore is not to be found in Little India, as you may imagine. Instead, it’s located in Chinatown. The Sri Mariamman Temple has been declared a National Monument and is famous for its Fire Walking Ceremony (Theemithi), which is held annually as part of the Deepavali celebrations. (Don’t try this at home, kids!) In addition to the festival, this place is well worth a visit any time of the year to feast your eyes on the Gopuram (pyramid-style gateway), which has no less than six layers of statues to welcome you through the gate. Built in 1827, the temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Rain, Mariamman. Don’t forget to raise your eyes to the sky when looking around – the paintings on the ceiling are breathtaking!
Sri Mariamman Temple, 244 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058793
10. Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple
This temple is hard to miss with its five-tiered, 68 feet high golden entrance tower. And we get to walk past it most days on the school run! The main prayer hall is centred around four granite pillars, each of which has eight sculptures of Lord Vinayagar depicted beautifully. The temple is managed by the Singapore Ceylon Tamils’ Association. Visitors are welcomed warmly and encouraged to take in the paintings and carvings adorning the walls and ceilings. Plus, get a history lesson from the friendly guides along the way.
Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple, 19 Ceylon Road, Singapore 429613
11. Sri Krishnan Temple (Sri Krishna Bhagawan Temple)
Not sure whether to visit a Hindu or a Buddhist temple? Tick both off your list with one visit to Sri Krishnan Temple. Here, there is an altar to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin, as well as carvings and statues dedicated to the Hindu Gods. The temple was founded back in 1870 when a statue of Lord Krishna was placed under a banyan tree on Waterloo Street.
Sri Krishnan Temple, 152 Waterloo Street, Singapore 187961
12. Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (Chettiars’ Temple)
This temple, built in 1859, is the place to head to witness the Thaipusam festival in all its glory. Celebrated on the full moon day in January or February, the temple comes to life with a chariot procession and a toe-curling event where some devotees pierce themselves with spikes! Ow! The main deity of the temple is the six-faced Lord Subramanian (Lord Murugan). There’s no missing this place with its amazing 75 feet tall blue Gopuram as its entrance.
Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, 15 Tank Road, Singapore 238065
13. Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is a popular focal point in Little India, with the 14-handed Goddess Kali being the main deity. Kali is the Hindu Goddess who kicks evil to touch and represents power and change. A woman after our own heart! The temple’s ceilings are covered with exquisite paintings and sculptures of various gods, and the colourful outer roof is jam-packed with sculptures too.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, 141 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218042
14. Sree Maha Mariamman Temple
If you love a bit of gold, then this is a sight to behold. Sree Maha Mariamman Temple has not one, not two, but three golden roof domes (vimanams) decorated with statues of the Goddess Mari in her 16 manifestations and other Indian Gods. Murals, paintings, carvings and sculptures fill the temple for a visual feast that will have your camera going into overdrive.
Sree Maha Mariamman Temple, 251 Yishun Avenue 3, Singapore 769061
15. Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
One of the oldest temples in Singapore, this large complex contains a tall Gopuram showing the different incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Sri Perumal Temple is dedicated to Krishna, one of Vishnu’s incarnations. Perumal is Krishna’s other name. Statues of him, which are coloured blue to signify blue blood, are everywhere within the temple. There are also statues of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, Andal, the goddess of beauty, and Krishna’s mount, the mythical Garuda bird. The temple ceiling features a colourful circular pattern depicting the nine planets.
Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, 397 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218123
Love these temples in Singapore? Check out these museums and exhibits too!