Looking to learn more about Singapore? To uncover some of its most interesting secrets? Then let us introduce you to Jane Iyer, founder of Jane’s Singapore Tours. Known for its unique and off-the-beaten-track itineraries, the company organises a mix of fun journeys around town, from food and neighbourhood walking tours to architecture and nature tours. Whether you were born here, been here for many years or are fresh off the boat, there’s something different to explore and discover. We chat with Jane about the company’s growth and the exciting new tours in store this year.
#1 How long have you been living in Singapore?
I first came here in February 1963 at the age of seven. I then returned as an adult in 1999. I actually spent the first five years of my return stay living in Emerald Hill, one of our most popular tour locations. It’s one of my favourite areas as it has beautiful shophouses, a quiet neighbourhood vibe and is just a stone’s throw away from Orchard Road.
#2 When and how did Jane’s Tours begin?
About three years ago, I felt there was a need for more cultural tours highlighting the “real” Singapore, beyond just the Merlions and Marina Bay. I wanted to offer opportunities for people to dig deep into the city’s amazing heritage and melting pot of faiths and ethnicities. So, I came up with the idea to offer small group tours not just for visitors, but also for expats and locals who want to really understand the neighbourhoods, green spaces and how Singapore’s past informs its present.
#3 How has the company grown since then?
Rapidly! I currently have a team of 22 guides and we are running various public and private tours each week.
#4 What do you love the most about leading tours?
Meeting the participants and witnessing them learning about our small but intriguing country.
#5 What are some of your favourite tours to lead?
I like our film tour as it’s a small but very exciting theme. We are actually one of the few groups that have access to Shaw Studios so it’s very special! I like our ethnic minority tours too; the Jewish Heritage tour, for example, is something unique and insightful. And lately I’m really enjoying our architecture tours, where we cover building styles, from neo-Palladian to futuristic.
#6 What are some must-visit places in Singapore that are often brushed aside?
Many people aren’t familiar with nature reserves like Sungei Buloh, the beautiful beaches of offshore islands such as St John’s Island and Lazarus Island, and the fascinating backstory behind Pulau Semakau. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Centre is also a great place to visit – its huge diorama of the island is terrific!
#7 Besides conducting tours, what do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?
Well, with the business growing so quickly I don’t have a lot of spare time. But I love the arts, so I go to the theatre and watch films. Plus, I love to swim and walk – it’s a good thing too, because sometimes I clock up to 10km in single day!
#8 Tell us about the special bicentennial tours that we can look forward to this year.
I’m so excited about these tours! They’ll be looking at the different ethnic, religious and cultural groups that have woven the fabric of Singapore. We’re marking 200 years of history by looking at more than 10 significant nation-building subjects: architecture, art, defence/military, education, faith and festivals, food, public housing, land reclamation, law and order, medicine, nature, trade and commerce and women. We’ll explore these areas in a special series of in-depth tours across the year. You can find out more about them and sign up on our website.
Jane’s Singapore Tours
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