In 2005 Singapore celebrated the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, and the liberation of the island from the Japanese. Several historic sites have thus gotten a full makeover and are worth the extra trek.

Included is the Battle Box, which is tucked away deep into the hillside of Fort Canning. This served as the underground command center for the British Malaya Command Headquarters at the outbreak of World War II. The bombproof comprises 22 rooms linked by a corridor, was also capable of recycling its own air supply. It is open from 10am until 6pm daily, with the last entry at 5pm.

The original guns are long gone, but the Johore Battery was the largest battery installed outside of Britain during World War II. Built by in 1939 as part of the defense measure for the island, the gun emplacement site consisted of a labyrinth of tunnels, which were used to store ammunition and support the three monster guns. Open from 9am until 5pm daily, this site was only discovered in 1991. The original guns were destroyed before the British Army surrendered in 1942, and the tunnels were sealed up just after the war. Today you can visit the site and see replicas of the monster gun and its 15-inch shells!

To complete the WWII theme head to Fort Siloso. While it actually dates back to the 1880s it was used to protect the Singapore harbor from a sea-borne invasion. As the Japanese invaded from the north by land, it saw little combat however. After the fall of the city it was used as concentration camp for prisoners of war during the Japanese occupation from 1942 until 1945. It is the only full preserved British coastal fortification still standing in Singapore today, and serves as an important window to Singapore’s colonial past and as a reminder of the occupation during World War II. It is open 10am until 6pm daily, with last admission at 5:30pm.

In addition to the above sites - they are all excellent - there are several other museums and sites that mark the historical Battle of Singapore.

For all you war history buffs, follow the path that describes the Fall of the Impregnable Fortress:

1. Start at the Kranji War Memorial. This is at the far north-western part of Singapore and as far away from the tourist belt as you can get. The Kranji area still retains quite a bit of the fast-disappearing rural parts of Singapore. This area marks the general vicinity where the main thrust of the Japanese invasion forces landed. The Japanese also sent a feigning force on the northeastern tip of Singapore, thus diverting the attention of the allies. website

2. Move on down to The Old Ford Factory. If you took a cab down Bukit Timah Road, traversing roughly NW-SE across the island,  you are retracing the advance (directionally) of the Japanese forces towards the city center. The Old Ford Factory is where the British eventually surrendered. But the vicinity of Bukit Timah is also where the fiercest battles were fought. The Japanese suffered the bulk of their losses here. website

3. Carry on to Bukit Chandu, where another significant battle took place. Here, the Malay Regiment fought a valiant but futile battle to delay the advance of the Japanese towards the City. Visit the Reflections at Bukit Chandu Museum. website

4. If you have time, consider heading up to the top of Mount Faber (a short ride from Bukit Chandu), where you can appreciate the terrain and strategic nature of the Pasir Panjang flank in the defence of the city center. (Alternatively, visit Mt Faber in the evening, where the night view of Singapore is gorgeous from up there. And there are a couple of restaurants at the peak ...)

5. Head over to the Sook Ching Memorial Monument at Hong Lim Park, in the middle of Chinatown. This is now a bustling shopping and dining area, but was once the location where the Kempeitai - the feared Japanese secret police - rounded up Chinese males and machine-gunned them at various parts and beaches of the island, to avenge the Japanese losses. 'Sook Ching'  translates to 'cleansing' in Japanese Kanji and Chinese. (More on Sook Ching)

6. Move on across the island to the Changi Prison Chapel and Museum, where the allied POW's were imprisoned, and many perished. The Changi Prison is also where James Clavell's compelling book, "King Rat", is based. (Indeed, based on his personal experience as a POW there.)

7. Finally, end up back in the city at the Civilian War Memorial, a monument of four pillars situated across from the Swissotel/City Hall MRT station. Here memorializes those who lost their lives during the war and the Japanese occupation of Singapore. Across the road is the Padang (translating to "The Field" in Malay) and the old City Hall - where the Japanese officially surrendered Singapore to the allies on its steps in 1945.

The entire trip, taken on a series of taxis or self-driven, should cost about $100-$120 in cab fare and take an entire day. Note the opening hours of the museums to plan your day. Check out the Battle of Singapore website for more background on the Battle of Singapore and some of the museums. Learn more about the WWII Heritage Sites in Singapore.