Heading to Singapore? Whether you can take a long layover or you have business or you’re just on vacation, here’s the Top 10 things we know you’ll love in Singapore!
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What to expect in this article:
- Introduction to Singapore
- Where to Stay in Singapore
- Our Top Ten List of Things to Do in Singapore
- Singapore Visitor’s Guide Map
- Getting Around
The city-state of Singapore is a fascinating mix of an old Victorian English territory and the mix of ethnic peoples that have lived there for centuries. It’s one of those places that we keep visiting again and again. In fact, if you are new to traveling in Asia, Singapore is a great place to start!
An Introduction to Singapore
A mix of many cultures, you will find Malay, Chinese, Indian, and many more ethnicities living here. And not only does the religion, architecture and food reflect this, but so does the language. In Singapore, everyone learns English; it’s compulsory.
It is also one of the cleanest countries you are going to find anywhere in this world. I never saw one piece of trash. There are ample garbage cans, and people are given fines for doing things common in other Asian countries such as spitting.
Where to Stay
We like to get a hotel right in the middle of things and have stayed in Clarke Quay, the Muslim Quarter, and Chinatown. Singapore’s hotels are overall very nice, a higher quality than many places in the world, and their prices reflect it.
So, if you want luxury, you’ll get it. It’s a little harder to find really good budget deals, and that’s why even we stayed in a hostel or two as we stopped over in this amazing city.
- Marina Bay Sands – The most luxurious of hotels, but by staying here, you can experience the infinity pool with a view!
- Hilton Singapore Orchard – Right in the middle of it all, this state-of-the-art hotel is a great place to stay during your time in Singapore.
- Pan Pacific Singapore – In tropical Singapore, if you and your family likes to swim to cool off, there are so many great options here for kids and adults.
- Porcelain Hotel by JL Asia – Location, location, location. This hotel is right in the middle of it all.
- Peninsula Excelsior Hotel – A stylish hotel that is comfy and has plenty of relaxing areas, including a hot tub.
- Hotel Boss – Located in one of the most fun sections of Singapore, its located minutes from the Malay Heritage Centre and the Sultan Mosque.
Top 10 Sights in Singapore
1. Gardens by the Bay
Hands down the Gardens by the Bay is the number one, unmissable, thing to do while you are visiting Singapore. In fact, it’s so unique, innovative, and fun, that if you are there long-term, we recommend you get a season pass.
The Gardens By the Bay, with its ecologically sustainable world plant bio-domes as well as their innovative vertical gardens called Supertrees is someplace everyone should visit. Full of information delivered in a multitude of ways, such as placards, films, interactive games, computers, and of course by guides and docents. Each time you go, you’re sure to learn something new, and the kids love it!
2. Singapore Zoo
The Singapore Zoo is a great outing for the kids, but don’t worry. Adults love it, too. One of the first zoos to open at night and introduce the “night safari,” the zoom makes it possible to see those nocturnal animals that are sleeping during the day.
Of course, you can go to the zoo during the day as well, and the exhibits are lush, and well-cared for. Some of my favorite things to do is see the shows and feed the animals. Habitats range from the African savannah to the rain forests and much in between.
3. Bum Boat River Cruise
Ride a Bum Boat. What is a bum boat? It’s a traditional skiff that carries folks from one end of the quay to the other. Singapore has a system of water taxis, which are pretty luxurious as well as convenient and you can also use a bum boat for this purpose.
However, most visitors like to get on a bum boat and take the river cruise, a narrated trip along the river. A video plays throughout the ride recounting bits of history, both political and anecdotal of the region.
You can purchase you Bum Boat River Cruise ticket here.
4. Drink a Singapore Sling
Visit the famous colonial Raffles Hotel and indulge in their signature cocktail, the Singapore Sling. Harkening back to the late 1800s, you feel like you are stepping into another century when you enter the impressive doors of the Raffles Hotel.
There’s plenty to do at the hotel, even if you’re not staying there. You can have Afternoon Tea, eat at one of the many restaurants, shop at one of 80 or so shops in the Arcade, and of course visit the Long Bar and have a drink.
Staying at the Raffles Hotel is stepping into pure luxury. With all the oppulence, your room comes with a huge bathtub, personal butler service, and plenty more amenities.
5. Enjoy Singapore at Night
Singapore comes alive at night! When the sun goes down, even though the temperature doesn’t really change, it’s more comfortable to walk around and enjoy the city.
One popular place to go is to see the Merlion and wander the surround eateries and shops.
You can also find a great bar with a view like at Marina Bay Sands Hotel, where you can sip cocktails on the 57th floor, watch its nightly light show, or shop, shop, shop! The famous light show is held every Friday and Saturday night at 8:00, 9:00, and 10:00 PM.
If you really want to indulge yourself and swim in the infinity pool (on the 57th floor), you must stay at least one night. The Marina Bay Sands is one of those bucket list items that everyone should check off at some time.
6. Enjoy some Culture
Singapore is one of the most diverse Asian cities. It’s easy to find cultural places to visit, especially religious buildings and heritage centers.
Some popular cultural places to visit in Singapore are:
- Buddha Temple of the Tooth
- Sri Mariamman Temple
- Malay Heritage Centre
7. Check Out an Illuminating Museum
Singapore is full of interesting museums. There’s probably too many to do in the time you’ve allotted, but just pick out some of the best ones. Our favorite was the Peranakan Museum with its display of mixed cultural life throughout history of the country.
Some other Singaporean museums to visit are:
- National Museum of Singapore
- National Gallery
- Singapore Art Museum
- Art/Science Museum
- Fort Siloso
- Maritime Experiential Museum
8. Eat Some Amazing Food
Whenever we think of Singapore, we think of the amazing food. With so much diversity, the food on offer is fresh and delicious.
Some foods you must try while you are in Singapore include:
- Chili Crab – Singapore’ signature dish, and oh how yummy it is!
- Durian (the stinky fruit)- if you are brave.
- Bak Kut Teh – a scrumptious beef bone soup.
There’s so much to try, and of course there are plenty of great restaurants as well. However, if you want to save money and eat like the locals, you’ll want to try out one of the many Hawker Centres that Singapore is famous for. We love them and probably eat the majority of our meals at one, because everyone can get something different to share.
9. Shop! Shop! Shop!
One of the best things to do in Singapore is find that special souvenir. With so many ethnic neighborhoods to wander, you can find some real treasures.
Places to do the best souvenir shopping in Singapore:
- Orchard Street
- Little India
- Kampong Glam
10. Enjoy the Changi Airport
In our opinion, you could spend a whole day in Changi Airport, and you don’t even have to be flying anywhere. It’s one of the best shopping malls in the city, but it also has a number of other things to keep you entertained.
Some things you can do at Changi Airport include:
- Visiting the many gardens, like the Orchid Garden.
- Seeing the butterflies in their own enclosure.
- Play video games or listen to music.
- Go to a movie.
- Take a refreshing swim in the pool.
Getting Around Singapore
Take public transportation; it’s the cleanest in the world. The bus and metro system are so easy to use. The entire city is well-covered, you’ll be able to find a bus stop or metro stop within one or two blocks max.
Riding a bus through the city, even with no real destination, is a cheap and easy way to get the lay of the land, and the bus drivers are some of the most helpful.
Singapore Visitor’s Guide Map
For travelers heading to Asia for their first time, Singapore is a must. It deftly bridges the western and eastern cultures and it provides a rich mixture of sights, foods, and things to do. There really is something for everyone, even the kids will love activities like taking this tree top walk in beautiful nature.
Have you been to Singapore? If so, what was your favorite thing to do there? What would be your top 10 Singapore?
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.