12 awesome things to do in Singapore – Travel Guide. A complete guide to help you plan your own trip to one of Asia’s most beautiful cities.
Located in South East Asia south of Malaysia, sits Singapore, one of Asia’s most visited places. This beautiful city-state has a huge amount of things to do, is packed full of history, culture, charm, attractions and of course, fabulous food. On any visit to Singapore, you’ll find clean safe streets, cheap and efficient transportation links and bucket loads of green spaces. All this makes Singapore the perfect place to explore by day or night. Being a major international transit hub, a visit to Singapore should definitely be on your radar.
We recommend 2-4 days to experience Singapore. Here are our favourite things to see and do:
1. Marina Bay Sands Hotel
Arguably the most famous landmark in the country, this enormous 5* hotel shaped like a ship, towers above every other building in Singapore. As its name suggests, the hotel complex sits right on Marina Bay, boasting a casino and shopping malls accessible to the general public. The rooms offer amazing views of the city or Gardens by the Bay.
The Skypark situated on the 57th floor, is where you will find that incredible infinity pool (strictly for guests only and accessible by keycard) overlooking the city, observation deck and bars. The infinity pool is an attraction in its own right, so don’t expect to have it all to yourself! The large observation deck offers a unique birds eye view of Gardens by the Bay and the Supertree Grove, which is especially cool to witness during the nightly light and sound show. A night at Marina Bay Sands will cost you a pretty penny, but we would recommend indulging if your budget allows. It is definitely one of the best things to do in Singapore!
- Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck – Guests free. Non guests SG$23 Monday – Thursday 9.30am – 10pm, Friday – Sunday 9.30am – 11pm.
2. Visit Gardens by the Bay
Located right behind Marina Bay Sands Hotel, is Singapores largest drawcard – Gardens by the Bay. Spread over 250 acres, you’ll find immaculately manicured outdoor gardens, lakes, rivers, an indoor flower dome & cloud forest, restaurants and cafes all connected by paved paths.
The most popular attraction within the gardens is undoubtedly the Supertree Grove, a collection of man made tree sculptures standing between 25-50m tall. The 22m high OCBC skyway connects the trees, offering a different perspective of the gardens. Every night there is a free light and sound show where the trees come alive!
Don’t go expecting to escape the hustle and bustle (especially in the evening), as the light and sound show draws hundreds of people into the gardens every night. Expect big crowds! For a different, yet still busy experience, the observation deck from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel offers amazing views of the Supertree Grove, especially during the light and sound show.
Within the gardens, there are several places to eat. Check out Satay by the Bay, a Hawker centre with a range of local cuisine. As the name suggests, this place has a range of stalls selling a local favourite – satay skewers. You’ll also find typical noodle, rice and seafood dishes here. We recommend trying another local favourite called carrot cake (see eating in Singapore below for more information). It’s delicious!
- Entrance: Free
- Supertree Grove: 5.00am – 2.00am daily – Free
- Supertree Grove light & sound show: Daily 7.45pm & 8.45pm – Free
- OCBC Skyway: 9.00am – 9.00pm daily – SG$8
Peak hours for OCBC Skyway are from 5.00pm – 8.30pm. Last ticket sale and admission: 8.00pm
- Flower dome & Cloud forest: 9.00am – 9.00pm daily – SG$28
Last ticket sale and admission: 8.00pm. Peak hours are from 4.00pm – 7.00pm daily and longer waiting time may be expected during these times.
- There are toilets and water fountains throughout the gardens
3. Watch the Spectra – Light, sound and water show
Each night you can catch a glimpse of ‘Spectra’, the light, sound and water show hosted by Marina Bay Sands. It’s free to watch and is a cool experience. Best views are from or near Merlion Park.
- Showtimes: Sun – Thu 8pm & 9pm, Fri & Sat 8pm, 9pm & 10pm
- Each show is 15 min long. Showtimes may vary on special dates
- For more info click HERE
4. Wine & dine at Boat Quay & Clarke Quay
Looking to ramp things up a bit? Then look no further than Clarke Quay, famous for it bars, clubs, restaurants and nightlife. Located downtown, Clarke Quays restaurants line the river, making it a popular hang out spot with expats and tourists. Here you’ll find bars with happy hour deals, seafood restaurants, colourful buildings and funky vibes.
A little further upstream on the other side of the river, is Clarke Quay’s slightly more refined and smaller cousin, Boat Quay. Also popular with expats and tourists, at night the river front and side streets are bursting with life, with a similar array of restaurants and bars to Clark Quay.
4. Stroll around Fort Canning Park
Formerly known as Larangan and Government Hill, this iconic hilltop has a rich history. Once home to 14th century kings and their palaces, the hill then served as the Far East Command Centre and British army barracks. Fort Canning is now a beautiful park with 2.5kms of walking trails, connecting 9 historical gardens. For an interactive journey through Fort Canning Parks trails and it’s 18 check points, download the reality trail app BALIKSG – The Fort Canning Trail, for a slightly different experience. This is also a good place to spot birdlife.
5. Visit Chinatown‘s temples
Almost every major city has a Chinatown and Singapore is certainly no different. It is a fine example of the different cultures living harmoniously together. Mosque Street, Pagoda Street and Temple Street all run parallel to each other, housing the relevant mosque, hindu temple and pagoda on each street. One of the most popular sites in Chinatown is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. Established in 2007, the temple houses a tooth of Buddha, recovered from his funeral pyre in Kushinagar, India. The temple is beautiful, but very busy. You must cover your knees and shoulders to go inside.
Within Chinatown, there are street stalls selling all the usual touristy souvenirs. Restaurants are plentiful, and there is something for every budget. Hawker centres (big food courts) are the cheapest and often tastiest places to eat in Singapore. Chinatowns night food markets have some great options, as does Maxwells Hawker Centre, one of the most well known hawker centres in Singapore.
6. Check out Little India
Little India, is as the name suggests, the Indian quarter within Singapore and is located next to Kampong Glam. Here you will find Indian inspired jewellery, clothes, incense and the usual touristy gifts. There are some great Indian restaurants in Little India. Our favourite is Khansama Tandoori Restaurant.
7. Explore Kampong Glam
Kampong Glam also known as the Arab quarter, is home to the Masjid Sultan Mosque, an important place for Singapores Muslim community. The vibrant streets are full of shops selling textiles, Persian carpets, jewellery, baskets and leather goods, just to name a few. If you head to the Malay Heritage Centre, the former residence of Malay Sultans and their families, you can follow one of three Kampong Glam walking trails. Pass Arab Street, Beach Road, Jalan Sultan and Victoria Street to experience Kampong Glams rich history and culture. If you want to learn more about Kampong Glams trails, download the app HERE.
We recommend indulging in a cheap and tasty Egg Paratha lunch, (commonly eaten for breakfast) at the well known Zam Zam restaurant, right opposite the picturesque Masjid Sultan Mosque.
8. Go shopping on Orchard Road
In need of a shopping fix? Then head to Orchard Road, Singapores most famous shopping strip in the heart of the CBD. Here you can find designer brands, along with huge shopping plazas along and under Orchard Road. There are plenty of places to eat and drink and of course, shop!
9. Explore the Botanical Gardens
Located towards the end of Orchard Rd is Singapores 160 year old tropical Botanical Gardens. Easily accessible by SMRT, public bus and the hop on hop off bus, the botanical Gardens are a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and are definitely worth a visit. Covering an area of 82 hectares, the beautifully manicured gardens boast several lakes, a children’s garden, orchid garden and learning forest. The paved paths makes exploring these gardens easy.
Inside the gates, there are restaurants, cafes, clean toilets, water fountains, benches and gazebos, making it the perfect place to chill out, jog, grab a drink or enjoy a picnic lunch.
In 2015, the gardens were listed as Singapore’s first UNESCO world heritage site. They are also home to a good amount of birdlife, insects, monitor lizards, squirrels, turtles and the occasional tree snake. Look out for White Throated and Common Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and pretty little Sunbirds. You could easily spend an entire day there, so be sure to pack your hat, sunnies and sunscreen and a picnic lunch!
- Entrance – Free. The National Orchid Garden has a SG$5 admission
- Opening hours – 5am to 12 midnight daily.
10. Indulge in a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel
Raffles hotel is the most historically famous hotel in the country and where the Singapore’s national cocktail, the Singapore Sling was born. If your budget will allow, pop into the Long Bar to sample one for yourself. These cocktails don’t come cheap though. At SG$30++ a pop, it’s definitely an experience to savour!
11. Release your inner child at Sentosa Island & Universal Studios
If you have an extra day up your sleeve, check out Sentosa Island. Known as the ‘State of Fun’, Sentosa is home to beaches, boardwalks, nature reserves, shops and restaurants. Get your kid on at the famous Universal Studios! Sentosa is easily accessible via cable car, monorail car and foot (from Vivo City) and gets extremely busy during school holidays, public holidays, weekends and long weekends, so plan your visit well ahead. Click HERE for more info.
12. Enjoy the views from the Singapore Flyer
Singapores 165m tall observation wheel, is located opposite Marina Bay Sands. The 30min ride offers 360° views over the city.
- Tickets SG$33
- For more info click HERE
Changi Airport is the only airport in Singapore and is so big, it’s like another city! Low cost airlines flying to and from Changi Airport such as Scoot, Tiger Airways, AirAsia and Jetstar, often offer very affordable fares. As an international hub, making a short stopover is a great way to break up a long haul flight.
Train & bus
Singapore is easily reachable by bus or train from Malaysia. It takes around 5-6 hours by bus from Melaka and 7-8 hours from Kuala Lumpur, including stops and the border crossing. Check out Seat 61 for reliable information on train travel.
We always find the best way to see a city is to walk. City maps are free from the airport and most hotels. Free offline maps with Maps.me are also great. Singapore is super safe, so walking is perfect for exploring the city.
The SMRT is fast, efficient and connects the city well. The cost of each journey is only a couple of dollars and varies depending on distance. Trains typically depart every 2-3min. A tourist day pass costs SG$20 (SG$10 refundable at the end) which is great value if you want to see a lot in one day and don’t want to walk.
Buses also service the city, but are slower than the SMRT. There are timetables for free buses across the city in many SMRT stations.
The hop on hop off bus stops at all the touristy places. Both 24 and 48 hrs passes are available. It’s a great option if you are short on time.
GRAB & taxi’s
GRAB (Asia’s version of Uber) is available in Singapore. There are of course taxis which are strictly on the meter.
Where to stay
Accommodation prices in Singapore are far more expensive than most South East Asian cities. And you often don’t get a lot of bang for your buck! When choosing accommodation, take into account what you want to see and do and try to stay centrally. Chinatown offers a good range of lower cost accommodation, food options and is quite central. Accommodation options downtown can be more expensive but centrally located.
Eating in Singapore
- Singapore has a bucket load of local dishes which are worth trying. These are some of our faves:
- Chicken Rice – Singapore’s national dish and is exactly what its name suggests – Chicken with rice!
- Fried Carrot Cake – Neither carrot or cake, this dish made from rice flour and white radish (known as white carrot). Available in white (original) or dark (with sweet soy), this dish is a hawker centre favourite.
- Satay skewers – A communal dining and street food classic, this dish consists of skewered meat topped with a spicy peanut sauce, served with rice cubes.
- Chilli Crab – The sauce is what makes this dish special! Sweet but savoury and beautifully spicy!
- Kaya Toast – More of a snack to enjoy with coffee than a meal itself, this dish consists of a toasted sandwich, packed with butter and kaya, a traditional coconut jam and comes accompanied with soft boiled eggs, a dash of soy and white pepper.
- Roti Prata – Essentially, this dish is a flaky, fluffy Indian flatbread. Served plain, with egg and or gravy, it is best eaten with your hands!
If you’re after some cheap eats, then hawker centres or food courts are your best bet. You will find them all over the city and they have a great range of budget options. Expect to pay a bit more in premium locations such as Gardens by the Bay.
Restaurants along the river such as Clark Quay and Boat Quay are far more expensive to eat at.
If you see ++ next to the price on a menu (sometimes in small print on at the bottom of the page), expect a 10% service charge and 6% VAT to be slapped onto your bill.
Drinking in Singapore
Tap water in Singapore is drinkable, so bring a refillable water bottle. Drinking fountains are scattered across the city, especially in parks and garden areas.
Tiger beer is Singapores national beer and is widely available. Drinking in public places is permitted, however it is illegal to do so between the hours of 10.30pm-7.30am
The official currency is the Singapore Dollar (SGD). ATM’s and money exchange booths are located through the city and airport. Credit cards are widely accepted, but expect to pay cash in small shops and eateries.
Visit Singapore https://www.visitsingapore.com/en/
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