Whilst your pocket will empty in the world’s most expensive city, your heart will expand when you explore Singapore. There aren’t enough descriptive superlatives to do Singapore justice. It’s a city where everything is the best. From the best shopping experiences to the best hawker street food and from the most impressive city gardens to the growing green urban jungle, Singapore can claim it all. The number of things to do in Singapore is impressive by itself. With the best transport system, you’ll be able to fit them all in.
When you visit Singapore, you’ll look up to impressive skyscrapers before diving into world class shopping or old temples. You’ll relax in the world’s largest infinity pool before enjoying a safari of nocturnal animals. You’ll marvel at the amount of nature on offer, somehow sitting comfortably alongside such a vibrant city. It’s a city which is designed to bowl you over and it does it well.
So are you wondering what to do in Singapore? Read on for my top suggestions.
20 things to do in Singapore
1. Gardens by the Bay
Unsurprisingly, I’m starting my list of places to visit in Singapore with Gardens by the Bay. These iconic world-famous gardens are a nature park covering over 100 hectares, sitting right next to the Marine Reservoir.
Three core gardens come together to create the Gardens by the Bay, and they are perhaps most renowned for the domineering Supertree structures set against the seashell-shaped greenhouses (one of which houses a waterfall that plunges 114 foot!). The three gardens sitting on the waterfront are called Bay Central, Bay East and Bay South. I strongly urge you to explore them all even if you think you’re not interested in plants!
2. Stay at Marina Bay Sands
Staying at the Marina Bay Sands resort doesn’t come cheap. But at the very least, try to have dinner here at the Michelin-starred restaurant. Indulge in world-class food against a backdrop of mind-blowing 360 degree views.
A visit to Marina Bay Sands puts you right inside one of Singapore’s most recognised buildings. Home to the SkyPark and the world’s biggest infinity pool, it offers the ultimate luxury bucket list experience. Believe it or not, inside the resort is also a casino, shopping mall, convention centre, ArtScience Museum, and more. It’s a place for a lot of fun – Singapore-style.
3. Singapore Botanic Gardens
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Singapore Gardens is a fascinating display of just how ‘green’ Singapore’s roots are. There are three ‘cores’ or areas. Tanglin is the oldest, which you’ll discover first when you arrive through the Tanglin Gate. Then there’s Tyersall-Gallop and Bukit Timah.P
If you’ve got little people in tow, do go to Bukit Timah where there is a farm, treehouses and suspension bridge. Singapore Botanic Gardens are also where you can marvel at over 1,000 different orchid species in the National Orchid Garden.
4. Indulge in hawker food culture
At the other end of the scale, and to give your wallet a slight rest, you must spend some time sampling Singapore’s hawker fare. The multiple hawker centres offer you a taste, quite literally, of typical Singaporean life.
The cuisine served up in this way is simply about great ingredients cooked beautifully. It’s where you really get to experience Singapore as the cultural melting pot that it is with fusion food with Malay, Chinese and Indian origins. No matter how long you’re here for, there will always be more you want to try.
5. National Gallery
The National Gallery in Singapore is actually in two halves: part in City Hall and part in the former Supreme Court. There are lots of different galleries with more than 9,000 works of modern art. It’s impressive, but buy your tickets online and go early to beat the crowds. If you love to immerse yourself in culture and art, then you’ll love it here.
6. The Intan
Actually a private home, belonging to Alvin Yapp, you can explore his collection of Peranakan artefacts. Most importantly, there’s an amazing collection of kasut manek, the classic and decorative slippers that you probably associate with traditional Chinese culture. You’ll need to make an appointment, but it’s an incredible opportunity worth taking if you can.
7. Jewel Changi Airport
Yes, I really am urging you to spend some of your Singapore trip in the airport! This airport, designed by Moshe Safdie, is absolutely incredible. Its embodiment of the natural world is awe-inspiring, not least the impressively high indoor waterfall dubbed the Rain Vortex.
There are eateries, entertainment and fantastic shopping opportunities to be found here. That’s if you can pull yourself away from the suspended walkways that have you navigating the shops (and the forest!) from above.
Wondering how to fit in your time here? You are actually able to check in 24 hours before your flight, precisely so that you can.
8. Night Safari
For something different, and indeed a World First, this is a safari park that is completely based around nocturnal animals. You ride on a guided tram that takes you to explore the 86-acre reserve. It is bursting with night-time life, spanning 130 different species through different geographic zones. The safari only takes around 40 minutes, so it’s worth fitting in one evening.
If you have time, book in advance for the live tiger feeding experience. It’s absolutely incredible and will be highly memorable. I also recommend going beyond the tram and following some of the available trails. Not everyone does this and it means you may be more likely to see some of the shy animals that avoid the crowds!
9. Kampong Glam
If you want a break away from the lofty skyscrapers and intense city feel, then Kampong Glam offers something a little different. It’s one of the historic districts, starting life as a traditional fishing village, and now known as Singapore’s Muslim Quarter. Kampong Glam manages to juxtapose a red light district and Muslim significance, with aplomb that few places could master.
For me, it’s just a wonderfully interesting place to take a walk and enjoy a browse. Discover a treasure trove of cultural sights, from religious buildings and a magnificent Mosque, to boutique shops and trendy cafes. Plus, you’ll be grateful for the slightly slower pace here.
10. East Coast Road
East Coast Road is one of Singapore’s original roads, stretching out two miles. This is a great way to explore Singapore of old, with colourful shop fronts butting up against each other and crying out for photo opportunities. Ducking and diving into the different buildings you will find outstanding cafés and restaurants, lots of Peranakan shops, and even a few interesting museums.
11. Go shopping
You cannot visit Singapore without channelling your inner shopaholic. It simply has to be done. There’s also a good reason for the Singaporean love of shopping: the malls are the perfect antidote to the humid heat.
I recommend Orchard Road if you have to pick out just one shopping mall. Here you’ll find an excellent mix of high street stores, the odd discount store, and a raft of high-fashion spots.
If you have time, explore more of Singapore’s retail side. Visit independent boutiques, galleries, traditional medicine stores, and markets in many of the different neighbourhoods.
12. Thian Hock Keng Temple
Pop your smartphone in your pocket (photos are generally not allowed), and enjoy a reflective (and free!) visit to Thian Hock Keng Temple, also known as Tianfu. The architecture is as elaborate and impressive as you’d expect of this traditional style. Even more impressive is that it was constructed without the use of a single nail.
Spotting different sculptures, such as phoenixes and dragons, is a huge part of the experience. It’s immersive and will definitely leave its mark on you.
13. Pulau Ubin
Are you craving a little less city intensity? For a quick escape before you dive back into Singapore’s heart, take a ferry from Changi Point Ferry Terminal to this interesting island. It was a mining island until the 1970s, and now it’s like stepping back in time to Singapore of days gone by. It’s a fascinating way of feeling part of the local history and simply slowing down a bit.
14. Haw Par Villa
For something slightly whacky and unusual, you’ll have a fun few hours exploring the eight acres of the bizarre theme park at Haw Par Villa. Formerly known as the Tiger Balm Garden, it was created by the founder of Tiger Balm!
What you get treated to are literally hundreds of different and impressive dioramas and sculptures designed to impart traditional Chinese values. It’s becoming a little rough around the edges, but I think that just adds to its charm.
15. Merlion Park
Merlion Park is a popular promenade hangout which overlooks Marina Bay. Of course, here the infamous 28-foot Merlion statue stands proud, half-lion, half-fish, sending out a burst of water into the bay.
Symbolising Singapore’s fishing origins whilst embracing the ‘Lion City’ character, this is a popular sight but one which simply has to be done.
Another city escape takes you to the island of Sentosa, which sits off the southern coast and is the hub for many different Singaporean tourist attractions. It’s here that you’ll have a fun time at Universal Studios, or where you can explore the SEA Aquarium. There are also lots of beaches here for enjoying the tropical vibe. You can also fly down the zipline at Mega Adventure Park, or get your clubs out at Sentosa Golf Club. Oh, and there’s more shopping to be done here at the Luxury Fashion Galleria.
17. The Southern Ridges
Singapore does green spaces incredibly well. Indeed, other global cities could learn a thing or two! Here you’ll find a trail that is just over six miles long that connects five different parks:
- Labrador Nature Reserve
- Kent Ridge Park
- Telok Blanagh Hill
- Mount Faber Park
I really recommend popping on your trainers, grabbing a large bottle of water, and exploring this path. At times you’ll feel like you’re in the depths of a jungle. At others, you’ll discover excellent photo opportunities, such as the walk over the curvy timber bridge of Henderson Waves.
18. Clarke Quay
An 18th century quay, Clarke Quay has a long history and this lends itself to a fabulous array of restored rainbow buildings. It’s a fun place to bring your camera and get snapping. However, this area is still vibrant in modern times, having been converted into an entertainment hub where there’s always something going on. The open-air pedestrian precinct is calling out for you to grab a cold drink and do some people-watching. Or head here in the evening to enjoy the bars and clubs.
19. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
This ASEAN Heritage Park is alive with incredible flora and fauna. Compared to the rest of Singapore, which has highly managed green spaces, this is a more natural ecosystem that allows you to dive into a wilder experience of this corner of Asia.
There are 500 acres of land comprising forests, mangroves, swamps and mudflats. It is home to monitor lizards, Asian otters and a plethora of bird species. There are lots of paths to wander through and ways to explore – perfect for an adventure.
20. ArtScience Museum
For a truly astonishing museum experience, a visit to Singapore’s ArtScience Museum is a must. It’s a place where the wonderful worlds of art and science collide with epic results. Home to various world-renowned galleries and immersive exhibitions, you can spend a good few hours here.
Perfect for both kids and adults alike, you’ll hear plenty of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as you wander this magical amalgamation of art, science, culture, and technology. The building itself is an iconic landmark, representing a lotus flower with its impressive architecture.
21. The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
Lastly, Singapore’s West End is another wonderful place to visit in the evening. In The Esplanade, there’s always something happening that will take your fancy, and even the building’s architecture alone will leave you awed. Book tickets to something and enjoy a special evening.
Singapore offers the visitor an Asian experience quite unlike any other. There’s such a variety of places to see and things to do in Singapore that it deserves a long stay to become really immersed. If you’ve never been to Asia before, it’s also a fantastic starting point.
One thing’s for sure: you’ll never be able to visit another city again and not compare it to ‘the best’.
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