Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, a futuristic haven, and a traveler’s paradise. From savoring delectable street food to immersing yourself in the rich heritage and embracing the captivating skyline, Singapore offers many unforgettable experiences that will leave you spellbound. In this travel guide, I share my favorite things to do in Singapore and useful tips to plan your trip.
Savor local dishes at hawker centers
There’s no better place to start your culinary experience than the vibrant hawker centers. These bustling food havens are the heart and soul of Singapore’s local cuisine, offering incredible flavors that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.
What I love most about hawker centers is the diversity of cuisines available in one place. You can savor authentic Chinese, Malay, Indian, and even international dishes, all within a few steps of each other. It’s a true melting pot of flavors and cultures. Oh, and the dishes have good prices too! You can eat a proper meal between S$4 – S$8.
My favorite hawker centers in Singapore are Lau Pa Sat and Maxwell Food Centre. The aromatic symphony of spices, the sizzling sounds from the stalls, and the cheerful buzz of locals and tourists create an atmosphere that’s brimming with energy and excitement.
Navigating the hawker center can be overwhelming with the multitude of food stalls vying for your attention. So here are some tips:
- Take your time to stroll around and scout the different stalls, each specializing in its own unique dishes.
- Follow the locals’ lead. If you spot a stall with a long queue, chances are they’re serving something extraordinary. Singaporeans are passionate about their food, and they know where to find the best bites.
- Tables and seats can be hard to find, so save your seat by placing a napkin pack on the table.
Marvel at the stunning Supertree Grove in Gardens by the Bay
No trip to Singapore is complete without a visit to Gardens by the Bay, a picturesque park located in the heart of the city.
These magnificent Supertrees, ranging from 25 to 50 meters in height, are not just architectural marvels, but living sculptures adorned with over 200 species of plants and flowers. An impressive part is that they are equipped with photovoltaic cells that harness solar energy to power the dazzling lights that illuminate the grove at night.
During the day, the Supertree Grove is a sight to behold, but it is at night when it truly comes alive. As darkness descends, the Supertrees transform into a captivating display of lights, colors, and music during the renowned Garden Rhapsody show.
The Garden Rhapsody takes place twice each evening at 7:45 pm and 8:45 pm and is completely free for all visitors to enjoy.
I highly recommend arriving a little early to secure a good viewing spot, as the Supertree Grove can get quite crowded during this popular event. Find a comfortable spot on the lawn or sit back on one of the benches, or simply lay on the ground like the locals.
If you plan to walk the OCBC Skyway, please note that it only opens from 9 am to 9 pm daily.
Explore Flower Dome and the misty Cloud Forest
Within Gardens by the Bay, the adventure continues with the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. The Flower Dome, the world’s largest glass greenhouse, houses an incredible variety of flora from different continents.
From the Mediterranean Garden with its aromatic herbs and olive trees to the Australian Garden with its unique flora, each section of the dome offers a glimpse into a different region’s natural beauty. The captivating scents and vibrant colors of the flowers create a sensory feast for the soul.
The Cloud Forest, on the other hand, will transport you to a mystical world shrouded in mist. As you ascend the mountain-like structure, you’ll see a breathtaking waterfall cascading down lush vegetation. The air is cool and refreshing, resembling the atmosphere of a tropical rainforest.
Dive into History at the National Museum of Singapore
Whether you are a history enthusiast or simply curious about Singapore’s heritage, a visit to the National Museum of Singapore is an experience not to be missed. Situated in a grand colonial building, this iconic museum is a treasure trove of stories and artifacts that offer a fascinating glimpse into the nation’s past.
The museum’s exhibits are thoughtfully curated and cover a wide range of topics, from the early beginnings of Singapore as a trading port to its journey toward independence and its transformation into the modern metropolis it is today. Each gallery presents a unique narrative, using multimedia presentations, artifacts, and interactive displays to bring history to life.
We spent about 2 hours here, going on a chronological journey through the nation’s past. It was an educational experience that I highly recommend.
Ride the Singapore Flyer
Standing at a towering height of 165 meters, Singapore Flyer offers a unique perspective, allowing you to appreciate the city’s skyline from a different vantage point.
Sitting in the cabin, you can see Marina Bay Sands, the Gardens by the Bay, and the majestic Singapore River from afar, while admiring the city’s architectural marvels and natural beauty.
Pro tip: Avoid the crowds by visiting during weekdays or in the early morning hours. This way, you can enjoy a more relaxed and intimate ride with shorter queues.
Have fun at Universal Studios Singapore
Located on Sentosa Island, Universal Studios Singapore is a must-visit destination for movie enthusiasts and thrill-seekers of all ages.
What I love about this park is its seven themed zones, each offering a different adventure and bringing to life iconic movies and TV shows. Whether you’re exploring the prehistoric world of Jurassic Park, wandering the streets of Ancient Egypt, or joining the battle alongside Transformers, there’s something for everyone.
The heart-pounding rides at Universal Studios Singapore are sure to get your adrenaline pumping. Brace yourself for exhilarating roller coasters, such as Battlestar Galactica: Human vs. Cylon, Transformers: The Ride, or Revenge of the Mummy.
But Universal Studios Singapore isn’t just about rides. Don’t miss the incredible live shows and themed restaurants with a wide variety of dining options.
Visit Singapore Zoo
Home to more than 2,400 animals from 300 species, Singapore zoo is a vibrant mosaic of life from every corner of the world. What sets this zoo apart is its ‘open concept’, allowing you to see the animals in beautifully landscaped, spacious environments, almost as if they’re in their natural habitats.
The moment you step in, you’re greeted by the cheerful chattering of the cotton-top tamarins in their lush treetop homes. Venture further, and you’ll see the majestic white tigers, lounging in their moated enclosure, looking regal and mysterious. The primates, too, are quite the crowd-pullers. From playful orangutans swinging on vines to mischievous baboons at the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia, it’s a primate paradise!
But the zoo isn’t just about watching; you can also sign up for the interactive feeding sessions! I must say, feeding grapes to the Hamadryas baboons was an experience of a lifetime! For the little ones, there’s the Rainforest Kidzworld, complete with animal rides, a wet play area, and interactive educational displays.
Experience the thrill of a Singapore Night Safari
The magic of the Singapore Zoo doesn’t fade when the sun goes down. The Night Safari, the world’s first nocturnal wildlife park, is right next door!
Home to over 900 animals from approximately 100 species, the Night Safari brings together the thrill of nighttime exploration and the wonder of encountering rare and endangered species.
From lush forests to enchanting wetlands, every turn reveals a captivating scene that will leave you in awe.
Imagine coming face to face with the majestic tigers as they prowl through the dense foliage, their eyes gleaming in the darkness. But the tigers are just the beginning. The Night Safari is also home to other beings, such as the clouded leopard, Malayan tapir, and Sunda pangolin.
Discover marine wonders at S.E.A. Aquarium
As one of the world’s largest aquariums, S.E.A. Aquarium is home to an astonishing variety of marine life, with over 100,000 fascinating creatures representing 1,000 different species.
It’s a treasure trove of biodiversity, where you can explore more than 40 captivating habitats that showcase the astonishing variety of ocean life. Brace yourself for a visual feast as you encounter graceful manta rays, colorful tropical fish, and many other underwater creatures.
From vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful fish to mysterious deep-sea dwellers, the S.E.A. Aquarium showcases the incredible biodiversity of our planet’s oceans.
Stroll the vibrant streets of Chinatown
Singapore Chinatown is a melting pot of sights, sounds, and flavors that will captivate your senses. The beautifully preserved shophouses, adorned with intricate details and vibrant hues, add a touch of nostalgia to the atmosphere.
One of the highlights of Chinatown is undoubtedly the food scene. From chicken rice and dim sum to aromatic roasted duck, the options are endless. You can get lost in its narrow roads lined with traditional restaurants or visit one of the famous hawker centers. So many choices!
Chinatown is not just about food, though. It’s also a haven for shoppers and culture enthusiasts. You can wander the bustling street markets and boutique shops, where you’ll find many souvenirs, antiques, and traditional Chinese crafts.
When the sun sets, make sure to visit Club Street for a taste of the city’s lively nightlife, with wine bars and clubs aplenty.
Visit Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Tucked away in the heart of Chinatown, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple has a calming aura that charms every visitor from the entrance. Its rich red and gold interiors, intricate design, and sublime Buddha statue took my breath away.
Don’t miss out on the temple’s museum on the third floor. It hosts art and history exhibits that beautifully showcase Buddhist culture. On the fourth floor, you’ll find the sacred relic – the Buddha’s tooth. Also, steal a quiet moment in the rooftop garden. Its tranquil ambiance, adorned with a Buddha prayer wheel and lush greenery, offers a serene retreat in the heart of the city.
Don’t forget to visit the iconic Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, a stunning architectural masterpiece that houses a sacred relic of the Buddha.
Visit Fort Canning Park
Set in the heart of the city, this historical gem is a lush oasis steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty.
Once known as ‘Forbidden Hill’, its history dates back to the 14th century when it was the seat of royalty for the Malay Kingdom. It then served as a military base and the residence of British governors. Today, it stands as a proud testament to Singapore’s rich history.
As you stroll along its well-maintained paths, you’ll come across remnants of the old fort walls, underground bunkers, and even a Gothic-style gate – a rare sight in modern Singapore.
One of the park’s most fascinating attractions is the Battlebox, a former WWII bunker and command center. Today, it’s a museum where you can get an insight into the military strategies and crucial decisions that were made within its walls. I found the guided tour to be a fascinating peek into the past, almost as if the old walls were whispering tales of bravery and strategy.
But the park’s allure extends beyond its historical remnants. It’s also a breath of fresh air, quite literally, in the middle of the city. The lush green lawns, sprinkled with ancient trees, and blooming flowers are a delight for nature lovers.
Experience the fusion of cultures at Kampong Glam
Kampong Glam, often referred to as Singapore’s “Muslim Quarter”, is a delightful fusion of history, culture, and modernity. I was fascinated by the colorful shophouses with their unique blend of architecture.
A stone’s throw away is the magnificent Sultan Mosque, Singapore’s most important mosque, and the Istana Kampung Gelam, the former Sultan’s palace. Do take time to appreciate its golden domes and beautiful interior.
After your cultural exploration, head over to Haji Lane. This narrow alleyway, lined with quirky boutiques, vibrant murals, and hip cafes, is a haven for the artsy souls.
Pro tip: To avoid the crowd, I recommend visiting Kampong Glam early on weekdays (avoid weekends) before 10 am. You also should check the opening time of Sultan Mosque if you plan to visit.
Enjoy the view from Marina Bay Sands
You’ve probably seen pictures of the famous Marina Bay Sands, but trust me, nothing compares to witnessing the panoramic view from its SkyPark.
Overlooking the iconic Singapore skyline, the breathtaking view leaves you speechless. I timed my visit for sunset and watched as the cityscape transformed from day to night, a spectacle that was truly mesmerizing.
While you’re there, why not take a dip in the world-famous Infinity Pool? Trust me, swimming at the edge of this architectural marvel with the city beneath you is an experience like no other.
Delve into the Wonders at the ArtScience Museum
Marina Bay is also home to the visually stunning ArtScience Museum. Step inside this iconic lotus-shaped building, and you’re transported into a world where art, science, culture, and technology come together.
The exhibits are always rotating, and the Future World exhibit will leave you awestruck. The high-tech interactive art installations made me feel like I’d stepped into the future. There’s also a fascinating exhibit dedicated to exploring the role of art and science in shaping society.
Raise your glass at Singapore Rooftop Bars
After a day of exploration, there’s nothing quite like unwinding with a cocktail in hand at one of Singapore’s rooftop bars.
There’s a certain allure to Singapore’s rooftop bars that makes them a must-visit, whether you’re a local or a traveler. These sky-high lounges offer the perfect blend of delicious cocktails, gourmet food, and mesmerizing views of the city’s skyline.
Some of the best rooftop bars to visit in Singapore are CE LA VI, Levant, and SouthBridge.
Snap a selfie with the iconic Merlion
Your Singapore visit isn’t complete without saying hi to the city’s beloved mascot – the Merlion. The half-lion, half-fish sculpture holds a significant place in Singapore’s history, symbolizing its humble beginnings as a fishing village.
Standing there, you’ll see the majestic creature spouting water against the backdrop of the stunning skyline. It’s surely an excellent reminder of the fascinating blend of tradition and modernity that Singapore represents.
Glide along the Scenic Singapore River
The boat ride offers a unique perspective of Singapore’s past and present, taking you through historic quays and modern skyscrapers. As you glide along the water, with the city’s striking architectural wonders on either side, it will be a moment of pure awe.
A top tip from yours truly: take the cruise at night when the city is lit up – it’s a sight you won’t forget!
Get a bird’s eye view from the Singapore Cable Car
One of my favorite things to do in Singapore is to take a thrilling ride on the Singapore Cable Car.
As you ascend, the 360-degree panoramic view of Singapore’s cityscape, the verdant Mount Faber Park, and the splendid harbor is nothing short of a visual treat. Keep an eye out for the beautiful Sentosa Island, visible in all its glory from the cable car.
My tip: try the cable car at sunset for a charming view of the city awakening to the night lights.
Explore vibrant Little India
One of the things I love most about Singapore is its diversity, and you can experience it firsthand in Little India.
The moment I stepped foot here, I was transported into a different world, bursting with color, energy, and the tantalizing aroma of Indian spices. The streets are lined with market stalls selling everything from vibrant saris and traditional Indian jewelry to spices and fresh flowers.
The jewel in Little India’s crown, the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, is an absolute must-visit. Its ornate decorations and spiritual aura will leave you in awe. And oh, the food! Don’t leave without trying a dosa (a crisp, savory pancake) from one of the many eateries.
Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture by trying tasty Indian cuisine and marveling at the colorful buildings, ornate temples, and bustling local markets. It’s a sensory journey that transports you straight to India.
Meet the feathered friends at Bird Paradise
Home to a myriad of exotic bird species from around the world, the beauty of Mandai Bird Paradise lies in its well-curated habitats that mimic the natural environments of its feathered residents.
As you wander, you’ll meet everything from Amazonian Jewels to Lory Loft. And prepare to be dazzled by the jewel tones of the park’s star attraction – the flamboyant Flamingos. Also, don’t miss your visit to Penguin Cove, where you can see the best-loved flightless penguins.
What’s more, there’s never a dull moment here! Make sure to catch their presentations where majestic birds showcase their talents. Or why not book a feeding session? You can even get up close and personal with some of these bird species during feeding times.
But it’s not just about the birds. The lush greenery and serene scenery within the park make it a great spot for a picnic or a lovely stroll.
Experience the thrill of Skyline Luge Singapore
Adventure seekers, I’ve got something for you! Skyline Luge Singapore on Sentosa Island is not for the faint-hearted. This unique, gravity-fueled ride lets you zoom down one of four specially designed tracks – each with its own twists and turns.
My personal favorite was the Dragon Trail with its exciting bends. Top it all off with a Skyride back to the top, offering more fantastic views of the Singapore skyline and the sea.
Experience the nightlife of Clarke Quay
When the sun goes down, Clarke Quay lights up! A historic riverside quay in Singapore, it’s now home to many nightclubs, bars, and restaurants.
You can start the night with a delightful dinner at one of the riverside restaurants, enjoying the cool breeze. As the evening unfolds, the live music and energetic atmosphere will lure you into one of the many clubs where you can the night away.
And for the night owls, fret not! There are eateries open late into the night for your after-party cravings.
Located near the business area, Clark Quay is a perfect place to get a drink or two at the end of your night.
Enjoy a serene retreat at Singapore Botanic Gardens
You can find solace amidst the city’s hustle and bustle at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Found in 1895, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a green sanctuary of exquisite botanical and horticultural attractions.
I particularly loved the National Orchid Garden, boasting a spectacular display of orchids in full bloom. The Swan Lake, with its gracefulness, offered us a serene setting for a relaxing picnic.
If you’re a nature lover, don’t miss the Rainforest and the Evolution Garden. They offer fascinating insights into the world of tropical rainforests and the story of plant evolution.
Go shopping on Orchard Road
If shopping is your cardio, then Orchard Road is your gym! With many shopping options ranging from high-street fashion to luxury labels and eclectic local designs, there’s something to satisfy every fashion palate.
For a quick energy boost, you can pop into any of the plentiful cafes and eateries. And don’t forget, the fun doesn’t stop after sundown. Orchard Road at night is a spectacle of its own with beautifully illuminated storefronts and lively street performances.