For such a small country, there is an astonishing variety of things to do and places to explore in Singapore. The multi-ethnic population guarantees a wide choice of food and culture and, if you look hard enough, there is plenty of outdoor space and opportunities for wildlife-spotting. Here are some travel bloggers’ recommendations for the top things to do in Singapore.
Try A Singapore Sling And High Tea At Raffles
A great way to soak up Singapore’s colonial atmosphere is to have High Tea and a Singapore Sling. You can have a Singapore Sling anywhere around the world, but there’s nowhere better to sip this iconic cocktail than Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The hotel’s Long Bar was where this famous drink was concocted, and sipping it at the bar where it was invented is one of the things to tick off your bucket list.
Raffles, an iconic 19th century hotel with a rich history, is one of the most famous landmarks in Singapore. The hotel opened in 1887, and although it has been renovated many times and has a luxurious feel, the hotel and the Long Bar retain the charm of yesteryear. The hotel’s white colonial facade is a reminder of Singapore’s British Colonial history, especially the bar with its plantation-inspired design, polished teakwood bar, reed fans and wicker chairs.
The Singapore Sling was invented in 1915, when the island was under British rule. It was designed for ladies who were expected to drink tea or fruit juice and who were not supposed to drink alcohol publicly. An enterprising bartender created a cocktail that looked like a fruit drink, and it became instantly popular. The gin-based cocktail’s ingredients are gin, lime juice, pineapple juice, Curaçao, Benedictine, grenadine, and cherry liqueur, making it a perfect drink for Singapore’s tropical weather. Yes, you can create it at home but it’s not quite the same as ordering one at the Raffles Long Bar in Singapore!
(Christina from Travel2next)
Explore Little India
When travelling to Singapore, don’t miss the exciting Little India area! As a place where different cultures live together (like Chinatown and the Arab quarter of Kampong Glam) Singapore also has a special quarter for the Indian population. Much is reminiscent of the original country: everything looks very neat, the smell of typical food and exotic spices is in the air, and the beautifully decorated Hindu temples shape the streetscape.
The district has many sights to offer. In the large Tekka Centre shopping mall, the many food stands, where you can get classic Indian specialities at very reasonable prices, are particularly recommended. After some refreshment, continue to the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. This is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, with many strikingly colourful statues on the roof. If you’re lucky, there may be a ceremony going on. And the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, another temple worth seeing, is not far away. Don’t miss the House of Tan Teng Niah, a magnificent, colourful villa in the middle of the city, built by a Chinese businessman for his wife.
Take your time in this exciting district. There is a lot to discover in the many small shops and other shopping centres such as Mustafa Centre and Little India Arcades. The best way to get there is to take the metro to Little India station. You can also use Farrer Park station.
(Phil from Journication)
No visit to Singapore would be complete without a trip to Chinatown. This has been home to the island’s Chinese community since 1819, and it is still very much a place where people live, work and shop. Enjoy wandering around the bustling shopping streets, with their stalls selling food, souvenirs and everyday goods. Or stop at one of the many restaurants and cafés. And don’t forget to explore the temples: Chinatown is home to places of worship from many different religions.
Read more about Exploring Singapore’s Chinatown.
Enjoy A Night Safari
Singapore Zoo is renowned internationally but what is less known is the fantastic Night Safari. The first of its kind in the world, the Night Safari is situated next to the zoo and is easily accessible from the city by driving or public transport. The park opens when the daytime fades and is the perfect opportunity to see nocturnal animals as they should be seen. Over 2,500 different animals live at the Night Safari and this is the perfect place to see them. Travel through various geographical areas, from Equatorial Africa to the Himalayan foothills, and discover the creatures that live here.
The safari is very well put together, using cattle grids to prevent animals moving from area to area rather than bars. The animals have wonderful space to spread out and are really well cared for. There are live shows to enjoy and a fantastic restaurant area packed with different street style food stalls. The night safari has received many awards for its conservation work and is a great organisation to support. 41% of the species that live here at the park are threatened including the Asian elephant and Malayan tiger.
You can take walking trails through the area or ride on a vehicle through which is great if you’re with younger children. There are a number of great Singapore family hotels nearby making it easy to make a night time visit. Definitely one of the best things to see and do in Singapore.
(Nichola from Globalmouse Travels)
Hike In Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is a patch of primary rainforest a few miles from the City Area, easily accessible by bus or taxi. It is a great spot for hikers, one of the few spots on the island where you can walk through forest and even climb a modest hill. An added attraction is the wildlife. The reserve is full of birds, butterflies and insects, as well as larger animals. I spotted monkeys and an iguana, but you may also find anteaters, lemurs and more…
Read more about Visiting Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
Visit Haw Par Villa
Haw Par Villa is a private garden, but it is often described as a theme park. However, you won’t find any roller coasters, overpriced food or souvenir shops here. It was built back in 1937 by brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, better known as the inventors and sellers of the curative Tiger Balm. As such, sometimes in Singapore you will hear Haw Par Villa called the Tiger Balm Gardens. It contains over 1000 statues and 150 dioramas and displays dedicated to Chinese mythology and morality.
The most well known set of dioramas are known as the Ten Courts of Hell, and the gory displays depict the process undertaken by the gods between dying and reincarnation. In the past these were used to demonstrate to children what would happen if they weren’t well behaved, now they are a quirky, perhaps macabre, reminder of times gone by.
Other displays tell the story of the Monkey God, as immortalised in the “Monkey Magic” TV series. There are dozens of other statues of all sorts of animals with almost comic book-like poses. Then there are the statues that are completely random, such as a replica Statue of Liberty.
A visit to Haw Par Villa is a good opportunity to learn a little of the history of Singapore and about Chinese culture while wandering through gardens in the middle of a busy city. Haw Par Villa is easy to access by MRT. It has its own station on the yellow line. Entry to the garden is free.
(Josie from Josie Wanders)
A Trip To Pulau Ubin
Singapore is a dynamic, crowded, modern city of skyscrapers, top-notch restaurants and unlimited opportunities for shopping and sightseeing. But when you need a break from all that busy-ness, take a day trip to Pulau Ubin.
A lush, green island squeezed between Singapore and Malaysia, Pulau Ubin resembles what Singapore was like back in the 1960s, before the building boom. Its kampongs (small villages) used to house 2000 people into the 1970s, mostly employed in granite quarries. Today, with fewer than 50 residents, it is a popular place to spend a day, and many visitors rent bicycles to explore. At its eastern end is Chek Jawa, a wetlands area with mangroves.
A number of temples dot the island, including the “German Girl’s Temple,” which involves a rather gruesome story about a girl’s death. As you bicycle, you’ll also pass several pretty lakes, which formed in what remains of the old quarries. Watch out for wildlife: the island is home to a wide variety of birds and bats, as well as larger mammals like macaques and wild pigs.
Getting to Pulau Ubin is easy. Go to the Changi Point Ferry Terminal. This will probably mean some travel on the MRT (metro) followed by a short bus ride. At the ferry terminal, take a bumboat – a small motorboat – to the island. The trip only takes about 10 minutes and costs just a few Singapore dollars each way. You can read more about Pulau Ubin in Pulau Ubin: Singapore’s Memory Lane.
(Rachel Heller from Rachel’s Ruminations)
Butterfly Garden In Singapore’s Changi Airport
When it comes to things to do in Singapore, many travellers will head straight into the city to explore the sights. However, many aren’t aware of the exciting place where they started their Singapore adventure – Changi Airport. Named as the best airport in the world for eight consecutive years, Changi Airport is more than your regular hub for catching a flight. Inside the airport are some of the best amenities, lounges, and excellent attractions in Singapore.
One of the most incredible places to visit inside the airport is the Butterfly Garden, the world’s first butterfly garden inside an airport. Spanning a total of two levels, the Butterfly Garden is home to over 1,000 butterflies from as many as 40 species. Here the environment is lush and tropical, and it even contains a 6m grotto waterfall (not to be confused with the waterfall in the Jewel section of the airport).
There are educational enclosures where guests can observe the mating and feeding process of some of these butterflies. In fact, most of the Butterfly Garden is completely open allowing visitors to get as close to the butterflies as they want. But just be considerate and don’t interrupt their lives!
If you are travelling to Singapore with kids, the Butterfly Garden in Changi Airport is a place you must visit. It will keep the kids entertained (something that is very difficult to do in an airport) and it is completely free-of-charge to enter.
(Sean Lau from Living Out Lau)
Escape To The Singapore Botanic Gardens
The Singapore Botanic Gardens are the perfect place for a brief respite from the city crowds. A vast area with different sections including the Palm Valley and the Ginger Garden, you can enjoy the landscape, the plants and the seclusion. Look out for animals and birds as you walk, and don’t miss the National Orchid Garden with its thousands of different species and hybrids.
Read more about the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a World Heritage Site.
A Singapore Street Art Trail
The vibrant and diverse city of Singapore has a reputation for being modern, shiny and futuristic. Street art has an (undeserved) reputation for being grubby and similar to graffiti. So, how do these two things come together in Singapore, you might be wondering?
Firstly, Singapore is a diverse nation made up of Chinese, Indian and Malay settlers. With so many stories to tell, it’s actually the perfect place for street art which usually revolves around storytelling. There are countless pieces of street art to be found in Singapore, especially around Little India and Chinatown.
Begin on Kerbau Road in Little India where you will see and learn about the Indian community via street art showing cows (considered sacred in Hinduism) and scenes of daily life for the local. Don’t miss Rowell Road, Hindoo Road, Clive Street, Belilios Lane and Baboo Lane. Afterwards, head out of Little India to 51 Waterloo Street where you’ll find lots of 3D street art including wooden shutter doors that open to reveal street art scenes of the 1970s and 80s.
Haji Lane is another well-known and colourful location in Singapore and it’s also a fantastic location for street art. Walk the length of the street and you’ll see lots of pieces. Fans of street artist Ernest Zacharevi (responsible for most of the street art in Malaysia) can head to Victoria Street to see his Girl With Lion Cub mural. Finally, swing by Sultan Arts Village where there are shops, galleries and street art galore. If you have time, there’s some impressive street art depicting the Chinese cuisine (responsible for many of Singapore’s most delicious dishes) inside the Amoy Street Food Centre in Chinatown.
(Rose Munday from Where Goes Rose?)
Take A Cookery Class
Singapore is famous for its multi-cultural cuisine, so it’s a no-brainer that you should spend a major part of your trip experiencing its food to the fullest. One of the best ways to do that is to take a cooking class and learn how to cook this culinary destination’s dishes. The number one rated cooking school in Singapore is Food Playground.
Food Playground has group classes seven days a week with each day offering a different set of dishes. For example, on Tuesdays, you learn how to cook curry chicken, the Malay dish roti jala, and the Peranakan dessert ondeh, while on Wednesdays, you learn nyonya laksa, spring rolls, and Peranakan hoon kueh. The school also offers online classes.
The classes are small, and the teachers are engaging and informative. Classes begin at 9:30 am and finish at 12:30 pm. Each class starts off with an introduction to the food culture of Singapore along with the ingredients and spices used in that day’s dishes. Next is the hands-on portion of the lesson, where you get to cook each dish yourself while following the teacher’s step-by-step instructions and demonstration. The best part of the experience, though, is the end when you get to eat what you cooked.
These classes are popular so book early. Food Playground is located in the heart of Chinatown. To get there, just take the MRT to the Chinatown station and walk three blocks.
(Julie from The Bamboo Traveler)