Singapore is a country that I have the utmost love for, I have been there one too many times and pretty much call it my ‘second home’, but each time I go back, I fall in love with it a little bit more and upon coming back from each trip, I’m on to planning the next. There is always something new to do and explore every time and I am just in complete awe with the country itself, their people, their landscapes, their attractions, their food, just everything. It also helps that I do have family there which is an added bonus and they always take me to the best places while I’m there.
I am going to say this now, this guide is just solely based on my experience there and what I’d recommend doing and trying and in no way an in depth guide, just wanted to put that out there before anyone says that I’ve said something that isn’t correct or it’s not a Singapore attraction, you get the drift.
I’m going to break this down in to three sections, where to stay, what to do and what to eat and in each section, I will expand on why you need to visit these places and why you need to try that particular type of food etc. Right, lets go…..
Where to stay:
Singapore is a small country and I have been told that you can get from north to south in approximately 45 minutes. So I’d definitely recommend staying central, that way to get to either north or south, the timing would approximately be the same. The two hotels I’d recommend staying at with some of the best facilities and at an affordable price range is Holiday Inn Orchard City Centre and Hotel Jen (Tanglin or Somerset). Both these hotels are located centrally which means it is easy to get around to all the attractions via cab or train and close to the main shopping strip. I have done reviews on both these hotels which you can find here (Holiday Inn) and here (Hotel Jen Tanglin).
What to do:
Now, this part is going to take up the main chunk of this post, so please bear with me on this one. I am going to include all of the main attractions I have been to and a little bit about why you need to visit. We’ll start with the main touristy part, the Merlion.
The Merlion is Singapore’s signature figure, it is a national symbol of the country, combining a lion head with a fish body which represents Singapore’s origin as a fishing village and the original country name of ‘Singapura’ meaning Lion City. So the original Merlion is actually just behind the larger one situated by the river, it’s much smaller and slightly more delicate looking than the bigger one. Tourists flock to the site for pictures with the famous figure and the fact that you can also see the Marina Bay Sands building and the Singapore Flyer across on the other side makes this spot a super busy area for both tourists and locals. As the evening draws in, the lights start to turn on and the view is honestly, a whole new level. All the skyscraper buildings just unfold in front of your eyes and it’s such a beautiful sight.
The Singapore Flyer – Singapore’s version of the London Eye, you enter a glass capsule and slowly taken up high for a breath-taking view of the entire island city. Tickets cost $33 for an adult which is roughly £16-£17 and prior to stepping in to the capsule, you enter via a small exhibition showcasing the models of the flyer and how it was built.
Marina Bay Sands – If you haven’t seen, in pictures or heard of the Marina Bay Sands, you may have been living under a rock for a while. This insane looking building is a hotel, casino, shopping and restaurant complex all built in one and what’s most eye-catching about it, is probably the infinity pool that looks as though it is falling off the edge. On the top floor, there is a bar called Sky Bar which is a must-visit just for the amazing view and if you do enjoy a good go at the games, the casino is free for tourists which is a huge perk since locals have to pay for entry.
Gardens By The Bay - A nature park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land in central Singapore boasts three waterfront gardens, Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central. Each garden captures the essence of Singapore as tropical city and contains a stunning display of various flowers and plants. Not only are the displays somewhat outstanding, you can really make a day out of it as they also have shops and restaurants dotted around and staying on till the evening means you get to see the Light Show which is generally free and probably ‘the’ most fantastic show I have ever seen.
Image credit - Your Singapore
Universal Studios – Right next to the island of Sentosa, lies an integrated resort called Resorts World Sentosa and within the list of attractions which include casinos, a waterpark and an aquarium, there is the almighty Universal Studios. I have been to the one in LA before and whilst this one isn’t as grand, it is a close contender and I would still highly recommend a visit. I loved the mixture of kids and adult activities and rides meaning there’s definitely something for everyone. Ticket prices start from $74 (£40-£41).
Singapore Zoo – This zoo is probably one of my favourite zoo’s ever! Housing over 2800 species of animals ranging from lions to gorillas to polar bears and my favourite, white tigers, the Singapore Zoo is no doubt, a must-visit attraction. Tickets are $33 (£18-£19) for adults and $22 (£12-£13) for children, there are also deals online all the time, so do make sure you check those out if you consider going. I cannot recommend this zoo enough, you honestly have to see it for yourself, it will not disappoint at all.
Image credit - Wikipedia
National Museum of Singapore – If you like a bit of the history and art side of things, the National Museum of Singapore is something not to be missed. The galleries present history in a completely different way through art and redefines the conventional museum experience which is super interesting indeed. Admission is $10 (£5-£6) for non-citizens and free for Singapore citizens/permanent residents and children of all nationalities.
Little India – Little India is a buzzing, vibrant district which shows off the best of Singapore’s Indian community. There is a mix of Hindu and Chinese temples, mosques and churches and also some of the yummiest Indian food I have ever tasted. Whilst you’re there, you can also stop off at the 24-hour shopping centre, Mustafa for all the essentials as well gifts.
Chinatown – A historic must-see town with shops, markets and restaurants for all ages, you can easily spend a whole or even a couple of days, just exploring the main town and side streets as there’s definitely a lot of history to it. I particularly love the colourful, bright and pastel houses which is the perfect location for those Instagram/blog shoots.
Image credit - Wikipedia
Orchard Road – Singapore’s main shopping strip, boasting luxury stores such a Prada, Dior and Chanel as well high street and local boutiques. This is basically London’s answer to Oxford/Bond Street, but definitely with a bit more punch to it. There are an array of restaurants and bars tucked away amongst all the hustle and bustle also and definitely a place to visit for a day’s worth of shopping and eating.
Clarke Quay – Clarke Quay as well as Boat Quay is the perfect place to find somewhere to eat, drink and club as both these spots are Singapore’s most liveliest nightlife areas. From live music to rooftop bars, there is so much to do and see and honestly, it’s the best spot for a yummy cocktail and a good old catch up with friends/family or if travelling on your own, just watch the night go by and enjoy.
Chicken Rice – Do not leave Singapore without trying the famous chicken rice. It may sound super simple, but it is so, so delicious. The chicken is cooked to perfection, paired with the rice, it’s just so tasty. I highly recommend Boon Tong Kee at Bendemeer, they’re generally quite busy most of the times and you can’t book, but its well worth the wait.
Bat Ku Teh – The name of this dish is directly means ‘meat bone tea’ and is a popular dish in Malaysia and Singapore. It is a meat dish consisting of pork ribs cooked in a broth of herbs and spices for hours and eaten with rice or noodles and other accompanying pork dishes. Despite its name, there isn’t actually any tea in the soup, but actually refers to the Chinese tea that is served alongside it to dilute the fat consumed in this dish. Bat Ku Teh is a scrumptious, warming meal and can be found in most areas of Singapore.
Image credit - Your Singapore
Roti Prata – A traditional Indian dish, prata is a super thin pancake cooked on a flat grill and eaten by dipping in to vegetable or meat curry. There are different variations of prata’s that you can get, sweet and savoury. I also go for the plain one with a meat curry, it’s always grilled perfectly and the curry is super flavoursome. There is a stretch called Jalan Kayu where they have mostly prata shops and they offer some amazing variations there.
Kopitiams – This translates in to the meaning of Coffee Shop in Malaysian (Kopi) and Hokkien (Tiam), which is a popular dialect spoken in Singapore. Kopitiams are found in most residential areas and some industrial districts and consist mainly of small stalls that sell coffee, tea, traditional kaya toast and soft boiled eggs and snacks. Kopitiams are a great place for breakfast or a late afternoon snack and are generally pretty cheap for a set.
Hawker Centres – Similar to Kopitiams, Hawker Centres also consist of an array of food stalls selling inexpensive, yet high quality dishes. The complexes are usually open air and sharing tables with other diners is the norm. Eating at Hawker Centres gives you the chance to try lots of different Singapore dishes and dining outdoors in the heat gives off that authentic feel of a locals. A Hawker Centre that I’d recommend would be Newton Circus, super yummy food in a busy, yet nice location.
That brings me to the end of this travel guide, I really hope you enjoyed it and found it useful. If you have any other questions about Singapore that you'd like to ask, please feel free to tweet me over at: @rainingcakeblog. Again, I'd like to mention that this guide is written solely on my experience of Singapore. For further tourist information, you can also visit the Singapore tourism website, Your Singapore.