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Top 10 Things To Do In Singapore

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We spent one week in Singapore on our way from Bangkok to Bali. And what a busy and great week it was! There is so much to see and do in this city. We were totally exhausted after this week, and all the walking around.

Singapore is such a modern, urban and “western” city. You hardly feel that you are in Asia, but at the same time, Singapore is like a melting pot of whole Asia where you can find culture and food from both China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. It is a big contrast to it`s less slick “big brother” Bangkok.

The Little Red Dot

Singapore often gets called “Little Red Dot”. The term reflects that the total land area of Singapore is no more than 716 km² and it is only a Little Red Dot on world maps.

Originally the term was used to refer to Singapore in a disparaging manner by former Indonesian President B.J. Habibie. In 1998 he apparently did not feel that Singapore was a friend to Indonesia, whereas he pointed to a map and said: “It’s OK with me, but there are 211 million people [in Indonesia]. All the green [area] is Indonesia. And that red dot is Singapore.

The whole “Little Red Dot” remark caused an outcry as it was seen as a dismissal of Singapore. But today the Singapore citizens and politicians use the term with pride and as an expression of their success despite their physical limitations.

It is a city that has “everything”; fabulous shopping, beaches close by, top notch restaurants, legendary hotels and an endless number of cafes and bars. What`s not to like about Singapore?!

Top 10 Things To Do in Singapore

10. Grab a bite at a Hawker Food Market

Singapore is a foodies heaven! You can find all kinds of Asian and Western food here! The best place to go is to do as the locals, and head to one of the many Hawker food markets. Another good deal when it comes to food is to head into one of the many Shopping Malls and visit a Food Court, where you find plenty of different Asian food for a low price.

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A chef is making hand-made thick noodles. Yummy! 🙂

9. Have a Singapore Sling at The Raffles Hotel

The Raffles Hotel in Singapore is legendary, and it’s probably the world`s most famous hotel! It’s more than a hotel, it’s an icon, where all kinds of celebrities have visited. It dates all the way back to 1887, and it`s beauty and elegance is still breathtaking.

It’s an expensive place to stay, but it’s we’ll worth to step inside and have a Singapore Sling at the bar!

If you want to stay at this excellent hotel, click here for the latest prices.

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The stunning and historic Raffles Hotel
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The Raffles Hotel is beautiful, both on the inside and outside. Well worth a visit!

8. Chill out at Clarke Quay

The colorful Clarke Quay next to the Singapore River is packed with restaurants, cafes, and bars. Head down here in the evening and fill up your stomach! They have something for everyone, from Western to Asian food.

It is also the perfect place to go for a romantic riverside stroll, as well as people-watching.

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The colorful Clarke Quay, full of cozy cafes, pubs, and restaurants.
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It is also possible to take a boat trip on the Singapore River, from Marina Bay and Clarke Quay.
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The Marina Bay is beautiful in the evening!

7. Dream yourself away in “Avatar” at Gardens By The Bay

Gardens by the Bay is two big bio-domes, “Cloud Forest” and “Flower Dome”, containing an exotic range of flora and fauna from all over the world. The coolest and main attraction is, however, the amazing “Supertrees”. These are huge flashy and shimmering “trees”, 50 m high, that dazzle to lights and music! Pretty stunning, and as close as you are going to get to Avatar!

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The Supertrees at Garden by the Bay.

6. Visit Marina Bay Sands,  the stranded ship on top of the building

When walking around in the streets of Singapore, there is no way you can avoid spotting the amazing and crazy Marina Bay Sands. It looks like a massive ship has been stranded on top of three buildings!

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Marina Bay Sands Hotel

Although it is a hotel, it is so much more as well! You will find restaurants, cafes, and bars here, as well as a Sky Park (the world`s highest rooftop infinity pool), theaters doing shows every evening, casino, shops, and museums. The shopping mall is so vast that it has its own canal where you can go on a gondola ride! Pretty crazy! It is Singapore`s answer to Las Vegas for sure!

If you want to stay at this luxury hotel and swim in the infinity pool with impressive view over Singapore, click here for the latest prices.

5. Soak up the busy Little India

Walk around Little India, and soak in all the smells of spices, food, and flowers, as well as the noise and Indian atmosphere. Step into one of the many Indian temples and shrines, and grab some Indian food or do some shopping at the shopping mecca Mustafa where you will find all kinds of clothes, jewelry, and souvenirs from India.

We recommend eating at the cozy Albert Court, which has some Indian restaurants with excellent food!

We have also stayed in this area, at the cozy and colonial styled hotel Village Hotel Albert Court. A very nice hotel with great service. Click here for the latest prices.

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The cozy Albert Court has plenty of excellent Indian restaurants.

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4. Stroll around in Chinatown

Walk around Chinatown and admire the beautiful and colorful small houses among all the big skyscrapers. Watch the locals play Chinese chess, and grab some Chinese food.

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Colorful houses in Chinatown.

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One of Chinatown’s many beautiful old houses.

3. Wind down at the Botanic Garden

If you need a break from the busy and noisy city, head over to the Botanic Garden. It is a beautiful and calm oasis of green and lush nature, where the best part is the Orchid Garden.

Read more about our visit to the Singapore Botanic Garden.

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Beautiful orchids at Singapore Botanic Garden.

2. Take a walk on the wild side at Singapore Zoo

The Singapore Zoo is divided in two; The Singapore Zoo and the River Safari, but are located just next to each other with only a 1-minute walk apart. The Singapore Zoo is also open in the evening (7:30 pm till midnight every day) and is then called Night Safari. Singapore Zoo is one of the world`s best and nicest zoos and well worth a visit!

Read more of our visit to the Singapore Zoo and River Safari.

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The stunning White Tiger in Singapore Zoo.

1. Shop till you drop

Singapore is a shopper`s bonanza! The city has an endless number of gigantic shopping malls, so dig out your credit card and go crazy!

The main shopping area is along Orchard street where the shopping malls seem to form an endless string on both sides of the road. Here you will find just about any fashion brand imaginable. There is also quite a few electronics and camera stores along here. We actually bought our first DSLR here back in 2005.

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The shopping in Singapore is crazy.

One of our favorite shops to visit in Singapore is the Kinokuniya bookstore inside the Ngee Ann City shopping mall. It is one of the largest bookstores in the world and it’s great fun to wander around looking their huge selection of books and magazines.

If you want to do some hardcore electronics and computer shopping then head for Sim Lim square close to Littel India.

The End

We enjoyed our week in the posh and modern Singapore. Although the shopping, food, sightseeing and parks are great, and the city is and clean, it lacks a bit of “charm” and personality in our opinion. It is a part of Asia, but it does not feel very Asian.

It is very easy to get around in Singapore, as the public transportation system is excellent (both buses and metro) and there are plenty of taxis everywhere. Most people also speaks good English, so it is an easy place to be a tourist.

If you were to choose one big city to visit in Asia (on your transfer from USA or Europe on to your next travel destination for instance), then I would recommend Bangkok over Singapore anytime. Bangkok has much more charm and personality than Singapore. Singapore could almost be a city in Europe or USA and just feels too polished and not very Asian.


Where To Stay In Singapore

There is no getting around that Singapore is a pretty expensive city when it comes to accommodation. But on the plus side, the hotel standard is very high, and there are some genuinely wonderful hotels here. Below are some of our favorites hotels at different price ranges.

Top End

Fullerton Hotel

Fullerton Hotel Singapore
The grand and stunning Fullerton Hotel Singapore

The Fullerton is widely regarded as Singapore's most luxurious hotel. While the Raffles hotel is under renovation, the Fullerton Bay Hotel is the best choice for old-school five-star colonial-style luxury and world-class service.
If it is within your budget, staying here is an experience in itself. The 25m rooftop swimming pool overlooking Marina Bay is truly spectacular!
Click for the latest prices

Hotel Fort Canning

Surrounded by the green and peaceful Fort Canning Park this beautifully restored old colonial fort-made heritage boutique hotel is a quiet oasis in the heart of the city. The rooms are large and beautiful with high ceilings, hardwood floors, and super comfortable beds. We loved the spacious bathroom with its stylish bathtub.

There are two large swimming pools and a well-equipped gym. It has a very central location, within walking distance to both the main shopping street Orchard Road and the Colonial District with all the main museums and sights.
Click for the latest prices

Parkroyal on Pickering

Parkroyal on Pickering is something as rare as an eco-conscious five-star hotel. It shows through in everything from the small touches like the daily refilled glass water bottles to pens made of bamboo to the architectural marvel of the green hanging terraces that decorate its facade.

The rooms are modern, spacious, and very comfortable. The view of the Singapore Skyline from the room and also the bathtub is amazing! There is an infinity pool as well as a well-equipped gym. The breakfast buffet is spectacular, and the location is excellent with both the Chinatown MRT Station and the Clarke Quay MRT Station very close by.
Click for the latest prices

Mid Range

Jen Orchardgateway

If you want a modern, comfortable hotel that is close to the shopping along Orchard Road, then look no further. Jen Orchardgateway is it! Occupying the top floors of the Orchard Gateway mall the location just simply can’t be beaten. The rooms are very comfortable, but the real standout is the enormous infinity rooftop swimming pool with its spectacular evening views of the city. We also loved the room service robot (yes, indeed a robot!) 🙂
Click for the latest prices

AMOY by Far East Hospitality

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The entrance to Amoy Hotel used to be an old Chinese Temple

If you are looking for something unique, then the Amoy Hotel might just fit the bill. This renovated old temple building at the edge of Chinatown has become a world-class boutique hotel.

Every room is unique, and the old building creates a special and cozy atmosphere.

The staff is always friendly and helpful. There is an MRT station, Telok Ayer MRT Station (blue Downtown Line), right across the street, and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes around.
Click for the latest prices

Budget

Lloyds Inn

Swimming pool at Lloyd´s Inn Singapore
The beautiful garden and pool at Lloyd´s Inn Singapore

Located in a quiet residential neighborhood only a few minutes walk from the main shopping street of Singapore, Orchard Road, Lloyd’s Inn has a perfect central location and is excellent value for the money.

The rooms are small but stylish and well decorated like out of an Ikea catalog with some unique touches. Our room had a fantastic open-air shower. It is worth paying a little extra for a garden-facing room.

The garden is beautiful and contains a lovely wading pool and resting area. Breakfast is served in a local Kopitiam (coffee shop), Killiney Kopitiam, on the adjacent road, Killiney Road. This road has plenty of affordable restaurants serving everything from Vietnamese to Indian food.
Click for the latest prices

Hotel G

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Our nice room at Hotel G

Hotel G was a positive surprise to us! While the rooms are tiny, the standard is excellent for the price with clean, modern, and comfortable rooms with flat-screen TVs and private bathrooms with rainwater showers. Loved the hipster-like design.

We opted for a slightly larger room since we were traveling with a lot of luggage and we were extremely comfortable.
Downstairs is a classy and cool wine bar, and the burger bar "Twenty Five Degrees" on the corner serves some of the best burgers in Singapore. Try the truffle chips, they are heavenly!
Click for the latest prices

Click here to read our complete guide on Where To Stay In Singapore, with tips on how to find the best hotel and area to stay in for you

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Have you ever been to Singapore? What are your top things to do here? Please leave a comment in the comment area below, thank you! 🙂

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About The Writer Maria Wulff Hauglann

Maria is a Norwegian travel nerd who has explored more than thirty countries on four continents. She holds a master's degree in Computer Science, as well as an MBA. In 2014 while on a year-long trip across South East- Asia, Maria co-founded the travel blog Nerd Nomads to help others get out and explore the world. In 2018 she left her day job permanently for a life of full-time travel. See our about page for more about Maria.

24 Comments

  1. Very compelling post. I’ve never been anywhere in Asia, but this looks like a very interesting city to visit.

    Reply
    • Thanks Anda! Singapore is a great city, so much to see, shop and eat! It is very modern and clean, and an easy city to visit. It is nice for a first-time visit to Asia, as the culture shock will not be that bad :).

      Reply
  2. Beautiful photos! We visited Singapore last century 😉 But, we loved it and would like to go back and explore the Marina Bay Sands and Gardens By the Bay. Thanks for taking us back to these wonderful attractions. We have such fond memories of the Night Safari.

    Reply
    • Thanks Mary! We also visited Singapore many years ago (2006), and this was our second time. We also did the Night Safari then, so this time we went to see the animals in daylight. It was so nice to be back in this great city!

      Reply
  3. I know which ones would definitely be on my list; the botanic gardens and the Gardens By the Bay – looks amazing! If only Singapore wasn’t so far from eastern side of Canada..Oh well, one day 🙂

    Reply
    • You should definitely visit Singapore if you plan to travel to Asia some day. Usually you have to fly to one of the big cities Singapore, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur from USA or Europe. Of these three cities, I would say Singapore is the most modern and western-like.

      Reply
  4. Having a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel is on my bucket list! I came close once, during a long layover there, but I was in town too early and nothing was open yet. Then I got blisters from walking around in my sandals after a long haul flight and I gave up lol. It’s high on my list of places to revisit though, at least for that cocktail. 😉

    Reply
    • Oh no, I hate blisters! They mighty look tiny, but can be sooo painful! I totally understand why you gave up. But then you have a good reason to go back to Singapore! Nothing beats a Singapore Sling at the Raffles, it`s legendary! 🙂

      Reply
  5. As an American living in Malaysia, visiting Singapore was our way of “escaping” Asia and feeling like we were a little closer to our home in America. My expat friends and I always had to have Mexican food and stop at the microbrewery whenever we were in Singapore. Penang where I lived has a very similar history to Singapore, so we would skip all the cultural aspects of Singapore (Little India, Chinatown, hawker food) since we could experience that in Penang. I really liked the Gardens by the Bay since it’s so unique.

    Reply
    • That is what we felt about Singapore too actually. It felt a bit “like home” after we had spent several weeks in Thailand. Sometimes it`s just nice to eat other kind of food, visit the shopping malls and escape Asia for a little bit. We have also been to Penang, loved it! I remember that we walked up the Penang Hill at noon and it was so hot under the bright sun! But it was a great work-out and such a nice view from the top! 🙂

      Reply
  6. Hey, on behalf of Christa, Host of The Sunday Traveler, I was stopping by to check out your article. OMG, that does look like a ship atop of three buildings at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel… I definitely want to learn more about that place it has me totally intrigued. I can only imagine how exhilarating and intense (in a good way) it must be to take a dip in that infinity pool. I’m a total foodie so great idea about getting a taste of the culture literally and inexpensively by frequenting a local shopping malls food court… And Marina bay is beautiful in the evening. Great pics too.

    Reply
    • Yep, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel looks pretty crazy! 🙂 And it is so huge, you can see it from all over downtown Singapore. We loved Marina Bay in the evening, so cozy and atmospheric with great cafes and restaurants. A real must if you visit Singapore.

      Reply
  7. So many awesome things to do. I would love to go to Singapore. I considered it for awhile as a place to work, but I ended up moving elsewhere. Those hawker centres sound like paradise though. Yum yum.

    Reply
    • Singapore is such a great city, and so western that you immediately feel right at home 🙂 . There are so many expats from all over the world working in Singapore, so I`m sure you would have loved it if you had chosen Singapore. And the food in Singapore is fantastic! You can find food from every corner of the world, that`s what I love the most about Singapore.

      Reply
  8. I’d love to try nine of these… I’ll leave you wondering which one I wont try. Thanks for linking up with us for #SundayTraveler

    Reply
    • LOL! 🙂 Love your challenge SJ, but eh….I have no idea! 🙂

      Hmm, maybe you are not that into “shop till you drop”? Or maybe you are a bit afraid of heights, so the infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands is not that tempting? 🙂

      Reply
    • Hi Jack! Thanks for popping by! The Hawker Food Market is fantastic, packed with delicious food from all over the world. You should really check it out, I`m sure you will love it! 🙂

      Reply
  9. This is a great list! While not my favorite country in SE Asia, there sure is WAY more to do and explore than just the Marina Bay Sands and attached shopping mall!

    Reply
    • Thanks Jeff! Singapore definitely has it`s highlights, even though I agree, I like Bangkok much better. Singapore is also very expensive compared to it`s neighbouring countries.

      Reply
  10. Hi Maria,
    I am really enjoying your blog.
    I live in Singapore and agree with your view. However, I have discovered many really nice areas that have loads of charm, are very different from other places and actually feel like Asia. If you ever return again, I can always share them with you. It would be worth giving it a second try for sure.

    Reply
    • Hi Irene,

      Thank you so much for your comment! We will for sure return to Singapore one day, as we really like the city. It would be great if you could share those charming areas with us when we return.

      Happy travels!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  11. I have traveled to Singapore this year and this post exactly what I have experienced there. Singapore is an incredible place to visit. Images are very beautiful Maria!

    Reply
    • Hi Viktoria,

      Thank you so much! Singapore is a great city with so much to see and do. It is an expensive city though, especially hotels.

      Happy traveling! 🙂

      -Maria-

      Reply

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