What to Do in Singapore
Many first-time visitors to Singapore are surprised by its modernity and the copious amount of greenery in this small island state. We feel that the Singaporean experience, apart from the sunny weather and clean streets, is also about the food. Yes, lots of yummy glorious food, but more on that later.
In general, Singapore is divided into a few distinct quarters:
Riverside (Clarke Quay / Boat Quay) — That’s where we are! The Clarke Quay and Boat Quay area is Singapore’s colonial core. It was here that the little fishing village thrived and developed into the cosmopolitan city that we now are. You’ll now find the area dotted with museums, theaters and statues, as well as numerous restaurants, bars and clubs.
Orchard Road — THE shopping stretch in Singapore. The equivalent of Champs Elysees in Paris, well, not that long considering that Singapore is a rather small country….but you get the drift. All major international brands can be found here.
Marina Bay — The new hotspot in Singapore, where tourists and locals alike flock to snap photos of the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort (hotel, casino and shopping mall), or to take leisurely long strolls alongside the waterfront.
Bugis and Kampong Glam — Bugis and Kampong Glam form Singapore’s old Malay district. Inexpensive shopping can be found in the Bugis Street Markets, while cheap electronic products line the shops in Sim Lim Square.
Chinatown — The classic Chinese corner in every country, Singapore’s version is filled with value buys, cheap eats and beautiful temples.
Little India — The bustling atmosphere, curry and spices, and the 24 hour Mustafa shopping centre are a must-see for bargain hunters and shutterbugs
East Coast — The largely residential eastern part of the island contains Changi Airport, miles and miles of beach and many famous eateries.
Sentosa — A island by itself, one half of Sentosa has been transformed into sunny beaches and beach bars while the other half consists of the universal Studios and Resorts World Casino. Other sights such as the Underwater World, Dolphin Lagoon and an Indoor Skydiving tunnel may interest you.
Shopaholic – Orchard Road, particularly Ion Orchard for major brands and Far Easy Plaza for chic dresses. [suggested time: 5 hours] Bugis Junction and street market – for bargain finds. [suggested time: 3 hours]
Backpacker’s Tip: stay in the air-conditioned malls during the day to prevent the sun from zapping your energy. Hydrate well and grab a bottle of water from the hostel before you go to avoid paying for bottles of water due to the hot weather.
Shutterbug – Little India [suggested time: 2 hours] , Chinatown [suggested time: 2 hours] , Marina Bay Sands [suggested time: 2 hours], Sentosa [suggested time: 6 hours] and Esplanade area [suggested time: 1 hour]. Be sure to allocate time for the electronic shops in Sim Lim Square to marvel at the low prices!
Foodie – Lau Pat Sat or Jumbo seafood in Clarke Quay for Chilli Crabs, Fruit Rojak and Satay. Maxwell Hawker Centre for Hainanese Chicken Rice. Little India for Roti Prata.
Backpacker’s Tip: Singapore has tons of good food in most of the hawker centres and alfresco eateries. Simple rule of thumb – if it has a queue of locals – the food should be good! Avoid Newton Hawker Centre which is known for high tourist pricing, unless you’re with a local guide. For gourmet fine dining selections, head to hotel resturants such as The Knolls in Capella Sentosa or Michelin resturants in Marina Bay Sands.
Musuem-goer – National Musuem [suggested time: 2 hours], Asian Civilization Musuem [suggested time: 2 hours], Peranankan Musuem [suggested time: 2 hours], Artscience Musuem [suggested time: 2 hours], Mint Museum of Toys [suggested time: 2 hours]
A bit of everything –
Day #1: Wander around Chinatown in the morning and have some Dim Sum. Stroll in the air-conditioned malls at Orchard Road in the afternoon and head to the Marina Bay Sands Skypark in time for the sunset magic light for your photos. Have dinner at Lau Pat Sat or head to Little India for some exotic curries. Afterwards, hit the pubs at Clarke Quay before hitting your bed.
Day #2: Head to Sentosa and pose with the Merlion. Chill out at the beach (Siloso or Tanjung Beach recommended) or check out the rides at Universal Studios. At night, catch the fireworks at the Songs of the Sea show or head to Vivocity back on the main island for more shopping and food. If it’s a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday night, hit the clubs such as Zouk, Butter Factory, St James or Zirca for some dancing.
Off the beaten path – If you would like to do something a little more different, try taking a traditional bumboat to Pulau Ubin (our only rustic, laidback island) for a day of cycling or hiking. Beware, first-time cyclists are better off renting a more stable bike or walking instead. Alternatively, you can head to some residential estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh or Clementi to immerse yourself in the local heartland sights and sounds (simple food, small mom-and-pop shops). At night, the adventurous may want to take a walk on the wild sight in the red-light district of Geylang or the famous Orchard Towers.
Other sights you may be interested in visiting while in Singapore:
- The Zoo
- Jurong Bird Park
- Mount Faber
- Marina Barrage
- Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve
- Kusu Islands
- Dempsey Road
- East Coast Park
- Bukit Timah Nature Reserve