Singapore has long been a hotspot destination for weekenders, international layover crowds looking to beat the airport boredom, and full-fledged luxury-seekers. But there’s so much to do in Singapore, you may want to reconsider the length of your stay- even a week here would not be enough to enjoy everything this vibrant city has to offer.
Still, need convincing? From art museums and botanical gardens to surprisingly tropical hideaways, Singapore has something to offer every type of traveler. You’ll find yourself marvelling at a colourful fusion of Asian cultures amidst luxe skyscrapers and extravagant design. When the sun goes down, a buzzing nightlife scene and stunning light displays will make you feel like the whole city is putting on a show for you.
The Ultimate Guide to Singapore
To get your planning started, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on everything you need to do and eat on your next trip to Singapore.
When travelling to Singapore, don’t just stay with your old-faithful hotel chain. Though there is a time and place for these clean, reliable, and overall enjoyable accommodations, your vacation to Singapore is the ideal place to branch out -the city is teeming with surprisingly luxurious hostels, eclectic mid-range hotels, and experimental architecture that blends urban spaces and green living. Greenhouses on the 18th story, rooftop infinity pools, and exclusive dining rooms are just the beginning of what Singapore hotels are waiting to inspire you with.
If you are looking for old-world charm meets modern luxury, choose the Raffles Hotel. This iconic hotel is skirted by manicured courtyards, lush gardens, and white verandas, and the inside is even sweeter. Guest rooms are retrofitted with canopy beds, soaking tubs, and hand-woven rugs and you can always visit the in-house spa. There’s clearly plenty of good reason the Raffles has earned its prestigious reputation. Not to mention your experience will be steeped in rich history. One of the most notable badges of honour? The Raffles Hotel is the birthplace of the famous cocktail “Singapore Sling” which the resident bartender crafted in 1915.
Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands offers suite-style accommodation at its finest, earning itself a place at the top of the list when it comes to the best hotels in Singapore. Besides their homey, yet luxurious guest rooms, the hotel is home to the ArtScience Museum, a top-rated spa, one of the most famous resto-bars in the city (with 55th story, 360-degree skyline views, we might add), and a guests-only rooftop infinity pool. This is a great choice if you like to be at the centre of all the action, and if you want exclusive access to some of Singapore’s most iconic attractions and city views.
Prefer a smaller, boutique-style accommodation for a more personalised experience? Look no further than the Hotel Indigo. Here you’ll find exotic designs inspired by Peranakan culture, breakfast in bed, circular spa-inspired tubs with a view, and a vibrant surrounding neighbourhood. Though less expansive as the one at Marina Bay Sands, the Hotel Indigo does boast its very own rooftop infinity pool, and the in-house restaurant is known for whipping up classy renditions of local dishes, as well as a plethora of western plates for when you’re feeling less adventurous. The best part? Hotel Indigo is shockingly affordable for a luxury stay.
Whether you’re looking for the hottest cocktail lounge in town or you’re making a bucket list of local delicacies you simply must try, we’ve got you covered...
Chilli crab is certainly a Singapore special, so be sure to get some while you’re there; the tomato, chilli, and basil sauce has us drooling right now. You can get a reasonably affordable crab at many of the markets, especially in china town, but be aware this is still going to run you at least 20 Singapore Dollars. Finer dining restaurants will charge over S$100 for this delicacy though, so it’s definitely a steal. For an ultra-special treat, why not try chilli crab in its most authentic form, from the place where it all began? Jumbo Seafood was the first to introduce the recipe that has since become a culinary staple, so it’s safe to assume that you’re going to get your money’s worth- after all, they know the dish best.
A quick google search will reveal that Hainanese ducks are another traditional must-try while in Singapore, which you can easily find in the markets. But did you know you can actually get it from a food stand with a Michelin star? This market-based “restaurant” serves up the cheapest Michelin star meal in the world, so this really isn’t an opportunity you should pass up- It’s out-of-this-work delicious and it’s accessible to all!
Smoke & Mirrors
Looking for a little adult beverage to quench your thirst? Don’t settle with craft cocktail rooms like Smoke & Mirrors waiting for you around every corner. This rooftop bar can’t wait to impress you with its 360-degree views, “the real art of drinking” signature cocktails, and upscale small bites. Just a word to the wise- though they claim to have a “casual city chic” dress code, discretion lies mostly with the management, so we’d dress up to avoid problems. Oh, and definitely don’t wear flip-flops as they are strictly prohibited.
If you’re willing to splurge a little bit, this is the place to do it. Corner House is located inside a UNESCO world heritage site, converted from the personal home of a British botanist. This exclusive venue is designed to allow for quiet, small-group dining, with multiple dining areas and floor-to-ceiling windows peeping into the flora. This restaurant serves up fusion like you’ve never experienced it before, a beautiful blend of French and Asian cuisines- but don’t just take it from us! Corner House has a Michelin star and has consistently ranked as one of the fifty best restaurants in all of Asia. For a completely immersive experience, consider dining Omakase style, where you will be guided through a 4-7 course exploratory menu.
Planning an itinerary for a weekend in Singapore is easy. Planning a week in Singapore is even easier- there’s just so much to choose from!
Gardens by the Bay
A visit to Gardens by the Bay is quite possibly the single most popular thing to do in Singapore. After all, it is one of the world’s top twenty most checked-in places on Facebook. Take in wondrous blooms in the flower dome, experience a mystical urban jungle and 30-foot waterfall in the cloud forest, and of course, look up to the majesty of the iconic Supertrees. Whatever you do, plan to give yourself plenty of time to explore. You’re going to need it if you want to take in all 1.5 million plants and 13 exhibits.
National Orchid Gardens
The National Botanical Gardens is worth a visit in its entirety, but a stop at the National Orchid Gardens is an absolute must. These rolling hills are home to over 3000 species of orchids ranging from common to ultra-rare hybrids. Plus, the gardens were carefully curated into colour zones based on the four seasons, making it a magnificent backdrop for aesthetic vacation photos. Pack a picnic to enjoy amongst the tropical flora, or make a day of it and visit the ethnobotany garden while you’re in the vicinity to learn about the role plants play in traditional cultures, it’s really up to you.
Go cycling and mangrove kayaking at Pulau Ubin
Hello, secret oasis! If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, you need to plan a detour to Pulau Ubin. This island is tucked away just off the coast. Though it’s only a short, inexpensive boat ride away, surprisingly few Singapore tourists make the trek. That means you’ll be free to explore the mangroves, coconut plantations, fruit orchards, and of course, lush beaches, at a relaxing pace. You can enjoy all your favourite summer activities here from cycling, hiking, and kayaking, and potentially get up close and personal with rare wildlife. How amazing is that?
Visit the Quays
All perched along the Singapore river, there are three main Quays that are worth your attention. If you want a jam-packed evening of glamorous entertainment, choose Clarke Quay. Just be sure to dress up- Ritz and sparkle are the name of the game here and it’s a bit of an unspoken rule. Boat Quay, on the other hand, will give you laid-back dining and ultra-fresh seafood. Robertson Quay is also an option if you want a chill evening that isn’t so focused on seafood. You’ll find a much wider culinary selection here.
Chinatown and Little India
Whether you’re just looking to do a little sightseeing, hunting for an exotic meal, or wanting for a little cultural immersion, you can’t beat a visit to Chinatown or Little India. Here you can visit temples and mosques, peruse artisan markets and learn about the many heritages that inspired Singapore as it is today.
Chances are you’ve seen dozens of tagged photos inside the ArtScience museum plastering your social media feeds- these exquisite exhibitions are the clear favourite of travel bloggers around the globe. Famous for its dramatic art displays and multi-media wonders, this futuristic museum will keep you on your toes as you watch science and art blend together. Amongst the most popular is the dazzling LED light curtains, which will leave you feeling like you’re living in an alternate universe.
If you’re staying in Singapore for more than a day or two, hopping over to this stunning island should be compulsory. Sentosa is still considered to be central Singapore and parts of the island are still pretty built-up, but you can find yourself a luxury eco-resort or beachy boutique hotel if you know where to look. With three beaches to choose from, you’re sure to find that little slice of heaven you’ve been looking for, whether that is high-entertainment and all-inclusive style, or something a little bit quieter.
Tour pretty streets and go shopping
Fashionistas and boutique- lovers looking for a quick fix? Opt to spend your afternoons strolling around some of the prettiest streets in Singapore- Blair Road and Koon Seng Road are great places to start. These shophouses boast Idealistic pastel facades, gorgeous floral installations, and plant boxes, and pretty handcrafted tiles. If you're looking for somewhere to spend the afternoon sipping bubble tea, spend some of your leftover currency, or snap the perfect Instagram picture, the shophouses should be your go-to.