This post was originally published in August 2016 and was updated in March 2019
Don’t you hate it when ultimate guides turn out to be not so ultimate? I hope to avoid that fate with this list of things to do in Singapore — surely my two years as an expat in the Lion City makes me something of an authority. Does it deserve to be ranked as the ultimate, best, most awesome list of things to do in Singapore though? You decide…
Note — I haven’t included directions to the places below. Gothere.sg is an excellent guide for getting around Singapore — just type in where you want to go and follow the steps.
Things to do in Singapore: Tourist Attractions
Visit Singapore’s world class zoos
Singapore Zoo is right up there with the best zoos in the world and is definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re travelling to Singapore with kids. The Night Safari is the perfect place for a date in Singapore and is a really unique zoo experience. It’s one of the best things to do in Singapore at night — don’t miss it! Birds of all shapes, sizes and colours hang out at Jurong Bird Park. The parrots are always a highlight at these kinds of places, but also look out for the huge (fake) waterfall. Pandas are the main attraction at the River Safari, and if you’ve never seen one before it’s a great place to do it. You can also see lots of flamingos and various other wildlife.
Spend a day at Universal Studios
A day at Universal Studios is always entertaining. The rides are great and it’s fun to stroll through the themed zones, including ancient Egypt, New York and Hollywood. Go on a weekday to avoid the local crowds.
See the famous Merlion
This half fish half lion statue is the symbol of Singapore. It’s not all that interesting but the views of Marina Bay and surrounding skyscrapers makes it a good place to go, especially at night.
Go to the top of Marina Bay Sands
If you’re not a guest at the hotel, you can still see the amazing views at the top Marina Bay Sands at the Observation Deck. It will set you back $23, but seeing the city spread out before you is a priceless Singapore experience.
Where to Stay in Singapore
Luxury – Marina Bay Sands
Mid-Range – Hotel Yan
Boutique – Hotel 1929
Budget – Fragrance – Hotel Riverside
Go to the top of the Pinnacle@Duxton
The Pinnacle at Duxton is a residential building, but for $5 you can go to the top for panoramic views of the city. It’s cheaper and a lot less touristy than Marina Bay Sands, although the view isn’t quite as good.
Ride the Singapore Flyer
The view of Marina Bay surrounded by skyscrapers from the Singapore Flyer is one of the most amazing things to see in Singapore — don’t miss it!
Go on a river cruise
A boat trip down the Singapore River at night is one of the most romantic things to do in Singapore. The glittering skyline of downtown Singapore makes for a great backdrop as you slowly drift down the river.
Things to do in Singapore: Parks and Gardens
Spend a few hours at Gardens by the Bay
One of my favourite things to do in Singapore is watch the Supertree Symphony at Gardens by the Bay. These futuristic tree skyscrapers pulsate with colours every night at 7.45 pm and 8.45 pm. Gardens by the Bay’s two domes are also well worth a visit. The Cloud Forest Dome features a giant indoor waterfall (the largest in world) and the Flower Dome is home to ever changing displays (it was full of tulips, windmills and clogs when I visited). If you don’t want to fork out for the domes you can still enjoy a walk through the surreal landscapes of Gardens by the Bay.
Visit Labrador Park
This small park by the water is a nice place to hang out in the late afternoon. There are also several WW2 relics to seek out.
Relax at the Chinese / Japanese Gardens
These side by side gardens form one of the most relaxing green spaces in Singapore. It’s the ideal place to visit if you’re tiring of the big city pace.
Walk around Bedok reservoir
Another green space in suburban Singapore, Bedok Reservoir is a great place for a stroll. You can also tackle the treetop adventure course or head out onto the water in a dragon boat or kayak.
Explore the Botanic Gardens
You could spend hours walking around the botanic gardens. There are so many sections, including the famous orchid garden. The last time I visited the Botanic Gardens I saw Kristen Stewart filming scenes for a new sci-fi movie, which would have been awesome if I was a Twilight fan girl.
See the views at Mt Faber Park / Henderson Waves
This hilltop park is the starting point for the cable car to Sentosa Island. The views are awesome from up there and you can also walk to Henderson Waves, a unique bridge that is often crawling with monkeys. This is also part of the Southern Ridges hiking trail.
Things to do in Singapore: Exploring the city’s Historical Side
Walk the streets of Kampong Glam
This historic suburb in Singapore features rows of colourful shop houses, countless Turkish / Middle Eastern restaurants and a beautiful mosque. It’s one of my favourite areas in Singapore and is a great place to visit day or night.
Visit the last kampong (village) in Mainland Singapore
This small rural village is completely out of place in the surrounding concrete jungle. It gives you an idea of what Singapore must have been like before the skyscrapers arrived.
READ MORE: The Last Kampong in Mainland Singapore
Chinatown is a great place to eat, drink and shop in the shadows of historic shop houses. It’s one of the most colourful areas of Singapore and is worth at least a couple of hours of exploration. It’s also worth checking out the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, which dominates central Chinatown.
Seek out Singapore’s stunning colonial buildings at the Civic District
The civic district is home to heaps of old colonial buildings which have been brilliantly restored. One of the best is the Victoria Theatre and Memorial Hall.
Walk the streets of Little India
The streets of Little India are lined with colourful shop houses and restaurants selling delicious Indian food. Little India is one of the city’s most interesting old suburbs to explore – it’s definitely a must see in Singapore.
Walk around Geylang
You’ll see heaps of old shop houses and possibly a few prostitutes (this is Singapore’s red light district after all) while walking the streets of Geylang. Also try the salted egg prawn, apparently it’s really good.
Go to Raffles Hotel
The colonial grandeur on show at Raffles Hotel invokes visions of the past, before the rapid modernisation changed Singapore forever. Try the famous Singapore Sling at the Long Bar or just walk around the hallways and gardens of this colonial gem.
Visit Fort Canning Park
This little park close to Clarke Quay features remains from WW2, including canons and tunnels. It’s a nice place for a shaded walk when the Singapore sun gets too intense.
Walk up Emerald Hill
Emerald Hill, a little suburban zone off Orchard Rd, is full of converted shop houses. It’s one of the nicest collection of streets in Singapore and there are some cool bars nearby.
Stroll around Katong / Joo Chiat
This historic Singapore suburb is less touristy than Little India, Chinatown and Kampong Glam. There are some beautiful shop houses, excellent restaurants and it’s only a short walk from East Coast Park.
Things to do in Singapore: Getting out into Nature
Hang out on Sentosa Island’s beaches
Don’t let the fake sand and manufactured feel of Sentosa Island’s beaches put you off — they are great places to relax, eat and drink. My favourite is Palawan Beach — I even considered swimming there, until I remembered how polluted the sea around Singapore is.
READ MORE: The Best Beaches in Singapore
Hike at Macritchie Reservoir
Macritchie Reservoir is the perfect place for a jungle walk. You’ll see monkeys, birds and turtles as well as lots of trees. It’s also worth seeking out the Treetop Walk, a slightly scary canopy walkway.
Cycle around Palau Ubin
Another slice of rural paradise, Pulau Ubin is one of the best places in Singapore to explore by bicycle. The views are nice and if you go on a weekday it’ll be really quiet. You can also see some wildlife, including wild boars and monkeys. You’ll have to pass through Changi Village to get to Pulau Ubin – it’s worth having a look around as there is a good beach there and some nice places to eat.
Hike the Southern Ridges
This 10 km urban hike and takes you through many different sections, including parks, bridges and a canopy boardwalk.
Visit East Coast Park
You can ride a bike or walk along the beach-side road at East Coast Park. It’s more of a local spot than the beaches on Sentosa Island and the beach is surprisingly good.
Spot Wildlife at Sungie Buloh Wetland Reserve
This wetland reserve in western Singapore is home to birds, giant monitor lizards and possibly even crocodiles. It’s a nice place to get out into nature while visiting Singapore.
Hike at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Various cycling and hiking trails can be found at what will be one of Singapore’s biggest nature reserves. It’s undergoing repairs at the moment and only a small section is open, and it’s only accessible in the weekends.
Go Island hopping
There are lots of little islands off Singapore and you can explore a few of them on an island hopping trip. Catch the boat from Marina South Pier. The islands are quite nice and it makes for a fun half-day activity in Singapore.
Walk along the Punggol Waterway Park
This riverside walk in north-eastern Singapore is one of the few things on this list that I haven’t done yet, but I’ve heard it’s good.
Hike the green corridor
This old railway corridor used to connect Singapore and Malaysia, but now it’s one of the best places to hike in the city. The Green Corridor is massive but you can easily do small sections.
Visit the wetlands and beach at Pasir Ris Park
The little mangrove swamp at Pasir Ris Park is a good place for a stroll before relaxing at one of Singapore’s best beaches.
Walk around Tampines Eco Green
I used to visit this place quite a lot as I lived just around the corner. It feels like you’re really out in the jungle, and you’ll have it almost all to yourself at certain times of the day (you might see some birds and monitor lizards though).
READ MORE: Tampines: Life in a Singapore Suburb
Go to little Guilin (Bukit Batok Town Park)
Guilin is a city in China surrounded by beautiful limestone mountains. This little park isn’t quite as spectacular as its namesake, but it’s an interesting little piece of nature in Singapore.
Things to do in Singapore: Eating, Drinking and Shopping
Go for drinks at Clarke Quay
A popular hangout for locals, expats and tourists alike, Clarke Quay is a cool place to eat, drink and hang out by the river.
Have a drink at a rooftop bar
There are quite a few rooftop bars in Singapore. 1-Altitude and the bars at Marina Bay Sands have the best city views — they are great places to grab a drink and be surrounded by the glowing lights of Singapore’s skyscrapers
Eat at a hawker centre
Hawker centres are where locals go to eat their favourite Singaporean food, as well as dishes from further afield. Lau Pa Sat is popular with tourists but head out to the suburbs for the best food and the best deals. I lived in Tampines and I still think the hawker centres there are the best in the city.
Visit a mall
Shopping obsessed tourists will find themselves in good company — Singaporeans love to shop! There are dozens of malls, and luckily most have food courts full of local dishes.
Shop at Orchard Road
I hate shopping so I always tried to avoid Orchard Road, but it’s a big magnet for tourists looking to spend some money in Singapore.
Bargain Hunt in Malaysia
If you’re looking for bargains you should consider a day trip to Johor Bahru, the Malaysian city just over the border from Singapore. Everything is cheaper over there, especially electronics.
Eat and Drink at Chijmes
During colonial times this pretty set of historic buildings was a monastery. Now it’s a picturesque place for a meal or a few drinks in downtown Singapore.
It definitely isn’t cheap, but a night out clubbing in Singapore is a lot of fun. I didn’t really go clubbing much in Singapore but I’ve heard that Zouk and Ce La Vi are good.
Things to do in Singapore: Art and Culture
Be creeped out at Haw Par Villa
Singapore’s most bizarre attraction would have to be Haw Par Villa. If you’re searching for unique things to do in Singapore then look no further.
Visit a Museum
There are lots of museums in Singapore — my favourite is the Asian Civilization Museum. This fascinating museum is housed in a grand old colonial building by the Singapore River. It’s worth looking inside, especially if you’re planning on visiting other countries in Asia.
See a concert at the Star Theatre
Singapore’s awesome new music venue is a great place to watch a concert. I saw Tame Impala play there recently and the acoustics were really impressive — it was probably the best sounding concert I’ve ever been to.
Go to an Art Gallery
The National Gallery Singapore opened recently so I haven’t had a chance to visit. It claims to oversee the largest collection of Southeast Asian / Singaporean art (over 8000 pieces). It sounds like it’s a great thing to do in Singapore. Other good art galleries in Singapore include FOST Gallery and Artistry.
See street art at Haji Lane
Singapore isn’t exactly known for its street art, but the area around Haji Lane (in Kampong Glam) does feature some impressive pieces. There are also some cool bars, cafes and restaurants in the area.
Other Things to do in Singapore
Go to a pub quiz at Boat Quay
I used to do this most Tuesday nights at the Prince of Wales and it was a lot of fun — if you’re bored on a Tuesday night why not give it a go.
Watch the Formula 1
If you’re visiting Singapore while the F1 is on (it’s held in September each year) you should consider getting a ticket. I’ve never been but I did once attend the Melbourne Gran Prix which was awesome.
Walk along the Quays
Walking from Robertson Quay to Marina Bay (via Clarke Quay and Boat Quay) is one of the best things to do in Singapore. There is so much to see, including colonial buildings, old shop houses, massive skyscrapers, museums and the languid Singapore River.
Hang out at Changi Airport
Changi is one of the best airports in the world — there is so much to see and do there that it’s actually become a bit of a tourist attraction.
Are these really the best things to do in Singapore? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be affiliates. If you click on them and book something I’ll get a small cut. It really helps me out and it won’t cost you any extra.
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