Between living in Singapore for two years and visiting many times since, I reckon I’m well placed to tell you what a trip to Singapore is really like. It’s a modern city with touches of history and tradition, and the food is some of the best in the world. Whether you’re visiting for a few hours or a few days, this post (and the ones I’ll link to within it) should help you get the most out of your trip to Singapore.
It’s Usually Short
A trip to Singapore is often a stopover on the way to somewhere else. It’s one of the world’s best stopover cities — there’s even a free sightseeing bus from the airport for people transiting through Singapore for between 5.5 – 24 hours.
If you have a day or two you’ll be able to see quite a lot. Stay in the city and walk around the quays (Boat Quay, Clark Quay, Robertson Quay), Gardens by the Bay (best gardens I’ve ever visited) and the streets of downtown Singapore.
Those spending longer in Singapore will find heaps to see and do. It’s worth adding an extra day or two if you can. There’s also lots to do in Singapore with kids, so it could be worth spending longer there than you first thought.
Amazing Food / Cheap Prices
I lived in Singapore for two years and the thing I loved most about it was the food. You’ll find hawker centres and food courts throughout the island — you never have to travel far for food! I lived in Tampines (an east coast suburb) and there were two big hawker centres less than 5-minutes’ walk away, with several more a kilometre or so further. The food is cheap too — delicious local dishes for less than most typical fast food.
If you’re in the city there are heaps of hawker centres to choose from. Popular ones include Maxwell Food Centre and the hawker centre in Chinatown. Some of my favourite local dishes include chicken rice, Hokkien mee, biryani and roti prata and you can also get dishes from all over Asia.
Old Districts of Singapore
Head to Kampong Glam for some of the best street scenes in Singapore. There’s also street art adorning the buildings of the narrow lanes and some great food — it was one of our favourite spots to go for dinner in Singapore.
Chinatown and Little India are also good to explore, and the colonial architecture in the city centre is impressive. It’s great that Singapore has kept lots of its heritage — it mixes in well with all the modern architecture.
READ MORE: Historical Districts of Singapore
A Green City
Singapore is megacity set on a relatively small island, with a population density higher than most cities around the world. You’d expect it’d be a bit of a concrete jungle, and in some ways it is, but it’s also one of the greenest cities I’ve ever been.
Parks, wetlands, beaches and areas of lush forest dot the map in Singapore — you’re never too far from a quiet spot to sit amidst the bustle of the city.
READ MORE: 10 of the Best Walks in Singapore
Getting Around Singapore
If you’re staying in the city centre you’ll be able to walk to most points of interest (assuming you can manage the heat). One of my favourite ways to see Singapore is a walk around the quays / Marina Bay.
The MRT connects most of the island — you’ll most likely ride it from the airport when you arrive. It’s also a good way to explore the inner city, and off the beaten path (for international tourists) spots like East Coast Park and Changi Village.
There’s nightlife for all ages and tastes in Singapore. Head to Gardens by the Bay for an awesome lightshow, hang out in the bars and clubs of Chimes, Clarke Quay and Boat Quay or do the Night Safari at Singapore Zoo.
You’ve also got shopping at Orchard Road, food pretty much anywhere (and cheap beers at the hawker centres). Bugis Street Market is a cool shopping area that’s fun to explore at night, and for something romantic try a boat ride along the Singapore River. Gia and I did that for one of our early dates and we’re still together 10 years later.
Suburbs and Outer Islands
Head to Pulau Ubin, a small island off the East Coast of Singapore, for laid-back bike rides and a look at what the country would have felt like before all the development. Kampong Buangkok is another similar place only close to the city centre.
You can also do an island-hopping trip which takes you to Lazarus Island, St John’s Island and Kusu Island. Then there’s Sentosa Island, with its man-made beaches, resorts and theme park (Universal Studios). If you’re keen to stay outside of the bustling city centre it could be a good option.
Things to Do in Singapore
Check out my post about the best things to do in Singapore — the list has over 30 activities and sights which keep you busy no matter how long you’re staying.
I also wrote a Singapore itinerary — it gives you a detailed rundown of how to spend two days in Singapore (not an hour-hour itinerary though) as well as ideas for a longer stay.
Are you planning a trip to Singapore? What are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments below!
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