Sometimes it’s hardest to write about a place when you know it too well. Perhaps that’s why it’s taken us so long to pen a guide to Singapore. I spent 8 years studying and working in Singapore and Savi would visit me for entire months at the time. As a result, both of us know Singapore really well.
Last month, we chose to return to Singapore on a whim – just to catch up with old friends and go eat at some of my favourite restaurants in Singapore. This impromptu decision was one of the best we’ve taken in a while. We had a whale of a time and here we are finally compiling a list of our favourite things to see and do in Singapore.
Getting around in Singapore
It’s easy to get around Singapore because public transport is seamless. People queue up politely, everything is regulated and there is no scope for bargaining or getting scammed. Upon exiting the airport, you will see a queue for cabs. Just wait your turn and take a cab to your hotel.
You can use the MRT, buses, or cabs to get around within Singapore. Cabs are plentiful and cheap but MRT can be the faster option sometimes because peak-hour traffic jams are common in Singapore.
Accommodation on your trip to Singapore
There is no dearth of accommodation to suit all budgets in Singapore. We’d suggest staying in a centrally-located hotel, close to Orchard Street.
If you prefer mid-range hotels, then Hotel Jen Tanglin is a great option. The hip hotel is located in a quiet street just minutes away from Orchard Road. The entire vibe is upbeat, youthful, and luxurious with walls adorned with bikes and an independent cafe at the entrance. Expect well-equipped rooms with colourful wall art. The breakfast buffet is expansive and has everything from local delicacies to continental cold cuts and cheeses. One thing is for sure – you will be well fed when you leave for sightseeing
If you prefer luxury hotels on holiday or you’re travelling with kids, then we’d recommend Shangri-La Singapore. The sprawling hotel has an entire wing, dotted with gardens and pools, that is ideal for families. The Garden Wing has a resort feel to it, so it offers the perfect escape from the skyscrapers and malls of Singapore. It also boasts of a gorgeous dome of orchids, which was one of my favourite corners in the hotel.
But if you, like us, prefer privacy or classic luxury, we’d suggest booking a room in the the classic Tower Wing. Rooms are extremely spacious and come equipped with indulgent L’occitane toileteries. We’ve stayed at a number of Shangri-La hotels around the world, but their Chi Spa is a definite highlight every single time. Heated beds, luxurious massage oils, and a menu full of revitalising treatments for individuals and couples has ensured Chi Spa a firm spot in my list of favourite spas from around the world.
Things To Do In Singapore
There are plenty of things to do in Singapore. Try to pick ones that suit your preferences best instead of cramming your itinerary. Here are a few suggestions:
- While Gardens By The Bay might be one of the clichéd attractions in Singapore, it is worth every bit of the hype. Visit in time for the sound and light show at night.
- Spend an afternoon by Kampung Glam and Arab Street to acquaint yourself with the multi-cultural fabric of Singapore
- If you really enjoy acquainting yourself with the culture and history of places, then a visit to Singapore’s vibrant China Town must be on your itinerary.
- If you want a bit of peace and quiet, head out of the city to the Chinese and Japanese Gardens. The parks are almost empty on a weekday and provide the perfect respite from the chaos of Singapore.
- Escape to the beaches of Sentosa Island for a day. There are a number of family-friendly restaurants and bars that make for an ideal day out by the water. If you have a day or two at hand, you could even stay overnight
- Visit one of Singapore’s iconic parks. While Merlion Park is the most popular one, we like East Coast Park and its array of sea-food eateries
- If you enjoy museums, you must visit the Art & Science Museum in Singapore
- If you’re travelling with kids, look up the Night Safari and River Safari.
- You could also go for a day trip to Batam or Bintan islands in Indonesia. A number of tour operators offer this convenient day trip but you can use the public ferries and easily plan this trip on your own too
- If you enjoy photography, then you’ll love the pastel pink Redhill MRT Station, Singapore Botanic Gardens, and traditional houses at Emerald Hill Singapore.
- Watch the sun set over Singapore’s skyline – you can walk around in the Marina Bay area and you’ll chance upon plenty of vantage points to enjoy fiery sunsets and Singapore’s towering skyline.
Shopping In Singapore
No article on Singapore would be complete without a write-up on shopping in Singapore. It is one of the primary attractions of a visit to the country and akin to a religion that binds the country. There are endless shopping malls and markets in Singapore but here are a couple of our favourites
- Ion Orchard Mall and Paragon shopping centre are ideal choices if you want a variety of high-street brands such as Zara, Mango, Warehouse, H&M etc and designer brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Dior under one roof
- The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands is perfect for a spot of luxurious and designer shopping
- Lucky Plaza and Far East Plaza are ideal if you want to do a bit of cheap shopping but not venture out of Orchard Road. You will find plenty of clothes, accessories, shoes, and tech gear here. Make sure to bargain.
- Another area with some great shopping opportunities is Bugis. It offers a mix of street-side shopping, malls, and independent boutiques and you’re sure to find something that tickles your fancy
Dining In Singapore
If there is one thing that trumps the shopping opportunities in Singapore, it is the dining opportunities. The country boasts of some scrumptious street food, heavily influenced by Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian flavours. You must try traditional dishes like hainanese chicken rice, prata (fried and stuffed flatbreads served with a curry), teh tarik (tea made with condensed milk), claypot rice, noodle soups, and Singapore laksa when you are there. The best way to try out these dishes are local food courts scattered throughout the city. You will find these food courts in most malls and shopping complexes. Walk around and take your pick. But that’s not all. Here are some more suggestions for memorable meals in Singapore:
- Lau Pa Sat – this iconic street food market amongst both locals and expats. Drop by for some chilled Tiger beer and grilled meats. Lau Pa Sat is famous for its satays but we find them quite tasteless and mediocre at best. Instead try the noodle soups and chicken rice for a filling meal.
- Seafood Buffet at J65, Jen Tanglin – if you enjoy your seafood, then you must reserve a place at the popular seafood buffet at J65. From lobsters and crabs to sushi and fried fish, you’ll find it all here. And it’s cooked to perfection. There is even a live counter where you can request the chef to customise dishes for you.
- Tim Ho Wan – the legendary eatery has the approval of both food critics and restaurant goes. If you like dumplings, you must pay a visit to the iconic Tim Ho Wan. The ambience isn’t the best and service can be hit or miss, but the food is great and it’s easy on the pocket too.
- Arab Street – Spend an evening sipping beer or coffee at an outdoor bar at one of the hippest neighbourhoods in Singapore. You could choose to visit a traditional establishment like Kampong Glam Cafe or someplace more more such as BluJaz Cafe
- If you want to catch up with friends over a drink or two, hit one of Singapore’s rooftop bars that offer great views of the skyline. 1-Altitude is the highest rooftop bar and extremely popular. But it is by no means the only one. There are many other great options such as the luxurious Ce La Vi, New Asia Bar, and LeVel 33 (great beers!)
- Try out a Michelin starred eatery. Singapore has several acclaimed eateries and is one of the rare places where you can get a Michelin starred meal for less than $5. 2 hawkers with a Michelin Star each are Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle and Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle. If you’re in Singapore for a special occasion or enjoy fine dining, then you must try contemporary French cuisine at Joel Robuchon Restaurant or Oddette; Peranakan and Malay cuisine at Candlenut; and Chinese cuisine at Crystal Jade Golden Palace. Book in advance as it is quite hard to secure tables at most of these restaurants.
Hope you enjoy our suggestions for Singapore and have an amazing time on your next trip to this little island nation. If you have a question or any suggestions, leave them down below 🙂 You could combine a trip to Singapore with a trip to Malaysia as well!