10 Epic Experiences in Singapore – Singapore is Asia for beginners! It’s modern, organised, clean and not too big! The perfect place to dip your toes into Asia without getting too wet. Behind the modern facade, however, Singapore has much more to offer than you would expect at first sight. It is a city full of surprises and well worth a visit! Join us today as we explore Singapore’s 10 most epic experiences you cannot miss out on!
10 Epic Experiences in Singapore – Did you know that Singapore is not just one big island, but an entire area consisting of 64 small islands? It is also officially the Greenest City in the world. Apart from the traditional parks in the city, there is also a huge number of roof gardens and skyrise greenery on building facades. Singapore is always at the forefront of groundbreaking inventions to use their limited space in the best and most ecological way possible. Thanks to its innately multicultural society, you can find new fascinating neighbourhoods around every corner. You can experience Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam, the Muslim Quarter, easily in one day, travelling between cultures. If that doesn’t make you want to visit this amazing city-state, I don’t know what will.
One thing needs to be mentioned when planning your Singapore trip – it is not a cheap destination. The local currency is the Singapore Dollar (SGD) which is a strong and stable currency. Accommodation and restaurants are expensive, especially compared to the rest of the region. One of the reasons is that most things have to be imported due to Singapore’s small size. Alcohol is one of those things, so don’t be surprised to pay 10 to 12 USD for a beer. But there is an upside too. Even though you pay premium prices for some things, many of the great must-see attractions in the city are free!
You could not write about Singapore and not mention Changi Airport, which has repeatedly been nominated as one of the best airports worldwide. While the average airport is simply an arrival and departure point, Singapore’s Changi Airport is a tourist destination in itself. The airport has four terminals, each with some outstanding features and experiences. You can find world class shopping and dining outlets located at each of the terminals worthwhile exploring. The latest addition to the airport is the Jewel Changi, the ten-storey nature-themed retail and entertainment complex. The highlight and centrepiece of the complex is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. If you would like to experience all the wonders Changi Airport has to offer, make sure you plan enough time on arrival or departure to go exploring.
#1 – Walk along the Marina
From the Merlion to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel
Singapore is one of the very few Asian cities that is great to walk in. You find generous pedestrian walkways all over the city, while the marina has a whole pedestrian area. For some of the best views of Singapore, take a walk from Clarke Quay around the historic One Fullerton Hotel to the iconic Merlion statue. It’s one of the nicest walks you can do. It’s not too long and you hit some beautiful areas along the bay!
The Merlion is a mythical creature with a lion’s head and a fish body. The fish body symbolises Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village and the city’s Malay name is Singapura, which means lion city. The Merlion is, therefore, Singapore’s mascot and most famous tourist attraction. From the Merlion statue, you have great views over the marina basin and it’s the ideal place to take a selfie with this mystical creature.
Just across the marina from the Merlion lies the Marina Bay Sands hotel, the iconic surfboard-shaped hotel. It’s an easy walk around the basin to the Marina Bay Sands hotel. Next to the hotel is a shopping mall with high-end eateries and designer shops. You have once again a great view over the marina, where you can marvel at the skyscrapers and the colourful shophouses of Clarke Quay in the distance. You can treat yourself to a drink at the Cé La Vi rooftop bar of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel to have an even more amazing view of the city below. Obviously, you also have the chance to stay in one of the rooms of the hotel, just be prepared to pay premium prices for this experience. If you want to give your wallet a break, just treat yourself to a drink or book a table at one of the hotel restaurants!
#2 – Gardens by the Bay – 10 Epic Experiences in Singapore
It’s always amazing how Singapore manages to implement so much nature in this concrete jungle. The Gardens by the Bay is yet another popular tourist attraction showcasing the importance of nature in Singapore. It’s an enormous nature park spanning an area of 101 hectares in the central district. Situated right behind the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the gardens are easy to reach and should be on your itinerary. It’s a sanctuary for nature lovers and a great escape from the busy urban life in the city. The probably most iconic sights of the Gardens by the Bay are the gigantic 50-metre tall artificial trees you can see from a distance. Known as the Supertree Grove, the trees are connected by a skywalk offering visitors the best views over the Gardens. At night the Supertrees are part of a breathtaking light show you shouldn’t miss out on. Apart from the Supertree Grove with its skywalk, you should also visit the impressive indoor areas, called the Cloud Forest, the Flower Dome and the Floral Fantasy! You don’t need to be a Horticulturalist to enjoy a walk in this stunning garden landscape.
#3 – Take a Boat Cruise from Clarke Quay
We stay in the marina area for yet another highlight – Clarke Quay! There is no way you can visit Singapore and not walk around the Clarke Quay area. This historical riverside quay along the Singapore River used to be the city’s main trading point in the late 19th century. Back then, hundreds of so-called bumboats came to the quay to deliver goods to the city. Meanwhile, the bumboats have been long relocated, Clarke Quay is still a hive of activity today. The beautifully restored, colourful warehouses along the river are home to restaurants, bars and retail shops
A great way to explore the area from a different angle is by taking a boat cruise on the Singapore River into the marina basin. The cruises take place in the traditional bumboat to see the most impressive sights of the city. There are several boat operators, all starting from Clarke Quay. It’s a fantastic and convenient way to Singapore from the water without having to walk. Afterwards, enjoy a few drinks or a meal in one of the many restaurants at Clarke Quay. It’s definitely worth it!
#4 – Kampong Glam – Arab Street & Haji Lane – 10 Epic Experiences in Singapore
Kampong Glam is one of the oldest and most fascinating neighbourhoods in Singapore. During the colonial era, Sir Stamford Raffles allocated this area to the Malay and Arab communities. Today, this colourful neighbourhood is a fascinating combination of rich history and a trendy modern lifestyle. Many of the old shophouses have been turned into hip shops, cafes and restaurants. However, where ever you turn you still find important remnants of Muslim culture and heritage. It’s yet another great area to take a walk around to get a feel for everyday life here as well as to see some sights like the famous golden-domed Sultan Mosque. Visit the close-by Malay Heritage Centre, home to an interesting exhibition where you can learn more about the history of the neighbourhood.
The two best-known streets in the Kampong Glam neighbourhood are Arab Street and Haji Lane. Arab Street is one of the main roads in the area with many traditional shops and restaurants. Haji Lane is definitely a Must-Visit spot in the area with beautiful clothing boutiques, street art, trendy cafes and restaurants. It’s a great place to do a little high-end shopping followed by a nice meal or some drinks.
#5 – Have a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel – 10 Epic Experiences in Singapore
While in the area, you might as well pop into the famous Raffles Hotel for their Singapore Sling! This beautiful and historic hotel is the place where this well-known cocktail has been invented! The hotel first opened its doors in 1887 and was built by the Sarkies brothers, who were the architects of several stunning luxury hotels in the region. The Raffles Hotel, however, became the crown jewel in their portfolio. It is a grand building and the epitome of the colonial era. Over the past few years, the hotel has undergone a major renovation and shines now in new splendour.
Similar to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, you will have to fork out quite a bit of cash if you want to stay at the Raffles Hotel. If your wallet doesn’t allow for a stay, don’t worry – you can still enjoy the elegance and charm of the hotel over a meal or a cocktail. Enjoy North Indian cuisine in a stunning colonial ambience at the Tiffin Room. The food here is served in the typical Indian tiffin boxes while you get an interactive dining experience with tableside service by the chefs. The famous Long Bar is the birthplace of the Singapore Sling cocktail, a beautiful place to spend a few hours and take in the atmosphere. Sitting here, you wouldn’t be surprised to see people like Ernest Hemingway walk past your table. But I guess, it depends on how many Singapore Slings you had!
The best way to get around Singapore is by MRT – the Mass Rapid Transit subway system. Fares are cheap and the network is easy to navigate. It’s the perfect mode of transport to get from one neighbourhood to the next. Once you are in your desired neighborhood, walking is the best way to get around to see as much as possible. Make sure you bring some comfortable walking shoes! If you had enough of walking and public transport, treat yourself to a taxi. The flag down fares start from about 3.20 SGD (about 2 EUR or 2.40 USD) and then it’s roughly just under 1 SGD per km, depending on the taxi company. Overall, Singapore is an easy place to get around if you are prepared to do a bit of walking!
#6 – Visit Little India – 10 Epic Experiences in Singapore
One of the most vibrant and exciting neighbourhoods in Singapore is Little India . Originally home to the racecourse, this area attracted many Europeans immigrants. A few years on, Indian traders moved into the area for the cattle trade. Over the years, mosques and Hindu temples were built while primarily Indian businesses took hold in the area. Today, Little India is a hive of activity, with typical Indian sights, smells and sounds, sending you straight into the streets of Mumbai. Shops, restaurants and little fruit and vegetable markets sit closely side by side. It’s an eclectic mix of people and businesses, where you find traditional flower garland vendors next to cellphone shops. It’s a fabulous place to walk around and take in the atmosphere. Make sure to try as many of the typical Indian dishes as you can. From South Indian fish and vegetarian dishes to hearty North Indian tandoori dishes, you find anything in the streets of Little India. It’s a great place to explore and so different from the modern, polished central district.
#7 – Explore Chinatown – 10 Epic Experiences in Singapore
Another neighborhood you shouldn’t miss out on while visiting Singapore is Chinatown. The area offers a plethora of exciting things to discover. Traditional Chinese temples and ancient shophouses stand side by side with modern boutiques and creative street art, capturing the soul of this exciting neighbourhood. Make sure to explore Chinatown Food Street with its hundreds of restaurants and food stalls, offering any dish the Chinese cuisine has ever invented. It is also the best place to go shopping outside the many modern shopping malls. It is the best place to look for souvenirs, crafts and antiques or to have a browse through some hip boutique stores.
While you find quite a few Chinese temples in Little India, Chinatown is home to some important Hindu cultural institutions. Make sure to visit the Sri Mariamman Temple and the impressive Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum while you are in the area. It’s yet again a fantastic neighbourhood to explore on foot, taking in the atmosphere and stumbling across some great finds!
#8 – Drinks at Ann Siang Hill and Club Street
Once you have eaten your way through the traditional Chinese delicacies it’s time to relax in trendy Ann Siang Hill and Club Street. Located smack bang in Chinatown, Ann Siang Hill turns into Club Street. This beautiful street is lined with beautiful old houses turned into trendy bars, restaurants and art galleries. If you love your wine, it’s the best place to find some cute little wine bars to enjoy a glass or share a bottle with some friends while winding down from all your sightseeing. It’s a popular hang-out area for ex-pats to spend their weekends. As mentioned, alcohol isn’t cheap in Singapore so make sure you plan your budget for a little Club Street fun!
#9 – Eat at a Hawker Centre – 10 Epic Experiences in Singapore
Nothing is more typical Singaporean than eating at a Hawker Centre. The city-state is a multicultural mix of Chinese, Malay and Indian backgrounds, which is most obviously reflected in Singaporean food. Typical hawker centre dishes are Hainanese chicken rice, Nasi Lemak and Roti Prata – to name just a few – that you should try while visiting the city.
Throughout the city, you find hawker centres in every neighbourhood. Usually an open-air food court with cheap yet tasty typical Singaporean dishes on offer. The stalls are lined up next to each other with a big communal seating area in the middle. You choose your favourite dish and then sit down anywhere you find space. The best is, hawker centres are popular with everyone! CEO’s of big businesses rub shoulders here with hotel cleaning staff or garbage truck drivers. Apart from the delicious and cheap food here it also gives you a good idea about Singaporean society. Make sure to experience a meal at a hawker centre at least once while visiting Singapore.
#10 – Singapore Botanic Gardens & Shopping at Orchard Road – 10 Epic Experiences in Singapore
Last but not least – if you are looking for some retail therapy, the best shopping experiences can be found on Singapore’s Orchard Road. This 2.5 km long road consists of modern shopping complexes with all well-known international brands. Wide tree-lined pavements take you from one shopping centre to the next, ending at the beautiful Singapore Botanic Gardens! If you want to make a day of it, start with a visit to the Gardens and move then on to shopping at Orchard Road. After all, you don’t want to carry your shopping bags through the park, do you?!
The Singapore Botanic Gardens were set up by no other than Sir Stamford Raffles and is since 2015 a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entrance is free and it’s a nature lovers paradise. Escape the busy city for a while and explore the different areas of the Botanic Gardens.
Ihope you got excited about a visit to Singapore. It really is an intriguing and exciting place with a lot to discover for its small size! Singapore really mastered the art to preserve and restore history, culture and heritage in a modern way. The city has much more depth than what Singapore often gets credited for. It is also a place of invention and ingenuity, a place where new ideas are welcome and you can see them come to fruition.
Being such a comparatively young country with so many cultural backgrounds, society seems to be refreshingly egalitarian. Even though there are gaps in income, Singapore is still a wealthy country without too many big gaps in society. No matter where you are from or what your background is, everyone eats together at the hawker centre. The different cultures, the exciting neighbourhoods and the huge array of delicious food is what makes Singapore tick! An amazing place to visit, for sure!
If you don’t want to rush through the city you should spend 4-5 days here. This leaves enough time to see most highlights at a relaxed pace, leaving so space to take a break in between. As an experienced slow traveller, you know what to do! The tropical climate can be quite exhausting on its own, so plan your day with a few hours to relax. There is nothing worse than packing too much into your itinerary, feeling exhausted and overwhelmed when you were supposed to have a good time!
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