Singapore, also known as the Lion city, is not a big country, but it is definitely a colorful and enjoyable travel destination. What are the top things to do on a Singapore trip? Read on to know what you should not overlook in Singapore.
1. Take a Picture with the World Famous Merlion
The Merlion (a mythical-lion headed, fish-tailed creature) is the symbol of Singapore and where the city’s name comes from. In Sanskrit, Singapore translates as ‘Lion City’. The 8.5-meter (28-foot) Merlion statue is always a must-see for a (first) Singapore trip.
Merlion Park is by the famous Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade, a 3.5-km (2-mile) bay-side walkway offering excellent views of Marina Bay.
Besides Merlion Park, you can see “Wonder Full”, Helix Bridge, the Singapore Flyer (a tall ferris wheel), and ArtScience Museum when strolling along Marina Bay. “Wonder Full” is the largest light and water show in Southeast Asia and is best seen at night. You should not miss the beautiful fireworks show over Marina Bay if you visit Singapore for Chinese New Year.
2. Travel all Over Singapore on an Amphibious Duck Tour
If this is your first time to Singapore, you must try a one-hour DUCKtour, during which you can see many landmark buildings of Singapore in one go and learn about the general history and culture of Singapore from the guide's commentary.
If you travel with kids to Singapore, you should not miss the duck tour — the boats are refurbished amphibious vehicles used in the Vietnam War and remodeled into lovely duck shapes, which are popular with kids. Contact us for a family trip to Singapore.
You will have a 30-minute land tour to see Capitol Building, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Esplanade — Theatres on the Bay, and Raffles Hotel (Singapore's oldest hotel), and then have another 30 minutes on the water to see the Singapore Flyer, Garden by the Bay, and Merlion Park. It is a quirky and interest-packed sea-and-land experience.
3. Get Yourself Lost in the Cloud Forest
Covering an area of 1 square kilometer (0.4 square miles), a little smaller than Hyde Park in London, Gardens by the Bay is a super modern garden located in the center of Singapore. The Park is divided into three parts: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden, and Bay Central Garden connecting the South and East.
In Gardens by the Bay, you can see more than 250,000 exotic flowers and plants in world’s largest greenhouse, Flower Dome; or you could see a tall indoor waterfall (about 30 meters high) and lose yourself in Cloud Forest. The misty spray from the waterfall can make you feel like you are in a fairyland surrounded by clouds.
The waterfall operating times in the Cloud Forest (for the magical spray) are 10 a.m. and 12, 2, 4, 6, and 8 p.m. every day.
The indoor temperature of cloud forest is kept at between 23 and 25 °C (73–77°F). It might feel cool (compared to Singapore’s usual tropical heat), so it is recommended to bring a thin coat.
4. Immerse Yourself in Chinese Culture in Chinatown
Chinatown is the most concentrated area of Singaporean Chinese people with traditional Chinese snacks, various hawkers, century-old shops, modern shopping malls, art galleries, and specialty hotels.
The night market in Chinatown is brightly lit, a bit like a Chinese temple fair. There you can fully experience Chinese traditional culture and customs. When dusk falls, it becomes the Chinatown Food Street where vehicles are not allowed and you can feast on various foods and snacks.
Besides food hunting, you can stay for a while at the Chinatown Heritage Centre to learn more about the history and culture of the area and explore the life of the earliest Chinese immigrants in Singapore.
In addition, there are also some famous religious landmarks such as Sri Mariamman Temple, Jamae Mosque (Singapore’s oldest pilgrimage site), and the magnificent Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, where the precious Buddha’s tooth relics are enshrined. If you are interested in such things, you should not miss them when you tour Singapore.
5. Shop Freely at Singapore’s Fifth Avenue —Orchard Road
Singapore is one of the world’s famous shopping paradises, and Orchard Road is “the Fifth Avenue of Singapore”. There are all kinds of shopping centers, and all the world brands you know can be found there.
It is a 2.2-kilometer (1.4-mile) long street, housing ION Orchard (lifestyle + fashion), NgeeAnn City (brand-name mall), Centrepoint (“a food haven” [TA]), DelfiOrchard (boutique mall), FarEastPlaza (trendy fashion), DUTY FREE SHOP (T Galleria by DFS)…
It is a high level one-stop shopping experience center, including various restaurants and luxury hotels. If you go during The Great Singapore Sale (from mid-June to July), you can get what you want at a big discount.
After shopping, you could go to The Grande Whisky Collection on the fifth floor of ION Orchard Shopping Center to see a wide range of aged and rare whiskies, and/or go to ION Art Gallery to enjoy progressive visual art. Every Christmas, Orchard Road will have a big celebration, which is very lively.
6. Feel the Colorfulness of India in Little India
Little India is the gathering place of the Indian ethnic groups in Singapore. It is like a microcosm of India. Once you enter Little India, strong curry flavors and all kinds of spicy aromas will compete to occupy your sense of smell.
The colorful buildings, doors, and windows and the bright India-theme graffiti will impact your vision. Indian-style garlands, Indian women in various saris, and small Indian-style grocery stores will make you feel as if you are already in India. During Deepavali (Diwali, usually in November) and Pongal (mid-January) Little India will be decorated up into a splendid Hindu-centric world.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Singapore and a unique landmark in Little India. The most famous shopping mall in Little India is Mustafa Center, which is well-known throughout Singapore for its 24-hour operation, high quality, and low prices, and comprehensive variety. Tekka Centre there is Singapore’s largest indoor “wet market”. There is also Qiandeng Temple in Little India, which was built by a Thai monk is and famous for its 15-meter (50-foot) tall Buddha statue.
Haji Lane, about 1,000 meters (1,100 yards) from Little India, is one of the best places to visit in Singapore for street art.
7. Walk into Kampong Glam to experience Islamic Culture
Kampong Glam is a vibrant Muslim neighborhood that combines profound historical culture and modern fashion.
The Sultan Mosque, located on Muscat Street, is an iconic building in Kampong Glam, with an onion-shaped golden dome and a huge prayer hall. Sultan Mosque is the largest mosque in Singapore. If you want to learn more about the history of Kampong Glam, you can go to the Malay Heritage Centre, which was a Malay palace.
Haji Lane is a famous alley in the Kampong Glam area. In this trendy alley, there are more than 20 local designer brands, emerging fashion boutiques, and rare shops, which are very popular among young people.
In addition, Kampong Glam is also a paradise for food lovers. You can taste traditional Singaporean cuisine and various Middle-Eastern cuisines there. If you come during Ramadan, you will find food stalls and cultural performances everywhere, and it is livelier at night.
8. Have a Visual Feast in National Gallery Singapore
Housing more than 8,000 works, National Gallery Singapore is the newest and largest modern art museum in Southeast Asia. National Gallery was formed from two converted representative historical buildings: the former Singapore Government Building and the Supreme Court.
Singapore’s first art education center — Keppel Centre for Art Education — is also located in the National Gallery, which brings a unique artistic experience for family and kids.
In addition to viewing a dazzling array of fine arts and art exhibitions, you can also taste the delicious food of Singapore and Southeast Asia at the restaurants in the museum.
9. Experience the Charm of Lion City’s Night in Clarke Quay
Located on the north bank of the Singapore River, Clarke Quay is an old pier in Singapore, named after Sir Andrew Clark, the second Governor of Singapore. It has now been transformed into a new gathering place for food and entertainment in Singapore, with restaurants, shopping malls, and entertainment facilities.
You can also take a boat tour to see Singapore from Clarke Quay. The charm of Clarke Quay is best seen after nightfall, when the colorful little houses are reflected in various lights, making the whole pier transform into a grand party scene. Crazy Elephant, The Pump Room, and Clarke Quay Satay Club are the popular night bars there and stars of the night life of Singapore!
The wharf becomes a flea market on Sundays. There are more than 70 stalls selling antiques and art, and you can always buy something interesting there.
10. Ascend into the Sky on the Singapore Flyer
With a height of 165 meters (540 feet), which is equivalent to a 42-story building, the Singapore Flyer was the world's tallest observation wheel between 2008 and 2014. The Flyer has 28 cabins, and the ride is about 30 minutes per revolution. Visitors can enjoy a panoramic view in the sky, admire the iconic buildings of Singapore’s Marina Bay, and even view the neighboring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia if the weather is good.
Have you ever thought of having a dinner in the sky? You can do it in the Singapore Flyer, with tasty wine and food on offer in the evening, accompanied by the stunning night views of the city.
11. Walk on the Treetops at MacRitchie Reservoir
Built in 1868, MacRitchie Reservoir is the oldest reservoir in Singapore. Adjacent to a large area of dense primitive forest, there is a famous walking route with a total length of about 12 kilometers (7 miles). MacRitchie Reservoir is a paradise for runners and hikers.
Starting from Venus Drive Carpark, you can enjoy a challenge on the treetop walk, which is 25 meters high and 250 meters long and passes through the Jelutong Tower. You may encounter monkeys, various birds, and tropical plants at any time along the way. If you are not up for a long hike, you could just stroll on the wooden boardwalk trail along the lake to appreciate the beautiful lake views.
12. Watch the Birds in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, covering an area of about 87 hectares (215 acres), is the only protected Swamp Nature Park in Singapore. In 2003, the reserve was listed as an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Heritage Park.
There are more than 500 species of tropical animals and plants, but it is especially famous for its large mangroves, lizards, and migratory birds. From September to March, many migratory birds pass through the wetland park. These are the best months for bird watching on the wetland. In the reserve, you can walk on the boardwalks to see the mangroves and observe the animals from the viewing platforms all over the park from a distance. You do not need to worry that the wildlife will be disturbed. Watch out, though! There are really crocodiles there!
13. Say Good Night to the Wild Animals on the World’s First Night Safari
Singapore Night Safari is the world's first safari park dedicated to nocturnal animals. More than 2,500 animals live in the park. From the rugged foothills of the Himalayas to the swampy banks of the forests of the SE Asia’s Rivers, you can take a tour bus to shuttle through seven different geographic regions of the world.
You can also hike on the winding walking trails of the rainforest, and have close encounters with leopards, fishing cats, Malay flying foxes, sand kangaroos, etc., on a safari adventurer tour. In addition to animal adventures, the Creatures of the Night Show and the fire breathing show performed by the indigenous tribes of Borneo should not be missed.
1. The opening hours of the night park are from 7:15 p.m. to midnight. The tour bus departing times are: 7:15, 8:15, 9:15, and 10:15. The Creatures of the Night Show times are: 8:00, 9:00, and 10:00.
2. You are not allowed to use flash photography in the park.
14. Find Your Favorite Orchid in Singapore Botanical Gardens
Covering an area of 74 hectares (183 acres), Singapore Botanical Gardens contain 12 themed gardens and 3 lakes. The garden was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015, and it is the first and only tropical botanical garden listed on the World Heritage list.
National Orchid Garden, with more than 3,000 varieties and more than 60,000 rare orchids, is the most distinctive and attractive garden in Singapore Botanical Gardens.
Open air concerts are held at Symphony Lake from time to time, so if you are lucky (or timed your visit to coincide), you could enjoy a concert. If you travel with your kids, you should not miss the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden.
15. Drink a Singapore Sling in Raffles Hotel
Officially opened on December 1, 1887 and named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, Raffles Hotel is one of the oldest buildings in Singapore. It is known as the epitome of Singapore's colonial history and one of the greatest hotels of the 19th century in the world.
It was once a place of inspiration for many famous writers and movie stars. Many cultural celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, British novelist Rudyard Kipling, and Michael Jackson have stayed at Raffles Hotel.
You can take a stroll in the open-air garden of the hotel, revisit the hotel’s past in the hotel museum, or watch a drama in its Victorian-style theater (Jubilee Hall). The famous Singapore commander cocktail was also born in Raffles Hotel. Don't forget to take a sip.
16. Take an Island Adventure in Sentosa
Sentosa, a highlight of the south of Singapore, is a resort island integrating theme parks, tropical resorts, natural parks, and cultural centers. Sentosa is taken from the Malay Sanskrit santosha, which means ‘peace’ and ‘ease’. You can reach this peaceful and easygoing island from Singapore city by bus, taxi, or subway in about 10–15 minutes.
In Sentosa, you can walk into Universal Studios Singapore to enjoy a glorious movie world; encounter marine life at SEA Aquarium, the world’s largest aquarium; challenge yourself at Adventure Cove Waterpark, or gamble with your luck at the 24-hour casino.
Strolling on the beach is always a great way to relax. Sentosa’s sandy beaches stretch for 3.2 kilometers (2.0 miles) and are divided into Palawan Beach, Siloso Beach, and Tanjong Beach.
The most fascinating attraction of Palawan Beach is the suspension bridge, which connects with a small island across the sea of Palawan. The other end of the suspension bridge leads to the southernmost point and the closest point to the equator on the Asian continent.
You can also climb to the Tiger Sky Tower, Singapore’s tallest viewing tower, and look out on the spectacular scenery of Sentosa Island and its surrounding islands.
Sentosa is a small but busy island, so a one-or-two-night stay is recommended. Generally, we recommend staying in the Resorts World district, because it is more convenient for attractions and restaurants. Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Hotel Michael Hotel, and Festival Hotel are always good options.
17. Have a Unique Airport Transit Experience in the World’s Most Beautiful Airport
Located in front of Singapore Changi Airport's Terminal 1, Jewel Changi is a multi-function building that gathers aviation facilities, shopping and leisure, accommodation and dining, amusement projects, and landscaped gardens.
Changi Airport is known as the world’s most beautiful airport. The most eye-catching thing about Jewel Changi is the 40-meter (130-foot) tall Rain Vortex, which is the highest indoor waterfall in the world, creating an indoor rainforest wonder. You can see the water of the Rain Vortex dance every night with the sound-and-light show. You can also stroll in the forest valley amongst various plants and flowers from all over the world.
Besides, there are so many fun facilities in Jewel Changi, and it is really a great place for everyone to enjoy their stopover time. You can jump into the 25-meter-high (80-foot-high) sky net for an experience like flying, as if walking through the clouds. You can challenge yourself in Singapore’s largest hedge maze and mirror maze; and you can also walk on the 23-meter-high (75-foot-high) sky bridge to watch the rain vortex, as if hiking in a tropical rainforest.
Jewel Changi is seamlessly connected to Changi Airport’s Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and you can easily travel between the terminals on foot or by taking the elevated light rail train. It is very convenient, allowing you to enjoy a worry-free wait for your flight, while dining, shopping, relaxing, and having fun. Whether you are visiting Singapore or transiting, Jewel Changi should be an essential stop for you!
18. Camp in the Last Village of Singapore — Palau Ubin
About a 15-minute boat trip from Changi Point Ferry Terminal, Pulau Ubin, the third largest outer island of Singapore is mainly composed of granite, hence it is called ‘Stone Mountain’. On Palau Ubin, you can rent a bike to cycle around the island, join a kayaking trip to explore the mangroves, or go for a walk to discover the different creatures in Chek Jawa wetlands.
There are also many camping areas on the island. Camping a night on this idyllic island is highly recommended.
19. Hunt Food in Singapore’s Most Charming Food Court — Lau Pa Sat
Built in 1894, Lau Pa Sat is the largest existing Victorian Cast Iron building in Southeast Asia, and it has been listed as a part of Singapore’s national historical culture. Lau Pa Sat was originally a wet market, and now it has become a famous food paradise — from satay to seafood barbecue, you can taste all kinds of Singapore snacks there.
As a bonus, it is open 24 hours every day. No matter when you come, you can find the delicious food you want.
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Singapore is a small country, but a modern metropolis. In addition to the top 19 things to do listed above, Singapore has many other attractions worth visiting, such as the botanical garden, Singapore Zoo, and Sungci Buloh Wetland Reserve. See more of Singapore with Asia Highlights and let us customize a special trip for you according to your requirements.
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