13 BEST THINGS TO DO IN SINGAPORE
Singapore is without any doubts the most developed, urbanized country in Asia, if not in the world! I have stayed there for 4 days, which appeared to be not enough to fully discover this unique country-city.
UPDATE: I came back the second time to discover more of this amazing city!
Continue reading if you want to know more about the best spots to visit while in Singapore as well as how to save significant sums of money on sightseeing and restaurants in Singapore.
Here you go, my TOP 9 13 things to do in Singapore:
1. SUPERTREE GROVE LIGHT SHOW
SuperTree Grove Light Show is just WOW, seriously! I cannot even describe it properly, but I felt like I stepped in some kind of fairy tale.
The Garden Rhapsody is a show (more like something from outer space) that is held in Gardens by the Bay every evening. The futuristic looking trees/mushrooms are lighted up in different ways together with the music. Every detail is perfectly tuned to create an atmosphere that will give you a fantastic feeling of wonder and stimulate your mind!
Even if it is your 2nd-3rd-4th time to Singapore, do come back to see the show as they change the program pretty often. The first time I went there was popular European music and when I came back 2 years later, it was completely different – Chinese songs. But still the same spectacular!
I think everyone should see it, it really went beyond my expectation and imagination. It is my dream to take my parents there now!
TIP: The show runs twice a day: at 7:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. and it takes around 15 minutes. Make sure to come a bit in advance, so that you take the coolest spot! (Please check the link above for the updated schedule, sometimes they change the hour).
By the way, all the outdoors shows are all free in Singapore, for example like the next one:
2. WONDER FULL LIGHT AND WATER SHOW
One other great free show that is a must do in Singapore – the Wander Full Light and Water Show.
The show is a choreography between singing fountains and projections on their splashes. There are bubbles everywhere and this holiday atmosphere goes on everyday – don’t miss it while in Singapore!
Sunday – Thursday: 8:00pm, 9:00pm
Friday & Saturday: 8:00pm, 9:00pm, 10:00pm
NOTE: the time of the show might change, please double check here before going
The best location to see the Marina Bay Sands show is on the left if you are facing the Louis Vuitton store. Another way to explain it – just go outside from the main exit of the Marina Bay Sands shopping mall and you will be in the center of the show!
PRO TIP: Did you already see the timings of both shows? You can easily plan it that way that you can see both shows in 1 day (if you need to). It is about 12-15 minutes to walk between Wonder Full and Super Tree Grove. Just follow the signs!
3. THE CLOUD FOREST
Ever wondered how concrete jungles might look like? I mean real jungles built on concrete!
The Singaporeans have created a whole new concept with planted walls, artificial waterfalls – somethings absolutely surreal!
You can learn about rare plants, take some great pictures, enjoy a magnificent view from to the Marina Bay Sands and just walk around this mysterious world built by man. It also features a 35-meter hill (on the picture above) covered in lush vegetation, it is also the world’s tallest indoor waterfall!
The entrance prices are here or on this picture:
Is it worth it to go to the Flower Dome? My friends told me “Not really”, so I skipped it.
PRO TIP: Make sure to have at least 1,5 hours of your spare time, and bring a jacket, as it is quite chilly and moist
inside the conservation area.
UPDATE: I have noticed that most of the times tickets are ~3 USD cheaper here than on the official website. Try it out! 😉
4. SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS
I love parks and that includes botanical gardens. I think I went to one almost in each country I visited!
The one in Singapore is such a beautiful park. You can wander on its alleys and get lost. It feels modern, fresh and ordered. Then, out of nowhere you can just wake up with a huge water monitor lizard in front of you.
The entrance to the Botanic garden is free of charge, but I also do recommend visiting National Orchid Garden (S$5). Unless you are some kind of Orchid expert, you will discover a gazillion new types of orchids which offer a sweet synthesis of visual beauty and matching fragrance.
Various types of orchids are presented, many colors around, great photo opportunities, we took hundreds of beautiful pictures!
It is inside the Botanic garden, but it has a separate entrance.
5. SINGAPORE ZOO
The Zoo is one of the top attractions in Singapore.
You can see otters, pygmy hippos, giant crocodiles, lions, zebras, rhinoceroses, orangutans and many many other animals
There are 4 options to choose from.
- Singapore Zoo – see more than 2 800 animals representing over 300 species of mammals, birds and reptiles.
- Jurong Birds Park – 5 000 birds across 400 species, it is ome of the largest free-flying aviaries in the world.
- Night Safari – see over 1 000 animals in their naturalistic nighttime habitats.
- River Safari – one of the world’s largest collections of freshwater fauna, more than 6 000 animals including 40 threatened species.
You can do all of them if you have time, or you can choose the ones that look more interesting for you. I went for a classic option (just the Zoo), but I’ve heard the Night Safari is also pretty cool!
Different shows at each time are held, you will not get bored during the whole day. I recommend visiting the zoo if you are traveling with kids, or if you have more than 3 days to see the city.
TIP: Unless you are with kids, I don’t think there is any point of taking a train inside the Zoo. The queue for the train was always long, and the distances are not that big.
If you would like to save some money on tickets, try to buy them in advance (at least a week). There are plenty of Groupon promotions are available and will save you at least 25%, which is quite significant if you go with the whole family.
UPDATE: Groupon is now myfave.com, it was bought by them in Singapore and it basically provides the same service – discounted tickets and services.
Here are the instructions:
HOW TO BUY CHEAP TICKETS TO SINGAPORE ZOO:
- Search for a “Zoo” keyword on Fave website (it can also be anything else what you are interested in – “Cloud forest” for example);At the moment I was writing this post this coupon was available. It saves you 35% percent and delivered for free:
- Note that the tickets are only delivered locally, so ask your hotel (the place where you are going to stay) if it is o.k. to have mails sent to this address.
- Buy it at least a week in advance.
- That’s it, you have just saved 8,5 $ per person on the entrance ticket, not bad considering the fact it took you the same long as buying a normal ticket!
NOTE: If you have tried all the key words and the promos are currently unavailable, check this tab, it will give you a list of today’s promos on tours in the city. Who knows, maybe you might be interested in one of them?
HOW TO GET TO THE SINGAPORE ZOO:
Getting to the Zoo by public transport is not exactly obvious, so I decided to make a little guide for you.
Even though there is no MRT station within the walking distance from the Singapore Zoo, it is quite easy to get there:
I went from “Choa Chu Kang” MRT by bus number 927, it was free. See the picture above for more options to get there from different MRTs. In case you want to skip yourself some effort and buy the zoo ticket together with the tram ride, here is a great option.
6. HAW PAR VILLA
Haw Par villa is your place! It is one of those places that you will not see on a typical tourist picture in Singapore.
It is one of the world’s weirdest theme parks depicting scenes from Chinese folklore with over 1 000 statues. Some of them are: an old woman being breastfed, demons pitchforking loan sharks in hell – you got the idea…
It is truly a fascinating place to visit! Include it into your itinerary, you will not regret! It is easy to get there by metro (MRT station is called “Haw Par villa”, about 2 SGD from the center) and has a free admission, so why not to check it out?
I would leave about 2 hours for a visit if you want to read some info behind those mysterious statues.
PRO TIP: Try to go in the morning because in the day time it gets really hot. I went at about 2 p.m. and I was dying from the heat, there was no shadow at all!
7. TRY SOME STREET FOOD
You have probably heard that Singapore is not the cheapest city in the world. While it is definitely true, the food can be surprisingly cheap!
It is still a riddle for me how a dish can cost 2-3 $ when a kilo of tomatoes in the supermarket costs the same much?
I also recommend just walking around China town district and trying out everything that looks interesting, the variety of choices is endless, the local cuisine is mouthwatering!
If you wish to rely on a specialist and have somebody walking you through Chinatown, get this 3,5 hours Food Adventure. You will never forget the feast on typical goodies such as rice cakes, poh piah, chicken rice, and more!
But what you would also like to check out restaurant scene in Singapore?
Let me tell you how to save a great deal on fine dining in Singapore:
There is an application called The Entertainer.
It will give you an access to endless restaurants promotions. I would nor even know about it if my Russian friend, who worked as a server in Singapore, told me that EVERYONE uses it in Singapore.
A typical promo would be: buy a dinner course, the second one is free. This application is so popular right now, you will hardly see any local eating out without the coupon from this application.
In order to access the promos, you have to buy the access for 125 SGD first and enjoy the offers for 1 year unlimited. It is a pretty good deal worth considering if you are staying in Singapore for, say, more than 5 days and going to dine in restaurants a lot.
8. SIP A SINGAPORE SLING ON A ROOFTOP BAR
If you are in Singapore even for just a day, you just have to climb up one of its futuristic looking skyscrapers and enjoy the city’s skyline!
I have a couple of places to choose from for you:
1) The first one is located on the top of Marina Bay Sands hotel and it is FREE to go up. The rooftop bar is called KuDeTa, it is right above the SkyPark Observation Deck. While the price to go to the observation deck is S$23, I suggest you go to KuDeTa (which is a bit more elevated) and spend those money for a drink. How about that?
The trick to enjoy the same view for free is to go to the bar instead. It’s at the same floor, and just past the observation deck entrance (which is usually where 2 or 3 stewards are waiting to check tickets).
You can enjoy the view with a drink in your hand for more or less the same money. Just make sure not to wear flip-flops and shorts, and you will get in with no problems!
2) The other rooftop bar that I highly recommend is One Altitude. No wonder why – it is one of the tallest buildings in the country!
I liked One Altitude even more than KuDeTa because it has the view TO Marina Bay Sands it is more spacious, with a 360 degrees view.
The entrance is 30 SGD$ if you arrive before 9 pm, or 35$ if you arrive later. 1 drink is already included. As the place is quite fancy, the dress code is the same – smart casual. No flip-flops and no sleeveless tops for man.
TIP: Remember that city skyline from a rooftop at night perfectly matches with a Singapore Sling cocktail! 🙂
9. VISIT SENTOSA ISLAND
Tired of sightseeing and want to just relax on the beach? Singapore has one also!
Sentosa is a popular island resort. But please do not expect Bounty commercial type beaches from it. It is far from the beauty of the Malaysian island of Langkawi, to be honest. Otherwise, it is very alive and easy to get to beach in Singapore.
Universal Studio amusement park is also located there I would really love to go, but it would need the whole day and I didn’t have that much time. Next time! 🙂
HOW TO BUY CHEAP TICKETS TO UNIVERSAL STUDIO SINGAPORE:
PRO TIP: By the way, that life hack with Fave also seem to work with Universal Studio! On the official website 1 adult ticket is S$76 while on Fave it is S$91 for the admission to the Universal Studio + Wings of time show + Dinner buffet. You decide if the deal is worth it for you! 😉
HOW TO GET TO SENTOSA ISLAND:
There are 3 ways to get to Sentosa:
- By foot.Hours – Open 24 hours, Price – free. From the Harbor front there are travelators that will help you go faster, about 20 minutes to get to the island by foot. If you use this choice, you can go back to Harbor front free of charge by train! 🙂
- By train. Hours – 7 a.m. – midnight. Price – 4$. If you are tired and don’t feel like walking, you can use the train, that goes parallel with the travalator.
- By cable car. Hours – from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Price – 29$ return.
10. BUY CHEAP ELECTRONICS
If you were planning to buy a new smartphone or, say, a new camera, there is no better place to do it than Singapore!
Sim Lim shopping center would be the best choice for travelers – it is in the city center and it has 6-7 stores of all electronics you can think of!
I have bought a new mirrorless camera with 2 lenses for a better price than at home, I changed my laptop screen for less than $US65 service included. Then, when I went back, I got my tax returned for them.
Even if you are not looking to buy anything, I still advice you to stop by. There are plenty of little gadgets that you might need as a traveler. For example, I also bought a portable battery (12000 MAh which is pretty good) to charge all my electronic devices for $US 7!
There is also a great food court downstairs that offers all kinds of Asian food for 2-3$!
PRO TIP: If you are going to buy some electronics, do not forget to ask the seller for a tax refund form. You will be able to receive 7% back in cash when you leave the country.
PRO TIP #2: If you are serious about getting something you should know that not all shops are very honest so please check first the price of the item on Amazon. Because you don’t want to make “a good deal” and end up paying more, tax return or not :).
I checked the price, got my tax returned and it all went smoothly!
11. CHECK OUT THE CITY VIEW FROM SINGAPORE FLYER
For a panoramic view of all the city get into an observation wheel. It claims to be Asia’s largest ferris wheel! You get to enjoy a breathtaking view of Singapore from 165 mt (540 ft) with all the iconic landmarks right in front at a bird’s eye view! In a good day you can see as far as Malaysia and Indonesia!
The full circle takes about 30 minutes and the price for an adult is S$33. If you don’t want people on your picture you can upgrade to a Private Capsule. Or, say you want to celebrate a special occasion, – they also offer Premium Champagne Flights! 🙂
PRO TIP: For the best view, try to avoid visiting Singapore Flyer on a rainy day. I visited it on my last day and it was heavily raining, so as you can see the pictures are not that spectacular. If it rains, you can check out a museum, National Museum of Singapore for example.
12. WALK AROUND (AND EAT!) IN CHINATOWN
Many Singaporeans are of Chinese decent, so Chinese influence is everywhere.
Wood carving shops, tea houses, flower sellers on the street – this multicultural place will tell you a story of its heritage. Mouthwatering local dishes
Hear the stories of early Chinese migrants
Check out the oldest temple in Singapore, Thian Hock Keng, it was built without using a single nail!
Next, stop by famous Sri Mariamman Temple – it is a colorful Hindu temple, perfect for your Instagram shot!
Rain or shine, there is also a free walking tour around China town every Tuesday.
13. GO SHOPPING
am not a crazy shopper and you will not see a recommendation to go shopping in ANY of the previous destination guides that I have written. But there is something about Singapore.
But shopping in Singapore is FUN, – it is not expensive and the variety of things is much broader than say in chain stores in Europe or North America.
Singapore might be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but when it comes to clothes (and well, electronics) you can find some really great deals!
My personal favorite is Bugis street. You will find all sort of cool stuff there and it is a budget shopping area. Along with clothing, shoes, accessories and retro shops, it is also a great place to buy souvenirs (don’t forget to bargain!)! There is Bugis night market that is very popular among youngsters, might be worth checking out!
Orchard Road offers 22 shopping malls with around 5,000 brands to choose from.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN SINGAPORE
It is really funny, but when I visited Singapore for the first time, I completely relied on my Russian friends who gave me a metro card and guided me around everywhere.
The second time I arrived, I had absolutely NO IDEA how to use it. As the price depends on where you are going, it is pretty confusing for a tourist, but let me make things clear for you.
Actually, you have three choices:
- Transportation card. Any given ride will be on average twice cheaper than if you would buy an individual ticket. The card costs S$5, you can charge it with minimum S$7. When you leave, you can either redeem the credit left on the card in cash, or save the card for later use when you come back to Singapore (the credit will expire in 5 years).
- Standard ticket. The price of individual ride will be more expensive (70-100%). Add up 10 cents for the cost of printing the ticket. (You can top it up, it is reusable, so you only have to pay those 10 cents the first time you use it).
- Singapore Tourist Pass. Unlimited metro and bus rides in one day (S$10), two days (S$16) or three days (S$20). You can buy the card right in the airport, more details here.
- We were really confused which one would be better and decided to buy both of them – individual tickets for me and the card for my partner.
So, which one is better?
In our experience, taking just about 4 rides, the card performed better. Where an individual trip would cost 1,4$, the ride with the card would be about 0,7$. So I’d say it is worth it to pay 5$ extra, you will beat that 5$ investment pretty quickly.
If you want to use the metro (called MRT in Singapore) just once or twice, I would go for a normal ticket. If you want to use metro more than 5 times and on long distances, Singapore Tourist Pass would be great for you.
Local transportation is very efficient and you can even get to the airport by metro!
If you want to use taxi, there is always Uber – reliable and cheaper than normal transportation in Singapore. Get a free ride with my code if you never used the app before – “YULIAS774UE”.
NOTE: don’t confuse Singapore Tourist Pass (unlimited transportation) with The Singapore Pass (free entry to over 55 attractions). The later might be really helpful if you are going to visit many sights. They have different options with different pricings, check out the details here.
WHERE TO STAY IN SINGAPORE:
I have stayed in InterContinental Singapore which was by far one of the best hotels I have ever stayed! Let me tell you a bit more about it:
Everything from the beginning of my stay until the end went just flawless. As a travel blogger, I am always very attentive to details and I feel responsible if I can recommend you the hotel or not.
The rooms are designed in an elegant colonial style (see photos below), the service was beyond fantastic and the breakfast had one of the broadest choices I have ever seen: Asian cuisine, European cuisine, fresh juices, desserts, fruits, cheese bar, pastries, waffles – you name I, they have it all!
What else is super cool about my room is that they provide with a complimentary smartphone to use for you while you are out exploring on the streets. You can call by Skype, make local phone calls, browse the internet, and install the apps that you need. I mean, how awesome is that? Thanks to that, we did not need to bother about buying a Sim card. I think every hotel should have this in their rooms!
A swimming pool with a nice view, equipped gym where you can work out if you wish. I really wanted to, I even came to check it out, but I could never make myself do it in those days. Live jazz every evening in the hotel lobby, if you would like to just relax in the hotel. They have an ironing board in the room, OMG! We were able to iron our clothes to go out to a fancy rooftop.
On my last day in Singapore it was raining (of which I was notified by a personalized letter in the morning), but we could just grab a huge umbrella provided by the hotel and still discover the city. This is what I call attention to details!
There is also a lounge club access that I felt like people should take an advantage of, so I will explain how it works:
The pass itself is 120 SGD (~$US85) per day per room which gives you an access to the breakfast in Ash&Elm restaurant that I described above, then Royal heritage Afternoon tea with many appetizers and pastries and evening cocktails from 6 to 8 p.m. The buffet always had great choices that we did not even feel hungry for dinner afterwards!
That’s too bad because the hotel is located on Bugis intersection – a busy area full of great restaurants, but we were always too full to visit it!
What is more is that you can invite 1 of your friends/colleagues to stay in the lounge with you and if you are checking out late, you can still use all the facilities of the lounge.
My flight was at 7 p.m. so I enjoyed complimentary Wi-Fi sipping my Singapore Sling cocktails until I had to leave.
I don’t know about you, but from now on, I will always ask about if the hotel have a lounge access! It is a very good deal! 😉
How to book:
InterContinental is in IHG group, so booking on their official website loyalty program, will give you many perks, that you would not get by booking somewhere else.
You can redeem points for hotel stays in more than 5 000 IHG hotels worldwide, flights etc. Say, your room is 250 SGD, it is about 2500 points (plus some that you get as a welcome bonus). For about 20 000 points you can stay anywhere in IHG chain (InterContinental, Crown Plaza, Holiday Inn etc.) or partially pay with your points.
There are plenty of choices to stay in this country-city for every wallet, I recommend these ones, click on my suggestions to see the prices for your dates:
- Luxury stay – Marina Bay Sands for a stunning infinity pool. InterContenental Singapore – this elegantly decorated 5* hotel with an outdoor pool is your step into luxury lifestyle of Singapore!
- Great value for money hotels – Carlton Hotel Singapore this 5* hotel can be surprisingly very affordable if you book in well in advance. Alternatively, Peninsula Excelsior Hotel is even cheaper and has a mind blowing view to the city!
- Budget stay – Adamson Lodge is one of the best when it comes to the price and hospitality, located very close to everything. Number 2 would be Chic Capsule Otel for its chic decor and top location.
WHERE TO EAT IN SINGAPORE
These are the local hipster popular places advised by lovely Denise from InterContinental who was born in Singapore: