Singapore has long been on my travel radar, but as it’s not exactly a budget-friendly spot, I kept putting it off… until this one time last December. We were in Koh Phangan, gearing up for the holiday season back in Europe, when a spontaneous idea struck us – why not drop by Singapore for a few days on our way back? And oh, am I glad we did!
Singapore is nothing short of spectacular. It’s a place where ultra-modern districts coexist harmoniously with timeless cultural enclaves. One minute you’re surrounded by these jaw-dropping skyscrapers, and the next, you’re wandering through streets that exude a rich sense of cultural heritage.
Today, I’m excited to share what to see in Singapore and more. The city is without doubt an ideal spot for a weekend getaway.
When and How to Visit Singapore
As a tropical island in South-east Asia, Singapore is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit seems to be from December to June, with February to April experiencing the least rainfall.
We went at the start of December and encountered only a few rain showers, but nothing major. And if you’re an F1 fan, don’t miss the Singapore Grand Prix held in September!
Getting to Singapore is really easy. Changi Airport, Singapore’s main international gateway, is well-connected to major cities worldwide and is an attraction in itself (more about it later).
8 Top Places to Visit in Singapore
Since it was a last-minute decision, I didn’t have much time to plan a proper itinerary. Well, let’s be honest, I rarely plan anything in detail and just have a few things in mind that I want to see. Here are the top places I suggest everyone add to their list.
♦ Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is not just a park, but a futuristic place that brings a blend of nature and cutting-edge design to the heart of Singapore.
It’s renowned for its iconic Supertree Grove: towering, tree-like structures, ranging between 25 and 50 meters in height. Actually, these Supertrees are vertical gardens that perform a multitude of functions, including planting, shading, and working as environmental engines for the gardens.
You can stroll through the expansive park for free, or choose to visit The Flower Dome and Cloud Forest for a fee. The Flower Dome is the world’s largest glass greenhouse and replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean regions. On the other side, the Cloud Forest is a 35-meter tall mountain covered in lush vegetation, shrouding the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
We visited the Gardens in the late afternoon and stayed into the evening, primarily to catch the Rhapsody light show. It was truly a spectacular experience, and the best part? It occurs nightly and is completely free.
♦ Chinatown & Little India
Chinatown and Little India are testaments to Singapore’s rich multicultural heritage, and a paradise for foodies like myself.
Chinatown is the go-to destination for anyone seeking an authentic and affordable culinary experience. The streets of Chinatown are lined with hawker stalls and eateries offering a variety of dishes. Quick tip: Check out the Maxwell Food Centre!
Beyond food, Chinatown is steeped in history, with its traditional shophouses, temples like the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, and cultural museums.
Just a short MRT ride from Chinatown, Little India Singapore is a vibrant and colorful area, and the streets are lined with shops selling a variety of Indian goods. Culinary-wise, Little India is also a haven for anyone craving authentic Indian cuisine. The Tekka Centre, a large indoor wet market, and hawker center is particularly popular for its wide array of food choices.
♦ Kampong Glam
Kampong Glam is Singapore’s historic Arab quarter and showcases Malay and Arab cultures.
The heart of Kampong Glam is the Sultan Mosque, a significant landmark from the 19th century with its massive golden domes.The area around the mosque, particularly Haji Lane, is a trendy spot known for its colorful street art, odd hip cafes, and boutiques.
Kampong Glam also has a rich history in the textile trade, and this is evident in the shops along Arab Street that sell fabrics of every color and texture.
In other words, visiting Kampong Glam is like stepping into a different world within Singapore.
♦ Marina Bay Sands
♦ Orchard Road
If you’re in the mood for some serious retail therapy, Orchard Road is where you want to be. It’s the shopping mecca of Singapore, and it lives up to the hype.
Stretching for over two kilometers, this boulevard is lined with malls, boutiques, and department stores offering everything from high-end fashion to the latest gadgets.
♦ Merlion Park
The Merlion is another iconic landmarks when you visit Singapore, particularly beautiful in the evening when the city lights up.
The Merlion statue is a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, with water flowing from its mouth into the bay. It stands as a symbol of strength, resilience, and symbolises Singapore’s origins as a fishing village.
♦ Changi Airport
Let’s finish this section with Changi Airport. It’s not your typical airport; it’s a world-class travel experience. Whether you’re arriving or departing, make sure to spend some time exploring what Changi has to offer.
There is a reason why Changi Airport consistently ranks as one of the world’s best airports. Its terminals are known for their modern architecture, cleanliness, and efficiency, as well as its lush indoor gardens.
Changi offers free movie theaters, gaming zones, and even a rooftop swimming pool in Terminal 1. There’s no shortage of ways to keep yourself entertained.
But the real highlight is the Jewel Changi Airport, a nature-themed entertainment and retail complex connecting terminals 1, 2, and 3. It features the stunning HSBC Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
Singapore Travel Tips
- Transport: Singapore has an efficient public transportation system, including buses and the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system. It’s the easiest and most affordable way to get around. But taxis are also abundant and reliable, and you can also use apps like Grab. If you can, I suggest walking around and getting lost in the city to discover hidden gems.
- Reserve in Advance: If you plan to dine at popular restaurants or visit attractions like Universal Studios, consider booking tickets or making reservations in advance to avoid long queues.
- Tap Water: The tap water when you visit Singapore is safe to drink, so there’s no need to buy bottled water. Refill your reusable water bottle wherever you go.
- Singapore is famous for its pristine streets and public spaces. To contribute to the city’s impeccable reputation, make sure to dispose of trash responsibly (it’s a matter of common sense). There are plenty of bins around, so hold on to your trash until you find one. Fun fact: in the MRT, you are not allowed to eat or drink, so there are no bins either.
Final Thoughts on Singapore
Singapore is the kind of city that keeps calling you back, and each visit feels like a new adventure waiting to unfold. If you can spare a few days for your first trip, go for it – it’s absolutely worth it. And for those with a longer layover, don’t hesitate to squeeze in a quick tour.
In any case, Singapore is a big ‘Yay!’ in our book! ♥