Singapore is a fantastic destination for people of all ages — there is no shortage of things to see, eat and do! Singapore is home to people from an array of cultures, making it a haven for some of the best (and cheapest) Indian and Chinese dishes. And only in Singapore will you experience such an incredible coexistence of the human race. A Muslim mosque, a Catholic church, and a Hindu temple within blocks of one another? Look around and you’ll notice the remarkable influence religion has played on the city and the people who inhabit it.
Whether you are stopping over to spend just a day on your long-haul layover to your final destination or whether you decide to stay awhile, here are a few things you do not want to miss while in Singapore!
1. EXPLORE GARDENS BY THE BAY
Singapore is famous for its love of nature and its efforts to maintain a beautiful city. Visit Gardens By the Bay and you’ll see how each conservatory encompasses Singapore’s goal to build a City in a Garden.
The Flower Dome
Escape the humidity and enter the Flower Dome, where you’ll find yourself inside a greenhouse filled with plants similar to those found in cool-dry climates such as South Africa and California. The flower field changes on occasion to reflect the season and any ongoing festivals. When I visited in April, I was lucky to catch the gorgeous “Tulipmania” display!
The Cloud Forest
Enter the Cloud Forest and you’ll instantly feel the cool mist on your skin as you discover the unique biodiversity of plant life in this temperature controlled dome. I found this exhibit particularly informative! Once inside, you can take an elevator to the top of the lush mountain, where you’ll see the world’s tallest indoor waterfall — what a beauty!
The standard Adult price for the Flower Dome & Cloud Forest is $28.
The Supertree Grove (Free Admission)
My personal favorite! Do not miss these solar-powered “super trees” at Gardens by the Bay while in Singapore. Admission to the Supertree Grove is free. However, if you want to get up close and personal with the Supertrees, you can purchase tickets to the OCBC Skyway around sunset to catch the evening light show and watch as the trees come alive from above!
2. GET LOST IN HAJI LANE
Hidden in the Kampong Glam neighborhood, you’ll find Haji Lane. This tiny lane is overflowing with adorable independent boutiques, where you can pick up a few trendy pieces for your friends (or yourself!). Step into any of the shops to choose from a unique variety of brightly-colored clothes and accessories.
3. VISIT SRI MARIAMMAN TEMPLE
Pay a visit to the oldest Hindu temple in the country. Located near Chinatown, Sri Mariamman Temple is one of the most prominent places of worship for the Tamil Hindu community in Singapore. Six tiers of colorful sculptures make up the tower at the entrance of the temple, each adorned with Hindu deities and other sacred mythological creatures. I was most mesmerized by the intricate detail in each of the sculptures, which can be seen throughout the temple. Sri Mariamman Temple is open to the public from 7am – 12pm and 6pm – 9pm daily.
4. EAT SINGAPORE STREET NOODLES IN GOLDEN MILE
One of my favorite local foodie spots in Singapore has to be this one. Two stories of food stalls occupy the building known as Golden Mile Complex. Don’t expect to find pristine clean conditions or five-star service here. However, if you’re looking for authentic Thai or Vietnamese cuisine at an affordable price, Golden Mile is where it’s at. Whether it was the hearty and delicious noodles or just the experience of strolling around the food centre with a variety of options to choose from, stopping for lunch in Golden Mile was a unique way to get a taste of Singapore’s local food scene!
5. SWIM IN THE INFINITY POOL AT MARINA BAY SANDS
Spectacular views of the city await as you swim in the world’s highest rooftop infinity pool! Access to the infinity pool comes at a premium, as it is only accessible to guests staying at the Marina Bay Sands hotel. Although I didn’t get to experience this first-hand, it is definitely going on my bucket list for my next trip to Singapore!
Travel Tip: Not staying at the Marina Bay Sands hotel but still want an epic view? You can purchase tickets to the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark Observation Deck up to one month in advance.
6. SIP A SINGAPORE SLING AT THE LONG BAR
If you’ve made it all the way to Singapore, you must try the Singapore Sling. The Long Bar is located on the first floor of the legendary Raffles Hotel and is known as the birthplace of the world-famous cocktail. An exotic concoction with over 100 years of history, the Singapore Sling is a gin-based drink that was created by a bartender of the Raffles Hotel circa 1915. Although the pretty pink drink will set you back S$27, you’ll enjoy your cocktail and toss peanut shells on the floor as you immerse yourself in a bit of Singaporean history.
7. TAKE A PHOTO WITH SINGAPORE’S MASCOT, MERLION
A landmark of Singapore, the Merlion is a half-fish, half-lion statue facing the three towers of Marina Bay Sands. The name combines the word mer (meaning sea) with lion. The fish body represents Singapore’s origin as a fishing village and the lion’s head represents Singapore’s original name — Singapura — meaning “lion city” in Sanskrit.
8. EXPLORE THE S.E.A. AQUARIUM
From shipwrecks to shark exhibits and everything in between, you’ll find yourself in awe of the magnificent underwater world that exists at Singapore’s SEA Aquarium. Located on Sentosa Island, the aquarium is one of the largest in the world and contains over 45 million liters of water. My favorite exhibit was easily the Open Ocean habitat — rest your feet as you look up at the massive viewing panel to see a colorful array of marine life swim past you.
Travel Tip: The SEA Aquarium is home to more than 100,000 marine animals from over 800 species. I would suggest allocating at least 2-3 hours to leisurely walk through the aquarium, as this will give you sufficient time to experience each habitat without feeling rushed.
9. SEE THE STUNNING SULTAN MOSQUE
Sultan Mosque (or Masjid Sultan, in Malay) is situated in Kampong Glam, attracting thousands of Muslim and non-Muslim visitors alike. Built in 1928, it is the oldest mosque in Singapore with quite an impressive history. If you’ve ever had questions about Muslim practices, I highly recommend taking a guided tour, as volunteers generously share their knowledge and love for their faith. The mosque is open daily 9:30am – 12pm and 2pm – 4pm, and on Fridays 2:30pm – 4pm.
10. HIKE TO THE MACRITCHIE RESERVOIR TREETOP WALK
Looking to escape the city for an afternoon? Nature lovers traveling to Singapore should visit MacRitchie Reservoir’s Treetop Walk, where a 250-meter freestanding suspension bridge connects the two highest points in MacRitchie: Bukit Peirce and Bukit Kalang.
From the suspension bridge, I enjoyed a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the forest canopy from 25 meters above the ground. If you love a good hike (think ~9 km and 3-4 hours round trip), the MacRitchie trail provides fresh air, glimpses of wildlife in their natural habitat and a killer work out.
Travel Tip: Take a water bottle and snacks to stay energized along the way, wear comfortable shoes, and don’t forget to put on sunblock and insect repellent!