I lived in Singapore for four years and loved every minute of it. Want to know exactly what to do, how to get around, where to eat, where to stay, and what neighbourhoods are the best? READ THIS GUIDE!
Singapore is an amazing place, and though it’s small, there is so much to see and do. You could live here for years and still find things to discover every day – I know I certainly did. The city is full of juxtapositions. It’s a modern and futuristic place that still holds old tradition and culture. It’s a melting pot of different cultures, creating one entirely its own. Have I peaked your interest? Here’s my ultimate guide to Singapore.
Languages: English, Chinese, Tamil, & Malayu
Size: 719.1 square km
Population: 5.68 million
Currency: Singapore Dollar, SGD.
Weather: HOT. Also it will probably rain for about 10 minutes sometime during the day. Although it’s always about 29 to 35 degrees (about 85-95 Fahrenheit), it’s incredibly well air-conditioned inside and you might get chilly!
Water is safe to drink from the tap.
Local here? Here’s my Singapore Staycation Guide.
Singapore is a great collection of neighborhoods. There’s something special about every single one! I’m going to outline my favourites and give a little intro to each!
Chinatown: Come here for the food, stay for the fun!
Chinatown is a great place to go if you’re looking for yummy local food (skip Food Street- the hawker centre is massive and that’s where you get the best food!), some souvenirs, temples, and culture. I really like to meander through the alleys.
Stop for shaved ice at Mei Heong Yuen Dessert. It’s easy to miss when you pass by, but the desserts are incredible! The shaved ices are huge and more like Korean bingsu than Hawaiian shaved ice. I like the mango shaved ice, the soursop shaved ice, and the almond jelly.
Aside from the food, Chinatown has plenty of fun little stores to check out with kitschy souvenirs, traditional Chinese medicine, and everything else you could possibly need. There’s always SOMETHING going on in Chinatown.
Little India: The most colourful alleys in Singapore
Little India is a favourite place to go if I’m feeling like I need to see some vibrancy. The shophouses are super colourful and beautiful; the streets smell amazing from the flowers and fruits being sold along the sidewalk.
Definitely check out Mustafa, the only open-24/7 shop with absolutely everything! My favourite restaurant in Little India is Komala Villas. It’s a vegetarian restaurant and you can’t go wrong with any of their dishes, though I’m partial to the poori set!
Bugis: Shopping galore!
Bugis is a crazy shopping center! I love walking down Bugis Village and sipping on fruit juice whilst shopping for cheap clothes. The upstairs is filled with stalls selling trendy items, phone cases, and selfie sticks.
You can also head over to the National Library, which is a really lovely place to study or to take a break from Singapore’s hustle and bustle. If you’re looking for a dessert break, Honeymoon Desserts has a location here. The mango milk ice and sweet almond milks are my favourite things to order.
Marina Bay: Glitz, glam, and great views
I absolutely love Marina Bay. It’s the most well known part of Singapore, and for good reason. Here, there’s Gardens by the Bay, the iconic MBS (Marina Bay Sands), and so many elements of the Singapore skyline. Marina Bay is one of my favourite places to walk around. Just being there feels luxurious! If you’re looking for the view without the price tag of a rooftop restaurant, there’s a Starbucks in next to Fullerton Bay, where you can sit outside and stare at the beautiful marina.
Tanjong Pagar: The CBD, but so much more
This is a great place to eat! Tanjong Pagar is Singapore’s central business district, but the restaurants here are incredible. Try my favourites – sushi burrito (yep, that’s right) and Group Therapy (amazing pancakes!) – or walk around and stumble upon somewhere new. You’re bound to find something absolutely delicious! The streets are lined with shophouses, which are charming and perfect for taking photos. There’s also a Cake Spade, which I’ve heard have some of the best cakes, as well as freak shakes.
Tiong Bahru: Cafe culture & hidden gems
Tiong Bahru is becoming more and more popular. It used to be where some inexpensive property was, but now, it’s a full on “hipster” area, which amazing cafes and restaurants. The street art in this area, though not super easily found, is amazing. There are some real gems there, including the Tiong Bahru Bakery! I love to sit there and have a lemon tart and drink.
Kampong Glam: My FAVOURITE part of Singapore
My favourite area of Singapore. This place is full of hostels, yummy Turkish restaurants, and fun. Definitely check out the Mosque; it’s possibly the prettiest mosque I’ve ever seen. Also run down Haji Lane- I love to go to #SelfieCoffee. It’s a novelty store, but there’s nothing like drinking a coffee with your selfie printed on the foam! You can drink your face! I also like to walk down Arab Street– the fabrics and lamps there are the prettiest. Try to see how many Evil Eyes you can find- there are too many to count!
Clarke Quay: Singapore’s nightlife hub
Clarke Quay is a place I have quite a few memories in. It’s the bar/club scene in Singapore. It’s not worth visiting during the day; it’s only at night that the area gets super busy and lively. And if it’s raining? It’s not a big deal, as the entirety of Clarke Quay is covered. Make sure that if you’re going out in Singapore, you’re dressed appropriately. Quite a few places will not let you in if you don’t match their dress code.
Boat Quay: Fun dining and casual bars
Boat Quay is like Clarke Quay’s mellow cousin. It’s a great area day and night, with plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. A lot of expats will come to Boat Quay after work for a pint. I like sitting out by the river- it’s a really nice place to people watch. My favourite bar in the area is Prince of Wales. Boat Quay also a great place to stay if you’re looking to party and/or sightsee- one direction is a short walk away from Clarke Quay, and the other direction is a scenic walk towards Marina Bay.
What to Do in Singapore
There are so many incredible things to do in Singapore. There’s seriously something for everyone here!
Firstly, let’s talk festivals. If there’s a festival going on in Singapore, you won’t want to miss it. And check, because there are a LOT of festivals. I have a list of festivals and events, as well as the best times to go to Singapore here.
I really like going to Gardens by the Bay, which is the Avatar-esque supertree area. It’s free to walk around, but there are also two massive domes to explore. One is the cloud forest; the other is the flower dome. It is SGD$28 to go into both.
While you’re in that area, definitely go to Marina Bay. Marina Bay is a gorgeous area- you can see the central business district, Esplanade (our big theatre), the Merlion, and the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel- a hotel with a big “boat” on the top of the three towers, with the famous infinity pool.
Chinatown and Little India are favourite places to walk around- they show off Singapore’s multi-cultural pride and are beautiful places to see. They’re also great places for some photos.
Kampong Glam is possibly my favourite place in Singapore. It has the most beautiful mosque, fun and quirky streets, and so much beauty! This is a must. Make sure you don’t miss Haji Lane and Arab Street.
The Singapore Night Safari is possibly one of Singapore’s biggest tourist attractions- and for good reason. It’s one thing to see incredible animals in the daytime, but nighttime is when many of them come alive. It’s seriously so fun to take the tram around the park. If the tram isn’t your thing, walk along the footpaths. You often get better views that way. And hey, if you have time? Do both! The night safari is SGD$45 for adults, SGD$30 for children. You can also save some money by buying a 4 park admission ($69), the 4 park hopper PLUS rides ($79), or two park admission ($49-59). The four parks are the night safari, the Singapore zoo, the river safari, and the Jurong bird park.
If you want to have a fun day at the theme park, there is a Universal Studios. I really like Universal Studios around Halloween, when Halloween Horror Nights occurs. Even during the other parts of the year, a day here is a fun escape from the city.
Universal Studios is on Sentosa, which is a fun island in itself. Sentosa is full of manmade beaches, and therefore beach clubs. It’s fun to lounge in one of the many beach clubs. There are bars, pools, and food at all of these clubs. Tanjong Beach Club and Mambos are my favourites.
The Singapore Flyer is another attraction that’s worth a visit. It’s a massive ferris wheel- comparable to the London Eye, and you get amazing views of the city and gardens by the bay. A ticket for a one-hour rotation costs adults $33.
If you’re more of a museum buff, there are plenty of museums worth a visit. I like the Singapore Art Museum, the National Museum of Singapore, the ArtScience Museum, the National Gallery, and the Peranakan Museum.
How to Get Around Singapore
Taxis and public transportation are your best bet, as cars are sooo expensive to rent in Singapore, and honestly, parking is so much of a pain!
Taxis: Taxis are relatively cheap in Singapore… They won’t blow your budget like a taxi ride in NYC will! The most expensive taxi ride is probably about SGD $30, to the airport. Most taxi rides will fall into the $7-15 range.
Public Transportation: The MRT is my favourite way to get around! The trains are quite convenient! They come often and there are stops everywhere. Buses can be a little tricky, so map out your route! They’re a great way to see the city and they’re pretty convenient when the MRT isn’t. Public Transportation is about $2-3.
What to Eat in Singapore
If there’s one thing to do in Singapore, it’s eating! Singaporean food is the thing I miss most about Singapore.
I’m going to break this next section down budget, though I think that everyone should try Hawker food. That’s the good stuff. This post highlights some of my favourite Singaporean foods.
Hawker Centers are your friend. In nearly every mall, there’s a food court, where you can enjoy hawker food in air conditioning 🙂
My favourites: Hainanese Chicken Rice, Bak Kut Teh (pork rib soup), Hor Fun, Fried Carrot Cake, Kaya Toast (must), Laksa, Nasi Lemak (my favourite!!), Mango Milk ice (must), fresh fruit juices (try soursop!).
Get some yummy seafood! There are plenty of delicious seafood restaurants. A good chain is Jumbo Seafood. Chili Crab, Black Pepper Crab, and Cereal Prawns are must trys.
Xiang Yuan Ji Shanghai Pan Fried Meat Buns – absolutely delicious and not expensive!
Vatos Urban Tacos– Korean/Mexican fusion. This is a favourite of my family!
Pasarbella– another family favourite. I like how its a big gathering of different restaurants so you can all eat what you’d like.
Din Tai Fung– YOU MUST GO TO DIN TAI FUNG. GET THE XIAO LONG BAO. Also try the spicy noodles.
If you want luxury, you’ll definitely get it in Singapore. Here are the best higher-end restaurants.
Cé La Vie– Located on the top of the iconic Marina Bay Sands, this restaurant serves fabulous fusion food, strong cocktails, and beautiful views.
Cut by Wolfgang Puck- a lovely steakhouse in Marina Bay.
Kinki- Japanese food with a gorgeous view (one of the best!). A rooftop restaurant overlooking Marina Bay.
1-Altitude- this is one of my favourite places in Singapore. They serve really tender, delicious steak. I like to order one of their cocktails and head up to the rooftop bar after dinner. The views throughout the night are top-notch.
Brunch in Singapore
I am a FAN of brunch. And I have got some favourite places to go to for exactly that.
Wild Honey is a staple. I love everything there, but I have to say that my favourite item on their menu is the coconut/mango waffles with passionfruit/berry sauce. I think it’s called the Brittany? Another favourite is the chorizo/potato/poached egg meal. That’s my go-to if I’m not feeling my sweet tooth.
Sascha & Sons
If you like filling bagels, this is your place. I like getting a bagel and having either corned beef or salmon on top. These things are massive and delicious.
Group Therapy is wonderful. They have great savoury pumpkin pancakes, sweet pancakes, french toast, and smoothie bowls. It’s a family favourite- we even know the staff (super lovely people!)
Clinton Street Bakery
If you want staples, this is your place to go! Banana or chocolate pancakes, eggs, chicken & waffles, toast, eggs… the list goes on! This is a great breakfast if you’re feeling the classics.
Looking for healthy options?
Check out this post.
Where to Stay in Singapore
Again, I’m going to break this section down by budget. I was stranded in Singapore for a little while whilst waiting for a visa, so I know the budget stays! I’ve also been lucky enough to have some stay-cations, so midrange is covered too. And of course, I’ve included the high-end, beautiful, and iconic hotels of Singapore too.
To be honest, hostels aren’t Singapore’s main selling point. That being said, I’ve found some that I really enjoyed.
Check out my backpacker’s guide to Singapore!
Uptown Hostel (nicest owners in the world, though slightly cramped. Great location)
The Shophouse at Arab Street (I like how this has female traveller dorms, though it gets really hot as the air conditioning is only on for part of the day)
Five Stones Hostels (Near Arab Street. Nice dark rooms for good nights of sleep, however, dark because there are no windows)
5footway.Inn (these are all in pretty great locations)
Bed&Dreams Hostel @ Clarke Quay (standard hostel, great location!)
Hotel 81 (slightly rundown chain, however the cheapest hotel you’ll find in Singapore! It might be worth a splurge up to midrange- sometimes the price difference is not too big)
Park Hotel Alexandra (I really enjoyed my stay here! A nice infinity pool!)
Parc Sovereign Hotel Tyrwhitt
Hotel Jen Tanglin
Ibis Hotel Bencoolen
W Hotel Sentosa (relaxing, beachy, & has a fabulous spa!)
Hotel Vagabond (boutique hotel filled with art!)
Intercontinental Singapore (Absolutely lovely hotel with a great buffet breakfast)
Fullerton Bay Hotel
Marina Bay Sands (iconic & you get to swim in the infinity pool! The rooms are quite beautiful and they typically have a great view).
Need to book your hotel? Use my link and help Unexpected Occurrence run. You don’t pay a cent more; I just get a small percentage of your booking 🙂 Click here!
And there you have it! My monster, ultimate guide to Singapore. Let me know what you guys think! Have anything else I should add? Let me know!
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