So, you have locked your sight on Singapore for your next leisure vacation. Good choice! Having decided to visit Singapore, it is important to know what to do and where to go so you can make your trip a memorable one. This island nation at the edge of the Malaysian Peninsula offers a treasure trove of cultural, natural, and modern experiences. Hence, when you check out what there is to do in Singapore, you might be tempted to do it all in one go. That can be quite overwhelming. Take things slow and follow the guidelines in this travel guide that will make your first time in Singapore enjoyable and easy.
Singapore at a glance
Singapore sits on the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula; the nation is separated from Malaysia by the Johor Strait. Singapore is known as an island-state nation and has the distinction of being one of the smallest countries to visit in the world. In actuality, it is one of three city-states of the world, along with Vatican City and Monaco. Although Singapore is perceived as just one island, it also consists of 62 tiny islands scattered around its mainland. This destination is known for its disciplined, clean, and orderly nature, and has a fascinating mix of diverse ethnicities. Additionally, the country takes pride in incorporating natural elements into its urban lifestyle. As you spend your first few days in Singapore, you will witness these marvels in small doses based on the duration of your stay.
Top attractions to include on your first Singapore visit
1. Gardens by the Bay
Usually, the distinction between natural and modern sceneries is blurred in Singapore. In one moment, you are gazing at a stunning piece of modern architecture, in another, you are surrounded by lush green foliage as if it appeared out of nowhere! Gardens by the Bay is one such attraction that can catch you off guard while you are enjoying the modern splendour of Marina Bay. You will definitely feel a sense of calm and peace as you walk through the giant vertical gardens called Supertrees along with indoor rainforest-themed gardens like Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. This place is also home to the tallest artificial waterfall in the world.
2. Sentosa Island
This is a place where fun, adventure, and thrills never stop! You can enjoy a fun day out with friends and family at Sentosa Island, which has attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore, SEA Aquarium, and Adventure Cove Water Park. There is a wide range of activities to choose from, such as Segway, cable car and Luge rides, indoor skydiving or just unwinding on the serene beaches of Sentosa.
3. The Jewel – Changi Airport
One prominent example of Singapore’s ability to meld nature and modernity is the Jewel at Changi airport. The Jewel consists of an artificial waterfall nestled inside Changi Airport. It is surrounded by terraces with indoor trails that mimic the forest environment of a tropical rainforest. This is a place that is totally worth your time and money.
4. Mandai Wildlife Reserve and Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore takes wildlife and wilderness quite seriously. Mandai Wildlife Reserve and Singapore Botanical Gardens serve as pioneering examples of this passion. At Singapore Botanical Garden, you can walk into a fragrant setting filled with countless blooms. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this garden has been around for more than a century and features the largest orchid collection in the world. The Mandai Reserve on the other hand is home to 3 exquisite wildlife experiences namely Singapore Zoo, Night Safari Singapore, Jurong Bird Park, and River Wonder Singapore. These attractions offer an exceptional perspective on rare and endangered animal life and birdlife. A Singapore vacation itinerary that includes even one of these will be an unforgettable experience.
5. Little India, China Town, and Peranakan cultural sights
Tourists characterize Singapore as ‘Asia in a nutshell’ since one can experience almost every Asian culture here. Throughout Singapore city, there are many alleys and lanes where you can find a taste of ethnic Asian life, two of the most popular being Little India and China Town. There are plenty of things to do in Chinatown and Little India. These are the places where you can explore Hindu temples and Chinese shrines, immerse yourself in the cultural fervor and enigmatic hues, and savor aromatic, flavorsome Indian curries and Chinese dumplings. Throughout Joo Chiat and Katong districts, you will encounter Peranakan culture, a unique fusion of Malay, Indonesian, and Chinese origins. Some of the best things to do in Little India and Chinatown will give you the chance to enjoy the diverse flavors of art, food, and architecture of Singapore.
6. Stop to have a quick bite at the Boat Quay
The Boat Quay is one of the best places in Singapore for dining and entertainment. The area has several pubs and restaurants, making it the perfect place for relaxing after a long day of touring the city.
Here you can also try out the special Wakanui, which is basically Japanese steak cooked over a white oak block fire; you can also try reasonably priced North Indian cuisines.
7. Spend time at the Merlions
Whenever you search for Singapore in Google, the first picture that comes is the Merlion. Ever wondered what is that?
Well, the Merlion is the main mascot of Singapore which has a lion’s head and a fish’s body. The main statue is situated in Merlion Park, but you can also spend some time on Sentosa, which has a 37 M (121 foot) tall replica of the Merlion. Merlion Park is one of the best places to click some nice pictures, and entry to the park is free of cost.
8. Visit the Heavenly Thian Hock Keng Temple
The Thian Hock Keng Temple is one of the most beautiful architecture you will come across in Singapore and is also a good place to click some nice pics for your social media profile. This heavenly monument was initially a small building that served the Chinese population. However, it was expanded in 1840 using some of the finest materials available from the donations of the local Chinese community.
This is one of the oldest Chinese temples in Singapore, and it’s dedicated to Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea. Admission to this national monument is free of charge.
9. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Located 11 km away from the Mandai Forest Reserve, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is Singapore’s last stretch of rainforest. This is a premium eco-tourism attraction where you can hike through the forest or ride a bike through the biking trails. You will get to witness squirrels, macaques, flying lemurs, and several species of birds closely.
This beautiful green place is spread over 400 acres and is open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily.
10. Visit the Spooky Haw Par Villa
The Haw Par Villa is a huge outdoor gallery that was built late in the 1930s by Aw Boon Haw, a millionaire philanthropist. Previously it was used as a theme park for locals; however, once Singapore was captured by the Japanese Army, it was used as an observation point during World War II.
Local people and guides will tell you some Spooky Chinese mythology stories. Entry to the grounds is free of cost; however, the Hell's Museum, which includes the exhibit
depicting the world-famous 10 Courts of Hell, is 18 SGD.
11. Take a Stroll around the Kampong Glam
Popularly known as the Haji Lane, the Kampong Glam is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Singapore and has several stores selling textiles, rugs, and other homemade goods like plates and glasses. There are numerous street arts and Graffiti here, making this a perfect backdrop for pictures.
You can also visit the Malay Heritage Centre at a charge of 8 SGD per person.
12. National Museum of Singapore
Want to learn more about Singapore’s heritage? Then the best way is to visit the National Museum of Singapore, which was first opened in 1849. You will learn about the place’s history, culture, and heritage by going through several exhibitions.
Being one of the oldest Museums in Singapore, it also has a collection of some old gold ornaments, artwork, and drawings from the early 18th century. The museum also has the mace used by King George VI from 1951. Admission to the National Museum of
Singapore is 15 SGD.
13. Explore the Pulau Ubin
Located on the northeastern coast of Singapore is a beautiful island that will take you back to the early 90s. The local residents use a diesel generator for electricity and still draw freshwater from nearby wells. Here you can rent a bike and explore the beautiful villages and beaches while riding through the offbeat trails of the island.
To reach Pulau Ubin, you have to get on a bump boat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal, which will take around 15 to 20 minutes and cost 3 SGD per person.
Best time to visit Singapore
Travel to Singapore is possible all year round. The country has a tropical rainforest climate – hot, humid weather with occasional showers. If you plan to visit, you should always carry an umbrella. December, January, March, April, May, June, and July are the best months to visit. However, due to peak and shoulder seasons, airfares and other travel services are on the more expensive side during these months. Singapore also hosts several world-famous events, such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix. In general, it is best to stay away from such events unless you are a fan.
Things to consider while planning your Singapore trip
- Singapore is a clean city, and the locals diligently follow the rules to keep the country that way. The visitors are also expected to demonstrate the same degree of integrity and adapt to the law. In the event of an offense, the penalty for violating the Singapore law can be hefty. Residents typically carry their trash with them until they find a dustbin where they can dispose of it. It is illegal to chew gum in Singapore, and even jaywalking is punishable.
- Observe the locals and you will quickly become accustomed to Singapore. Consider staying in low-cost hotels or homestays, eating at local restaurants, and using the public transport system if you are on a tight budget. Singapore has one of the finest and most efficient public transportation networks in the world. Using them as your first travel priority to get around in Singapore can cut down expenses in a huge way.
- English is widely spoken in Singapore. Nevertheless, it would also be beneficial to know a few phrases of Singlish, which is a version of Singaporean English.
- Get a valid Singapore visa on time. Singapore visas are often cited as one of the obstacles to Singapore travel planning. If you are visiting Singapore for a leisure visit, you should apply for a Singapore tourist visa well in advance of your departure to avoid delays and disappointments. You should also ensure that you have travel and medical insurance for the duration of your Singapore trip.
As a first time traveler to Singapore, you will realize that are a huge number of attractions. While many of them require an entry ticket, there are also several free things to do in Singapore. Hence, a trip to Singapore is a must if you are planning a trip to Southeast Asia. The city-state of Singapore blends modern life with culture and traditions beautifully. It is a great opportunity to explore the city and learn about things you did not know about Singapore.
Q1. Should I invest in a Singapore tourist pass?
Ans. If you are staying in Singapore for more than 2 days and planning to take the MRT
or public bus to move around, then we recommend getting the Singapore Tourist Pass.
The pass is available in 1, 2 and 3-day formats for 10 SGD, 16 SGD, and 20 SGD,
Q2. How to stay connected with the world 24/7?
Ans. Whenever you go out in a foreign destination, a reliable network connection is a
must. Your service provider might not be available in every place in Singapore. This is
why we recommend getting a pocket wifi device or a local sim card.
Q3. What are some popular tips for first-time Singapore travelers?
- Try to use public transportation or the MRT as much as possible
- Eat at local eateries
- You can drink water from the tabs
- Always get a travel insurance
- Carry your Singapore visa and passport