Where to Go in Singapore on Your First Visit
Singapore is often seen as the most Western city in Southeast Asia. From what I’ve seen so far, I agree. However, when I heard about this comparison, I expected to find a sterile city with only high-rise apartments and skyscrapers. This is definitely not true. While you can find hotels with rooftop pools or shiny new office buildings in the center, further out is a whole different world. From older Chinese architecture to local Hindu temples, here’s a quick guide on where to go in Singapore to see the best of the city.
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Where to Go in Singapore
I found the bustling Little India neighborhood to be one of the nicest districts in Singapore. It’ll give you a small insight into Indian culture where you can witness beautiful ceremonies and, of course, eat all the delicious food. About 10% of Singapore’s population is Tamil, so you’ll find much of that culture here.
My biggest tip is to avoid the area on Sundays, as that’s definitely the busiest day!
If you want more of a local guide to learn more about the neighborhood, then you might want to try a walking tour. Check here for more details.
Perhaps the best-known district of Singapore: Chinatown. About three-quarters of Singapore’s inhabitants have Chinese roots, so it’s not surprising that Chinese culture is dominant in the city. Chinatown is the center, and one of the larger neighborhoods. Definitely, plan on eating here as well!
This is the hipster district of Singapore is where many young expats live and stay. The neighborhood is full of nice eateries, cafes, and bakeries (seriously: what is the obsession with bakeries in Singapore?!). It is also centrally located near a whole bunch of hotels, as well as Chinatown.
Gardens by the Bay
This is really my biggest tip, and perhaps the most important sight in Singapore. Gardens by the Bay is an incredibly large natural park in the middle of the city. It consists of various gardens and ponds, a mechanical forest known as the Supertree Grove, and two botanical gardens known as the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. You have to pay for the last two, but the others are free. Check here for rates + availability
Marina Bay Sands
Of course, if you can afford to stay there, then the Marina Bay Sands is iconic! The stunning swimming pool with views over the Singapore skyline is for guests only, though you can visit a viewing platform as a nonguest. Check here for more details + rates for the viewing platform.
We didn’t stay there, but I actually found it quite special to see the hotel from the outside. It’s such an icon in the hotel world, and the building itself is very beautiful. There’s even a free fountain and laser shower every evening outside.
If you’re curious about staying there, then check here for rates + availability.
Universal Studios Singapore
Universal Studios Singapore: € 84
Just outside the city, you will find Sentosa, which is where you will find the resorts of Singapore. It’s also where you’ll find Universal Studios Singapore, one of the best amusement parks in Southeast Asia. It is not big (about a quarter of the Efteling), but it’s a lot of fun if you like amusement parks. We spent one day here and enjoyed it a lot. Check here for tickets + more info on Universal Studios
The Quays of Singapore (Clark, Boat & Robertson) are nice if you’re getting something to eat or drink. There are also plenty of bars if you want to meet other expats. It’s also a nice area to walk around and take in the views, especially at night when everything is so beautifully lit.
Where + What to Eat in Singapore
Remember that hawker centre scene in Crazy Rich Asians, when they first get to Singapore? If visiting as taught me anything, Singapore is a destination where you can eat extremely well. From Western food to vegan Chinese, this country is the capital of mixing cuisines. We had very few bad meals, and local specialties tend to be very cheap! For nine days, we spent €240.59 between the two of us on eating out.
The two big traditional things to try are the Hainan Chicken Rice and the Chili Crab. We didn’t eat the latter because of the price (sometimes around €80 at good places), but the chicken rice only costs €2.50, and it was so tasty! If you do want to splurge on Chili Crab, try the Long Beach Restaurant or the Jambo Seafood Restaurant.
My personal favorites include:
- Indian at Khansama in Little India
- Italian at Limoncello at Robertson Quay
- Vegan at Kwan Inn Vegetarian
Of course, you don’t want to miss visiting one of Singapore’s hawker centers, which are basically open air food areas. This is where locals go, and each neighborhood has their own. Plus, as a budget tip, it’s much cheaper than eating a restaurant. One evening, we at for only €2.50 at the Maxwell Food Centre in Chinatown. If the thought of a hawker center seems overwhelming, try a
Also: the tap water in Singapore is clean and drinkable, so just bring a refillable water bottle with you instead of paying for bottled water, which is both expensive and unsustainable.
Those were my Singapore tips! On a return visit, I would like to visit the Botanical Garden (free, in the north of the city), Haw Par Villa (a Chinese sculpture garden), Southern Ridges Tree Top Walk, and St Johns Island (by ferry)!
What must-visit places would you recommend for Singapore?
General Travel Tips
- For accommodation, I always check Airbnb or Booking.com for the best prices.
- If your insurance at home doesn’t cover travel, you may want to look into SafetyWing for an affordable option.
- I always recommend checking Klook for the best tours in Asia.
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