The ultimate guide to visiting Singapore
How to spend a day around the city
The bus from Melaka drop me off in City plaza bus point, then on Gelang road I immediately catch a local bus to reach the Victoria hotel, located in the downtown along Victoria Street. It’s almost 4 p.m., then I immediately throw the backpack on the bed, ready to explore one of the smallest Island / Country of the world: Singapore!!
Lining the luxury Raffles Hotel and the War Memorial Park, I go straight in the most famous place of Singapore, the fascinating Marina Bay. Surrounded by skyscrapers, the bay is worldwide known for the iconic Marina Bay Sands Complex with its world’s highest rooftop Infinity Pool.
After passing by the Theater of the Bay, two prominent buildings with a strange shape like a hedgehog, I cross the esplanade bridge until I get to the “Merlion“, the monument half fish-half lion symbol of Singapore. Going on along the waterfront promenade, with a quite long walk, I reach the “Shoppes Mall” from where I get the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Unfortunately, it’s not allowed to swim in the infinity pool if not a guest, anyway there is the chance to have a drink or dinner at the “Ce La Vi” Sky-Bar next to it. Located on top of the Hotel on level 57, this Sky-Bar boasts a breathtaking 360° panoramic views of the city skyline and Singapore Strait (Sands Hotel Lobby Tower 3 – Adm. fee 15$).
After enjoying a drink with this privileged view, it’s my time to visit the Garden by the Bay, linked by a small pedestrian overpass to the hotel. This vast garden is an urban oasis amidst Singapore’s city centre and boasts an extensive collection of plant species, outdoor terraces, lovely lakes, beautiful pavilions, amazing sculptures, dining areas.
Its highlight is the ”Flower Dome” to view the display of exotic plants from the Mediterranean belt, the ”Cloud Forest” with beautiful and vivid plantations of flowers, but above all the iconic Supertrees Grove megastructures (each Supertree is a vertical garden), some of them linked by a skyway bridge. If you like, there is also a “Garden Rhapsody Light and Music Show” at night.
Walking here in the middle of nature and enjoying the garden view from the high skyway bridge is quite cool, but I don’t want to miss the Spectra Light show that takes place on the waterfront next to the mall entrance.
It’s a free-to-public outdoor light and water show displayed over the water at the Event Plaza along the promenade. As in many other places like Dubai or Kuala Lumpur, you’ll be immersed in a beautiful symphony of music, water, and light that’s powered by advanced lasers, fountain jets and visual projectors with the background of the bay skyscrapers.
My daily exploration is almost done, it’s the time to find a restaurant close to Victoria Hotel and have a rest, ready for another beautiful day around the old neighbourhoods of Singapore.
Woken up early in the morning, I have a full day to stroll around the city and enjoy its attractions. Jumped on the bus nr.2 in front of the Victoria Hotel, I first get to the big Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, a four-storey Buddhist temple and museum complex located in the heart of the Chinatown district.
It was recently built in 2007 and hosts an exhibition hall, a collection of Buddhist artefacts, a Sacred Buddha Relics Chamber, and at the 4th floor, the tooth of Buddha kept in a stupa made out of gold, claimed to be found in 1980 in a collapsed stupa in Myanmar.
Completed the visit, walking along south bridge road for 5 minutes, I get to the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple, the oldest of the city founded in 1827 and built in the Dravidian style by immigrants from the Nagapatnam and Cuddalore districts of South India. It is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, known for her power to cure illnesses and diseases.
After the visit, it is time to stroll and explore the vibrant neighbourhood of Chinatown. Walking along Temple Street, Smith Street, Terengganu Street, and Pagoda Street it’s a blend of old and new.
Street food carts and stalls, restaurants and hip new bars, souvenir shops, locally made art, and craft products and any Chinese product shops make it a compelling destination for tourists and locals alike.
Got New Bridge road, I walk for 15 minutes until I reach Clarke Quay and Boat Quay, the historic riverside of Singapore. Located upstream from the mouth of the Singapore River, it used to be the centre of commerce in the city about 150 years ago.
The Singapore River served as a seaport and used to trade goods from nearby villages. This area of restored warehouses it’s famous for being a night-life hub with its variety of restaurants, floating restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops.
At first, I have a nice walk along Boat Quay, a little stretch along the river on the right side of the bridge, lined by bars and restaurants, then I turn back, crossing the bridge to reach Clark Quay.
During the day after the visit to Chinatown, it is an excellent place to stop by and relax in one of the many bars or restaurant dotted along the riverside.
Now it’s my time to rest and have a good lunch in one of the old Chinese Junks which were used as trading boats and now renovated to become floating restaurants or pubs.
With the full stomach, I reach the nearby Liang mall Court to take a taxi and head to Kampong Glam, best known as “Muslim quarter“. With its eclectic blend of history, this area is the centre for Muslim activities and boats the beautiful Sultan Mosque, a major landmark of the city and congregation point for Singapore Muslims.
Kampong Glam has its origins as a thriving port town and is Singapore’s oldest urban quarter. It took its name from the trees called ”Gelam” that were found and used locally for boat-making, medicine and even as a seasoning for food.
The highlights of this quarter are the Sultan Mosque, built in 1824 with its massive golden domes and huge prayer hall, the Malay Heritage Centre, a museum for those interested in understanding the history of Singapore’s Malay community.
But also Bussorah street, lined by multi-label stores, charming boutiques selling fabric and silk, bars and cafes, and Haji Lane, a long and narrow road dotted with old shophouses, boutiques, bars, cafes and its alleys decorated with graffiti.
After visiting the Mosque and the old streets of this charming quarter, I move to another exciting neighbourhood: Little India.
It takes around 20 minutes to walk passing through Arab Street and Upper Well Road. This quarter is the centre for the large Indian community and, with its gaily painted shophouses that are an icon of the city, the most colourful and attractive places to visit in Singapore.
Along the roadside and its alleys (don’t miss Kerbau road), you’ll find traditional Indian shops selling spices, incense, oils, flowers, clothes and fabrics, small restaurant with delightful Indian cuisine, stalls selling typical Indian street food like roti prata flatbread, Uppuma porridge, and Dosai rice pancake.
Here, along Bukit Tima Road, you’ll also find the Tekka Centre, Singapore’s largest indoor ‘wet’ market, selling an incredible array of produce and hard-to-find ingredients. Little India also boasts three significant Hindu Temple: Srinivasa Perumal, built in 1855 and dedicated to Vishnu, Sri Veeramakaliamman constructed in 1881 and dedicated to the ferocious Goddes Kali, and Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman.
It’s almost 5 pm, but I’m not tired yet then I decide to walk till pedestrian Albert Street where, at its end, is located the Bugis Street Market, is one of the biggest and cheapest markets to come shopping in the whole of Singapore.
In this long covered market, you’ll find everything: over 800 shops of all shapes and sizes selling any stuff, souvenirs, accessories, clothes, electronics, houseware, and cosmetics but also local food, fresh fruit, and drink.
In this area, there is also Bugis Junction, a big mall with over 200 fashion boutiques selling expensive popular brands. After crossing the whole Bugis market, I get out along Victoria Street, and from here I jump on a bus heading to Marina Bay.
I could end up my visit to Orchard road, the most famous shopping street in Singapore, plenty of iconic shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, and entertainments, but I m not about shopping.
I decide to go again at Marina Bay Sands hotel sky-bar, sipping a beer and looking at the sun disappearing at the horizon, behind the skyscrapers of this small but interesting island-country. See you Singapore!
Need to Know about Singapore
|1) When to go
You can visit Singapore all year round. The climate of this small island country is always hot, humid and mostly rainy. Singapore has 2 monsoon seasons: June to September and November to March. November, December and January are the rainiest months.
2) How to get there
Singapore has its own international airport served by the major flight companies. It’s worth have a stop there during a trip to Thailand or Malaysia. From Melaka (or Kuala Lumpur), you can take one of the many buses heading here.
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3) Where to sleep
Singapore is not so cheap if you want to stay close to Marina Bay. Anyway, you’ll find accommodation everywhere. The most affordable solution is around Little India or Chinatown (Hostel around 15$, Hotels around 40$). I slept at RedDoorz Plus Victoria Hotel, situated in Victoria Street and only 15 minutes walk from Marina Bay. If you want to see the full list of the best accommodations in Singapore, click here.
4) Where to eat
You’ll find cheap but good restaurants everywhere around Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam, but if you want to enjoy the night-life as well go to Clark Quay and Boat Quay. Check Singapore Restaurants here.
5) Moving around
Moving through Singapore is quite easy. As I did you can walk to reach a lot of its attractions. Anyway, you can catch the bus, metro, taxi and also uber. Another useful way to explore Singapore without any problem is taking the Sightseeing Bus that boasts six different routes and offers some discounts/free pass.
If you want to use the local transports you can buy the Singapore Tourist Pass for unlimited rides.
One of the best ways to plan your activities and journey being hassle-free is by using Online Travel Agencies. Booking once you are already at your destination or beforehand doesn’t matter: your activities are just at your click! You can schedule your excursions everywhere getting all info on your device and enjoy it. They offer daily tours/activities, days tours, single tickets, transfers and much more. Another exciting thing is that you can buy Combo Packages and save money for your attractions. We recommend you Viator by TripAdvisor, GetYourGuide, and Musement, three reliable companies we use during our trips around the world.
7) More days in Singapore
If you plan to spend here more days, the city is plenty of museums and parks, but above all, you should visit Sentosa. It’s small Island plenty of attractions like the Adventure Cove Waterpark, the Butterfly Park and the Insect Kingdom, the S.E.A Aquarium (the largest of its kind in the world), the Adventure Park, but above all the famous Singapore Universal Studios.
Sentosa is also famous for its resorts, beaches and to be the most southern point of Asia. A fun way to reach the Island is by catching the cable car from Mount Faber or Harbourfront Station (get there by metro or bus – harbourfront station). HarbourFront is the “gate” to Sentosa; here you can also catch the monorail “Sentosa Express” to reach the attractions and the beach. Check at https://www.sentosa.com.sg/
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