SINGAPORE TRAVEL GUIDE 2020
Tips and information to enjoy Singapore and its attractions
Singapore is the smallest island city-state in the world, a beautiful mix of heritage, and modernity. A former British colony from 1819 to 1963, nowadays it’s an important financial centre plenty of luxury hotels, sky-high buildings, posh shopping malls, trendy clubs and also one of the most organised and progressive countries in the world. Despite that, there are still some traditional neighbourhoods like Chinatown, Little India or Kampong Glam that still retain their ancient charm. Singapore it’s not cheap at all, and indeed one of the most expensive countries in Asia, but it’s worth spending here some days.
- BEST TIME TO VISIT SINGAPORE
In general, Singapore is a year-round destination with tropical weather always hot, humid and mostly rainy. May to September are the “driest” months, while November, December and January are the wettest months. We visited Singapore in July, and the weather was mostly sunny and indeed hot and humid.
- HOW TO REACH SINGAPORE
Singapore is one of the main hubs in Asia, and the major flight companies serve the Changi International Airport. It’s also worth visiting Singapore if you are already in Thailand and above all in Malaysia as it’s effortless to reach it. From Melaka (or Kuala Lumpur), you can take one of the many buses heading there. We visited Singapore for 3 days during our tour around Malaysia. You can use Omio.com to find your international flight to Singapore.
If you are already in Thailand, Malaysia or in another Asian country, you can also use the 12go.Asia.com transportation search engine below, one of the best web platforms to move around Asia.
- HOW TO REACH YOUR ACCOMMODATION FROM CHANGI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
The airport has 4 terminals all connected by free Skytrains (T1, T2, T3) and shuttle buses (T4 via T2). The airport is vast and one of the most important and crowded hubs in Asia. It has also been rewarded many times as the best airport in the world. If you are in transit or you have time, don’t miss the fantastic “Jewel“, a nature-themed entertainment and retail complex linked to the terminals. If you are in transit with a short stopover, you can also book a Stopover City tour with the web platform Klook.com clicking here.
Leaving or reaching the airport
Once outside the arrival hall of each terminal, you’ll see the cab. They use the meter and a ride to the city centre costs between 15 to 30 USD (SDG 20 to 40).
By public bus
You can catch the bus at T1, T2, T3 in the basement bus bays. Several routes are connecting the airport to downtown (24, 27, 34, 36, 53, 110, 858). You can buy the ticket on board, but you need the exact amount. We suggest downloading the smart app Moovit to find your route. Alternatively, click here to check the web site.
You can take the train to downtown from Changi Airport MRT station. Click here to plan your route and check the schedule.
By private transfer
Once at the arrival halls, you’ll see the Ground transport Concierge (GTC) where you can book your transfer. The individual ride to your hotel costs about 38 USD (SDG 55) for a 4 seater vehicle ( a 7 seater is about 41 USD – 60 SDG). There is also a shared city shuttle van that stops in the most downtown hotels and costs 7 USD (SDG 9). Alternatively, you can also book in advance your ride with the Klook.com, one of the best web platforms to tour Asia.
- WHERE TO SLEEP IN SINGAPORE
Singapore is not so cheap if you want to stay in downtown and close to Marina Bay. Anyway, you’ll find accommodation everywhere. The most affordable choice is around Little India or Chinatown (Hostels about 20 USD, Hotels around 40 USD). We slept at RedDoorz Plus Victoria Hotel, situated in Victoria Street and only 15 minutes walk from Marina Bay (we paid 70 USD x night for a double room).
- WHERE TO EAT IN SINGAPORE
Singapore is a multiethnic country, and its cuisine blends Malay, Indian, Chinese, Indonesian and western influences. You’ll find cheap and expensive restaurants everywhere above all around Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam. If you want to enjoy the night-life as well go to Clark Quay and Boat Quay.
Hawker Food Centres in Singapore: Chinatown Complex Food Centre, home to the largest hawker centre in Singapore; Tekka Centre in Little India, that features a bustling hawker centre; Tiong Bahru Food Centre, with several hawker food stalls awarded Michelin Bib-Gourmand; Lau Pa Sat known as the “old market”, located in downtown and one of the most popular hawker centre; Amoy Street Food Centre, located in Chinatown and with hundreds of stalls, with 6 of which listed in the Michelin Guide Singapore 2019 (4 were given Bib Gourmand distinctions).
Dishes of Singapore: our favourite local dishes and the ones we suggest trying are Hainanese Chicken Rice, Chilli Crab, Laksa, barbecued Stingray, Hokkien Prawn Mee, Char Siew meats on noodles, barbecued Stingray and fried Kuay Teow.
- Click here to see the best Singapore Restaurants and customers’ reviews;
- Click here to book a food tasting tour in Chinatown;
- Click here to book a Singapore Ultimate food tour;
- Click here to book a Singapore Michelin star street food tour;
- Click here to book the fun Pub Crawl tour.
- HOW TO MOVE AROUND
Moving through Singapore is easy. You can catch public transports like bus and train or a taxi. If you plan to use the public transports (MRT/LRT), it’s really convenient to buy the Singapore Tourist Pass that allow you unlimited rides. You can buy it from the TransitLink Ticket Office or Automated STP Kiosk.
Tip: Download the smart app Moovit to find the best routes and public transport to your destination.
Another fast and comfortable way to reach your destination is to download the smart apps Uber or Grab and book a private cab wherever you are. The rates are pretty much the same as a taxi.
The easiest way to explore the attractions in Singapore is to take the Hop on – Hop off buses City Sightseeing Bus Tour or Big Bus tour that both boast several routes and offer some discounts/free passes. Alternatively, you can buy the Singapore city pass (2 or 3 days pass) that includes 2 tickets attractions and the hop on- hop off bus or the Singapore unlimited attractions pass.
- Click here to check fares and book your City Sightseeing bus ticket.
- Click here to check fares and book your Bigbus tour ticket.
- Click here to check fares and the different options about Singapore city passes.
- Click here to book your Singapore city pass (2 or 3 days) with klook.com.
- CURRENCY EXCHANGE, ATM
The local currency is the Singapore dollar – SDG. 10 SDG is roughly 7 USD (March 2020). You can exchange your money at Changi International Airport or in town with better rates. The ATMs are everywhere; just check the commission with your bank. In many hotels and restaurants, you can also pay with a credit card.
- SINGAPORE WIFI
You’ll find the wifi in all the hotels, restaurants and malls, but if you need a 24-hour connection, the best option is to buy a local sim card. You can choose among the Singapore Prepaid tourist card, the Starhub Prepaid tourist card or the Singtel sim card, all of them with 100 GB and calls included. The price starts from 7 USD for 7 days validity to 20 USD for 12 days validity.
You can book in advance the sim cards and pick them up at Changi International Airport or in a store in town (only for the Singapore Prepaid tourist card).
- Click here to book your Singapore prepaid tourist card and choose the pick-up point;
- Click here to book your Starhub prepaid tourist card and pick it up at the airport;
- Click here to book the Singtel sim card and pick it up at the airport.
- ELECTRICITY INFO
Plugs and sockets are Type G (230V). Therefore, most travellers need a universal adapter.
- TRAVELLER’S SAFETY
Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world, anyway, just keep your belongings with you when you move around. In the case of medical needs, Singapore is plenty of good hospitals and private clinics. Anyway, the medical expenses could be very high, and we highly recommend to stipulate travel insurance. We always do it through Worldnomads.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN SINGAPORE
Private tours, guided tour, attractions tickets and shows
One of the best ways to plan your activities and journey being hassle-free is by using web platforms. They offer discounted daily tours/activities, single tickets, transfers and much more. We recommend Viator, GetYourGuide, and Klook.com, three reliable companies we use during our trips around the world.
Singapore is not only a small country with luxury hotels, high-end shopping malls and fancy restaurants, but a place where you can still find a vibrant history and several ethnic quarters to explore, huge green gardens where to stroll and relax, lush rainforest parks with several hiking trails, and white sand beaches where to sunbath and rest avoiding the crowded city. Despite its small size, Singapore is plenty of cool attractions, and your days are going to be busy even you decided to spend here more than a week.
This is the list of our favourite attractions
1. Marina Bay Sands
Surrounded by skyscrapers, this Bay is worldwide known for the iconic Marina Bay Sands Complex and its luxury hotel with the world’s highest rooftop Infinity Pool. Only hotel guests are allowed to use the infinity pool, but anyone can visit the observation deck and enjoy the most stunning view of Singapore. The attractions in this area are the Merlion Park (with the iconic monument half fish-half lion symbol of Singapore), Marina Bay Sands Skypark observation deck (with a 360° panoramic view on Singapore), Singapore Flyers (the world’s largest giant observation wheel) and the ArtScience Museum.
Spectra light show: it’s a free-to-public outdoor light and water show displayed over the water at the Event Plaza along the Marina Bay Sands complex promenade (right in front of the Shoppes Mall). 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.
Showtimes: Sun – Thu: 8pm & 9pm; Fri & Sat: 8pm, 9pm & 10pm.
- Click here to read more and book your Marina Bay Skypark observation deck ticket;
- Click here to read more and book your Singapore Flyers ticket.
2. Garden by the Bay
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 highlights are 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. You can even access this attraction by a small pedestrian overpass from Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Get in the Marina Bay Sands Shoppes mall and follow the signs.
- Click here to read more and book your Garden by the Bay ticket + Ocbc skyway;
- Click here to read more and book the only entry to Garden by the Bay.
The first settlement of Chinese in Singapore is now a vibrant district plenty of street food carts and stalls, restaurants and hip new bars, souvenir shops, locally made art, craft products and any Chinese product shops that make it a compelling destination for tourists and locals alike. Not to be missed is the Chinese Heritage Centre that showcases the history and culture of the neighbourhood; the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, a four-storey Buddhist temple that houses sacred Buddha relic kept in a stupa made out of gold; and the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple, the oldest Hindu temple of Singapore (founded in 1827). If you like night-life, don’t miss Ann Siang street and Club street with their bars and crowds. The best moment to enjoy the two streets and have fun is on Friday and Saturday evening when both the roads are closed to traffic.
4. Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and the colonial district
Only 15 minutes walk from Chinatown, you’ll find Clarke Quay and Boat Quay, the historic riverside of Singapore. Located upstream from the mouth of the Singapore River, the district 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, iconic dance clubs to live music venues and rooftop bars. Some of the most trendy clubs/bars in the Quay district are Crazy Elephant, Cuba Libre Bar, F.Club x Attica SG, Hero’s, Molly Malone and Southbridge.
Nearby attractions: the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery located in Singapore’s oldest fire station; the Asian Civilisation Museum; the Hong San See Temple, a century-old Buddhist place of worship.
5. Singapore River cruise
Leaving aside the night-life of the buzzing Quay district, an exciting way to enjoy some of the city’s historic bridges and landmarks of Singapore is by a river cruise. You can embark/disembark the boat in Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, Read Bridge, Fullerton, Merlion Park, Esplanade and Bayfront South.
6. Little India
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 district to visit in Singapore. Along Serangoon road, one of the oldest in Singapore, and its alleys (don’t miss Kerbau road), you’ll find traditional Indian shops selling spices, incense, oils, flowers, clothes and fabrics, small restaurants and eateries offering delightful Indian cuisine, stalls selling typical Indian street food like roti prata flatbread, Uppuma porridge, and Dosai rice pancake. Along Bukit Tima Road, you’ll also find the Tekka Centre, Singapore’s largest indoor wet market, selling an incredible array of fresh produce and hard-to-find ingredients. Little India also boasts three significant Hindu Temple: Srinivasa Perumal, founded in 1855 and dedicated to Vishnu, Sri Veeramakaliamman constructed in 1881 and dedicated to the ferocious Goddes Kali, and Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman, believed to have started in 1830 and consecrated in 1935.
7. Kampong Glam
Kampong Glam, best known as “Muslim quarter”, is an eclectic blend of history and the centre for Muslim activities. This old neighbourhood 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, and the Malay Heritage Centre, a museum for those interested in understanding the history of Singapore’s Malay community. Absolutely not to be missed are Bussorah street, lined by multi-label stores, charming boutiques selling fabric and silk, bars and cafes, and Haji Lane (and its alleys), a long and narrow road dotted with old shophouses, boutiques, bars, cafes and decorated with graffiti.
8. Bugis market.
Only 10 minutes walk from Little India, at the end of the pedestrian Albert Street, is located the Bugis Street Market, 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, souvenir, accessories, clothes, electronics, houseware, and cosmetics but also local food, fresh fruit, and drinks.
9. National Museum of Singapore and National Gallery Singapore
The National Museum of Singapore is the country’s oldest museum and a cultural and architectural landmark. It hosts different themed exhibition halls, showrooms and galleries where you’ll learn from daily life to the rapid development of this island nation over 700 years of Singapore history. Only 15 minutes walk from the National Museum (really close to Marina Bay), there is another interesting building: the National Gallery Singapore. It’s housed in the former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings, two historic national monuments built in 1937 and 1926 respectively. It features the largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian modern art.
- Click here to book your ticket for the National Museum;
- Click here to book your ticket for the National Gallery.
10. Orchard road
Orchard Road is the retail street in Singapore, a real paradise for shopping and luxury-brand lovers. The road is a long line of shopping malls, outlets, departments store, smart boutiques luxury hotels and restaurants.
11. Singapore Botanic Garden
Not far from Orchard Road, the iconic Singapore Botanic Garden first opened more than 160 years ago in 1859 and is the country’s first UNESCO Heritage Site (since 2016). This enormous tropical garden is home to over 10,000 species of plants, and it is one of the premier orchid research and breeding centres in the world. The highlights of the Botanic Garden are the National Orchid Garden, which boasts the world’s largest orchid display, with over 60,000 plants and orchid plants; the Swan Lake with its numerous species of aquatic plants and fishes; and the Heritage Museum, a beautiful colonial building where you can learn about the Botanic Garden’s history.
12. Rainforest parks and hiking trails for nature lovers
Singapore boasts many parks where you can spend a pleasant day surrounded by rainforest and experience fun hiking trails. The most interesting Parks are the MacRitchie Reservoir Park that features a 250-metre-long freestanding suspension bridge at 25 metres above ground (known as the TreeTop Walk) offering a bird’s eye view of the community of plants and animals that live in the forest canopy; the Southern Ridges, a ten-kilometre-long network of trails crossing some Singapore’s most popular parks and gardens, connected by picturesque bridges, pathways and long walkways that offer a bird’ s-eye view of the forest canopy; the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, the perfect place for wildlife lovers where it’s possible to spot a wide range of birds from its observation hides and towers or other animals like mud lobsters, tree-climbing crabs and monitor lizards along the 500 metres-long boardwalk of the mangrove swamps.
13. Sentosa Island
It’s small Island with countless activities and attractions not far from downtown where you can spend a fun day. The highlights in Sentosa are the Adventure Cove Waterpark, the Butterfly Park and the Insect Kingdom, the SEA Aquarium (the largest of its kind in the world), IFly Singapore (experience a skydive), Madame Tussauds Singapore, AJ Hackett Sentosa Giant Swing or AJ Hackett Bungy Jumping or the Vertical Skywalk, but above all the famous Singapore Universal Studios.
Sentosa is also famous for its luxury resorts, beaches and to be the most southern point of Asia. The three beaches where you can have some days of relaxation are Tanjong Beach, Palawan Beach and Siloso Beach (our favourite beach with many cute restaurants right on the beach).
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. To move around Sentosa you can catch the tram (especially for the beaches) or the bus.
You can read more information and book your ticket with a discount clicking on the name of each attraction.
- Singapore Unlimited Attractions Pass
Alternatively, if you plan to spend several days in Singapore, you can click here to book the “Iventure Singapore Unlimited Attractions Pass” and save money. It includes many attractions in Sentosa Islands and downtown. With the Unlimited Pass, you can visit as many of attractions as you’d like and, indeed, the more you see, the more you save!
Have you visited Singapore? Did you like it and you want to share your experience or to suggest more tips? Leave us a comment below!