A Visitor's Guide to Singapore
The following guide is for the discerning tourist to Singapore. The traveller looking to visit all our quintessential attractions that will complete their Singapore experience; who's clever enough to skip the overpriced tourist traps in-between. And sometimes there's a very fine line between the two.
Written by experts locals, we'll share with you our insider knowledge on the top 10 must visit attractions in Singapore. When we wrote this guide, we thought up an itinerary that will give tourists the ideal Singapore experience. So you'll find a delicate mix of world class attractions, hidden enclaves, cultural experiences and happening nightlife spots.
While the iconic Marina Bay Sands and Universal Studios Singapore are testament to how advanced Singapore has become, don't forget to immerse yourself in Singapore's rich multi-cultural society and history. Language, customs and food from the best of the East and a smattering of the West have been amalgamated over hundreds of years into something unmistakably Singapore. And this list of top 10 things to do will take you on a journey to discover that.
- Sentosa Attractions -
Singapore's best known and biggest tourist attraction is called Sentosa, an island located just 10 mins south of Singapore city. It was developed specifically as a holiday attraction for tourists and locals, offering a quick getaway from the bustling city. It has developed even more in recent years with the building of Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) facilities which have become a huge part of the Sentosa experience. These RWS facilities are all congregated together, taking up their own side of the island.
If you would like to explore Sentosa thoroughly, you would need at least 2 days. One day for the RWS attractions like Universal Studios Singapore (USS), casino and Marine Life Park; and the other for all the other Sentosa attractions spread across the island.
1. Visit The World Class Universal Studios Singapore
Among the RWS facilities, the Universal Studios Singapore (USS) remains the star attraction. It's the only Universal Studios theme park that will be opened in South East Asia for the next 30 years. Rides such as the "Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase", "Transformers - The Ride" and 18 other rides were created specially for the Singapore park. Because of its relative newness, this is the first stop for many.
2. Take your family up in the skies on an adrenaline adventure
Before the RWS facilities were built, Sentosa was still an extremely popular destination with plenty of attractions. Out of all these, a favourite is the fun for all ages Skyline Luge. This attraction consists of a thrilling skylift ride followed by a downhill unmechanised kart race. It's an activity the whole family can enjoy. Make sure you slow down at the finish line of the kart race to get a family picture together!
The most happening beach on Sentosa is Siloso Beach; brimming with recreational activities and lined with trendy bistros and beach clubs. Other popular attractions at Beach Station are Wave House, iFly Singapore and Megazip Adventure Park. All these attractions are easily accessed by taking the Sentosa monorail to Beach Station.
- Singapore Attractions -
3. Revel in the Best View of the City
Apart from Sentosa, one of the other popular areas in Singapore with attractions clustered together is the Marina Bay Sands Belt. Marina Bay Sands (MBS) holds the title of hottest entertainment destination in mainland Singapore - offering luxurious entertainment, shopping, dining and accommodation options.
Located in this area is the only other Casino, MBS Shoppes, the breathtaking Marina Bay Skypark and gorgeous Gardens by the Bay. MBS Shoppes is an upmarket shopping mall where you can enjoy authentic local favourites at food court Rasapura Masters or indulge in haute cuisine from Michelin starred celebrity chefs.
Towering 200 meters in the sky is MBS Skypark, the crowning glory of MBS. Hotel guests can swim in the 150-metre infinity-edged pool while visitors can take in breathtaking panoramic views of the city at the public observation desk.
At the heart of the skypark is the thumping restaurant/lounge KU DÉ TA – a swanky restaurant that attracts a sophisticated clientèle that loves to party in style. Its the perfect place to mingle with the glamorous and beautiful while sipping on cocktails reveling in one of the best views of the city.
4. Check out the Gorgeous City Gardens
Less than 5 minutes away from MBS is the newly opened Gardens by the Bay – a horticultural attraction that spans 101 hectares. It features two massive cooled conservatories called "Flower Dome" and "Cloud Forest" that house rare flora from around the world.
A short walk or boat ride away will be the Esplanade Belt - Singapore Flyer, Esplanade, Merlion Park. From here, its a short trip to the Singapore River and Clarke Quay, the main area of nightlife in Singapore.
5. Visit the Best Animal Parks in the World
In the North of Singapore - about a 40 min taxi ride from the city are Singapore's world renowned wildlife parks. Three of these parks are located at the same address! The Night Safari is the world's first wildlife night park and it offers a unique fence-less experience that lets you get up-close with the animals.
Our world famous Singapore Zoo allows you to feed white rhinoceroses, ride elephants and is the only place in the world where you can have breakfast with orang utans. The newly opened River Safari offers moments with majestic manatees, endangered pandas and aquatic life from seven of the world’s most iconic rivers.
For those into nature, there are many other smaller attractions on our island like the charming and historical Botanical Gardens. There's also the massively underrated Jurong Bird Park located in the West of Singapore.
Here are some popular attractions sorted by most reviews.
Popular Attractions: (View All)
- Art, Culture & History -
The most popular ethnic enclaves in Singapore are Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street. Breathe in the vibrant culture on our very streets today and not in the stale air of museums!
6. Witness historic Chinatown
The narrow streets of Chinatown are filled with ethnic picturesque shop houses radiating historical charm. It may be strange to see the Indian Sri Mariamman Temple right smack in the middle of Chinatown, but it is an ode to Singapore’s multi-racial society. The Buddah Tooth Relic Temple is a must visit cultural monument that gives you good insight into Buddhism culture.
An extremely popular and authentic hawker centre in the vicinity is Maxwell Hawker Centre. Skip the newly renovated Chinatown food street and commercialised stalls near the MRT for an authentic hawker experience.
A short walk away from the main Chinatown area is Ann Siang Hill, a tiny enclave set atop a little hill. The retro charm of colonial architecture is intertwined with the moneyed elegance of tenants. The recent sprouting of quirky cafes and drinking holes has transformed this part of Chinatown into a hipster avenue.
7. Take in the sights and sounds of Little India
Singapore's Little India is our very own microcosm of their country filled with remarkable sights, sounds and smells. Visit Tekka centre and experience one of the last remaining wet markets in Singapore on the ground level. Level 2 sells colourful shawls and fabrics to compliment your wardrobe.
For under $5, you can commemorate your visit with a beautiful Henna Tattoo at Little India Arcade. If you have to venture into one of the little streets make it the nearby Campbell Lane. A 15 minute walk away from the central area of Little India is the sprawling Mustafa, a 24 hour bargain department store that meets every conceivable need.
Just be weary of Little India on the weekends where rumbustious crowds can throng the streets.
8. Be charmed at Kampong Glam
Kampong Glam is an exotic district rich in Muslim history and culture a short walk away from Bugis Street Market. The quaint little shops juxtaposed against the grandiose Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque) in the background sets the scene for that perfect postcard shot.
Pick up pashminas and other fabrics or check out the nearby Haji lane - a charming street of artfully peeled paint boutiques. Tenanted by local designers, this street it is a dream come true for fashionistas.
9. Be enlightened at the Asian Civilization Museum
Singapore has taken great care to preserve its culture in world-class depositories. For those keen to experience this away from the blistering heat head down to the Asian Civilization Museum, Singapore Art Museum or Singapore National Museum. If you only have time for one museum, make it the Asian Civilization Museum which showcases the diverse range of cultures that make up Singapore.
For those interested in Singapore's past head over to Fort Siloso on Sentosa, Fort Canning Park or even Kranji War Memorial to learn more about Singapore's part in World War 2.
Popular Culture & History: (View All)
Clarke Quay is the biggest nightlife area in Singapore, home to hundreds of clubs and bars that stretch along the Singapore river. Party goers can be found making merry in popular clubs like Attica and bars like Brewerkz and Beer Market. Some prefer to purchase their alcohol from convenience stores and hang out on the bridge, making friends with people of all nationalities. You can read up more in our comprehensive Singapore Nightlife Guide.
10. Have a wild night out at Zouk
Picture Credit: Zouk Singapore
Despite the popularity of Clarke Quay, true party goers know no trip to Singapore is complete without some time spent spoiling their livers at Zouk / Velvet underground at Zion Road. Zouk has being the undisputed king of the Singapore club scene for years, though these days it is filled with a much younger crowd.
Another popular nightlife area is along One Fullerton where the Merlion park is located which is home to clubs like The Butter Factory. Timbre @ The Substation near City Hall is another nightlife venue popular for their live music.
And of course, there is Clarke Quay, the biggest nightlife area in Singapore.
Popular Nightlife: (View All)
Top 10 Things To Do in Singapore
A quick overview of the top 10 things to do in Singapore and a map displaying their locations.
Remember to also check out reviews of these places by clicking on their links for a broader perspective, all of which are written by savvy Singaporean locals. And if you've enjoyed it be sure to read our other Guide to Food, Guide to Shopping and Guide to Hotels articles. You can also view our Top 50 Singapore Attractions sorted by aggregated scores.
Other Local Entertainment
These are basically "mini attractions" catered to locals. They are less extravagant then their Tourist attracting counterparts, significantly cheaper, and usually much less accessible. Point in case would be the Jurong East Swimming Complex - a $1.10 USD water park for locals in the far west of Singapore. Great for locals yes, but honestly not worth the visit for tourists.
There are also the cinemas, karaoke lounges, video game arcades and board game cafes that keep us entertained during the weekends when we're out having fun with friends. Family friendly Karaoke lounges have sprouted all over the island in most shopping malls.
Popular Entertainment: (View All)
Sport and Recreation
East Coast park has a long cycling track for those interested in some sporting activity. They also have a newly built water skiing park where you can wakeboard and an extreme skating park for the very brave.
Other popular recreation areas are the Henderson waves, an architectural marvel and chill out spot for joggers and Mount Faber, an area you can go with loved ones for drinks / dinner and nice view of Singapore up from above.
Popular Sport and Recreation: (View All)
Most of the tours in Singapore revolve around the Singapore river. You can take a "bumboat" which is an old wooden boat once used for trade, invoking memories of Singapore's past. As the Singapore river is right smack in the central business district, along the way you can view many attractions as well as experience a nice view of the city with the cooling sea breeze blowing in your face. Dukw tours has an interesting hybrid with their vehicle being able to go both in the water and on the road.
Other tours bring you around Singapore's culture and ethnic quarters. I would advise however to experience this yourself on foot as Singapore is small and easy to get around and that will give you a lot more flexibility.
Popular Tours: (View All)
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Lastly, here are some of our latest featured articles on attractions we personally went down to review. You can find comprehensive write-ups with photos and videos of some of the hottest attractions in Singapore.