Singapore Things to Do
Singapore has many things to do for visitors making it one of the top 10 places in the world to visit. The buildings throughout are architectural wonders to see. Everything is orderly and clean in Singapore. A democratic country it has no problem undertaking huge civic programs and you can see them all around this city state.
There is no evidence of poverty with the 4th highest GDP per capita in the world, 91% homeownership and life expectancy of 84.4 years. The Gross Domestic Product per capita went from S$1580 in 1965 to S$75,533 in 2015; a 4,780% increase in 50 years. The Republic of Singapore, once a British colony has been an independent country since 1959.
A year round destination, the best time of the year is December to June with February to April the dry season and the most sunshine. Singapore is consistently rated as the safest Asian country for tourists. We spent a week here enjoying all the top things to do in Singapore.
Ultimate Guide for Singapore
Singapore Top Things to Do
Top 3 Attractions in Singapore
Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is the #1 attraction in Singapore. Plan on spending an entire day and an evening at the 101 hectare attraction. Spend the day walking around the gardens and viewing the various features like the Serene Garden, the Art Sculptures, the lakes and special gardens. These are all free admission.
Park from Viewing Bridge
Cooled Conservatories - Cloud Forest
There are two cool conservatories with a cloud forest and the tallest indoor waterfall in the world. Admission is $28 for both. The Flower Dome is a conservatory of eternal spring with exotic plants from 5 continents including 1000 year old olive trees and unique Baobab trees.
The Gardens by the Bay fit with Singapore’s “City in a Garden” vision. The garden fuses nature, architecture and technology. It was completed in 2012 with 1.5 million species of plants. The light show of the 18 SuperTrees lasts for 15 minutes at 7:45 and 8:45 pm. Find more information about the construction of the Gardens by the Bay here.
Singapore Botanic Garden
Established in 1869 the Singapore Botanic Garden covers 82 hectares in the middle of Singapore. You can easily spend a day or several visits to enjoy the entire garden. It is the most visited botanic garden in the world with 4 distinct areas.
The National Orchid Centre has 60,000 different types of orchids making it the world’s largest collection of orchids. The garden has a complete research department that was responsible for the development of rubber plant processes. The UNESCO Heritage site is free and open from 8am to 5:30pm.
Senosta Island is a man made island that was a British Fortress before it became a wonderland of fun. The island located at the southern end of Singapore is reached by a monorail and contains Universal Studios, great beaches extending over 3 km., a waterpark, a scenic chairlift called the Skyride, the Singapore Butterfly and Insect Kingdom complete with colourful parrots and tropical plants, a museum, and 2 golf courses, along with bars, restaurants and accommodations.
The island is very popular with locals for family events and weddings. There are a lot of shops to browse through and a casino for adult fun.
Top 3 Museums in Singapore
Singapore National Museum
3. National Museum of Singapore – dedicated to telling the history of Singapore in an immersive experience the museum is the oldest in Singapore and located in an architectural icon. The exhibitions in the museum are well thought out and very enjoyable. Plan on spending several hours. We went in the morning and the museum was quiet without crowds.
Singapore National Gallery
The Singapore National Gallery has the largest collection of modern Asian art in the world. There are changing exhibitions and wonderful experiential activities. The museum is housed in the downtown area in the former City Hall and Supreme Court with a total of 640,000 square feet of display area. It opened in 2015 at a cost of about $400 million. Admission is about $15.
A part of the Sands Resort on the harbour, the ArtScience Museum is a different type of museum. The displays are light based and Virtual Reality experiences along with changing travelling exhibits. Admission is about $20.
Top 3 Temples in Singapore
Singapore is truly a multicultural city with the 5 major religions and a number of offshoots being practiced. Singapore is a cross roads for many ancient and new cultures that all live in harmony.
Budda Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum was completed in 2007. The main floor opens into the main hall where monks pray in front of the 15 foot gold Buddha. Around the perimeter are 100 prayer dishes in front of each alcove. You can purchase 100 tokens for $20.
The 3rd floor contains the museum with 259 exhibits depicting the life of Buddha. The 4th floor houses a tooth relic of Buddha in the Sacred Light Hall. Located in the heart of Chinatown the Temple was constructed in the Tang Dynasty architecture for $75 million.
Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple
Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple was built in the 1850s when a statue of the Lord Vinayagar was found beside a pond. The Temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Ganesha the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. The 4 granite pillars show the elephant head Lord Ganesha in 32 poses. The hundreds of intricate carvings took 20 artisans 20 years to complete.
Located in the Katong area it is easy to get to on the public bus. There are numerous Hindu Temples throughout Singapore so being close to one is quite possible.
The Sultan Mosque is named after Sultan Hussain who was the first Sultan of Singapore. He had the mosque constructed in 1826 next to his palace in the Kampong Glam neighbourhood of Singapore. The Mosque is the largest in Singapore accommodating 50,000 worshippers.
Top Theatres in Singapore
Esplanade-Theatres by the Bay
The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is the showcase performing arts theatre in Singapore. With 2 indoor theatres and 2 outdoor theatres along with other performance areas, workshop rooms, restaurants and music related retail stores, there is something going on at the Esplanade every day, all day. One Sunday each month, there is a free symphony concert in the main concert hall. The day we went, the full orchestra played a variety of movie soundtracks with guest conductors.
Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands
The Sands Theatre is located in the ultra Marina Bay Sands Resort. A steady line-up of big name acts, musicals and theatrics are performed in the well designed theatre. There are Show and Dine packages for many of the 50 on-site restaurants. More on the resort further down the page.
Top 3 Neighbourhoods to Visit in Singapore
Chinatown is a maze of narrow streets lined with shops that make up 5 areas of Chinatown. There are temples, mosques, museums, wall murals, heritage and visitor centres and much more. In the centre of Chinatown is Smith Street, a street walking mall that is lined with restaurants and street vendors. You can eat cheap or have a feast. Your call.
Kampong Gelam is a vibrant neighbourhood and one of the oldest areas in Singapore. It is full of hip shops selling everything from perfume to homeware. There are many restaurants ranging from Michelin rated to street food. It is the home of the large Sultan Mosque. You will also find the open street art Galem gallery. It reminds me of the Windward art gallery in Miami.
The Downtown Core is the heart of Singapore. This is the financial and government area along with shopping malls and numerous restaurants. Much of Singapore’s top things to do are reached easily from here. Everyday we would traverse the downtown core riding on the top deck of the bus. We would hop off at different spots and explore that area. The sidewalks are wide and not crowded. There are lots of trees and green spaces so it is not hot walking around.
Top 3 Shopping Areas in Singapore
Orchard Road Shopping Area , known as Orchard is a 1.6 mile tree lined shopping road full of swanky malls, luxury retailers, international cuisine and hotels. Tangs is the oldest department store in Singapore and is a good place to start your shopping journey. Futuristic malls like ION Orchard have fantastic shops including a whiskey store that has over 4500 types of whiskey. You can certainly spend a day or two just browsing and eating your day away on Orchard.
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands is part of the Sands Resort complex with huge glass walls, atriums, water features and a cool digital light canvas. It has over 800,000 square feet of retail space with all the top luxury brands and over 60 restaurants.
Bugis Street Market
The largest street shopping area in Singapore with over 800 shops. It offers the latest and trendy fashions at affordable prices. You can buy things like watches for $5 and some shops will haggle on price but many have fixed prices. Be prepared for crowds.
Other Things to See in Singapore
The Pernanakan Chinese Shophouses, unique to Singapore and a few other places in Malaysia, have a unique architectural style. The exaggerated eaves cast long shadows over the building protecting the it from the intense tropical sun. Ventilation ducts above the windows allow continual ventilation to cool the rooms.
The large windows are generally left open to capture local cooling winds while the wooden louvered shutters give shade and protection from downpours. Rooms are large with high ceilings and solid cold stone floors. Outer walls have a central damp course for air circulation and sing during high winds.
Most of the hundreds of shophouses that existed were knocked down over the last 30 years to make room for new modern skyscrapers. There are pockets of them still left in Singapore on Joo Chiat Road, Koon Seng Road, Katong, and Chinatown.
Jewel Changi Airport
There is no doubt that the Jewel Changi Airport is the finest airport in the world. When you first walk in you are impressed with the serenity of the place. The high grade carpet muffles the sound and the soaring glass enclosure is bright with natural light. There are no lines for security. You just walk through the widely spaced detectors and are greeted by lovely security personnel who wave you through.
Inside the airport is a rain vortex, a butterfly conservatory, free theatres, fantastic food stalls and restaurants, great shopping, and a 5 star hotel. The photo above of the stores is actually a theatre screen that tells a whimsical love story. It is simply amazing. Like magic.
Top 3 Accommodations in Singapore
Raffles Hotel - 5 Star - $700
The Raffles Hotel is the most historic and elegant hotel in Singapore. Full of tales over its 130 year history with a list of whos who luminaries including Rudyard Kipling, Charlie Chaplin, James Michener, John Wayne, Somerset Maugham, Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Garder, Queen Elizabeth II, and many many others. The hotel underwent a complete 2 year renovation during 2017 and 2018. It reopened in 2019 adding 13 more suites giving it a total of 115 suites. A number of the suites are named after their famous guests. The famous Singapore Sling was invented here in 1915.
Marina Bay Sands Resort - 5 Star - $400
Designed by the renowned Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie, the Marina Bay Sands Resort is owned by the Sands Corporation with casino hotels all around the world. The hotel is the three 55-storey towers topped with the largest skypark in world with a breathtaking infinity pool. It is a large property with more that 6 million square feet of resort.
There are thousands of visitors and day users each day; more in line with a Las Vegas hotel than a high end luxury hotel like Raffles. Prices are expensive compared to other 5 star hotels. But, it is an experience for a few nights. With over 80 restaurants, the largest atrium casino and rooftop infinity pool in the world, a theatre with world class acts, a massive shopping mall, the ArtScience Museum and a daily laser light show on the harbour it is a destination vacation onto itself.
Village Hotel Katong - 4 Star - $150
The Village Hotel Katong is located between the airport and downtown in Katong a historic Peranankan neighbourhood with traditional Shophouses and a small museum just down the street. Our week cost us $150 per night for a Club room that is a larger room decorated in Peranankan style and a balcony.
Club rooms are on a special floor and include a cooked to order breakfast in the restaurant, 24 hour access to the Club lounge with free refreshments and daily cocktails from 6pm-8pm with a changing hot buffet of Singapore specialties, 2 articles of laundry per day, and free wifi.
We really enjoyed our stay at this hotel with a rooftop pool. We loved the staff, the daily cocktails with hot food and that we could walk out the door and catch a double decker bus to tour the city. We enjoyed walking the East Coast Park trail just a 10 minute walk away.
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