Singapore is a modern metropolis that is known as one of the premier financial and business countries in Asia, but there is so much more to this city than the high rise building and modernity it is associated with. Amongst the huge shopping malls and skyscrapers, are colourful districts, ancient temples and delicious food markets to be explored.
You could spend weeks in Singapore discovering all of its beauty, but a long weekend or a four days trip is plenty of time to explore the city and discover its highlights.
In this city guide to Singapore, I share my top places to see, where to stay, how to get around and where to eat in the lion city!
Things To Do In Singapore
Singapore is well known for its modern high rise buildings, but what makes it special to me are the old shop front buildings, the different colonial districts, the temples and the art installations nestled amongst these. It was my mission to find these during my stay and here are the highlights.
1) Gardens By The Bay
2) Old Shop Front Houses
My favourite part of Singapore are the colonial buildings found everywhere amongst huge modern buildings. My favourite street was just off Orchard Road, opposite Orchard Mall, a place that I had visited ten years ago and had no idea where it was. After asking lots of locals and having no luck finding this spot, we accidentally came across it when a taxi dropped us off here when we went to the mall to buy a new Go-Pro.
3) Little India
Whether you want to visit this area of Singapore for the food or to soak in the culture, Little India is a must visit on your tour around Singapore. Have a taxi drop you anywhere in the area and just wander around, but make sure to seek out the colourful House of Tan Teng Niah!
4) House Of Tan Teng Niah
One of the most colourful buildings I found in Singapore was the house of Tan Teng Niah. Whilst the building is located in Little India, its roots go back to the Chinese colonisation of Singapore. Stop here to grab several shots for your Instagram!
5) Masjid Sultan Mosque
Located on Muscat Street, the Masjid Sultan Mosque is considered to be one of the most important (and most photogenic) in Singapore. Originally built between 1824-1826 by Sultan Hussein Shah, the mosque later fell into disrepair and was rebuilt in 1928 and has remained unchanged since. The mosque is used as a place of worship and is also open to visitors.
6) China Town
A visit to Chinatown is a must! Where to wander round and enjoy the architecture and the buildings adorned with Chinese lanterns or to grab a cheaper bite to eat. There are plenty of markets to explore in the area, and you are well placed to move on and visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
7) Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Situated in Chinatown this is an easy walk before or after you indulge in your chicken / rice lunch! The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a Tang dynasty style property that is known to house the tooth of the Buddha.
8) Thian Hock Temple
Thian Hock Keng temple is one of the oldest and most important Hokkien temple in Singapore located on Telok Ayer Street. The temple was built between 1839-1942 by the Hokkien clan, under the leadership of Mr Tan Tock Seng and Mr Si Hoo Keh. The temple is now open to the public and free to enter.
Whilst we didn’t make it to these on our trip I would suggest visiting the following spots, which all present amazing photo opportunities: Chinese Gardens; Sentosa Island; Change Alley; the DNA Bridge and Punggol Waterway.
Getting Around Singapore
Getting around Singapore is pretty easy. It’s small so you can definitely walk some of it, taxis are cheap and easy to find with meters, Uber is of course a reliable option and the metro is efficient clean and cheap, around $1.50. There are not many cars on the road, so you won’t get stuck in traffic, this is due to the extremely high cost to gain a licence and to purchase a vehicle which prevents many Singaporeans from owning a car. A Toyota Corolla can cost as much as US$115,000 after the government taxes!
From the airport into the city, if you are on a budget I would suggest the train which takes over an hour but costs a couple of dollars or an Uber will be around $18-20.
Where To Stay
Hotel Fort Canning is nestled in the historic Fort Canning Park. The Park is the highest natural elevation point in southern Singapore, so you can get some great sunset photos from one of the many vantage points in the hotel. It is also within walking distance to the vibrant Downtown Core, so you will have easy access to shopping and restaurants.
If you choose to stay here, then make sure to take a dip in the hotel pool, which is filled with water filtered using a NASA system used for astronauts drinking water! See my full review here.
The The St Regis Singapore, is perfectly located right off Orchard Road in the heart of the city. There are countless shops within a very short walk from the hotel, as well as other attractions such as the Botanic Gardens and National Orchid Garden.
St Regis hotels are well known for being home to incredible art collections, and the Singapore hotel is no exception home to many works from Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Fernando Botero and Marc Chagall. My tips for a stay here are to try the delicious afternoon tea, join the daily art tour and indulge in a jade stone massage at the spa! See my full review here.
If your funds permit, then you could opt for a stay at the famous Raffles hotel. Alternatively, head to their Long Bar for a Singapore Sling and a few photos!
Where To Eat
Singapore is expensive! So if you don’t want to break the bank, then I highly suggest heading to Chinatown or Little India at lunch time, to get a delicious plate. This will probably still set you back around US $15, so the cheapest option is to go for one of the stalls in the Hawker Center, where you can get cheap soups and chicken / rice dishes.
Whilst, you may think the lower price means lower quality, you would be wrong, in fact one stand actually has a Michelin star! Head to Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle to queue for 2 Singapore $ chicken / rice!
You can also explore Clark Quay where there are hundreds of different dining options. This is a popular area with expats, and is especially pretty in the evening when you can wander along the river bank passing brightly lit bridges and restaurants.
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Singapore. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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My Favourite Places To Stay in Singapore
- The St Regis Singapore
- W Sentosa Cove
- Hotel Fort Canning
- Find the best price on hotels in Singapore
- Sign up to Air BNB with this link and receive a US $35 off your first booking!
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