12 things to do in Singapore


Home to some of the world’s most innovative green spaces, trendiest bars, stunning museums, and next-level hawking cuisine, today’s Singapore is anything but boring.

A futuristic skyline looms above a famous, clean and increasingly greener city-state, rich in history and culture that oozes Singapore’s bustling food courts, incense-scented temples and streets lined with heritage shops. And thanks to Singapore’s public transport system, getting around is a snap. Here are the best things to do when you visit.

Eating in one of the many hawking centers is the best way to soak up the local life and sample some amazing food © T. Dallas / Shutterstock

Hit the hawking centers of Singapore

Hunger? You’ll want to be upon your arrival at this culinary hub of Southeast Asia. Although there are many fine restaurants across Singapore, its hawker centers are legendary. These bustling food courts are so central to Singapore life that the culture of hawkers has been inscribed on the 2020 Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. And there’s no better way to tap into Singapore’s psyche than to savor a serving of spicy, flaky laksa. murtabak (stuffed savory pancake), nut satay or barbecued skate – to name just a few of the mouth-watering dishes on offer at the 100 or so hawker centers dotted around the island nation. Hawker food is not only the cheapest way to eat in Singapore, but it’s also the most fun.

Go visit the museums

Singapore now rivals the world’s largest museum cities with its ever-growing array of cutting-edge cultural institutions. Blockbusters include the Museum of Asian Civilizations, a captivating ode to Asia’s intercultural connections; the National Museum of Singapore, which traces the history of Singapore; and the National Gallery Singapore, the world’s largest public collection of art from Singapore and Southeast Asia.

There are many other smaller and more original museums to explore, from the Peranakan Museum which celebrates the rich culture of the unique ethnic group born from the meeting of Chinese and Malay peoples; at the newly renovated Changi Museum & Chapel which highlights the stories of prisoners of war and civilians interned in Changi Prison during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.

Visit Singapore’s iconic gardens

Singapore is home to two of the world’s most iconic gardens, and you’ll want to add both to your itinerary. Established in 1860, the 82-hectare Singapore Botanic Gardens are a UNESCO-listed tropical wonderland teeming with lush thematic gardens, including a ginger garden featuring over 550 species. Don’t miss the incredible National Orchid Garden within the resort, and the new Gallop Extension opened in 2021 which includes an excellent botanical art gallery.

Across town from Marina Bay, Gardens by the Bay is an even greater fantasy land of misty biodomes, high-tech Supertrees, and whimsical sculptures. The Supertrees have appeared for the Garden Rhapsody show twice a night, and in end of 2019 an observatory has been opened at the top of the larger Supertree.

Dad is talking selfie with his daughter in the garden
Spend time relaxing in one of Singapore’s many lush gardens and wild green spaces © Tang Ming Tung / Getty Images

Soak up Singapore’s other green spaces

Singapore’s green spaces don’t stop at its iconic gardens. There are over 350 parks and gardens dotted around the verdant city-state, five of which are connected by a spectacular 10km trail known as the Southern Ridges, with Singapore’s tallest pedestrian bridge. You can also take a tree walk at MacRitchie Reservoir, immerse yourself in history at Fort Canning Park, and hike to Singapore’s highest peak in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve – and that’s just the start.

Explore the historic districts of Singapore

Singapore’s historic districts offer a fascinating glimpse into the early days of the island nation. Start in the atmosphere of Little India, where colorful shops are full of aromatic spices and colorful saris. Serene temples rub shoulders with trendy bars and restaurants in bustling Chinatown, while the Colonial Quarter is teeming with grand buildings constructed under the British administration.

Home to the affluent elite of the late 19th to mid-20th centuries, the newly renovated east coast village of Katong is home to some of the city’s finest boutiques, while behind Chinatown, the 1920s housing estate of Tiong Bahru is now a hipster haven of shops and cafes. And there are plenty of other interesting neighborhoods to discover beyond.

Look for the quirky side of Singapore

Singapore has a reputation for being a bit rectilinear, but scratch the surface and you’ll find it’s full of quirks. On the West Coast, the Chinese mythology theme park known as Haw Par Villa is perhaps the strangest theme park you’ve ever visited. There is an entire museum dedicated to vintage cameras to explore in Kampong Glam, Singapore’s vibrant Muslim quarter, and many colorful street arts to discover across the city.

People wonder in the Chinatown district at night in Singapore.
With its balmy weather, life in Singapore thrives after dark with bars, clubs and underground bars hidden away © f11photo / Shutterstock

Immerse yourself in Singapore’s nightlife

From sultry rooftop bars to moody underground bars, from bustling nightclubs to laid-back craft beer bars, Singapore’s ever-growing collection of nightclubs – combined with its year-round mild climate – makes it an ideal city for visit the city. Singapore’s best watering holes are scattered throughout the city, but with a large contingent found in Chinatown, this is a great place to start your evening. And have you even been to Singapore if you haven’t sampled a Singapore Sling at the historic Raffles Long Bar? The national drink recently received a update to suit contemporary tastes, most of which would agree that this is a step up from the ultra-soft original.

Escape to Pulau Ubin

Nestled between mainland Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia, this rustic island getaway offers a glimpse of the kampong (village) life of yesteryear in Singapore. Board a bumboat (motorized sampan) in Changi for a 15-minute ride to Pulau Ubin, where you can hire a bicycle to explore the sleepy island. Cycle through ancient mangroves, lotus-covered lakes, tin-roofed huts and dilapidated shrines, complemented by a simple seafood meal by the sea. There is also a mountain bike trail to tackle the trail. along the way.

Enjoy a day on Sentosa Island

Connected to the mainland by a bridge, Sentosa Island is a playground for all ages: a plethora of theme parks, luxury resorts, beach bars, and even an underground casino. Whether you’re traveling as a couple or with family, friends or solo, there really is something for everyone here, from the rides and shows at Universal Studios, to the giant tanks filled with marine life at the SEA Aquarium and the history of WWII at Fort Siloso. Palm-fringed bars line Singapore’s best beaches while the best restaurants overlook glitzy yachts.

Helix Bridge with Marina Bay Sands Hotel in the background at night in Singapore.
The must-see Marina Bay Sands Hotel also boasts the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool © joesayhello / Shutterstock

Treat yourself to a luxury stay

From grand historic dorms to modern wonders like the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which is topped by the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool, Singapore is home to some of the world’s most iconic luxury hotels. So if you are looking to splurge this is a memorable place to do it.

Reopened in 2019 following a major renovation, the Raffles Singapore merges 19th-century Singapore glamor with 21st-century amenities. The Warehouse Hotel has reinvented a historic riverside warehouse for the modern experiential traveler, while the Parkroyal on Pickering blends nature and luxury with cutting-edge sustainability initiatives.

Budget travelers can also enjoy a slice of Singaporean luxury at the Adler Hostel. Furnished with Chinese antiques and feather duvets, this Chinatown bed takes the inn to new heights.

Visit Singapore’s famous wildlife attractions

While nothing beats spotting wildlife, the lush, open-air enclosures of the Singapore Zoo come right after. It’s one of the few places outside of Borneo or Sumatra where you can stand under the trees with orangutans swinging overhead, and the zoo is well known for its conservation efforts.

In the north-central part of the island, the Singapore Zoo is one of three wildlife attractions that are now part of the new Mandai Natural Area as well as River Wonders (formerly River Safari) featuring over 7,500 aquatic and terrestrial animals, and the wildlife-based Night Safari. There is also a new bird park and a rainforest-themed animal park en route to the enclosure, which will also include a Banyan Tree resort with treehouse-style rooms.

Go shopping on Orchard Road

A 2.5 km strip of beautiful malls, department stores and specialty stores, Orchard Road is Singapore’s retail wonderland. You’ll find every brand imaginable in its maze of perfectly air-conditioned stores, from emerging local designers to global heavyweights and European couture. But there’s more to Orchard Road than just shopping, with some of the city’s best dining along the Strip including contemporary Michelin-starred European favorites Iggy’s and Buona Terra.

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