Best Things To Do in Singapore
You can enjoy both urban and natural attractions in this mega-metropolis. Perusing the designer stores on the commercial Orchard Road or the bustling stalls in Little India will showcase the city's fast pace. And at the other end of the spectrum, Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Botanic Gardens will provide a breath of fresh air. If you want a playground for both adults and kids, head to Sentosa – an island that hosts Universal Studios Singapore, golf courses, beaches and luxury resorts. To complete your trip, say farewell to the city from the top of the Singapore Flyer (think London Eye) or in iconic Merlion Park on Marina Bay.
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If you're looking for a taste of nature without the trek, Gardens by the Bay is your urban jungle. The attraction is conveniently based in Marina Bay and features a wide of variety of enticing things to do and see that seamlessly mix Mother Nature with the metropolis. The Supertree Grove, the most recognized landmark of the park, features 18 "supertrees" that support the OCBC Skyway, a 419-foot-long aerial walkway that affords views of both the surrounding gardens, as well as Marina Bay.
In the nearby seashell-shaped facilities, visitors will find the highly lauded Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. The Flower Dome is the largest greenhouse in the world and showcases numerous types of plants and flowers grouped by country. Expect to find tulips next to replicas of Dutch architecture and Birds of Paradise flowers in the South African Garden. The Cloud Forest – a crowd favorite – features a 114-foot-tall mini mountain that plays host to the world's tallest indoor waterfall, which visitors can observe via the aerial Cloud Walk or Tree Top Walk. And that's just a few of the activities available on-site.
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For such a large city, you'll be shocked at the amount of parks that share space with the skyscrapers. And the Singapore Botanic Gardens is the epicenter of this natural, flowering splendor. Formerly an unused plantation, the garden hugs 60 acres of the city, not only living up to Singapore's nickname of the City in the Garden, but earning the country's first UNESCO World Heritage site title. The gardens attract both casual naturalists and scholarly botanists with its world-renowned botanical library, acres of varied vegetation and free admission. Numerous attractions dot a map of the gardens; however, we advise that you simply wander through this gorgeous spectacle and unwind. That said: travelers say not to miss the National Orchid Garden for its innumerable floral varieties and breathtaking colors.
Overall, recent visitors were taken by the beauty of the floral grounds, with some saying it was the best attraction they visited during their time in Singapore. Due to the size of the gardens, many travelers suggested allotting hours to tour this attraction because there is just that much to see. Aside from hitting the main points of interests, some recommended taking a jog or packing a picnic as an alternative means of soaking up the attraction. However you decide to experience the gardens, travelers agreed: bring water. With average temperatures reaching the 80s, it's essential you have a bottle to stay hydrated.
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The district of Marina Bay is considered to be Singapore's tourism epicenter. Marina Bay houses some of the city's main points of interest as well as numerous opportunities for entertainment like the ArtScience Museum and The Float at Marina Bay (the world's largest floating stadium). You'll also find the Singapore Flyer, Gardens By the Bay and Merion Park, some of the city's best lookout spots overlooking the bay. And although many features will draw your eye, the centerpiece of Marina Bay is the Marina Bay Sands resort. You name it, this complex probably has it: a world-class casino, multiple nightclubs, performance halls, shops and spectacular overnight accommodations. Plus, don't miss the Sands SkyPark, an elevated open-air concourse that crowns the resort.
Recent visitors said a walk around Marina Bay is a must, especially for first-time travelers. Some recommended a stroll during the day and night, as both take on two different atmospheres. Those who decide to visit at night will be treated to a nightly light show put on by Marina Bay Sands. However, no matter the time of day, visitors say eateries surrounding this tourist mecca are pricey.
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The climate-controlled dome that houses Gardens by the Bay’s Cloud Forest carves out a futuristic looking space along Singapore’s skyline. An indoor waterfall serves as the Cloud Forest’s primary attraction, cascading 30 meters (about 98 feet) down the human-made mountain. The Cloud Forest’s climate aims to replicate misty tropical mountains, which are cooler than the local area, so jets of vapor and spray from the waterfall work together to create the attraction’s namesake fog.
Recent visitors primarily praise the indoor waterfall, adding that the attraction offers a welcome respite from Singapore’s sweltering heat. Travelers also marveled at the plants, which vary from level to level; however, they also warn that parts of the higher levels may be triggering for those with a fear of heights.
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As a nation composed of mostly immigrants, Singapore possesses a number of ethnic enclaves. Chinatown is one of the largest of them. Broken up into five districts, the neighborhood is packed with a variety of things to do and is constantly buzzing with pedestrians passing in and out of its shops, eateries and food stalls.
If you're seeking souvenirs, head over to Pagoda Street for trinkets galore, then consider grabbing a bite at Smith Street or New Bridge Road, the latter of which is known for its barbecued meats. For a night out on the town, venture on over to the Tangong Pagar district, which offers loads of bars, pubs and karaoke lounges. And when you need a break from the hustle and bustle, explore the Telok Ayer district. This area has the largest concentration of ancient mosques and temples in Chinatown. Set out to the Thian Hock Keng Temple for some quiet Zen. And though it's not associated with Chinese culture, you should stop in front of the Sri Mariamman Temple to admire its colorful, intricate facades.
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When you tire of the urban jungle, head to an actual jungle: the Singapore Zoo. The expansive facility is broken up into 11 different zones and has 12 exhibits, affording numerous opportunities to get up close and personal with a diverse array of wildlife. Venture to Primate Kingdom and get a glimpse into the lives of the 39 species of primate that call that zone home. Or visit the Elephants of Asia exhibit, where you can rub elbows with the five big girls (all five elephants are female) hailing from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia. Along with numerous exhibits, guests can also attend animal shows, go on tours and safaris (the night safari is particularly popular), or even feed some of the animals.
Recent travelers raved about the zoo. Visitors appreciated how well-maintained the zoo was: animals appeared to be well looked after and their enclosures appeared to be exactly what their habitats would look like in the wild. Both kids and adults reported being entertained, and some recommended allotting as much as an entire day for the zoo as there is that much to see.
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Every modern metropolis must have its commercial avenue. Singapore's version is Orchard Road. This electric boulevard buzzes with the whizzing of cars, the humming of neon lights and the swiping of credit cards, a far cry from the way things once were way back when. Orchard Road got its name from the presence of fruit orchards, nutmeg plantations and pepper farms that dotted the area in the early 19th century. Today, the mile-long street houses tons of eateries and a whopping 47 shopping malls carrying high end brands, popular international retailers like Zara and H&M as well as local shops. The massive ION Orchard shopping complex is arguably the centerpiece of the street, so you'll inevitably be lured inside by the designer names and stream of fashionable patrons.
We definitely encourage window-shopping, but depending on your purchasing power, you should be wary of the enticing bright lights here. At various stores, the price tags range from reasonable to obscene, so we recommend saving your cash for unique souvenirs found in other character-filled neighborhoods like Little India and Chinatown. If you're still interested in getting a taste of this flashy thoroughfare, Orchard Road also houses art galleries, movie theaters, clubs and various other entertainment opportunities.
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On Marina Bay, Merlion Park hosts one of Singapore's most recognizable monuments. The Merlion statue is the head of a lion with the body and tail of a fish, and the hybrid creature spouts water from its mouth and into the bay. Measuring 28 feet tall, the statue may seem a bit odd to the naked eye, but the statue is actually a nod to Singapore's history. The head of Merlion represents Singapura, the city's first name, which means 'lion city' in Malay. The fish tail and body symbolizes Singapore's old days as a small fishing town. Even though the statue has claimed all the fame, another notable highlight is the park's panoramic view of the bay. Particularly at night, the urban vista with the spectacular Marina Bay Sands resort impresses visitors. Some travelers, however, complained of congestion and suggested visiting when the sun isn't at its peak.
Merlion Park is just a short walk from the Raffles Place MRT. The park is free to visit at any time of the day (though we recommend visiting at night). For more information, check out the Singapore Tourism Board's website.
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Sentosa is an entire island resort dedicated to fun for all ages. You want family-friendly amusement; head to Universal Studios Singapore, Adventure Cove Waterpark or S.E.A. Aquarium.You want some adventure; hit up iFly Singapore, Mega Adventure or The Flying Trapeze. You need some relaxation; then hit the links or stake your claim on miles of beaches, including Palawan Beach, the southernmost point of Continental Asia. And that's really only some of the myriad of activities you can do on Sentosa.
While Sentosa is a vacation destination that could take an entire week to consume, we suggest that you set aside one day from touring Singapore's cultural sites for some island fun. Although some visitors found the conglomerate to be overwhelming, travelers agreed that the attractions are not only top-notch but really fun as well.
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Ever since Chicago built one in 1893 for the World Expo, cities around the world have learned that tourists really like Ferris wheels – huge ones. In 2000, London built its famous Eye, standing 443 feet tall. But Singapore didn't wait long before constructing the Flyer, which trumps its British equivalent by almost a hundred feet. Since opening in 2008, the 42-storey-tall Flyer, billed as Asia's largest giant observation wheel, has offered visitors 360-degree views of the urban landscape from Marina Bay. The attraction claims that visitors can catch a glimpse of neighboring Malaysia or Indonesia from the highest point of the observation wheel.
Travelers label the Singapore Flyer as a must-do, with many saying the views atop the wheel are simply breathtaking. Visitors say the 30-minute ride time gives people ample time to take in the great views and snap lots of pictures. What's more, the pods are air-conditioned, making it a great place to also cool off from Singapore's year-round heat. Some suggested going at night to bare witness to the glittering city lights, or if you can, opt for a visit at dusk or sunset.
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Should you want to stray from the mainland, immerse yourself in Little India. This cultural enclave, located a little more than 2 miles northwest of Marina Bay, features a dense network of streets and shops where you can find anything from flower garlands to fragrant spices and colorful fabrics. Start by perusing the boutiques along Serangoon Road and then venture down the smaller alleyways to discover true treasures. There's also the 24-hour Mustafa Centre, perfect for grabbing any last-minute amenities, and the open-air Tekka Centre, which offers sari and goldsmith retailers. When your feet (and credit card) begin to tire, check out the gorgeous Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, a Hindu place of worship.
Recent visitors enjoyed their trip to Little India, with many citing the neighborhood's authenticity as its best asset. Some travelers who are from or have visited India even went so far as to say that Little India made them feel as if they were in the country itself. Along with shopping, travelers strongly recommended arriving on an empty stomach to get a taste of the great northern and southern Indian dishes the neighborhood has to offer. But plan your time accordingly; Sundays are especially busy, according to reviewers.
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East Coast Park runs more than 9 miles along the southeast coast of Singapore. Visitors to the park can swim in the Singapore Strait; bask under the sun; barbecue and camp in the grass; and cycle or inline skate along the park’s paved path. The small park aims to appeal to every type of traveler, despite only covering less than 1 square mile of space.
Recent visitors appreciated the opportunity to get some exercise in at East Coast Park. They recommended renting a bike to take advantage of the park’s winding trail, while inline skating is also an option. Be careful during the weekends, though, as the paved path gets exceptionally crowded, according to recent visitors. After burning off some calories, travelers recommended taking advantage of the nearby shopping center.
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Anyone who appreciates an excellent jaunt will love a visit to the Southern Ridges. Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve collectively make up the Southern Ridges. The Henderson Waves, a pedestrian bridge with wavy accents, is the area’s most stunning attraction. The bridge connects Telok Blangah Hill Park to Mount Faber Park. The Marang Trail offers another popular option and leads travelers to the top of Mount Faber.
The most commonly praised trail among past visitors is the Forest Walk, which connects HortPark and Telok Blangah Hill Park. The walk takes adventurers above the parks via an elevated platform, giving them a glimpse at the wildlife in and around the trees’ canopies.
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A diversity of exhibits sets the National Gallery Singapore apart from its competitors. The gallery covers various mediums and its artwork ranges from the 1800s to the present; a majority of the art comes from Singapore and Southeast Asia. Exhibitions and programs regularly rotate through the gallery and keep its offerings fresh. You won’t need to leave the National Gallery Singapore to grab a bite, either, as the gallery hosts a variety of restaurants, lounges and cafes.
In addition to its art, past visitors were impressed by the National Gallery Singapore’s unique buildings. The former City Hall and Supreme Court were restored to house the museum, and travelers can even explore the court’s old holding cells. Recent travelers also suggest taking advantage of the gallery’s tours, which are included in the cost of admission.
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Two lines of the Singapore Cable Car Sky Network allow travelers to take in incredible views of the city as they traverse the area between Mount Faber and Sentosa. Six total stations divide the two lines (three stations each), while the lines themselves are a three- to five-minute walk between the Sentosa Station and the Imbiah Lookout Station. While panoramic views are the Singapore Cable Car’s main appeal, the cars are also an excellent means of transportation.
Past visitors describe their experiences on the Singapore Cable Car as nice and relaxing. Even if you’re afraid of heights, the rides are allegedly so smooth that acrophobia is not a problem. Recent travelers suggest getting a one-day unlimited rides pass, so that you can use the cable cars continuously from open to close.
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For those who want a wilder interaction with nature than Gardens by the Bay offers, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve beckons from northwest of the city. The nature reserve sits about 8 miles from Singapore’s city center, in the geographic center of the island. The government dedicated the reserve in 1883 to protect the variety of plant, animal and insect life. Nowadays, travelers can trek to the top of Singapore’s tallest hill, Bukit Timah Hill, via the park’s paths.
Be sure to bring a camera; recent visitors snapped numerous photos of the area’s monkeys, foliage and birds. Past travelers appreciated that the reserve offers four different levels of hikes, which range from paved paths to steep slogs. Cyclists can also enjoy the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve’s well-built mountain biking trail. More information about trails is available at the reserve’s Exhibit Hall, which also offers limited parking that fills up exceptionally quickly, according to recent reviews.
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While we certainly encourage you to visit the neighborhoods of Little India, Chinatown and Kampong Glam (the Malay district), there's one place to preview the enormous diversity of Asian societies in Singapore. For this one-stop cultural shop, head to the Asian Civilizations Museum (ACM). This facility offers a broad survey Pan-Asian civilizations, including China, Southeast Asia and West Asia, with artwork and 1,300 artifacts from all corners of the continent. Wander through galleries and exhibitions and you'll find a diverse array of relics, such as religious sculptures, ornate furniture, Chinese ceramics and even remnants from a shipwreck.
Many recent visitors enjoyed perusing the vast museum as well as the diversity of the art shown. Multiple travelers referenced the Tang Shipwreck exhibit as a must-see. However, if you're not a museum person, or don't have an interest in the subject matter, this attraction may prove underwhelming, as other travelers expressed.
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A visit to the Jurong Bird Park provides an excellent first step into the world of birding. The massive aviary boasts exotic birds ranging from macaws to spoonbills to flamingos. If simply marveling at colorful, flying animals begins to bore you, the park also offers several shows and activities designed to entertain guests of all ages. What’s more, a guided tram is available to ferry visitors around the park for a one-time fee of SG$5 (about $3.69) for adults and SG$3 (about $2.21) for children ages 3 to 12.
Past visitors universally loved the Lory Loft, where the birds will land on your hands and shoulders in search of a sip of nectar. These recent travelers also recommend being sure to catch the High Flyers and Penguin Feeding shows.
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