Singapore Travel Guide

Singapore  #7 in Best Places to Visit in Asia
Credit

Courtesy of Westend61/Getty Images/Westend61

Free Things To Do in Singapore

If you have extra time, Chinatown is worthwhile.
  • #2
    Things to do in Singapore
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    #2 in Singapore
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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. 

  • #3
    Marina Bay
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    #3 in Singapore
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

  • #5
    Chinatown
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    #5 in Singapore
    Shopping, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

  • #7
    Orchard Road
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    #7 in Singapore
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

  • #8
    Merlion Park
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    #8 in Singapore
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

  • #11
    Little India
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    #11 in Singapore
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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. 

  • #12
    East Coast Park
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    #12 in Singapore
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

  • #13
    The Southern Ridges
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    #13 in Singapore
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

  • #16
    Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
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    #16 in Singapore
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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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