The mood was festive, the occasion auspicious and the opportunity to return to discover some new places to visit in Singapore was a God-send.
Traffic in Singapore was still choked, though in an orderly fashion and the streetscape had drastically altered, of course.
The skyline, naturally, was barely recognisable with a proliferation of high-rise buildings, in particular, the attention-grabbing S$8 billion Marina Bay Sands casino resort.
You’ll be spoilt for choice with a seemingly endless list of tourist attractions.
- 20 places to visit in Singapore
- 1- Sky Park
- 2- Little India
- 3- Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple
- 4- Merlion
- 5- Singapore Zoo
- 6- National Museum of Singapore
- 7- Gardens by the Bay
- 8- Singapore Flyer
- 9- Singapore Botanic Gardens
- 10- Universal Studios
- 11- Singapore Science Centre
- 12- Clarke and Boat Quays
- 13- Cruise the Singapore River
- 14- Chinatown
- 15- Pulau Ubin
- 16- Sentosa Island
- 17 – Singapore Art Museum
- 18- Peranakan Museum
- 19- Go for a walk
- 20- Holland Village
- 21- Orchard Road
- Singapore travel tips
20 places to visit in Singapore
1- Sky Park
Singapore’s SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands (10 Bayfront Avenue) is a boat-shaped wonder that is suspended 200m above the ground.
It has three hotel towers and a tropical oasis with a stunning infinity-edge rooftop pool. You can access the Observation Deck for a fee.
Perched 200m above the sea is the one-hectare ‘SkyPark’, which spans the three towers of the hotel.
Described as resembling three cricket stumps and crowned with a boat-shaped deck, the colossal, integrated, five-year-old resort has a huge infinity pool right at the top.
It also has an indoor canal, a museum shaped like a lotus flower, shops and restaurants, theatres, a museum and a casino.
The complex project had challenges, but architect Moshe Safdie’s ingenuity was limitless.
He said the design was a “great homage to the sea”: separating the 55-storey hotel into separate buildings in order to avoid forming a wall separating the city from the sea.
In addition to the towers and SkyPark, the resort features the ArtScience Museum in the shape of a lotus flower.
Its unique form channels rainwater into a reflecting pool at the building’s lowest level.
SkyPark is longer than the Eiffel Tower and is large enough to park four-and-a-half A380 jumbo jets! Now the mind boggles when you put that into perspective.
2- Little India
I had returned to Singapore after nearly 10 years and it was at a propitious time when the Hindu festival — Ganesh Chaturthi — was being held to commemorate the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati.
An estimated 9% of Singapore’s 5.3 million population is made up of Indians — and a large number of them were seen shopping in ‘Little India’ which was buzzing with a festive atmosphere.
Serangoon Road and its many tributaries were congested with traffic, both human and motorised, as revellers were swept up in the tide of devotion.
Little India was an explosion of hues and the whole area was vibrant with revelry!
For atmosphere, it’s one of the best places to visit in Singapore.
Shimmering decorations and lights were in abundance, shops overflowed with people buying various essentials including colourful Ganesh statues in all shapes and sizes, flowers were in great demand, as were sweets, fruits, vegetables, garlands, banana leaves and coconuts.
The festival is observed with piousness — just like in India.
Lord Ganesha’s blessings are invoked at most sacred ceremonies, being reminded that He is the God of wisdom and prosperity and the remover of obstacles.
He is the giver of fortune, helping to avoid natural calamities, the one who can remove all impediments to success.
The reverence is uppermost as idols of Ganapati are entrenched in homes and temples and worshipped for 10 days amid chanting of shlokas.
I felt privileged to have been part of the merriment that featured pooja, bhajan and darshan — all of which have left an ineffaceable mark.
3- Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple
Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple — Sri Mariamman — is captivating, not only because of its multi-hued gopuram (entrance tower) in all its kaleidoscopic colour but also for it’s richly embellished six tiers of sculptured Hindu deities and ornamental decorations.
Located at 244 South Bridge Road, it is an agamic temple, built in the south Indian Dravidian style, produced by skilled craftsmen from the Nagapattinam and Cuddalore districts of Tamil Nadu.
Due to its architectural and historical significance, the temple which was founded in 1827 has been gazetted a national monument.
On the priority list was a visit to the 8.6-metre-high Merlion statue that “welcomes all visitors” to Singapore.
An imaginary creature sporting the head of a lion and the body of a fish, the Merlion weighing 70 tonnes, is located in Merlion Park, next to One Fullerton, overlooking scenic Marina Bay.
This is Singapore’s mascot, a mythical creature with the head of a lion and a body of a fish.
The lion head represents the lion and the fishtail symbolises Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village.
Actually, there are five Merlions in Singapore but the one most people photograph has a backdrop of Singapore’s skyline at Marina Bay.
5- Singapore Zoo
Hanging out with the animals at Singapore Zoo is a hoot and the Night Safari (80 Mandai Lake Rd,) is something the locals rave about.
It’s the world’s first wildlife night park.
The 40-minute tram ride showcases eight geographical regions and wildlife such as striped hyenas and Asian lions.
Make sure you go on a night safari.
6- National Museum of Singapore
The National Museum of Singapore presents history in a way that redefines a conservative museum.
If you’re looking for somewhere to delve into the history and psyche of Singapore, this is the place to go.
If you’re travelling with extended family, Singapore is a versatile destination that caters to family members of all ages, from young children to senior citizens.
7- Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is a $1 billion super park that spans 101 hectares, houses over a quarter-of-a-million rare plants”.
Theatres on the Bay is Singapore’s premier performing arts space.
One of the best things to do in Singapore is to catch a show at the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, which is a funky bay-front complex known as ‘the durians’ for its resemblance to the spiky tropical fruit.
Gardens by the Bay has guided tours and self-guided trails.
8- Singapore Flyer
Spinning around on the world’s largest observation wheel we “catch a glimpse of Singapore’s past, present and future” onboard the Singapore Flyer
9- Singapore Botanic Gardens
Enjoy the vivid floral displays at the Singapore Botanical Gardens.
10- Universal Studios
Immerse yourselves “in the movies” at Universal Studios.
11- Singapore Science Centre
“Stimulate your brain” with more than 800 interactive rides at the Singapore Science Centre
12- Clarke and Boat Quays
Visit the transformed Clarke and Boat quays for a meal by the water.
13- Cruise the Singapore River
Take a leisurely cruise on a bumboat along the Singapore River and admire the spectacular view of old colonial buildings, old shop houses with the contrast of Singapore’s modern skyscraper-dotted skyline.
Returning to the sovereign city-state in south-east Asia was akin to stepping back to the future.
A wistful journey that placed the spotlight, 137km north of the equator, to a point near the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula.
Highly urbanised with consistent expansion through land reclamation (area: 716.1km²), Singapore in a few decades has admirably been transformed from a humble fishing village to a pulsating, exhilarating and inexorably changing metropolis!
Look beyond chilli crab and head for the open-air hawker centres in Chinatown, where local eateries dish up mouth-watering staples like Hainanese chicken rice, satay and nasi lemak.
There’s the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple and Jamae Mosque.
15- Pulau Ubin
Pulau Ubin is a hidden gem about 10 minutes by boat but a world away from the soaring skyscrapers.
The old timber houses, country roads and coconut palms of Pulau Ubin have a village feel.
16- Sentosa Island
There are lots of attractions for families on Sentosa Island, including beaches, golf courses, a yachting marina and the island’s first integrated resort.
Resorts World Sentosa has a heap of entertainment and shows and several themed hotels.
17 – Singapore Art Museum
The Singapore Art Museum’s (8 Queen St) is a hotspot for home-grown and international art.
The museum also has a collection of Southeast Asian Nanyang-style art.
18- Peranakan Museum
Soak up the ambience of Malay, Chinese and Peranakan (Chinese traders who married local women) culture.
The Peranakan Museum (39 Armenian St,) offers an interactive peep into this unique heritage.
19- Go for a walk
Explore Singapore’s green spaces.
Take a walk to MacRitchie Reservoir.
The Mount Faber walk goes along a path over bridges and treetop boardwalks ending in Horton Park.
20- Holland Village
This is a cool spot with trendy restaurants, bars, emporiums, galleries, fashion and antique shops.
Try the 2am:dessert bar, which has beautiful desserts.
It’s very casual and very hip in a Singapore kind of way.
It’s the place to rub shoulders with locals and expats.
21- Orchard Road
Looking for a spot of shopping?
Orchard Road has great shops and a buzzy atmosphere at the top end of town.
Singapore travel tips
Planning a trip to Singapore soon? Here are some travel tips to make your holiday go smoother.
How much time to spend in Singapore?
Singapore may be small but there’s lots to do so spend at least three days to give yourself enough time to see all the key attractions in Singapore. You could easily spend a week in Singapore and not get bored.
How to get Singapore
Singapore is one of the top Asian cities to visit and is a gateway between Europe, Asia and Oceania.
Fortunately, Singapore has one of the world’s best airports and many travellers find themselves spending time at Changi Airport.
Several airlines fly to Singapore, including Singapore Airlines and Scoot Airlines.
How to get to the city from Changi Airport
If you’re on a budget, the cheapest option is the metro (MRT), which takes about 30 minutes to get to the city and costs about S$2.
The downside of this is you will have to change trains at Tanah Merah station and if you’re arriving before 5.30 am or after 11 pm the MRT won’t be operational.
Taxis are reasonable and safe. The cost of a taxi from the airport to the city is around S$25.
Where to stay in Singapore
Most people are surprised to discover there are a number of hostels in Singapore that are kind to your budget.
Most are safe, clean and some are pretty funky and could even be classified as “designer”. Here’s a list of hostels in Singapore to check out.
There are a number of apartments, B&Bs and local hotels to choose from in Singapore. Lower cost international chain hotels are also a good option. Here are some examples:
There are more luxury hotels in Singapore than you can poke a stick at. Our favourites are:
Fullerton Bay Hotel
Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore is a modern five-star hotel in a great location. Try the Fullerton Bay Hotel High Tea.
Sofitel So Singapore
Housed within the iconic former telecommunications building at 35 Robinson Road, Sofitel So Singapore redefines luxury boutique accommodation in the heart of the Lion City.
A swanky blend of culture and cuisine, art and architecture sees a chic Singaporean twist that blends seamlessly with a mix of French elegance.
The hotel was designed by MIAJA Design Group, Singapore’s only French design house, led by award-winning Isabelle Miaja.
Spotted throughout the hotel are ‘The Lion’s Seal’ emblems made especially by fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld.
Stimulating features include a light-filled atrium where lobby guests can view unique works of art, a hexagonal light installation (L’Hexagone), a plush ‘bed-table’ within the functional restaurant and a striking golden-tiled rooftop swimming pool with unsurpassed views of the urban city.