57 Essential Singapore Experiences you Need to Try

I have a confession to make:

I never considered Singapore to be much more than a stopover destination, albeit one with a fantastic airport in which to spend a few hours on the way to Australia.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong. After three days exploring some of the city-state’s most famous sights, sounds and flavours, I left disappointed. Not because there wasn’t enough to see, but because I’d simply not had enough time to try everything that Singapore has to offer.

It’s easy to see why Lonely Planet has named it the top country to visit in 2015, and there’s no better time for Singapore to be awarded such a title, as this year it celebrates 50 years of independence. So whether you have several hours or several days to discover this destination, you’ll leave knowing, as I now do, that you’ll be back for more.

Although this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are some of the most essential Singapore experiences to try when you arrive.

EAT

1. Dine with locals at a Hawker Centre

2. Splurge on a meal at L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon, created by the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world

Essential Singapore Experiences - Eat

3. Taste as many different kinds of satay as you can to find your favourite (satay challenge, anyone?)

4. Start your day with a traditional kaya toast breakfast. WARNING: not for those who like their eggs well cooked

5. Taste Chinese, Indian and Malaysian flavours in one dish, such as fish head curry

6. Unwrap a nyonya-style bak zhang, a sticky rice dumpling filled with sweet meat and wrapped in bamboo leaves

7. Cool down with ice kacang, a local dessert that comes complete with shaved ice, jelly, red beans and sweet corn

8. Taste (but don’t smell) a durian

Essential Singapore Experiences - Eat

9. Crack open a chilli crab, one of Singapore’s National dishes (and named by CNN as one of the world’s 50 most delicious foods)

DRINK

Essential Singapore Experiences - Drink

10. Sip a famous Singapore Sling at the iconic Raffles Hotel Singapore

Essential Singapore Experiences - Drink

11. Enjoy a refreshing jug of Tiger beer with your meal

12. Visit Brewerkz, a microbrewery along picturesque Clarke Quay

13. Sip a craft coffee at The New Black, whose website oozes creativity

14. Discover a hidden bar, like The Library, which you can only access with a password (hint: find it on their Facebook page)

EXPLORE

Essential Singapore Experiences - Explore

15. Cruise along the Singapore River and into Marina Bay on a traditional Bumboat

16. Be whisked from the city to the beach on the Sentosa Express monorail

17. Hail a taxi. Cabs are cheap in Singapore (especially coming from London)

18. Hop on a Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour for an overview of the city at your own pace

19. Get a unique perspective from a local guide with Singapore Walks

20. Enjoy a cycle-powered trishaw ride past some of Singapore’s most colourful sights

Essential Singapore Experiences - Explore

21. Feel like a local on the MRT, the city’s fast and clean underground train system

SHOP

Essential Singapore Experiences - Shop

22. Find unique treasures in the boutiques that line Haji Lane

23. Stock up on silks and other fabrics for tailor-made clothes on Arab Street

24. Head to Orchard Road or Chinatown to order your custom made garments

25. Uncover pre-loved treasures at Dark Horse Vintage

26. Marvel at the modern wonder that is ION Orchard mall

27. Indulge in endless retail therapy along Orchard Street

28. Bring home souvenirs for friends and family from Bugis Street Market

Essential Singapore Experiences - Shop

29. Splash out on luxury goods at Louis Vuitton Island Maison, a floating concept store in Marina Bay

VIEWS

30. Catch the cable car from Sentosa Island to Faber Peak for breathtaking views over the city

Essential Singapore Experiences - Views

31. Sip a cocktail at the world’s highest al fresco bar, 1-Altitude

32. Journey 56 floors up the iconic Marina Bay Sands building to the SkyPark Observation Deck

34. Spend half an hour in a pod on the Singapore Flyer to take in the views at a leisurely pace

Essential Singapore Experiences - Views

35. Hang out in the treetops of Singapore’s Supertrees Grove

CULTURE

36. Understand the unique Chinese-Malay culture known as Peranakan at the Peranakan Museum

Essential Singapore Experiences - Culture

37. Absorb the kaleidoscope of colours at the entrance of the Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple

38. Stop to appreciate the many public sculptures that line Singapore’s streets

39. See the inside of an iconic building (and get a culture fix) at the ArtScience Museum

40. Make a wish at UNESCO-awarded Thian Hock Keng (AKA Temple of Heavenly Bliss)

41. Enjoy vibrant colours of street art adorning walls across the city

Essential Singapore Experiences - Culture

42. Peer up at the row of black discs surrounding the golden dome of Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam. The discs are actually soy sauce bottles, a tribute to the poor locals who sold bottles like these to help pay for the refurbishment of the mosque

SIGHTS

Essential Singapore Experiences - Sights

43. Take a photo with the part lion, part fish Merlion statue (and look for the Merlion cub hiding in the background)

44. Pay homage to the founder of Singapore at the Raffles statue

45. Cross Helix Bridge, designed to represent DNA

46. Take in the nightly Wonder Full light and water show that illuminates Marina Bay

ENTERTAINMENT

Essential Singapore Experiences - Entertainment

47. Get an adrenalin rush on one of the rides at Universal Studios on Sentosa Island

48. Skydive without a parachute at iFly, an indoor skydiving experience

49. Cool down without having to hide in a mall at Adventure Cove Waterpark

NATURE

Essential Singapore Experiences - Nature

50. Feel the sand between your toes at one of the beaches on Sentosa Island

51. Escape the city to a bygone era on the electricity-free island of Pulau Ubin

Essential Singapore Experiences - Nature

52. Walk in the clouds at the top of the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at Gardens by the Bay

53. Enjoy some peace and tranquility in Singapore’s 156-year-old Botanic Gardens

FLYING HOME

54. Eliminate any pre-flight stress by strolling through the butterfly house in Changi Airport

55. Chill out by the airport’s rooftop pool

56. Catch a film at a 24/7 cinema (there’s one in each terminal)

57. Treat your weary feet to a free foot massage in one of the plush chairs dotted throughout the airport

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Essential Singapore Experiences

 

Have you visited Singapore? What else would you add to this list?

Elle Croft

Elle Croft is a London-based travel blogger who is equally happy exploring the city she lives in as venturing to far-flung destinations. She's a firm believer in stylish travel, and will always look for a twist on the traditional. Luckily for her, London offers unusual experiences in abundance. When Elle's not travelling or blogging over at A Bird in the Hand you can usually find her, coffee in one hand and camera in another, strolling the beautiful streets of the city she calls home.

SHOWHIDE Comments (20)
  1. I used to be so skeptical about Singapore. I thought it would be really boring compared to other Southeast Asian cities. But after visiting during a quick visa run I realized how wrong I was! Singapore is awesome. And as you’ve laid out here there are so many things to do. And I agree, eating is a must. That country has some killer food 🙂

    1. I was the same. I visited in 2012 and planned to stay for 3 nights but ended up staying for 10 nights we loved it so much! Lots of people thought we were crazy but there was so much to see and do.

  2. It’s great to have such an exhaustive list! One of my best friends is from Singapore and whilst he’s taught me all about the history, culture, etc. tourist hotspots isn’t his strong point!

  3. Highly impressed with this list Elle! I’m a born and bred Singaporean and I struggle when people ask me what there is to do in Singapore (probably like Rebecca’s friend up post). And you didn’t even touch on obvious places like the Zoo and Night Safari! Thanks for this! Will definitely point to this the next time someone asks 🙂

  4. What a great list, lovely to show how much Singapore has to offer! I spent just shy of a week there and left with still so much to see and do, its definitely so much more than a stop over. Also had the best ever afternoon tea there, and it wasn’t at Raffles! 😉

  5. I lived in Singapore 2010-2011 and I’m surprised to see how much it’s evolved in just four years! Especially to see that someone finally broke the satay record (my friends actually tried to beat it once)!

  6. I went to Singapore 6 years ago and wasn’t that impressed! I didn’t do much and actually ended up going the cinema twice just to escape the heat (cinema was air conditioned) I feel like I owe the city a second chance though.

    1. Such a shame that you didn’t really enjoy Singapore, Terry. I hope you find yourself back there one day, because there really is a lot to see and do (although the heat can be pretty intense!)

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