Trip Index (what we have published so far):
Table of Contents
Things to do in Singapore – Understand
Singapore is often called the ‘Switzerland of Asia’. It’s clean, efficient and every rule is adhered to. The city impresses with a convenient way of life (if you can take the crowds) that resembles a big American city more than you think. The city often gets labeled as artificial or boring but Singapore tries hard not to.
Use this guide to see the surprising side of Singapore. The city has taken a book out of many American cities with its stylish eateries, coffee shops and watering holes.
Singapore is expensive though – expect New York City prices – often above that for similar quality.
Things to do in Singapore – Get around
Singaporeans are proud of their good infrastructure. Lots of buses, the MRT trains and the extremely well organized road network keep Singaporeans on the move. Taxis are plentiful and cheap. As usual my preference was Uber which worked flawlessly and had extremely friendly drivers.
Things to do in Singapore – Sights
As with most tropical places – temperatures in the afternoon can be rough. Try to stay indoors or wear dry fit for the sweaty afternoons. There is some variation though to the tropical climate and when I visited in late August the humidity was much lower and there was no rain – that was in stark contrast to the monsoon season in October which sees heavy rains.
MBS has been a hit with locals and visitors alike since it’s opening in 2010. The huge structure resembles a boat mounted on top of 3 skyscrapers. The Marina Bay Sands hotel is said to have highest occupancy rate in the world.
The visitor platform is worth seeing but keep in mind it is very touristy.
Adjacent to the MBS is the result of adventurous gardeners being very creative – Gardens By The Bay- it’s a pretty unique sight. It’s also free and gets a magical sunset light in the late afternoon.
Sentosa is an artificial resort island opened in 2003. It feels much like a beach town and the beaches around Tanjong Beach Club are pretty. When I visited a couple of years ago the crowds were menacing – when I went back last week it was a delightful – not crowded – sunset. It’s a great spot to drink a beer at the beach and watch the sunset. You can also climb up to the wooden structures that form the Southernmost point of continental Asia.
Another set of beaches in Singapore stretches along the Eastern shore all the way to the airport. They are less suited for an actual dip in the water than to see it from aback. There are a number of bike rentals available that allow you to see more of the place and cool yourself down a bit.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens are a great way to study up on the fauna of the tropics. It’s a great hour or so outside minutes (but it will be hot!).
This small little museum has some good exhibitions for mostly local contemporary artists. Its worth a quick visit. The entrance fee is SGD 8.
If you make it out the the Pinnacles you can ride the elevators up to the roof and enjoy a perfect sunset or late night view of the city. The access to the skybridge will cost you SGD 5.
While some stretches of the Singapore River Walk are very commercial other stretches are very pretty – especially later in the day. It’s away from all the traffic and bustle. See the next section for the many food and drink options here.
If shopping is on your mind you might want to head here. The malls aren’t my favorite and the price level is usually higher than in America (for the same chains). Skip this item unless you really like to shop.
Things to do in Singapore – Food and Drink
Singapore really comes to life with all the fantastic options to eat and drink – this is where the city really starts to shine.
This is one of my favorite areas to hunt for coffee shops, food or drinks in the city. Yes many places are touristy but just a block further are some hidden secrets that you should not miss.
Common Man Coffee Roasters is a great looking place directly at the River Walk with options to sit outside and inside. It also has fast Wifi and friendly service. Just next door is the Kith Coffee which gets a lot of locals for Sunday brunch. It is a simple affair and the owners churn out great coffee and breakfast food. The WiFi is super fast and it’s very affordable.
Just a block away is the Book Cafe which as the name implies is more librarian. That’s were people to do some serious work. The food is excellent and the coffee agreeable.
A bit further down is Brewerkz which gets great reviews for its location along the river and flights of craft beer on tap.
Just a few more steps is 28 Hong Kong Street – a speakeasy bar with a drinks menu that is very unique. There is no sign or marking outside (in a true Speakeasy theme) so just try the door confidently.
Not far from the River Walk Area is Tiong Bahru. This neighborhood features lots of historic houses from the turn of the century. If you are around during the day make sure you stop by Tiong Bahru Bakery which has incredibly delicious pastries on offer. This goes very well with the in house coffee shop.
Next door is the Tiong Bahru Market and Food Court which has great fills of Singaporean cuisine.
This temple of the dim sum culture has several outlets all over the city. I really like the dim sum (which isn’t cheap) when I went to Din Tai Fung in Hong Kong (see all m favorite 15 Things to do in Hong Kong) earlier this year. If you haven’t been – try!
Jalan Besar Area
This area close to Little India features a number of – dare I say it – hipster places. Druggists serves great craft beer from all over the world in an unassuming location.
Next door is Chye Seng Huat Hardware Coffee Bar – an unlikely location for what is likely Singapore’s best coffee. This old Chinese warehouse is now a Soho style coffee shop with baristas with a serious attitude (and great coffee making skills).
Nylon Coffee Roaster is located at Everton Park – a mini-city on it’s own and certainly nondescript near Everton Rd. Nylon Coffee Roaster is closed on Monday/ Tuesday so I did not have a chance to actually taste the coffee myself.
The Heritage Center itself is worth a quick visit if you have time. The Sultan Mosque is just stunning!
Little Indian does not need explaining – this is were the Indian part of Singapore hangs out and the options of delicious Indian treats are endless. Some of the best are
MTR 1924 (Vegetarian Food), Usman Restaurant and Komala Vilas Restaurant.
As with all Indian food in general bring strong lips (for its spiciness) and a strong stomach as hygiene is often less than perfect.
Given the many options in Singapore I did not make it to these 3 places that also fetch rave reviews. I will leave them for my next visit. If you have been tell me if they should be on the list please!
– Smith Street Taps for excellent beer
– Level 33 for even more beer!
– The Refinery for Fusion food