11 Must-Do Things in Singapore
1. Explore the Gardens by the Bay
You could spend hours wandering through the gardens. Here you’ll find the famous super tree grove and cloud forest. There are many unique aspects about this spot, one of which being that the Flower Dome is the largest glass greenhouse in the world. You can climb between the super trees using the OCBC Skyway. The construction of the gardens was intended to provide recreational space for Singaporeans while showcasing energy efficient and sustainable building practices.
2. Ride the observational wheel
Called the Singapore Flyer, it was built in 2008. It stands 165 meters off the ground and offers a bird’s eye view of the bay. Tickets are about $25. I don’t often go for this sort of attraction, but I took the ride in the evening and it was well worth it to see all the lights from a new vantage point.
3. Visit the deck of the Marina Bay Sands
A portion, most notably the infinity pool, of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel is reserved for hotel guests. You can however take an elevator ride to the viewing deck where you can look over the city and the gardens. From here, you can see the hundreds of boats carrying shipping containers that make Singapore’s Port one of the busiest in the world. Tickets cost about $20. The Sky Deck also makes for an excellent place to watch the sunset. You can explore other great Singapore sunset viewpoints here.
4. Visit Sri Mariamman Temple
Located near Chinatown, be sure to stop and see this temple. It is the oldest Hindu temple in the country. Like many Hindu temples, it is intricately detailed and colorful. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Mariamman, known for her power in curing illnesses.
5. See the iconic Singapore Merlion
This landmark is a statue of a merlion, a creature with a lion head and fish body. Singapore’s original name was Singapura, meaning “lion city” in Malay. The mythical creature is rooted in symbolism for the country. There are several officially recognized Merlions around the city. You could make a scavenger hunt out of finding them.
6. Check out the Sultan Mosque
This is the oldest mosque in Singapore. With about 15% of Singapore’s population practicing Islam, the mosque was designated as a national monument. It has remained largely unchanged since its construction was completed in 1932. The majority of muslims in Singapore are Sunni and of Malay descent.
7. Watch the light show
Every evening at 8:00 pm the bay puts on a light show. Find a good spot around the water’s edge for a fun free event. If you miss the 8:00pm show, no worries. There is usually a second or third act depending on the day. Furthermore, you could also manage to see the lightshow with a firework display if you time your event on a holiday.
8. Spend a day at Sentosa Island
Sentosa is a small island right off the main island of Singapore. What you do on Sentosa depends on your budget. There is everything from casinos and a Universal Studios to the Adventure Cove Waterpark and the SEA Aquarium. If you’re on a budget, you could simply just take a beach day at Palawan Beach and see the popular suspension bridge or the quieter Tanjong Beach. You could even take a cable car to and from the island for about $10.
9. Eat at a hawker center
A hawker center is essentially a food court filled with street food stalls that have moved into more permanent homes to create more sanitation and regularity for the businesses. There are quite a few in Singapore. Try the Lau Pa Sat Center or the Chinatown Food Street.
10. Wander down Haji Lane
You can find the narrow Haji Lane in the Kampong Glam neighborhood. It’s full of cute boutiques and colorful storefronts for you to browse through. There are tons of spots to choose from for a drink or snack. Try Limaa for a smoothie bowl adorned with dragonfruit.
11. Snack your way through Golden Mile
The Golden Mile Complex is a multistory commercial hub. Thai shops fill many of the stalls, making it a bit of a “Little Thailand” for the sizable Thai residents of Singapore. It should be noted that the complex is facing pressure to be sold off and/or be demolished, displacing an important hub for Thai minorities. That said, you can still stroll through here to find an affordable and delicious lunch for the time being.
Other (possibly silly?) things to try:
Unlike most of Southeast Asia, accommodation in Singapore can be quite expensive. Even hostels cost more than usual. I opted to try a “podstel” in Singapore. There are a few different properties that offer this, but I stayed with Wink Capsule Hostel and enjoyed it. Another memorable experience I had in Singapore was visiting a cat cafe. Though not always enforced, pet cats are banned in public housing. This has made cat cafes a bit more popular in Singapore. They’ve also gotten a bit more popular in the U.S. since I went over 5 years ago, but The Cat Cafe serves as a cafe that homes rescue kitties. Coffee with a cause!
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