Singapore is a small island in Southeast Asia that has quickly established a reputation for rapid urbanization and being a melting pot of cultures. Over the past few years, I’ve traveled to Singapore tons of times for work, but never got a chance to visit some of the city’s must-see attractions.
To be honest, I had (still have) a slight bias against Singapore as it is often mentioned as a contender to steal Hong Kong’s crown as Asia’s World City. So this time, I decided to let go of any preconceptions to see Singapore with a fresh pair of eyes.
There’s no doubt about it, there are lots of wonderful places to visit in Singapore and the food is pretty darn tasty! If you are planning a trip to Singapore, read on for some practical travel tips, places to add to your Singapore itinerary, and my honest take on what is and isn’t worth your time and money.
Important things to know before visiting Singapore
- To get into Singapore you’ll need to fly into Changi International Airport. A cab from the airport to the city costs just 25 SGD (18 USD) and takes less than half an hour from door-to-door, or you can hop on a shared airport shuttle for 7 USD if you aren’t in a hurry. Click here to book your Singapore airport shuttle ahead of time!
- The currency is the Singapore Dollar. The exchange rate is approximately US$1 to 1.38 SGD, though most places accept credit card.
- Most Singaporeans are bilingual and almost everyone speaks and understands English.
- Get around Singapore on foot, MRT (subway), bus or by Grab (similar to Uber). Make sure you download the app ahead of your trip as it is fairly ubiquitous, and you can pay by cash or link your Grab account to a credit card.
- You can pay for MRT tickets and bus journeys using cash, or you can purchase an E-Z link card at the airport. The card is similar to London’s Oyster or Hong Kong’s Octopus card and costs 10 SGD – it comes with 5 SGD of credit and 5 SGD is a non-refundable deposit.
- Stay connected and pre-buy a local SIM card. The airport sells SIM cards for 30 SGD a piece, but you can buy a Singapore SIM card for a third of the price here! Just head to the pick-up counter at Changi Airport once you arrive.
- You pretty much never have to pay full price for admissions tickets in Singapore. Just click here and search for places you want to go, and book online for discounted entry or head on over here to read more about how to use Klook to book travel experiences.
- When to visit Singapore: there is no “best time of year” to visit Singapore. It is a tropical country and is hot all year-round, though there may be more rain during the summer months from June to August.
Looking for more Southeast Asia travel tips? Click here for 10 things you should know before you visit Southeast Asia!
Where to stay in Singapore
If you love boutique hotels then you are in for a treat as Singapore has some seriously cool properties. Here are two boutique hotels in Singapore that I loved – you can’t go wrong with either of them!
For a stay in the city centre, look no further than Ann Siang House, a restored heritage property that has been converted into one of the most unique boutique hotels in Singapore. Ann Siang House offers only 20 rooms across three room categories: deluxe, executive and suite, but all of them feature a dreamy “Hypnos” mattress (the manufacturer claims that these are “the most comfortable beds in the world”).
It is a perfect city getaway hotel for first timers to Singapore with a location that can’t be beat – tucked away between Chinatown, the CBD and Tanjong Pagar. It is in one of Singapore’s most vibrant neighborhoods and is a fabulous retreat after a long day of sightseeing and you can venture to Maxwell Centre or Lau Pa Sat for your dose of local food at these hawker centres. To get around, walk over to the Telok Ayer MRT station (5 minutes away) or book a Grab taxi. Click here to book your amazing stay at Ann Siang House in Singapore, or click here to read my full review of the hotel!
If you love getting off-the-beaten-track, then Hotel Indigo is where you need to check yourself into. It is located in the first heritage town of Singapore, Katong, and features design elements inspired by Peranakan culture. The east coast of Singapore is the up-and-coming area with lots of restaurants and bars, and Hotel Indigo is the perfect place if you want to travel deeper in Singapore, avoid the tourist crowds and explore cultural and heritage sites.
The hotel has beautiful rooms designed to reflect the local culture, character and history of the Katong neighborhood, and feature a bright and vibrant colour palette throughout the property. The rooms are spacious and some offer a panoramic view across Katong.
Alternatively, just head upstairs to the rooftop to check out the 25-metre infinity pool or grab a drink on the terrace! Hotel Indigo also offers Yoga classes on Sunday mornings from 8:30 to 9:30 AM – guests can pay a 20 SGD drop-in fee.
I also loved the local sweets that were in the room – these White Rabbit candies made me feel super nostalgic and it took me back to my childhood! Though there is no MRT stop next to the hotel, it is easy to get into town in just 10 minutes or so – just hop on a bus or book a Grab taxi – the fee is approximately 12-15 SGD for a one-way journey. Click here to book your stay at Hotel Indigo in Singapore!
What to see if you only have 3 days in Singapore
Read on for places to visit in Singapore in 3 days – remember, you pretty much never have to pay full price for admissions tickets in Singapore. Just click here and search for places you want to go, and book online for discounted entry!
1. Buddha Tooth Temple in Chinatown
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a magnificent temple complex in the heart of Chinatown. The relic chamber can also be visited within the museum, but photography in the chamber is not permitted. The temple is open from 7 AM to 7 PM every day and entry is free (but donations are welcome).
2. Old Hill Street Police Station
The multi-coloured old Hill Street Police Station is worth a quick stop if you want to see its insta-famous facade and 900+ windows. The structure dates back to 1934 and once housed the Hill Street Police Station and Barracks. Today, it is used by the Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
3. Little India Arcade
Ready for one of the most underrated places in Singapore? The Little India Arcade is filled with trinkets, flowers, festival decorations, Indian pastries and dessert, fireworks (yes, seriously) and you can even get intricate Mehndi (henna) designs applied to your body.
Wander around and take in the craziness – the place is buzzing!
4. Tan Teng Niah’s House in Little India
Built in the early 1900s, the former house of Tan Teng Niah, a businessman, is the last surviving Chinese house in Little India. As far as I know, you cannot tour the interior of the house, but it is one of the most photographed landmarks in Singapore thanks to its colourful exterior.
5. Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
Just steps away from Tan Teng Niah’s villa in Little India is the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temples. It is dedicated to the goddess and destroyer of evil, Sri Veeramakaliamman or Kali, and is a living temple which means that it is an active site of worship with crowds of people walking in and out for prayer.
6. Gardens by the Bay
Probably one of the most popular tourist attractions in Singapore, Gardens by the Bay is a massive complex that contains several conservatories, gardens, parks and dining areas. The 3 must-visit sights within Gardens by the Bay are the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and Supertree Grove – of the 3, only the Supertree Grove is free to enter.
Gardens by the Bay showcases environmental sustainability done right, and utilizes a breadth of different sustainable engineering techniques and technology to conserve energy and water. For example, 11 of the Supertrees are embedded with environmentally sustainable functions – some have photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy, while others are integrated with the conservatories and serve as air exhaust receptacles.
The best way to get there is by taking the walkway from Marina Bay Sands (follow the signs), but make sure you check the closure dates ahead of time to avoid disappointment. To save nearly 20% off your entry ticket to Gardens by the Bay, click here and book your visit! Just load your voucher on your phone and scan for entry – this particular ticket does not include the OCBC Skyway.
7. Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck
Though the entry fee is fairly steep at 23 SGD, I’ve added the observation deck to the list because the view is pretty spectacular, and many other places don’t offer a bird’s eye view of Gardens by the Bay. To the left you’ll see the Merlion from above, and to the right the conservatories and Supertree Grove. Head here just before sunset to watch the colours change! For discounted entry into the Marina Bay Sands observation deck, click here!
8. Merlion Park
Can you really visit Singapore without checking out the famous Merlion statues? The mythical Merlion with the head of a lion and the body of a fish is Singapore’s national icon. There’s actually seven merlion statues around Singapore, but the most famous one can be found in front of the Fullerton Hotel.
9. Helix Bridge
This bridge is straight out of a sci-fi movie and was inspired by the DNA double helix structure. It links Marina Centre with Marina South and is the quickest way to get from Marina Bay Sands/Art Science Museum to the waterfront/CBD on foot. The bridge was built using more than 1500 tonnes of stainless and carbon steel, and is best viewed after dark.
10. Conserved terrace houses in Katong
The East Coast Road conserved terrace houses are not on the tourist radar – yet. Like the famous postcard row of Peranakan Houses on Joo Chiat Road, these terrace houses are colourful and showcase Peranakan design and architecture.
The houses can be found on a sleepy cul-de-sac at 150 East Coast Road just steps away from Hotel Indigo Katong, but please remember to be respectful as these are private residences.
11. Peranakan Houses
Ahhh the famous Peranakan Houses. You may have seen them featured in Crazy Rich Asians, or perhaps EVERY SINGLE INSTAGRAM PHOTO OF SINGAPORE EVER as it is has quickly become one of the most popular Singapore tourist attractions. The style of architecture is fairly unique and uses many colourful glazed tiles with decorative patterns. This particular street has a row of Peranakan-style houses on both sides of Joo Chiat Road and you can visit any time of day.
However, please be mindful that people live here and probably don’t appreciate you moving their trash bins around and blocking them from getting in/out of their houses so that you can get your shot.
12. Masjid Sultan
This gold-domed mosque is a national monument and one of the oldest mosques in Singapore. The black rings at the base of the domes are actually made of glass bottle bottoms that were donated by the poor who couldn’t afford to pay anything else towards the construction of Masjid Sultan. Check out the palm tree-lined street leading up to the mosque and you absolutely must stop at Zam Zam to try their mouthwatering murtabak. I still have dreams about this murtabak.
13. Haji Lane
If you love street art then you need to check out Haji Lane, just around the corner from the Masjid Sultan. It is one of the only legal places to graffiti in Singapore, and its walls are covered in brightly-coloured murals which makes it one of the more popular Singapore tourist spots.
There are a number of small bars and coffee shops (including one that prints your selfie on a latte), as well as lots of boutique shops – you might want to hold off on buying anything though as prices tend to be higher than elsewhere.
What to skip in Singapore
There are a handful of things that I would recommend skipping in Singapore for a variety of reasons. Read on for my take on things not to do in Singapore and what you might want to do instead.
1. OCBC Skywalk
At 22 metres off the ground and surrounded by views of the Supertree Grove from above, this 128-metre long walkway is a popular add-on for anyone visiting Gardens by the Bay. It costs 8 SGD which isn’t a ton of money, but the queue to go up to the walkway can be very long, and to be honest I wasn’t really blown away by the view from the top. Instead, traverse the full length of the skywalk within the Cloud Forest for a similar aerial experience.
2. ArtScience Museum
This museum located next to the Marina Bay Sands has become famous for its Future World Exhibit and unique light installations. Though there is no doubt that the Future World installations are innovative and engaging, it was smaller than I had imagined and there were so many people who just wanted to get their money shot. I didn’t feel that the 18 SGD ticket was worth it (37 SGD if you want to visit all 3 of the museum’s exhibits) and ended up spending less than 20 minutes inside.
There is an exception though – if you are traveling with young children there is a section where the kids can go crazy and engage with the installations (including a big ball pit and slide). I can imagine this being an absolute blast for families with young kids.
3. CÉ LA VI
This famous skybar on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands is a popular spot for first time visitors to Singapore. I visited back when it was Ku De Ta, and the views are okay but not dissimilar from the Marina Bay Sands observation platform. Alcoholic drinks as a whole are expensive in Singapore, but prices are fairly extortionate at Ce La Vi. There’s also a dress code and you might not get to sit down.
Instead, head to Level 33 – a lot more relaxed and the service was great. I walked in without a reservation at 6 PM on a Friday night and there weren’t any seats on the terrace when I arrived, but the staff happily moved me over once a table opened up (and carried my bags over for me as well)! Expect to pay about 20 SGD for a pint of beer or glass of wine.
Where to practice Yoga in Singapore
You can either do your Asana self-practice in your room at Ann Siang House (some rooms come with a Yoga mat) or at the 24-hour fitness centre at Hotel Indigo. Alternatively, many studios offer drop-in classes at approximately 30 SGD per class. I’ve practiced Vinyasa at both Hom Yoga and Yoga Movement, and while I do prefer the classes back home in Hong Kong, these 2 are both good options if you want to practice asana in a class setting in Singapore. Hom Yoga also offers slightly discounted classes for qualified Yoga teachers. For more tips on choosing a Yoga studio while you’re traveling, click here, or check out these ideas for how to integrate more Yoga into your travels!
Ready to book your trip to Singapore? Click here to check current rates and availability at Hotel Indigo Katong, or click here to see which rooms are available at Ann Siang House!
Have you been to Singapore before? What was your favorite place in the city? If you are a first time visitor to Singapore feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them!
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My stay at Ann Siang House was sponsored and I received a media rate for my stay at Hotel Indigo; however, no compensation was received for this review, and as always, the opinions on Yogawinetravel.com are (and always will be) my own! I only recommend products, services and hotels that I have had positive personal experiences with.
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