Singapore holidays have all the elements of a perfect Asian city break – mouth-watering cuisine, a mix of charming colonial and inspiring modern architecture, exciting shopping opportunities and world class hotels. But for many visitors it is the melting pot of cultures that is the most appealing side of this cosmopolitan island state.
Whether your favourite things to do in Singapore are absorbing incredible views of the Gardens by the Bay nature park from the Marina Reservoir, or exploring the 19th-century heritage of Baba House, your Singapore holidays won’t be short of wow moments. Make sure you have time to sip a cocktail at the elegant bar of a certain Singapore famous hotel.
Stunning architecture, visionary city planning, and a vibrant culture all make Singapore one of the most popular cities in the world to visit. Here are some tips for the top things to see in Singapore so you can make sure you don’t miss the highlights of this fabulous Asian city. Here are my top things to do in Singapore…
Visit Singapore for a city in a garden
Despite its sophisticated urban environment, Singapore has preserved extensive green spaces, including reservoirs and lush forests. Gardens by the Bay will be first on many visitors’ Singapore sightseeing list, as this incredible combination of architecture and nature has quickly become iconic since its completion in 2012.
After a morning spent shopping in the luxury malls of Orchard Road, escape to MacRitchie Reservoir for a relaxing stroll. When you’ve eaten your fill at the bustling street markets of Little India, spend a few hours admiring the resplendent orchids in the Botanic Gardens, a Unesco World Heritage Site. There are even beaches to explore on the resort island of Sentosa.
Although it’s easy to think of Singapore as a huge bustling metropolis, some of my abiding memories are of the many tropical, green spaces in the city. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is the traditional place to find nature, and I have spent many hours here under its shady trees. Don’t miss the National Orchid Garden here, as it’s absolutely beautiful.
The newest green attraction in Singapore is Gardens by the Bay, where nature meets cutting-edge architecture over 101 hectares of reclaimed land. Don’t miss the Cloud Forest and the Secret Garden. This is an amazing spot to take night photographs, especially during the sound and light show in the evenings.
Shop on Orchard Road
A bewildering array of shopping opportunities can be found along Singapore’s Orchard Road, from high fashion and accessories to the latest electronics. There are also gourmet eateries, art galleries, and beauty and wellness salons to keep shoppers happy. This year pedestrian-only nights make this vibrant area even more accessible for shoppers.
Wander along the Waterfront
The waterfront promenade in Singapore is the perfect place for a stroll both during the day and in the evening. The Esplanade is near the mouth of the river and includes the lovely Esplanade Park and the Merlion Park. From here you can view some of Singapore’s shiny skyscrapers and enjoy the restaurants and bars. At night there’s a sound and light show, and the sunset views are worth seeing from a good table. One of the newer architectural highlights is the Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay performing arts venue.
Sip on a Singapore Sling
You can’t visit Singapore without having a Singapore Sling at the long bar at Raffles Hotel. There isn’t much left of Singapore’s colonial past, but Raffles is a timeless attraction. Built in 1887 and named after Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, this luxury hotel welcomes visitors with outstanding service. You don’t have to stay at this Singapore hotel to enjoy the romance of Raffles, the excellent cuisine, or the gin cocktails!
Feast on Singapore street food
The street food of Singapore is justifiably legendary and where the advantages of a multi cultural society really come into their own. Encounter the flavours of bustling Chinatown and stimulate your tastebuds in Little India, although perhaps not on the same day.
Start your day in Singapore breakfasting on Kaya Toast and Kopi (coffee) is an essential morning ritual. Delicious kaya jam and coffee with sweetened condensed milk will set you up for the day.
Make sure you try Chilli Crab, the wildly popular Singaporean speciality is a street hawker classic that has become the national dish. Juicy crab is sizzled with tomato, shrimp, eggs and sambal hot sauce.
You can’t visit Singapore without trying the famous Singapore-style Hokkien Mee noodles. Stir-fried rice and egg noodles are tossed with seafood and spring onions, served with lime and fish sauce.
The Singaporean neighbourhood of Little India has long been home to a strong Tamil population, which settled here east of the river during colonial times. It’s still an area with many cottage industries, and the markets are a good place to find souvenirs. Try tasty Indian food in one of the many restaurants along Serangoon Road, and be sure to take a look at the beautiful Hindu temples and mosques in Little India.
Discover the refined flavours of Nyonya food, found in both Singapore and Malaysia. Nyonya or Peranakan is a mix of Chinese immigrant and local Malay culture and deliciously unusual flavours mark their unique dishes.
The roar of Formula 1 cars fills the city when the Singapore Grand Prix comes to town in September. The Marina Bay Street Circuit is the first in Asia designed for F1 races. Off track there are plenty of parties and events planned as fans soak up the atmosphere of this vibrant city.
Singapore hosts a variety of festivals celebrating the island’s rich multi-cultural heritage, featuring the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities.
At the end of August Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations kick see colourful street lights in Geylang Serai and crowded street bazaars selling Malay delicacies and festive fare, as well as traditional clothing, trinkets and decorative items. Meanwhile, at Kampong Glam – the historic seat of Malay royalty in the heart of the city – thousands of sparkling fairy lights will adorn the streets and stalls will offer a wide selection of local festive Malay cuisine, traditional handicrafts and other goods. Visitors can also participate in the breaking of the fast, or Iftar, at the compound of the Sultan Mosque on Muscat Street.
Chinatown is the centre of attention for the Mid-Autumn Festival in September, with colourful lanterns, lights, bazaars and fireworks. The celebration is a Chinese tradition where families and friends gather for reunions, enjoying mooncakes and sipping tea while viewing the moon at its fullest and brightest. Other popular places to visit at this time are the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Hong Lim Park, along the Singapore River, the Albert Mall and the Chinese Garden.
In October Little India lights up for the Deepavali festivities. This is a time for rejoicing and renewal as Hindus all over the world celebrate the triumph of good over evil and many homes light up little lamps to usher in light and good fortune. During this time, Little India will be bathed in dazzling lights, while its streets will resound with the bustle of the festive bazaars and lively cultural activities and performances. Festive highlights include Navarathiri or the Nine Nights Festival, Theemithi or the Fire Walking Festival, the spectacular UTSAV Street Parade, and a jubilant Countdown Concert on October 26th.
Enjoy your time in Singapore!
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