I will have to admit, I think Singapore stole my heart. No other city can compare to it. And if there is one, then I haven’t been there yet!
Singapore was my first stop during my SE Asia trip and it absolutely blew my mind. I loved how modern and developed it was, how so many different religions and cultures live together in harmony, and how clean and sustainable the city is aiming to be. So if you are ever in SE Asia, don’t forget to pay Singapore a visit and if you don’t know what to do whilst you are there this is my top 11 things that will make you fall in love with it.
1. Cocktails at Marina Bay Sands Hotel
First things first, if you haven’t been to Marina Bay Sands Hotel, have you even been to Singapore? We’ve all heard of the famous infinity pool which overlooks this amazing city. Yes, that’s probably the most instagrammable place EVER. However, the pool is now open to hotel guests only. So if you are on a backpacker budget and cannot spare at least £500 for a standard double room, unfortunately, you will not be able to have a dip.
Your alternative is to visit Ce La Vi Skybar which is located on the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands hotel or you can go to SkyPark which is one floor below. Note that SkyPark charges you around $26 for an entrance and Ce La Vi bar is $20 to get in (this only applies to Friday nights and weekends, otherwise free). However, you can spend this money on a drink. I opted for the latter. I have to say they make some banging Mojitos and even though you can’t see the infinity pool the views are still pretty damn amazing.
2. Water and Light show by Marina Bay
There’s something about Singapore and its light shows. They are everywhere and they are flipping spectacular. If you are in Singapore only for a day or two make sure that you see Marina Bay Sands at night. They run water and lights shows every day at 8pm, 9pm and 10pm, and I will have to admit, I am not sure I have seen a better one. If you don’t believe me, check out their website. Have I mentioned that it’s completely free?
3. Gardens by the Bay Light show
Probably the SECOND most visited and important object in Singapore – Gardens by the Bay. Singapore wouldn’t be Singapore without it. If you managed to go to an 8pm light show by the bay, make your way to the Gardens and admire another spectacular light show which starts at 8.45pm every night. I promised you it will be the most magical thing you have ever seen. Told you, they are all about their light shows!
4. Singapore Slings at Clarke Quay
If you are up for a night out – Clarke Quay is the place to be. It has plethora of bars and clubs, and nothing beats spending an evening drinking Singapore slings and watching the world go by. If you feel like continuing your night into the early hours, you can check out the Zouk. They claim to be the 4th best club in the world… I wouldn’t agree with that, but if you are into top charts, a good sound system and some confetti then this is the place to be.
5. ArtScience Museum
Honestly couldn’t recommend this more. It’s not just an incredibly beautiful building surrounded by a pool of water lilies but it also holds some top class exhibitions. If you are on a backpacker budget it might seem like a lot of money to be spent on a museum but I can guarantee you it’s worth it.
When I visited Singapore I managed to catch TeamLab’s work (which I wanted to see for ages and their exhibition in London got sold out before it even opened!) as well as learn more about street art. Yes, I know, in the museum! An entrance to one exhibition is $19, however, if you go to 2 or 3, you’ll get more for your money. Check out their current exhibitions here.
6. Treetop Walk
If you feel like escaping the urban jungle and exploring the actual jungle, you have to do a treetop walk. There are different trails to suit everyone and they range from 2k to 11k. However, to get to the main treetop walk you will need to do at least 7k. Sorry! Don’t forget to bring an umbrella or a poncho because if it rains, you will literally be stranded in the middle of the jungle.
7. $5 dinners at a local Hawker centre
Singapore wouldn’t be Singapore without its Hawker centres. I spent a couple of days just exploring them and aiming to eat $5 dinners (not that I was on a $5 a day budget but it was amazing to see what I could for approx £2.50) and oh god, it was good! You can get everything from Indian biryanis to Chinese dim sum and stir-fries. Go ahead and indulge. I would highly recommend Lau Pa Sat Hawker. It might be on a pricey side compared to other hawkers as it’s in the financial district but it’s definitely worth the money. (And don’t worry about food poisoning. Singapore is one of the cleanliness places in SE Asia, so you’ll be just fine.)
And by the way, the hawker stall which serves Michelin star chicken and rice is based in Chinatown. The meal there is only $2. I am not even joking! Though be prepared to queue for at least an hour!
8. Teh Tarik (or ‘pulled tea’)
Teh Tarik or so called ‘pulled tea’ is a very popular drink all around Singapore and Malaysia, so make sure you try some. As someone who lived in England for 7 years and appreciates a good cup of tea, I can only say one thing ‘OMG’.
It’s strong and milky and just the way you want your tea to be. They make it with single cream or condensed milk so this is why it tastes SOOO good! You’ll see people drinking it around Hawker centres or carrying them in plastic bags. Yes, plastic bags! It can be served hot or cold and will only cost you a $1.
9. Free walking tour in China Town
I always recommend people to go on free walking tours and could not rave more about the walking tour around China Town. At the end of the day, Chinese make up 76% of Singapore population. You might as well learn a fact or two about how they immigrated to this country, how they started off and how they built the city. The tour will take you to famous landmarks such as the Opium den, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown hawker centre, etc. I booked mine via Monster Day Tours which run every other day at 9am.
10. Two words – Ladies night
Every Wednesday is a ‘ladies night’ in Singapore. This means that a lot of bars and clubs do not charge girls for their entrance, whilst guys have to pay $20-$30. Some even offer up to 10 free drinks a night! If you ask me, sounds a bit sexist but I guess as long as I’m being poured free Mojitos and lychee margaritas, I will keep my mouth shut.
11. The Botanic Gardens
If you have at least half a day to yourself, make sure you visit the Botanic Gardens. I only had a couple of hours and I really regret not spending more time there. It’s so tranquil and so beautiful, and you can even learn a thing or two. Locals go there to chill and exercise, so you can even bring your yoga mat and enjoy some peace and quiet. Have I mentioned that it’s UNESCO heritage site?
Oh, Singapore, I think I will need to be back!