Singapore is a melting pot of Asian cultures, flavors, sights, sounds, and experiences, beckoning visitors to come and enjoy a vast array of activities and attractions in one of the world’s cleanest and safest tourist destinations. As you step off your plane at Changi Airport, you will find yourself in another world, surrounded by spectacular modern architecture, a profusion of orchids, and the ever-present aromas of wonderful Asian-fusion cuisine.
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1.The Gardens by the Bay
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The Gardens by the Bay is a must-see attraction for all visitors to Singapore. The mammoth gardens cover over 100 hectares of reclaimed land and are home to over one million plants and include one of the largest (cooled) conservatories in the world. You are very welcome to explore the gardens at your own pace – trails maps are available. You can get a quick overview on a 20-minute audio tour or on the Auto Rider, but the 1 or 2-hour guided tour is the best way to enhance your visit. Highlights of the gardens include the two cooled conservatories, the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest, the Supertree Grove, the Heritage Garden and the fabulous Children’s Garden.
The Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953, Phone: 656-420-6848
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Essential viewing for history buffs and particularly for anyone interested in World War II military history, the Battlebox is an underground command post inside Fort Canning Hill in the heart of Singapore. The post played a crucial role during the WWII Japanese invasion of Singapore and is the place where the momentous decision was taken by the British commander to surrender Singapore to Japan in February 1942. Your guided Battlebox Tour will tell you all about the events that led to this surrender (the largest British capitulation in history) and show you how the underground command center functioned back then. If you would like to see more of Fort Canning Hill, you can sign up for the Of Graves, Guns and Battles Tour offered twice a week.
The Battlebox, Fort Canning Hill, 2 Cox Terrace, Singapore 179622, Phone: 656-338-6133
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3.Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
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The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum (BTRTM) is a logical add-on to any tour of Singapore’s Chinatown. Although the temple is relatively new (2007), the rich décor and impressive collection of ancient relics make for an interesting and educational visit. The name of the temple derives from a left canine tooth, believed to that of the Buddha, which was recovered from his funeral pyre in India and is now displayed in the grounds of the temple, which has been designed following the Tang Dynasty style. You can view the tooth relic, which is housed in an enormous solid gold dome (stupa), from the visitor’s gallery. Other highlights of the Temple are the Buddhist Culture Museum on the third floor and the Eminent Sangha Museum, where cultural performances are held.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, 288 S. Bridge Rd, Phone: 656-220-0220
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4.Jurong Bird Park
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The brightly colored inhabitants of the Jurong Bird Park have been thrilling visitors for more than 45 years, making this park one of Singapore’s most popular attractions for both locals and visitors. The park has some of the largest walk-in aviaries in the world and there is so much to see that you will need to set aside at least a half-day to make the most of your visit. Highlights that you will definitely not want to miss include the Waterfall Aviary (home to over 600 birds), the nine-story Lori Loft (filled with lorikeets), Flamingo Lake, Pelican Cove, and Penguin Coast. In addition, you can book a lunch with the parrots, see birds of prey in action at the Kings of the Sky Show, and visit the fascinating Breeding and Research Center.
Jurong Bird Park, 2 Jurong Hill, Singapore 628925, Phone: 656-265-0022
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5.Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
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The Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (also known as Bright Hill Monastery) is a working monastery and Buddhist university situated right in the heart of Singapore. The beautiful monastery is the largest of its kind in Singapore and offers an oasis of calm and tranquility in the center of the bustling city. A highlight of your tour will be visiting the Grand Buddha, located on the fourth floor of the main temple, and seeing the interesting architecture of the building. Since this is a religious site you need to dress appropriately – cover your shoulders and knees and remove your shoes. On weekends the monastery is packed with devotees, but if you visit during the week, you can stroll around at your own pace.
Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, 88 Bright Hill Rd, Singapore 574117, Phone: 656-849-5300
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Kusu Island is located just 6 km (about an hour by ferry) from mainland Singapore and offers day-trippers an interesting and serene outdoor excursion away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The origin of the island is wreathed in legend, and many Singaporeans believe it to be a sacred place. You can take a public ferry to Kusu Island and spend a few hours exploring the Chinese temple, the three Malay shrines, and the tortoise sanctuary, before settling down to enjoy pristine beaches. The picturesque lagoons offer the ideal spot for swimming and if you try snorkeling, you may just be lucky enough to spot a sea turtle gliding beside you. Bring a picnic and plenty of refreshments as there are no shops on the island.
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7.Lau Pa Sat
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Lau Pa Sat is without doubt the most interesting of Singapore’s many food courts due to its unusual history and architecture, making it a must-see attraction for both foodies and architecture enthusiasts. The distinctive octagonal building, which bears a graceful bell tower, was built in its current location in 1894 and has been declared a national monument. Striking features of the building include fretted eaves, soaring arches, and Victorian columns topped with fine wrought-iron work that was made in Glasgow, Scotland. Lau Pa Sat is the ideal place for foodies to try a variety of excellent Singapore “street food,” including Hainanese chicken rice, which is so widely eaten that it has almost become a national dish.
Lau Pa Sat (also known as Telok Ayer Market), 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582, Phone: 656-220-2138
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8.MacRitchie Nature Trail
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Nature lovers, walkers, hikers, and anyone who loves the great outdoors should make a point of visiting the MacRitchie Nature Trail in Reservoir Park during your visit to Singapore. The 11-km nature trail meanders through tropical rainforest along the edge of the main reservoir and is perfect for walking, running, and hiking with the added bonus of wildlife watching along the way. In addition to the nature trail, you can also do the 250-meter Tree Top Walk along a towering suspension bridge that offers great views of resident long-tailed macaques, squirrels, lizards, and dozens of birds. If you would like to try kayaking on the reservoir, you can hire equipment on site and there is a restaurant at the visitors center.
MacRitchie Nature Trail, Mac Ritchie Reservoir Park, Singapore 298717
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Your visit to Singapore would not be complete without seeing the city’s iconic symbol, the famous Merlion statue in Marina Park. The Merlion, which is half fish (to symbolize Singapore’s origins as a humble fishing village) and half lion (from the city’s original name Singapura, which is Malay for lion city) stands proudly spouting water into Marina Bay. Besides snapping a souvenir picture with the Merlion you can enjoy amazing views out over the bay – try to time your visit to coincide with the spectacular Wonder Full, which is a twice nightly laser, light, and water show across the bay at the Marina Sands complex. If you feel like an adventure, you can jump aboard a restored bumboat for a cruise up the Singapore River to see other attractions like Clarke Quay and Boat Quay.
Merlion Park, One Fullerton, Singapore 049213
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10.National Orchid Garden
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The National Orchid Garden is located within the central core area of the enormous Singapore Botanical Gardens and is a must-see attraction in the city. Here you can admire the remarkable work of the botanists who have been hybridizing orchids since 1859, resulting in spectacular displays of over 1,000 species and more than 2,000 orchid hybrids. You can delight your senses in the Scented Orchids Corner in the Tan Hoon Siang Misthouse, stroll through the VIP Orchid Garden and the Celebrity Orchid Garden, and then see some of the original breeding stock in the Heritage Orchid Garden. When Singapore’s humidity gets a little overwhelming you can head to the Cool House, where cool climate orchids thrive. Guided tours of the gardens are also available.
National Orchid Garden, 1 Cluny Rd, Singapore 259569, Phone: 656-471-7361
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Night Safari is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Singapore; a unique opportunity to step into the twilight zone of nocturnal animals and see them up close. Night Safari has a variety of options for you to choose from, including the Tram Safari, which takes you through six different geographical zones and showcases the animals found in each. If you prefer a more intimate visit, you can choose a private guided Safari Adventurer Tour, which gets really up close and personal. There is also an option to try a walking trail through two enormous aviaries – options include the Leopard Trail, the Fishing Cat Trail, and the Wallaby Trail. In addition, you can watch a show and/or enjoy a gourmet dining experience.
Night Safari, 80 Mandai Lake Rd, Singapore 729826, Phone: 656-269-3411
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If you would like to learn more about the history, culture, and heritage of the Peranakans (locally born descendants of the Chinese who settled in Singapore and Malaysia during the late 19th century), you should add a visit to the Peranakan Museum to your Singapore itinerary. The museum is home to an impressive collection of objects that document every facet of Peranakan life, explaining everyday rituals such as weddings, language and dress, religion, and much more. You can join a guided tour (offered in English, Mandarin, Japanese, and French) to fully appreciate the history and significance of the exhibits. After your tour, you can taste typical Peranakan cuisine at the on-site restaurant.
Peranakan Museum, 39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941, Phone: 656-332-6124
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Sentosa Island is Singapore’s family fun playground, offering a host of exciting attractions and entertainment for all ages. Set aside at least a full day to enjoy all Sentosa has to offer – you can download the MySentosa app to help you find your way around and make sure you don’t miss a thing. Highlights of your visit will include the fabulous S.E.A. Aquarium, Adventure Cove Waterpark, Universal Studios Singapore, Tiger Sky Tower, and Resorts World Casino. If you are visiting with young children, be sure to include Sentosa Nature Discovery, Singapore Butterfly and Insect Kingdom, and Port of the Lost Wonder. There is also a beautiful 3.2-km stretch of beach. You can reach Sentosa from central Singapore on the monorail (15 minutes) or take a scenic cable car ride from HarbourFront.
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14.Singapore Botanic Gardens
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The extensive Singapore Botanic Gardens cover a sprawling 82 hectares right in the heart of the city, where you can spend a few tranquil hours getting back to nature. You can choose from four walking trails (which vary from 40 to 90 minutes) – trail guides can be downloaded so that you can explore at your own pace and guided tours are available on Saturdays. There are many highlights to be discovered, including the wonderful National Orchid Garden (a destination in its own right), the Rain Forest, the Healing Garden, Palm Valley and Symphony Lake, and the Ginger Garden. The Fragrant Garden and the Scented Orchids Corner will amaze the senses, while younger visitors will love the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.
Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Rd, Singapore 259569, Phone: 656-471-7138
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15.Singapore River Cruise
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No visit to Singapore would be complete without experiencing the Singapore River by bumboat. For hundreds of years the iconic rustic wooden bumboats (originally used to transport goods and cargo) have been plying the Singapore waterways in much the same way they do today. For an in-depth tour, you can hop aboard the 40-minute Tale of Two Quays River Tour, which will take you from Merlion Park and Marina Bay to Fullerton Jetty, sailing past key landmarks such as Boat Quay and Clarke Quay. Shorter boat trips are available using a river taxi and you can also book a private chartered scenic cruise. Both daytime and night cruises are available – the night cruise offers one of the best ways to see the lights of Singapore.
Singapore River Cruise, 1 North Bridge Rd, High Street Centre, Singapore 179094, Phone: 656-336-6119
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Forget about seeing sad animals behind the bars of a cage – Singapore Zoo is completely different and is known for its beautiful natural settings, where animals are free to roam in environments that closely resemble their natural ranges. The zoo has incorporated innovative viewing features, such as elevated platforms where you can come face to face with gentle giraffes, underwater galleries to view otters, crocodiles, and pygmy hippos, and glass observatories that allow you to view the secret lives of top predators like cheetahs and lions. You can tour the park on foot at your own pace or hop aboard a guided tram tour through the varied habitats. Highlights include breakfast with the orangutans, Rainforest Kidzworld, and the Elephants at Work and Play show.
Singapore Zoo, 80 Mandai Lake Rd, Singapore 729826, Phone: 656-269-3411
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17.Tiger Sky Tower
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You can soar right up close to the clouds at Tiger Sky Tower for one of the best views in South East Asia. The Tiger Sky Tower stands 131 meters (that’s a very respectable 50 stories) above Sentosa Island, offering panoramic views out over the ocean and the city. The narrated ride up to the viewing platform takes about 15 minutes in a large air-conditioned elevator that rotates through 360 degrees at the top to give you a great overview of the city and its surroundings. You have some time to take photos at the viewing platform before you return to ground level. The tower is located right next to the cable car station on Sentosa Island and your ride is included if you buy a combination ticket for Sentosa Island attractions.
Tiger Sky Tower, 39 Artillery Avenue, Sentosa, Singapore 099958, Phone: 656-275-0388
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18.Sri Mariamman Temple
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Singapore is dotted with many temples, but to see the oldest Hindu temple in the city you will need to visit Chinatown, where the Sri Mariamman Temple is located. The temple, which is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, who was respected for her ability to cure illnesses, dates back to 1827 and was originally built by immigrants from south India. The temple is a prominent and colorful local landmark with an exceptionally intricate and detailed grand tower entrance. If you wish to venture inside the temple, you will need to be conservatively dressed (shoulders and knees covered) and remove your shoes.
Sri Mariamman Temple, 244 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058793, Phone: 656-223-4064
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The fascinating Supertree Grove in the Gardens by the Bay entices visitors to come and walk in a unique forest like no other on Earth. The amazing “super trees” are actually enormous man-made vertical gardens, ranging from 25 meters to 50 meters tall. Each tree sports a wide canopy that shades visitors from the hot Singapore sun during the day and then miraculously produces the Garden Rhapsody, a light and sound display, after dark. You can travel to the top of the trees for brilliant views of the bay and surrounding gardens or take a walk along the 128-meter aerial walkway that links two of the super trees. The super trees are not only pretty but also “green” in that they harvest solar energy.
Supertree Grove, Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953, Phone: 656-420-6848
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© Changi Museum
The Changi Museum is dedicated to the memory of everyone who suffered or died during the Japanese invasion of Singapore during World War II, and is essential viewing for anyone interested in military history. The museum offers 45-minute guided tours but you also have the option to rent an audio device and explore the museum at your own pace, listening to a poignant account of the actual experiences of some of the prisoners of war. The museum also offers two coach tours for those who would like a more detailed account of what happened during the occupation; the Changi World War II tour takes in all the key sites, while the Battlefield Tour covers strategies, plots, and mistakes that led to the fall of Singapore in 1942.
Changi Museum, 1000 Upper Changi Road North, Singapore 507707, Phone: 656-214-2451
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© The Intan
The Intan is a unique private museum dedicated to showcasing the interesting history and culture of the Peranakan people (locally born descendants of the Chinese immigrants who came to Singapore in the 19th century). The museum is located in the home of one of these descendants, who has personally put together an amazing collection of Peranakan antiques and crafts, each of which tells a special story about the culture. You can choose from an Intan Tea Tour, which takes about an hour and includes tea and home-made refreshments, or an Intan Lunch/Dinner Tour, which lasts around 2 hours and includes a traditional Peranakan meal. Both tours are led by your host, who takes delight in sharing his amazing collection with visitors. All tours must be booked in advance.
The Intan, 69 Joo Chiat Terrace, Singapore 427231, Phone: 656-440-1148
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22.The Southern Ridges
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When you feel the need to escape the hustle and bustle of Singapore, you can head to the Southern Ridges to embrace the great outdoors, get some exercise, and see some wildlife. The Southern Ridges comprise 10 km of mixed green spaces and connecting trails that include Henderson Waves, a unique undulating 36-meter-high walkway (pedestrian bridge) connecting Mount Faber Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy the Forest Walk and the Canopy Walk, where you can see a wide variety of birds and interesting plants. The Southern Ridges also offer some of the best views of Singapore harbor, the southern islands, and the city.
The Southern Ridges, 11 Preston Rd, Singapore 099203
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23.Chan and Hori Contemporary
© Chan and Hori Contemporary
Chan + Hori Contemporary is a renowned Singapore-based contemporary art gallery located at Block 6 Lock Road Gillman Barracks. Established in 2017, Chan + Hori Contemporary aims to provoke, stimulate, and challenge the Singaporean and South East Asian art community and public through imaginative and often pioneering and diverse events that connect contemporary visual arts with everyday lives. Chan + Hori actively collaborates with artists, art councils, institutions, and corporations from all over the world. It implements its goal of involving art in human everyday experiences through commissioning works for open spaces, special exhibitions on meaningful socio-political subjects, and programs such as discussions and dialogues. Committed to young, emerging, and well-established artists, Chan + Hori is also willing to explore different art disciplines and expressions such as performance and fashion. One of its most visible projects is Disini, a large, multidisciplinary visual arts festival that consists of exhibitions and events with unconventional ideas.
6 Lock Road Gillman Barracks, #02-09 Singapore 108934, Phone: +65 6338 1962
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Step aboard the Singapore Flyer for a stunning bird’s-eye view of the Singapore skyline, Marina Bay, and the Gardens by the Bay. The Flyer is the largest “big wheel” or observation wheel in Asia, towering an impressive 165 meters over the bay. In addition to your scenic ride on the Flyer, the Flyer Terminal has a few other surprises in store for visitors. Before you board the flyer, you can have a multi-sensory experience at the XD Theater, see what it’s like to be a pilot at the Flight Experience simulator, and visit the multimedia Journey of Dreams exhibit to learn all about the story behind the Singapore Flyer. Besides the usual scenic flights, the Flyer also offers special Champagne flights and dining flights for special occasions.
Singapore Flyer, 30 Raffles Ave, Singapore 039803, Phone: 656-854-5200
25 Best Things to Do in Singapore
- The Gardens by the Bay, Photo: Courtesy of martinhosmat 083 - Fotolia.com
- Battlebox, Photo: Courtesy of teoyeekhai - Fotolia.com
- Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, Photo: Courtesy of joe say hello - Fotolia.com
- Jurong Bird Park, Photo: Courtesy of eye of paul - Fotolia.com
- Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, Photo: Courtesy of f9photos - Fotolia.com
- Kusu Island, Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Howey - Fotolia.com
- Lau Pa Sat, Photo: Courtesy of vachiraphan - Fotolia.com
- MacRitchie Nature Trail, Photo: Courtesy of nathanallen - Fotolia.com
- Merlion Park, Photo: Courtesy of martinhosmat083 - Fotolia.com
- National Orchid Garden, Photo: Courtesy of ossiridian - Fotolia.com
- Night Safari, Photo: Courtesy of Sam D'Cruz - Fotolia.com
- Peranakan Museum, Photo: Courtesy of waimong - Fotolia.com
- Sentosa Island, Photo: Courtesy of leungchopan - Fotolia.com
- Singapore Botanic Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of tang90246 - Fotolia.com
- Singapore River Cruise, Photo: Courtesy of Richie Chan - Fotolia.com
- Singapore Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of vladislav333222 - Fotolia.com
- Tiger Sky Tower, Photo: Courtesy of Sergey Peterman - Fotolia.com
- Sri Mariamman Temple, Photo: Courtesy of BlueOrange Studio - Fotolia.com
- Supertree Grove, Photo: Courtesy of robertoruggieri - Fotolia.com
- Changi Museum, Photo: Changi Museum
- The Intan, Photo: The Intan
- The Southern Ridges, Photo: Courtesy of johannes86 - Fotolia.com
- Chan and Hori Contemporary, Photo: Chan and Hori Contemporary
- Singapore Flyer, Photo: Courtesy of Frank - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of martinhosmat083 - Fotolia.com
SneakPeek Singapore offers you the unique opportunity to see the city through the eyes of a born-and-bred Singapore local. In addition, you only pay for your tour (a discretionary donation) if you enjoy it, which ensures that your enthusiastic guides will pull out all the stops to make sure you have an unforgettable experience. Your Saturday half-day Singapore – Past to Present walking tour will give you an excellent insight into Singapore’s history and the its meteoric rise from humble fishing village to global city. Some of the highlights of the tour include Chinatown and the Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest in Singapore. There are several stops along the way to refuel and use the restroom.
SneakPeek Singapore Walking Tours, 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555, Phone: 659-622-1961
Food Tour Singapore
Singapore is a foodie paradise; wherever you go you are surrounded by the tempting aromas of Asian delights. Of course, it is possible to go it alone and simply let your nose lead you, but without a guide you may miss out on some of the most amazing foodie experiences of your life. This is where Food Tours Singapore comes in; they offer two different tours with access to some of the city’s best-kept foodie secrets, combined with visits to historic sites where you can learn about the history and heritage that goes along with the cuisine. A typical Singapore Food Tour takes about 4 hours (morning or afternoon) and you will visit between five and seven tasting locations and get to sample up to 10 different traditional foods. You can book your tour online.