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Home » Singapore: The Cityscape and Beyond – A Premier Travel Guide

Singapore: The Cityscape and Beyond – A Premier Travel Guide

Singapore is a mesmerizing fusion of cultures, where East meets West in a kaleidoscope of colors, flavors, and architectural marvels. Its compact size boasts a rich tapestry of experiences, from the futuristic skyline of Marina Bay to the age-old traditions of Chinatown and Little India. World-class cuisine, sprawling gardens, and innovative attractions make Singapore not just a stopover, but a captivating destination in its own right.

Top Attractions in Singapore

Marina Bay Sands

Dominating Singapore’s skyline, Marina Bay Sands is more than just a luxury hotel. It’s a testament to the country’s architectural prowess. The iconic rooftop infinity pool, perched 57 levels above the city, offers breathtaking views that stretch as far as the eye can see. Coupled with the SkyPark and a shopping mall teeming with high-end brands, it stands as a must-visit for every traveler keen on luxury and magnificence.

Gardens by the Bay

An awe-inspiring amalgamation of art and nature, Gardens by the Bay transports you into a futuristic realm of towering super-trees and state-of-the-art biodomes. Spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land, this green haven houses a plethora of themed gardens and conservatories. From the temperate Flower Dome filled with exotic plants to the mist-filled Cloud Forest with its towering waterfall, it’s a botanical journey that showcases the harmony of urban life with nature.

Sentosa Island

Singapore’s premier island getaway, Sentosa offers a diverse range of attractions packed into its vibrant landscape. From the adrenaline-pumping rides at Universal Studios Singapore to the tranquil sandy beaches lining its southern coast, Sentosa caters to all. Dive into history at Fort Siloso, enjoy panoramic views from the Tiger Sky Tower, or simply relax by the beach bars as the sun sets. It’s an island of endless entertainment and leisure.

Chinatown Heritage Centre

A journey through time, the Chinatown Heritage Centre showcases the rich history and culture of Singapore’s Chinese community. The meticulously recreated scenes of old shophouses and street settings transport visitors to the 1950s, offering a glimpse into the lives of early immigrants.

Singapore Zoo & Night Safari

Ranked among the best in the world, the Singapore Zoo offers an immersive experience where visitors can encounter animals from around the globe in carefully recreated natural habitats. As night falls, the Night Safari beckons with its unique after-dark wildlife adventure, showcasing nocturnal animals in their naturalistic nighttime habitats.

Orchard Road

The epicenter of shopping in Singapore, Orchard Road is a 2.2-kilometer stretch of luxury boutiques, department stores, and vibrant malls. Beyond shopping, it’s lined with art galleries, theaters, and a bustling nightlife, making it a hub of modern-day entertainment and leisure.

Little India and Arab Street

Dive into the cultural diversity of Singapore by exploring Little India and Arab Street. From the vibrant colors of the saree shops to the aromatic spices of local cuisines, Little India offers a sensory feast. Nearby, Arab Street boasts historic mosques, luxurious fabric shops, and Middle Eastern cafes, radiating a unique blend of culture and heritage.

Singapore Itineraries

24-Hour Whirlwind Tour

For those short on time but high on energy, discover the essence of Singapore in just one day. Kick off with a sunrise at Marina Bay Sands, breakfast in Chinatown, a mid-day stroll through Gardens by the Bay, and end with night shopping on Orchard Road.

3-Day Cultural Dive

Immerse yourself in Singapore’s rich cultural tapestry. Day 1 focuses on the historical sites of Chinatown and the Civic District. Day 2 takes you through the vibrant streets of Little India and Arab Street. Conclude with a visit to Malay heritage sites on Day 3.

5-Day Family Adventure

Tailored for families, this itinerary covers Singapore’s major attractions at a leisurely pace. Visit the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, enjoy beach activities on Sentosa Island, and dedicate a day to Universal Studios Singapore. Intersperse these with short visits to cultural spots and local dining experiences.

1-Week Nature and Wildlife Extravaganza

Perfect for nature enthusiasts, explore the green pockets of the city. Start with Gardens by the Bay, venture into the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, and then dive into the underwater world at S.E.A. Aquarium. Also, take a trip to the Southern Ridges for a treetop walk and enjoy the flora and fauna.

Romantic 4-Day Getaway

Ideal for couples, this itinerary blends relaxation, romance, and adventure. Begin with a spa day, followed by an evening at Clarke Quay. Day 2 could involve a sunset at Sentosa, while Day 3 could be reserved for a serene stroll in the Botanic Gardens. Wrap up with a romantic dinner atop Marina Bay Sands, overlooking the cityscape.

Off-the-Beaten-Path: 6-Day Exploration

For travelers keen on experiencing Singapore beyond the usual, embark on a journey that unveils hidden gems. Explore the lesser-known Pulau Ubin island, spend a day at Kampong Glam’s art precinct, and indulge in local experiences like Peranakan cooking classes or heritage walks.

These are just starting points, and Singapore offers endless possibilities to tailor your itinerary based on individual preferences and interests.

Singaporean Cuisine: Must-Try Dishes

Hainanese Chicken Rice

A deceptively simple dish, this is steamed chicken and seasoned rice, accompanied by chili sauce and cucumber slices. Every hawker center in Singapore boasts a stall or two selling this iconic dish, each with its own loyal followers.


A spicy noodle soup with a base of coconut milk and dried shrimp, laksa combines noodles with chicken, prawn, or fish, topped off with a sambal chili paste and a sprinkle of fresh coriander.

Chilli Crab

An iconic Singaporean seafood dish, this involves stir-frying crabs in a semi-thick, sweet, and savory tomato and chili-based sauce. Best enjoyed with mantou (fried or steamed buns) to mop up the flavorful sauce.

Char Kway Teow

Stir-fried flat rice noodles cooked with shrimp, bloody cockles, Chinese lap sausage, and bean sprouts, seasoned with a mix of chili, belachan (shrimp paste), and dark soy sauce.

Roti Prata

Originating from the Indian community, this is a crispy, flaky flatbread, fried on a griddle and served with dhal (lentil curry) or other types of curries. It can be enjoyed plain or with fillings like cheese, mushroom, or chocolate.

Bak Kut Teh

Literally meaning ‘meat bone tea’, this dish consists of pork ribs simmered in a broth of herbs and spices. Depending on the style – either the peppery Teochew variety or the herbal Hokkien version – it’s usually enjoyed with rice or noodles.


Skewered and grilled meat served with peanut sauce, rice cakes, and a small serving of a soup. A popular dish found in many hawker centers, it’s a delightful mix of flavors and textures.

Hokkien Prawn Mee

A dish of stir-fried prawn noodles, seasoned with garlic, prawn stock, and topped with a variety of seafood. A sambal chili and a squirt of lime typically accompany this dish, enhancing its savory notes.

Singapore’s culinary scene is a testament to its multicultural heritage, blending flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques from various ethnic groups. These dishes are just the tip of the iceberg, and every visit can unveil a new flavor, a new dish, or a new favorite.

Tips for Traveling in Singapore

Visa Requirements

Singapore has a straightforward visa policy, with many nationalities eligible for visa-free entry. However, depending on your passport, a visa might be required for stays exceeding a certain duration. Always check the latest visa requirements from the official Singapore Immigration website or consult your nearest Singaporean embassy before your trip.

Currency and Payment

The official currency is the Singapore Dollar (SGD). While credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and shops, it’s recommended to carry some cash, especially for hawker centers, small shops, or public transportation. ATMs are plentiful and offer competitive exchange rates.

Singapore Dollar current exchange rates

  • 100 SGD = $74.71 or $1 = 1.34  Singapore Dollar
  • 100 SGD = €69.28 or €1 = 1.44  Singapore Dollar

Other currencies:

  • 100 SGD = 59.38 British Pounds
  • 100 SGD = 113.07 Australian Dollar
  • 100 SGD = 101.41 Canadian Dollar
  • 100 SGD = 778.29 Swedish Krona
  • 100 SGD = 300.38 Polish Zloty
  • 100 SGD = 1,687.00 Czech Koruna
  • 100 SGD = 97,902.02 South Korean Won
  • 100 SGD = 533.58 Chinese Yuan
  • 100 SGD = 10,790.97 Japanese Yen

Public Transportation

Singapore boasts one of the world’s most efficient public transport systems. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and buses connect every nook and cranny of the island. Purchase an EZ-Link card or a Singapore Tourist Pass for unlimited rides during your stay.

Weather and Clothing

Situated near the equator, Singapore has a tropical climate. Expect heat and humidity throughout the year with occasional rain showers. Light, breathable clothing is recommended. However, bring a light jacket as indoor areas can be heavily air-conditioned.

Tipping Etiquette

Tipping is not customary in Singapore. Service charge is often included in restaurant bills, and hawker centers generally do not expect tips. However, leaving a small tip for exceptional service is always appreciated.

Language and Communication

While English is one of the official languages and is widely spoken, Singapore is a melting pot of cultures. Don’t be surprised to hear a mix of Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and other dialects. Most signs are in English, making navigation easy for tourists.

Safety and Regulations

Singapore is known for its stringent laws and regulations. Familiarize yourself with local rules, especially those regarding littering, jaywalking, and the consumption of alcohol in public spaces. On the flip side, these regulations contribute to Singapore’s reputation as one of the safest cities in the world.

Local Etiquette

Singaporeans value respect and courtesy. When visiting religious sites, dress modestly and follow local customs, like removing your shoes. Always queue and wait your turn, whether it’s at a bus stop, MRT station, or hawker center.

Hidden Gems in Singapore

Pulau Ubin

A step back in time, Pulau Ubin is an island off the northeastern coast of Singapore. With its kampongs (villages) and wooden houses, it offers a glimpse of what Singapore looked like in the 1960s. Biking trails, mangrove walks, and the Chek Jawa Wetlands are among its attractions.

Tiong Bahru

One of Singapore’s oldest neighborhoods, Tiong Bahru is now a blend of the traditional and the trendy. Explore its unique art deco architecture, heritage trails, and a burgeoning scene of boutique cafes and artisanal shops.

The Southern Ridges

A 10km trail connecting parks along the southern ridge of Singapore, it’s a haven for nature lovers. Highlights include the Henderson Waves, a picturesque bridge, and the Forest Walk, an elevated walkway amidst the trees.

Gillman Barracks

Once a colonial military base, Gillman Barracks is now a contemporary arts cluster. Its restored colonial barracks house art galleries, creative businesses, and dining spots, making it a cultural enclave in the city.

Emerald Hill

A stone’s throw from Orchard Road, Emerald Hill offers beautifully preserved Peranakan houses and a quiet respite from the bustling city. Its history, architecture, and stories make it a serene stroll for history enthusiasts.

Singapore’s Wet Markets

While most tourists flock to modern supermarkets, Singapore’s wet markets, like Tekka Market or Tiong Bahru Market, offer a colorful and authentic local shopping experience. From fresh produce to spices and local delicacies, it’s a sensory treat.

East Coast Park

While Sentosa might be the go-to beach destination, East Coast Park offers a more local experience. With cycling paths, seafood eateries, and water sports, it’s a favorite weekend spot for Singaporeans.

The Intan

Located in the heart of Joo Chiat, The Intan is a private Peranakan heritage home-museum. It offers a curated glimpse into the rich culture and history of the Peranakan community through antiques and artifacts.

Exploring these lesser-known spots gives travelers a deeper understanding of Singapore’s multifaceted culture, history, and daily life. Going beyond the usual tourist routes, these hidden gems reveal the authentic heart and soul of the Lion City.

Accommodation in Singapore

Singapore, being a global city, offers a broad range of accommodation options catering to different tastes, preferences, and budgets. Whether you’re a backpacker, a luxury traveler, or someone seeking a unique stay, the city has something to offer.

Luxury Hotels

Singapore is home to some of Asia’s most opulent hotels. From the iconic Marina Bay Sands with its rooftop pool to the colonial charm of Raffles Hotel, these establishments promise world-class service, stunning city views, and exquisite dining experiences.

Mid-Range Hotels and Boutique Stays

For travelers looking for comfort without the hefty price tag, several mid-range hotels dot the city. Additionally, boutique hotels in restored shop houses or colonial buildings, especially in areas like Chinatown and Bugis, offer a blend of modern amenities with historic charm.

Budget Hotels and Hostels

Travelers on a tighter budget can opt for one of the many budget hotels, especially in areas like Geylang and Little India. For backpackers and solo travelers, Singapore has a vibrant hostel scene, often with communal spaces to meet fellow travelers.

Serviced Apartments

For those planning an extended stay or seeking a home-like environment, serviced apartments can be a perfect choice. They combine the luxury of a hotel with the convenience of an apartment, often featuring kitchenettes, laundry facilities, and more personal space.

Unique Accommodations

For a different experience, consider staying at a traditional Peranakan guesthouse in Joo Chiat or a resort-style hotel on Sentosa Island. Capsule hotels, popular in Japan, have also made their way to Singapore, offering a compact yet futuristic lodging experience.

Vacation Rentals and Homestays

Platforms like Airbnb offer a range of private rentals, from luxury condos to cozy rooms in local neighborhoods. Homestays provide an intimate experience, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in Singaporean daily life.

When choosing accommodation in Singapore, consider factors like location, proximity to public transportation, and your itinerary’s main activities. The city is known for its efficiency and compact nature, so most places are easily accessible, no matter where you decide to stay.

Useful Websites

  • Visit Singapore – The official tourism website offering comprehensive information on attractions, events, promotions, and general travel tips for Singapore.
  • Singapore Immigration & Checkpoints Authority – Useful for checking visa requirements and other immigration-related matters.
  • SMRT – The primary public transportation portal, offering train and bus schedules, fare information, and service updates.
  • Sentosa – The official site for Sentosa Island, providing details on attractions, accommodations, events, and promotions on the island.
  • National Parks Board – Covers Singapore’s parks, nature reserves, and the park connector network. Great for those interested in outdoor activities and green spaces.
  • HungryGoWhere – A popular platform for restaurant listings, reviews, and reservations in Singapore.
  • Time Out Singapore – Offers event listings, things to do, restaurant reviews, and general city guides.
  • The Smart Local – A local perspective on travel, food, and lifestyle in Singapore. Features reviews, recommendations, and off-the-beaten-path suggestions.
  • SGCarmart – If considering renting a car, this portal offers listings, prices, and information on car rentals available in Singapore.
  • Singapore Expat Forum – A community of expatriates and locals discussing various topics related to living and traveling in Singapore. A good place to get insights and ask specific questions.

Singapore, often dubbed the “Little Red Dot,” offers a vast expanse of experiences in its compact landscape. With its rich tapestry of cultures, futuristic skyline, verdant green spaces, and mouth-watering cuisines, the city-state promises endless discoveries for every traveler. Utilizing the resources and websites available can guide you to the heart of this vibrant nation, ensuring your trip is as mesmerizing as the shimmering lights of Marina Bay. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a cultural dive, Singapore awaits with open arms and unforgettable moments.

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