Singapore is a futuristic city unlike any I’ve ever seen. A city where it’s illegal to chew gum, diversity is woven into everything, and it’s one of the richest countries in the world per capita. After Singapore gained its independence it quickly rose to the top and is now one of the leading powerhouses, despite its small size, in the world. It’s a place where there are cameras on every street corner, where the outside of the buildings are sprayed down and cleaned each night, and where the main highway leading to the airport can be cleared in less than 20 minutes for an emergency plane landing. This futuristic city is a place that everyone should experience once in their lifetime.
10 Things to See and Do in Singapore
1. Taste Singapore’s Signature Dishes – Singapore Chili Crab, Chicken Rice, Laksa, & More
One of my favorite things about visiting Singapore was the incredible culinary scene throughout the city. You can dine at some of the world’s most prestigious and well-known restaurants. And you can get equally as good of food by visiting a Hawker Stall, eating an entire meal for just a few dollars. Below you’ll find some of my favorite local foods and where to find them!
Chili crab is an indulgent meal made of crab in a thick tomato sauce. In 2011 it was even named the 35th most delicious food in the world! The most famous place to get Singaporean chili crab is from Jumbo Seafood. Jumbo Seafood is located throughout the city with restaurants in the East Coast Seafood Centre, Riverside Point, The Riverwalk (first location), Dempsey Hill, Ion Orchard, and the Changi Airport.
One of Singapore’s national dishes is actually quite simple! Chicken rice is chicken, served over rice, and usually comes with soy sauce and a chili garlic dip. One of my favorite places to eat chicken rice is from Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice located in a hawker stall in the Maxwell Food Centre.
Laksa is a flavorful noodle soup. It’s usually made with rice vermicelli and meat served with a coconut-milk-based soup. 328 Katong Laksa serves incredible laksa and you can find multiple locations throughout Singapore.
A curry puff is a traditional snack in Singapore. It’s a mini “pie” that is filled with curry and usually potato, and then baked in a pastry shell. Soon Soon Huat serves delicious curry puffs!
2. Visit the Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay
Perhaps the most famous site in all of Singapore (and maybe what you think about when you picture Singapore) is the Gardens by the Bay. This idea came to fruition in 2012 when Singapore wanted to raise the quality of life by making more green spaces available throughout the city.
You can walk around these “supertrees” for free or pay $8 to walk along the skywalk. Truthfully, the skywalk is a bit overkill and not necessary.
3. Explore Ann Siang Hill
With multiple areas to explore in Singapore, Ann Siang Hill (in Chinatown) was one of my top favorites. It feels as though you’re walking through an ultra-clean, chic, yet old part of China; with huge skyscrapers looming in the background. Here you’ll find some of the best food and highest-voted bars in the world. If you’re visiting on the weekend, head here at night. That’s when the restaurants set up tables in the middle of the street and it feels as though you’re having one giant block party!
4. Watch the Sunset Over Singapore, Drink in Hand
While there are many rooftop bars in Singapore, one of my favorites was LeVeL33. LeVeL33 is a brewery that offers specialty beer cocktails and a patio that has sweeping views over Singapore.
5. Eat at a Hawker Center
A Hawker Center is to Singapore like a food market is to Thailand. It’s a place where you can get your food cheap, quick, and tasty. Food stalls are lined up and there are community tables surrounding the stalls. With no need to worry about sanitation, the stalls are assessed frequently, and each stall comes with a rating A, B, C, etc. A is the best while B is just as safe to eat at. Beware of any stall with a C rating or lower.
6. Walk Haji Lane in Kampong Glam
Haji Lane is a big street art of sorts. With graffiti over the buildings, and colorful shops inviting you indoors, Haji Lane is the “hip” area of Singapore. Found in the Kampong Glam neighborhood, this is the “Malay-Muslim” quarter.
7. Sip a Cocktail at One of the Highest Rated Bars in the World
Every year a list of “The World’s 50 Best Bars” is released, and in 2018 Singapore housed five of those bars. While my favorite, Operation Dagger, is now closed – I urge you to still visit one of their many famous bars! It’s quite the experience.
The rest of the Singaporean bars that made the list in 2018 include Manhattan at #3, located in the Regent Hotel. ATLAS at #8, located in the Kampong Glam neighborhood. Native at #13, near downtown. And finally 28 Hongkong Street at #34, located in the Clark Quay neighborhood.
8. Stroll, Eat. or Stay at Marina Bay Sands
While you may recall Gardens by the Bay as one of the most famous sites in Singapore, Marina Bay Sands isn’t far behind. With its famous infinity people overlooking the city it’s been featured in Crazy Rich Asians and is the most expensive stand-alone casino to have ever been built ringing in at 8 billion dollars. The hotel is expensive to stay out but it comes with many perks. You can use the gym, spa, and infinity pool. You can still visit the hotel if you don’t stay, but you won’t’ be able to use the pool without a room.
9. Take a Visit to Chinatown, Stopping at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Chinatown is a crazy frenzy of street vendors, food stands, and people everywhere. The highlight of Chinatown (aside from Ann Siang Hill), is the beautiful, red, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
The temple was built to house the Tooth Relic of Buddha, which was founded in a collapsed stupa in Myanmar. You can see the relic on the fourth floor.
10. Take a Crazy Rich Asians tour through Singapore
While I didn’t personally take this tour, it was the one thing on my list I would have liked to do and didn’t get around to. You can hire a guide to take you on a tour, or do it yourself. The movie is set in some of the most beautiful places around Singapore, you’d be in for a treat if you managed to see them in person. Disappointingly, however, Nick’s Grandmothers’s house is not set in Singapore.
There is so much more I didn’t have time to see in Singapore. I am making it a priority to head back to the futuristic island someday to dive in a bit deeper into the culture. And to taste more of the amazing food the country has to offer.
If you’re planning on visiting Singapore make sure to check out 48 Hours in Singapore