Singapore is a futuristic city unlike any I’ve ever seen. A place where it’s illegal to chew gum, diversity is everything, and is 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. A place where there are cameras on every street corner. Where the outside of the buildings are sprayed down and cleaned each night. Where the main highway leading to the airport can be cleared in less than 20 minutes for an emergency plane landing to take place. Singapore is definitely a city you don’t want to miss. Just make sure to bring your appetite, stretchy pants, and a whole lot of money… because it’s expensive!
1. Taste the Signature Dishes of Singapore Chili Crab, Chicken Rice, Laksa, and More
Chili Crab – Jumbo Seafood
With many locations around Singapore, you can find Jumbo in the East Coast Seafood Centre, Riverside Point, The Riverwalk (first location), Dempsey Hill, Ion Orchard, and the Changi Airport
Chicken Rice – Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
A Hawker Stall located in the Maxwell Food Centre
Open seven days/week 1000-1730
Laksa – 328 Katong Laksa
Open seven days/week 1000-2200
Curry Puffs – Soon Soon Huat
Open Sunday-Friday (closed Monday) 0730-1700; Saturday 0730-1730
2. Discover Gardens by the Bay
Singapore is a futuristic city, and nothing makes it more apparent than Gardens by the Bay. The Gardens came to fruition in 2012 for the aim of raising the quality of life by making more green spaces available in Singapore. Walk around these “supertrees” for free, or pay an $8 to access the skywalk. While you’ll be high up among the trees, I don’t think it’s 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, chi, 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. A brewery that offers specialty beer cocktails, spend time on the outdoor patio, or indoor looking through the floor to ceiling windows. Marina Bay on your right, and the rest of the city on your left, the views alone are worth the visit.
5. Eat at a Hawker Center
A Hawker Center is to Singapore like a food market is to Thailand. 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. Operation Dagger is found on Ann Siang Hill and made the list at number 23. A bar hidden away, underground and blacked out from the world; Operation Dagger is a cool, hip place to feel as though you’ve retreated from the world. Try any one of the specialty cocktails, but know that it will set you back a pretty penny.
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
Marina Bay Sands is famous for housing the infinity pool overlooking all of Singapore. 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. It is truly a hotel unlike any other. While you can go in to visit, it has a casino, tons of restaurants, and more; unfortunately, you can only access the rooftop pool if you’re a guest of the hotel.
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