The 10 Best Things to Do in Singapore

Singapore Travel Guides / October 07, 2016
The 10 Best Things to Do in Singapore

Singapore is a city of many contrasts.

It is small in size but big in surprises that are hidden in every nook and cranny.

The city attracts the rich to come and play yet it is also endearingly claimed as the second home of simpler folks.

Historical shophouses and pre-war buildings stand strong against the backdrop of modern skyscrapers and architectural wonders.

The gustatory delights range from the exquisite creations of classy restaurants to the tasty treats of hawker stalls.

Shoppers can splurge on luxurious stuff at high-end shops or haggle for a good bargain at the street markets.

The diversity of Singapore’s attractions is evident in the following list of top 10 things to do. Choose what tickles your fancy or dive into an adventure that you have never done before. The choice is yours!

1. Stroll along Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade

Stroll along Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade Image credit: ronniechua

What
As its name would suggest, Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade is a 3.5-kilometre along-the-bay walkway that brings people across many attractions at Marina Centre, Collyer Quay and the Bayfront.

The promenade is designed as an environment-friendly recreation area. There are mist sprays to relieve guests from the blazing Singapore heat; breeze shelters with motion sensor fans to provide visitors with a cool stop from a tour walking around the bay.

Singapore’s Marina Bay is a real beauty of nature, adorned with the most glitzy skyscrapers and uniquely architectural buildings. The promenade is there to give locals and tourists an up-close view of the bay.

It also serves as a viewing area for various public events.

Why
The Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade is an excellent site for a number of fun and cost-free activities along the bay.

Children can frolic at the fountain. Lovers can take a romantic walk with a picture-perfect view. Health buffs can have outdoor yoga sessions at the lower boardwalk. And everyone can sit at the bayfront and enjoy sunset.

Free outdoor performances are also regularly held at the waterfront.

Highlights at the promenade
Wonder Full is considered as the largest light and water show in Southeast Asia. This free nightly spectacle features a delightful show of laser lights and water projections, accompanied by orchestra music. It is best viewed from the Event Plaza, which also holds concerts and other performances.

The Helix Bridge connects Marina Centre to Marina South that is home to Gardens By The Bay. This uniquely designed pedestrian bridge has a double helix that resembles the DNA. Four viewing platforms are strategically located along the bridge for sightseers to enjoy breathtaking views of Singapore skyline.

The ArtScience Museum is a lotus-designed building that forms part of Marina Bay Sands. Explore the museum’s 21 galleries and delve into the world of art and science that helped shape the human society of today.

2. Explore the fashion street Orchard Road

Explore the fashion street Orchard Road Image credit: Erwin Soo/Flickr

What
Orchard Road is a 2.2-kilometre shopping and entertainment avenue in the heart of Singapore. The boulevard is splendidly filled with luxury shopping malls, restaurants, and hotels.

Orchard Road owes its name to its history as a farming area filled with fruit orchards. Gone are all the fruit trees. Modern-day Orchard sees all the lavish shopping centres rising and shining. ION Orchard, Paragon, Orchard Central, Nghe Ann City, Plaza Singapura, and Tangs are the most loved malls in this famous street.

Why
A walk along Orchard is a chance to know how glitzy and glamorous Singapore is. A lot of creativity and love were put into decorations and lighting to make the place sparkling.

There is a bevy of shopping malls and retail shops on Orchard Road and an entire day is not enough to explore them all!

Once there, you will be awed by the wide array of goods for sale from various shops, especially during Great Singapore Sale, an annual sale season.

Popular shopping malls on Orchard Road
ION Orchard is considered as the most glamorous shopping complex in Singapore. It has over 300 stores, some of them offering 10% discounts for tourists through the Ion Orchard Tourist Wallet. Got cash to burn? Go and splurge at the flagship stores of Giorgio Armani, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Dior.

Nghee Ann City is another much-loved mall on Orchard. It houses Takashimaya department store and Kinokuniya – Singapore’s largest bookstore. Popular brand shops, and Asian restaurants can also be found there.

In the world of Orchard luxury shopping, Lucky Plaza survives as a bargain hunter’s paradise. It is most notable for affordable deals on electronic goods, cameras, and mobile phones. Lucky Plaza is also recommended for souvenir purchasing.

3. Explore downtown Singapore on a bumboat

Explore downtown Singapore on a bumboat Image credit: shankar s/Flickr

What
In Singapore, bumboat refers to a small boat or water taxi that is used for quick transport and river tours. These bumboats are often painted with eyes and faces supposedly to “see the danger ahead.”

There are two bumboat service companies in Singapore – Singapore River Cruise and Singapore River Explorer. They follow a similar route with stops at the Esplanade, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, Clemenceau, and Robertson Quay.

A one-stop trip costs SG$3.00 (US$2.20). 40-minute river tours are also offered at SG$25.00 (US$18.00) per passenger.

Why
A bumboat ride down Singapore River is the cheapest and fastest way to see the stunning sights of downtown Singapore.

You can relax at the boat deck and enjoy the breeze as the boat chugs along the river.

Go in the late afternoon to catch the sunset and get the best of day and night views of the waterfront. A nighttime bumboat trip is a great chance to enjoy the light show at Marina Bay from a different yet amazing angle.

Landmarks to see along the bumboat route
The Merlion is undoubtedly the most identifiable representation of Singapore. Built by a local sculptor, Lim Nang Seng, this 8.6-metre statue sits at one end of the Marina Bay waterfront.

Marina Bay Sands is an iconic resort complex located at the Bayfront. The landmark consists of three towers connected at the top by a 1-hectare roof terrace. Don’t forget to take a selfie on the bumboat with MBS at the background!

The statue of Sir Stamford Raffles stands at the Raffles Landing Site near the Boat Quay. Sir Raffles was the founder of modern day Singapore. The statue is a reminder of Singapore’s olden days and the single point in history that changed the destiny of this Lion country.

4. Visit Gardens by the Bay

Visit Gardens by the Bay Image credit: sirfujiyama

What
Gardens by the Bay is a modern green space that occupies 101 hectares in central Singapore.

This innovative tourist heaven was born from an international design competition to create an urban garden in the city center. The project was aimed to seal Singapore’s title as a “City in a Garden”.

The park is divided into three major sections: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden.

Since its opening in 2012, Gardens by the Bay has been visited by more than 20 million visitors.

Why
Gardens by the Bay is a design achievement that should not be missed by anybody who sets foot in Singapore.

The garden’s advanced concept perfectly combines nature and modern technology, creating an awe-inspiring futuristic wonderland.

Gape in wide-eyed wonder at every dome and garden feature. Enjoy the free access to the sky walk and see the gardens from above!

At Gardens by the Bay, you could easily forget the time, spend the whole day, and still not want to leave at closing time.

Gardens by the Bay highlights
The Supertrees are the first things you notice when approaching Gardens by the Bay. These vertical gardens serve as hosts to a variety of plants like ferns, vines, and orchids. Walk along the elevated walkway that winds between the Supertrees and enjoy an aerial view of the garden. Don’t miss the amazing light and sound show of the Garden Rhapsody!

Get lost in the Cloud Forest! Replicate the experience of being on top of a mountain and make your way down amid a lush green forest with a jaw-dropping waterfall. Wait for the mist spray before going down for that feeling of being above the clouds in this tropical heaven!

Go Mediterranean at the Flower Dome! This giant greenhouse was named as the Largest Glass Greenhouse in the World by the Guinness World Records in 2015. The dome’s cool-dry climate gives it a year-round spring condition that is suitable for the housed plants. Explore the seven sectors of the Flower Dome and be transported to the gardens of Spain, Italy, South America, South Africa, Australia, and other semi-arid tropical regions.

5. Have a city view from Sands SkyPark

Have a city view from Sands SkyPark Image credit: aideas/123rf

What
The Sands SkyPark Observation Deck is a popular tourist attraction that overlooks Singapore from the top of the iconic Marina Bay Sands.

The wood-floored viewing area is located at the “stern” of the ship-shaped SkyPark and can hold up to 900 guests.

The observation deck offers a spectacular 360-degree view of Singapore with guided tours conducted daily on a first come, first served basis.

Why
A trip to Singapore is not complete without visiting the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark.

Go up 57 levels and delight in the panoramic view of Marina Bay, the promenade, and the Singapore skyline. You can also observe the busy movement of ships going in and out of Singapore Strait.

Avail the guided tour to gain more insights into Singapore’s history and present-day landmarks. The tour also comes with an access to the exclusive infinity pool, which is normally reserved for hotel guests.

Go in the afternoon to catch the sunset and witness the transformation of Singapore from a bustling city by day to a dazzling metropolis at night.

Nothing can beat the bird’s eye view of the Wonder Full light show when enjoying it at the Sands SkyPark.

Visitor information
Marina Bay Sands is located at 10 Bayfront Avenue and is accessible by private vehicle, taxi, bus, MRT, or river ferry.

Sands SkyPark Observation Deck is open from Monday to Thursday at 09:30 to 22:00 and up to 23:00 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Admission costs SG$23 (US$17) for adults, SG$17 (US$12.50) for children aged 2 to 12 years, and SG$20 (US$15) for senior citizens aged 65 years and above.

6. Soak up Chinese culture in Chinatown

Soak up Chinese culture in Chinatown Image credit: hin255/123rf

What
Singapore’s Chinatown is a delightful mix of old and new at the city’s central area.

It is a gold mine of Chinese heritage and culture with its old temples, historic shophouses, and traditional wet markets. Family-run stores and teahouses can also be found here, giving visitors a glimpse of the old Chinatown.

In contrast, boutique hotels, chic restaurants, and hip bars also exist and lend a modern touch to this fascinating town.

Why
Chinatown offers a distinct Chinese charm that cannot be found in other areas in Singapore, a predominantly Chinese city.

Get lost in the narrow alleyways and immerse in Chinese culture and tradition. Explore the temples, visit museums and check out the local shophouses. Hungry? Head to the hawker stalls and gorge on mouthwatering street food. A myriad of cultural rich souvenirs is available at the area’s night street market to complete your Chinatown tour.

Top attractions in Chinatown
Go back in time at the Chinatown Heritage Centre and get a glimpse of the early life in Singapore. The center is a wonderful recreation of old houses and street scenes that tell the fascinating story of the old Chinatown.

Explore the four-story Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and see over 300 Buddhist artifacts from different parts of Asia. The sacred relic is stored in a 2-metre solid gold stupa at the temple’s 4th floor. Free English tours are offered every Tuesday and Thursday. Book in advance to secure your slot.

Relish the fun and excitement at Chinatown’s street market. Haggle your way with the vendors to get the best deals on a wide variety of merchandise. Follow the scent of grilling barbecue at Food Street and pig out on satay, dim sum, seafood, noodles, and other appetizing fare.

7. Go clubbing at Clarke Quay

Go clubbing at Clarke Quay Image credit: tuastockphoto/123rf

What
Clarke Quay is the premier nightlife hub in Singapore. As soon as the sun sets, Clarke Quay transforms into a lively and vibrant night spot.

This historical riverfront district was named after Singapore’s 2nd Governor, Sir Andrew Clarke. The quay was home to warehouses that stored commercial goods transported from the nearby Boat Quay.

Today, the old warehouses have been converted into blocks of bars and restaurants that attract partygoers to this side of Singapore.

Why
Clarke Quay’s riverfront location makes it a perfect spot to hang out and unwind after a day touring Singapore. The cool breeze from the river lends fresh air to the crowded night scene.

Everyone is guaranteed to have a good time at Clarke Quay with its varied choices of trendy dance clubs, live music bars, and beer pubs.

Break a sweat on the dance floor, chat with bartenders at the bar counters, or go al fresco and enjoy your drink by the river beneath the moon and stars.

Best bars in Clarke Quay
Chupitos Shots Bar is a favorite starting point for a quick shot before heading to other bars. Select one or two from the dizzying 130 shots that range from the mild to the life-threatening!

If you have the talent or the guts, you can jam with the bands at Crazy Elephant. This casual blues and rock ‘n’ roll bar is the favorite hangout of live music fans.

Dance the night away at Attica! There’s plenty of room at this waterfront club with two dance floors that can fit up to 500 people. If you’re not into dancing, you can just relax and chill out with your cocktail of choice at the club’s bar on the river.

8. Enjoy orchids at National Orchid Garden

Enjoy orchids at National Orchid Garden Image credit: lodimup/123rf

What
National Orchid Garden is located within Singapore Botanic Gardens. It sprawls across three hectares on the botanical garden’s highest hill.

The garden’s landscaped slopes display more than 1,000 orchid species and 2,000 hybrids. This gorgeous garden is divided into four zones that follow the four seasons with a distinct color theme for each zone.

The garden opened to the public in October 1995.

Why
The National Orchid Garden is a green oasis where you can admire the beautiful blooms of Singapore’s national flower.

Most businesses in Singapore open late so why not spend your early morning at the garden? Breathe fresh air and flower scents into your lungs before heading out to enjoy the rest of Singapore.

Once inside, pretty natural treasures will make you forget about the outside life. Use some time there to find the rarest orchids among the 60,000 plants and be amazed at the huge size of the flowers.

Take the English guided tour and learn more about the characters of the different kinds of orchids.

Visitor Information
Singapore Botanic Gardens is located along Cluny Road. It is accessible by private car, taxi, bus, and MRT.

The orchid garden is open daily from 08:30 to 19:00. Admission fee is SG$5 (US$4) for adults, SG$1 (US$0.75) for students and senior citizens. Children aged 12 years and below can enter for free.

9. Spend a day in Sentosa

Spend a day in Sentosa Image credit: Master Octa/Flickr

What
Sentosa Island is dubbed as “Asia’s Favorite Playground”. It is located 15 minutes away from the city center and features exciting attractions that make it a wonderful island resort for rest and recreation.

The island served as a fortress in the 19th century and became a military base after the Second World War. These days, Fort Siloso still stands as a military museum that displays old guns and war memorabilia.

Some locals describe the today Sentosa Island as Las Vegas in a forest on the beach. This is an apt description given Sentosa’s choices of fun-filled attractions like casinos, forest adventures, and beach resorts.

Why
Sentosa Island is a huge fun playground filled with innumerable activities. The trip from the mainland to Sentosa is an adventure in itself especially if you go by cable car.

Visitors of all ages are guaranteed to have a grand time at Sentosa Island’s treasures that are sprawled across sandy beaches and verdant rainforests.

Say hello to the tallest Merlion statue in Singapore and explore popular attractions such as Resorts World Singapore, Universal Studios, and SEA Aquarium.

At Sentosa Island, you will forget the meaning of boring!

Fun things to do at Sentosa
Zip down from the hill to the beach at Mega Adventure! Conquer the aerial obstacle and make your way on top of the trees! Burn some more energy and try out myriad activities that provide fun and thrill to anyone who dares.

Climb to the top of Singapore’s highest observation tower – the Tiger Sky Tower. The air-conditioned viewing deck offers a spectacular view of Sentosa and the surrounding islands. On a cloudless day, you can see as far as Malaysia and Indonesia!

Frolic on the beach and get a tan! Sentosa’s 3.2-kilometre sandy stretch is divided into Palawan Beach, Siloso Beach, and Tanjong Beach. Sunbathe at the edge of continental Asia at Palawan Beach!

10. Visit Jurong Bird Park

Visit Jurong Bird Park Image credit: Terry Feuerborn/Flickr

What
Jurong Bird Park is the first wildlife park in Singapore and the biggest of its kind in Asia. It spreads across 20 hectares of verdant greenery on Jurong Hill and is home to more than 5,000 birds.

The bird sanctuary opened its doors in 1971 and is managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Why
Jurong Bird Park offers the rare opportunity to interact with 400 species of birds in a park that is closest to their natural habitat.

Walk into Waterfall Aviary, the park’s biggest free flight aviary, that shelters 600 birds and features a 30-metre waterfall.

Visit the Asian birds at Wings of Asia. This zone has 500 birds including endangered species like the black-winged starling, the Bali Mynah, and the Luzon bleeding-heart dove.

Feed lories at the 9-storey Lory Loft! The loft is designed to reflect the vibe of the Australian outback. Walk across suspended bridges as you go around feeding birds at the aviary.

Be transported to Antarctica through the Penguin Coast! Watch adorable penguins swim in the water and waddle on ice at the indoor, climate-controlled zone.

Explore other attractions and learn more about breeding and conservation at the research center.

Visitor information
Jurong Bird Park is open daily from 08:30 to 18:00.

Admission costs SG$29 (US$21) for adults, SG$19 (US$14) for children, and SG$13 (US$10) for senior citizens.

Jurong Bird Park is approximately 30 minutes away from the city center. It is accessible through the MRT East-West Green Line with connecting bus service at the Boon Lay bus interchange.