Singapore – one of the world’s most prosperous countries, a modern city and a cultural melting pot with a variety of Chinese, Malay and Indian influences. Tropical climate, delicious food and world-class shopping. Clean. Safe. This is Singapore.
I had absolutely no previous expectations of Singapore and I had absolutely no idea what the city was going to be like. I spent almost a week in Singapore and loved most about the blend of old-world and new futuristic architecture. Singapore is a city of sharp and constant contrasts: high-rise skyscrapers, hazy temples, luxe of living and old-school shophouses.
I was very surprised that Singapore felt like any other large city in the western world with location in Southeast Asia. At the end of my visit I was not sure whether I liked the city of not. So I think I will have to revisit Singapore to explore the city deeper and more thoroughly to discover the authentic side of Singapore away from the manmade and artificial city. However, I found plenty of interesting things to do and see in Singapore:
1. Sip on a Singapore Sling at Long Bar
This is perhaps the most iconic thing to do in Singapore. And believe it or not, it was the first thing I did when I arrived in Singapore! I took a taxi from the airport and headed directly to the Raffles Hotel in the heart of Singapore’s business and civic district with my suitcase. I had set up to meet with a friend at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel where the famous Singapore Sling was originally created. It was an extremely hot day so sipping on an ice-cold cherry-red Singapore Sling at the Long Bar was definitely the best way to start my visit to Singapore! Stories tell that the drink was designed especially for women, who in the early 1900’s needed to be enticed to drink alcohol, so the cocktail was made pink.
Location: 1 Beach Road, Singapore
2. Experience the shopping madness of Orchard Road
I spent one full day at Orchard Road, the main shopping hub in Singapore. I have never ever in my life been to so many shopping centres after shopping centres. I absolutely love shoes so I almost went crazy by the variety of shoe shops. Orchard Road, a 2.2 km long bustling shopping boulevard lined on both sides with an endless amount of shopping centres, malls and arcades, has got it all: a full range of department stores, small trendy boutiques, beauty salons, spas, entertainment places, restaurants, cafes, bars, night clubs, cinemas, art galleries and hotels. Here you will find everything from international luxury brands to stylish domestic labels and trendy high-street fashion collections.
Location: Orchard Road, Singapore
3. Discover luxurious life at Marina Bay
Once a quiet body of water at the entrance of the Singapore River, Marina Bay now represents a good example of how Singapore has become one of the world’s most luxurious cities. Marina Bay boasts skyscrapers of the financial district, cultural attractions, luxury shopping and some of Singapore’s most iconic hotels such as Marina Bay Sands and Fullerton Hotel.
Location: Marina Bay, Singapore
4. Take a ride on Singapore Flyer
Singapore Flyer is one of the largest observation wheels in the world and rises up to 165 metres above the ground. If you are afraid of the heights like I am, you may want to think twice before hopping on board, however, I must say that a ride on Singapore Flyer is a great way to get a panoramic view of the striking Singapore city skyline and other landmarks of the city.
Location: 30 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039803
5. Explore the lotus flower of ArtScience Museum
The beautiful lotus flower design of the building standing at Marina Bay is simply beautiful and something totally out of the ordinary from the outside. The ArtScience Museum is both worth a visit for the architecture of the building as well as for the exhibitions inside presenting creative and historical things in Singapore.
Location: 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956
6. Strike a pose with Merlion Statue
The Merlion is not just an average statue. Sitting at Marina Bay, the water-spouting, half mermaid-half lion is a mythical symbol of Singapore. There is a purposely built jetty stretching out over the water by the Merlion, providing a great platform for photos. There are lots of tourists here wanting to do the same things as everyone else, so try to squeeze in. The view over the rest of the Marina Bay is just stunning. The area surrounding the Merlion statue has a nice terraced seating area where you can relax, enjoy a drink and take in the view.
Location: Marina Bay, Singapore
7. Enjoy entertainment at Clarke Quay
Over the years the banks of Singapore River have developed into bustling hubs of activity. Today Clarke Quay, a historical riverside quay, is a popular place for entertainment and houses five blocks of restored 19th century warehouses with a range of themed restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs to choose from. There are also moored Chinese junks (tongkangs) that have been refurbished into floating pubs and restaurants.
Location: 3 River Valley Rd, Singapore 179024
8. View cityscape at LeVel33 rooftop bar
LeVel33 rooftop bar in Singapore’s financial district is something special. Located 33 storeys and 156 metres above the city overlooking the spectacular Marina Bay, LeVel33 restaurant and bar is home to its very own microbrewery, the highest one in the world. The 180 degree view across Marina Bay with city lights at dusk was impressive. But so was the place itself. Unfortunately I am not a beer person so I cannot give any deep analysis on their beer but my friends convinced me that they were top class.
9. Take a stroll in Chinatown
Singapore’s Chinatown is a strong contrast to the rest of the city, with low-rise buildings, cultural attractions and traditional Chinese cuisine bursting out onto the streets. With its colourful shop-houses and historical attractions Chinatown makes for a nice stroll. In addition to hundreds of street food stalls and the lively street market on Pagoda Street there is plenty to see: Chinese, Buddhist and Hindu temples, mosques as well as museums. Chinatown looks definitely most picturesque at dusk when the lights shine brightly.
Address: Pagoda Street and around
10. Stimulate senses at Little India
Little India is the hub of life for Singapore’s thriving Indian and Tamil community, and a visit to the bustling Little India will certainly stimulate your senses. Walking along the streets lined by colourful shop-houses, popping into little shops and having a real Indian curry are a must here!
Location: Little India
10 + 1. Travel on the world’s cleanest underground MRT
Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit system) is probably the world’s cleanest and smoothest running underground. This is a very convenient and quick way to get from place to place in the city with a reasonable cost. Just like public buses, the MRT runs daily from 6 am–12 am. Rules are very strict: no smoking, no eating, no drinking, no littering. A handy tip is to avoid rush hour traffic between 8–9 am and 5–7 pm.
Did you like this blog post? Read more about my adventures in Southeast Asia: