If you decided to travel to Singapore for a couple of days, you made the right decision! Skyscrapers as far as the eye can see, inviting parks, and fantastic weather make for a completely successful stay.
You should plan to stay at least for 2 days (better 3). This way you can look at everything stress-free and relaxed, chill in one of the parks. Or enjoy some ice cream and watch the hustle of the city.
The city-state with more than 5 million inhabitants, directly bordering Malaysia, is known as a financial metropolis. Above all for its wealth and has an impressive skyline in its Downtown district. The cost of living is relatively high for Asian standards and comparable to major European cities. The tropical climate without tangible seasons and the enormous cultural diversity are the most distinctive features of the so-called ‘Lion-City’.
Within a short time, you can get to know the influences of Singapore, while visiting the Arabian Quarter, Little India, or Chinatown. Get insights into the peculiarities of their respective origins and religions. The peaceful coexistence of people of different religion in very limited space is certainly unique. Don’t be surprised to see a Hindu Temple, located in the middle of Chinatown, or a Mosque next to a Church. Due to its existence as a cultural melting pot, Singapore also has a very varied cuisine. Even for a small budget, you can find something for every taste in the countless “Hawker Centers” (outdoor or indoor food-courts).
In this short travel guide to Singapore, we would like to show you the most important things to do. Most people stay for a few days, on a stopover to Australia or to another destination in Asia. This is because Singapore has one of the biggest airports in South-East Asia.
The airport is a tourist attraction itself and an experience you should not miss. It has been repeatedly rated as one of the best airports in the world. Whether you are visiting the airport on a stopover or entering Singapore, there are a few things to explore in its four terminals.
Changi Airport lives up to its great reputation at the check-in. The Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) concept offers a range of fully automated options that allow you to easily and quickly self-check-in, tag your luggage, and get on board. After your check-in, you will find a wide range of shopping, dining and entertainment options in each of the airport’s four terminals.
Entertainment is provided with video game consoles, big screen televisions, and two cinemas. If you want to work, you can use the free internet access and work in one of the comfortable seats at the airport.
If you’d rather relax, why not take a stroll through the world’s first airport-butterfly garden, or indulge in an oriental reflexology massage.
There are several options to make it to the city-center from Changi: Taxis, airport shuttles, busses, and the Mass Rapid Transit train will bring you to the center within 30-60 minutes.
The highest pool in the world and much more: Marina Bay
The area around Marina Bay Sands is certainly the number one tourist destination in Singapore. You don’t need to love architecture and luxury, to take a look at this spectacle at least once. And if you have the opportunity to get into the pool of Marina Bay Sands, for example through a (very expensive) night in the hotel, you will never forget the view and experience.
But even without a night in the hotel, you can at least take some of that feeling with you from the roof of the Marina Bay Sands, where there is an own visitor platform (SkyPark), which costs about 16 Euros. However, I advise you to do it a bit different: You go to the reception on the ground floor of the tower on the left side (coming from the city) and say that you want to have a drink at the rooftop bar. This is a bit cheaper than the ticket (a beer is 15 Euros), it is less crowded than the tourist platform, and with a drink in your hand, you’re even closer to the pool.
Inside the shopping mall of the Marina Bay Sands, there is a very good food court in the basement with a huge variety of dishes. The prices are a bit higher than in the Hawker Centers but still acceptable and not as expensive as if you would be dining in a “real” restaurant.
A green oasis: Gardens by the Bay
Probably one of the most famous photo opportunities next to the Marina Bay Sands, just behind the hotel towers, is Gardens By the Bay with its Supertrees. These man-made trees and the park are part of a variety of futuristic attractions in Singapore and are worth the visit both day and night. The Supertrees are tree-like constructs with vertical gardens growing on their skeletons. Eleven of the 18 Supertrees are equipped with environmentally friendly technology (e.g., photovoltaic) to provide electricity for the daily music & light show.
Every night at 8 pm, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel starts the well-known Light and Water-Show. The best way to see it is from the opposite side of the hotel, close to the Merlion Park. From here you have a fantastic view of the laser show and the water show, which takes place at the Marina Bay Sands promenade.
Do not miss: Garden Rhapsody
The music and light show of the Gardens by the Bay (at the Supertrees) also takes place every evening at 19:45 and 20:45. You should not miss this under any circumstances! Why? The Garden Rhapsody is totally awesome and you feel like you’re in a movie set from Avatar. The mood during the show is unique. Everyone stares at the changing play of lights on the supertrees, matching the music. Unforgettable experience!
To India and back: Little India
The time you move through Little India plays a significant role in the way you experience this part of the city. If you want to roam the markets or eat something in peace, you can do it every working day or Saturday. But if you also want “real” Indian feeling, I can recommend the visit on a Sunday evening!
At this time, a large part of the (predominantly male) Indian population of Singapore meets in the streets and lets them burst at the seams. As soon as you get off the MRT station, you suddenly seem to be in the middle of India. On Sundays, most Indians in Singapore are free and gather for a mutual exchange or to stand at one of the seemingly endless queues in front of the money transfer shops. They do this to send the money they made during the week to their families.
Good food and exotic culture: Chinatown
In addition to Little India, Chinatown is also on Singapore’s list of attractions. Here you can visit both the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (Buddhism) and the Sri Mariamman Temple (Hinduism). Both buildings are only about 100 meters apart. If you get off at the Chinatown MRT station, you will encounter a large number of streetfood-booths and restaurants. However, more than 200 meters away is the Maxwell Road Hawker Center opposite the Buddhist temple. You can find a wide variety of good quality dishes, which is reflected in the fact that many Singaporeans eat at these food-courts. Here – and also at many other places in Singapore – you can also find very delicious, freshly squeezed fruit drinks, which are a welcome cooling off in the heat of the city.
If you have a bit more time:
At the Singapore Zoo, all the animals move in outdoor enclosures, making the visit to the multi-award winning zoo a different experience and different from traditional zoos. We espsecially recommend the Night Safari!
Not far from the Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, you will find the Singapore Flyer. The Ferris wheel is 165 meters high and thus 30 meters larger than the famous London Eye Ferris wheel! Especially at night, the Ferris wheel offers a fabulous view over the city.
The most famous shopping street in Singapore is Orchard Road. From Orchard MRT Station, you can walk the entire road towards Dhoby Gaut. Browse through countless shops from very cheesy to very classy and very, very expensive.
Made of sand and stone, Sentosa Island is located outside of the city. An island that could hardly be more artificial. In addition to Universal Studios, an underwater world, climbing parks, and rollercoasters – almost every square meter is used to make profits. This is also reflected in expensive prices for individual attractions.
Although the island offers free access to its beach, it should not be on top of your list. This is partly because the view does not lead to the open sea, but directly to the port with all its freighters, refineries and other industrial facilities. If you do not want to miss the amusement park, you can either go by gondola, monorail or on foot to the island.
How to get around
To get around by public transport, it is advisable to get a Singapore Tourist Pass. You can get it at ticket counters which you can find in numerous subway stations. A 3-day ticket costs 30 Singapore dollars (~ 20 Euros), of which 10 Singapore dollars are deposit.
With the ticket, you can use the busses as well as the MRT and LRT trains. The MRT is the subway, while the LRT is a train that has less capacity and manages smaller distances without a driver. The fastest way to get from A to B is to use the Singapore route planner, which provides information about routes and timetables.
Of course, there are also normal taxis that are actually cheaper than in most of the cities in Europe. The cheaper option would be, to take an Uber through the city. Ordering Uber-Taxis via App is especially important at night, when public transport comes to a standstill.
…Singapore is a perfect start for newcomers to Asia. When the travel fever hits you, you can dive deeper into the eclectic continent. Whether Indonesia, Cambodia or Vietnam, the number of fast-to-reach destinations is countless and just a short flight away.