8 Min. Read
One of the Four Asian Tigers.
Global Financial Hub.
We could only be talking about one place really…
Founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles as a trading post for the British empire, Singapore had evolved into one of Asia’s economic powerhouses and with a population of 5.7 million people, it is home to the world’s highest percentage of millionaires and its property is among the most expensive. Singapore has been rated the world’s most expensive city to live in multiple times, although this year, that award goes to Hong Kong.
This sovereign city-state island is one of the 4 Asian Tigers, powerful high-income countries with remarkably high growth rates. The others being: Hong Kong (of course), Taiwan & South Korea.
But Singapore ain’t just about money.
Home to a very diverse and well integrated society mainly comprised of Malays, Chinese & Tamil, Singapore’s world famous diversity is well ingrained in its constitution and culture.
And it shines brilliantly.
Are you curious now?
Let me show you around.
1. Marina Bays Sands
Firstly, if there is one place that stands out from the rest in Singapore it’s the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino. And rightfully so. As the world’s most expensive standalone casino property, the Marina Bay Sands has it all: The world’s largest elevated swimming pool? Check. Nightclubs? Check. Over 300 high end stores? It has that too.
Completed in 2010, the property also boasts a museum, a large theater, art & science exhibitions, 10 celebrity chef restaurants, 2,561 luxury hotel rooms, 1,000 gaming tables and 1,600 slot machines. Enough to lose (or triple) your life savings in a day.
The Marina Bay Sands is a true work of art and should definitely be one of first places to see in Singapore.
To reach Marina Bay Sands, take the MRT’s Circle Line to Promenade station.
Originally home to Singapore’s Chinese community, many being descendents from Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese immigrants, the area today is diverse and fairly well mixed, pretty much like the rest of Singapore.
For some traditional Chinese and interesting colonial architecture head to Kreta Ayer Road to get a glimpse of what Singapore used to look like back in the day.
Here you can find some some excellent Chinese temples, such as the Buddha’s Tooth Temple (Yes. It houses a tooth from the Buddha.) and pastel-colored shophouses with its strange mixture of both Baroque & Victorian design.
Stroll around, check out some street art, grab some dumplings or Singaporean Noodles and learn about the neighborhood’s interesting history.
Here’s a list of places to definitely check out while in Chinatown:
1. Thian Hock Temple
2. Wak Hai Keng Temple
3. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
4. Chinatown Street market
5. Maxwell Food Centre
To get to Chinatown via the MRT, take the North-East Line to Chinatown Station.
3. Little India
For a bit more culture and mouth-watering food, head over to the historical Little India, located east of the Singapore River, to see some beautiful temples and observe daily life, in what was originally the neighborhood for Singapore’s Tamil residents.
Wander through its streets, haggle on some merch and get your hands on some delicious Dosa and a Mango Lassi.
For some good eats and shopping make sure to check out the Little India Arcade and Tekka Food Centre.
Tip: The City Square Mall is a good place to shop and to escape Singapore’s notorious heat while in Little India.
To get to Little India, you can take the MRT’s North-East Line to Ferrar Station or the Little India Station.
4. Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
Built in 1885, this marvelous Indian Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna is one of the oldest temples in Singapore and a fine example of Hindu architecture. Check out its beautiful gopuram.
The temple is the starting point for the annual Thaipusam festival celebrated on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February), where devotees pierce their tongues and cheeks with metal spears and carry decorated cage-like constructions called Kavadi to show gratitude to Lord Murugan. This procession begins at the temple and makes its way to Chettiar Hindu Temple in a large festive parade.
The temple can be reached by taking the North-East MRT to the Farrer Park station.
Everyday: 6am-12pm & 5:30pm-9pm
397 Serangoon Road.
For a video of the 2020 Thaipusam festival, click here:
(Warning: Sensitive Images)
5. Haji Lane
Located in the Kamplong neighborhood of Singapore, Haji Lane is a great place to wander around and peruse through its many fashion boutiques and hip bars. The area is also notable for its fantastic street art and numerous Turkish and Arabic cafes and restaurants, making it a great spot for lunch and some people watching while wandering the streets of Singapore.
Be sure to also swing by later in the evening for some good local nightlife. For some interesting bars, you can check out Blu Jaz Cafe and Bar Stories to get your drank on.
To get to Haji Lane and the Kamplong neighborhood, take the MRT’s East-West or Downtown line to Bugis Station.
6. Singaporean Hawker Stalls
Ok Foodies… Listen up.
No trip to Singapore is complete without trying some seriously delicious food from one of its many hawker stalls.
I repeat. DO NOT MISS IT.
With over 100 “Hawker Centres” and over 6,000 food stalls, Singapore is a fantastic country where a lot of cultures have mixed throughout the years and it shows best in its cuisine. Ethnic Malay, Indian, Chinese, Indonesian, Peranakan and Western cuisine have all shaped the countries food culture and it’s downright tasty.
Be sure to try some Laksa, a thick, rich and spicy noodle soup with either chicken, fish or prawn and of course Singapore’s national dish, Hainanese Chicken Rice. Wash that all down with a glass of Teh Tarik, a hot milk tea blended with condensed milk and hunt for the next best food stall.
And don’t forget to try some Popiah, a fresh Fujianese spring roll.
And everything else for that matter.
Here’s a list of some great Food Centres :
1. Old Airport Road Food Centre
2. Maxwell Food Centre
3. Chinatown Complex Food Centre
4. Tekka Food Centre
5. Chomp Chomp Food Centre
Pro Tip: Not sure which stall to pick?! Find the one with the longest line and join the party you hedonistic gourmand you.
7. Masjid Sultan
Located on 3 Muscat Street, also in the Kampong Glam neighborhood is the Masjid Sultan or Sultan Mosque. Originally built in 1824, this impressive religious building has remained unchanged in design since it was rebuilt in 1932.
This historic mosque is known for it’s beautiful golden domes and large prayer hall which have served the community’s Muslim residents. Be sure not to miss this national monument during your walks through Singapore and join one of its informative tours to learn more about Islam and its history.
Interesting fact: The black band that you see below the golden dome is made up of glass soy sauce bottles donated by the community, making this mosque a collaborative effort.
To reach the Sultan Mosque and Kamplong neighborhood, get off at the Bugis station.
Saturday – Thursday: 10am-12pm & 2pm-4pm
8. Raffles Hotel
This colonial-style luxury hotel built in 1887 is located in Singapore’s Downtown Core area. With 9 dining rooms, 9 different kinds of suites and a spa, this historical landmark is not to be missed.
It is also famously known as the birthplace of the Singapore Sling, a gin based cocktail created before 1915 by Ngiam Tong Boon. As with many historic cocktails, the exact recipe of this drink has been heavily disputed throughout the years and had been made every kind of way, from the most simple to complex.
Nowadays, the accepted recipe is made up of: Gin, Cherry Brandy, Cointreau, Dom Benedictine, Grenadine, Pineapple juice, Lime juice, Angostura Bitters and then garnished with a maraschino cherry and a pineapple wedge.
Due to its shadowy history, many variations due exist and as a professional bartender myself, trust me when I say, that I’ve tried them all and many are subpar; this one is great. So, if you happen to be a cocktail nerd in Singapore, I recommend you saddle up to the Raffles Hotel Long Bar and give the original a try for yourself.
Who knows, you may end up loving it.
9. Atlas Bar
If you’re a fan of gin (And why wouldn’t you be?), then make sure you head over to Atlas Bar located in the gorgeous lobby of Parkview Square, also in Downtown Core. This stunningly beautiful Art-Deco inspired bar is currently at number 8 in The World’s 50 Best Bars and houses over 1,000 varieties of gin which is displayed in its 3-story gothic tower making it one of the largest collections of gin in the world.
Along with its impressive gin list, this spectacular bar also has an excellent cocktail program. Make sure you try their signature Atlas G&T, made with London Dry gin, Fresh citrus and house-made Burmese tonic.
And for something truly special, try the Milk Punch Palais, a clarified Milk Punch made with Japanese gin, peach, earl grey, milk and lemon. (It sounds so good just typing it).
Get yourself a group of classy friends together and mosey on over to Atlas Bar and relive the 1930’s in this spectacular bar.
Tell them Ben Valentino sent you.
And last but not least!
10. Gardens by the Bay
Making our way back around to the Bay is the spectacular Gardens by the Bay nature park.
This popular attraction is a 250-acre venue made up of 3 gardens around the Bay and 2 conservatories. The Flower Dome, which exhibits flowers and plants from the Mediterranean, is the largest greenhouse in the world and will surely bring out the inner botanist in you.
The other conservatory is the Cloud Forest, which houses a 138 ft. “Cloud Mountain,” and replicates the tropical mountainous regions of the world. Here you will find all kinds of tropical plants, orchids, ferns and a 115 ft. waterfall (Whoa).
The other main attraction is of course the Supertree Grove, which are 18 solar-powered tree-like structures that function as vertical gardens displaying exotic ferns, orchids and vines (pictured above). Along with the Marina Bay Sands and the, ahem…Merlion, the Supertree Grove is definitely an iconic structure in Singapore and one not to be missed.
Enjoy it during the day to appreciate the gardens, but also be sure to catch the nightly music and light show known as the Garden Rhapsody, which begins at 7:45 pm-8:45 pm. The perfect way to end your time here in this spectacular city.
To reach Gardens by the Bay via the MRT, take the MRT Circle line to the Bayfront Station, from there take exit B to access the gardens.
And there you have it!
Obviously, there is a lot more to see and do in Singapore, (Orchard Road, Clarke Quay, Sentosa Island, etc.) so, I highly encourage you to go out, have fun and explore this wonderful city!
Also, keep in mind that Singapore is preeetty hot and humid year-round, even for me (and I’m from Miami), so make sure you stay well hydrated during your walks through the city.
Also, one last fact before we part ways.
You may be wondering what Singapore means…
It comes from the native Malay name for the country, Singapura, which means, “Lion City.”
If you liked this list and would like to see something added here or have been to Singapore yourself, don’t be afraid to give me a shout out.
I’d love to hear about your experience there!