The vibrant cosmopolitan city-state of Singapore has skyrocketed to worldwide fame for its natural and architectural beauty, its melting pot of cultures, and its world-class economic prowess in shipping and banking. Since its independence from the British in 1965, Singapore has rapidly become one of the world’s most affluent cities – and tourists around the world are taking notice.
Last year, it ranked the #7 most visited city in the world, in company with tourism behemoths like Paris, Dubai, New York, and London.
I had the amazing opportunity to travel to this beautiful city with the Singapore Tourism Board, gaining a better understanding for the culture, the history, the people, and of course, the top things to do. And I had a BLAST. Here were my favorite things to do in Singapore:
Where to Stay
The Marina Bay Sands. The best views in Singapore.
If you haven’t been living under a rock recently, you’ve probably heard (or seen pictures of) the Marina Bay Sands Resort. The tallest (and most stunning) hotel in town, the MBS was built in 2010 and is home to 2500 suites. Each room will come with a luxury price tag, but most people will agree that the infinity swimming pool makes it all worth it. I mean, just look at this pool. Unreal.
The Hotel Park Royal is a city oasis. With beautiful lush tropical greenery mixing with it’s unique, sleek modern architecture, the Hotel Park Royal represents everything Singapore is in a nutshell: a vibrant marriage of natural beauty and modern design. The vibe is contemporary relaxation, and the pool cabanas are to-die-for.
The iconic Raffles Hotel is famous for creating the Singapore Sling in 1915. A beautifully restored colonial building, the vibe of the Raffles is laid-back luxury. With stunning white columns, wicker furniture, charming courtyards, and bright greenery at every turn, this is a hotel you will want to call home.
The Fullerton Hotel is a 400-room award-winning property in the heart of Singapore on the Singapore River . It’s grand, colonial architecture is absolutely beautiful and its contemporary style and five-star service make for an unforgettable stay.
What to Drink
Singapore Sling, of course!
The Singapore Sling is widely regarded as the national drink of Singapore, and its history dates back to the turn of the century in colonial Singapore, where the Raffles Hotel was the city’s hot-spot watering hole. In the Long Bar of the hotel, you’d always see men with glasses of gin and whisky, but women were rarely seen drinking alcohol in public, modestly opting for fruit juice instead due to the etiquette of the time. Capitalizing on this opportunity, a Raffles bartender created a gin-and pineapple juice based concoction targeted at women, looking like a pink fruit juice but packing a big punch. And, the rest, is history.
What to Eat
Singaporeans love to eat. As my tour guide told us “Singapore is a country of eating, drinking, and shopping.” And he could not have put it more perfectly. There is nothing a Singaporean loves more than to tell you where to eat, or tell you who has the best chili crab in the city. It’s a foodie mecca.
Chili crab is one of Singapore’s most famous dishes, and it is delicious. Every spot makes it differently, but it is noodles tossed in a spice blend and topped with a fried crab. My favorite was made with softshell crab. So. So. Good.
Long Beach Seafood Restaurant
Widely regarded as one of the best chili crabs in town, the Long Beach Seafood Restaurant’s chili crab is spicier than most others.
Mellben Seafood at Ang Mo Kio
Mellben is famous for their very large crabs in a deliciously spicy and slightly sweet chili sauce.
This uniquely Singaporean fruit is a very polarizing one. To some, the spiky fruit smells awful and unbearable (seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever smelled a worse smell in my life, like hot garbage) and to others, it is their absolute favorite food. Definitely worth trying for the experience!! (and to see your friend’s hilarious reactions when they taste it).
Singapore has more than 100 open-air hawker centers and 6,000 stalls selling popular meals from all over the globe. It is a phenomenon that is uniquely and purely Singaporean, where you can get some of the very best food selection in town at reasonable prices in a bustling atmosphere. The quality of these stalls are so good that some of them are even michelin starred. That’s right. A food stand in Singapore got a freaking Michelin Star. That’s just how good the food is here.
The Best Hawker Stalls in Singapore:
If it’s Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle’s Michelin Starred signature chicken rice dish you’re after, this is the hawker stall centre for you. It’s one of the oldest in Singapore, and can get crowded, but is worth it.
To most Singaporean locals, the Chomp Chomp Food Centre is a satay mecca. It’s known as the go-to spot for pork, beef, chicken, and mutton satay, and is even open late-night.
Recently renovated, the Tiong Bahru Hawker Market Centre is one of the cleanest and most spacious hawker markets in Singapore. It even has a produce market on the first floor so you can see all the delectable local produce before heading upstairs to taste the local chefs’ specialties.
Ask any Singapore local about where to eat and you are likely to hear Old Airport Road Food Centre. This monstrous building is home to many of the legendary hawker stalls that have been run by families for generations and is a great spot to taste all Singaporean local dishes.
Other restaurants not to miss in Singapore:
We ate lunch at Janice Wong’s flagship restaurant and it was one of the highlights of my trip! The famous international dessert chef’s food is pure art, with her focus being on dessert. And, my goodness, is it incredible. Highlights included the “contemporary desserts” menu, which are desserts unlike anything else in the world, created with a mix of modern flavors. My favorite was the “Chocolate H20”. Omg. If you get one thing, get this.
The lunch menu was impeccable as well, with the Xiao Long Bao being a huge highlight of the meal.
What to do in Singapore:
The Gardens by the Bay
Set in the heart of the city, Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay is a unique green space comprising three waterfront gardens spanning 250 acres. Exploring these iconic gardens is an experience so uniquely Singaporean… with the architectural beauty mixing with the natural beauty of the greenery in an unbelievably futuristic, urban way. These gardens are iconic because they symbolize the city of Singapore itself, known as the Garden City.
Pro tip: Do not miss the dazzling light show which takes place outside on the famous “supertrees”.. every night at 7:45 and 8:45pm
Gardens by the Bay. Open 9am to 9pm.
Shopping in Singapore:
Shopping is a national pastime in Singapore. I swear Louis Vuitton’s are like Starbucks here, there’s one on every corner.
There are huge, beautiful, modern shopping malls EVERYWHERE you look in Singapore, and they are interconnected through underground tunnels, so you can easily spend all day shopping your way around the city.
My favorite mall was the Marina Bay Shoppes, located right across from the Marina Bay Sands hotel.
Sentosa was easily a highlight of my trip to Singapore. Despite being only 20 minutes or so off of the main island, the beachy “suburb” of Sentosa feels like a million miles away from the big city. You can take a car, uber, or the monorail, to get there, and there’s infinite activities to do once you’re there.
There are beach clubs and resorts for those who want to relax with a pina colada in hand (like I did at the Tanjong Beach Club).
There’s also an aquarium, a skytower, activity parks, and, for the more adventurous, there’s ziplining, a wave house, and even a 4D adventureland. Sentosa truly has something for everyone. And is a perfect getaway for the whole family.
Chinatown in Singapore is definitely a must-do. The pocket of the city is a sharp contrast to the rest of Singapore, with low rise buildings and Chinese culture radiating from every corner. It is also home to some of the best Chinese hawker stalls. I loved exploring the streets of Chinatown and munching on some kiwi popsicles 🙂
Take a cooking class!
Chjmes on Victoria Street is a historic building complex that began its life as a Catholic convent and has morphed into a bustling center full of bars, restaurants, and more. It’s a popular Singaporean wedding venue (just look at the gorgeous gothic architecture!) and is a great spot to grab a drink or a bite to eat, or walk around the grounds.
Singapore is hands down one of my very favorite cities I’ve ever had the chance to visit. It’s no wonder so many ex-pats are moving over here! It has something for everyone. Enjoy your trip!! xoxo,