14 Experiences Not to Miss Out On in Singapore
Receiving independence from Malaysia only 55 years ago, Singapore has gone on to become one of the most wealthy, diverse and clean city-states on earth. It's become a major hub in Southeast Asia and is home to over 5.6 million residents.
Singapore has become a top destination for so many tourists and businessmen alike over the past few decades. Indeed it's the perfect place if you enjoy world class architecture, luxurious hotels, cultural diversity and delicious cuisines. You simply must check-in to Singapore.
Here are our top 14 things to do in Singapore!
1. Marina Bay Sans Sun Deck and Rooftop Pool
Aka - The Sands SkyPark & Observation Deck. Our favorite, hands down. You have to be a guest at the hotel to enter but it's totally worth the stay! The pool is located on the 57th floor facing the city's skyscrapers. It's an incredible view to look out over the rows and rows of skyscrapers as you enjoy the sun and a dip in the pool, and also in my case, a piña colada.
2. Satay Street/La Pa Sat/Telok Ayer Market
My best culinary experience in Singapore, was at this hawker center, or food court. Make sure you stand outside across from the food court on Satay Street at 6:59PM, because once the clock chimes 7PM, satay vendors start crowding the street to set up their temporary dining area for the evening and handing out menus to onlookers nearby. You will miss it all if you get there at 7:01, by that time, people are sitting at tables and ordering their skewers, which is what this particular street is known for.
If you aren't into skewers or if you just want to try a variety of foods, you can do what we did and just order a little something from several different stands inside the food court afterwards.
3. Haji Lane
When out and about in Singapore, one place you have to seek out amongst the skyscrapers is Haji Lane. You will know you've arrived when you see the colorful graffiti on the walls and rows of two-story buildings. This is the heart of Singapore's indie neighborhood.
If you are looking for something different or one-of-a-kind items to bring back home with you, this is an excellent place to walk around and shop. The streets are lined with unique boutiques and cafés. There is even a café where you can get a coffee with your photo on it (#Selfie Coffee at 11 Haji Lane)!
My favorite shops I entered were:
- The Little Dröm Store - They have home decor, jewelry and more, in their own style. Their goods are great souvenirs as they are Singapore proud! You can actually check out their online store here - they ship worldwide.
- Hygge (37 Haji Lane) - Home decor, accessories, jewelry, they have a bit of everything. I actually bought some of their jewelry and thought the prices were fair.
- Crafune (38 Haji Lane) - A shop dedicated to leather hidden on the 2nd floor. Their room is used as both their shop and workspace. It's cool to see them making the actual products right there in front of you, if only you dare to venture up the stairs. They even have some 'DIY Leather Kits' to make your own cardholder for those who are staying at home. You can find them on their online store here.
Even though there are many boutiques along Haji Lane you can also check out the neighboring streets Bali Lane, Arab Street and Beach Road for some more interesting shops and cafés. Another tip is to bring a water bottle with you, as Singapore is sooo humid and hot. We suggest bringing this reusable and collapsible water bottle with you so that you can constantly refill it and stay hydrated. And yes, their tap water well suits the guidelines for healthy and safe drinking water.
The national symbol of Singapore, the merlion is a mythical creature who has the head of a lion and a tail of a fish (mer, meaning sea). This symbol came about by combining the history of Singapore as a fishing village and the city's original name Singapura meaning lion city.
You can visit the Merlion as he sits facing the stunning Marina Bay Sands Hotel from the other side of the lake. There is also a baby merlion just around the corner if you don't want to deal with the crowd around the main one.
5. Gardens by the Bay
Don't miss this!! Within the Gardens by the Bay area, there are 3 main experiences you should check out.
We entered the Gardens by The Bay and headed straight for Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. These two domes are situated right beside each other. You have to pay to enter, and once you are inside it's so nice to walk around. Sometimes there is a wait, so be prepared. Tip: It's great to go in the early afternoon so that you will have time to enjoy the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and the Supertree Grove all before the light and audio show in the grove.
The Flower Dome was cool. Inside there are plants and flowers from all around the world. It's nice to walk around, but if you are visiting Singapore on a budget or are pressed for time, I would skip this and go straight to Cloud Forest.
Stunning. As soon as you step into the room, you are greeted with a beautiful green mountain and waterfall. The hollow mountain of greenery holds an elevator that will take you to each of the 7 levels. Each level has a walkway that allows you to view the mountain from a different height. Visually, it's so stunning and once you reach the very top, you take the elevator back down to exit.
The entire reason for the design and building of Cloud Forest is to raise awareness for sustainability and ways in which we can all contribute. As you exit, you pass through an area that gives you ideas for different ways of helping the environment by being more sustainable. For instance: Buy LED instead of incandescent bulbs, take shorter showers to save water, or plant a tree and if you can't plant a tree, donate to a charity that will.
Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay
Entrance is free to stroll around these mystical trees which stand between 25-55 meters tall. If you would like, you can even go up to walk on the bridge within the trees on the OCBC Skyway. There is an admission fee to go up onto the 22 meter-tall bridge, as well as a line, so arrive a bit earlier to make sure you can go up, especially if its for the light show. Don't miss the light show, called Garden Rhapsody, at 7:45PM and 8:45PM every evening.
6. Boat Quay
Pronounced 'Boat Key', this little strip along the Singapore River is filled with restaurants and bars. This is where locals go to have a drink after work and where visitors go for a night out on the town. If you can, try to sit at a table outside along the river.
Chinatown has so many restaurants, shops and more restaurants and shops! Be sure to check out the main square, and if you are wanting some more Chinese-inspired souvenirs, you can find them here! It's a great place to walk around during the day.
8. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Built in 2007 in the Tang Dynasty design and architecture, this temple is located in the historic district of Chinatown. Indeed, the temple is now the home of Buddha's left canine tooth, which can be seen inside. Admission is free, however they ask you to dress appropriately when venturing inside. So within the main entrance, there are pieces of fabric that you can use to cover yourself. Within the temple, they also have many signs to let visitors know what particular shrines are and why they are important within the Buddhist religion, which is very helpful to understanding the design and statues located within the temple.
This beautiful temple is located just down the street from the Telok Ayer Market, so it's very accessible, and when in doubt, remember, the high majority of Singapore's citizens speak english.
9. Tan Teng Niah in Little India
Photographers, Instgrammers, and architect lovers, take the time to come seek this building out in Little India. Built in 1900, this Chinese villa belonged to a wealthy Chinese businessman. This is the last Chinese villa left standing in Little India and quite a colorful site! Just looking at the building makes you happy and is the subject for many great photo shots.
While you are here, it would be a shame to miss the Sri Veeramakalimman (Hindu Temple). It's a very unique design, and located just a few blocks from Tan Teng Niah.
10. Clark Quay
You guessed it - pronounced 'Clark Key', this place also comes alive at night. Tons of locals and tourists alike come to Clark Quay at night to be entertained and have a good time.
11. See World's Largest Indoor Waterfall at Chiangi Airport
Photo taken by @jg via Unsplash
Not only is Chiangi Airport one of the best airports in the world, but it is also home to the world's highest indoor waterfall, also called the Rain Vortex. Surrounding the waterfall is a 4-story garden, which I believe suits Singapore quite well since it is certainly a futuristic and green city.
The waterfall is located just off of Terminal 1. Don't worry if your flying from Terminals 2 and 3 as it is only a 5-10 minute walk using the pedestrian bridges from the departure halls. If you are flying in or leaving from Terminal 4, you will have to get a shuttle.
No matter when you choose to visit make sure you give yourself plenty of time, especially if you are flying out. Jewel at Chiangi Airport has much more to see than the indoor waterfall. If you happen to be flying at night time, make sure to check out the light show which happens every hour starting at 7:30PM until the last showing at 12:30AM.
If you are having trouble finding the perfect thing to wear for the flight, check out this soft and easy travel shawl. It's my go-to for flight days.
12. The ArtScience Museum
Located between the Marina Bay Sands Mall and Marina Bay, is the ArtScience Museum. It's perfect if you want to escape some heat and simply a must for those traveling with kiddos. It's full of interactive activities, games and illusions. In total, there are three exhibits they have within this area and two of them constantly change. Nevertheless, it was an excellent place to go while waiting for our room to be ready.
13. Enjoy Tea Time
Photo taken by @bady via Unsplash
High Tea is a tradition that has been kept since the colonial times in Singapore's history. Tea is served alongside an array of savory snacks and pastries. Afternoon tea is usually held at very nice hotels, such as the newly renovated Raffles Hotel, so make sure to dress appropriately. Reservations are also highly encouraged. This event takes place in the afternoon and usually cost any where from $30-60/person.
14. Orchard Road
Even if you aren't a shopper, you need to at least see the shopping mecca at Orchard Road. On this road there are multiple shopping malls, all right next to each other.
Shoppers only - read on. I only had the opportunity to go into one - Robinsons The Heeren. It was the best shopping experience I've ever had as a customer. I was greeted warmly by a gentleman working on the floor. He smiled as he took my clothes to the fitting room, gave me his honest opinion when I tried something on, boosted my confidence when something did look good, brought me items that he thought would work for me, and didn't make me feel bad that I had just tried on half the store. Once I was ready to checkout he walked me to the register, and once I paid he asked me if I knew how to get a tax return on the items. When I told him that I had no idea how to fill out the tax return form, he personally walked me upstairs to the customer service area, explained to the lady what I needed and then as she was preparing the tax refund receipt, he waited with me and told me exactly what I needed to do when I got to the airport (turns out it's super easy!). After receiving the receipt, he took me down stairs, flagged a cab for me, opened the door for me to hop in, and told my cab driver the place I was suppose to meet my family. He smiled and wished me well as he waved goodbye. A year later, and I still smile at this memory. For this kind of treatment, you'd have thought I spent thousands, but my total bill was $172. Best Shopping Experience Ever!
Also to be able to have a tax refund in Singapore, your bill has to be over $100.
While I know the time to be visiting Singapore isn't yet possible, I hope this helps you in your planning to visit Singapore one day. Until then, vacation planning mode: ON.