I often get asked by friends visiting for the first time on places to visit in Singapore. Well, there are so many things that I can list down that it’s hard for me to narrow down. However, knowing that they only have a few days here, I have listed down my recommended places to visit in the short time that they have here. These are the places that I would usually bring my friends when they visit for the first time, to introduce them to Singapore.
Essential Places to Visit in Singapore
Gardens By The Bay: If on a budget, the Supertree Grove is totally free to walk around and take photographs of. It looks even better at night with all the lights lighting it up. I feel that it is worth to pay to walk around indoors as the gardens are truly amazing and I could have spent hours just walking around.
Singapore Botanic Gardens: As an alternative to the gardens, our Singapore Botanic Garden is no less impressive and does not cost you anything to visit. This is a favourite place of mine to have picnics and can be a peaceful escape from the rush of city life. We even have some of our oldest trees planted here!
Marina Bay Sands: It seems a bit cliched but you can get awesome views of the city skyline from the deck here. This building is definitely pretty iconic of the area so it is worthwhile to drop by to take photos of it at least. Locals still do it all the time. There are charges to go up for the view but personally, I feel that you can get great shots of this area from the ground itself. So to spend or to save is entirely your choice.
Chinatown: A walk through Chinatown will bring you to some of the more cultural attractions such as Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Sri Mariamman Temple which is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is built with the architectural styles of Tang Dynasty and is very beautiful to look at. Both temples are within walking distance of each other so it’s very easy to walk around these area. It would also be worth dropping by Maxwell Food Centre, which is opposite the Buddha temple to get some local and cheap hawker food.
Little India: Well, this area needs little description for it. Although a far cry from an authentic Indian town, the area serves the large community of Indian nationals in Singapore which ensures that the area still retains a colorful and bustling feeling. It would also be worth dropping by Mustafa, a huge 24 hour mall which stocks up all odd and ends at affordable prices. Since it’s open 24 hours, don’t be surprised to find the mall crowded at early hours as it is a hot spot for night owls to do their shopping.
Cheap food are also to be found in coffeeshops and restaurants around these area. A vist to Tekka Centre can also be pretty interesting as they have a wet market and hawker centre selling cheap food there as well. Just a note of caution though, Sundays in Little India tend to be crowded as Indian foreign workers only have that day off.
Haji Lane: If you are walking around Bugis area, it is good to walk further to Haji Lane. You can visit Sultan Mosque, the oldest mosque in Singapore, as well as watch out for street art in the area. Not only that, shops along this lane houses independent fashion boutiques by local designers and young entrepreneurs, lending a slightly bohemian and vibrant feel to the area. If you are bored with shopping at the usual malls, this is the place to visit to get trendy and creative items.
There are also plenty of middle eastern cuisine around these area but you can also try out murtabak at Zam Zam Restaurant across the street from Sultan Mosque. The restaurant is known for its delicious murtabak which is basically meat in a flat bread and is pretty affordable.
Night Safari: I love the Singapore Zoo and can spend the whole day there going through the zoo. However, if you have limited time, it’s good to go for the Night Safari for a different experience at night. You are guided through the zoo in a tram and are not allowed to wander around on your own. As most animals there are nocturnal, I certainly wouldn’t want to end up as animal bait!! Ok, ok, joking!! It’s a really fun experience to have and may even have some of the smaller animals wandering up to you in curiosity.
Clarke Quay: The Singapore river runs through this area, where Singapore’s trading history began with boats unloading their goods from the river into warehouses along these areas. Today, these area comes alive at night and has a vibrant night scene so it’s worth a visit at night. Those on budget can join others sitting by the steps of the river, either having a drink or just enjoying the night breeze.
For cheaper food alternatives, you can follow the river down towards Boat Quay, such as South Bridge Road and Circular Road for coffeeshops serving hawker style food. Alternatively, you can walk to Chinatown as well!
Free Walking Tour: I’m a big fan of walking tours as it helps to have a background of the places you are visiting. The free walking tour is conducted by a group of local undergraduates passionate about educating visitors to Singapore. They cover the main central areas of Singapore where most of our history began so it is a good starting point for visitors. Visit their website here: http://singaporefootprints.com/
Of course, there is definitely many many more places that can be explored in Singapore. This is meant as a guide for those with little time in Singapore and covers the essential must-do places to visit. There are plenty of museums, parks, beaches, arts space and activities that are free or cheap to visit.
If you are feeling adventurous, take the MRT and go out to the heartlands. I find that not many tourists would take time to do so but locals would be more likely to shop around heartland areas rather than travel all the way to the city area. I would usually head to the city area only if meeting friends.
There are certainly shops and coffeeshops offering cheap alternatives to shopping and food. Some of the older neighbourhood also have old buildings that are worth stopping for. MRT stops such as Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh, Tiong Bahru, Clementi can bring you directly to the heartlands.
So there you have it, my recommendations of the must-see places in Singapore if you have a short visit here. If you feel that there are other must-see places in Singapore, please do put it in the comments below. 🙂