Affectionately known as the “Lion City”, “Garden City” and the “Little Red Dot”, Singapore is a fantastic place to visit for a holiday. This tiny island is filled with more things than you would expect. From a food trail to cultural attractions and astonishing sights, trust us when we say that you will be in for a wild ride.
Be it your first or second time visiting Singapore, here are 17 Things You Must Do During Your First Visit To Singapore for an enriching experience.
Although these aren’t the only exciting things that you can get up to in Singapore, we do hope that these tips would be useful in assisting you whilst planning your itinerary. Read on to discover more about our beautiful garden city!
For an insight into how life was like for the early migrants who settled down in Chinatown, Chinatown Heritage Centre would be the best place to visit. The heritage centre currently sits within three restored shophouses along Pagoda Street and its interiors were designed to replicate the original interiors of the shophouses in the 1950s.
Tickets for each adult will cost S$15 (inclusive of a multimedia guide) and S$20 for a ticket with a guided tour.
Chinatown Heritage Centre
48 Pagoda Street,
Tel: +65 6224 3928
Daily: 9am – 8pm
Nearest Station: Chinatown
*Do note that Chinatown Heritage Centre is closed on the 1st Monday of the month.
#2 DIG INTO SOME CHILI CRAB
If you ask any Singaporean what a first-timer to Singapore should try, one answer that will be consistently raised is Chilli crab. This is one iconic seafood dish in Singapore that you must try for yourself.
But for those who have yet to savour this heavenly delight, here is a little description of what you can expect to taste. The sauce of the Chilli crab consists of sambal, vinegar, tomato paste and egg. With a layer of this excellent sauce over fresh and juicy crab meat, you will be transported to food heaven instantly.
Some places that we’d recommend you visit include No Signboard Seafood and Jumbo Seafood.
No Signboard Seafood
6 Eu Tong Sen Street, #04-63 The Central @ Clarke Quay,
Tel: +65 6221 9959
Daily: 11am – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 10.30pm
Nearest Station: Clarke Quay
30 Merchant Road, #01-01/02 Riverside Point,
Tel: +65 6532 3435
Daily: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 12am
Nearest Station: Clarke Quay
There is no need to splurge on expensive eats when you could get unadulterated yet honest delights at a Singapore hawker centre. Hawker centres are open-air food complexes and home to countless food stalls which offer a delightful range of cuisines at affordable prices.
For a true-blue experience of Singapore’s food scene, two hawker centres we would recommend you head down to include Amoy Street Food Centre and Chomp Chomp Food Centre.
Amoy Street Food Centre
7 Maxwell Road,
Tel: +65 9660 2232
Mon to Fri: 7am – 4pm
Nearest Station: Telok Ayer
Chomp Chomp Food Centre
20 Kensington Park Road,
Nearest Station: Lorong Chuan
S$1.20 for ice cream? Yes, you got that right.
Here in Singapore, one of our nation’s most treasured street eats has to be ice cream bread. Even though there were some prior reports about this dessert not being very appetising, believe us when we say that this is nothing but a treat, especially so in Singapore’s ever-so sweltering heat.
Though there are a few places for you to pick up this snack, the streets of Bugis is one place you should go. There are also various flavours of ice cream — think chocolate, ripple, blueberry and durian — which you can enjoy in a piece of rainbow bread, wafer biscuit or cup.
#5 GAWK AT THE GARDENS BY THE BAY
Gardens by the Bay is arguably one of Singapore’s most celebrated tourist attractions. Situated beside the Marina Reservoir, this amazing attraction spans across 101 hectares of reclaimed land and it is unsurprising that it has received many awards for its design.
Within Gardens by the Bay lies massive Supertrees that are between 9 to 16 storeys in height. There are also 2 conservatories for you to explore, namely the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest which will require tickets for entry.
Standard tickets for entrance to both conservatories will cost S$28 per adult and S$15 per child (between 3 to 12 years old).
Gardens by the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive,
Tel: +65 6420 6848
Daily: 9am – 9pm
Nearest Station: Bayfront
Do you love to visit cafes and shop? Well, make sure that you cater an entire day to explore Haji Lane — an area in Bugis with narrow alleys and streets teeming with plenty of cafes and clothing boutiques.
As the streets are so colourful and vibrant, there are plenty of places for you to get that mandatory holiday #OOTD shot. You’re welcome!
Once a humble fishing village at the mouth of Rochor River, today, Kampong Glam is bursting with life, culture and charm.
Start off your journey at the Malay Heritage Centre — located at the Sultan Gate in Kampong Glam — where visitors can learn more about the culture, heritage and history of Malay Singaporeans. There are also cultural programmes and workshops organised there, so do catch one if time permits!
Following that, make sure that you visit the incredible Sultan Mosque, which houses a beautiful prayer hall that will certainly impress.
Malay Heritage Centre
85 Sultan Gate,
Tel: +65 6391 0450
Tue to Sun: 10am – 6pm
Nearest Station: Bugis
3 Muscat Street,
Tel: +65 6293 4405
Sat to Thu: 9.30am – 12pm, 2pm – 4pm
Fri: 2.30pm – 4pm
Nearest Station: Bugis
#8 LEARN ABOUT PERANAKAN CULTURE
Culture is a beautiful thing. It allows you a deeper insight into the people of the city whilst also cultivating a deeper appreciation for the city itself.
Another early migrant to Singapore are the Peranakan Chinese or Straits-born Chinese, the descendants of Chinese traders who lived in Penang and Singapore in the 19th century.
For a better understanding of the Peranakan culture, the Peranakan Museum would be a good place to go. Visitors can expect to view an excellent collection of intrinsic beadwork tablecloths, furniture and porcelain ware.
39 Armenian Street,
Tel: +65 6332 7591
Sat to Thu: 10am – 7pm
Fri: 10am – 9pm
Nearest Station: Bras Basah / City Hall
#9 LOSE YOURSELF IN YOUR OWN LITTLE INDIA ADVENTURE
Located just across from Chinatown, set aside a day for your very own adventure in the ethnic district, Little India. This is where you will experience the best of Singapore’s Indian community through their electrifying culture and amazing shopping deals at the 24-hour shopping mall, Mustafa Centre.
During your visit, don’t forget to try some authentic South Indian vegetarian food, North Indian tandoori dishes and local Indian fare! Your stomach needs a break from all the activity anyway, right?
#10 MARVEL AT THE MERLION
Ever heard of the Merlion? Well, if you haven’t, you probably can make a guess as to what this is.
The mythical Merlion is Singapore’s national icon which comprises the head of a lion and body of a fish. Symbolizing Singapore’s humble beginnings as a small fishing village, this is one must-see if it is your first time to Singapore. And best of all, there are plenty of trick-eye shots that you can photograph with the Merlion too!
If you do not have the time to travel all the way to Sentosa to see the giant version of the Merlion, a trip to the Merlion Park would be your next best shot.
#11 MUSE AT ART & HISTORY AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY SINGAPORE
All art and history fanatics need to cater some time to visit the National Gallery Singapore, a museum prided as the world’s largest public display of modern Southeast Asian art.
The National Gallery Singapore is also situated at the heart of the Civic District and at the City Hall and the former Supreme Court, two significant buildings in Singapore’s history. The National Gallery Singapore is also recognised for its outstanding architectural design which never fails to stun over and over again.
National Gallery Singapore
1 Saint Andrew’s Road,
Tel: +65 6271 7000
Sun to Thu, PH: 10am – 7pm
Fri to Sat & Eve of PH: 10am – 10pm
Nearest Station: City Hall
#12 RELAX AT QUAYSIDE ISLE
Now, holidays are meant to be holidays. So why spend the entirety of your trip rushing up and down the streets of Singapore when you could take a breather and enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Quayside Isle?
Quayside Isle at Sentosa Cove is Sentosa’s premier waterfront retail and dining destination which spreads across an area of more than 40,000 square feet. There are also plenty of thrilling dining concepts and retail stores for you to explore.
31 Ocean Way,
Tel: +65 6887 3502
Daily: 8am – 12am
Nearest Station: Harbourfront
#13 SOAK UP SOME FUN AT SENTOSA
But for those who seek an adventure, a day or two at Sentosa will be sure to do the trick. A popular island resort which is renown for its beaches, Universal Studios Singapore and cultural attractions such as Fort Siloso, you will never be bored at Sentosa.
If you are looking for something a little more exhilarating, the MegaZip Adventure Park should be on your itinerary. This is Singapore’s first adventure park which is home to one of the longest and steepest zip wires in Asia, a 40 feet-high aerial rope course, 50 foot-high freefall simulator and 16 metre-high rock climbing wall. Excited yet?
#14 SWEAT IT OUT AT THE SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS
An UNESCO World Heritage Site with 158 years of history, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a tropical garden which has played a role towards Singapore’s recognition as a garden city.
Within the Singapore Botanical Gardens lies the National Orchid Garden, the Ginger Garden and Rainforest. There is also a botany centre and Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden which is claimed to be Asia’s first children’s garden.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
1 Cluny Road,
Tel: +65 6471 7138
Daily: 5am – 12am
Nearest Station: Botanic Gardens
#15 SOAR TO GREAT HEIGHTS AT THE SINGAPORE FLYER
Just as how London has the London Eye, Singapore has the Singapore Flyer, a giant Ferris wheel which offers visitors the opportunity to admire the beauty of the Singapore’s landscape.
Tickets will cost S$33 per adult and S$21 per child (3 years old to 12 years old).
30 Raffles Avenue,
Tel: +65 6333 3311
Daily: 8.30am – 10.30pm
Nearest Station: Promenade
Instead of staying in the city, why not make the trip down to one of Singapore’s offshore islands? This would provide you with an alternative perspective of the city with no hassle at all. In fact, you will not even need to bring your passport along!
One of our favourite islands is Kusu Island. Legend has it that the devotees of Tua Pek Kong believed that Kusu Island was created through the deity’s transformation of a tortoise.
Aside from viewing the tortoise sanctuary, three kramats stand atop the Kusu Island in memory of Syed Abdul Rahman, Nenk Ghalib and Puteri Fatimah. The shrines are predominantly visited by couples who are praying and yearning for children.
#17 VISIT THE SINGAPORE ZOO
Travelling to Singapore with your children? Then, a visit to the Singapore Zoo is would be a great way to keep them entertained and happy for the entire day.
The Singapore Zoo prides itself on being one of the most beautiful wildlife parks in the world, as their animals are allowed to roam freely around their habitats. The zoo is also home to more than 2,800 animals, over 300 species of mammals, birds and reptiles.
There are also various activities that you and your family can enjoy. From having a splashing good time at the Rainforest Kidzworld, you can even have a Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife i.e. a meal with Singapore’s orangutans!
80 Mandai Lake Road,
Tel: +65 6269 3411
Daily: 8.30am – 6pm
Nearest Station: Yew Tee