Singapore: there’s nowhere in the world quite like it. Situated off the coast of Malaysia, in the heart of South East Asia, this island nation is one of my favorite places to visit. Not only is the city center breathtakingly beautiful, with skyscrapers and rivers in abundance, but the fact that it’s home to almost six million people means that the city always seems so atmospheric. It buzzes with electricity. It feels alive.
There’s so much to see and do in Singapore that, if you plan on traveling there anytime soon, you might struggle to fit everything in. You need at least a few days in the city center alone, never mind the surrounding suburbs. Whether you’re organizing a short city break or a week-long vacation, you’d be a fool to miss out on the top attractions. Read on for my 8 must do’s in Singapore.
1) Have a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel.
Raffles Hotel is one of the city’s oldest and most luxurious hotels, named after the founder of Singapore Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, and is definitely worth a look around! Not only is it a gorgeous building, but it’s home to the famous Singapore Sling. This gin-based cocktail is now over 100 years old, originally created by a popular bartender at Raffles in the hotel bar. I’m not usually a big fan of gin, but I simply had to try Singapore’s legendary beverage – and it certainly didn’t disappoint!
2) Visit the Sky Park at Marina Bay Sands at sunset.
When in Singapore, you might notice a strange looking building in Downtown Core made up of three towers with what looks like a cruise ship plonked on top of it. Well, that would be Marina Bay Sands. Singapore’s popular 5-star hotel is simply stunning, whether you’re up close to it or standing far away. Not only is the architecture revolutionary, but it also has a one-of-a-kind interior.
Marina Bay Sands’ rooftop observatory deck, Sky Park, is open to the public and it’s definitely something every traveler should experience. The views of the city are out of this world. And, if you time it correctly and head there just before sunset, you will be able to get photos of these insane views during the daytime, as the sun is setting and at night. You’re welcome!
3) Spend an afternoon at Marina Bay Sands Shoppes.
Adjacent to the hotel is Marina Bay Sands Shoppes, their very own shopping mall. This mall is made up of both high street and designer stores, so there’s something available for everyone. As well as a good array of stores and eateries, Marina Bay Sands Shoppes also has a very unique feature, in the form of its own mini river, running through the middle of the shopping mall. In addition to this mini river, there is a waterfall fountain feature that comes through the roof – yes, you read that right, the roof – and a small paddling boat that you can hire to ride down the river. Needless to say, Singapore certainly doesn’t do things by halves!
4) Eat dinner at Clarke Quay.
Clarke Quay is one of Singapore’s little gems. It’s a historical quay running either side of the Singapore River that is now an exciting hub of restaurants, cafes and bars. There is also a shopping mall – are you sensing a theme yet? If you’re craving a rather up-market dinner surrounded by pretty scenery, then you must head to Clarke Quay. There are also plenty of outside bars at the river edge where you can grab a pre-dinner drink before choosing from one of the many, many restaurants! You can even eat on the river, if you so wish, on one of the restaurant boats. Allow me to explain – it’s a restaurant. On a boat. On the river. Pretty awesome, right? In fact, Clarke Quay is awesome in general.
5) Shop until you drop on Orchard Road.
Orchard Road must be one of the only, if not the only, roads in the world to host over 30 shopping malls. Yes, over 30. Down one road. How crazy is that? Whenever you feel like going on a bit of a spree, you can just head to Orchard Road. From designer boutiques to bargain stalls, Orchard Road has it all. I, myself, have spent a good day there, shopping away until my heart’s content. It really is amazing. But probably not so amazing for your bank balance.
6) Experience different cuisines at Bugis Junction Food Court.
Bugis Junction is a shopping mall – yes, another one – in the Downtown Core section of Singapore. This mall is home to Bugis Junction Food Court, which is one of the most extensive food courts I’d ever experienced before. If you don’t already know, food courts in South East Asia are not quite like what they are in the west. They aren’t made up of different food vendors, like McDonald’s and Panda Express. They derive from the same food vendor and offer different cuisines. However, I’ve never seen so much variety in my life at a food court than what I saw with Bugis Junction Food Court.
Whichever cuisine you fancy, and could possibly think of, you will undoubtedly find it here. And not only is the food divine, but it’s as cheap as chips. You can get a full meal for as little as $6 (Singapore dollars, that is). What more can you ask for?
7) Take the MRT.
I can’t believe I’ve almost got to the end of this article without mentioning the cleanliness of Singapore. Seriously. There are clean cities, and then there’s Singapore. Cleanliness has never been so noticeable and unbelievable as it is when you walk around the streets of this incredible metropolis. Oh, and it’s even more noticeable when you take the MRT, Singapore’s underground train system. Both the train stations and the trains themselves are air-conditioned, which you can’t help but be thankful for after spending the day walking around in Singapore’s hot humidity. And it’s difficult to spot any mess or dirt anywhere. If you don’t believe me, try it. It’s a little game I used to play with myself but I always used to lose – because the trains are honestly so clean.
The MRT itself is one of the most easy and straight-forward public transportation systems I’ve ever used, and it’s rather cheap, so it’s definitely worth using in order to help you get around.
8) Go for drinks at 1-Altitude’s rooftop bar.
1-Altitude is a café, bar and gallery split over three levels of one of the tallest skyscrapers in Singapore’s city center. On the 61 st floor is its famous rooftop bar, which offers 360-degree views of the city. Like with Marina Bay Sands’ Sky Deck, the views are extraordinary. But, unlike Marina Bay Sands’ Sky Park, you can also have a tasty cocktail in hand as you’re perusing them. There’s also a really relaxed, cool vibe up there, with plenty of seating, mood lighting and a dance floor. They even have live music playing some nights, as well as DJ’s on tap. I recommend heading to 1-Altitude on your last night, as it’s a good way to leave Singapore on a high.
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Everybody I know who has visited Singapore absolutely loves it. It’s hard not to, as the city has so much going for it. Not a lot of people know too much about it, but this is beginning to vastly change as more and more travelers fall in love with its beauty year upon year. Whether you manage to cover all of the must do’s on this list, or just tick off a couple, I guarantee that you will enjoy whatever you decide to do. And it won’t be long before you also become a firm member of the “I love Singapore” club.
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