If shopping or eating doesn’t turn you on, don’t worry, there’s more to do in Singapore. But, believe me; you should eat lots while you’re there! And don’t listen to anyone who tells you Singapore is boring. Here’s a quick list of 14 things to do in Singapore:
Changi Airport is always fighting it out with a couple other exclusive airports for tops in the world. It’s pretty much like everything else in Singapore: modern, well-designed, functional, clean, and well-connected by public transportation. Information is readily available and the Wi-Fi is fast and free. If I can get a layover in Southeast Asia, I try to make it happen at Changi.
For me, Hawker Centers are the epitome of contemporary Singaporean culture. This is where local people eat. Singaporeans appreciate good food, so the quality remains high. Hawker Centers are collections of different independent food stands and stalls with central seating. The prices are low and the food offered is usually a large variety.
There are lots of stylish places to stay in Singapore. I like Capri by Fraser. It’s an extended stay hotel that I lived at for 11 days. It’s located out toward the airport, but is well connected to the rest of Singapore by the MRT. Capri by Fraser kept me feeling comfortable, well-rested, and connected to its fast Wi-Fi while I zipped around to different city sights and worked on my internet-based projects.
No matter what your inclinations, don’t fight the mall. Be one with the mall. Malls are an indispensable part of today’s Singapore, and you will end up in one or more whether you want to or not. And that’s OK, because they offer a break from the heat and humidity as well as a chance to try some of Singapore’s excellent cuisine at reasonable prices in their many food courts.
A surprising number of visitors go to Singapore without visiting or even knowing about the Southern Ridges. The Southern Ridges are a number of parks adjacent to one another that cover the area of a mountain ridge in the southwest of the city. It’s a great way to feel like you’re escaping the city and an opportunity to walk across the beautiful Henderson Waves Bridge.
There are couple other places to eat chicken rice at its best (namely Melaka, Malaysia), but Singapore’s is among them. The chicken is either steamed or fried and served with rice that is cooked in chicken broth. The dish has subtle flavors, but it’s very delicious. Chicken rice is best tried at one of Singapore’s many hawker centers.
Gardens by the Bay is one of Singapore’s newest attractions. It’s built on a gigantic piece of reclaimed land. You may have seen photos of the Super Trees. The photogenic Super Trees, as well as the rest of the park, are free to walk around. Admission is charged for the impressive Flower Dome and Cloud Forest as well as walking across the skyway. Gardens by the Bay is also a good vantage point to gaze up at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel
A simple, but fun and very Singaporean thing to do is go for kaya toast and tea or coffee in the morning. Kaya toast is a toasted bread sandwich with butter and kaya, a type of sweet coconut custard jam. Kaya toast is served at a lot of coffee shops, but two famous spots are the original Ya Kun or Killiney Kopitiam.
Little India is a colorful and vibrant neighborhood in Singapore and likely the cleanest and least chaotic little India you’ll visit anywhere. The area is packed with good shopping, great eating, and lots of budget accommodation. Sunday afternoon sees Little India Singapore at its best.
Char kway teow are flat rice noodles stir-fried with lard, dark and light soy sauce, chili, cockles, sliced Chinese sausage, bean sprouts, chives and occasionally prawns and egg. The trick to getting this dish right is cooking on a wok using a high enough heat. But you don’t have to worry about that; char kway teow is best tried at a hawker center. Be sure to have the dish again when you get to Penang, Malaysia, where it’s also excellent.
Jurong Bird Park is home to some 5,000 birds—380 species in all, 30 of them endangered. Jurong one of the most renowned bird sanctuaries with some of the largest free-flying aviaries in the world. You can stroll through themed enclosures along 1.7km worth of trails. Don’t miss the feeding sessions. As an alternative, try the night Safari or the Singapore Zoo.
This is probably not what you’re thinking. What’s Singaporeans eat and love is actually “carrot” cake made from a white radish (daikon). Rice flour and grated radish is mixed and steamed into large slabs or cakes. These are cut up into little pieces and fried with preserved turnip, soy sauce, fish sauce, eggs, garlic and spring onions. It’s also known as friend carrot cake and you can find it around the city at nearly all hawker centers.
Chinatown is Singapore’s cultural heart, with its various temples, merchants, shops and activity. Regrettably, much of Chinatown has been redeveloped over the past 30 years, but it’s still a worthwhile place to investigate. Chinatown can also be a decent place to look for a cheap hotel in Singapore, and you’ll get the best price by searching online beforehand. For excellent local food options, try the Chinatown Complex at Smith Street, one of the biggest hawker centers in Singapore.
Sure Singapore is famous for levying huge fines for things as trivial as chewing gum, but don’t let that distract you from enjoying yourself. As long as you act with common sense, you shouldn’t have any problems. It’s not like there’s a police presence everywhere waiting to take you to jail if you jaywalk. Just act normally and don’t litter, chew gum in public, import drugs, or eat on public transport.