Many travellers avoid Singapore because of its infamously high costs, it’s cleanliness (although we’re still not sure why that is a bad thing) and its perceived lack of attractions for tourists. However, skipping Singapore on your SE Asia tour is a huge mistake! Here are ten reasons why you should include Singapore on your SE Asia itinerary.
Singapore ranks up with other culturally and religiously diverse nations making it quite different from its neighbouring countries. The island has four official languages; English, Tamil, Malay and Mandarin and it also celebrates the national holidays of many different religions. Visitors can enjoy culinary experiences from different countries as well as visiting many different places of worship.
Another great reason for visiting Singapore is that it is one of the cleanest cities in the world. Thanks to rules about spitting and littering, Singapore is free of unpleasant smells or unsightly litter. Though some may accuse Singapore of being rather clinical, we think its clean streets are a real plus.
Singapore is full of hundreds of hawker centres where you can get a delicious meal for under $10. A hawker centre is similar to a food mall court except most of them are significantly larger. Hawkers like Newton Food Circus and Maxwell Hawker Centre have dozens of offerings ranging from fresh seafood to laksa as well as fresh fruit and local style desserts.
For such a small island, Singapore has an extensive array of restaurants offering cuisines from all over the world at different price points. The Michelin guide rated Singapore last year, which is a good starting point if you’re struggling to choose between the seemingly endless options of restaurants. In the past few years, there has also been a big emergence of local chefs creating modern Singaporean food.
Singapore has a proven record for the best (albeit expensive) bars in Asia. When the World’s Best 50 Bars list was released last year, Singapore was the top contender in Asia with three bars on the list. Speciality cocktail speakeasy 28HKS earned the top spot on the list of Asia’s Top 50 Bars with Manhattan Bar, Operation Dagger and Jigger & Pony all also in the top 10 of the Asia list.
These two outdoor attractions are unlike anything else in the world. Gardens by the Bay is dominated by its Supertree Grove, a collection of giant metal vertical gardens that are covered in thousands of species of flora and fauna. Gardens by the Bay has the atmosphere of a friendly and futuristic alien landscape. Visit at night for the full effect. Haw Par Villa is a former amusement park built by the Haw Par brothers who invented Tiger Balm. The park is full of life-sized sculptures and dioramas depicting Chinese mythology. The Haw Par brothers wanted to create a fun way for parents to teach their children about morality through these folk stories.
The Singapore Zoo is world famous for its ‘open’ captivity design where animals are kept in large enclosures that are surrounded by moats or other non-intrusive barriers. The Singapore Zoo makes it easy for visitors to get around regardless of the equatorial climate by offering a variety of methods of transportation within the park including trams, boats and even horse carriages.
It’s hard to believe that this street was once lined with orchards, but today it is the number one place to go to shop until you drop. With nearly two dozen malls lining the two kilometres between Orchard MRT and Somerset MRT, you can wander the malls and shop for various designer goods. This is a great activity if the weather is poor because the malls are connected by an underground tunnel network.
From the colonial-era Raffles Hotel to hyper modern futuristic condos and from classic Peranakan-era shophouses to Art-Deco inspired buildings, Singapore is an architecture lover’s dream. Create a DIY tour with our lists of Singapore’s Architectural Highlights and Singapore’s Hidden Architectural Gems.