13 Tips to Escape Tourist Crowds in Singapore

Marina Bay Sands | © Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr
Marina Bay Sands | © Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr
Photo of Sadali Mawi
7 August 2017

Annoying selfie sticks, long queues and the lack of personal space – we’ve all been subjected to tourist crowds while on holiday. Read on for our tips on how to escape the dreaded crowds while enhancing your experience on your next visit to Singapore.

Choose the right time to visit

Despite tourists visiting in steady streams throughout the year, Singapore does see a spike in visitors when mega events, such as the Singapore Night Race, National Day Parade and Chingay Festival (just to name a few), take place. If you do not plan on attending these events, it is best to travel during the off-peak season as accommodations and flights could be a lot cheaper too.

Singapore Night Race | © Muhammad Ashiq / Flickr

Buy your tickets online

If visiting attractions and landmarks is part of your itinerary in Singapore, it is best to skip the queues and purchase your tickets online beforehand. Not only will you save some time, but there could be seasonal deals that can save you some money as well. However, do make sure that you are purchasing from authorised sellers that provide e-tickets as proof, just to be safe.

Invest in express passes

Speaking of tickets, some attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore® have options for an ‘express pass’, which costs a little more but essentially lets you enjoy shorter waiting times, if none at all. With popular rides such as the Cylon and Human racking up waiting times of at least an hour, you will be doing yourself a huge favour with an express pass (besides, you’ll feel like a boss too!).

Universal Studios Singapore | Jeremy Thompson/ © Flickr

Avoid travel agencies

It is normal to think that travel agencies are giving you the best value when heading to a foreign country, but do keep in mind that this is an automatic tourist trap. Moving around in large groups not only makes you look (slightly) silly, but it also means minimal interaction with locals and less time to truly soak in the sights and sounds of the country.

Don’t believe the hype

Speaking of tourist traps, there is no escaping them in Singapore. The biggest culprits may come from famous hawkers such as Chomp Chomp and Newton Food Centre, where out-of-towners have been reportedly charged $1000 for a plate of chilli crab! While blogs and websites may recommend these hawkers, they also attract large groups of tourists hoping to give them a try. Don’t believe the hype as a tastier alternative might just be hiding around the corner. Speak to a local, and they might point you to a hidden gem with a better bowl of Mee Pok or plate of Nasi Lemak.

Maxwell Food Centre | © David Berkowitz / Flickr

Navigate the city with apps

When you feel like avoiding the tourist crowds (and people in general), navigate the city sans the peak-hour chaos with useful apps such as Uber and Grab to get from one point to another (this also takes away the hassle of figuring out directions with maps). If you’re looking to stay in for the night in your hotel but conflicted with a craving for a hot plate of tasty Char Kway Teow, there are food delivery services, including honestbee or Foodpanda, that can sort you out as well.

Skip the money changer

It is extremely easy to go cashless in Singapore. With more retail stores and food outlets accepting credit and debit cards, you can finally skip the money changer and save some time. Of course, it is recommended to have some physical cash on hand just in case, and if you intend to go cashless, make sure that you’ve enabled overseas transactions with your bank before your trip.

Travel with a local

When navigating a new city, travelling with a local might be the best option to beat the crowd and get first-hand information on the best food hideouts and cultural experiences that may not be known to many. Singapore has its fair share of hidden secrets, and travelling with a local is a sure-fire way to interact with the locals and gain a deeper understanding of their culture. If you are staying at an Airbnb or a hostel, try asking your friendly hosts if they can show you around; chances are they would be more than willing to.

Wall Mural | © Pawel Loj/ Flickr

Start your day early

The best way to beat the crowds? Start your day early. It might seem like an obvious tip, but depending on your itinerary, starting your day early will mean fewer queues for entries into museums and theme parks, giving you more time for adventure and exploration!

Explore neighbourhoods instead

Singapore is a vibrant juxtaposition of old and new – from refurbished shophouses set against high-rise flats to beautiful murals giving life to an old neighbourhood. Take the road less travelled and venture into vibrant areas such as Tiong Bahru and Joo Chiat and be treated to hidden eateries, rustic architecture and you guessed it – no crowds of tourists!

Incorporate art and cultural activities into your itinerary

If exploring art and cultures is a passion of yours, why not spend a quiet afternoon art jamming or taking up pottery lessons to avoid the massive crowds while learning a new skill? It also offers a unique way to interact with and learn from Singapore’s vibrant art community.

Spend a day at the beach

Take advantage of Singapore’s tropical weather and escape from the hustle and bustle of the city with a cocktail in hand. With trendy spots such as Tanjong Beach Club and Mambo Beach Club in Sentosa offering beautiful views and delicious bites, you’ll turn an ordinary trip into an unforgettable beach getaway.

Sentosa Island | © xiquinhosilva / Flickr

Plan a longer stay

It is common nature to pack in an exhaustive itinerary into just a few days. While there is nothing wrong with that, planning a longer stay could lead to a more relaxed trip, where even a horde of tourists can’t get in the way of your experience. Depending on your interests, it is recommended that anyone visiting Singapore should stay for at least a week to fully discover the city’s best.

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