Glitz, golden sands and gardens – Singapore has it all. Here are 20 must-visit attractions for any visitor to the city-state.
Planning a trip to Singapore? Check out our comprehensive list of the 20 tourist attractions you need to see while you’re in the Lion City. From the great outdoors to island life, there are so many things to see and do.
Art Museum, Science Museum
Crows are Chased and the Chasing Crows are Destined to be Chased as well, Transcending Space (Credit to teamLab) | Courtesy of the ArtScience Museum
The ArtScience Museum is one of the iconic structures that make up the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort. Recognisable for its distinct shape, the museum blends the worlds of art and science together through carefully curated exhibitions. The ArtScience Museum has recently revamped their now permanent exhibition Future World, where visitors can explore an interactive high-tech collection of digital installations.
Located in two buildings, the former Supreme Court and the former City Hall, the National Gallery Singapore presents a collection of modern art by artists across Southeast Asia. The gallery showcases the works of both up-and-coming and established artists from the region. Be sure to visit the newly opened galleries showcasing Chinese Ink Art, and don’t miss the rooftop sculpture garden featuring works by Vietnamese-born Danish artist Danh Vo.
Singapore’s largest museum, the National Museum of Singapore houses two main galleries: the Singapore Living Galleries with exhibitions on food, photography, film, and fashion, and the History Gallery, which traces the island’s history from the 14th century.
Built by the brothers who invented Tiger Balm, Haw Par Villa was built as a way for parents to teach their children about morality through Chinese mythology. Although some of the statues are looking worse for wear these days, it’s well worth a trip to see these bizarre and nightmarish life-sized dioramas. Note that the 10 Courts of Hell are quite graphic and may be frightening to small children.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens first opened in 1859, making them one of Singapore’s oldest parks and explaining how such a large complex came to exist in the middle of the busy city-state. The park is home to over 10,000 species of plants, and it is one of the premier orchid research and breeding centres in the world. With relatively quiet grounds, the park is also home to a veritable host of jungle creatures, including three-foot long monitor lizards – but don’t worry, they are quite harmless to people as long as they are not antagonised.
Get out of the city and head west to the Chinese and Japanese Gardens. During the weekend, people play cricket in one of the park’s open spaces. Tucked into one area of the Chinese Gardens is the Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum, which showcases the world’s largest collectionof turtle and tortoise items.
Singapore’s most recognisable garden, Gardens by the Bay is known for its extraordinary landscape, namely the SuperTree Grove featuring 18 vertical gardens that reach a height of 16 stories! Other attractions include the two conservatory domes, the OCBC Skywalk and Marina Barrage.
Fort Canning is located right in the centre of the island. The place has played a significant role in the history of Singapore: Sir Stamford Raffles built his first home on Fort Canning hill, and during World War II it served as the headquarters of the British Army and later as the Japanese Army during their occupation of Singapore.
Famous for its ‘open’ captivity models, the Singapore Zoo is designed so that many of the animals are kept in large enclosures that are surrounded by moats and other relatively noninvasive barriers. The zoo is home to over 300 animal species, 15% of which are classified as threatened.
Missing island-hopping in Thailand and Indonesia? Turns out Singapore has some pretty spectacular islands too. Grab a bumboat from the Changi Ferry Terminal (SG$3.oo/US$2 per person – boats leave when there are 12 people) for the short ride over to Pulau Ubin. Once there, rent a bike from the small town to the right of the jetty and venture into the island. Pulau Ubin is home to Singapore’s last kampong, or traditional village, as well as the ethereal Chek Jawa Wetlands.
Getting to St John’s & Lazarus requires a little bit of advanced planning. Scheduled ferries from Marina South Pier (SG$18/US$13 per person for a return ticket) take about 30 minutes to get to the island. There are no stores on the island, so bring enough water, snacks and sunscreen for the day. When you get to the beautiful crescent beach and swim in the crystal clear waters of one of Singapore’s nicest beaches, you’ll be glad you made the effort to get out here!
Little India is one of Singapore’s cultural enclaves, and the recently launched Little India Heritage Walks are a good way to explore the area. It’s a sensory overload with endless streams of colours, sounds and scents. If you’re not too squeamish, walk around the wet market located on the first floor of the Tekka Market, or take up Anthony Bourdain’s challenge of going on a scavenger hunt inside Mustafa’s, a 24 hour store where you can apparently buy anything.
Chinatown is very touristy but still worth walking through. Skip the souvenir shopping on Pagoda Street and instead head over to Smith Street, where you’ll find the Chinatown Food Street, a covered area with an excellent selection of hawker stalls. Walk up to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum at the end of the street to learn a little about Buddhist culture.
In Kampong Glam, you’ll find the impressive Sultan Mosque and streets full of delicious Turkish and Mediterranean food. During the weekends, there are often flea markets and arts events happening in the neighbourhood.
Get your adrenaline pumping at Universal Studios Singapore! Located on Sentosa Island and part of Resorts World, the amusement park is home to seven themed zones, so there’s something for the whole family. Horror film lovers should try to time their visit for October, when Universal Studios Singapore goes all out with their Halloween Horror Nights.
Located on the far end of Sentosa Island, Siloso Beach is our favourite of the three beaches. Tanjong Beach is the party beach and Palawan Beach is mostly frequented by families, but Siloso Beach is a middle ground, with many cute restaurants right on the beach and a very chill vibe.
Finish your night with a drink on the Marina Bay Sands rooftop. You need to be a guest to get into the swimming pool, but if you are going to the Ce La Vie rooftop bar you don’t need to pay the $20 entrance fee to the skypark.
For a bit of a splurge, head to 1-Altitude to experience the highest al fresco bar in the world. If you look towards the Marina Bay Sands complex, it looks like the boat that connects the three towers is actually sitting on the water! We also recommend checking out Culture Trip’s definitive list of the 10 best bars in Singapore to truly cap off your trip.