The Best Things to Do in Singapore

Supertree Grove in the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Supertree Grove in the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore | © Eric Nathan / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Prianka Ghosh
12 January 2021

Known as the Lion City of Southeast Asia, Singapore is a must-visit for travellers – whether you’re an adventure seeker, urban explorer or proud foodie. Go island hopping to Pulau Ubin or Sentosa, or check out the street food at Changi village and the murals at Tiong Bahru – this buzzing city-state has plenty to entertain you.

Immerse yourself at Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Map View
Cloud Forest greenhouse in Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, Southeast Asia, Asia
Cloud Forest greenhouse in Gardens by the Bay | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Arguably one of Singapore’s most recognisable landmarks, the landscape of Gardens by the Bay would fit right in as the set for an alien home planet. Its most striking feature is its Supertree Grove, with 18 vertical gardens, the tallest of which rises nearly 20 storeys. The best time to visit the Supertrees is at night. Admission to Gardens by the Bay is free, and the park is open daily from 5am to 2am.

Island hop

Pulau Ubin

Natural Feature
Map View
docks scene, pulau ubin, singapore
Pulau Ubin | © Thomas Cockrem / Alamy Stock Photo
Pulau Ubin is a small island in the northeast of Singapore. Devoid of skyscrapers and cars, this island is a reminder of what Singapore was like just a few decades ago. It is home to one of Singapore’s last traditional villages, and inhabitants there live a simple life supported by fishing and agriculture. To get the most out of your visit to Pulau Ubin, rent a bike to fully explore the island, and look out for the German Girl Shrine and other tokens of Singapore lore. To get to Pulau Ubin, take a ferry from the terminal at Changi Point.

Go wild at Singapore Zoo

Singapore Zoo

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Singapore, Singapore Zoological Gardens, Mandai Zoo, White Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
Singapore Zoological Gardens | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
First opened in 1973, the Singapore Zoo spans nearly 70 acres (28ha) and is home to over 300 species of animal. It is often praised for its design, opting for an “open” captivity model so that animals feel less restricted by the enclosures. To help visitors get around the grounds of the zoo, they provide a variety of methods of transportation, including trams and boats. For something a bit more unique, you can visit the zoo after dark when it opens for the night safari and get a glimpse into how many animals behave at night.

Explore Singapore’s distinct cultural neighbourhoods

Little India

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Deepavali or Diwali Decorations in Serangoon Road, Little India, Singapore.
Serangoon Road, Little India | © Charles O. Cecil / Alamy Stock Photo
Some of Singapore’s richest heritage lies in its trifecta of cultural neighbourhoods: Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street. Queue up for a plate of Michelin star-winning chicken rice and then head over to Arab Street, get your fix of Mediterranean food, and then spend an evening enjoying some shisha and people watching. On another day, follow one of the National Heritage Board’s self-guided walks around Little India – or book a walking tour, take your eyes away from the map and really take in the religious diversity and bright contrasting colours of your surroundings. Our tip? Refuel at the Tekka Market and drop by Allaudin’s Briyani the best briyani rice dishes on offer in Singapore.

Chow down at a hawker centre

Changi Village Hawker Centre

Food Court, Street Food
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People queue up and eat food in a hawker centre in Singapore
People queue up and eat food in a hawker centre in Singapore | © Ed Brown / Alamy Stock Photo
Speaking of food, the best way to truly appreciate a country’s culture is by eating the local cuisine. With culinary influences from all around the region, there is certainly no shortage of local eats. Tuck into some local favourites such as chilli crab, laksa, and chicken rice, or sample the Malay, Tamil and Chinese cuisine prevalent all over the city. For the best places to eat local food, go where the locals go and head to a hawker centre where you can get a meal for under $10. One of our favourites is Changi Village Hawker Centre – some of the best, must-go-to-and-sample stalls include International Nasi Lemak, Ho Guan Satay Bee Hoon and Weng Kee Ipoh Hor Fun.

Watch a spectacular light show

Island Lights, Siloso Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
Singapore. 20th June, 2014. Tourists watch the latest fireworks and fountain extravaganza "Wings of Time" at Singapore's Sentosa Siloso Beach, June 20, 2014. © Then Chih Wey/Xinhua/Alamy Live News
Tourists watch the latest fireworks and fountain extravaganza "Wings of Time" at Singapore's Sentosa Siloso Beach | © Then Chih Wey/Xinhua/Alamy Live News

Singapore comes to life at night with light shows to delight crowds all over the city. While there are regular, stellar displays at Marina Bay Sands, another favourite are the seasonal light shows on Sentosa Island. Appropriately named Island Lights, this year’s free light show features your favourite Sanrio characters – Hello Kitty, My Melody, Little Twin Stars – and will enchant you and your little ones with seven larger-than-life light installations.

Go hunting for street art in Tiong Bahru

Tiong Bahru street art

Art Gallery, Architectural Landmark
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Singapore, Art Deco district of Tiong Bahru
Art Deco district of Tiong Bahru | © Tuul and Bruno Morandi / Alamy Stock Photo

Take a closer look around corners and on the walls of Tiong Bahru and you’ll find some artistic treasures. Local heritage lover Yip Yew Chong, who grew up in the neighbourhood, has created three murals, depicting some of his memories. Animal photographer Ernest Goh once had a series of chicken fish pasted on the walls, though these days only a family of three goats can still be seen near Tiong Bahru market, where you can also spot a colourful peacock and its tail feather on the inner air well by Australian artist Makatron.

Sunset at Marina Bay

Soar above the jungle at the MacRitchie TreeTop Walk

MacRitchie TreeTop Walk

Forest, Hiking Trail, Natural Feature
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Singapore, Asia: Tree Top Walk, pedestrian bridge above the canopy in MacRitchie Reservoir Park
Tree Top Walk, pedestrian bridge above the canopy in MacRitchie Reservoir Park | © Andia / Alamy Stock Photo

Grab some water and head to MacRitchie Reservoir to do the MacRitchie Treetop Walk. The bridge spans 250m (820ft) and stands 25m (82ft) above the forest floor. The entire hike takes a few hours, so be sure to carry plenty of water and wear good shoes. Afterwards, go for a stroll along the boardwalk that runs around the reservoir and see if you can spot the giant monkey family that lives there.

Broaden your horizons in the city’s museums

ArtScience Museum Marina Bay Sands

Building, Museum
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ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, Singapur.
ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands | © 360b / Alamy Stock Photo
Impressive at first glance, the ArtScience museum delights with architecture as unique as its internationally acclaimed collections. Designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie and shaped like a half-unfurled lotus flower, the museum overlooks Marina Bay and beckons curious minds to its creative exhibit-filled-halls. Featuring a popular permanent exhibit titled Future World: the Intersection of Art and Science as well as various touring, exhibitions exploring the intersection of science, technology, culture and art, make sure to jot down the ArtScience Museum at the top of your Singapore itinerary.

The National Museum of Singapore

Art Gallery, Museum
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25.07.2020, Singapore, Republic of Singapore, Asia - Exterior view with the eastern wing of the National Museum of Singapore at Stamford Road.
The eastern wing of the National Museum of Singapore at Stamford Road | © Olaf Schuelke / Alamy Stock Photo
The National Museum of Singapore is the city’s oldest museum – but, despite opening its doors in 1887, don’t expect musty, forgotten old rooms. The building’s 19th-century neo-Palladian architecture is brightly complemented by modern interiors. Are you moderately impressed but still thinking a room filled with artefacts is not for you? In its commitment to innovation, the museum also features immersive exhibitions perfect for wrapping your head around Singapore’s early-history in an interactive, 21st-century manner.

Singapore Philatelic Museum

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Singapore, Philatelic Museum,
Philatelic Museum | © Tibor Bognar / Alamy Stock Photo
Calling all stamp collectors, postal-history-buffs, and enthusiastic museum-led-activity-loving children, the Singapore Philatelic Museum offers a one of a kind deep dive into Singapore’s rich philatelic heritage, suitable for all ages. Showcasing that stamp collecting is so much more than just a hobby, come along and learn about Singapore’s diverse heritage and culture through… well, stamps.

Mint Museum of Toys

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View of the Mint Museum of Toys, exhibiting vintage toys, located in Singapore.
Mint Museum of Toys | © EQRoy / Alamy Stock Photo
Whether young, young at heart or young in spirit, this museum is an entrancing, and sometimes nostalgic, activity for all ages. Displaying a private collection of more than 3,000 toys from all around the world, it’s likely you’ll spot your favourite childhood companion in the Mint Museum of Toys no matter where you’re from. Revel in the blurry-edged, dust-spotted memories of your childhood as you explore the collection on your own or share this experience with your little ones – though we can’t guarantee they’ll be able to match your admiration for your favourite limited-edition action figure.

Additional reporting by Mara Curechian

These recommendations were updated on January 12, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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