6 Things to Do in Singapore
Featured destinations: Singapore
Published 05 January 2017
Mention Singapore and most travellers dream-up images of sky-high towers, futuristic settings and endless shopping malls. While those pristine pictures might be correct, you’ll also find an island city-state of authentic markets, a mish-mash of worldwide cultures, and impressive outdoor spaces. Here are six unmissable activities to experience every side of Singapore:
Explore Gardens by the Bay
This place is possibly as surreal as Singapore gets. Located in the super-trendy Marina Bay Sands area, Gardens by the Bay is an ultramodern park; home to a dozen ‘Supertrees’ (some up to 16-storeys high), which tower over two domed conservatories. Arguably the site’s most iconic structures, these house an impressive array of flora and fauna, from Mediterranean plants to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
Back outside, two of the tree structures can be climbed and crossed via a Skywalk, offering impressive views back across the city.
Visit at dusk for the best of both worlds: you’ll see the site’s lush surroundings in the light and the Supertrees bathed in fluorescent lights, Avatar style, at night.
Take a trip to Little India
A world away from the serene waters and glitzy glamour of Marina Bay is Singapore’s Little India district. Here, with the air heavy with incense and the atmosphere electric, you’ll feel like you’ve travelled to the hectic backstreets of the subcontinent.
Once a district for migrant workers, this neighbourhood grew from a camp in the mid-19th Century. Today, walking down Serangoon Road (the main route running through the district) will provide an overload of the senses and total immersion into a culture quite the opposite of Singapore’s normal style.
Sizzling street food stalls nestle up to fragrant flower stalls, while Hindu temples are dotted about the area too. For a multi-cultural feast, head for the Tekka Centre, where you can dine on a street-food fusion of Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes.
Shop until you drop… literally
The malls here can induce madness. You’ll find sky-high malls, concealed malls below the streets, malls in metro stations and malls lining underground bypasses. You could spend a fortnight here and still not discover every shop, stall and bargain on offer.
Tour the well-known high-street brands, as well as little-known Asian labels too, by starting along the Orchard Road area (the Singaporean equivalent of Oxford Street). ION Orchard is a good place to ease into the activity. You’ll find budget wear for the street cool and high-end fashion for the traveller with expensive taste.
Get caught up in the chaos of Chinatown
Found next to Singapore’s serious financial district, Chinatown is a combination of old temples, traditional teahouses and bustling markets. The two neighbouring areas couldn’t be more different.
Exotic sights and smells await the curious visitor: from steaming cups of smoky tea to stacks of sticky satay. You’ll find medical stalls, selling traditional Chinese remedies, and plenty of touristy tat too. Spend at least half a day getting lost amid the maze of alleyways and backstreets.
Bask in the Botanic Gardens
Sometimes city life can feel a little too frantic; when it does, head to Singapore’s beautiful Botanic Gardens. Known as the state’s oldest national park (created in 1859), today it’s world-famous for its extensive range of tropical plants, home to over 2,000 species of trees and shrubs. Covering a sprawling 64 hectares, you can explore at your own pace on one of the park’s many walkways or trails.
Stop by the Central Core for the park’s National Orchid Garden where you can wander around a jaw-dropping 1,000 species of the pretty flowers.
Swig a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel
After a hard day’s sightseeing, drop by the Raffles Hotel for a refreshing, if slightly potent, cocktail or two. The world-famous Singapore Sling, invented at the hotel’s Long Bar back in 1910, is the drink of choice.
Today, the range of Slings is extensive, from seasonal options (the Winter Sling is particularly good) to the original, which mixes gin, cherry liqueur, Bénédictine, and Cointreau with fruity pineapple and lime juice. You would be forgiven for indulging in two… or three.
Tick off Daisy's Sinagpore highlights with one of Round the World Experts' Singapore holidays.