Being one of the world´s most popular Tourist destinations, after over eight years of absence, Singapore proved once again to be a shiny star amongst the Asian mega cities. Perfectly tidy, reaching for the sky and ever-changing as always. A great city for food, arts and culture, Singapore convinced me as a fantastic place of superlatives to be explored by foot, yet (and some of you might disagree with this) as modern and open as it positions itself, I was missing a bit of identity within the conglomeration of cultures. Apart from that, definitely a must see on your bucket list for future travels! Check out some of my personal favorites to discover while being out and about in the Lion City…
Ann Siang Hill Park
No matter if you are heading here during the day or at night, the little park will reward you at any time of day with a spectacular view over the Singapore skyline.
Being the world´s first ArtScience Museum of its kind, the 2011 opened lotus flower shaped building is one of Marina Bay´s architectural highlights and currently hosts one of the most amazing light installations worldwide called Future World. To be honest, I personally would only recommend to buy tickets for this exhibition (19 S$). Particularly the Space light installation took my breath away and I could have spent an eternal moment in the black room at the end of the corridor and gaze with pure delight at this outstanding art. Must see!
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
This buddhist temple is said to host the tooth of the historical Buddha and was established back in 2005. The relic itself can be found on the 4th floor of the beautifully designed complex, yet the prayer hall and hallways are well worth visiting as well. Located in the heart of the Chinatown district, other sights such as the Maxwell Food Market and tons of pretty little side streets with bars, restaurants and shops are just around the corner.
Originally built as a monastery, Chijmes has developed into a highly popular gastronomic melting pot with a huge array of restaurants and bars. The atmosphere here is described to be similar to the one in London´s Covent Garden. Extremely busy in the evening, the complex can serve as a quiet hideaway for coffee during the day. It can also be booked for marriages.
Chinatown, with its colourful Peranakan shop-houses and handful of historical attractions, makes for a pleasant stroll. It is divided into four main districts, namely Kreta Ayer, Telok Ayer, Tanjong Pagar and Bukit Pasoh, but the centre of activities revolves around Smith and Pagoda Streets. It’s a haven for hawker food lovers and offers tons of beautiful snapshot opportunities.
Esplanade Theatre & Outdoor Theatre
Another architectural highlight are the two concert halls shaped like two giant durian fruits at the Downtown Core. When the outdoor theatre is not in use during the day, it serves as a popular retreat for lunch breaks while enjoying the gorgeous views over the entire bay.
Fort Canning Park
This iconic hilltop landmark has witnessed many of Singapore’s historical milestones. The hill once sited the palaces of 14th century Kings and served as the Headquarters of the Far East Command Centre and British Army Barracks. The decision to surrender Singapore to the Japanese on 15 February 1942 was also made on the hill, in the Underground Far East Command Centre, commonly known as Battle Box. As it is one of the city´s few elevated areas, the view from up here onto downtown is breathtaking! It is also a beautiful quiet place for a stroll in the shadows of the monumental trees.
Gardens by the Bay
Probably being on of the world´s most spectacular public parks, the beautifully arranged gardens invite for a relaxing afternoon and long walks through this artificial natural reserve. I have not been here during the evenings when the light installations light it up like a dream in a fairy tale, yet I heard it was a very pleasant experience. The entry here is generally free, except the two conservatories and the so-called Skyway which leads from one super tree to the other. Not so much a must do, in my opinion.
Momentarily one of Singapore´s hippest indie neighborhoods, Haji Lane offers a wide range of stylish boutiques, cafés, bars and restaurants to be discovered. Not speaking of the endless wall murals! So a must see for every trendsetter.
This edgy construction is a beautiful stroll from one side of Marina Bay to the other, offering fantastic skyline views and being a great place for snapshots.
Being known as the Malay-Muslim quarter, Kampong Glam is your destination for a bit of an Arabian touch to your vacation in Singapore. From carpets to mocha coffee, you will find it all here.
Lau Pa Sat Festival Market
Originally built as Telok Ayer Market back in the 19th century, Lau Pa Sat is today one of the most busiest food markets around. The beautiful building has once been a fisher market and bursts with a wide selection of local cuisines that will tempt you during the day, as well as in the evening.
Just a bit of the Muslim Kampong Glam district, Little India welcomes you with that typical authentic atmosphere and those typical Indian scents all around. It is the centre of life for Singapore’s Indian community, and a visit to this buzzing neighborhood is sure to awaken all your senses; be it through the multi-colored shop-houses that line the streets, the spiritual chants from the various mosques and temples, or the pungent aromas that infuse the night air when the demand for food reaches its peak.
Wherever it is to simply walk the shores of the surrounding promenade, to watch the evening light show or to relax on one of the free sun loungers around the Olympic Walk with amazing skyline views, Marina Bay is a bustling area to spend a day with walking, shopping, visiting museums or simply relaxing. One thing not everyone knows is, that the mall does have a rooftop gallery with great views over the bay. Just take the escalator up next to the Chanel store!
Marina Bay Sands
Ever since its opening back in 2010, the hotel complex with one of the world´s most well-known infinity pools and rooftop bars is definitely a top hot spot to visit during your visit to Singapore. Even though the evening view from up here is simply amazing, I prefer to visit during the day as it is far less crowded!
Masjid Sultan Mosque
Unfortunately, I was not able to join one of the guided tours through the building, but the mosque is a beautiful architectural representative of the strong Muslim community in Singapore. It lies prominently within the Kampong Glam district and is an eye-catcher in between North Bridge Road and the adjacent Night Market area.
Maxwell Food Center
Another highly popular food market is Maxwell in Chinatown. Head here for a rich selection in Chinese cuisine! It is extremely busy in the evenings, so consider to take lunch here while exploring Chinatown.
The Merlion is the official mascot of Singapore, depicted as a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish. Being of prominent symbolic nature to Singapore and Singaporeans in general, it is widely used to represent both the city state and its people in sports teams, advertising, branding, tourism and as a national personification. The Merlion was first used in Singapore as the logo for the tourism board. The statue was relocated from the beginning of the Singapore River to its new location at Marina Bay back in 2002.
Museums are generally a great place to hide from the heat during summer months in Singapore, which can truly get extremely humid. One of the city´s most spectacular ones in terms of architecture and exhibition is the National Gallery, which consists of the dedicated museum and the converted former City Hall. Not everyone knows that the beautiful building also hosts a gorgeous rooftop terrace with excellent panoramic skyline views. Well worth the admittance!
Standing at a peak of 282 metres above sea level is 1-Altitude Rooftop Gallery & Bar, the highest alfresco bar in the world and one of the top bars of Singapore with a spectacular 360-degree view of the city. Stunning sunset views and nightlife vibes can be enjoyed with some of the best high-end cocktails and beverages on offer. Adding to the vibrant atmosphere is live music from top local bands and internationally renowned DJs. My personal favorite if I am in the mood of treating myself to something fancy.
The Singapore River is one of the highlights to discover by foot with amazing views of the financial district. While you can always enjoy a (bit overpriced and touristy) lunch or dinner right at the shores, you are also free to simply get yourself a coffee or soda and sit on one of the steps or benches along the Downtown Core. Circular Road is one of the busiest areas for nightlife in the evenings.
That´s it for now, folks. I will make sure to add additional tips and recommendations once I will return to Singapore. I hope, you did enjoy this post and will conclude with a few more pictures! Safe travels.