City Guide Singapore

Looking for things to do in Singapore?
The City Guide Singapore gives you a comprehensive guide of the fascinating city-state.

Along with Monaco and Vatican City, Singapore is one of three modern day city-states. Located on the tip of the Malay Peninsula and home to 5.5 million citizens, this densely populated country is rich in monetary wealth and diversity. It also boasts a number of accolades like largest infinity pool and tallest manmade waterfall. Singapore, whose original name, Singapura, translates into “The Lion City,” appealed to my textbook Leo tendencies. But there’s more to this former British trading colony than Michelin-rated hawker stalls and Frankenstein-esque Super Trees that are basically the fanciest solar panels I ever did see. Singapore is a melting pot of culturesevery sign is translated into the four languages that represent the population: Tamil, Bahasa, English, and Mandarin. The food is equally representative of the various cultures that have found common grounds in Singapore. One minute you’re snapping photos of Chinatown’s colorful shutters decorating the timeworn windows of heritage houses, the next minute, Singapore reminds you of its ultra modernity with its glittering skyline. Don’t forget to soak in the distinct “Singlish” accent, which is by far my favorite thing in all of Singapore. Singaporean English is a mishmash of Indian, Mandarin, Malay, and British pronunciation, rendering it to move differently than British, American, and Australian English. It’s choppy and clipped, and spattered with cool bits and pieces of the languages that have influenced it. You can catch locals ending sentences with worlds like lah, or paiseh, or boleh! After a jaunt in Singapore, hop on over to Kuala Lumpur.

Much love to my Singaporean spirit guides, Becca and Far, who equipped me local intel and primed me to find a friend in every Singaporean. And shoutout to a very special woman who made this trip happen, my cousin Joni. There’s nothing like Asian hospitality and family and friends to keep us going.

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City Guide SIngapore Gardens By The Bay

  • Step inside a world of tomorrow at GARDENS BY THE BAY, Singapore’s top-rated attraction, boasting the world’s largest glass greenhouse, THE FLOWER DOME, and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall in THE CLOUD FOREST. Later in the day, THE SUPER TREES come to life, putting on an electrifying light and sound show. The shows start at 7:45pm and 8:45 pm, entrance to the Outdoor Gardens is free.
  • You won’t get more hipster than HAJI LANE in the Arab Quarter, a passageway to cute cafes, independent boutiques overwhelmed with quirky knickknacks, funky murals, and edgy bars with sweet Happy Hour deals.
  • Looking for a great escape? You don’t have to venture far from Singapore’s southern coastline to visit SENTOSA ISLAND, a manmade island that boasts a Universal Studios theme park, a TrickEye Museum, and a few beaches. Be sure to drop by the original MERLION statue, a symbol of the proud city-state.
  • The vibrant neighborhood of LITTLE INDIA is a mix of colorful Hindu temples, garland vendors, sari stores, and some of the most talented teh tarik “pullers” cascading hot milk tea from one vessel to the other.
  • An architectural behemoth, MARINA BAY SANDS is a striking three-building luxury hotel crowned by the world’s largest infinity pool on the surfboard-shaped observatory desk.
  • Not enough time to see the whole city? Take a spin on the SINGAPORE FLYER, an observation ferris wheel that boasts 28 air-conditioned capsules that can accommodate up to 28 passengers each.
  • Hawker courts that conceal Michelin-awarded food stalls and ancient medicinal halls vending curious cures are things you’ll find down the raucous streets of Singapore’s CHINATOWN.
  • ORCHARD ROAD is Singapore’s main shopping drag and home to Singapore’s preferred mall experience, ION Orchard. You don’t have to be a shopping fiend to enjoy Singapore’s malls as they are home to some of the country’s best food courts. Also, during Christmas season, Orchard Road is transformed into a winter wonderland with 9-feet tall animatronics and relentless Christmas music abounds.

cg-foodie-01City Guide SIngapore Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and NoodleIF ‘ACCIO FOOD’ IS MORE UP YOUR (DIAGON) ALLEY

  • PLATFORM 1094 (1094 Serangoon Rd, Singapore 328192) A Harry Potter themed-cafe made famous by their signature drink, “Mr Lich’s Brewing Brew” ($15 SGD), a neon blue cocktail, ahem “potion,” that flickers and sparks with a dash of cinnamon. Don’t forget to get into character: the restaurant owners have laid out a number of wands, robes, sorting hats, and even house ties so you can represent #TeamGryffindor/Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw/Slytherin, while noshing on some Western delights like Drunken Clam Paste Pasta and Truffle Fries.
    PRICE: $$ ($7-22 SGD–quite affordable especially for a popular spot!)

IF YOU WANT MICHELIN BUT AREN’T WILLING TO SPEND THE DOUGH

  • HONG KONG SOYA SAUCE CHICKEN RICE & NOODLE (#02-126, 335 Smith Street Block, Chinatown Food Complex, Singapore 050335) Not to be confused by the flagship store on Smith Street, this no-frills food court stall was one of two hawker stalls (handpicked from a batch of over 6,000 candidates) to be honored for the FIRST.TIME.EVER in the history of Michelin with a star rating. Get there right when it opens. We were there at 11:15 am (it opened at 11 am) and still had to wait for an hour to be served our plate of chicken rice and noodle. Honestly, I thought it was a bit overrated and the noodles were better than the chicken, but where are you going to get a cheaper Michelin meal than that?
    PRICE: $ ($3.80 SGD per serving)

IF YOU WANT SOME AUTHENTIC PERANAKAN FOOD

  • 328 KATONG LAKSA (51 East Coast Road, Singapore 428770) Arguably the best laksa in Singapore, this spot’s claim to fame was beating celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey in a laksa showdown back in 2013. Laksa is a Peranakan delicacy, made with noodles slathered in a creamy coconut-milk broth. 328 Katong’s reputation lies in a well balanced broth, where the coconut milk adds just the right amount of texture and fragrance and doesn’t overpower the umami of chili and dried shrimps. Order the lime juice to cut the effects of a highly savory aftertaste.
    PRICE: $ ($5 SGD for a small, $7 SGD for a large)

IF YOU’RE NOT A FAN OF DISPOSABLE PLATES

  • THE BANANA LEAF APOLO (54 Race Course Rd, Singapore 218564) Banana Leaf Apolo is considered the pinnacle of Little India’s food experience. Not only do you get to eat on banana leaf fronds instead of ceramic plates per Indian tradition, but their expansive menu caters to both Northern and Southern Indian palettes. Unanimously, the star of the show is the semi spicy, tomato-based fish head curry. If you’re not into stuffing your face with a whole fish head, the South Indian Vegetarian Thali set is complete with 4 types of vegetable curries, curd (yogurt), karai gravy, pickles, and sweet, milky pudding, and some slices of chapati and free-flow white rice.
    PRICE: $$$ (prices are inflated due to tourist status)

City Guide SIngapore Banana Leaf ApoloIF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A FAN FAVORITE

  • SINGAPORE ZAM ZAM (697-699 N Bridge Rd, Singapore 198675) It’s an easy marketing tactic to claim “Best ______ in Town” but when an establishment actually delivers on the promise, you know you’ve hit the jackpot. Zam Zam is a famous spot for Arab delicacies like murtabak, a thin-skinned turnover stuffed with eggs, minced meats, like chicken, mutton, and even deer, and deep fried to perfection, and biryani dam, a spiced rice dish. Don’t forget to order teh tarik, frothy milk tea, to wash down all the commotion of flavors.
    PRICE: $ ($8 SGD for a medium-sized murtabak)

IF YOU’RE INTO FIGURING OUT THE SNACK SCENE

  • YA KUN KAYA TOAST (Fast-food chain with multiple locations around the city) Coconut jam is my jam—seriously, the Filipinos also do coconut jam, but Singaporeans put this snack food on the map with kaya toast, toasted slices of white bread smeared with kaya spread (aka coconut jam) and then paired with either butter, cheese, and even peanut butter. From my Singaporean friend Becca, she advised me to order the Cheese Toast set, which comes with a soft boiled egg. You sprinkle pepper and soy sauce into the eggs and the proceed to dip the kaya toast in the mix. Sounds offbeat but when in Singapore, do as the Singaporeans do.
    PRICE: $

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL WITH CHILI CRAB

  • DRAGON PHOENIX RESTAURANT (177A River Valley Rd, #06-00 Novotel Clarke Quay, Singapore 179031) When it comes to true blue Singaporean Chili Crab, Dragon Phoenix Restaurant takes home the prize. The original Chili Crab recipe is attributed to a pushcart madam, but what Singaporeans know of the recipe today can be credited to the owner of the Dragon Phoenix, who added sambal (chili paste), eggs, and tomato paste to the dish, creating that rich and robust flavor. Service is sub par, but remember what you came for.
    PRICE: $$ ($80 SGD for Chili Crab, one side dish, drinks, and service)

IF YOU HAVE A HARD TIME DECIDING ONE PLACE

  • POTATO HEAD FOLK (36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089143) A favorite of my Singaporean friend Far, Potato Head Folk is an Indonesian lifestyle brand that has broken into the social fabric of Singapore to become one of the top hangouts on a Saturday night. Maybe its because the four-story spot is housed in a photogenic heritage building, or maybe its because you can get good drinks, good food, good music, and good people all under one roof. It’s a space that exudes cool at every turn. Make sure you visit all four floors.
    PRICE: $$

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City Guide SIngapore Keong Saik Bars

  • Keong Saik Road in Chinatown has become a playground for Singapore’s nouveau riche. THE LIBRARY(47 Keong Saik Road) is a speakeasy bar that can only be accessed by providing a secret password that’s changed monthly. The bar’s storefront disguise is also rotated quarterly so that it stays fresh. When we visited, it was a Chinese medicine shop.
  • The oldest housing project in all of Singapore is TIONG BAHRU, known as the “coolest tourist neighborhood tourists forgot,” where you can check out Art Deco flats from the 1930s, a lineup of the best indie bookstores in town, and a food market that’s so cool, it warranted its own 8-bit interactive map complete with food stalls that you can filter by category.
  • Singapore is proud of the its design exports and NAIISE is curator of homegrown brands like Souvenirs from Singapore, which sells Singapore inspired designware. Buy online or go to their brick and mortar stop at 277 Orchard Road.
  • THE BUDDHA TOOTH RELIC TEMPLE AND MUSEUM (288 South Bridge Road) is a reliquary for all things Buddhist, owing its name to the sacred object it protects, what is believed to be the left canine of Buddha recovered from his funeral pyre, but there is also a teahouse and theater on the premise.
  • The heart of historic Kampong Glam is the SULTAN MOSQUE, (3 Muscat Street) capped with two golden onion domes but that’s not the most impressive feature: take a closer look at the base of each dome and you’ll see glass bottles decorating the support, donated by poorer members of the Muslim community during the construction so that every citizen, no matter their socio-economic background could contribute.
  • The most famous of all Asian barbecue purveyors is BEE CHENG HIANG, with sickly sweet strips of sliced pork and beef barbecue, it’s the gift that keeps on giving and you can get it all around the island (thank you cousin Joni for one of the yummiest souvenirs ever!)
  • Comic book junkies would be remiss to not drop by SUPERHERO CAFE (2 Bayfront Avenue, Bay Level, 01-03, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands), a restaurant and bakery paying homage to all things DC, complete with diner booths overlaid in comic strip wallpaper and a wide assortment of superhero-themed treats.

Getting Around The Next SomewhereCity Guide SIngapore Getting AroundRECOMMENDED MODE OF TRANSPORT

BY MRT  The Singapore Tourist Pass is the ULTIMATE investment in Singapore. Depending on how many days you purchase for, you can take unlimited rides on the MRT, LRT, and local buses. The MRT begins running at 5:30 am with the last departure at 12.00 AM. When you visit Changi Airport, follow the signs to the MRT and at the bottom of the escalator, the Tourist Pass stand is to your left.

Singapore Tourist Pass The Next Somewhere

PRO-TIP: Before you depart the country, don’t forget to drop off the pass at the kiosk, where you’ll be given your refundable deposit back of $10 SGD that’s inclusive of the initial fee.

BY FOOT As my friend Becca says, “Don’t walk in the sun. What are you, a tourist?” Also her words verbatim: “Kind of like Hong Kong, you can kind of get from A to B to D by walking through malls, buildings and underground. No one actually walks in the sun. Two of the largest is through a huge tourist area. Here’s a map.”

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Want to buy a Simcard?

The price of a Tourist Simcard at the airport has gone from $15 for 5 days to $45 for 3 days.

Protip:  Head to Chinatown where a number of telecommunication shops still carry the Singtel hi! Tourist 3-in-1 simcard where you pay $15 for 5 days. The simcard includes 500 minutes local call, 100 locals SMS, and 30 minutes international.

City Guide Singapore Singtel Simcard

Interested in learning more about Singapore? Check out the resources below:

Have you ever been to Singapore? Share your tips for seeing the city in the comments below!

Give me a shout-out on Pinterest pretty please?

A comprehensive guide to the best of Singapore with @The Next Somewhere


Izzy Pulido is a Bostonian by way of the Philippines who loves to vagabond. At twenty-seven, she’s traded in gallivanting around Europe for the 9-to-5 grind… but don’t count out the vagabonding! With a new long distance relationship, she’s bringing American travel to the forefront. She lives for good times, good food, and good peeps.

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  1. Paige

    30 November

    Izzy, you’re simply the queen of city guides. Truly, your posts are stunning. I’d love to get to Singapore, I’ve been so close several times, but just never made the plunge – story of my life. Haha. You know I would be representing #TeamGryffindor at Platform 1094. I’m a sucker for anything Harry Potter related. The Gardens by the Bay are obviously a huge dray, and your photos of you and Tim there are just darling. Great tip on the tourist pass, by the way!

  2. Laura

    30 November

    I just love this post so much. I wish I could have traveled with you as I feel like it’d be akin to journeying with Anthony Bourdain. This is an incredible post chock full of valuable info. We recently visited Singapore for the first time ever on a visa run, and I was completely smitten. It was such a nice respite from the pure chaos of HCMC and I actually want to return for a few more days to relax and check out some spots we didn’t get to see.

  3. Vibeke

    30 November

    I had many stopovers at Changi airport when I lived in Australia. really wished I took the opportunity to visit the city for a few hours. I would love to see the Gardens of the bay. Such a good spot for photos. Singapore also seems like great place to try different food. I hope I can go to Singapore and explore 🙂 Thank you for sharing your tips 🙂

  4. candy

    30 November

    I absolutely love the food in Singapore. I lived there for a year and really miss the food. I am sad that I never tried the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. It’s so impressive that it has a Michelin star rating!

  5. Claire

    1 December

    I’d love to go to Singapore, ever since I first saw those space-ship like trees in the gardens by the bay I’ve wanted to go! I’m glad entrance to the light show is free – and that the Harry Potter themed restaurant is so affordable, I travel on a budget so am always on the lookout for bargains!

  6. Rhonda Albom

    1 December

    Great guide, I loved Singapore. We did not spend enough time there to try a lot of the things on this list, especially food, but we realised that at the time and are hoping for a return visit. We loved little India, and also went on a Chinese Junk boat and took the night zoo safari. However, next time I’d love to explore a bit more and I would love to see the super trees in action, we did not realise they lit up. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Rahul Khurana

    1 December

    This is an awesome guide to read about Singapore, not only because you have mentioned everything important in this post, but the way you have presented everything with collage of pictures and different points and headings in commendable. Nice recommendations for every kind of food lover and traveler. Got inspired by this. Where do you design the website – wordpress or somewhere else?

  8. Cindy Collins

    3 December

    Great post. We’ve just come back from Singapore and loved it. We saw most of those but sadly never got a chance to do Sentosa so we’ll need to go back. I especially liked Little India, walking around the marina and the Gardens by the Bay (especially the Cloud Forest). Thanks for sharing.

  9. Anu

    3 December

    More than the content of your post, I like the way you present the information. It is like a big infographic with all the practical information required to visit Singapore. Brilliant that you also give further resources for those who may want to deep dive. There is a certain quirkiness and well as fresh energy in your post. Keep it up.

  10. Jolina S.

    4 December

    Love the way you presented this article — I’m a visual reader so I definitely love all the graphics! I’ve been to Singapore many times in the past, so there are some things on this list that I know about though some are new to me. I definitely love all the foodie suggestions — I’m already getting hungry reading all of this. I will have to check out Singapore Zam Zam and the Dragon Phoenix next time.

  11. Punita Malhotra

    4 December

    Very interesting presentation! I have never seen a post organized like this. It gives the usual city guide a new lease of life 🙂 Would love to try out the banana leaf restaurant. It reminds me of local restaurants in South India .

  12. nathalie salcedo

    4 December

    Truly Singapore is a nice place to visit too 🙂 I loved my experience at the Gardens by the bay and I could definitely stay the entire day touring and walking around.
    I wish I get to visit the Harry Potter restaurant though 🙁 but it opens pretty early at 9 or 10 I guess? maybe more to explore on my next visit.

  13. Jitaditya

    4 December

    Great details and very comprehensive… I like how you have systematically structured this post. Great to find the Little India part. I knew that there is an Indian diaspora in Singapore but wasn’t sure how big it is.

  14. Jose Harvey

    4 December

    I have an odd fascination with city-states! Singapore is definitely on the list of places I want to visit. You’re guide in quite thorough and information packed which is a pretty awesome thing if one is planning a trip to Singapore. The Dragon Phoenix Restaurant seems like a pretty great place to eat in your “For the Foodie” section! What an interesting and unusual place the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum seems to be. Religion is both fascinating and strange sometimes. And thanks for all the information about the Singapore Tourist Pass! That’s definitely a helpful bit!

  15. Sara Broers

    5 December

    Looks like Becca and Far were great hosts! Little India sounds like a colorful, fun place to spend some time. The Singapore Tourist Pass looks like a good investment for someone wanting to see the top attractions.

  16. Cat

    6 December

    Singapore has a foodie’s heaven! You can get authentic Chinese, Indian, Malay food there. I miss Singapore, hopefully I will revisit sometime soon!

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