Over the past few years, Singapore, a Southeast Asian destination, has popped onto many traveler’s radar. Though small, the island nation has much to offer visitors in terms of its numerous attractions and exceptional food scene. It is known for being one of the safest and cleanest countries in the world, and is an ideal destination for families, couples or solo travelers.
The nation’s landscape seamlessly blends modern city infrastructure with the lush greenery that can be found at every turn. It also boasts a diverse population, a melting pot consisting of people with Chinese, Malay, and Indian heritage. Visitors of all walks of life feel welcomed and can easily navigate using the country's convenient and efficient public transportation system.
Ready to plan your summer getaway to the Lion City? EBONY’s curated travel guide will fill you in on all the best places to eat, stay and play in Singapore.
Where to Stay
If you want to be close to the island’s most popular attractions, Marina Bay is the place to be. The accommodations in this area—including the Fullerton Hotel and the iconic Marina Bay Sands—tend to be on the pricier end. If it is within your budget, a stay at either will truly be memorable.
Full of vibrancy, culture and great dining options, nearby neighborhoods like Chinatown and Little India should not be overlooked. There you’ll find more choices to fit every budget. In Chinatown, check out Hotel Mono, the Southbridge Hotel or Hotel 81 Chinatown. In Little India, consider the Aqueen Heritage Hotel, Citadines Rochor or the Great Madras.
If bar-hopping, live music and partying is more your style, you’ll definitely want to stay near Clarke Quay. Hotels like the Park Regis, Paradox and Jayleen Clarke Quay are all great options that put you central to the island's exciting nightlife.
What to eat
Compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, Singapore—the top financial center of the Asia-Pacific region—is not a very budget-friendly destination; however, one thing you can do for cheap is eat. While restaurants offering cuisines of all types can be found all over the city, its hawker centers—or open air food courts—are where you’ll want to go to dine on authentic grub and truly eat like a local.
Some must-try dishes are chili crab, Hainanese chicken rice, nasi lemak, curry fish head, satay and barbecued stingray. Noodle dishes like laksa and char kuay teow can’t be missed. And for breakfast, try the delicious kaya toast. Cendol or pandan cake are two must-have desserts. Wash it all down with a glass of teh ice, kopi ice, sugarcane juice, bandung or iced Milo. And if you’re really brave, you might even try some durian, a stinky, spiky fruit banned from hotels and public transport.
Some of the island's most loved hawker centers are Lau Pa Sat, Gluttons Bay, Maxwell Food Centre, Old Airport Rd. Food Centre and Satay by the Bay.
What to see and do
For culture: Consider the National Museum of Singapore. There, you can delve deep into the nation’s history and learn more about it's founding, culture and people. The museum offers numerous exhibitions and educational programs. Also, check out Peranakan Houses, which are colorful and elaborately designed houses, which originally belonged to people of the Peranakan ethnic group. The most widely recognized homes can be found on Koon Seng Rd. near the intersection of Joo Chiat Rd.
In addition, Singapore has many beautiful temples, mosques and churches—such as, Sri Mariamman Temple, Sultan Mosque, St. Andre’s Cathedral and Thian Hock Keng Temple—where you can learn about the island's religious customs while simultaneously marveling at gorgeous architecture.
For the best views: Take a ride on the Singapore Flyer, the city’s 165-meter-tall ferris wheel. At the top, you’ll be treated to truly stunning panoramic views. Try to board just before sunset, so you can see the sights in both the daylight and dusk. Gardens by the Bay are expansive gardens full of beautiful flora offering so much to see and do. The Cloud Forest and Flower Dome feature plant species from all over the world.
However, the best views can be spotted from the OCBC Skyway or atop the Supertree Observatory. Be sure to stay until dark, so you can watch the towering Supertrees glitter to the music during the free light show that takes place nightly at 7:45pm and 8:45pm.
Lastly, board a traditional bumboat and learn about Singapore’s past and present as you marvel at the country's modern architecture. You’ll pass a number of important landmarks on the way.
With kids: The ArtScience Museum is fun for all ages. Art and science meet play in this immersive series of unique, interactive exhibits. From the cable car ride over to the calm water beaches, Sentosa Island is perfect for families. There are tons of kid-friendly things to do, including the Skyline Luge, Universal Studios, Adventure Cove Water Park, Nestopia, 4D Adventure Land and more.
Finally, Singapore’s zoo ranks as one of the best in the world, with its open-concept rainforest environment and free-ranging orangutan exhibits; more than 2,800 animals call it home.