Explore Singapore

Explore And Experience Singapore

Travel tips to help you explore and experience Singapore and prioritise your time in the diamond shaped island city at the southern tip of Malaysian Peninsula.

To me, Singapore has always seemed to be a mythically enchanted place in an exotic and faraway land that my much younger and untravelled self has always dreamed of exploring. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to explore Singapore several times and I’ve found the exotic enchantment to be not mythical but enticingly real!

My visits have sometimes been a mere stopover in beautiful Changi Airport – one of the world’s best airports, known for its efficiency, cleanliness, and various amenities – before flying onto Kuala Lumpur Malaysia or Bangkok Thailand or South Korea or elsewhere in Asia.

But sometimes, I’ve had the opportunity to linger a little longer and to savour and explore Singapore for a few days, during which time I’ve packed in many of the spectacular sights of Singapore both historical and modern and fun and interesting.

Therefore, this post is not just a tourist’s itinerary that you could easily source elsewhere on the internet with a quick search – but rather my own personal account of experiences and of sightseeing adventures while exploring in Singapore – together with a sprinkling of travel tips that might guide and help you to prioritise your own time spent in this beautiful and diverse diamond shaped jewel of an island city.

Explore Singapore The Backpacking Housewife

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. EXPERIENCE SINGAPORE
  2. THE JEWEL AT CHANGI AIRPORT
  3. WHERE TO STAY IN SINGAPORE
  4. THE SINGAPORE FOOD SCENE
  5. RAFFLES HOTEL
  6. THE LONG BAR
  7. CAD’S ALLEY AT RAFFLES HOTEL
  8. SHOPPING IN SINGAPORE
  9. AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN SINGAPORE
  10. WHEN TO VISIT SINGAPORE
  11. HOW MANY DAYS SHOULD I STAY IN SINGAPORE
  12. HOW EXPENSIVE IS SINGAPORE?
  13. SINGAPORE TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS
  14. INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT SINGAPORE

EXPERIENCE SINGAPORE

What’s in the name? Singapore is often referred to as a city-state due to its small size and status as both a city and a sovereign nation. Singapore’s name is derived from ‘SingaPura‘ which means ‘Lion City’ and this name is symbolised by The Merlion: A well-known statue and national symbol of Singapore, depicting a mythical creature with the body of a fish and the head of a lion. Singapore is also known as ‘Garden City‘ for its lush greenery and commitment to urban landscaping.

Singapore might have many names but it also has so many attributes to offer the visitor that it’s hard to know where to start and when to finish and so maybe this personal guide will help you with that?

There’s a rich and fascinating history from the splendour and elegance of Raffles Hotel and other colonial buildings.

For foodies there’s world famously delicious food from hawker stalls or high-class restaurants.

There’s fabulous retail shopping in Orchard Road. Food and local shopping in Little India and China Town.

Adventure and fun in spades can be found at Sentosa Island and Universal Studios Singapore.

And there’s captivating culture and amazing history in the museums and art galleries and modern architecture at Marina Bay Sands – a prominent integrated resort featuring a hotel, casino, shopping mall, observation deck, and iconic rooftop infinity pool. At The Gardens By The Bay – you can explore the futuristic Supertree Grove and the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest conservatories.

And, before you even get to all of that, the airport itself is so fabulous that it has been voted The World’s Best Airport eight times over.

THE JEWEL AT CHANGI AIRPORT

Changi Airport: Unless you arrive into the harbour by sea, or enter the island of Singapore by road or rail from Peninsular Malaysia via bridges over the narrow channel known as The Johor Strait, your first experience of Singapore will undoubtably be the amazingly ornate and beautiful Jewel Changi Airport.

The rain vortex at Changi Airport is the worlds tallest indoor waterfall.
The worlds tallest indoor waterfall at Changi Airport Singapore

The incredible rain vortex pouring from the dome shaped roof of Changi Airport is the worlds tallest indoor waterfall.

The airport is known as a destination in itself and as a place where ‘nature meets retail’.

WHERE TO STAY IN SINGAPORE

Singapore offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and preferences. The best area for you to stay will depend on your interests, the type of experience you’re looking for, and your budget.

During our visit to Singapore we stayed at The Holiday Inn Express which I booked with Booking.com

THE SINGAPORE FOOD SCENE

Singapore is famous for its food. The cuisine is a meld of Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese, and Indian flavours. Singapore is also famous for its seafood. Authentic Singaporean food includes its signature and national dish ‘Chilli Crab’ with spicy tomato chilli and black pepper. For fabulous food explore Little India, China Town, and Hawker Food Stalls.

The famous Singaporean Hawker Centres offer affordable and diverse food courts where you can enjoy a wide range of Singaporean and international dishes and ‘street food’.

Singapore Food
Singapore cuisine is a meld of Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese, and Indian flavours.

RAFFLES HOTEL

Raffles Hotel: Raffles Singapore is named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, and opened on the 1st December 1887 as a ten room hotel by the Sarkies brothers. Raffles Hotel in Singapore is synonymous with elegance and luxury and has since been a haunt of adventures, movie stars, authors and journalists – and now The Backpacking Housewife!

The Backpacking Housewife at Raffles Hotel Singapore

THE LONG BAR

CAD’S ALLEY AT RAFFLES HOTEL

Thirsty yet? Then let’s try a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel!

The Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, located off Cad’s Alley, is the original home of the famous cocktail The Singapore Sling. It was created by Raffles bartender Ngiam Tong Boon in 1915 when the etiquette of the time prevented ladies from drinking alcohol in public. Insightful Ngiam made the beverage with clear alcohol and fruit juices to make it appear socially acceptable for women to drink alcohol covertly and the immediately popular Singapore Sling was born!

Long Bar at Raffles Hotel
Singapore Sling at The Long Bar Raffles The Backpacking Housewife
The Backpacking Housewife at The Long Bar. Singapore.
The Long Bar at Raffles Hotel Singapore The Backpacking Housewife
Long Bar Raffles The Backpacking Housewife

The Original Singapore Sling Recipe!

30ml Gin

15ml Cherry Heering Liqueur

7.5ml DOM Benedictine

7.5ml Cointreau

120ml Sarawak Pineapple Juice

15ml Lime Juice

10ml Grenadine

A Dash of Angostura Bitters

Garnish with a Slice of Pineapple and a Cherry

SHOPPING IN SINGAPORE

Shopping: If you love shopping for high fashion and trinkets and souvenirs and you also love a bit of designer inspired retail therapy then you will undoubtable think you are in a shopping paradise in Singapore.

Because I only carry a small backpack on my travels around the world, my forays into the shops are more of a window shopping and fun browsing venture – although I might on occasion treat myself to a new lipstick or perfume or small wearable trinket!

The backpacking housewife shopping in Singapore

Orchard Road is a famous shopping street lined with international stores, local boutiques, entertainment options and a mega malls at each end, is considered by many to be the best shopping in Singapore.

Others will insist that title belongs to the high-end designer shopping mall at Marina Bay.

If your shopping budget (like mine) is far more conservative than designer then perhaps shopping in the famous markets at Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam, which are vibrant ethnic enclaves in Singapore for authentic (and affordable) local produce, each showcasing its unique culture and heritage.

Chinatown Singapore

AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN SINGAPORE

Gardens By The Bay: In the incredible Garden By The Bay you will find a Cloud Forest, a Flower Dome, and a Super Tree Observatory. In Super Tree Grove you can see a free Garden Rhapsody music and light show. There is so much to see and do here, in fact, that you’ll need to see and explore it all yourself to believed it!

Marina Bay Sands: Here you will discover shows and events and nightlife. This is where you’ll find the fabulous Marina Bay Sands Hotel – looking like a ship on the Singapore skyline – with its iconic architecture and infinity sky pool and Sky Park Observation Deck.

Singapore Zoo: A well-designed zoo known for its wildlife conservation efforts and interactive exhibits. The Singapore Zoo is also known as The Mandai Zoo. It is one of the city-state’s most popular attractions, drawing visitors from around the globe to experience a unique and immersive wildlife encounter. The zoo is known for its innovative and humane approach to animal care, conservation efforts, and immersive exhibits that provide a naturalistic environment for the animals.

The National Museum of Singapore is the oldest museum in the country and one of its most important cultural institutions. It is located in the heart of Singapore and is renowned for its rich history, diverse collections, and engaging exhibitions. The National Museum of Singapore was originally established in 1887 as the Raffles Library and Museum.

Over the years, it underwent several transformations and renovations before officially becoming the National Museum of Singapore in 1965. The museum’s building is a stunning blend of historic and modern architecture. The neoclassical façade of the building is an iconic landmark, while the interior has been modernized to provide state-of-the-art exhibition spaces and facilities.

Singapore River: The river has played a crucial role in the historical and economic development of Singapore, serving as a focal point for trade, commerce, and transportation. The area around the Singapore River is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture, reflecting the city’s history as a British colony. The Singapore River Festival is an annual event that celebrates the river’s cultural heritage and urban transformation.

Sentosa Island and Universal Studios: A popular resort island with attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore and beautiful beaches. There are over 30 totally incredible world class attractions on Sentosa Island including the Singapore Cable Car Network linking Mount Faber, Harbourfront and Sentosa Island.

And, in the heart of Resorts Word you’ll find Universal Studios Singapore!

Universal Studios Singapore The Backpacking Housewife
The Backpacking Housewife at Universal Studios Singapore

On the official Singapore website it asks you to ‘reimagine’ when you explore Singapore and says: “with its century-old temples, bustling hawker centres and lush green spaces, Singapore’s varied charms are bound to enchant visitors to our island. Our city’s calendar of events is equally diverse, and present travellers with ample opportunities to explore, indulge and express their passions” – and I heartily agree!

WHEN TO VISIT SINGAPORE

Singapore has a tropical climate and is warm and humid year-round. The best time to visit Singapore is during the dry season, which typically falls between February and April. However, Singapore can be visited any time of the year due to its consistent climate. The two main considerations for planning your trip are the weather and special events/festivals.

Dry Season (Peak Tourist Season): The dry season in Singapore typically occurs from February to April. During this period, you can expect relatively lower rainfall and more sunshine. This is considered the peak tourist season due to the pleasant weather, making it a great time for outdoor activities, sightseeing, and enjoying Singapore’s attractions.

Festivals and Events: Singapore hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, which can influence your travel plans. The Chinese New Year, usually falling between January and February, is a vibrant and festive time to experience the city’s cultural celebrations. The Formula 1 Grand Prix is usually held in September, attracting many visitors.

Avoiding Rainy Season: Singapore’s rainy season occurs from November to January, and it’s characterized by heavy and frequent rainfall. While this period may have more rain, it doesn’t necessarily mean constant downpours, as Singapore’s rain tends to come in short, intense bursts.

Shoulder Seasons: The months of May to July and September to October are considered shoulder seasons, as they are transition periods between the wet and dry seasons. During these times, you might experience a mix of rain and sunshine, and hotel prices might be lower compared to the peak season.

Humidity: Singapore is humid year-round, so be prepared for high humidity levels regardless of when you visit.

Keep in mind that weather patterns can vary, and unexpected rain can occur even during the dry season. It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly. Additionally, consider your own preferences for weather and the types of activities you want to engage in when deciding the best time to visit Singapore.

HOW MANY DAYS SHOULD I STAY IN SINGAPORE

Singapore Cityscape

How many days to explore Singapore? The ideal duration of your stay in Singapore depends on your interests, budget, and the activities you wish to engage in. Singapore is a relatively small country, but it offers a wide range of attractions, from cultural sites and shopping districts to parks and gardens. My first visit to Singapore was over three days / two nights.

Short Stay (2-3 Days): If you’re on a tight schedule or just want to get a taste of Singapore, a 2-3 day visit can be sufficient. During this time, you can explore some of the main highlights such as Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa Island (Universal Studios Singapore and other attractions), Chinatown, Little India, and the National Museum of Singapore. This will give you a glimpse of the city’s iconic landmarks and cultural diversity.

Medium Stay (4-5 Days): With 4-5 days, you can delve deeper into Singapore’s attractions and experiences. In addition to the aforementioned sites, you’ll have more time to explore neighbourhoods like Kampong Glam, discover local cuisine at hawker centres, visit the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, and River Safari, and take a leisurely stroll along the Singapore River. You’ll also have more flexibility to enjoy additional museums, art galleries, and perhaps take a day trip to the nearby island of Pulau Ubin.

Extended Stay (6 or More Days): For a more comprehensive exploration of Singapore, consider staying for a week or longer. This allows you to fully immerse yourself in the city’s cultural offerings, participate in guided tours and workshops, and experience local events and festivals. You can explore less touristy neighbourhoods, venture into local markets, and take day trips to places like the Jurong Bird Park, Science Centre Singapore, or even nearby cities like Johor Bahru in Malaysia or even across to Batam Island in Indonesia – just a one hour ferry from HarbourFront Passenger Terminal in Singapore.

Remember that Singapore is well-connected and has an efficient public transportation system, making it easy to get around and explore various parts of the city. Additionally, the weather in Singapore is relatively consistent year-round, so you won’t need to plan around changing seasons.

Ultimately, the duration of your stay depends on your personal interests and how deeply you want to experience what Singapore has to offer. It’s a good idea to create an itinerary based on your preferences and prioritize the attractions and activities that interest you the most.

However long your stay and opportunity to explore Singapore do use the What To See And Do Calculator on the official Visit Singapore website. Simply tick the boxes of the kind of things that interest you and how many days you have available to explore Singapore and an itinerary will be instantly produced for you!

HOW EXPENSIVE IS SINGAPORE?

Singapore dollar currency

Singapore is known for being a vibrant and modern city with a high standard of living, and it can be relatively expensive for tourists compared to some other destinations. However, the cost of your trip to Singapore will depend on various factors such as your travel style, accommodation preferences, dining choices, activities, and shopping habits. Keep in mind that prices can change over time and it’s a good idea to research and plan your budget before your trip to Singapore.

Accommodation: Accommodation costs in Singapore can vary widely depending on the type of hotel or lodging you choose. I use Booking.com to source and book my accommodations.

Food and Dining: Food is a significant part of the Singaporean experience, and you can find a wide range of dining options. Hawker centres and local eateries offer delicious and affordable meals. Dining at mid-range restaurants and upscale dining establishments can be more expensive.

Transportation: Singapore has an efficient and well-connected public transportation system. The cost of transportation is relatively reasonable and you can purchase single-trip tickets or opt for a stored-value card like the Singapore Tourist Pass for unlimited rides on public transportation for a certain period.

Attractions and Activities: The cost of attractions and activities can vary. Many of the city’s iconic attractions like Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands Skypark, and the Singapore Flyer have admission fees. Museums and galleries often have entry fees as well.

Shopping: The cost of shopping will depend on your preferences and the type of items you’re interested in. Orchard Road is a famous shopping destination with high-end designer stores while markets offer more budget-friendly shopping options.

SINGAPORE TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS

Entry Requirements: Check the visa requirements for your country before traveling. Most nationalities can enter Singapore for short stays without a visa.

Safety: Singapore is known for being one of the safest cities in the world. However, remember to adhere to local laws and regulations to ensure a trouble-free experience. Singapore has strict laws and regulations, including fines for littering, smoking in prohibited areas, and chewing gum in public. Be respectful of local customs and traditions.

Gardens by the Bay Singapore

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT SINGAPORE

To the north, Singapore is separated from the Peninsular Malaysia by a narrow channel known as The Johor Strait. To the south is the Singapore Strait.

Singapore is also a hub as one of the largest maritime ports in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in the world as it is so well connected to over 120 countries.

In 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles – British statesman and official of the British East India Company – is perhaps best known for establishing modern Singapore. Raffles first landed in Singapore on 28th January 1819. He has a statue and a plaque to mark the spot which hails: “On this historic site, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles first landed in Singapore on 28th January 1819, and with genius and perception changed the destiny of Singapore from an obscure fishing village to a great seaport and modern metropolis.”

“The Port of Singapore is a free port, and the trade thereof is open to ships and vessels of every nation, equally and alike to all.”

Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles

Lee Kuan Yew: Founding Prime Minister of Singapore, a key figure in the country’s development.

Financial Hub: Singapore is a global financial centre with a strong economy and bustling financial district.

Cultural Diversity: Singapore is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, with Chinese, Malay, Indian, and other influences.

Currency: The currency used in Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (SGD). Credit cards are widely accepted, and ATMs are readily available.

Language: The official languages are English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. English is widely spoken, making communication easy for travellers.

National Day: Singapore’s annual celebration of independence on August 9th.

MRT: Singapore has an excellent public transportation system. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and public buses are efficient, clean, and well-connected. You can purchase an EZ-Link card or a Singapore Tourist Pass for unlimited rides during your stay.

Have you ever explored Singapore?

Is Singapore on your travel wish list?

Let me know!

I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment or ask a question if you have one. You can use my Contact form if you prefer straight through to my email and I promise to reply as soon as I can.

THE BACKPACKING HOUSEWIFE RECOMMENDS TRAVEL INSURANCE

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