As one of Asia’s most buzzing cities there really is a never-ending list of things to see, do and eat in Singapore. If you are planning a visit and find yourself overwhelmed by everything this city has to offer- fear not! I’ve asked eight top travel bloggers to reveal their top insider tips for visiting Singapore.
Find the best viewpoints over the city
“Having lived in Singapore for a few years and going back to see my parents regularly, I’ve learned the best way to see Singapore is to see it from above! My favourite, hidden, locals-only spot is Pinnacle@Duxton, which affords breathtaking views from the top of a huge string of apartment blocks. Honestly, it’s amazing up there! Other favourite viewpoints include catching the sunset at Faber Peak and peeking on those down below from the Orchard Central Rooftop Garden, 1-Altitude and the iconic, soon-to-be-demolished, Rochor Centre. Each of these places gives you a real sense of how small the island is and how close together things are, it’s a great way to see things from a new perspective and live la vida local!”
Picnic along the Dragonfly Lake boardwalk
“Although located within the grounds of the tourist hotspot that is Singapore’s ‘Gardens by the Bay’, the Dragonfly Lake boardwalk provides a tranquil escape from a local’s busy city life. As the tourists primarily stick to the popular Cloud Forest, Flower Dome and Supertree Grove, the boardwalk is left largely empty. With swinging chairs, scenic views and an abundance of wildlife, the spot is just waiting for you to pop along with a good book and picnic basket. Many months since my visit to Singapore, my memories of my mornings spent at this spot act as a taxi to take my mind to a place of peace whenever I am stressed out. Oh and did I mention entrance is 100% free!?”
Eat at Hawker Centres
“We love to eat! Good food is something that Singapore is known for so if mouth-wateringly good food is your jam, look no further. One of our favorite places to grab cheap eats and get amongst the locals is hitting up a Hawker Centre or two. Gluttons Bay is one of our fave spots. Go for the chicken murtabak and the scallop rolls! Besides the awesome food, this particular Hawker Center is located near the harbour front. After dinner we love to walk off our feast and watch the light and water show in front of the Marina Bay Sands.”
Explore Tiong Bahru
“For an authentic taste of life as a local in Singapore spend an afternoon exploring the neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru. Filled with art deco architecture and independent shops and cafes, Tiong Bahru is where you’ll find some of Singapore’s coolest customers. Head to BooksActually to browse a fantastic selection of literature and stationary and pop into Plain Vanilla for freshly baked cupcakes. Visit 40 Hands for a fine cup of coffee and try the croissants at Tiong Bahru Bakery, one of Singapore’s finest artisan bakeries.”
Get amazing photos at Gardens by the Bay
“Gardens by the Bay is one of the most iconic sightseeing staples of Singapore, and for a seriously good reason; it makes you feel like you’re literally in Avatar! The alien-esque tree formations are part of a lush, whimsical garden area on the bay (hence the name) surrounded by the steel and concrete jungle that comprises most of central Singapore. You can pay a small fee to climb the bridge that connects the “tree tops”, and also be sure to head over at night for an awesome light show that may remind you of your childhood vacations to Disney! Also, a little fun/awesome fact: the “trees” are built to actually grow like real trees. If you look closely, there are plants growing and intertwining all throughout the structures, and the end goal is for the branches at the top to be covered in the plants.”
Wander around the Arab Quarter
“Our favourite part of Singapore to explore is the hipster area of Kampong Glam, or the Arab Quarter. It’s a brilliant mix of old school Malay and Arab culture, but like any hipster hotspot, it’s slowly gentrifying into a brash, yet quirky part of Singapore. Here, you’ll find the historical golden domes of Sultan Mosque, traditional fabric stores, and middle eastern restaurants alongside a hodgepodge of worldly cuisine, alternative boutiques, and some amazing street art. We recommend hitting up Symmetry for drink and some food, Supermama for some shopping, the Aliwel Arts Centre for some art/entertainment, and Blujaz for some pumping live music. And if you still have energy, we loved photographing the area at night, when the colours of the mosque and street art come to life.”
Stay & Eat Cheap in Chinatown
“It is no secret that Singapore is expensive, especially by Southeast Asia standards. But good news, there are many free (or super cheap!) experiences in Singapore that will keep you from breaking the bank! Save money on accommodation by avoiding fancy hotels and staying at an Airbnb instead. I found one in Chinatown, and for 50 SG I enjoyed a room to my own with a stunning city view. The train line was close by and downtown was easily accessible by foot. When visiting Chinatown, spend some time perusing the colorful temples and bustling markets for special gifts to remember your trip by. Whilst you are in the area, you can forget the overpriced restaurants and go straight to Maxwell Road Hawker Center. Here, you can get a delicious meal from one of the many food stalls for just a couple of dollars (plus, it’s where all the locals go to eat). I can assure your belly will be satisfied and ready to take on the town!”
Make the most of the Airport Layover
“Being from west coast Australia we find ourselves visiting Singapore a lot… not necessarily for visits but for a ton of layovers. Fast forward to 2017 and I seem to have lost count of the number of hours we have spent at Singapore Changi Airport. However, there is a reason this airport is our number one choice for a layover. You may have heard the rumours about this magical airport, from a butterfly farm to an in house cinema, but did you know it has a roof top pool… and jacuzzi? The outdoor swimming pool overlooking the tarmac has got to be the coolest airport amenity out there! Where else do you get to relax on a deck chair or wind down in a hot tub while waiting for your plane to board? Just remember to pack your bikini in your carry on!”
WHERE TO STAY?
Now you know just a few of the cool things to do during your visit to Singapore, the next question is- where to stay? With so many accommodation options in Singapore’s concrete jungle, it can be difficult to know where to begin. If you are on a budget, I would recommend looking into renting an apartment or private room through Airbnb, as prices tend to be a lot cheaper than hotels. If you’ve got a little more cash to burn, here are two places I stayed during my time in Singapore and can personally recommend:
Conrad Centennial- Inner City Luxury
If you are looking for luxury accommodation right in the thick of the city (and just a short stroll from Marina bay), the Conrad Centennial Hotel is a great place to start. This five-star hotel exudes a classic elegance from the moment you walk through the doors and lay eyes on the sweeping marble staircase and an extremely impressive collection of art (3,400 pieces throughout the hotel, to be precise).
With 507 guest room, the Conrad Centennial is by no means a small hotel, which means attention to detail goes a long way. It was the little things that made this hotel memorable for me. For example, the Conrad offered the choice of 4 different types of toiletries (including a completely vegan brand) and a pillow menu with over 15 options (my favorite was the Cuddle ‘U’), both which could be pre-ordered off the Hilton Honors App!
I had a room on an executive floor, which meant all-day access to the exclusive lounge on the 31st floor. The lounge offered a private breakfast buffet in the morning, snacks throughout the day and the best part- cocktail happy hour every evening. Onsite, the Conrad offers a very impressive buffet at Oscar’s restaurant, fine-dining Cantonese cuisine at the Golden Peony, casual dining at the Terrace and a $12 gin happy hour at the Lobby Lounge (which I would highly recommend taking advantage of)! Other hotel facilities included a massive outdoor pool, a proper gym with 24-hour access, and day spa.
W Singapore Sentosa Cove- An Island Getaway
Sentosa is Singapore’s resort island, providing an escape from the big city for both tourists and locals. Sentosa offers just about every attraction under the sun, from man-made beaches, golf-courses, theme parks and so much more. The island also has a collection of 14 different resorts to choose from, including the W Singapore Sentosa Cove, which is by far the trendiest of the selection. As I entered the W Singapore, I realized that I ironically couldn’t have picked a more contrasting hotel to the Conrad Centennial. With pop art hanging from the walls, funky mood lighting in all the bedrooms, and champagne served in apple-shaped wine coolers, this hotel is the definition of modern-luxe.
I stayed in the Fabulous Room on the 4th floor, which offered fantastic views over the harbour. The spacious room included a delightful bathtub (always a big draw-card for me), a massive king-sized bed which felt like sleeping on clouds, and a mini-bar equipped with just about everything one could get a midnight craving for. The décor was a brilliant amalgamation of both luxuriousness and quirkiness- a far cry from any generic hotel room I’ve stayed at in the past.
I particularly loved the upbeat atmosphere of the W Singapore- the whole placewas constantly buzzing with excitement. The hotel’s ginormous pool was always a hub of activity. I wasn’t surprised to learn the hotel often hosts giant pool parties here (which you can buy a ticket to even if you aren’t a guest)! Alongside the 24-hour pool and gym, the W Singapore also offers free scooter hire, morning yoga classes, a day spa and a mobile phone with unlimited calls and internet at your disposal. The hotel has two restaurants on site- the Kitchen Table, which offers an expansive breakfast and dinner buffet, and Skirt, which offers high-end, modern cuisine.
Hopefully these tips have inspired you for your next visit to Singapore… And if you have any insider tips to add to this list, let me know in the comments below!
Want more Singapore inspiration? Check out my ultimate 3-day itinerary to Singapore!