Singapore is a city of contrasts. It’s vast, technologically advanced, and surprisingly multicultural. But it’s also somehow relaxing, slow-paced, and incredibly friendly.
I’m not a natural city person so this laidback vibe was welcomed, especially given the jet lag, 8 hours time difference, and general culture shock.
Now I’ll be honest, I hadn’t researched very much for Singapore. I’d literally just Googled ‘top things to do’ and made a note of a few things so we wouldn’t be short of ideas. So when we arrived, we got out Google maps and just had a look at what came up.
We were in Singapore for 3 nights, staying near Little India in a great hotel called Hotel Boss. This location was fantastic as it was possible to walk all the way to the marina, but we were also just a few minutes’ walk from the closest MRT (metro station) on the East-West line so we were well connected with the rest of the city.
As soon as we had a look on Google maps, hundreds of tourist sites and pinned locations started popping up. With two full days to explore, we figured we’d spend one day down at the Marina Bay Sands area and our second day around our ‘local’ area and tick off any extra sites we wanted to visit.
One other thing we tried to be conscious of was spending on activities. Singapore is known to be an expensive city (maybe the most expensive in the world?) but we actually found it to be not too bad – as long as you balance out what you pay for versus free activities around the city.
So, after covering around 40,000 steps over these two days, here’s what we decided are the top 10 things to do in Singapore (including a few we didn’t have time to see/do)…
Visit the Cloud Forest
The Cloud Forest was the number one thing I’ve wanted to go to in Singapore as I saw a photo on Instagram about 6 years ago and it just looked magical. Since then it’s always been on my mind to replicate that photo and when I got to see the stunning waterfall and listen to birdsong as we walked inside, I teared up. This was something I had hyped up in my mind and it did not disappoint – especially because we were some of the first people there at 9:45am. This activity was our most expensive in Singapore and cost $45 each (approx. £28).
Do the treetop walk at Gardens by the Bay
Whilst you’re down by the bay you MUST visit Gardens by the Bay. We walked along the Marina Promenade past the racetracks and when we turned the corner we could see the otherworldly ‘trees’ rising across the bay. Walk over the Helix Bridge and through Marina Bay Sands hotel to reach the Gardens and make sure to ascend the trees and walk along the Skyway. This is quite a quick activity and takes around 15 minutes to complete the walk and take photos, and cost $10 each (approx. £7).
Watch the light show at Marina Bay Sands
A must for any visit to Singapore, grab a beer or an ice cream (or both) and sit on the steps in the Bay to watch the musical light show outside the iconic hotel. The show takes place every night at 8pm and 9pm (plus 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays) and lasts around 15 minutes, plus it’s free!
Eat at a local food court or hawker centre
Food is definitely what adds to the high cost of visiting Singapore, UNLESS you stick to eating in local food courts and hawker centres! On our first night we managed to stumble across a little food court where we ate two nights in a row, and both times the bill came to around £10 in total for a huge plate of rice, vegetables and meat, plus a drink each.
Wander the streets around the Sultan Mosque
This area around Singapore’s most famous mosque and Little India surrounding it is a really underrated part of the city. Our hotel was close by and we could see the golden minarets of the mosque poking out behind some other buildings which piqued our curiosity. This quiet area of the city is also home to some fantastic restaurants – head to Zam Zams if you want real cheap Indian cuisine!
Find monitor lizards in Singapore Botanic Gardens
We caught the MRT about 20 minutes north of the city to the Botanic Gardens and it was lovely to walk around. We were constantly amazed by how green Singapore is and the gardens were just beautiful! It’s completely free to walk around (you can pay to go into the butterfly garden and the orchid garden but we chose not to) and the highlight was spotting monitor lizards sloping around in the shade.
Try a Singapore Sling in Raffles Hotel
Visiting Raffles may be another expensive activity in Singapore but in our opinion it just has to be done, it really is one of those once-in-a-lifetime bucket list ticks for us. We went at about 6pm for a pre-dinner drink and queued for about 10 minutes to get a seat at the Long Bar and then spent…wait for it….twenty seven pounds each (yes £27 EACH!!!) on a classic Singapore Sling. Luckily, it was really delicious and very strong, so worth it as a one-off. Sitting at the bar was also really fun and apparently it’s a thing there to crack open peanuts and just throw the shells on the floor. Random, but a fun thing to do in an evening!
Explore Changi airport
This may sound odd, but when you search for things to do in Singapore, one of the top suggestions is to spend a few hours in Changi airport! There’s a waterfall, canopy park, art installations, and even a beautiful garden to enjoy looking around before catching your flight. We didn’t get to have a look around when we arrived and we left via bus so this one will have to wait until next time.
Go to the top of Marina Bay Sands for a cocktail and epic view
Another activity we didn’t have time for this visit was a trip to the top of Marina Bay Sands. It’s something I’d like to save for a full afternoon on our next visit, and maybe save up to eat dinner there too. You can visit the SkyPark Observation Deck for $26 (approx. £15), enjoy a drink at the SkyBar, or dine at Ce La Vi with jaw-dropping views of the city.
Walk along Sentosa Boardwalk and enjoy a day on Sentosa Island
Finally, one of the top recommendations for Singapore is to spend a day on Sentosa Island. We didn’t have a spare day so we’ll be prioritising this next time, as there is a wide range of activities to enjoy on the island. Get the MRT to Harbourfront on the Circle or North East Line and walk across the impressive boardwalk onto the island. Here, you can enjoy gorgeous beaches, golfing, go karting, nature trails, and even Universal Studios! This area is bound to be a bit heavier on the wallet, so it’s worth checking out online which activities you want to do beforehand and buy tickets on Klook, where you’ll find some great discounts.
It’s safe to say there are so many great things to see and do in Singapore! We’re already planning a trip back there one day so that we can explore a different part of the city (maybe stay on Sentosa Island!) and find more fun activities and, most importantly, more amazing food spots.
What would you add to this list?
Follow the journey over on Instagram at @wheresliv_