Singapore was the most unexpected part of our Asian trip. This country is full of amazing landmarks that combine nature and technology, multiculturalism, and high social and technical development. That’s why we have put together this detailed Singapore travel guide to explore the magical Lion City.
Basic Information about Singapore
Singapore is a wealthy state in South-East Asia, that is famous for its multiculturalism, ethnic diversity, technological development, sustainable initiatives, strict rules, and safety regulations.
SGD – Singapore dollar, S$ or $. 1 SGD = 0.71 USD and 1 SGD = 0.65 EUR
The official languages in Singapore are English, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil. Everything is written in English as well, and people are fluent in English.
Singapore is a warm and tropical destination, so it is warm and very humid all year.
Best time to visit Singapore
Singapore is an amazing destination for the whole year, although there are months that are rainier than others. Usually, the rain season peaks around November and December, and the driest months are between February and April.
The months of February to April fall within Singapore’s dry season and experience less rainfall than other times of the year, so these are the peak months for travel (actually between December and June).
We visited Singapore in September, and everything was just perfect – not so many crowds, warm, no rain, the accommodation was cheap. We always recommend visiting places in shoulder seasons – which means just before the peak tourism season starts or right after it’s over. It is more budget-friendly and eco-friendly as well.
How to get around?
Public transport is definitely the cheapest and fastest option to get around Singapore. During peak hours it might not be that comfortable, but the public transport of Singapore is very well organized and it’s also cheap.
MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) – this is the rail transport of Singapore, kind of like a subway. We always used this, and we got the standard tickets every time we used it (2-3 times a day). You might consider getting a Singapore Tourist Pass if you want to use public transport more frequently.
The most important attractions are very close to the MRT stations, and it’s really easy to get around with it. You can get single tickets in the ticketing machines in the MRT stations.
When you buy a standard ticket for the first time, you need to go to the ticketing machine and purchase a fare. One ticket and up to two journeys at a time on one card. When you have used up the fare and want to buy another, you place the ticket on the machine where indicated and chose the fare on the screen. A standard ticket can be used up to 6 times, you always need to upgrade it so that you have enough money on it for the next journey.
Budget for Singapore
Singapore is definitely the most expensive country in South-East Asia, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your trip more budget-friendly.
Mid-range budget: if you stay in a boutique hotel and want to visit more expensive attractions, then your budget will be around 20-50 SGD per day.
Low budget: If you’re on a low budget like us, then you count around 15-20 SGD per day. Some budget travel tips to spare money in Singapore:
- Skip expensive attractions like Universal Studios Singapore or other themed parks (or if you want to visit them, count with a higher budget)
- Stay in a hostel where you can cook as well, there are plenty of backpacker’s hostels in Singapore. We stayed in Little India which is a great area for backpackers, with countless cheap Indian restaurants too. A hostel with dorm rooms starts at about 10 SGD per night.
- Avoid eating in touristy areas – eat in the suburbs and go for local food places. We ate Indian food for dinner in Little India for 3 days (3 SGD per person!). Eating at the Changi Airport or near the Gardens by the Bay will be really pricey.
- Use MRT, buses, and avoid expensive taxis and online-taxis.
Day 1: Exploring the Jewel Changi Airport
When you listen to the phrase: “I spent the whole day at the airport” it sounds definitely as something bad, but that is not the case in the Jewel Changi Airport. This is the most amazing airport we have ever been so far, so let’s start our Singapore travel guide with this. The state-of-the-art technology available around the facilities, incredible gardens and attractions, and the world’s most huge indoor artificial waterfall make this place worth spending a whole day in.
Some of the attractions are free to visit, and others have an entrance fee. The good thing is that you can personalize your ticket in order of how many of them you want to visit! You can even pay for it in advance online. If you click here, you will be sent to the official booking page of the Changi Airport ticketing.
(Disclaimer: In line with the latest Circuit Breaker measures announced by the Singapore Government to limit the spread of Covid-19, all non-essential services will cease from 7 April – 1 June 2020. )
Shiseido Forest Valley
Opening hours: 24 hours every day
The Shiseido indoor forest will be the first stop after you get your luggage from the receiving line and making the security check-in. The first impression of the forest is like a dream, it is like if the forest and the building were one. There are several levels in the forest that you can explore while you enjoy the trees and plants, and the artificial river with mini waterfalls that bath the whole complex. It is an amazing spot to take a rest after your flight and enjoy the ambiance.
The whole forest has a lot of photo spots that you can use for taking some cool shots, almost all of them face to the main and most iconic attraction, the Rain Vortex.
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The Rain Vortex
Working hours: From 09:00 to 23:30
Light & Sound showtimes: 19:30 to 23:30 daily, with intervals of one hour
Located in the heart of the Jewell itself, this incredible fountain throws water from the roof to an infinite pond in the middle. The water goes down from a 360° position giving an incredible effect. The waterfall looks amazing during both day and night time and you can even enjoy a misting moment every hour as well. The waterfall will turn off for some minutes and spread some water mist to give a foggy and oniric feeling to the whole forest.
Working hours: 10:00 to 23:00
Price: 5 SGD
Location: Level 5
You can access to the Canopy Park following the stairs from the Shiseido Forest or with an elevator. The park guards 14, 000 square meters full of games, creative gardens, recreational landmarks, and a lot of colorful vibes. This park is perfect for families, the attractions are perfect for children of all ages and adults as well, so you can enjoy a perfect fun day with all your beloved ones.
There are four little attractions inside the Canopy Park. The entrance to them is included in the ticket and they are:
Perfect for flower lovers, the petal garden is a beautiful display of seasonal flowers converted into art. Flowers are very important for Singapore. (You may be able to see that flower love around the whole city). Take a nice walk around the aromatic garden and get amazed by the vivid colors and the fairy tale sensation all around.
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If you were amazed by the Petal Garden, we are sure that this one will be even a bigger impression for you! The Topiary walk is full of flowers from all around the world. Not just looking brilliant and alive, but also displayed in the shape of diverse animals and fantastic creatures. It is a truly incredible combination of nature and art.
Who doesn’t like slides? This amazing art workpiece is also a fully functional multi-slide facility. You can go up and try all the different slides that have very coo shapes and different kinds of tracks down. This is also the first large-scale interactive sculpture made in Singapore, so don’t hesitate to enjoy it and give a treat to your inner child.
This cute garden is destined for small ones. Leave your children to run and play in this magical garden that creates little clouds that make the place look like a dream.
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Working hours: 10:00 to 22:00
Price: 8 SGD
Location: Inside of Canopy Park
This bridge is suspended 23 meters over the ground. Fog is emitted from both the entrance and the exit of the bridge giving an incredible effect of floating over the sky. The view is incredible, be sure that you can get some very nice photos from there.
If you are coming with a baby car, you can leave it down at the entrance of the Canopy Park.
Working hours: 10:00 to 22:00
Price: 15 SGD
Location: Inside of Canopy Park
This incredible maze is perfect to challenge your mind! If you like to find the ext of mazes, this is the perfect experience. It combines the mirrors and short pads to give an illusion of endless bowers in front of you.
Manulife Skynets Walking and bouncing
Working hours: 10:00 to 22:00
Price Bouncing: 22 SGD; Price Walking: 15 SGD
Location: Inside of Canopy Park
These two giant net arrangements allow you to admire the whole Canopy Park from above. They are very safe, so even little kids can go up and play along the 250 meters of the suspended nets. It is an incredible experience, you will feel like if you were bouncing in the sky with no gravity pulling you down!
Changi Airport is not just full of attractions. There is an incredible mall full of restaurants, stores, and different kinds of services that may be useful for you. It is definitely a place that worth spending a whole day in, and it is perfect for starting your Singapore adventure!
Day 2: Gardens by the Bay
Singapore is one of the most aware nations when we talk about sustainability and ecology. The city has an incredible system of waste management and laws that protect the resources and the environment. Gardens by the Bay born as a concept to be the best example of the city’s philosophy to become “A city in a garden” or “Garden city”.
The main goal of Gardens by the Bay is rising the life quality level of their inhabitants, and the local fauna and flora. Also the control and processing of the CO2 emissions and the waste management of the city. Nowadays, this landmark is an icon of the city and receives more than 50 million tourists every year.
We wrote a full blog post about Gardens by the Bay! There is too much to see and to admire here, so click here to read the article and marvel yourself with the landmarks of Gardens by the Bay!
Day 3: Streets and harbor (China and Indian town)
Singapore is an impressive city. The level of technology is high, the weather is warm and nice, and it has a unique historical background. But the thing that impressed us the most is the rich multicultural presence.
Singapore society is fully international, but it has strong Malay, Chinese, and Indian roots. Even though all of the Singaporeans live together, there are some parts of the city where some of these cultures decorate and light the streets and businesses. We recommend you to dedicate one day or two to explore the most iconic ones, and some of the best landmarks in them, let us tell you about them!
During our visit to Singapore, we stayed in a cool hostel in the middle of the Indian neighborhood, or as it is better known, Little India. We need to say that it was the best decision!
Little India is a colorful place full of life, color, sound, and energy! It is also a great place to stay if you want to make a lot of friends and eat very delicious, and affordable (also vegan) Indian food!
Tan Teng Niah
The most colorful house inside of little India, it is located next to the main market. Even though this house is located here, it has a Chinese origin. It was made during 1900 that the Chinese industries moved the whole sugar crane around the place. The whole house is very colorful and full of brightness.
It is also known for being the last Chinese villa in the area. You can’t enter inside because it is private property, but you can enter some of the rooms on the first floor because there is a little souvenir store there. If you want to take a photo there we recommend you to go very early because the market starts to get crowded around 9 am.
Opening hours: 10:30 to 12:00 & 14:00 – 15:30
As you can imagine, the fact of having so many cultures living together also creates a multi-religious environment. The Masjid Sultan Mosque is the main encounter point for the Muslim community on the island.
You can visit it even if you don’t profess that religion, but if you are not entering to pray you won’t be able to enter the praying area. Be aware that you also need to be dressed properly to enter. Singapore is very warm, so if you bring short pants or skirts, you can get a cloth to cover yourself for free at the entrance of the Mosque during the visiting times.
The Haji Lane is located very close to the Masjid Sultan mosque. It is one of the most popular streets in the city and the best for shopping! You can find a lot of fashion boutiques, video games, and pop culture stores, cool restaurants, and colorful and multicultural bars.
The street is active the whole day, so you can basically visit it at any time. If you are searching for some cool and sustainable clothes and products you can even find some fair trade and eco brands as well.
Old Hill Street Police Station
One of the most popular landmarks, this colorful building was once the main police station of Singapore. It is such a big building because, during the old days, the police officers were just not working but also living at the building, and their families as well!
Nowadays, the windows of this antique police station are painted with beautiful colors creating a great pattern.
This ethnic enclave located at the central area of Singapore features very special Chinese elements. It is also the place that historically concentred the ethnic Chinese population. You can find a lot of restaurants and technology markets around, apart from a colorful and lovely market that becomes very vivid and colorful during the night
Singapore’s Chinatown is known as Niu Che Shui which means “water cart”. This is due to the fact that Chinatown’s water supply was principally transported by animal-driven carts in the 19th century.
Joo Chiat Road
Joo Chiat is another very popular avenue in Singapore. If the Haji Lane is known for the boutique and stores, this one is known for the eateries and restaurants. Here you will find Chinese, Vietnamese, western and international food. It is a good spot for coming in the middle of the day and grabbing lunch!
Entrance fee: 33 SGD
This giant wheel is one of the iconic landmarks of the city. It looks amazing during the night, and during the day as well! It has been working since 2008 and it offers an amazing view of the island and the ocean. It carried its first paying passengers on 11 February. It has 28 air-conditioned capsules, each able to accommodate 28 passengers, and incorporates a three-story terminal building.
The Flyer has an overall height of 165 meters and was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel until the 167.6 m (550 ft) High Roller, which is 2.6 m taller than the Flyer opened on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, US, on 31 March 2014.
Day 4: ArtScience Museum and Bay area
On our 4th day in Singapore, we decided to explore the bay area of the city. Gardens by the Bay are also in that area, but as we wrote before, one day is necessary for exploring all that area.
If you wake up early, you could explore all these landmarks. We recommend you to visit them in this order:
The Merlion is the mascot of Singapore, it is a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. This creature is so important that it has been the symbol of the Singapore Tourist Board since 1964.
You can visit the amazing fountain of the Merlion located in the bay area and take some incredible photos. The best moment to visit the fountain is at the sunset, the lights on the sky will paint the ocean and create a magical vibe.
Opening time: from 05:00 to 00:00 (The whole garden has other little themed gardens that have different opening times, so remember to check which one you want to visit)
Entrance fee: Free (The big garden is free, the only entrance fee needs to be paid at the National Orchid Garden inside)
The Botanic Garden of Singapore has 161 years of existence. It is one of the three gardens on the island and the only tropical garden recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It was originally designed by the Agri-horticultural society with British support.
More than 10, 000 species of flora grow beautifully in an area of 82 hectares and it receives approximately 2.5 million people every year. There are several landmarks inside of the garden that you can explore around, and those are:
The Rainforest garden
It is a small tropical forest of 6 hectares. It is actually older than the garden itself and it extends over the outside part of the city. There is one of the two rain forests located inside of an urban area, the other one is the Tijuca forest in Rio de Janeiro.
This 1-hectare garden is famous because of the plants located inside. The plants from the Zingiberaceae family are famous because of the sweet smell that they produce. Exploring the garden is a gift for the senses. You can also find a nice restaurant where you can take a mid-day lunch.
Botany Centre and Tanglin gate
This amazing Library of Botany is located in the middle of the garden. You can access to read and learn about the species that grow around the garden and their characteristics. There is also an amazing waterfall that creates a great feeling around.
Jacob Balla’s Children’s garden
Located in the quietest area of the garden, this landmark is special for the babies and kids. It has a big water play area, a playground, three houses with slides, and a maze where the kids can run and have fun the whole day. There is also a cafeteria where the parents or companions can relax after a long day of playing around.
And finally, the orchid garden. We write a different phrase for this one because it is the most important landmark inside the Botanic garden. You need to know that the Orchid is the national flower of Singapore, here you will be able to see all the species that grow around the island and also some special breeds as well. With an Orquidarium and a hall full of colorful and aromatic flowers, you can get entertained for hours wandering around.
Once you have explored the Botanic Garden is time to go back to the bay area. The Helix bridge connects the harbor with the Artscience museum and the architecture is just incredible! Singapore has a great taste for futurism and this bridge is one of the main proves. You can cross it walking or cycling. Every few meters they are some areas on the bridge where you can stop and admire the ocean and the view of the buildings at the bay.
Opening times: Daily:10am – 7 pm, last admission at 6 pm
Entrance fee: For the full exhibition ticket 40 SGD. You can also pay just for the exhibitions you want to visit
One of the most incredible museums we ever visited. The Artscience museum combines (as it names says) art and science in such a perfect way that they look like the same thing. The exhibitions are perfect for the whole family, they play with light, color, and sound and they let the visitors experiment and be part of the exhibition as well.
Some of the exhibitions are immersive and they make you feel as if you were floating in the space. We got an amazing time during our visit.
Where to stay in Singapore?
Singapore has a lot of options to stay. You can stay in a mega luxurious hotel or in the best traveler hostel. Although, this is a budget-friendly guide so let us recommend some nice budget hostels.
Checkers backpackers: One of the most popular hostel for backpackers and located in a very convenient area
Inncrowd backpackers hostel: Located in the middle of Little India, here is where we stayed our 4 days. It is an amazing hostel!
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