We have written a lot about Singapore previously – told you our first impressions, how to visit Singapore on a shoestring, how we experienced sin galore in Singapore, and other stories – but we haven’t actually told you our top five places we think you should definitely visit when you travel to Singapore – even if you’re only spending a couple of days there!
Read on for what we think are the five places nobody should miss on a visit to Singapore:
Sentosa Island was the perfect place for us to unwind after a few days in the bustling city. We arrived in the most scenic way – via cable car – and headed straight to the beaches. We had no idea that Singapore even had such gorgeous beaches! Sentosa Island is also the place where you find the southernmost spot on continental South East Asia, and you find enough entertainment here to keep you busy for a couple of days, including Universal Studios, Butterfly World, Underwater World and a Dolphinarium, a Sky Tower and an Adventure Park, to name just a few. You can also get here on the MRT train and can get around the island by bus.
Sometimes called ‘Muslim Quarter’ of Singapore due to its large Muslim population and number of mosques, this is by far our favorite neighborhood in Singapore. You can just get lost walking through the colorful renovated shop houses, have coffee in little tea houses, or window shop at the textile and silk shops on Arab Street. Sultan Mosque is the most impressive mosque in Singapore and shouldn’t be missed!
Marina Bay is almost the complete opposite of Kampong Glam – the world’s leading financial institutions have their Singapore headquarters in skyscrapers around the bay, and the remarkable Marina Bay Sands Hotel with its one-of-a-kind rooftop infinity pool sits on the south side. Take a couple of hours to walk around the Bay, visit the city’s mascot, the Merlion statue, stop at the Esplanade (Singapore’s futuristic opera house), marvel at the funky Art &Science Museum, cross the Helix Bridge and enjoy the many modern statues along the way. The best way to see all of Marina Bay is actually from the rooftop of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel – we recommend heading up to 57th Floor Bar instead the observation deck. A drink will cost you less (or the same, at $20) and the views are the same. When we go back, we’d actually choose a Marina Bay Hotel in Singapore since it is in walking distance of most of downtown’s hot spots, including the popular Maxwell Hawker Food Center.
One thing we loved about Singapore were the many different ethnic neighborhoods – Kampong Glam for the distinctive Muslim vibe, Little India for amazing Indian food at small prices, and Chinatown for a mix of cheap restaurants (here you’ll find the cheapest alcohol in all of Singapore!), interesting Chinese medicine shops and other Chinese paraphernalia, and beautifully restored buildings, especially along Pagoda Road. Once known to be the seediest area of Singapore with lots of brothels, 30-50 people stuffed into tiny apartments and drug abuse, the neighborhood is now among Singapore’s prettiest – especially at night, when the red lanterns on the streets are all lit up.
Haw Par Villa
Even though this place is kind of creepy, we thought it was a unique experience that you won’t have anywhere else in the world! Plus, it’s free! Haw Par Villa was built in 1973 by the millionaire brothers who founded the popular Tiger Balm brand. The villa and its gardens feature over 1,000 statues which all depict scenes of Chinese history and mythology – which can be rather strange, like the old man milking on a woman’s breast or rats with bleeding stumps, armed monkeys and the 10 Courts Of Hell. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Chinese mythology and folklore, these scenes might be confusing, but believe us, it’s also something you will never forget!