We’re all familiar with Singapore as a stopover en route to further-flung destinations, but we always recommend that our customers make time in their itinerary for a longer stay to really experience all the bustle and joy of this thrilling city with its incredible culture, cuisine, shopping and wellness offerings – and also its surprising number of gorgeous green spaces.
These include Gardens by the Bay, a unique nature park and greening project with state-of-the-art glasshouses and sci-fi-like Supertrees – vertical gardens beautifully illuminated by night. Other green highlights of Singapore are its UNESCO-listed Botanic Gardens (home to the National Orchid Garden), Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park, with a mangrove forest and rich biodiversity) and Jurong Lake Gardens (the national gardens, including Chinese and Japanese enclosures).
We also adore a leisurely amble around Chinatown, Singapore’s largest heritage neighbourhood, with its cultural treasures, architectural gems and hip haunts. Still home to the descendants of Singapore’s early Chinese settlers, its major sights are the Chinatown Heritage Centre and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. And don’t miss Little India, another absorbing enclave with brightly painted shophouses, colourful street art, temples and mosques.
When to visit
As a tropical destination, Singapore is hot and humid all through the year, with just short bursts of (refreshing!) rainfall. It also has a huge array of exciting festivals and other events across the seasons, meaning there is always something fascinating to join in with whatever month you choose to visit.
Singapore is made up of 64 islands surrounding the main island, including the island-resort of Sentosa and beauty spots such as Pulau Ubin, St John's Island and Sisters' Islands.
This one of the greenest cities on Earth, with around 50% of its total land taken up by parks, gardens and nature reserves such as the Chek Jawa wetland reserve.
It’s in Singapore that you can treat yourself to some of the world’s least-expensive Michelin-starred food, from Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle (which has held a Michelin star since 2016).
Visiting some of Singapore’s offshore islands is a delightful way to spend the day. For instance, hop aboard a ferry from Changi Point on the east coast to Pulau Ubin and be transported back to 1960s Singapore thanks to the last traditional remaining Kampung villages and the Chek Jawa wetland reserve with its cycle trails and footpaths.
Enjoy the Nightlife
Singapore’s fantastic nightlife also has to be experienced to be believed, whether your taste runs to sleek cocktail bars or characterful local water holes – or both. Don’t miss Jigger & Pony, which was no less than Best Bar in Asia on The World's 50 Best Bars 2022 list, and MO Bar, voted among Asia's 50 Best Bars 2022.
A Singapore River cruise by traditional bumboat lets you soak in the rustic charm of this historic waterway in the heart of the modern city – and with the emphasis on green power, as these boats now now have zero-CO2 electric engines. Embarkation points include the Raffles Landing Jetty and the Promenade Jetty (Marina Bay).
Head to Universal Studios Singapore
Universal Studios Singapore includes 18 attractions created or redesigned specifically for the country’s only movie-theme park. There’s something here for all ages: thrill-seekers particularly love the duelling Battlestar Galactica: Human vs. Cylon coasters that experience several near-misses during their aerial combat, with some riders seated and some suspended.
Explore Ancient Palaces
A private tour of Kampong Gelam and Little India will reveal to you ancient Malay and Islam influences in the form of the Sultan’s Royal Palace (Istana Kampong Glam) and Masjid Sultan (Sultan’s Mosque), Haji Lane with its Arab teahouses (and modern street art), and Tekka market with its local fish, meat, fruit and vegetables.
Enjoy some "me time"
Wellness activities are Plentiful in Singapore and one of our favourites is taking an outdoor yoga class at Marina Bay. With the city skyline to gaze out at, the class will fly by. Alternatively, if you've tired yourself out exploring, head to Pablo Blau, Four Seasons Spa or Aramsa Garden Spa for some much-needed soothing.
Hawker centres are the best place to sample local food in all its multi-ethnic glory, including chicken rice, laksa (noodle soup with coconut broth), roti prata (flatbread flavoured with ghee) and nasi lemak (aromatic rice eaten with deep-fried fish or chicken wings).
Singapore’s gastronomic star also continues to rise, with 2022 witnessing a new record total of 52 Michelin-accoladed eateries – including Les Amis, Odette and Zen all with three stars apiece.
Indian, Chinese, Malay and Peranakan restaurants are the places to try fish-head curry, a unique-to-Singapore delicacy featuring the head of a red snapper in a rich spicy gravy, with vegetables such as okra and aubergine. It’s often brought to the table still bubbling in a clay pot.
Singapore’s seafood restaurants are best loved by many for their chilli crab, usually featuring sweet juicy mud crabs and served with mantou –fried or steamed buns for dipping into the sauce of tomatoes and chilli paste thickened with ribbons of beaten eggs.
One of the most popular dishes in Singapore is the modestly named chicken rice – a Hainanese dish of poached chicken served with fragrant rice, spicy chilli and ginger paste, found everywhere from hawker centres to high-end restaurants.
Just a short stroll from Orchard Road and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Botanic Gardens, with its own 15 acres of lush greenery, Shangri-La Singapore is one of our top picks for those looking for a calm urban retreat, with a sleek spa, sparkling outdoor pool, tennis courts, outdoor yoga sessions and 11 restaurants and bars.
A Singapore icon oozing colonial charm, Raffles is the country’s most famous hotel and a national monument. The place that saw the invention of the Singapore Sling in 1915, it’s also known for impeccable 24-hour butler service and its Tiffin Room north Indian buffets. Other star eateries here are by Anne-Sophie Pic, Alain Ducasse and Jereme Leung.
The Fairmont Singapore
The Fairmont Singapore is another of our favourites for stylish luxury, situated in the very heart of the city near Marina Bay and above City Hall and the Esplanade MRT station – perfect for sightseeing. Facilities include a spa, a fitness centre, swimming pools and tennis courts, and it even has its own aquaponics farm producing many of its fresh vegetables and fish.