SINGAPORE IN A NUTSHELL
Before I get to the list of things to do in Singapore, let me give you summary of what Singapore is in a nutshell: Clean, advanced with endless shopping centers and food joints.
I was astonished at how many shopping centers and food courts (or hawker centers) there were in Singapore. The metro system (MRT) connects thirty-one shopping centers for easy access. The food culture is so rich with influences from all over Asia. Anywhere you look, you will find a place to eat. Restaurants can get pricey sometimes but if you are willing to venture out to some hawker centers, you can find some great food for super cheap!
As for traveling with infants, Singapore is very family-friendly. Every metro station and building has ramp and/or elevator access and shopping centers have many baby changing stations and nursing rooms.
THINGS TO DO IN SINGAPORE
This is an island resort full of attractions, museums, food courts, Michelin star restaurants, (deep breath), parks, beaches, golf courses, hotels, spas, skywalks, Universal Studios, nature walks, shows and the biggest aquarium in the world.
You can get to Sentosa three ways: walking, taking the Sentosa Express or taking the Cable Car. You can get in for free if you walk. Just use the MRT (metro line) to get to HarbourFront Station, enter the VivoCity Shopping Mall and look for the Sentosa Boardwalk. It’s about a 10 minute leisurely walk to Sentosa from there. The boardwalk is covered so you don’t have to worry about sweating under the sun.
To see what you can see and do on Sentosa, check out the official site and start planning your visit!
Orchard Road Shopping Center
This shopping center was recommended to us by a flight stewardess on Singapore Airlines because of its vast retail outlets, food halls, attractions and architecture. If you’re not into luxury and brand-name shopping, then maybe this isn’t the ideal place to do your shopping (although stores like Zara and TopShop reside at Orchard as well).
Orchard has more to offer than just shopping. Food. More than eighty vendors are at your service in the food hall. If you are looking for something more luxurious, there are also fine dining restaurants including a rooftop restaurant headed by celebrity chef Luke Mangan.
Art exhibitions, product releases and fashion shows are held at Orchard and you can also get a 360 degree view of Singapore from its observation deck.
Gardens by the Bay
These award-winning gardens need to be on your list of things to do in Singapore. They are Singapore’s piece of paradise. The most intriguing part of Gardens at the Bay are the Supertrees: massive vertical gardens disguised as trees that feature a light and sound show at night. You can also walk 22 meters above the ground around the trees and enjoy the views of the gardens and Marina Bay.
My personal favourite was Cloud Forest. After entering the glass dome, you enter a misty haze and find yourself in front of these magnificent waterfalls that caress the length of an impressive mountain. Cloud Forest imitates a tropical mountain forest complete with typical and rare plants, trees and flowers. Each level on the mountain features a different aspect of mountain life and also has an area dedicated to climate change facts.
We also visited the Flower Dome, another glass dome that features typical gardens from different parts of the world. Apart from its beautiful flower display that changes throughout the year, the Flower Dome is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the biggest glass greenhouse in the world.
If you buy your tickets online for Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome, you pay $28 SGD for an adult and $15 SGD for a child.
Like I mentioned before, there is no place in Singapore that lacks food and Gardens by the Bay is no exception. You can find numerous noodle houses, restaurants and even McDonald’s.
The Singapore Flyer is Asia’s largest observation wheel. Getting spectacular views of Singapore is not the only thing it offers. You guessed it! Food. You can find local Chinese cuisine and fine dining while enjoying the view. There are VIP packages as well to check out including a Jet Flight Simulator package for the more adventurous.
This historic neighborhood is full of colour, smells and flavours. You can find cuisine from the North to the South of India, temples, mosques and churches and of course, shopping centers! The main shopping centers in Little India are Mustafa Center and Tekka Center. Try the Roti Prata (fluffy, flaky flatbread) and the Teh Tarik (hot milk tea).
The temple that I went to visit was Sri Veeramakaliamman, a Hindu temple and a historic landmark in Little India. It was impressive, to say the least.
Walking around #littleindia #singapore amazed by the colours and beautiful #temple #sriveeramakaliammantemple #theculturetrip Not even going to try to pronounce it. #beautiful #colourful #worship #hindutemple #instagood #instavacation #travel #asia #familyvacation #lifestyleblogger #photography #picoftheday @singapore.art
Hawker Food Centers for local Singaporean Food
There are one hundred and ten hawker food centers where you can eat tasty, local dishes for quite cheap. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Singapore wanted to get rid of the unlicensed street hawkers (street food vendors) that were selling potentially unsanitary food to the public. The result was hawker food centers. Now, they are governed and regulated by three government bodies to maintain hygiene standards. There are even two hawker stalls that have been awarded Michelin stars!
LOCAL DISHES TO TRY IN SINGAPORE
- Chili Crab – Stir-fried crab in a tomato-based sweet, savoury and spicy sauce. The sauce differs slightly depending on where you go and Singaporeans will quickly give you their opinion on the best place to get Chili Crab. If you go to Singapore, you must not leave without trying this dish accompanied by the slightly sweet, deep fried bread, called Mantous. We tried the Chili Crab at No Signboard which was recommended to me by my cousin that travels there often and my brother who lived there for a year. It was fantastic but pricey.
Can't go to Singapore without trying the famous #chillicrab and the fried bread buns #mantous . Accompanied by a side of tasty #noodles and spicy #vegetables with #driedshrimp #nosignboard #singapore #asiancuisine #asia #travel #localfood #foodie #photography #lifestyleblogger #italianbelly #instavacation #instafamily #instagood #picoftheday #culturetripfood
- Katong Laksa – My husband’s favourite dish: a spicy broth with coconut milk and dried shrimp served with fish or seafood and noodles. The noodles in the Katong version are cut into smaller pieces to make it easy to eat with just a spoon. There are other versions of Laksa, but this is the one that we liked the best.
- Hainanese Chicken Rice – Singaporeans are in love with this dish. Everyone was raving about Hainanese Chicken Rice. I got so hyped up to try this dish and when I finally saw it, I thought, “That’s it?” It really is a simple dish and like Italian dishes, simplicity is key. It’s basically chicken and rice. Full stop. However, the magic is in the rice because it is cooked in garlic, ginger and more importantly, the chicken stock and fat! So tasty! Unfortunately, I have no pictures because the serving dish was attacked in seconds.
- Golden Lava Egg Bun (Custard Bun) at Viktor’s Kitchen – I am not a fan of egg-based Asian desserts. So, when the friendly flight stewardess mentioned this custard bun to try at Viktor’s Kitchen, I was already mentally crossing it off my list. The first night we were in Singapore, it was pouring rain and we wanted to get to the closest food center to avoid getting soaked. The closest food center happened to be where Viktor’s Kitchen is located. We had some dim sum and finished off with the Golden Lava Egg Bun.
That is one of the best sweet buns I have ever tried and it wasn’t too “eggy” like previous egg-based desserts I had tried in the past. I wanted to go back there again before we had to leave Singapore but we found it closed and I was so disappointed. At the airport, I found a food stall advertising Egg Buns and I bought one hoping it would taste the same, but it did not taste the same at all! It just made my my farewell worse! This is why you all need to go to Viktor’s Kitchen for the Egg buns.
I could list off more dishes and places to eat at but I found a blog post that goes in-depth so check out this list of 25 must-try Singaporean dishes and their hawker food location.
Bali Lane in Historic Kampong Glam
I would suggest to walk down this lane because it is so funky, unique and full of fun bars and cafés. It is also located just south of Arab Street which is a historic part of Singapore featuring the great Sultan Mosque. As you walk down Bali lane, make sure to stop by BluJaz Cafe for some live music and some beer, burgers and satay.
Wine Events by B.Nu Wines
My husband’s wine importer, Shalom Chin, from B.Nu wines holds informative, culturally and gastronomically rich wine events that are usually combined with a set menu. They also collaborate with artists and combine an exhibition with a wine tasting. Check out their website and facebook page for upcoming events.
Sip on a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel
Raffles hotel is a colonial-style luxury hotel named after the father of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles. It’s also the birthplace of the famous cocktail, Singapore Sling. It’s a gin-based fruity cocktail with pineapple and orange juice. We didn’t make any reservations at the luxury hotel but did visit and enjoyed the beautiful architecture, bars and boutiques.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel for the View
Another hotel we did not stay at for economic purposes. Marina Bay Sands hotel is a Singaporean landmark with its Feng Shui abiding triple tower structure joined at the top with a deck that is equipped with a SkyPark, cafés, bars, restaurants and an infinity pool. The top deck riding over the three towers is longer than the Eiffel Tower. Impressive, eh?
If you didn’t book your accomodations here, you must visit. There is a shopping center (surprise) just in case you don’t find this magnificent hotel interesting (being sarcastic but there really is another shopping center). We went to check out the three towers which are actually connected on the bottom floor, the 23rd floor and then on the SkyPark (the top deck). Luckily, non-guests are able to go up to the top to enjoy the amazing views of Singapore. For $23 SGD, you can go up to the top and redeem the fee by ordering something at the pool-side bar. If you’re not a guest, you can’t access the pool but you can take as many selfies as you want with the view of Singapore in the background!
More Places to Drink Fancy Cocktails
I didn’t get a chance to visit all these locations to enjoy a nice drink (traveling with an infant and all) but I was recommended these places. If you do get a chance to visit, let me know what you think.
Altitude located at One Raffles Place
Sky Lounge at Aura (National Gallery)
Level 33 at MBFC Tower 1
Lantern at Fullerton Bay Hotel
ONE MORE! Botanic Gardens
We didn’t get a chance to visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens but it was suggested by many to go and see. There are five gardens, a library, a gallery, a museum and an Orchid garden. All have free entry with the exception of the National Orchid Garden.
Lastly, here are some reminders and tips that you should keep in mind while traveling around Singapore:
5 TIPS ON TRAVELING IN SINGAPORE
When eating at any food court or hawker center, serviettes or napkins are not given to you free with your meal. If you want something to wipe your hands and face with, bring your own tissues or you can buy them for about 10 cents.
Get a Pass for the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit)
Buy an EZ link Tourist pass for as many days as you want to get unlimited access to the transportation system in Singapore. You can get the pass at any ticket office at any MRT station. You can also get refunded for the cost of the pass by returning it to any ticket office before you leave Singapore. There is also a MRT station office at Changi airport but make sure you return the pass before you go through passport control or security.
Don’t be afraid to take a Taxi
Taxis are safe and quite reasonably priced in Singapore. Flag down rates are around three $3 SGD. If you call a taxi, it will take around 5-10 minutes for it to arrive. Mobile taxi apps are popular as well including Grabtaxi and Uber. Interesting enough, all taxi drivers must be over the age of 30, married and have no criminal record.
Eat well for cheap at hawker centers
Like I mentioned before, you can get full meals for quite cheap: $8 SGD at most hawker centers. The Albert Complex hawker center that was near our hotel in Bencoolen was dirt cheap. We ate two Laksa and had passion fruit tea drinks for $4 SGD/person. The complex was, in technical terms, “ghetto”, compared to other centers but keep in mind that all the stalls and centers are heavily regulated for hygiene standards. In fact, even in the most ghetto of hawker centers, I never saw a single bug around.
Alcohol is expensive – Drink during Happy Hour
Coming from Italy, it was a shock to see the price of alcohol. The lower-priced wines in Singapore start at $20 SGD a bottle whereas a decent bottle of wine in Italy costs 5 Euro. That doesn’t mean to say that you can’t find a quality wine in the $20-$40 SGD range.
The cheapest beer you can find is the local, Tiger beer for $8 SGD per 500ml bottle.
You can find slightly cheaper deals on wine and beer if you order during happy hour.
My husband and I know for a fact that this is not going to be our last trip to Singapore. There is just too much to discover and too many dishes to try.
If you have been to Singapore, let me know which dishes were your favourite and where you ate them!