Singapore feels like a melting pot of different Asian foods and cultures (residence are mainly Chinese, Malay, and Indian). Being one of the smallest counties in the world, everything is very close.
Most families live in tall government subsidized houses in the middle of town. These buildings have “coffee shops” on the first floors serving food from around Asia. Their apartments are small so these areas are the hangout spots for tenants and serve as an extension of their dinning room. Anyone is welcome to eat here, it is a great place to find affordable food in Singapore.
We spent a few days here and compiled a short list of what we enjoyed, warning it is very touristy. If you only have a short amount of time in Asia, we’d suggest possibly skipping Singapore. This city is more expensive than several of its surrounding countries and the lack of unique culture puts Singapore low on our list.
1. Marina Bay Sands
This hotel has it all – from high tea in the morning, to shopping in the afternoon, to a water show at night. The Sands is comprised of 3 large towers with a giant roof deck connecting them all, and is truly one of a kind.
What makes the hotel really famous is the infinity pool that sits on the top deck of the skyscraper. Get a picture here and look like you are swimming in the clouds. This pool comes with a price tag though. It is only open to guests of the hotel so you will either need to jump a security fence or pay for a night ($300+ US). There are observation decks you can buy a ticket for or you can use our clever trick! On this same deck there is a restaurant (Sky on 57) that serves high tea during the day and drinks at night. Make reservations for which ever sounds good and head on up! No cover charge, but a great view is included with your drink or high tea. Don’t forget to take a walk around, with great 360 areal views of the city and gardens you will want photos from every angle.
2. Gardens by the Bay
This is another very iconic thing to see in Singapore. Right across from the Sands hotel you will see a large park made up of giant metal mushroom structure with suspended bridges hanging between them. They are covered in live plants giving them a unique look (reminded us of the movie Avatar). If you have a fear of heights hold on when walking on the bridge, they can swing a bit in the wind.
3. Telok Ayer Market
Looking to try a local dish to Singapore? Head to one of the hawkers (food markets), they are much more organized than what you will find in Thailand. We enjoyed fried black carrot cake with cane juice to wash it down. This was one of the best meals we had in Singapore, and it was very affordable. We were both surprised how much you could pay for a Starbucks drink or simple sandwich at a deli (double US costs). Be sure to take a look at a menu and do your price conversions before sitting down.
4. Clark Quay
This is where you will find the backpackers. With happy hours running throughout the day you are sure to find a deal somewhere. Relax at one of the dozens of waterfront bars with a Singapore sling and watch the river boats cruise by.
5. Haji Lane & Arab Street
For quaint coffee houses and adorable boutiques head to Haji Lane. This street is filled with places to shop and dodge the heat for a bit. We enjoyed tea and Thai tea cake at a very cute bakery/flowershop (Wonderland). Waste away an afternoon or just passing through, you will find a bit of charm either way.
After your quaint experience on Haji Lane head to Arab street next door. The food and culture are alive and well here! Enjoy a dinner or stay for drink – Arab street becomes alive after dark.
6. Night Safari
The Night Safari was by far our favorite thing in Singapore. With the park opening at 7pm you get a chance to see the nocturnal animals full of energy. Hop on one of the trams and whiz past tigers, hyenas, elephants, and many other exciting creatures. After the ride, enjoy your own walk along the various trails. Here you will see animals put their senses to the test while they hunt in the dark. Also, don’t miss the show where they discuss the importance of taking care of our environment and otters show you how to recycle!! If you’re in Singapore this is something not to miss!
7. Waking tour
To see more than the obvious attractions in Singapore, take a walking tour to learn a bit about the history. We went with Footprints, a college run program that offers complimentary tours led by students who are majoring in hospitality. The three students who led our tour were all local and had great advice on where to find a delicious local dinner.
8. Raffles Hotel
The birthplace of the Singapore Sling, created here in 1916. Originally crafted for women, who at the time were not allowed to drink in public, so this bartender snuck it into their “fruit juice”, what a guy! Now, about $30 US for the legendary drink, including the great atmosphere and complimentary peanuts, we think its worth it. Walk through the hotel and enjoy the unique architecture, even if you don’t want to splurge for the drink.
Make you own Singapore Sling:
– 130ml Gin.
– 15 ml Cherry Brandy.
– 120 ml Pineapple Juice.
– 15 ml Lime Juice.
– 7.5 ml Cointreau.
– 7.5 ml Dom Benedictine.
– 10 ml Grenadine.
– A Dash of Angostura Bitters.
– Garnish with a slice of Pineapple and Cherry.
Note: we also spent a half day taking the sky cable car to Senosa Island and walking around there a bit. There’s not much to do on the island, (very touristy) so we recommend skipping unless you are planning on going to the Universal Studios.