Singapore, I love you.
Updated: Aug 3, 2021
Singapore is definitely one of those places I’ve looked forward to visiting for years and let me say that it was SO worth the wait. It’s the perfect mix of east meets west, old meets new. After just one day, I was ready to ‘lose’ my passport and stay there for the rest of my life (mostly so I could watch the Gardens by the Bay light show every night…). Singapore is such a land of contrasts – I paid about $21 USD for a cocktail on top of the Marina Bay Sands – admittedly one of the more expensive bars in the city; but metro rides can be had for less than $1, and if you eat mostly from the hawker centers, which are like a food court with local meals, you can eat like a king for about $5-10. The architecture is incredible, and there is no lack of green space throughout the city. I literally could go on and on about how much I loved it there, and I’m already looking forward to going back. Instead of having to listen to me ramble, here’s a list of my favorite things I did whilst in Singapore!
Gardens by the Bay light show
Hands down the best thing to do in Singapore in the evening, and best of all, it’s completely free. I came and watched this three out of the five nights I was there. It’s just so relaxing to lay there, listening to opera music and watching these gigantic metal supertrees light up. 10/10 would recommend.
Gardens by the Bay domes
Besides having an incredible light show, Gardens by the Bay also has a couple of cool garden domes to check out! It was about $17 for both domes, which was so worth it, even as just a way to get inside and in some air conditioning. The floral dome has flowers and cacti from different regions around the world, and the cloud forest dome has a definite rainforest feel, and most famously, the six-story high indoor waterfall that you’ve definitely seen on Instagram.
Eat lots of local food at a hawker center
We’ve all heard it, Singapore is expensive. And it is unless you spend most of your time eating at a hawker center. These are like food courts with stands of local food, where it's laughably easy to get a meal with fresh juice for around $7 or less. Satay (very yummy grilled meat) and chicken rice are two of the best-known Singapore delicacies, but given that the country is such a melting pot of Asian cultures, you can likely find something from every country in Asia. Bring a couple of friends and get a bunch of things to split so you can try as much of it as possible!
Splurge on a drink on top of the Marina Bay Sands
Yes, it will cost you about $20USD for a drink, but it will be with the best view of the city that you could ask for. Especially impressive during sunset or at night when you get to see all the lights. 100% worth the cost, and would 100% do it again (maybe with a fancier dress this time).
Go to the beach
Yes, it is a man-made beach, and yes, there are much better beaches in other parts of Asia, but Sentosa’s beaches are very clean and have very impressive views of the shipping lanes in the South China Sea. Plus there’s a viewpoint from the southernmost point of continental Asia, which is definitely a cool place to say that you’ve been!
Walk around the city
This was surprisingly easy to do, and a great way to see all of the architecture of Singapore, from the high-rise buildings in the city center to the quirky pastel buildings of the Arab Quarter. I ended up barely using my metro card because it was so nice to walk around and I never ran out of things to see. Pro tip: if you stay in Chinatown, almost everything you’ll want to see is within a 30-40 minute walk!
Visit the National Museum of Singapore
Because it’s not a good day until you’ve learned something new, check out the National Museum of Singapore for a very comprehensive history of the development of Singapore. It’s a great mix of artifacts and multimedia displays – well worth the $10 entry fee. I learned so much there about Singapore from the natives to the colonization by the Europeans, then from their role in WWII to their independence to Singapore becoming the booming industrialized hub that it is now, with a high quality of living and what is known as the best airport in the world. They’re obviously doing something right!
Overall, Singapore is the perfect place to check out Asia without too much culture shock, and it’s also a great starting point for any other Asian destinations you want to visit! Definitely a bucket list city!