After my 42-hour journey getting there, my five days in Singapore seemed to be just enough to do and see everything I wanted to. I spent the better part of each day walking around the city seeing all it had to offer. The major take-away from the trip is that the Singaporeans love their food! Including food, here are five ideas of activities you can experience in Singapore.
A Hawker stand doesn’t sound like a very appetizing place to grab a meal, but it is! The city is full of little food centers that have numerous hawker stands within. Each stand has a specialty. Hawker stands are so prevalent in Singapore that in the inaugural Michelin Guide for the best food in Singapore, two hawker stands were included. I tried to eat at one of the Michelin starred stands, but unfortunately, when the food runs out they close, and I just missed it.
These food centers and hawker stands are often located near MRT stations or bus stations and are designed to give locals a chance to grab a quick, inexpensive meal on the way to work and on the way home. If you are going to Singapore on a budget, you could eat at the hawker stands for less than $5 per meal. I ate at the food stands for all my meals one day here’s how it broke down.
Breakfast – Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancakes: 2 pancakes $1.16
Lunch – Biryani at Satay by the Bay: Mutton Biryani $5.11
Dinner – Hainanese Chicken Rice on Chinatown Food Street – $2.92
Total cost for three meals – $9.19, not bad for some pretty delicious food!
The Singapore zoo has three attractions on its campus. The zoo, a river safari, and a night safari. A unique activity to experience in Singapore is the world’s first nocturnal zoo. Within the zoo, there is a tram ride that takes you around, but then there are also walking paths that let you get a closer look at the animals. Since it is a nocturnal zoo they discouraged people from using flashes when taking pictures, so, unfortunately, my photos didn’t turn out great. It was a pretty neat experience though.
After you’ve seen the animals at the night safari and zoo, head over to the Gardens by the Bay. Situated right behind the Marina Bay Sands hotel the 250-acre nature park is sure to impress. As you approach the first thing that will catch your eye are the super trees, which are vertical gardens that also capture rainwater for the gardens’ water displays and solar energy to power the trees’ lighting system.
Walk deeper into the gardens, and you’ll find the dome conservatories. The idea of the conservatories is to showcase not only all of the beautiful plants but the efficient, sustainable operation of these complexes.
I was blown away by the two domes. The flower dome was full of beautiful trees, flowers, and other plants from all around the world. When you enter the cloud forest, you will be immediately impressed by the 115ft waterfall on a 135ft “cloud mountain.”
The cloud forest dome replicates the climate of a tropical mountain. My favorite display in the cloud forest was the carnivorous plant display featuring pitcher plants and Venus flytraps – complete with Lego replicas!
Doing a tour of the three prominent cultures in Singapore is pretty easy thanks to an efficient metro system and the neighborhoods being situated right next to each other. I didn’t do each neighborhood in one day but did Chinatown one day and Little India and Arab Street the next.
In Chinatown, you will find streets lined with vendors selling nicknacks and souvenirs. You will also find some great food, fresh fruits, and other stores. In one store I got to watch a woman make a pearl necklace. When you’re in Chinatown stop by the pagoda- a small Buddhist temple then head to the Chinatown food center to grab a bite to eat. You will find over 200 hawker stands in this food center, and it was by far the largest one I visited.
If you want to head right over to Little India, hop on the MRT in Chinatown and about four stops later you’re there!
I spent less time in Little India because it didn’t have the same feel as Chinatown. The streets were busy, and the shops were selling mostly food and electronics. The Mustafa Center is Singapore’s version of Walmart except it is much larger, much more crowded, and overwhelming. I walked in and was immediately overwhelmed. The building I was in had four floors of tightly packed shelves. After taking an escalator up to the souvenir floor, I had enough. It was so crowded and unorganized I had to leave.
The smallest neighborhood is the Muslim neighborhood with the main portion consisting of 2 short streets – Arab Street and Haji Lane.
Haji Lane seemed to be a trendy street full of little shops with a bit of a hipster vibe. On Haji Lane you find little cafes and bars that serve only craft beer. The sides of the buildings were covered beautiful graffiti murals. I sat down, and people watched here for about an hour and definitely saw some characters.
Last, but not least if you have a chance head up to the Skydeck at the most iconic building in Singapore, The Marina Bay Sands. The ship or surfboard shaped building has an observation deck and an infinity pool on the 57th floor. If you don’t want to pay $17 for a ticket to the observation deck, head over to tower one and take the elevator up to the 57th floor where there is a bar and restaurant. Have a Singapore sling while taking in the sunset over the beautiful Singapore skyline. I had dinner at the restaurant one night, but that’s another blog post.?
This list by no means covers my stay, but instead gives you some highlights or ideas on what you can experience in Singapore if you plan on visiting the city-state soon! Also worth checking out is the National Gallery to take in a collection of modern art from Singapore and Southeast Asia. I hope this post helps give you ideas if you’re visiting Singapore or inspires you to plan a trip to Singapore. Remember I only paid $429 for the roundtrip ticket from New York to Hong Kong then 40,000 Citi Thankyou points to get to Singapore from Hong Kong. I also got a great deal on the Conrad Centennial for my stay in Singapore. Trips like this can be within anyone’s budget with some smart planning and the right credit card bonuses!