Today (January 27, 2020): Top 10 best things to see & do in Singapore.
As dusk falls, the shutters open at the Night Safari, welcoming visitors into a world of nocturnal creatures and their dimly-lit habitats. Opened in 1994 and located next to the Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari is the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals. This wildlife park is spread across seven distinct habitats, each home to its own array of fascinating creatures. Your eyes will take a while to adjust to the darkness here, but once they do, you’ll be greeted by over 2,500 resident animals from over 130 species, including many indigenous to the region, such as the endangered Asian elephant, Malayan tapir and Malayan tiger. The animals live in 35 hectares of dense rainforest. Friendlier creatures such as deer roam freely in the park while fiercer ones like leopards are kept behind barriers.
- Official website: Night safari
Before it was known as Sentosa, this island just off Singapore’s southern coast was a British military fortress. After the Japanese Occupation in World War II, Singapore returned to British rule, and the island was renamed “Sentosa” which translates to “peace and tranquility.” Over the course of its remarkable history, Sentosa has transformed into a beloved island resort, best known for its tropical beaches, luxurious hotels, theme parks, golf, and shopping. Authentic it’s not, but if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or a day of bold exploration, then Sentosa is the place to do it. You can choose to stay in Sentosa, but even if you’re not based on the island, you can easily access all the attractions via public transport in 15 minutes from downtown Singapore.
- Official website: Sentosa
Chinatown’s cultural splendors, trendy lifetstyle establishments, and age-old places of worship make it worth spending at least half a day here. Besides being an ethnic enclave for Singapore’s early Chinese settlers, Chinatown has transformed into the country’s largest heritage precinct- filled with an exciting meld of hip haunts, cultural treasures and architectural gems. Family-run stores and teahouses co-exist side by side with boutique hotels, chic restaurants, and lively bars, lending a modern touch to this fascinating part of town. Today’s Chinatown comprises five districts: Telok Ayer, Bukit Pasoh, Tanjong Pagar, Kreta Ayer and Ann Siang Hill. Designated as conservation areas by the Urban Redevelopment Board in 1989, these districts have over the years cultivated their own unique identity.
- Official website: Chinatown
With its visionary glass facade illuminated by the sun, The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore sparkles amidst the Marina Bay waterfront. Guests enter the hotel – built entirely over water – from the historic 1933 Clifford Pier, and are welcomed by spellbinding interiors of design wunderkind Andre Fu await. Comfortably chic accommodations fuse natural hues, rosewood latticed screens, leather and chrome to full effect. Leisure facilities include a stunning rooftop pool, while dining includes La Brasserie, the roooftop bar ‘The Landing Point’, and heritage luxe The Clifford Pier restaurant. The latter is the scene of the best Sunday brunch in town, with exquisite dim sum classics served from old-fashioned dim sum trolleys alongside distinctively local flavors.
- Hotel website: Fullerton Bay Hotel
- Other accolades: Fullerton Bay Hotel also features in my top 10 list of the best hotels in Singapore.
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, $100 USD dining credit, early check-in, late check-out, and one Fullerton bear per room).
Orchard Road’s humble beginnings date back to the early 1830s, when it was an unnamed road home to fruit orchards, nutmeg plantations and pepper farms. In 1958, Orchard Road’s first department store – TANGS – was set up by local merchant C.K. Tang. Then known as House of Tangs, it marked the neighborhood’s first step towards becoming Singapore’s most beloved shopping district. Today, Orchard Road’s bustling boulevard is a retail and dining paradise, similar to London’s Oxford Street or Hong Kong’s Nathan Road. Flanked on both sides by over 5,000 establishment (including international department stores, tiny boutiques, offices, spas, beauty salons, hotels, entertainment spots, restaurants, and cafes), you could spend a whole day trawling the main thoroughfare.
- Official website: Orchard Road
A visit to Singapore’s famed Marina Bay – the de facto center of the city state – is guaranteed to bombard your senses. While you may be standing on dry land while visiting Marina Bay in the present, the district is just one of many areas created by Singapore’s extensive land reclamation efforts. The Marina Bay Sands complex is the eye-catcher of the area, but there are many more attractions found here, such as the ArtScience Museum and the Merlion. Decorated with artistic sculptures, the scenic waterfront promenade is a hub of social activity and you’ll probably come across kite flyers, dragon boat races, and musical performances. Each night, a spectacular light show illuminates the water as well as several iconic Marina Bay landmarks.
- Official website: Marina Bay
The latest jewel in Singapore’s art crown, the National Gallery Singapore is a magnificent visual arts institution housing the world’s largest collection of Southeast Asian art – and a lot more. Fittingly located in the heart of the Civic District, the Gallery is housed in the City Hall and the former Supreme Court – two iconic buildings that have played a monumental role in Singapore’s history. Utmost care was taken to ensure that preservation guidelines for these two national monuments were being upheld even as they were being remodeled into a state-of-the-art museum for the public. Dedicated to curating a collection that provides insights into the unique art, heritage and history in the region, the Gallery is a must-visit destination in Singapore.
- Official website: National Gallery Singapore
World travelers have been singing Singapore’s praises since the all-suite Raffles Singapore first opened more than 130 years ago. This colonial-era landmark and the flagship property of Raffles Hotels has become synonymous with unsurpassed service and the grace of bygone days. Period furnishings, ceiling fans and Oriental rugs atop teakwood floors adorn the 103 warm, inviting guest rooms; 12 themed “Personality Suites” are decorated with memorabilia of the celebrities who’ve stayed there. Every gastronomic desire is fulfilled at more than ten restaurants and bars, including Long Bar, the birthplace of the Singapore Sling, and the Lobby Lounge for English Afternoon Tea. The Raffles reopened in 2019 after an extensive refurbishment.
- Hotel website: Raffles Singapore
- Other accolades: Raffles Singapore also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s most amazing hotel lobbies and the best hotels in Singapore.
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, Singapore Sling on arrival, $100 USD resort credit, early check-in, late check-out, 10% off Raffles gift shop, and complimentary 45 minute history tour).
Located by the Marina Bay Waterfront in the heart of Singapore, Gardens by the Bay is a sanctuary for nature lovers and budding horticulturalists alike. Comprising three distinct spaces – Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden – this oasis of lush greenery has won multiple accolades since it first opened in 2009. The Gardens by the Bay’s most famous attraction are the futuristic Supertree structures, which offer an impressive skywalk over the gardens. The park is also home to the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, two over-sized seashell-shaped greenhouses recreating semi-arid tropical climates with a jaw-dropping waterfall and hundreds of trees and plants to discover. Since its opening in 2012, Gardens by the Bay has been visited by more than 50 million visitors.
- Official website: Gardens by the Bay
The most expensive hotel ever built, Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel comprises three 55-storey towers, 2560 luxury rooms and suites, and 18 different room types. Crowning the three hotel towers at 200 m (656 ft) in the sky, the Sands SkyPark rooftop stretches longer than the Eiffel tower or four A380 Jumbo Jets when laid down. The Sands SkyPark is also home to the world’s largest public cantilever housing a public observatory deck, lush gardens, exclusive restaurants and a stunning 150 m (492 ft) swimming pool to complete the amazing experience. The pool – which is dived into 3 sections, one of them reserved to adults only – appears to have a vanishing edge, making it a very popular location for a selfie to be instantly posted on Instagram.
- Hotel website: Marina Bay Sands
- Other accolades: Marina Bay Sands also features in my top 10 lists of the most Instagrammable hotels in the world, the world’s most amazing hotel pools, the world’s best urban resorts, the world’s best hotel rooftops, and the best hotels in Singapore.
- Review: read my review of Marina Bay Sands here.