What to do in Singapore: Our highlights + sightseeing map
Are you planning a trip to Singapore, or a stopover? That’s great! It’s an amazing place to visit, there’s just so much to see and do. Whether you’re in Singapore for a short stopover or you plan to stay for longer – you definitely won’t get bored. Singapore has so many sights to offer and we’ll be presenting our personal highlights in this post.
This is your first time in Singapore and you want all the information on the city’s most important sights and highlights at a glance?
Perfect! You’ve come to the right place. There’s so much to see and do in Singapore that we could easily spend weeks there at a time without ever getting bored.
Most people just stay in town for a few days though. We’ve tested all the major sights to help you decide which ones you absolutely have to see and which ones you might want to skip.
In this post, we break down all of our personal top sights and provide you with all the information you’ll need for your visit.
What to do in Singapore – an overview
We’ve written this post to give you an overview of all the most important sights in Singapore. Depending on how long you plan to stay, you may not have time to visit them all.
So first off, we’re going to give you a quick rundown of the sights we think are absolutely essential and some others that you might want to check out if you have a bit more time.
You’ll find more detailed descriptions, information, and photos in the following sections. Let’s get started!
Don’t miss these sights in Singapore
You shouldn’t miss out on these highlights:
- Take a stroll along Marina Bay at night with a view of the skyline
- Visit at least one of these places with the best views of Singapore
- Stop for a meal at a hawker centre
- Marvel at the Supertrees and Gardens by the Bay
- Go for a stroll through Chinatown
- Go for a stroll through Little India
- Go for a stroll through Kampong Glam
You should plan at least two, or better three full days for this itinerary.
Sights for people with more time
You plan to stay in Singapore for longer than 2-3 days? Perfect! There’s so much more to see. Here are some other great things to do if you have some extra time on your hands:
- Stop for a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel
- Go shopping on Orchard Road
- Head out to Sentosa Island
- Visit Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari
- Explore one of the many museums in Singapore
- Check out our insider tips for Singapore
That should give you a decent first impression of what you can do in Singapore. Now let’s go into more detail with all the information – and some of our favorite photos – on the individual highlights.
Do you want to discover more than just the typical sights? Then be sure to check out our post with insider tips for Singapore.
To help you find your bearings, we’ve compiled a sightseeing map with the most important places that we’ll be presenting in this post.
The following sights aren’t featured on the map because they’re outside of downtown Singapore: Sentosa, Botanic Gardens, and Singapore Zoo.
We’ve also created a downloadable version of the map for you. Just click on this link and save the PDF to your device:
Believe it or not, but it wasn’t that long ago that the area comprising Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay district was covered in water. The entire district was built on reclaimed land as part of a major urban development project and now it’s home to several of Singapore’s most important sights.
Marina Bay Sands
Ever since it first opened in 2010, Marina Bay Sands has quickly grown to become the symbol of modern-day Singapore. The landmark triple-tower hotel complex that dominates Singapore’s skyline is connected via a vast rooftop structure graced with what has to be the world’s most famous swimming pool.
Unfortunately, access to the infinity pool is reserved for hotel guests only – a luxury that comes with a pretty hefty price tag attached. Even so, many travelers decide to splurge on a night or two at Marina Bay Sands for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. If that sounds like something that’s in your wheelhouse, you can check the current room rates here:
Or if that’s a bit out of your price range, don’t worry, there’s always a cheaper option if you just want to enjoy the view: Tickets to the rooftop observation deck cost 23 SGD (about 15 euros). We recommend buying your ticket in advance. That way you get to skip the line and you even save a dollar.
Just present your e-ticket on your smartphone at the gate, no print-out required!
10 Bayfront Avenue
Bayfront (CE, DT)
Mon-Thu: 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Fri-Sun: 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
If you’d like some more information, we’ve written a detailed guide to the various options for visiting the Marina Bay Sands rooftop area:
Gardens by the Bay
Right behind Marina Bay Sands is Gardens by the Bay. This huge park complex spans over 100 hectares of reclaimed land. The two gigantic greenhouses at the far end by the waterfront can be seen from miles away. They feature plants from all over the world in the style of a botanical garden.
The slightly smaller greenhouse of two, Cloud Forest, is particularly impressive. You follow a walkway raised to dizzying heights that takes you on a tour of lush vegetation and a huge waterfall.
Tickets for both greenhouses cost 28 SGD (about 18 euros). If you purchase them online at Getyourguide, you can benefit from a discounted rate of 23 SGD.
Just present your e-ticket at the entrance when you arrive. No print-out required.
18 Marina Gardens Dr
Daily from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Gardens by the Bay is also home to the famous Supertrees, which are among Singapore’s most popular photo opportunities.
Garden Rhapsody: Music and light show
The Supertrees are the most impressive in the evening. There’s a music and light show every day at 7:45 and 8:45 p.m., where the trees come alive in beautiful colors.
The light show is accompanied by mood music, sometimes even featuring special themes, e.g. the Star Wars Edition with original music from the movies.
18 Marina Gardens Drive
Daily at 7:45 and 8:45 p.m.
Some of the trees are connected via the OCBC Skyway – a pedestrian walkway that provides an amazing view of the Gardens by the Bay.
Admission to the walkway is 8 SGD, tickets are only available at the counter.
For safety reasons, only 70 people are allowed up at a time, and there’s a 15-minute time limit per person. But that’s actually more than enough.
Our tip: The lines get very long in the evening because everyone wants to watch the light show from the walkway. You might have to wait in line for an hour or more. We’d recommend going on the skyway by day to avoid the crowds and come back later for the light show. It looks just as great from the ground. So you could just start your visit with a stroll on the OBCB Skyway, then head over to the greenhouses (allow about 2 hours for that), and then come back for the first show at 7:45 p.m.
18 Marina Gardens Drive
Daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Helix Bridge is a pedestrian bridge built to resemble a double helix of human DNA. It connects the Marina Bay Sands Hotel with the other side of the bay.
The bridge makes for a great photo opportunity with the Singapore skyline in the background, especially in the evening. There are four viewing platforms on the bridge itself, where you can take some great photos.
The Singapore Flyer was the largest Ferris wheel in the world until it was relegated to second place in 2014.
It moves at a very leisurely pace while offering some great views of Singapore. It takes 30 minutes for the Ferris wheel complete a single revolution.
We can’t tell you if it’s worth your time because we didn’t get around to trying it ourselves.
30 Raffles Ave
Promenade Station (DT oder CE)
Daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
21 SGD reduced
The ArtScience Museum is located right next to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The building is a real architectural gem with its floral lotus blossom arrangement.
It hosts temporary art and science-themed exhibitions as well as a permanent exhibition, Future World.
We visited the permanent exhibition and to be honest we expected a bit more for 19 SGD per person. It’s interesting enough, but not something you have to do. Then again, it’s great if you have kids because it has lots of hands-on exhibits.
6 Bayfront Ave
Bayfront Station (CE)
Marina Bay Station (NS)
Daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Depending on the exhibition:
19 SGD to 40 SGD
14 SGD to 30 SGD reduced
Esplanade: Theatres on the Bay
Completing the ensemble of extraordinary buildings by the Marina Bay waterfront is the Esplanade Theatre. The concert halls are known to locals as ‘the big durians’ because of their distinctive shape. The buildings are really pretty to look at, especially when the lights go on in the evening.
They host a diverse array of indoor concerts and other events on an almost daily basis, but the best thing is: There are free concerts in the amphitheater outside the Esplanade pretty much every day! The concert schedule for the current month is posted on a sign outside the entrance.
1 Esplanade Dr
City Hall (NS/EW)
Downtown and Riverside
Downtown Singapore is located right next to the Marina Bay district. The skyscrapers here are mostly just offices for banks and insurance companies, but there’s still a lot to discover in this part of Singapore.
The Merlion is the official symbol of the city of Singapore. The statue is supposed to be a fish/lion hybrid, but it looks more like a mermaid with a lion’s head. It was built in 1972 and represents Singapore’s close connection to water and the strength of the small city-state.
The water-spouting statue feels a bit underwhelming next to all the other sights in Singapore, but it’s still an absolute tourist magnet. We’ve never seen as many people with selfie sticks in one place as around the Merlion.
Raffles Place (NS, EW)
The Raffles Hotel is an absolute legend in Singapore. The hotel has been welcoming guests since 1887 – the rich and the powerful mingle here, from Michael Jackson to the Queen.
But even if you can’t afford the luxury of staying at the Raffles or you don’t want to spend that much, you can still experience the hotel’s colonial flair first-hand.
The famous Long Bar is also open to non-hotel guests. The Singapore Sling was invented here over 100 years ago, a cocktail consisting of gin, cherry brandy, triple sec, Bénédictine, grenadine, lime juice, and pineapple juice.
The cocktail costs 28 SGD (approx. 18 euros) at the hotel. It’s served with a large bowl of peanuts, whose shells are simply discarded on the floor of the Long Bar.
Please note: The Raffles Hotel is undergoing complete renovation and will be closed until August 1, 2019. The same goes for the Long Bar.
There is a so-called Pop-Up Long Bar, a small offshoot of the original for the time of renovation, but it doesn’t really compare to the original experience.
1 Beach Road
City Hall (EW/NS))
Lau Pa Sat food center
As we mentioned earlier, visiting a food center is an essential part of the Singapore experience. The city’s food centers offer the best food at low prices.
The most famous food center is Lau Pa Sat. With its colonial architecture, the building stands out among all the high-rise buildings in the Financial District and is absolutely worth a visit.
18 Raffles Quay
Telok Ayer Station (DT)
The National Gallery is one of the most interesting historical buildings in Singapore. It consists of several buildings: City Hall and the old Supreme Court of Singapore.
The building complex is a bit of a maze, but definitely worth checking out. Just take a stroll through the different wings and floors, there’s something to discover pretty much everywhere you go.
Some parts of the National Gallery are free to the public, while other parts and exhibition areas cost 20 SGD admission (about 12 euros).
1 St. Andrew's Rd
City Hall Station (NS/EW)
Sat-Thu: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Fri: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
15 SGD reduced
Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, and Robertson Quay
Flowing past the Merlion statue, the Singapore River winds its way through the city. There are wide footpaths along the banks of the river known as quays.
The first stretch is called Boat Quay, where several museums and the pretty Fullerton Hotel line the left and right banks of the river.
Next up is Clarke Quay, one of the Singapore’s nightlife hotspots. The bars and restaurants at Clarke Quay are quite touristy and not really our scene.
After Clarke Quay comes Robertson Quay. You’ll find lots of bars and restaurants here too, but it’s much more laid-back than Clarke Quay.
Clarke Quay (NE)
Raffles Place (EW/NS)
Chinatown is one of the areas you absolutely have to visit when you’re in Singapore. With its traditional Chinese buildings dating back to the colonial era, Chinese temples suffused with the scent of incense, and colorful lanterns festooning the houses and streets, there’s plenty to discover here.
Besides its more traditional stores, it also features some of the city’s hottest restaurants and bars.
Ann Siang Hill and Club Street
Ann Siang Hill and Club Street are among the most popular nightlife areas in Singapore. You’ll find wall-to-wall bars and plenty of restaurants here.
We liked the neighborhood around Ann Siang Hill much more than Clarke Quay. It’s a great place to stop for a cold beer in the evening. Perhaps even two.
Our tip: Prices for food and drinks vary greatly from place to place. If you’re on a budget and don’t want to end up in one of the fancy bars, then go to Jerry’s (pictured on the right). Jerry’s is an American diner, so not exactly the most high-class establishment, but prices there are reasonable. The Maxwell Hawker Centre is right around the corner. You can get some really tasty-but-affordable food there.
Telok Ayer (DT)
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
One of the most famous sights in Chinatown is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
The opulent building opened in 2005 and contains a tooth said to have belonged to Buddha himself. There’s no telling if that’s true, but the temple is worth a visit either way, especially since admission is free.
288 South Bridge Rd
Daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sri Mariamman Temple
Oddly enough, Singapore’s oldest and most famous Hindu temple isn’t located in Little India, but in Chinatown.
We tried to find out why, to no avail. Our best guess is that the area wasn’t part of Chinatown when construction on the temple began in the 1820s.
The colorful temple is a great photo opportunity with its elaborate decor, and if you’re lucky you might even catch a ceremony.
244 South Bridge Road
Daily from 7 a.m. to noon and 6 to 9 p.m.
As soon as you enter the streets of Little India, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported into whole new world. Colorful Hindu temples, beautiful saris, and a multitude of smells and aromas await you here – more than anywhere else in Singapore.
Little India really feels like a miniature version of India, and we recommend just spending some time drifting through the streets of the district. Of course you should make sure to stop at one of the many restaurants and indulge in the diverse flavors of Indian cuisine.
Our tip: On Sundays, Little India bursts at the seams. That’s when all the Indian workers have their day off and you can experience the neighborhood at its most lively and authentic. It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely an exciting experience.
Little India (DT)
Even if you aren’t a huge shopping fan, a visit to Mustafa Centre is an essential part of any visit to Singapore. The huge department store in Little India is a real attraction in its own right.
Mustafa Centre is open 24/7 and stocks absolutely everything: food, cosmetics, electronics, clothes, household goods, souvenirs, you name it. Simply everything, and lots of it. According to its website, Mustafa Centre carries more than 300,000 different products.
145 Syed Alwi Road
Farrer Park (NE)
Tekka Centre is the most famous market hall in Little India. Here you’ll find the fresh food (fish, meat, vegetables), clothes, and everyday consumer goods. On the top floor, you can have a suit or dress made just for you by one of the many tailors there.
The ground floor is a huge food center with stall upon stall serving authentic Indian food, making the Tekka Centre a tiny microcosm of Indian culinary culture in the heart of Singapore.
Bukit Timah Rd
Little India (DT)
Daily from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Little India Arcade
Another market hall worth visiting is the Little India Arcade. If you like, you can get a henna tattoo here. We just had to try it for ourselves: It was amazing how fast Jenny’s hand was transformed into an elaborate work of art!
If you want to get a henna tattoo of your own, head to a store called Selvis Beauty in the Little India Arcade. Don’t worry, there’s no way you can miss it.
48 Serangoon Road
Little India (DT)
Daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
As we mentioned earlier, Singapore is a city of contrasts. And Kampong Glam is the prime example.
On the one hand, the Malay quarter has a clear Muslim character. On the other hand, it’s become one of the hippest parts of town, brimming with trendy bars and clubs.
Jalan Besar (DT)
Nicoll Highway (CC)
Arab Street and Sultan Mosque
Arab Street is home to countless traditional and delicious restaurants serving Arabic delicacies and several shops selling colorful cloths and fabrics.
At the end of the road is Sultan Mosque, with its enormous golden dome towering above the district. The mosque is open to visitors of all faiths.
Non-Muslims aren’t allowed to enter the large prayer room, but you’re welcome to take a peek inside.
Bugis Station (DT)
Sat-Thu: 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m.
Fri: 2:30 to 4 p.m.
While Arab Street has a more conservative vibe with its headscarves and traditional robes, party central is just one block away.
Haji Lane is a hipster-type street that you could just as easily imagine being in Berlin, Amsterdam, or Barcelona. It has tattoo studios, boutique bicycle builders, small designer stores, and some of the coolest bars in town.
Orchard Road is a 2.2-kilometer-long road lined with huge shopping temples. It’s just one mall after another. Altogether, Orchard Road is home to more than 25 huge shopping malls. Crazy!
Shopping malls aren’t the only thing you’ll find here, there are lots of hotels here too. YOTEL Singapore, where we stayed during our second visit to Singapore, is also located on Orchard Road. We warmly recommend the hotel. You can find all our hotel tips for Singapore here: The best area to stay in Singapore: An accommodation guide + map!
Our tip: The 313@Sommerset shopping mall has a beautiful roof terrace where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the city for free. Just take ride all the way to the top on one of the sheer endless escalators attached to the building facade.
Emerald Hill: Hidden gem between shopping temples
Even if shopping centers don’t float your boat, which we totally understand, Orchard Road is still worth a visit.
Hiding between the Midpoint Orchard and The Centrepoint malls is one the prettiest streets in all of Singapore: Emerald Hill Road.
It has some of the most beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings in the entire city. Just a few meters from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road, Emerald Hill is much more chill and laid-back.
After all, Singapore is a city of contrasts and that’s particularly self-evident here.
Somerset Station (NS)
Sentosa is a small island off the south coast of Singapore. The island is a huge amusement park and perfect if you need to blow off some steam after a few days of sightseeing, and of course if you’re traveling with children.
Sentosa features water parks, roller coasters, zip lines, bungee jumping, a Madame Tussaud’s, some beaches, and much, much more.
There are several ways to get to Sentosa. The cheapest way is to take the number 123 bus. The second-cheapest alternative is the Sentosa Express, a monorail that takes you from the Harbour Front MRT station to the island for 4 SGD.
The most expensive, but also the most beautiful way to get to Sentosa is by cable car. Traveling at a height of 60 meters, it connects Mount Faber and Sentosa. It gives you a great view of Singapore’s skyline, the harbor, and all the attractions on Sentosa Island.
The Singapore Cable Car Sky Pass is valid for a return trip to the island as well as for two trips with the other cable car line running on Sentosa. It costs 35 SGD. If you book your ticket online with Getyourguide, it only costs 23 SGD. We took advantage of that offer ourselves.
Harbour Front (CC, NE) und Sentosa Line
Singapore Zoo and Night Safari
Singapore Zoo is one of the best zoos in the world and the Night Safari is a completely one-of-a-kind experience.
If you’re visiting Singapore with children, then the zoo is an absolute highlight. But even without kids, a visit to the zoo and the night safari is totally worthwhile. The animals here are kept in a relatively spacious and open environment based on their natural habitats.
There are four attractions in total:
- Singapore Zoo
- Night Safari
- River Safari
- Jurong Bird Park
You can either visit all the attractions or pick your own highlights. There are cheaper combination tickets if you want to visit several parks.
80 Mandai Lake Road
Khatib (NS) und Shuttle Bus
Daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
25 SGD reduced
We definitely recommend visiting the Night Safari, as it’s a truly unique experience that you won’t find in any other zoo in the world.
The night zoo opens daily at 7:15 p.m. and closes at midnight. A 40-minute tram tour takes you once around the park including an audio guide telling you all about the individual animals. Of course, you only get to see animals in the dimly lit parts of the enclosures. If they aren’t in the mood that night, then that’s the way it is. Some visitors might find this a bit frustrating, but we found it very refreshing!
Of course, you can also use the regular footpaths to explore the zoo. The tram ride was great, but the footpaths were our real highlight. Among other things, there’s an open enclosure with bats that get really up-close and personal.
Daily from 7:15 p.m. to midnight
33 SGD ermäßigt
You can purchase tickets online or at the ticket counter. The prices are always the same. You can find more information on tickets and prices here:
The Zoo and the Night Safari are located to the north of the city center. Taking a taxi there should cost about 20-25 SGD.
Of course you can also get there by public transport, but that takes a little longer. Just take the MRT (NS-Line) to Khatib. Then take a shuttle bus (Mandai Khatib Shuttle) to Singapore Zoo.
Botanic Gardens and the National Orchid Garden
If you enjoyed the Gardens by the Bay and aren’t tired of nature in the city yet, we recommend a visit to the Singapore Botanic Gardens and the National Orchid Garden.
We’re not exactly botany buffs, but we were still really impressed by the variety of plants on display.
Many heads of state and other VIPs visit the Botanic Gardens during state visits and have their own personal orchid dedicated to them.
Angela Merkel has one, Princess Kate has one, and just the day before we visited, Aung San Suu Kyi, erstwhile freedom fighter and now quasi-head of state of Myanmar, got hers too.
Have you ever been to Singapore?
Which sights did you like best and which ones were a bit of a disappointment? Perhaps you have a favorite sight in Singapore that we forgot to list. Let us know! We’re looking forward to your comments with your Singapore experiences!