Singapore Travel Guide
In 1885, natural historian William Hornaday referred to Singapore as the handiest and most marvelous city he ever saw. Fast forward to the present and the statement still holds. Singapore is indeed one of the greatest cities in the world.
The country is a paradise for foodies as there are several delicious cuisines available at affordable prices. Beaches are abundant for those wanting to relax and soak up the sun. Hiking trails means you can easily stretch your leg and explore the outdoors. Shopping avenues and underground are scattered around the city for those wanting to get something to remember the country by.
Daily life in Singapore displays the cultural diversity of the city which is a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and European cultures - all with the city's Singaporean twist. Accommodations are state of the art and the nightlife is exciting.
You'll find everything you need to prepare for your visit to Singapore in this article. But first, some quick facts about the city.
Capital city: Singapore. The Island country is officially referred to as the Republic of Singapore.
Currency: Singapore Dollar (S$ or SGD) 1 USD = 1.38 SGD
Electricity: Power voltage is 230 Volts. Power socket type C, G, and M.
Languages: Malay is the national language while English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil are the four official languages in Singapore. Most citizens tend to speak two or more languages.
10 Handpicked Highlights of Singapore
Below are some of the best places to visit and explore in Singapore:
Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay, the Iconic Downtown
Located in the central area of Singapore is the Marina Bay, an upscale area that boasts of posh hotels and skyscrapers. The bay is home to the iconic five star hotel, the Marina Bay Sands where you can consider spending the night to enjoy a five star hotel experience.
Explore around Marina Bay on an evening and take in the incredible scenery while taking stunning pictures. There’s also endless opportunities for fine dining and shopping.
The Gardens by the Bay is easily the most mesmerizing destination in Marina Bay. You’ll see beautiful and unique flora and fauna at the gardens as well as some iconic structures that reimagine nature with artistic finesse. There are several trails here where you can enjoy a peaceful trek through nature. At night, the Gardens become even more beautiful as the dramatic supertree grove lights up, producing vibrant colors that dance to the sound of music.
MacRitchie Reservoir & Central Catchment Nature Reserve
The Central Catchment Nature Reserve is the largest of its kind in Singapore and home to the MacRitchie Reservoir. Runners and hikers will have a lot of fun here as they get to explore the landscape while spotting wildlife like owls, flying lemurs (if you are lucky), and long-tailed macaque monkeys (they are everywhere). Not into hiking? You can kayak or canoe across the reservoir at sunset for magical scenery.
Singapore Botanic Gardens, so beautiful it made it to UNESCO
You can’t claim you’ve been to Singapore if you don’t visit the Singapore garden which is so beautiful it became a UNESCO heritage site, a feat that’s far from easy. The garden is home to over 10,000 species of plant and flowers, the world famous Orchid Garden, and a rainforest. You’ll be awed by the beauty of the flora of this garden and you can spend all day here without getting bored.
The little rustic island of Pulau Ubin is one of the most untouched parts of Singapore. You have a chance to truly be one with nature here and there is no shortage of activities to keep you occupied. The last true villages of Singapore are located on Pulau Ubin and you have a golden opportunity to learn about their ways of life.
From exploring the rugged terrains on a kayak to biking on steep uphill paths and speedy downhill slopes, camping in the woods, exploring the island on foot, and going on a temple run to see the shrines and temples scattered across the island, you are spoilt for fun activities on Pulau Ubin. Oh, birdwatching enthusiasts will also have a blast on this island.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve & Dairy Farm Nature Park
Bukit Timah is one of the best places to hike in Singapore. I like that the town has many parks and trails in close proximity. One of the best places to explore is the Bukit Timah hill in the Nature Reserve which is the closest thing Singapore has to a mountain as the peak is at 163.63 metres above ground.
The Dairy Farm Reserve is arguably more beautiful than the Bukit Timah Reserve and offers a legit jungle hiking experience thanks to the rugged and muddy terrain. There’s also the majestic Singapore Quarry on the end of the park and is the only natural rock climbing spot in all of Singapore.
If you want an escape from city life or prefer activities with lesser crowds, the Southern Islands – Kusu Island, St. John’s Island, Lazarus Island, and Sister’s Island (Reopening 2024) – will offer you the much needed reprieve. Easily accessible by ferries, there are many interesting things to do on these islands. From visiting the tortoise sanctuary (Kuku islands) to relaxing on beautiful beaches, and biking around St. John and Lazarus island, the fun never ends.
Coney Island and its casuarina forest and beaches
Another place to enjoy some solitude in Singapore is Coney Island, a rustic island with sand-paved walkways and mostly untouched lands. The forest and beaches are beautiful and make excellent backgrounds for stunning images. You can explore the island on foot or a bike. Just a little warning, the beaches are very inviting but wild – there is a risk of getting attacked by sand flies! Nothing life-threatening, but extremely itchy. Trust my experience.
Kayaking at Sungei Khatib Bongsu
Sungei Khatib Bongsu is home to Singapore’s largest mangrove riverine habitat. Many types of mangrove forests, as well as several endangered plants and animal species, can be found here. Enjoy the Serenity of the mangrove forest as you paddle along the water and immerse yourself in the sounds of nature ranging from the chirping of exotic birds to calls of the kingfishers or the hopping sounds of frogs.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, for mangroves and bird watching
The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is an unlikely wild corner in modern-day Singapore. Featuring mud flats, tidal ponds, rich coastal forests, and mangroves, the reserve is wildly different from the urban life in the city.
There are a lot of wildlife here including monitor lizards, horseshoe crabs, archer fish, crocodiles, smooth-coated otters, and so on. Thanks to the abundance of birds here, the reserve is popular among birding enthusiasts that come to see their feathery friends in all their glory.
Mount Faber & The Southern Ridges
Mount Faber is a hill located in the south-central region of Singapore near Bukit Merah. There are several dining and entertainment options on the hilltop and one of the best ways to reach Mount Faber is on the cable car system which offers panoramic views of the area. Then, you enjoy a drink at one of the trendy spots on the mountain while enjoying the scenery around you.
The Southern ridges are made of long trails connecting three parks and the main attractions here are the beautiful greenery and connecting bridges.
Singapore's Geography & Landscapes
Singapore is made up of the diamond-shaped Singapore Island and some 60 small islets. The city-state can be divided into three geographic regions namely:
- A central hilly region that contains the highest point in the country (Bukit Timah Hill) and heavy granite sites.
- Sedimentary rocks in the west and southwestern parts of the country.
- The large flat and sandy eastern region.
Mangrove swamps can be found along the coasts but many of the mangroves have been drained and filled to reclaim land, just as most of the hilly regions have been flattened.
Best Time To Go To Singapore
Singapore has a tropical climate. Seasons are virtually non-existent with abundant rainfall and high temperatures. Temperature and humidity varies little from month to month making Singapore a “Land of Eternal Summer”.
Even though wet and dry seasons aren’t distinct, November to February experiences more rainfall and are cooler than other months. February to April are the driest time of the year as they experience the most sunshine. December to June is generally considered the best time to visit and correlates to the peak tourist season. But you can visit at other times of the year if you want to beat the crowd.
Traveling in Singapore
Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world and you are set for an enjoyable experience. However, the standard precautions apply here. It’s worth mentioning that Singapore has what many tourists consider ” petty regulations” as there are fines for littering, spitting, and chewing gums in public.
- Don’t walk alone at night in secluded areas.
- Take care of your passport. Ideally, make photocopies and keep the original in the hotel safe.
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers.
- Don’t leave valuables in unattended vehicles.
- Don’t do drugs.
- If you won’t do it at home, don’t do it in Singapore.
- Always respect the local rules.
- Purchase good travel insurance.
Getting to & Around Singapore
Singapore Changi Airport is the main gateway to Singapore by air and is one of the biggest transportation hubs in all of Asia. There are no domestic flights in Singapore due to the small size and the efficiency of public and local transportation.
Public transportation consists of the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and buses. The MRT is fast, efficient, and affordable. The bus system is slightly cheaper than the MRT , especially for short trips.
Taxis are numerous, comfortable, and convenient. They are cheaper than in many other developed countries, such as Europe. However, they are expensive compared to public transportation. There may be extra charges during rush hours or at night. Skip them if you can.
Car rentals are available but there is little incentive to rent a car due to the efficiency and affordability of the public transportation system.
Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in Asia and this reflects in the cost of accommodation. Budget hostels are available and most rooms have about 12 – 18 beds. Budget hotels are also available from 65 SGD per night and they come with standard amenities like free Wifi, a TV, private bathrooms, and air conditioning. Larger chain and luxury hotels will cost more.
AirBnB is also available in the country.