4 January 2023 by Tim Tan
Singapore is a melting pot of extraordinary culture drawn in from across the globe, from its sky-scraping glass cityscape to the multi-tiered temples of Chinatown. Whether you're visiting the city as a stopover to or from Australasia, as a standalone destination or extending your stay to include a beach break, here we cover the top five things to do in this fascinating island nation.
1. Sample authentic Singaporean cuisine in the hawker markets
The Food Capital of Asia is Singapore's deserved moniker – and while there may be Michelin stars galore in this city, true Singaporean cuisine is all about the bustling hawker markets. There's everything from fluffy dim-sum dumplings and mouthwatering satay skewers to world-renowned Hainanese chicken rice and Singaporean favourites such as chilli crab and rojak – a salad of fruits and vegetables tossed in a prawn paste. Inspiration is taken from throughout the region to create culinary delights that are uniquely Singaporean – but remember, alongside the iconic street food there are plenty of fine-dining restaurants to sample, perched on the likes of rooftop bars and along the riverbank. There are also plenty of afternoon-tea delights to be enjoyed across a range of stylish hotels, served up in perfect colonial elegance.
2. Stroll around the Gardens by the Bay
The city’s latest green offering is perhaps its greatest, too. Indeed, the Gardens by the Bay has been the winner of several architecture awards. Made up of a vertical park of 50-metre-high “Supertrees” knitted together by sweeping elevated walkways, dominating Singapore’s Bay area, it's a wonderful place to spend a couple of hours. Be sure to take in the panoramic skywalk over the gardens and greenhouses, with individual climates and myriad plants and trees species. In the evening, be dazzled as the Supertrees entertain you with the Garden Rhapsody lightshow.
3. Relax on the beaches of Sentosa Island
This island of golden sands and swaying palms lies just off Singapore’s south coast and is a wonderful place to spend a night or two. Be sure to find time to enjoy one or two rounds of golf at one of the island’s famed courses, or indulge in the thrills of Sentosa’s theme parks. It's all enjoyed alongside myriad indulgent island resorts, offering swimming pools, gourmet cuisine and five-star service. What's more, all the delights of the city are still within easy reach, from the shops of Orchard Road to the world-renowned Singapore Zoo.
4. Discover Singapore’s diverse culture
From giant Ferris wheels and monolithic lotuses to unique museums and infinity-pool surfboards – it's truly one of the world’s most iconic skylines. In amongst it all, though, there’s plenty of historic intrigue, embodied in a harmonious blend of different cultures. Waterloo Street, for example, is home to a Chinese temple, synagogue and an Indian temple, that stand virtually side by side. Close by lies Little India, a mini-Mumbai of temples, restaurants and clairvoyants, where you’re greeted by the heavy scent of spices and can leave carting carvings, silverware and colourful silk saris. Chinatown is another must-visit, home to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum as well as medicinal stalls and award-winning bars and restaurants. And, don't miss Arab Street's gilded dome of the Sultan Mosque that looms above cloth and carpet traders.
5. Sip on a Singapore Sling in the iconic Raffles Hotel
Once host to the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Queen Elizabeth, Raffles Hotel remains the place to stay in the city – but a drink here is iconic enough for many. Almost as old as Singapore itself and named after Sir Stamford Raffles – the country’s founder – it underwent a two-year restoration, breathing new life into this legendary landmark . Expect billiards tables, elegant rooms and fine-dining terraces, as well as the iconic Long Bar. Enjoy a few hours here sipping on that most famous of cocktails, the Singapore Sling.