Ah, Singapore. Dubbed the “red dot city” because the red dot indicating the capital covers the entire country. From Chinatown to Arab Street to Little India, Singapore is a blend of foods and languages from around the world.
It’s often overlooked as merely a stopover destination, but the amount of stuff worth recommending that is crammed into this tiny country is definitely worth spending a few extra days to explore...
The Botanic Gardens
If you’re on a stopover in Singapore and have been forced to wake up and explore at some ungodly hour of the morning, or if you’re a morning person (shudder), then the Botanic Gardens are your best friend. Most shops in Singapore don’t open their doors until around 10 or 11 am so why not go for a stroll around the lush, tropical greenery that is the Botanic Gardens. The gardens are 158 years old and you can truly see the transformation from a colonial garden to the centre for conservation and recreation that it is today.
Galleries and museums
Think Singapore is just for shopping and cool gardens? Think again. There are some fantastic museums in Singapore – the National Gallery and the Art Science Museum being my two favourites. There’s always something exciting on, I’ve seen exhibitions ranging from da Vinci’s sketches to Lego. The Art Science Museum is right in the heart of Marina Bay and it looks like a lotus flower and is nicknamed “the welcoming hand of Singapore”. The National Gallery, on the other hand, is made up of the former Supreme Court and City Hall.
Honestly, these are so good I thought they deserved their own section. I mean can you think of anything better than sipping on a fancy cocktail with a great view? Club Street and Ang Siang Hill in Chinatown are famous for their spectacular nightlife, and rooftop bars like the Screening Room do not disappoint. Marina Bay Sands has their own rooftop bar but for a fantastic view make sure Smoke and Mirrors on top of the National Gallery is on your list.
Food glorious food
Singapore is a foodie’s heaven. There is not a cuisine you could think of that Singapore doesn’t have. The Hawker Centres are phenomenal (and cheap too!) for local dishes and food from the region. Every district in Singapore has their own Hawker but my favourite is Lau Pa Sat, in the financial district surrounded by some of the tallest buildings in Singapore.
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It wouldn’t be an article about Singapore without mentioning Marina Bay. Gardens by the Bay is a must-do, conceptualised as a “city in a garden” you can walk along the Skyway and into massive greenhouses including Cloud Forest with its indoor waterfall which looks even more magical lit up by a sunset. If you’re in Singapore in January and happen to miss Laneway Festival in Australia, the event comes to Singapore and is held at Gardens by the Bay, where you can see the rest of Marina Bay lit up in dancing bright colours at night.
Of course, I have to mention the shopping in Singapore. Orchard Road is a classic but one of my favourite places to shop is Haji Lane. Running parallel to it is Arab Street with its luxurious Persian rugs and the 200-year-old Masjid Sultan Mosque. In contrast, Haji Lane is lined with colourful street art and little modern boutiques. And, after a hard day’s shopping, the area is full to bursting with cafes and restaurants, and even a great Mexican place for a frozen margarita.
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