Singapore has been described as a playground for the wealthy, and the small city-state certainly exudes wealth. However, Singapore has more to offer than upscale shopping malls, luxury hotels, and fine dining. There’s also a vibrant history and a diverse ethnic quarter to explore, as well as many family-friendly attractions and lovely public spaces to make exploring this slightly futuristic city worthwhile. Read our list of the top 15 places and attractions to visit in Singapore for ideas on what to see and do.
1. National Gallery Singapore
The National Gallery houses Southeast Asia’s largest modern art collection, with a focus on works by local and Asian artists dating back to the nineteenth century. Aside from the permanent collection, the gallery hosts temporary exhibits on topics as diverse as Vietnamese lacquer painting, modern photography, and Chinese calligraphy.
2. Fort Canning Park
Fort Canning has a long and varied history as a military stronghold. Built in 1859 to defend Singapore against attacks, the fort later became a bunker during WWII and was eventually surrendered to the Japanese in 1942. In peacetime, the original structure houses modern performing arts troupes, and the park hosts picnics, concerts, theatre performances, and festivals on a regular basis.
3. Merlion Park
The Merlion in Singapore is exactly what it sounds like: a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body and tail of a fish. The Merlion symbolises the city’s humble beginnings as a fishing village, as well as its traditional Malay name, Singapura, which means “lion city.”
4. Night Safari Singapore
Night Safari Singapore adds a new dimension to the traditional zoo experience by immersing visitors in the residents’ nocturnal lives. The park’s habitats are divided into four sections, each with its own trail for watching these elusive creatures go about their “day.”
5. Clarke Quay
Clarke Quay, the “centre of commerce during the nineteenth century,” continues to live up to its reputation as a bustling hub. Today, it has a more polished sheen, so visitors can happily head to Clarke Quay for an evening of waterfront dining and entertainment after a long day of shopping on Orchard Road.
If you’ve ever been to China, the Chinatown neighbourhood of Singapore will transport you right back there. This district is buzzing with activity, from the small mom-and-pop shops and authentic Chinese food to the bright red lanterns. You can see the impressive and beautiful Sri Mariamman Hindu temple by visiting the Chinese Heritage Centre.
7. Singapore Zoo
The Singapore Zoo, which bills itself as the world’s best rainforest zoo, is a pretty impressive place. The facility is clean and welcoming, and the animals appear to be well-cared for, with plenty of lush vegetation and habitat space.
8. Gardens by the Bay
You won’t be able to stay away once you’ve seen this beautifully designed green space (perhaps from the top of the Marina Bay Sands). Wander through the Bay East Garden, which is ideal for admiring the vibrant plant life and temporarily escaping the city bustle.
9. Marina Bay Sands
The opulent Marina Bay Sands resort complex includes a high-end luxury hotel, a mall with a canal running through it, the ArtScience Museum, and the Marina Bay Sands Skypark Observation Deck, which provides panoramic views of the city. The Skypark’s viewing deck and infinity pool are located on the hotel’s ship.
10. Botanic Gardens
Singapore’s botanical gardens were nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status for good reason. The city can feel like a concrete jungle at times, albeit a clean and comfortable one, but the botanic gardens preserve remnants of Singapore’s wilder heritage.
11. Orchard Road
Because there are high-end stores at every turn, the Orchard Road area is a great place to start a shopping spree. Nothing less would be expected from a neighbourhood with 22 malls and six department stores. There are also four movie theatres, including an IMAX, and a KTV karaoke bar.
12. Sentosa Island
Singapore isn’t exactly known for its beaches, but if you’re looking for some fun in the sun, Sentosa Island is the place to go. Siloso Beach is a great place to spend time at the beach, and visitors can enjoy free volleyball courts, kayaking, and skimboarding. There are several other beach attractions, as well as an aquarium where you can swim with dolphins called Underwater World.
13. Universal Studios Singapore
Resorts World Sentosa’s Universal Studios Singapore spans 49 acres. The park is themed, with each area paying homage to a specific location, film, or television show. New York City, Hollywood, Madagascar, and an excursion to Ancient Egypt are among the destinations.
14. Asian Civilizations Museum
The museum’s collections are organised around the themes of trade and spirituality, both of which have had a significant impact on Asian cultures. Exhibits cover topics such as the Indian Ocean trade, stories of faith and belief, and a look at the long-standing role of scholars in Chinese culture.
15. Pulau Ubin
Visit the small island of Pulau Ubin to see what life was like in Singapore before it was all about glitz and skyscrapers. Fewer than 100 people still live in the same simple way they did in the 1960s. The name “Granite Island” is Malay for “Granite Island,” and it was given that name because the island was once a quarry town.