What to do when you visit (me in) Singapore

Hello dear reader,

In the last few months, I’ve found myself frequently forwarding an email I put together in early summer for a friend of Ze’s on what to do in Singapore. I’ve since added to the list, and thought it might be nice to post it here so you can find it easily if (when) you come to visit me in Singapore, have a friend or colleague visiting Singapore, etc. Of course, there are other sights to see in Singapore, but here is my list of don’t-miss spots in this wonderful little city state that I call home. Enjoy!

Daytime activities
ArtScience Museum: Cool exhibits related to art, science, design, media, architecture, and technology. Visit if time permits, but prioritize the National Gallery/Museum.
Asian Civilizations Museum: This museum is cool if you want to brush up on your Asian civ. The exhibits tell the stories of Asian civilizations through its permanent collections, and they sometimes have interesting exhibits on Chinese haute couture and other modern displays.
Botanic Gardens: A must! A beautiful tropical garden honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. People typically spend up to half a day here, but if you’re tight on time you can cover it in 90 minutes. That being said, there’s a lot to see, and some very nice cafes here, so try to invest the time if you can. Worth it!
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple: Buddhist temple and museum complex located in the Chinatown, with, yes, one of Buddha’s actual teeth as part of the museum. Worth visiting if you’re in the area or want to experience a bit of temple culture.
Gardens by the Bay: Nature park close to Marina Reservoir/Merlion Park, with famous Supertree structures and skywalk. Some areas are free, others (skywalk) cost $$. Plan to spend about 60-90 minutes here, and stay for the Light Show at 7:45 or 8:45PM!
Merlion Park: Swing by to see Singapore’s national icon and a nice view of the marina. Pretty place to walk around and snap photos. Don’t need a lot of time here.
National Gallery: Art gallery with the world’s largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian art. Worth checking out if you are interested in art, as the permanent collection is beautiful and the rotating exhibits are often quite interesting.
National Museum: The nation’s oldest museum, good for learning about the history and culture of Singapore (which is very interesting).
Sentosa Island: An island resort off Singapore’s southern coast, connected to the city by road/cable car/pedestrian boardwalk/monorail. The boardwalk makes for a nice walk, but if you’re tight on time, go with the monorail or a taxi. Not a ton to here, but if the weather is good, you can go for a short hike or grab a drink and chill for a bit at Tanjong Beach Club or Ola Beach Club (a bit less ‘sceney’ than TBC).
Singapore Flyer: A fan favorite, but honestly skippable and not worth the $. You’ll get better views of the city at some of the other places I’ve suggested. Only go if you have extra time.
*You’ll see several other sites like Universal Studios/The Night Zoo on other Singapore “to-do” lists, but if you’re over the age of five I would say these are skippable. The above are most relevant and interesting.
Hiking
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve: Nice, long hike. Beautiful nature. Very flat so not incredibly challenging.
Labrador Park: The best! Includes a jungle walk, coastal hike, and connection to the Southern Ridges (interesting architectural connection bridge). If you’re looking to do some walking, choose this hike.
MacRitchie: Short but steep hike. Cool TreeTop walk with nice jungle views. Takes 2 hours, max.
Restaurants/food
Afterglow by Anglow: Trendy vegetarian. Super tasty food, good-sized portion. Works for lunch or laid-back dinner. Located at Keong Saik Road, which is good for walking around in and window shopping.
Anything on Amoy Street: Cute and trendy little street of restaurants and bars. Try Birds of a Feather, Fat Pigeon, Ding Dong,
Blu Kouzina: Greek in Dempsey Hill. Good area for food and drinks before/after.
Butcher Boy: Trendy and fun with good food. Perfect for a Friday night out.
Cafe Fernett: Good Italian food and plenty of Aperol. Located right on the marina with a divine view of Marina Bay Sands.
Candlenut: Modern Peranakan. Beautiful decor and fun vibe. 1 Michelin Star.
Cure: Good for a fancy night out. Delicious tasting menu and same owner as Butcher Boy.
Dumpling Darlings: Cute little dumpling shop on Amoy Street. Good for lunch.
Cheek by Jowl: Modern Australian. 1 Michelin Star. Good for a fancy dinner.
Fotia: Stylish and lively Greek restaurant on Club Street. Food is 7/10, but the atmosphere is great, and the location is very convenient for grabbing drinks on Club Street afterwards.
Jypsy: A casual Japanese restaurant owned by the same folks as PS Cafe. The sushi is very good here (get the mackerel roll), and the vibe is very similar to PS Cafe: expansive, home-y and beautiful.
Herbivore: Vegetarian Japanese. Creative menu in an energetic setting.
Jumbo Seafood: Famous chili crab chain. Best for dinner.
Mustard: Best Indian food in Little India. Period. Good for lunch or dinner.
Real Food: Easy, quick lunch spot with tasty and healthy options.
Tamarind Hill: My favorite restaurant in Singapore, by far. Opulent decor (an old, colonial black-and-home home), and fantastic Thai food. Best for lunch after a hike at Labrador. Good for dinner as well, but not close to anything.
Violet Oon: Best Peranakan in SG. Her Satay Bar or National Kitchen venues are both fantastic. Call ahead to book.
*Hawker centers: I don’t typically frequent the hawker centers, but have heard Newton Food Centre, Lau Pa Satand Maxwell are both tasty! You can easily find the best dishes by using these links.
Bars/drinks
Atlas Bar: Great Art Deco bar near Bugis with the world’s largest gin collection. A sight-to-see, but beware – there’s typically a wait of about an hour. Skip if you’re short on time.
Ce La Vie: Rooftop bar on the top of Marina Bay sands. $25 will get you admission to the rooftop, plus one drink.
Don Ho: Super trendy, super fun cocktail bar and restaurant. Tropical themed. Located on Kiong Seik Road (a good area to check out – see below). Also great for dinner.
Employees Only, Jigger and Pony, Spiffy Dapper: All trendy and on Amoy Street, so you can pop by after dinner.
Lantern: Elegant and stylish rooftop bar with fantastic views of the marina. A must!
No. 5 Emerald Hill: Cocktail bar with dangerously good 1-for-1 happy hour. Located on Emerald Hill, a cool place to walk around and grab another drink afterwards. FYI – it is always freezing in here, so bring a sweater (like many places you’ll visit in SG).
Potato Head: Gourmet burgers on the first floor, reservation-only bar Studio 1939 on the second, and a rooftop garden bar on the third. Can’t go wrong with this pick. Also located on Kiong Seik Road.
Salt Bar and Sky Grill: Slightly expensive, but the view from outside is one of the best of the city.
Shopping
Bugis: Cute boutiques and cafes along Haji Lane and Arab Street. Spend an hour or two here, and visit Blu Jazz for some live music in the evening.
Gilman Barracks: Cute area with lots of galleries. Out of the way from other things, but easily accessible by taxi.
Tiong Bahru: The “hipster” part of town. Have coffee at Meri Marcel, get a pastry at Tiong Bahru Bakery, check out some galleries, go mural hunting, shop at the boutiques and visit Books Actually. Spend 2-3 hours here.
Kiong Seik Road: Mostly for food and drinks, but some cool mural art, a nice park, and a few boutiques. Best for nighttime.
Misc.
Ferry to Paulu Ubin, rent bikes and cycle around the island (half day)
Ferry to Batam, Tempat Senang spa (half day or full day)
Happy travels!