Multicultural and tropical, Singapore merges island and city life for a perfect escape.
With unique neighbourhoods brimming with history (and photo opportunities), an unmissable food scene and incredible nature, Singapore is an city and beach destination for Hongkongers. This year has put travel on hold for good reason, but with talk of the Singapore and Hong Kong opening up to each other, we’ve been eyeing up the best of Singapore. We don’t yet know all the details about the travel bubble, but that hasn’t stopped us eyeing up Singapore’s best hotels, restaurants, bars and beaches. The Little Red Dot has so much to offer, so here are our favourite best places to go, stay and eat in this city-state.
When To Visit
Warm and humid all year round, Singapore’s driest season is between February and April, when you’re least likely to be caught by a tropical downpour! If you visit in July or August, National Day celebrations will be in full swing, with parades, fireworks and birthday displays running for multiple weekends. Unless you’re a motorsports fan, avoid September as the arrival of the annual Formula One race drives hotel prices up.
How To Get There
Departing almost hourly from Hong Kong airport, there’s a flight to suit everyone’s schedule and budget. The flight from Hong Kong to Singapore takes around 4 hours. Scoot often offers the cheapest flight prices, but as a budget airline, food and drinks (including tap water!) come at an additional cost.
Sassy Tip: Get to the airport with time to spare before your flight home. With the world’s largest indoor waterfall (which is powered by collected rainwater) and the chance to sample the Pandan Cake shake at Singapore’s only Shake Shack, Jewel Changi is an airport you won’t mind waiting around in.
From The Airport
The airport is just a 15-minute taxi ride from the city centre. Taxis are always available at arrivals and you can expect to pay SGD$20-25 to get to downtown.
While In Singapore
Just like Hong Kong, the Little Red Dot is served with a super-efficient public transport system, so you won’t need to rely on cabs to get around. You can buy an EZ-link card (Singapore’s answer to Octopus) in any MRT station or 7-Eleven store, or at the airport before you get on the MRT. Plus you can get your remaining balance refunded before you head home.
If you’re planning to use taxis, download and sign up for Grab (South East Asia’s answer to Uber) to pick up a ride at any time. It’s worth noting that cabs charge a surge price on the total fare during peak times (25% from 6am-9.30am and 6pm-12am and 50% from 12am-6am) and only take cash fares.
Where To Stay
Catering for business and leisure alike, Singapore has an abundance of options for every type of traveller. But be warned, accommodation does not come cheap, with even budget hotels setting you back more than they would in other cities in South East Asia. Here are a few hotels for every type of budget that has the Team Sassy seal of approval.
A Lion City institution, and the birthplace of the Singapore Sling cocktail, the newly renovated Raffles Hotel (which has been welcoming guests since 1886) offers modern, stylish suites and incredible service right in the heart of the city. Prices start from HK$4,620 per night for a room for two.
Raffles Singapore, 1 Beach Road, 189673 Singapore, Singapore, www.raffles.com/singapore
Spacious rooms (with super comfortable beds), an infinity pool with views of the skyline, plus mega-Instagrammable rooftop bar Mr Stork, this concept hotel offers a spot of calm in the middle of the city. It’s also easy walking distance from Little India and a 2-minute walk from Bugis MRT station. Prices start from HK$2,260 per night for a room for two.
Andaz Singapore, 5 Fraser Street, 189354 Singapore, Singapore, www.hyatt.com
Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay
If you’re on more of a budget but want to stay in the heart of the city, this chain hotel is a great bet. It’s cut above the rest in its price range, with a rooftop pool, cosy rooms and breakfast provided for all guests. Rooms start from HK$826 per night for a room for two.
Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay, 2 Magazine Road, Clarke Quay, 059573 Singapore, Singapore, www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress
Hotel G Singapore
This trendy hotel is located in a great location between Bugis and Little India. The rooms may be small but the cool, dorm-style interiors feel homely and welcoming. The hotel rooms are situated above two eateries, Ginnet Wine Bar & Restaurant and LA-style burger and liquor bar, 25 Degrees. A fabulous buffet breakfast is served daily in Ginnet Wine bar and it’s also an ideal place to settle in with your laptop if you’re working on your trip. Prices start from HK$450 per night for a room for two.
Hotel G Singapore, 200 Middle Road, 188980 Singapore, Singapore, www.hotels-g.com/hotels/hotel-g-singapore
The Southbridge Hotel
A five-minute walk from Chinatown MRT, the best thing about this cosy hotel is its location. The rooms are a bit of a squeeze (though nothing us Hongkongers can’t cope with!), but with great service and super reasonable prices, you’re getting great bang for your buck. Prices start from HK$433 per night for a room for two.
The Southbridge Hotel, 210 South Bridge Road, Chinatown, 058759 Singapore, Singapore, www.thesouthbridgehotel.com
Sassy Tip: Hotels will add a service and sales tax on top of the room rate, normally an additional 17%. Factor this into your hotel budget when booking to avoid getting caught out at checkout.
What To Do
You’ll never squeeze everything there is to do in the Lion City into a two-day break so we’ve put together our must-sees (and of course where to eat) in some of Singapore’s best-known neighbourhoods.
Tiong Bahru (Best visited in the morning)
You’ll be instantly charmed by this residential neighbourhood and its independent stores, cosy coffee shops and Instagrammable architecture and street art.
- Take some time to appreciate the art-deco low rise housing blocks as you wander around and work up an appetite. For a light breakfast (as you’ll need to save room for the rest of food you’ll sample today!), pay a visit to the iconic Tiong Bahru Bakery. Serving up traditional French favourites (try the pain au raisin) plus fusion pastries (the matcha croissant is both indulgent and Instagrammable), alongside freshly brewed coffee, it’s worth braving the weekend queues!
Sassy Tip: Walk down Eng Watt Street to check out murals depicting Tiong Bahru life by Singaporean street artist Yip Yew Chong.
Cat Socrates, 78 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 163078, Singapore, cat-socrates.myshopify.com
Tiong Bahru Bakery, 56 Eng Hoon Street, #01-70, Singapore 160056, Singapore, www.tiongbahrubakery.com
Chinatown (Best visited late morning or at lunchtime – and with an appetite!)
This historic district has temples galore and more Michelin-starred budget eateries than most cities can boast.
- Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum – a five-storey temple which claims to house the tooth of Maitreya Buddha – The Compassionate One.
- Sri Mariamman Temple – Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple, worshippers have been visiting Sri Mariamman since 1827.
- Jamae Mosque – a working mosque, right in the heart of bustling Chinatown.
- More street art by Yip Yew Chong – take a trip to Chinatown to find these murals which each portray a different part of the area’s history and heritage.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum, 288 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058840, Singapore
Sri Mariamman Temple, 244 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058793, Singapore
Jamae Mosque, 218 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058767, Singapore
Hawker centres are the name of the game in Chinatown. Be sure to visit early as many shut up shop when they run out of food for the day. The Chinatown Complex Food Centre (the largest hawker centre in the city with over 220 stalls) is the perfect place to try some of Singapore’s street food and get your hands on some of the cities best cheap eats. Here a few stalls you shouldn’t miss:
- Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle 香港油雞飯 – The first hawker stall in Singapore to be awarded a Michelin star, be prepared to queue for its lip-smackingly salty Soya Sauce Chicken Rice.
- Old Amoy Chendol – Cool down with a serving of Chendol, a traditional dessert made with shaved ice, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup. This family-run Chendol stall has been in Chinatown for three generations.
Chinatown Food Complex, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335, Singapore
- Potato Head Singapore – The Singapore outpost of this best-loved Bali bar offers rooftop views, potent and delicious cocktails and relaxed vibes.
Potato Head Singapore, 36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089143, Singapore
Harbourfront and Marina Bay Sands (Best visited late afternoon or early evening)
No visit to Singapore would be complete without checking out the iconic city skyline.
- We recommend heading to the harbourfront mid-afternoon and taking a walk around the quay before making your way to the ArtScience Museum. Housed in the futuristic flower building next to Marina Bay Sands, this museum is home to must-see exhibition FutureWorld by Japanese art collective teamLab. Bring your imagination (and of course your camera) and be prepared to feel like a kid again as you make your way through the nine interactive installations. Book your ticket before you go as the exhibition sells out well in advance.
- Once you’ve got your fill of seeing your creations come to life on screen, spend some time at the have-to-see-it-to-believe it Gardens by the Bay. You’ll want at least an hour and a half to wander around the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, before heading to Garden Rhapsody, the light and music show at the Supertrees, which runs at 7.45pm and 8.45pm every day. Get there early to watch the trees light up as the sunsets.
ArtScience Museum, 6 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018974, Singapore, www.marinabaysands.com/museum
Gardens by the Bay, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956, Singapore www.gardensbythebay.com.sg
Kampong Glam (Best visited at lunchtime or for evening drinks)
Home to the golden-domed Sultan Mosque and rainbow-bright Haji Lane, take a few hours to explore Kampong Glam and, of course, sample more delicious Singaporean fare.
- Sultan Mosque – Take a guided tour of the huge Muscat Street mosque.
- Haji Lane – Packed with coffee shops, bars and quirky gift shops, the walls of every shop on Haji Lane are painted with colourful murals. Grab a table outside one of the many bars and settle in for an evening of listening to live music with a drink in hand.
Sultan Mosque, 3 Muscat Street, Singapore 198833, Singapore
- Rumah Makan Minang – This family-run restaurant in the heart of Kampong Glam serves up authentic Indonesian dishes canteen-style (the perfect way to try a little bit of everything). Sample the beef rendang and the restaurant’s tasty speciality Tahu Telur, fried tofu mixed with eggs.
Rumah Makan Minang, 18 & 18A Kandahar Street, Singapore 198884, Singapore
Little India (Best visited late afternoon or evening)
Brimming with colour at every turn, the historic home of Singapore’s Indian population is a photographer’s paradise (and another foodie haven).
- Sri Veerama-kaliamman Temple – this colourful temple is the home of Little India’s Hindu community.
- Former House of Tan Teng Niah – This rainbow coloured two-storey Chinese villa is a feast for the eyes and the camera.
Sri Veerama-kaliamman Temple, 141 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218042, Singapore
Former House of Tan Teng Niah, 37 Kerbau Road, Singapore 219168, Singapore
- Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant – Vegetarians will love this no-frills, cafe-style Indian and Asian restaurant. Gokul offers a great value meal with an impressive range of flavourful curries, dosas and rice dishes with an extensive range of meat substitute options. The back entrance is in a shopping arcade with a range of other vegetarian options, including a vegetarian Japanese restaurant and a dried goods shop selling some unusually useful goods (like vegetarian tinned-tuna and vegetarian sambal sauce).
Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant, 19 Upper Dickson Road, Singapore 207478, Singapore, gokulvegetarianrestaurant.com
The Best Of The Rest
If you can extend your stay by a few more days, here are a few more (slightly longer-to-reach) places that should be on your radar.
Koon Seng Road, Joo Chiat
Take a bus a little further out of the city to Joo Chiat to discover Singapore’s Peranakan culture and heritage. Check out the colourful streets of two-storey shophouses and browse the fabric and handmade clothing stalls at Joo Chiat Complex Indoor Mall.
Sentosa is a gorgeous island off Singapore’s southern coast. With lush rainforests and beautiful beaches it feels like another world – though it’s conveniently connected to the city by road, boardwalk, monorail and cable car. Palawan Beach is lined with bustling food stalls and quaint bars – a favourite spot for locals and tourists. And if you’re looking for a further escape, head across the suspension bridge to a small offshore island, Tanjong Beach. You won’t be disappointed!
East Coast Park
Easy to get to from the city, this coastal park offers flat running and cycling paths, restaurants for pit stops and a quiet beach. Hire a bike and make an afternoon of it – you might even spot one of the otter families who have made the coasts and waters of Singapore their home.
Singapore Botanical Gardens
You could spend an entire day exploring the stunning grounds of this park, so we’d recommend setting aside at least a morning. With thousands of plant species, a treetop walkway, a tropical rainforest and wetlands area (plus monitor the lizards roaming the grounds), this is a heavenly space for nature lovers! The gardens are free to enter, but The National Orchid Garden is an additional SGD$5 charge to enter for adults, SGD$1 for students and free for under 12s. It’s well worth the spend as the displays and range of flowers are second to none.
Read more: Sustainable and Eco Hotels to Put on Your Travel Bucket List
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2019 by Sam Book and was last updated in October 2020 by Lydia Ching.
Image 14 courtesy of Keane Chua via Unsplash.
All other images property of Sassy Media Group.