It’s so much more than Singapore Slings…

If there’s a better city to layover and spend a few days than Singapore, we’d sure love to see it. The city is efficient, clean, fun, alive and with a spirit unlike any other, thanks to its unique history as a true melting pot of Asian culture and Western imperialism. It’s also a stunning juxtaposition of future and colonial past, where skyscrapers seamlessly intermingle with colonial, brightly colored houses. However long you’re in town, there are a few things you simply must do in Singapore. You’d better get started…

a bridge over a cityGardens By The Bay Light Show

If anyone tells you that this is way too touristy and overrated – ignore them! This ridiculously cool, futuristic display of nature and light takes place daily at 7.45pm and 8.45pm, is free to go and completely worth it. You can watch from a distance or just on the outskirts of the garden, but for the best performance it’s worth getting up close and personal. Why not take a bottle of wine (we won’t tell), sit back and enjoy the show. This is also a great way to knock off the ever popular trip to the Marina Bay Sands, and perhaps try to sneak up for an evening swim…

a plate of noodles and meatHawker Stalls

There’s literally nowhere else in the world where you can find a $2 Michelin star meal like that of Hawker Chan Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. It’s quite literally the cheapest Michelin starred meal on earth. You can find the real deal upstairs on Smith Street in China Town, and the new sit down (tourist) version in prime display on the ground floor. Hawker Chan or not, the Hawker stalls throughout the city offer incredible value for money and some unbelievable food, at even more unbelievable prices. If there’s a line, it’s good – even if it’s not famous. A few to try: Chinatown Complex Food Centre, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre, Old Airport Road Food Centre or Lau Pa Sat Festival Market. You can’t go wrong.

a colorful wall with chairs and tablesHaji Lane

Bright colors, cold beers and boutiques galore. Even though this place is getting more popular every year, it’s definitely still worth a visit. The colourful buildings and cool street art make for some striking photos, and the quirky, independent shops, bars, restaurants and cafés can keep you busy for hours. Be sure to zig zag up and down all the side streets to make the best of the area. If you’re not specifically going for dinner or drinks, try and get there earlier for fewer crowds.

a room with a tall staircase and a barAtlas Bar

For people who like cocktails, Atlas is like a pilgrimage to a holy temple. It’s like something out of Batman meets Great Gatsby, meets Titanic and with over 1000 gins and more than 250 labels of Champagnes, even the greatest golden age wine snob will be satisfied. The extraordinary cocktail menu offers a wide range of drinks using unique, perfectly matched combinations, and that’s not just one opinion. The bar placed No. 15 on the world’s 50 best list. The Tamara in a Green Bugatti is absolute perfection and the Le Chiffre Martini is perhaps the smoothest combination of Vodka, Gin and Absinthe you’ll ever find. Atlas is open all day for eating and drinking and gets insanely popular at night. Beat the crowds by heading for a boozy lunch or early afternoon sip. You’re traveling, after all.

a colorful building with many windowsLittle India

Aimlessly wandering around this part of town will definitely open up your senses. The colourful colonial style buildings are the perfect setting for a different take on Singapore. All the wonderful smells float out of shops and restaurants and at night, the buzz is infectious – in a good way. You will find temples, spice markets, and since it’s a modern city, even a 24 hour shopping mall at the Mustafa Centre, for anyone who finds themselves wired with jet lag. If you’re looking to stay in this area, One Farrer Hotel makes for a perfect, reasonably priced stay – including a full size olympic length pool! You’ve gotta work off those curries one way or another.

Bonus: Underground MRT

Not so much of an attraction in itself, but just a fabulous way of showing how public transport should be run. You’ll just never be able to look the MTA or your local transit authority in the eyes again. The MRT is extremely easy to use, clean, air conditioned and rammed with friendly staff, always looking to be helpful. There are large, clear touch screen to purchase tickets in English and you can buy single/return trips, or a one day unlimited travel card for S$10, S$16 for two days or S$20 for three days. It’s too easy (and too cheap) to miss out on if you plan on bopping around the city.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Singapore?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Great post! I had a great trip to Singapore back in February and did a few of the things you mentioned. Can’t say enough good things about the Hawker centers – also lots of the malls have food courts in the basement that are super cheap and super good!

  2. When they close down a street and setup tables and chairs and you order satay and tiger beer from the tiger beer girls. That is awesome experience. Eating outside open air and then it starts to lightly rain and no one runs away and just continue eating and drinking and having fun…

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