Located just off Malaysia's southern tip, Singapore is a lively city-state that boasts a delightful blend of Asian cultures. With a tropical climate, vibrant nightlife, fantastic shopping and exotic cuisine, it's no wonder this 'Garden City' is a hugely popular holiday destination.
To get around the island, buy an EZ-Link Card and use the excellent public transport system. The trains are quick, clean and incredibly efficient.
Chinatown is Singapore's cultural hub, a cherished neighborhood with a wealth of historical sites and heritage buildings. Originally an enclave for the city-state's Chinese immigrant population, it is now more of a mixed neighborhood blending old traditions with modernity.
The district's brightly coloured shophouses and street markets are a feast for the eyes, and the area comes alive during nighttime when its streets come to life with authentic street food, dragon candles and traditional clothing. The Chinese New Year is the busiest time of year, when street markets are crowded with people watching lion dances and street shows.
Michelin-starred restaurants abound in the area, with culinary fusion and experimental fare to please any palate. Local hawker stalls are also a great place to find a range of Chinese flavours, from sweet red bak kwa (barbequed pork) to steaming rice noodles and fragrant herbal soups.
You'll be able to find a range of souvenirs and gifts in Chinatown, from the ubiquitous red bak kwa to Chinese-style clothing and calligraphy. Some shops also sell traditional foods like durian and dragon fruits, which are known for their medicinal properties.
For a taste of Singapore's rich heritage, take a stroll through the district's numerous temples and historical sites. Some are open to non-Chinese visitors, so be sure to check with the tourist information center to see what's available.
Another cultural landmark is Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, an opulent Chinese Buddhist temple that's lit up at night and always busy with locals. The relic chamber is only open during religious ceremonies, but the rest of the temple has a lovely orchid garden on its rooftop that's well worth visiting.
One of Singapore's most colourful and exciting cultural enclaves, Little India is a unique place to immerse yourself in the vibrant nuances of the Indian community. With narrow streets, alleyways and back lanes where countless trades ply their wares, the area is a delightful glimpse into the rich culture of the region.
There are plenty of things to do in this area, including visiting temples and exploring heritage centres. The Tekka Market is a popular market for meat and spices, while Mustafa Centre offers a wide range of products that appeal to tourists and locals alike.
Another great place to explore is the Abdul Gaffoor Mosque, which combines Asian and European styles for a beautiful effect. Aside from the beautiful architecture, this mosque is also home to a large Buddha statue that reflects the spirituality of both cultures.
To experience the culture of the region, be sure to try out local dishes such as fish head curry. This is a uniquely Singaporean dish that’s served with a whole head of fish, cooked so long that it falls apart!
If you want to shop for some cheap souvenirs, be sure to visit the stalls in Little India Arcade. The stalls are filled with all sorts of items, and many of them feature colorful dresses and other accessories from the region.
You can also get a henna tattoo, or find some great flower garlands for your hotel room! The Jothi Store & Flower Shop is a famous flower shop in Little India that has a wide variety of different kinds of flowers for sale. For more intricate flower garlands, you can also check out Omsivasakthi Flower & Trading.
Kampong Glam has evolved into Singapore's cultural hub, with a thriving art scene attracting locals and tourists alike. From generations-old stores to trendy cafes and eateries, the colourful neighbourhood is awash in art created by local and international artists.
As dusk falls, Haji Lane and Bussorah Street come alive with night-time revellers, buskers and live music. As a result, the area is home to a bustling culture that's brimming with surprises at every corner.
The district's best-known monument is the majestic Sultan Mosque, which has a golden dome reminiscent of Arabian Nights. It’s a must-visit and can be accessed easily from Bussorah Pedestrian Mall.
If you’re interested in the region’s rich history, head to Malay Heritage Centre to explore a collection of exhibitions, art and activities that celebrate Singapore’s Malay heritage. Or check out one of the city’s first outdoor art galleries, a series of murals that are constantly changing and ingeniously designed.
A stroll around the district’s streets will show you just how diverse the community is, with a mix of old Chinese, Indian and Arab shophouses and contemporary retail. You’ll also be treated to a plethora of halal restaurants and bars that offer cuisines from all over the world.
For the foodies, the area’s Michelin Bib Gourmand-listed restaurants dish up traditional favourites like nasi padang and Sundanese dishes. Other global fare options are available, including Italian food at Tipo Pasta Bar and Swedish delicacies at Fika Swedish cafe and bistro.
Despite being home to many locals and foreigners, Kampong Glam is still deeply rooted in its history. It’s here that you can find the iconic Sultan Mosque and the Malay Heritage Centre, while a stroll down Bussorah Street will reveal some of the city’s oldest Islamic buildings, including Habib Crafts, a family-run business that specialises in hand-painted plates and knickknacks.
Almost 2.5km long, Orchard Road has a reputation for being one of the world’s most vibrant shopping districts. With a plethora of malls and department stores, there is certainly something for everyone to shop and buy here!
Orchard Road is a great place to spend a few hours, or even an entire day. Here you can find everything from high-end designer labels to bargain-basement street fashion.
There is also an abundance of dining options for discerning foodies, including a number of cafes and restaurants that serve up authentic Singapore cuisine. Coffee lovers will be pleased to know that Orchard Road is home to a variety of artisan coffee shops that roast their own beans.
Another highlight of Orchard Road is the many cultural centres. There is a large art gallery on Orchard Road, as well as Fort Canning Park, which is the site of the first military museum in Singapore.
Other cultural sites that are worth a visit include the National Orchid Garden, the National Gallery of Singapore and the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The latter is the perfect place to relax after a day of shopping.
Then there is the Peranakan district, which is full of colorful Chinese Baroque terrace houses and is an excellent place for a leisurely stroll. You can also enjoy a cool drink at Cuppage Terrace, which is housed in restored shophouses.
Orchard Road is also home to the popular 313@Somerset mall, a Lend-Lease mall that is loved by younger shoppers. You can also check out the Centrepoint, which has an eclectic mix of shops and a good selection of eateries. You can also take a trip to the Orchard Cineleisure complex, where there are cinemas, games arcades and plenty of other entertainment options.
Marina Bay is one of Singapore's most vibrant cultural hubs. It's an area that has really come of age over the past few years, with magnificent modern architecture and world-class hotels.
There are many things to do and see in the area, from a tour of the ArtScience Museum to a ride on the world's highest observation wheel. There's also a great range of restaurants and bars in the Marina Bay area, making it an excellent place to spend some time with friends or a loved one.
You can get a bird's eye view of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia from the 165-metre-high Singapore Flyer. The observation wheel is located in Marina Bay and offers an exciting experience for both kids and adults.
Another must-see in the Marina Bay area is Gardens by the Bay. This indoor garden features a number of huge 35-metre-tall Supertrees, which are a sight to behold.
The area is also home to a variety of world-class museums, including the ArtScience Museum, which has an ever-changing programme of exhibitions and events. The Esplanade - Theatres by the Bay is also a popular spot for entertainment, featuring an eclectic program of theatre and concerts.
If you're a foodie, make sure to check out the many restaurants at Marina Bay Sands, where you can sample high-end dining options from celebrity chefs. Or, head across the bay to One Fullerton for al-fresco dining with views over the water.
Shopping is another big draw in the area, with an impressive mall and a wide variety of shops offering both local and international brands. If you're after some luxury items, Louis Vuitton is the place to shop in the Marina Bay area.