9 Reasons to Visit Singapore

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When we arrived in Singapore the immigration counters were giving out free sweets.

We’ve never seen that before and it was such a contrast to the usual surly welcome that we knew we were somewhere different.

Singapore, which is both a city and a country, is unlike anywhere else in Southeast Asia—it’s clean, efficient, and wealthy. Some say the island nation is boring; we say it’s easy, and all travellers need easy from time to time.

During our first week in Singapore we found much to love about the city and we’ve returned many times since. Here are nine reasons to visit Singapore.

If you are looking for more practical tips, see our ultimate Singapore itinerary which will take you to all our highlights in three days.

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1) It’s Easy

After travelling around more hectic parts of the region, it’s a relief to discover that Singapore is a very easy place to explore.

Although the population is a mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian, the lingua franca is English so you’ll always be understood.

Crime is low so you can carry your camera around at night without worrying. You can even drink the tap water.

The public transport system (MRT is most useful for visitors) is inexpensive, reliable and clean—enforced by a $500 fine for eating or drinking onboard. Arrows on the platform indicate where to stand aside while others disembark, and cute signs remind you that it’s nice to offer your seat to someone who needs it.

Best of all, everything just works.

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2) Green Spaces

ION Orchard, Singapore

ION Orchard—even the (many) shopping malls are green

We were surprised by how green Singapore is, and it really lives up to its nickname of the Garden City. There are plenty of parks, streets are lined with huge trees, and downtown office buildings have gardens on their balconies and roofs. You can even go hiking in the rainforest in the state’s nature reserves.

Finding a running route in a big city can be a challenge, but in Singapore I could easily avoid traffic and pedestrians by running along the Green Corridor—an old railway track that has been converted to a hidden park providing a quiet respite from the city.

I also like running in the huge Singapore Botanic Gardens and the riverside path at Marina Bay is another popular exercise spot.

Although Singapore is a densely developed city, there isn’t a lot of traffic—it’s practically empty compared to congested Bangkok. Locals have to pay a high price to register a car and the government has provided such an excellent public transport system that it’s not really necessary.

Singapore is also much more environmentally friendly than the rest of Southeast Asia with recycling bins everywhere.

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3) Gardens by the Bay

Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay

Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is a green space spanning 101 hectares in the Marina Bay area.

The free outdoor gardens are a lovely place to wander (especially the Supertrees—see below) and it’s also worth paying to visit the two climate controlled conservatories. The Flower Dome is a world of perpetual spring with European flower beds and African baobabs.

South African tree grapes in the Flower Dome, Singapore

South African tree grapes in the Flower Dome

Baby baobabs (?) in the Flower Dome

Baby baobabs (?) in the Flower Dome

The Cloud Forest dome is even more spectacular with a waterfall pouring down from the mountain covered in lush vegetation.

Cloud Forest, Gardens by the Bay

Cloud Forest

As you climb up the plant life changes from what you’d find in the tropical highlands up to the misty cloud forest 2,000 metres above sea level. From the top there are also expansive views of the skyline including the Supertrees and Marina Bay Sands.

The misty Cloud Forest, Gardens by the Bay

The misty Cloud Forest

You can get 33% off Gardens by the Bay e-tickets if you book on Voyagin.

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4) Supertrees

Supertrees reflection and full moon, Singapore

We got lucky and saw the Supertrees reflected in this pond with a full moon peeking behind

The Supertrees are part of Gardens by the Bay but we liked them so much that they deserve a section to themselves.

These unique trees are 25 to 50 metres high, with steel trunks covered in orchids, ferns and climbing tropical flowers, and large canopies stretching out like a network of veins. Many of the trees generate solar power and collect rainwater.

Marina Bay Sands behind the Supertrees

Marina Bay Sands behind the Supertrees

The Supertrees are best seen at night when they glow in bright changing colours. It’s worth coming for the free Garden Rhapsody show at 7.45pm and 8.45pm every night, a magical and otherworldly music and light experience.

Supertrees at night, SingaporeAt the Supertrees we felt like we were in a city of the future.

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5) Night Skyline

We’re not night owls but Singapore enticed us out many nights with its stunning futuristic skyline that’s best seen when the sun goes down.

Spectra is a free light and water show every night at 8pm and 9pm outside the Marina Bay Sands hotel. It’s a cheesy montage of babies and flowers projected onto water, but it’s fun, and worth coming to see the city light up.

You can get a different perspective by watching across the bay by the Merlion statue where you won’t see the water show but can see the lights and lasers streaming out of the boat-shaped hotel.

The Wonder Full show from the Merlion statue

The light show from the Merlion statue

We splurged on a cocktail at the CE LA VI bar at the top of Marina Bay Sands along with our friend Victoria of Bridges and Balloons. At $23 each they were pricey but delicious and definitely worth it for views of the sunset and the skyscrapers lighting up across the city.

Cocktails with Victoria at Ku DeETA bar

Cocktails with Victoria at KU DÉ TA bar

View from KU DÉ TA bar, Marina May Sands

The amazing view from KU DÉ TA

We thought it was better value than paying the same just for the entrance fee to the SkyPark which was just below the bar and has a similar view (although we couldn’t see the famous infinity pool).

The Singapore Flyer is another great place to view the city’s skyline. 

The view from the Singapore Flyer of Marina Bay

The view from the Singapore Flyer of Marina Bay

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6) Variety of Architecture

The Cloud Forest conservatory, Gardens by the Bay

The Cloud Forest conservatory

Towering skyscrapers in the financial district; colonial hotels; wooden shuttered shophouses and mosques in Kampong Glam; colourful buildings and Hindu temples in Little India; Art Deco towers; the ultra-modern structures of Marina Bay.

Singapore has a diverse range of architecture and each neighbourhood has a completely different feel from the futuristic Marina Bay to the chaos and vibrance of Little India.

Colourful building in Little India, Singapore

Colourful building in Little India

Haji Lane—a cool street of independent shops and street art in Kampong Glam

Haji Lane—a cool street of independent shops and street art in Kampong Glam

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7) Food

Masala dosa, Singapore

Masala dosa, an Indian rice-lentil pancake stuffed with spicy potato. Always cheap and a great veggie option.

Singaporeans love to eat and the cuisine on offer is a multicultural mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Western food. Cheap eats are found at hawker centres and food courts all over the city, while high-quality restaurants are much more expensive.

There are hundreds of vegetarian restaurants in the city, mostly a mix of cheap Indian (yum) and fake-meat heavy Chinese (not so yum), but we also enjoyed gourmet Mediterranean vegetarian at Original Sin, authentic Italian-style pizzas, and fast-food veggie burgers.

Our most memorable meal was a home-cooked Gujurati feast with a local family that we booked using the With Locals website which connects travellers with locals offering unique experiences.

See this Singapore food guide for ideas of local dishes to try. 

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8) Universal Studios Singapore

The Revenge of the Mummy ride, Singapore

The Revenge of the Mummy ride

Sentosa Island is Singapore’s playground and we’ve had many days of fun at Universal Studios

The different areas are well themed and appropriate film music provides a constant soundtrack to the day.

There are a wide variety of rides and attractions, including The Revenge of the Mummy, a fast roller coaster in the dark with some interesting twists, and Transformers, an intense 3D experience that Simon really enjoyed but which triggered my motion sickness. Jurassic Park is a fun water ride and Waterworld was an amazing live show with a lot of impressive stunts.

Book your Universal Studios Singapore tickets online at Voyagin for up to 20% off. 

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9) Changi Airport

Singapore has the best airport in the world. We flew out of Terminal 3 which has a butterfly garden, koi pond, free 24/7 movie theatre, free WiFi, comfy seating with convenient power sockets (including USB), and a real convenience store selling snacks at reasonable prices—we loved being able to buy large bottles of water to take on the plane.

If only every airport in the world was like this, air travel would be a lot more pleasant.

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Summary

We didn’t like everything about Singapore, of course. Except for certain things like transport and hawker centre food, it’s expensive and the weather can be a challenge for exploring. It’s constantly hot and humid and often cloudy or rainy (there’s no seasonal variation throughout the year). 

Despite this, we love Singapore, which isn’t quite like any other city. The most difficult thing is moving on—it was only when we left that we realised just how well the city is run, and we’d grown used to everything working as it should. Everywhere else feels broken in comparison.

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Here are 9 things to love about Singapore from the iconic to the lesser known gems. #singapore #singaporetravel

This post was originally published in 2014 after our first visit to Singapore and was updated in 2019 after many subsequent visits. 

Are you planning your next travel adventure? See our Travel Resources page for our favourite tools and gear to help you plan the perfect trip. 

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24 Comments (1 pingbacks)

  1. I’ll never forget the first time I went to Singapore and the taxi ride to my hotel. I was expecting concrete everywhere and I instead I was met with a city that feels like it has been carved out of the jungle. Those beautiful huge trees wowed me then and they do every time I’ve been back. There are lots of things I love about the city (the safety being one of them) but my favourite thing is those trees (which I think are mostly rain trees from what I’ve been able to find out on the internet).

    Reply

    • The trees are wonderful aren’t they? I don’t usually like big cities much but the lack of traffic and the greenery really made it a more pleasant place to wander.

      Reply

  2. It looks indeed charming! We considered Singapore after our trip in Borneo but opted for Bali instead. Reading the post and seeing pictures, I guess we can bookmark this place for the next year!

    Reply

  3. You had me at “free sweets”! I set off for my travels around Southeast Asia in a few days and I’m currently weighing up whether to squeeze in Hong Kong or Singapore to my itinerary so the info is much appreciated, it looks wonderful!

    Reply

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