Where ordinary experiences are made extraordinary

Unique travel memories are the barometer of any incredible travel adventure and in Singapore, they’re around every corner…

City. Island. Garden. Jungle. All of these words have been used to describe Singapore, because Singapore is all of these things. In my time living here, I’ve been amazed by how many unique experiences this small country offers: far beyond the norms of any other city I’ve visited.

Whether you want to while away a few days hiking in the nature reserves, or get stuck into the food and culture of the city, there’s something for every kind of traveller. Plus, it’s the perfect jumping off point to the rest of the region, making it an almost compulsory part of any Southeast Asia itinerary. Read on to see how you can make unique travel memories during a trip…

Why travel to Singapore in 2024?

With its year-round warm climate, it’s always a good time to visit Singapore – but that’s especially true in 2024. Here’s why…

  • ● You can enjoy a range of exciting celebrations, like Chinese New Year (Feb), National Day (Aug), the ‘Festival of Lights’ (Nov) and more – each one transforming the city with colour, festivities and fantastic food.

  • ● You can be one of the first to experience the soon-to-open ‘Rainforest Wild’ park, which will feature a rehabilitation centre for rescued wild animals, as well as a 250m suspension bridge offering beautiful views of the rainforest canopy. 

  • ● You can visit the all new Sentosa Sensoryscape, an ecological park that links the beach and forests on the island of Sentosa, with walks that focus on enlivening your five senses.

The classic moments

A trip to Singapore wouldn’t be complete without checking each of these classic experiences off your list…

Gardens by the Bay

If you were looking for the perfect example of a city existing harmoniously with nature, Gardens by the Bay is the answer. This enormous park is a real-life urban jungle, where huge, mechanical ‘trees’ loom tall above the living plants. Many of these 50m-tall ‘supertrees’ are clad in photovoltaic cells to harness solar energy, contributing to Singapore’s sustainable goals. You can walk beneath them, or step out onto their canopy walkways, where you’ll have panoramic views over the greenery below.

 At the far end of the gardens, you’ll find a pair of huge glass greenhouses, enclosing their own ethereal mini-worlds. The Flower Dome is home to unusual plants like the ancient baobab trees of African savannahs, while the Cloud Forest houses a thundering 35m-high waterfall – one of the largest indoor waterfalls in the world. You can ascend to the fall’s misty peak via a series of unique aerial walkways, taking in the lush ‘mountain’ wrapped in plants from around the world.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

The sprawling Botanic Gardens are home to over 10,000 kinds of tropical plants, from flamboyant orchids to fragrant herbs and spices. In 2015, the gardens were designated Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of just three in the world to earn this status. It’s a relaxing place to take a stroll, past the swaying leaves of Palm Valley and the enormous lilly pads of Symphony Lake. Or do as the locals do and have a picnic on the grass.

Within the gardens you’ll find a series of mini gardens, including the Healing Garden with over 400 types of medicinal plants, and the Ginger Garden, displaying hundreds of species of electric orange and pink ginger. For a small extra cost, you can also visit the National Orchid Garden, home to over 1,000 species of orchid and 2,000 hybrid species. Keep an eye out for wildlife too – you might spot monitor lizards, junglefowl or the spritely otters that play in the water.

Hawker centres

No trip to Singapore would be complete without visiting a hawker centre, though you won’t want to stop at one. Considered the ‘nation’s dining rooms’, these open-air, impeccably clean food halls serve up cuisine inspired by the rich cultures of Singapore – Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Indian and so much more.

Having been inscribed on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, they’re a precious part of Singapore society and one of the best places to eat for no more than a few dollars per dish. Do as the locals do and find a table, ‘chope’ it (reserve it) by leaving a packet of tissues, then follow your nose (or the longest queues) to the best food.

Cultural neighbourhoods

It might be a cliché, but ‘melting pot’ is the best way to describe Singapore’s culture – a mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Peranakan and other ethnicities. Each of these have left their unique mark on the food, religious buildings and architecture that define Singapore’s neighbourhoods.

Take Kampong Gelam as an example. It would be easy to forget you were in Asia with a stroll down Arab Street, where Lebanese music plays at the open-air Middle Eastern restaurants and Persian rugs hang in the storefronts. Over in Little India, the orange flower garlands and scent of incense transport you to the streets of Delhi, while Katong-Joo Chiat, is home to rainbow-coloured shophouses. Walking around each neighbourhood is the best way to soak it all in – just make sure you factor plenty of time for food stops too; they’re a feast for the stomach as well as the eyes.

The secret experiences

For something a little more unique, try one of these lesser-known experiences while you’re in Singapore…

Explore Pulau Ubin

The island of Pulau Ubin is a 15-minute bumboat ride from Changi Village. This tangled rainforest is a teeming ecosystem, where you’re almost guaranteed to meet the monkeys and wild boar that call it home.

Cycling is the best way to explore, renting one of the bikes as you step off the jetty. Pedal towards Chek Jawa Wetlands, where waves lap against the twisting mangroves, or hike up to one of the quarries, now filled with water like lakes. For something even more adventurous, you can also take a sea-and-mangrove kayak tour with a local guide, learning about the heritage of the island and its biodiversity.

Savour the nightlife

When the heat of the day has died down, Singapore comes alive. The nightlife scene here is thriving, with countless speakeasies and cocktail bars to choose from – many of which, like Jigger and Pony, and Atlas, have been ranked among the best in the world.

 In the evening, it’s worth walking around Marina Bay to take in the dramatically lit skyline. Although many head to the iconic Marina Bay Sands rooftop bar Cé La Vi to enjoy the views, a lesser-known alternative is LeVeL 33 – a more affordable rooftop bar that offers better views of the bay, including Marina Bay Sands itself.

Beyond drinking, there are a variety of other night activities to try, including a great food tour of the neighbourhood, Geylang. You’ll be able to sample classics like dim sum, rice noodles or herbal soup, while learning more about the multicultural area from a local guide.

Walk around the MacRitchie Reservoir

If you enjoy hiking, the 11km loop of MacRitchie Reservoir is the best place in Singapore to get your sweat on. The undulating route skirts around the pretty reservoir, partly on boardwalks, partly on a jungle trail.

You’ll definitely encounter the park’s famous long-tailed macaques, and possibly a sleeping monitor lizard or two. Make sure you detour via Jelutong Tower for beautiful views over the canopy, as well as the ‘treetop walkway’, where a 250m suspension bridge connects the park’s two highest points.

Wander Emerald Hill

The picturesque street of Emerald Hill is one of the photogenic spots in Singapore. Here, shophouses painted dusty pink, sky blue, mint green and an array of other colours are shuffled side-by-side like a packet of sweets.

While some of them are private residences, a few have been turned into atmospheric bars. Grab a martini at No.5, an old-school cocktail bar fitted with a canopy of red lanterns and tables that spill onto the street. The hill lies serenely beside the traffic and malls of Orchard Road, offering a carefully restored slice of Peranakan history amidst modern Singapore.

How to spend three days in Singapore



Welcome to the Lion City. Ease yourself into the warm weather with a gentle stroll along the Singapore River, passing old shophouses now converted into modern bars and eateries. Stop for coffee at one of the many cafés at Robertson Quay, before continuing south towards the bay. Keep an eye out for otters that often grace the waterway.

As you stroll, you’ll pass a number of beautiful buildings, including Parliament House, the Victoria Concert Hall, the Asian Civilizations Museum and, just a bit further back, the National Gallery. If you have time, the latter is highly worth a visit, home to the world’s largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian modern art.


Continue on foot towards Marina Bay, passing the iconic merlion statue – Singapore’s half-lion, half-fish mascot – then get lunch at Makansutra Gluttons Bay, an open-air food court offering views of Marina Bay Sands. Pick from local treats like cha kway teow, a stir-fried rice noodle dish, or chilli crab, where hard-shell crab is cooked in a tangy, sweet chilli-hot sauce, considered a national dish.

When you’re done eating, walk over the twisting helix bridge (the longest footbridge in Singapore) and across to Gardens by the Bay. Spend your afternoon in the cool air of the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, two enormous greenhouses housing a rainbow of exotic plants.


Jump on the MRT across to Chinatown to take in the red and gold lanterns after dark. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is particularly dramatic at night, its multi-layered scarlet exterior shining a dazzling gold.

After a walk around the market streets, head into Chinatown Complex Food Centre for dinner, where hundreds of hawker stalls jostle for attention on the second floor. The soya sauce chicken rice at the stall Hawker Chan is one of the best dishes you’ll taste in Singapore.

If you’re feeling energetic, finish your night at one of the cocktail bars on nearby Ann Siang Hill, or grab a glass of natural wine at Le Bon Funk on Club Street. You could also stroll down to the neighbourhood of Telok Ayer, where busy bars and restaurants spill out of the pretty shophouses.



Hopefully you’re over your jet-lag and ready for some adventure. Start your day with a hike around one of Singapore’s nature reserves, before the heat of the day creeps up. MacRitchie Reservoir is a good bet, with an 11km loop along a gently undulating rainforest trail.

If you prefer something less strenuous, head to Sungei Buloh Wetlands in the north, a mangrove reserve home to rare migratory bird species and the occasional crocodile. There are a few easy trails to choose from, some skirting along the edge of the ocean with views across to Malaysia.


Head over to the quirky neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru for lunch at Tiong Bahru Market, considered one of the best hawker centres in the country. There are over 80 stalls to choose from, but Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice is a classic – expect to wait in line for its delicious pork cutlet drenched in curry sauce. If you’re lucky, the first floor wet market might still be open, selling everything from fresh fish and spices to tropical fruit and flowers.

Tiong Bahru is also known for its red-and-white Art Deco architecture, so take a stroll through the town after lunch. There are lots of cafés and boutiques tucked into the low-rise blocks, with bold street murals on many of the walls.


Hop in a taxi or on a bus and head to East Coast Lagoon Food Village for dinner. This epic open-air hawker centre is just off the beach, making it a favourite among locals. After ‘chope-ing’ a table (the local term for ‘reserving’ it by leaving a packet of tissues or similar behind), follow the queues of people to the best stalls. The satay is particularly good here – sticks of meat grilled on an open flame, which you then dunk into a thick peanut sauce.

After dinner, take a walk along the beach to the jetty nearby. At night, hundreds of ships out at sea twinkle like the lights of a distant island.



Start the day with prata and curry in Little India. The no-frills restaurant of Komala Vilas is a good choice, opening at 7am and serving up enormous portions for just a few dollars. Then take a walk around the neighbourhood, paying a visit to Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, an elaborately decorated Hindu temple, with six stories painted pastel shades of pink and blue.

Continue on to the neighbourhood of Kampong Gelam, about a 20-minute walk away. You’ll instantly feel the difference. Known as the Muslim quarter, the streets are packed with Middle Eastern restaurants and textile shops, with a beautiful golden mosque overlooking it all. This is also where you’ll find Haji Lane, a narrow street full of independent boutiques, bars and flamboyant street art.


After lunch in Kampong Glam, jump on the Downtown Line MRT to the Botanic Gardens. You can grab a coffee at one of the cute cafés opposite (Micro Bakery has nice outdoor tables) before heading into the tropical gardens for a walk.

If you follow the trail from north to south, aiming to end at Tanglin Gate, you’ll be able to take in all the key sites. These include the Healing Garden, Symphony Lake and the National Orchid Garden, where you can find thousands of orchid species (referred to as VIPs: Very Important Plants) – some affectionately named after visiting foreign dignitaries, like Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and Jackie Chan. 


Finish off your three-day stay in style with dinner at one of Singapore’s many Michelin-starred restaurants. Or for something more casual, head to the open-air restaurants of Boat Quay, many offering views of the Singapore River and Marina Bay.

You could also pay a visit to Lau Pa Sat – a beautifully restored cast iron hawker centre, once Singapore’s first wet market. At night, the side street of Lau Pa Sat transforms into ‘Satay Street’, where satay stalls grill sticks of meat al fresco, the old-fashioned way. Nothing says Singapore more than a cold Tiger beer, the sizzle of a satay grill and throngs of locals ready to eat.

Singapore, the ideal gateway to Southeast Asia and Australia

One of the best things about Singapore is its proximity to the rest of Southeast Asia. Just an hour or two by plane and you’d be in the lush jungles of Bali or Borneo. Cross the causeway and you’d find yourself in Malaysia, where you can go island hopping and snorkel with turtles. Or take an hour’s ferry and you’d be on the little-known Indonesian island of Bintan, with its long stretches of sand and turquoise waters.

It’s easy to combine all of these trips with a few days in Singapore, helping you maximise your time in Southeast Asia. It’s also an ideal stopover on the way to Australia, breaking up the journey just over the halfway point, with direct onward flights to both Sydney and Perth. After a few days in the garden city, you could be campervanning down the Australian coast to Melbourne, ready to take on the epic Great Ocean Road.

Make it happen

With over 40 years in travel and hundreds of Asia specialists ready to help you realise your dream holiday, Travelbag are the team to talk to about a Singapore trip. They offer a range of itineraries that take all the hassle out of trip planning, incorporating the best of the city sights, food and culture.

Check out these itineraries, which vary from just a few days up to a monumental 25-day adventure that takes you to Dubai, Singapore, Sydney, San Francisco and beyond. What an incredible way to see the world.