When travelling through Malaysia, we spent a couple of days in Singapore, the city of the Lion. This small and still very young city-state charmed us with its diversity, its modern buildings and of course its cleanliness. These are our 10 must-sees:
1. Arab Street and its Sultan Mosque
This neighborhood, situated in the Kampong Glam area in the north of the Singapore river, is the center of the Islam community in the city. This is where Arab traders settled in the earlier days of the colonial times and even today, Arab Street is known for its colorful silk shops. It is the best place to buy all kind of textiles such as silk, Indonesian batik or Indian fabrics.
The majestic Sultan Mosque (Masjid Sultan) with its unique architecture and its famous golden dome is also found in the area. The Mosque can be visited from Saturday to Thursday from 10.00 AM to 12.00 AM and 2.00 PM to 4 PM. On Friday the Mosque is open only from 2.00 PM to 4.00 PM.
Arab Street is also the perfect place to taste Middle Eastern food at one of the many restaurants or cafés.
2. Little India
From Arab Street, you can easily change decor and walk to Little India, a whole different world with colorful temples, the smell of spices and lots of busy market stalls. Arriving in this district of Singapore made me think about my trip to India a couple of years earlier.
The three main attractions are three temples. The prettiest and busiest one is the Sri Veeramakaliamman temple on Sarangoon Road. Its hundreds of colorful statutes make this place quite an interesting tourist spot. Just down the road the next temple will catch your eye, the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, which is dedicated to Krishna, the 8th avatar of the god Vishnu. Last but not least, the third temple to visit is the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple, also known as the temple of 1000 lights. In the centre, you can admire a huge 15 meters high buddha statue which is surrounded by a huge amount of lamps which make the statue shine bright.
Little India is also a great place for shopping. The most famous place is the Mustafa Centre, a huge 24h/7 market-style shopping mall where you can basically find everything for cheap prices. Even without buying something, it is a unique experience to see the noisy crowd searching for the best offers.
We also particularly enjoyed Little India for its food. Many restaurants offer authentic Indian food (at least in our eyes) for small prices.
3. China Town
The famous China Town of Singapore, around Pagoda Street in the south of the Singapore river, is one of the main tourist attractions of the city. Small streets decorated with red lampions, colorful traditional shop houses and the smell of exotic food in an hectic market atmosphere offer each visitor yet another universe to discover.
4. Marina bay
The area around the Marina Bay is Singapore’s commercial and entertainment area was only developed as from 1988. This is where you can admire the skyline of the city and its most iconic building the Marina Bay Sands, a Hotel complex which was finalized in 2010. Its architecture reminds of a giant boat being raised over the Bay. It is possible to enter the building and go to one of the many restaurants or bars which offer quite a spectacular view.
A great place for dinner in this area is the Makansutra Gluttons Bay, an open air food court with typical Asian food, on the other side of the bridge. The place does not only serve great food for small prices, it also offers an incredible view on the skyline of Singapore. Opening hours start from 5 pm until early in the morning.
5. Gardens by the Bay and its light show
Just next to the Marina’s Bay, the Gardens by the Bay with its famous artificial trees offer a great possibility for a walk. The entrance for the outdoor park is completely free. However, if you want to visit the Gardens By The Bay Flower Dome or the Garden by the Bay Cloud Forest conservatories, an entrance fee applies.
When the night comes, the artificial trees illuminate the darkness in different colours. Don’t miss the light show which takes place everyday at 7.45 pm and 8.45 pm. During 15 minutes lasers and colourful lights move in the rythm of the music.
6. 1 Altitude Roof top bar
This was definitely one of our favourate experiences. If you are up for a drink, this is the place to go. 1 Altitude is one of the highest open air roof top bars in the world. On level 63 you can have cocktails by enjoying the breathtaking view over the city. But you better have a head for heights as not only the place is open air but also the barriers are transparent until down to your feet. Goose bumps guaranteed!
In order to get to the bar, you take the entrance of this office building and pay at the counter in front of the elevators. Entrance costs 35 $ but don’t worry, two drinks (also cocktails) are included in this price (after 9pm the entrance fee rises to 45$).
7. Singapore River and clarke quay
The Singapore River crosses the city right at its heart. Before, this was the main place of trade and commerce.
Next to the Singapore river, is the beautiful Clarke Quay, five blocks of colourful restored warehouses with various restaurants and nightclubs. It is a great place for a drink but it is also the place where the boats for the half an hour boat tour leave. A great possibility to see the many buildings, museums and statues along the river (9$).
8. Orchard Road
One of the favourate pastimes of Singaporeans is shopping. This is why, in Singapore, you can find many huge and modern shopping malls, Europeans can only dream of. Orchard Road is definitely the place to be for any luxuoury shopper or curious traveller.
9. national museum of Singapore
If you are interested in Singapore’s history and its more recent incredible development, don’t miss the National Museum of Singapore. It is the largest and oldest museum of the country. Its collection is huge and varied but the decor is quite modern. We were especially impressed by the last part of the museum where the incredible economic growth of the last decades was explained.
10. Botanic Gardens and its orchids
The botanic gardens are a great place to escape the city life for a few hours. This is where families come on week-ends for a pic nic or a walk. Most tourist come here for the famous Orchids Gardens where over 1000 species of splendid colorful Orchids grow. Entrance fee is $5.