Singapore is a tiny country that packs a big punch. The large sprawling city is filled with unique and one of a kind attractions. Singapore is one of the most expensive destinations in the world and this is a guide for getting the most out of a short trip without breaking your bank.
Where to Stay: Marina Bay Sands
If you only know one thing about Singapore it’s likely the Marina Bay Sand’s iconic infinity pool, towering 650 feet above the city. Before I planned anything about my trip to Singapore my must-do experience was swimming in that pool no matter the cost. And costly it is – only guests of the hotel are allowed to use the pool and the cheapest room is $278/night. Needless to say, checking this one off the bucket list is a budget-buster, so I only stayed for a single night and spent nearly my entire first day and night in Singapore at the pool. It was worth every penny! Read my entire review here.
I spent my other 2 nights in the country at a budget hotel in a very small room. You can find the best deals on Agoda. If you’re traveling with a family or group and need more space serviced apartments are another option worth checking out.
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands Mall is home to 170 luxury designers and brands that most of us can only dream of affording. From million dollar watches to the most popular designer clothes and handbags this large mall complex is a shopper’s dream.
Marina Bay at Night
It’ll be hard, but after forcing yourself out of the pool you can venture out to explore more of the city on foot and for free. Right next to Marina Bay Sands is the one-of-a-kind ArtScience Museum which is an architectural marvel to behold without even entering. Once the sun is down the eye-catching Helix Bridge lights up and provides passage across the Bay. Follow the pathway along the water’s edge, cross over Jubilee Bridge and you’ll find yourself at yet another landmark – the Merlion, a large fountain that also provides the perfect place to watch Marina Bay’s nightly laser light show. Then head back up to the pool and enjoy the incredible views of the city at night!
What to do: One of A Kind Attractions
Just a few minutes walk from Marina Bay Sands is arguably Singapore’s other most famous attraction – Gardens by the Bay, a 250 acre nature park consisting of multiple attractions, outdoor gardens, lakes, and art sculptures.
Two huge domed enclosures can be seen from the Marina Bay hotel or just walking around nearby. These are conservatories: the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest (pictured above). I found the misty Cloud Forest to be especially fun. I got sprayed by the world’s tallest indoor waterfall upon entering and then climbed the walkways up the 115 foot tall mountain of vegetation. The admission price for both is $28.
The Supertree Grove is a free attraction consisting of 18 “Supertrees,” structures shaped like trees that house vertical gardens. Wrapped around the large tree structures is a skywalk that provides up close views of the plants, the park and the bay. I personally loved the Supertree Grove even more at night, when it’s all lit up with bright lights.
What to See: The Multicultural Neighborhoods
Singapore, more so than any other East-Asian country is comprised of immigrants – nearly 43% of Singapore’s total population is foreign born. So many people from different cultures and backgrounds leads to a lot of diversity within the country and offers visitors the opportunity to visit ethnic neighborhoods to get a taste of different cultures. Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street are among the most popular of these and some of Singapore’s most tasty food is found in small restaurants in these neighborhoods.
These neighborhoods are easily explored in a day and accessed on foot and by using Singapore’s MRT.
Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple
Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple, created in 1827 is located right next to Chinatown. The stunning 6-tiered tower is covered in elaborately detailed sculptures of deities and beasts that were hand carved by Indian craftsmen. Little India is home to a similar temple, the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple which is also worth visiting.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Although it was only recently built in 2007 this Tang-style Chinese Buddhist temple is already one of Singapore’s most famous landmarks. Also situated in Chinatown the 4th floor of the temple houses the tooth relic of Buddha found in Myanmar decades ago. The temple is intricately decorated with Chinese and Buddhist decor.
How to Get Around: The SMRT
SMRT, Singapore’s mass transportation system (the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit) is the quickest and cheapest way to get around the city. It’s expansive, modern and safe making it suitable for any traveler. I rode it all the way from the border of Malaysia straight into the Marina Bay Sands resort where I stayed. If you have flights in/out of the country the SMRT also connects directly to the airport. Grab a Singapore Tourist Pass, a special card which grants unlimited travel on the SMRT for one, two, or three days (S$10-S$20).
If you refuse to ride public transportation or are afraid to be underground, you can download the Grab Taxi app to have a taxi pick you up and deliver you anywhere you need without having to search and flag one down.