Returned from Singapore this morning after a painful 18 hours or so of travel, long time readers (if I even have any) may know that this is the third time I’ve been, and so not going to bother doing traditional holiday blog posts, however i’ll probably upload some pictures.
I guess i consider myself somewhat of a seasoned veteran of Singapore now, and so, for anyone interested to go, here are some tips and tricks, as well as must sees/do’s during your stay on the island.
Must do list
In no particular order, attractions you definitely have to see are..
There are of course tons of other attractions, but the ones listed below are the must do’s imo.
Gardens by the bay
The conservatories in particular are $20 SGD and air conditioned inside, I’ve been at least twice and it’s still breathtaking inside, well worth the entry price, flower dome is more traditional (and runs some limited time exhibitions) and cloud forest is just stunning.
The rest of the park is mostly free, and also stunning, the supertrees are unreal up close. Check the website as they frequently run events in the park. The marina bay sands mall food court nearby is your best bet for lunch if you want to dine on the cheap.
Light and water shows
Do them all if possible, well worth your time.
– Gardens by the bay supertree show – 7:45pm and 8:45pm , runs 15 mins, free, plenty of viewing space but come a little early to find a good spot, there is a nearby grass bit which gets filled up early but I think being in the heart of it all is more fun.
– Marina Bay Sands show (Spectra) – 8pm and 9pm, runs 15 mins, free, loads of public seating, good spots will go early but easily viewable from far. There is a walkway in front of the seating area which you can use if you get desperate but you’ll probably get sprayed by the water.
– Sentosa Wings of Time – 7:40pm and 8:40pm, runs 20 mins, 15 Sentosa Tokens. Gates open 1 hour prior, free for all seating, aim for as front and center as possible.
– Changi Jewel rain vortex – Once per hour on the XX:30, from 7 to 11, runs 5 mins, free. You’ll be at the airport at some point, so watch it while you’re there.
– Suntec City Fountain of wealth
Not a full show, but a lovely free fountain at a shopping mall, go during the day to complete ritual for good luck, and/or go at night and take the stairs to street level to stare at the water/light patterns for a while. No specific show or music, but very pretty.
Eat at the hawker centers and try all of the signature dishes
Feel free to use this as a checklist, would advise trying the relevant dishes from the stalls listed later in this post:
– Hainanese Chicken Rice – $4-7 – Simple chicken and rice, but done to perfection
– Char Kway Teow – $3-6 – Wok fried flat noodles with veg/meat
– Laksa – $3-6 – Coconut based spicy curry noodles
– Kaya Toast – $1-5 – Crispy toast with sweet coconut jam and butter
– Congee – $2-5 – Breakfast rice porridge, try eating with You Tiao
– Ice Kacang – $2-5 – Shaved ice with various toppings
– Black pepper / Chilli Crab – Self explanatory, seems rare
– Nasi Lemak – $2-5 – Coconut rice, meat, chilli and various toppings
– Satay – $0.50-$1 per stick – BBQ meat on skewer, served with peanut dip
Sentosa market themselves as the island of fun, and it’s hard to disagree. Activities are unfortunately quite expensive and 2 days on the island can easily run you $150 per person, I’d recommend looking into the Sentosa Fun Pass, we did Universal and 80 tokens which is $140.
Here are some personal island highlights
– Adventure Cove – 35 tokens – Really fun few hours, plenty of slides, best lazy river i’ve been to, and includes snorkelling with fishes. Lockers are $10 you can just about cram 2 ppl’s worth of stuff in. Bring some slippers as the floor will grate your feet away quickly otherwise.
– SEA Aquarium – 35 tokens – Best Aquarium I’ve been to, and i’ve seen a few.
– Segway – 10-20 tokens – A fun way to use up any remaining tokens and great experience if you’ve never done it before.
– Universal Studios Singapore – Great fun, though a little small, you’ll still need almost whole day for it just because of the ride queues though. Battlestar Cyclon is a really good rollercoaster.
– Luge – $24-30 – Gravity based karts with multiple downhill tracks, really good fun. Use the chairlift to go back up and try a different course, they have 4.
All public transport can be done with the EZlink card, this includes to/from the airport ($2) , buses, all metro ($0.80-$2.30) , and the Sentosa express ($4). I’ve seen people using monzo cards to tap in/out but I think the EZlink card is safer personally. You can get it from stations.
Hotels – I recommend staying in Chinatown, the metro station has 2 of the most common lines, and it’s walking distance to both the Maxwell and Amoy hawker centers which will save you a bunch of money on breakfast/lunch. If you’re looking for a hotel I can vouch for the Bliss Hotel, but it can be quite expensive (though, that’s Singapore in general to be fair).
As an added bonus, there is a supermarket, Din Tai Fung (famous dumplings) and Daiso (Japanese actually good poundshop) in the nearby Chinatown point right by the MRT.
Money/Budget per day:
Hawkers and small businesses/cafes/food courts are often cash only.
Most restaurants and brick and mortar stores will take card, we used our monzo as often as possible and had no problems.
We exchanged $350 for 9 days and that was about right – no alcohol, but heavy food spend, and spend on souvineers.
– Hawker Centers $2 to $8 for food, you can easily get a good meal for $5 but some seafood dishes or premium dishes can be around $10. A typical noodle/rice and meat is usually $4/5/6 for S/M/Large respectively
– Drinks – $2 fruit juice in many hawker centers, $4 bubble tea at shops, special drinks max at around $7.
Alcohol seems very expensive, $10 for beer seems the common rate, even buying at a 7-Eleven isn’t much cheaper.
– Clothes – Can be cheap at bugis street market ($10-$30), relatively normal priced everywhere else
Not to sound like a little bitch but…
Vaguely plan for air-con during your sightseeing.
Singapore is hot and humid AF (lows of 28^C at night), malls are very common so be sure to make use of them every now and then to cool down – heat stroke is a very real thing, sit down and get a drink/snack every now and then to prevent yourself from literally burning out.
I would say carry water, but I hate warm water so just make sure you have some cash on you for vending machines etc. if you are out on a park or beach day.
Have some spare suitcase space for souvineers or things to bring back. It also sounds really stupid, but if you are from the UK i’d really recommend visiting a Daiso, it’s basically Japanese poundland, everything is $2 but jesus they have so much useful shit in there, it’s like a small supermarket and IKEA rolled in to one and you’ll be shocked at some of the products which just make a ton of sense but we don’t have easily available here.
Make a day of the airport
We had no idea, but the mall at Changi airport is absurd, I think you could genuinely spend a whole day at that airport – Waterfalls, nature walks, interactive exhibits (the sales rep claimed 90 mins), bars on the rooftop garden, extra exhibits/activities on the top floor, free food samples at some shops, a pokemon center, loads of dining…
We were there for maybe 2 or 3 hours and it went by so fast, not allotting more time to explore the airport is my biggest regret of the holiday.
We were lucky enough to try a fair few of the Michelin bib hawker stalls during our 2019 visit, and also got to try some other popular places… Here are my recommendations.
Tian Tian Chicken Rice
$5 – Maxwell food Center
The chicken was really tender and the skin delicious, rice flavourful, add some spice and it’s easy to see why theres frequently a queue here.
A Noodle Story
$8/11/14 – Amoy Food centre
Best meal we had in Singapore maybe? Big queue as soon as it opens so get there early. Spring noodles, Wontons, pork slice, perfect boiled egg, prawn wrapped in potato, oh yeah. Order extra prawns because they are incredible. The small size is enough for most people.
Hong Kee Beef Noodle
$5? – Amoy Food centre
Bit like a pho? Amazing beef broth with beef slices and noodles. Really friendly staff. one of the few places in this hawker centre open on a sunday so I recommend fitting them in for your sunday lunch.
J2 Famous curry puff
$1.50 per – Amoy food centre
Flakey pastries filled with curry potato or a black pepper saucy chicken, holy shit so good. Must try for sure.
Din Tai Fung
$30-50 per person – Chain store
Famous dumplings, you have to try the Xiao Long Bao at least once in your life. We ordered a few carbs but they were pretty mediocre tbh, so if on a budget i’d actually advise just sticking to the dim sum stuff and then maybe having second meal after if you’re still hungry.
$12~20 pp – Chain store
Didn’t expect this one to be so good tbh, gigantic plate of curry rice, big cutlet, good taste, good spice, good price point. Spice level of 2 was about right for me, I wouldnt dare go past 3 unless you’re a real spice lord.
Best Satay 7+8
$0.70 per stick – Lau Pa Sat / Satay street
There are like 8 different satay places next to each other, all harassing for your business – except 7+8, who already have all the business. Tasty, plenty of sauce, good char, if you order the prawns they are already deshelled which is nice.
328 Katong Laksa
$5 – East Singapore
Few different locations to try this one, you can find them all online.
The laksa here is really creamy and almost thick, they cut the noodles so you can just eat it with a spoon. I’m not sure if its worth the travel on its own as it was pretty far out, but if you’re in the area its definitely worth a visit.
$10-25 – Bugis+ shopping mall
We really enjoyed this place, we went in expecting a restaurant but its actually a small japanese themed food court almost, with a few different mini restaurants inside. The ramen at place right at the back was awesome, and the snow ice from the drinks/desserts counter was one of the best we’ve ever had.