For first-timers in Asia, Singapore is the ideal place to dip your toes in the water. The island is green, clean, safe and easy to navigate, and its friendly, English-speaking locals help Westerners feel welcome and more at-ease while away from home. Making Singapore the first stop on your itinerary will ease you into the Asian lifestyle without sacrificing any experience.
Make the most of your trip to Singapore with this guide to important information, tips and advice.Learn More »
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Take a good look around and you’ll see a wide spectrum of cultural diversity in Singapore, most evident at the many places of worship.
Chinese and Hindu temples, mosques, as well as churches, are often located near each other. One such example can be found along Pagoda Street in Chinatown, where Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu place of worship here, stands next to Jamae Mosque, which caters to the Tamil Muslims in Singapore.
Expect cultural celebrations throughout the year too. In January, look forward to Thaipusam, a Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Subrahmanya (or Murugan). Also happening around the same time is Chinese New Year, which is celebrated with much gusto, particularly in Chinatown.
The rich heritage of Singapore is also evident in the wealth of food choices. Food centers such as Maxwell Food Centre are one-stop venues with different ethnic cuisines all under one roof. Newer additions to Singapore’s colorful “foodscape” include celebrity restaurants and trendy eateries in heritage districts.
The city’s retail spots are also multicultural treasure troves. Treat yourself to Chinese knick-knacks, antiques and jewelry at Chinatown Complex at Smith Street, or explore the quirky stores in Arab Street for unique knick-knacks.
Singapore’s people are also bound together by one common language: Singlish (short for Singaporean English), a delightful slang consisting of English, Malay, Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese and Tamil words.
Whether it’s the festive celebration of Chinese New Year or the roar of Formula 1 cars, there’s always a party going on somewhere on the island.
January - March
Pongal (Harvest Festival)
Pongal is a traditional Indian harvest festival that charms with its colorful intimations of an age gone by.
Singapore Art Week
A nine-day visual art celebration held across a variety of venues in Singapore, offering a myriad of quality art experiences for everyone!
With its colorful traditions, the annual Hindu festival, Thaipusam, often brings traffic in Singapore to a standstill – and with good reason.
Usher in the Chinese New Year at the River Hongbao, a celebration of all things Chinese at Singapore’s iconic Floating Platform @ Marina Bay.
Chinese New Year
With bright colors, non-stop revelry and sheer exuberance, Chinese New Year is one festival that demands all of your attention – and energy.
The Chingay Parade is a raucous display of Singapore’s multicultural heritage at its most vibrant.
World Street Food Congress
The World Street Food Congress in Singapore celebrates the tastiest cheap eats around, from food trucks to hawker stalls and snack carts to cafés.
Fashion Steps Out @ Orchard
Fashion Steps Out @ Orchard is a massive fashion parade in Singapore that brings glamour to the street – literally.
World Gourmet Summit
Head to the World Gourmet Summit in Singapore for a celebration of fine cuisine, excellent wines and wonderful dining experiences.
Asia Fashion Exchange
The annual Asia Fashion Exchange is a one-week extravaganza that puts Singapore on the map as Asia’s fashion capital.
The Great Singapore Sale
Unbelievable bargains await you during the Great Singapore Sale – your wallet will thank you for it.
Buddhists in Singapore and the world over celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha on Vesak Day, a time of joy, peace and reflection.
Singapore Night Festival Art and culture spill onto the streets when dusk falls at the Singapore Night Festival.
Grand Prix Season Singapore From supercars to concerts and parties, it’s thrills galore at the FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX.
Hari Raya Haji Muslims in Singapore remember their faith with prayer and reflection during Hari Raya Haji, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice.
Mid-Autumn Festival One of the loveliest Chinese festivals, the Mid-Autumn Festival in Singapore is about celebration with the family, lantern processions and oh-so-sweet mooncakes.
The Great Singapore Sale Unbelievable bargains await you during the Great Singapore Sale – your wallet will thank you for it.
Singapore International Festival of Arts
From street performances to public film screenings, the Singapore International Festival of Arts may well be a celebration of the arts for everyone.
Dragon Boat Festival
Thumping drumbeats and delicious dumplings are the exciting ingredients that make the Dragon Boat Festival a sizzler of a festival in Singapore.
Singapore Food Festival
The Singapore Food Festival (SFF) is an annual celebration of Singapore’s best local food and culinary talents with events offering a variety of interesting and immersive experiences.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri
On Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Muslims in Singapore end their time of fasting with a joyous celebration of forgiveness, fellowship and food.
Hungry Ghost Festival
The Hungry Ghost Festival is one of the best times of the year to soak in the local culture and observe traditional rites in hyper-modern Singapore.
October - December
WTA Finals Singapore
Get in the swing of things at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global as the top tennis stars compete at the sport entertainment spectacle.
Christmas On A Great Street
Capture the magic of the festive season with the spectacular Christmas On A Great Street at Orchard Road.
Deepavali dazzles with the most intense of colors - rich saffron and turmeric - illuminated by the light of a thousand oil lamps.
Lose yourself at the mega dance and music festival, ZoukOut, one of Asia’s biggest outdoor beach parties.
You might not get real snow or reindeers, but Christmas in Singapore is as big as any other celebration during the year.
Marina Bay Singapore Countdown
Bid farewell to the old and ring in the New Year at the spectacular Marina Bay Singapore Countdown.
Nature lovers will be delighted to discover that Singapore has many green pockets worth exploring, such as the 182-acre Singapore Botanic Gardens. The nation’s most celebrated green venue with more than 150 years of history, it contains more than 2,700 species and hybrids of plants including Heritage Trees, mature trees marked for conservation.
Fancy a walk high up above the trees? Check out the TreeTop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir Park, a 820 foot-long free-standing bridge that is suspended over the canopy of trees in the nature reserve.
Or maybe you would like to visit more than one park at a go. Then head over to the Southern Ridges, a 5.6 mile series of pathways, bridges and boardwalks that links Mount Faber Park to Labrador Nature Reserve, passing by Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark and Kent Ridge Park. Along the way, keep an eye out for a variety of flora and fauna in their natural habitat.
With so many green spaces around, you’ll find it easy to get up close and personal with Mother Nature.
SPEND A DAY IN PULAU UBIN
Hop on a bumboat and head to the neighboring island of Pulau Ubin. Admire abundant wildlife at the Chek Jawa Wetlands, and step back in time to spot Singapore’s last remaining kampongs (Malay hamlets or villages).
Gardens by the Bay
A modern horticultural attraction, Gardens by the Bay features “Supertrees” that stretch up to 164 feet into the sky (great for stunning panoramic views), two giant domed conservatories showcasing over 200,000 plants and whole new worlds of botanical wonder in a manner and scale unprecedented in this part of the globe.
Marine Life Park™
Launched in 2012, this leisure center is home to the stunning S.E.A. Aquarium™, one of the biggest oceanariums in the world. It features more than 800 species of marine animals such as manta rays and sharks. You’ll also find the Adventure Cove Waterpark™, which houses the Riptide Rocket thrill ride and lets you snorkel and get up close with 20,000 fish at the Rainbow Reef.
Singapore’s Night Safari was the first in the world to showcase wildlife in a nocturnal environment and has over 2,500 animals (more than 30 percent of which are threatened) roaming the compounds. Of note is their Wallaby Trail, a multi-sensory experience highlighting the unique and exotic wildlife of the Australasian region such as the Bennett’s wallaby from Australia and the white-lipped python from Papua New Guinea.
Nestled between the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari is the new River Safari, Asia's first and only river-themed wildlife park. Get up close and personal with over 6,000 aquatic and terrestrial creatures as you explore eight regions that are home to river-dwelling animals like the giant salamander and the giant river otter. Also, don’t miss the must-visit Giant Panda Forest, where the adorable Kai Kai and Jia Jia live.
Located next to the Night Safari and River Safari, Singapore's “open concept” zoo set in a rainforest environment hosts over 2,800 specimens from over 300 species. Highlights include white tigers, elephants, orangutans and the first polar bear born in the tropics. There are also features like a massive wet play area and the ever-popular horse carriage ride at Rainforest Kidzworld.
Singapore's multi-ethnic culture and heritage has served up a multitude of colorful cuisines, each with its own unique flavor and aroma.
Chilli crab hits all the right spots with tangy gravy that seeps into the succulent flesh of the stir-fried crab.
Fish Head Curry
This spicy dish is a scintillating stew of curry cooked with vegetables and of course, the whole head of a fish.
Fried Carrot Cake
Contrary to its name, there's nary a tinge of orange in the local fried carrot cake, a flavorful dish that comes in the monochrome colors of black or white.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
Singapore's 'national' dish.
This delectable dish can be found at almost every dining spot, from humble hawker centers to high-end restaurants.
Hokkien Prawn Mee
This simple dish of stir-fried noodles boasts a rich prawn stock that keeps fans coming back for more.
This simple dish is the ultimate comfort food for those with a sweet tooth, offering the right mix of crunch and sugar rush.
The laksa broth offers the right balance of spice and coconut milk, a distinctive noodle soup that will tickle the tastebuds.
It's the savory and creamy rice that carries this dish, with spicy sambal to give it that extra zing.
Dark and sticky, the salad may not look very appealing at first; but tuck into this culinary marvel and you’ll be amazed by the delicious mix of sweet and savory.
This Indian specialty is pleasing to the palate and the eye. Watch the prata-maker stretch the dough by slapping and swinging it in one skillful motion.
With some of the region’s best restaurants and a dining scene that is rich in diversity, Singapore has become one of the world’s culinary capitals.
Connoisseurs of haute cuisine will be happy to know that a growing number of world-class celebrity chefs have been setting up shop here, such as 26-Michelin-starred Joël Robuchon with L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Joël Robuchon Restaurant. Then there is London’s one-Michelin-starred Jason Atherton, who opened tapas bar Esquina. For some Asian flavor, head to Japanese restaurant Waku Ghin, by Tetsuya Wakuda, one of Australia’s finest chefs.
Often hailed as one of the best restaurants in the city, Restaurant Andre by Taiwanese-born chef Andre Chiang is a must visit for fans of high-end French cuisine. For those looking for more local flavors, there is also a myriad of upscale Chinese and Indian restaurants to savor. Or head to one of the many Gastropubs that have popped up if you would fancy a craft brew with a hearty meal.
Have a Sundowner
For unbeatable 360° views of the city, take to the skies at Ce La Vi. This ultra luxe restaurant-cum-lounge is the place to see and be seen.
But what’s a good meal without dessert? You can stop at one of the many dessert spots that have opened in Singapore, such as 2am:dessertbar. Run by young but lauded Cordon Bleu-trained chef Janice Wong, the eatery serves up delectable concoctions. The perfect way to end a day wining and dining in Asia’s food paradise.
Inspired by a lotus flower, the futuristic ArtScience Museum is an architectural marvel by Israeli architect Moshe Safdie (who also designed Marina Bay Sands®). Its 21 galleries are dedicated to both art and science and international touring exhibitions, including major ones such as a massive retrospective by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz and an exhibition exploring the life and work of Leonardo Da Vinci.
Asian Civilisations Museum
This museum is the first in the region to present a broad perspective of pan-Asian cultures and civilizations. Highlights include the Singapore River Gallery, which tells the story of immigrants who lived and worked along the river.
National Museum of Singapore
Celebrating its 128th anniversary in 2015, the nation’s oldest museum was the custodian of 12 national treasures including the Singapore Stone, which dates back to the 13th century, and gold ornaments unearthed from Fort Canning Hill in 1928.
Singapore Art Museum
Situated along the Waterloo Street Arts Belt and housed in the restored 19th century mission school of the St. Joseph’s Institution, the museum has amassed one of the world’s largest public collections of contemporary Southeast Asian artworks since it opened in 1996.
National Gallery Singapore
Take in the region’s newest and largest museum of modern Singapore and Southeast Asian art housed within two of Singapore’s awe-inspiring national monuments.
The busy Bugis precinct is a lively mix of uptown chic and downtown hip. You’ll find high street brands like Topshop and Uniqlo at the Bugis Junction and Bugis+ malls, but pop outside and onto Bugis Street and you’ll find cheap eats, clothes and accessories in an offbeat outdoor market setting.
With its rich history and iconic status, Chinatown draws in a great mix of folks, from the expats to the locals, and has a colorful array of sights, shops and stuff to check out. Multi-label store Willow & Huxley carries hard-to-find labels in limited numbers, Red Dot Design Museum hosts a monthly flea market dedicated to all things art and design, and Club Street has its share of cool fashion boutiques.
Funan DigitaLife Mall
Conveniently located in the heart of town and a stone’s throw away from popular nightlife spot CHIJMES is this techie haven. Find anything and everything tech-related you need here and more; each store offers different add-ons to your initial buy so look around and put your haggling skills to the test to make sure you walk out with the best deal.
ION Orchard’s spectacular frontage makes it perhaps the most eye-catching mall on the Orchard Road strip. This colossal mall houses duplex flagship stores of designer and high street brands like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Christian Dior, Fred Perry, Prada, Uniqlo, Topman and Zara.
Apparel, drystores, electronics, toiletries and party gear—you’ll find this and lots more at Mustafa Centre, an iconic shopping destination in the heart of Little India that’s almost always packed to the brim with shoppers. Buy brand-name watches and other accessories at a steal here, and get access to an excellent range of Hindi movies and music albums you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. This district’s also been getting hotter over the years with hip additions like Jewel Café and Bar, Suprette and Wanderlust Hotel now thrown into the mix—you could spend an entire day here.
This quiet mall is best known for homeware, thanks to electronics giant Harvey Norman and independent furniture stores Commune and Grafunkt. It’s also recently started bringing in local designers and hip boutiques like Supermama, Allscript, Ed Et Al Shoemakers and Deja Vu Vintage.
Singapore’s home to some of the best indie boutiques in the world, stocking fashion that represents the best of contemporary design. There’s The Reckless Shop, which showcases edgy Singapore-based label Reckless Ericka, and local designer Eileen Yap’s boutique, Noel Caleb. Another place to check out here is Pact, a retail store slash bar and hair salon that stocks brands like Sifr, Code Deco and Fred Lives Here.
Well-known fashion and lifestyle retailer, TANGS, is a homegrown brand that’s loved by both locals and visitors. As one of the country’s most iconic shopping destinations, TANGS features the latest trends and never fails to meet the needs of shopping enthusiasts. Situated in Orchard and VivoCity, here’s where you’ll find an endless array of brands, from major skincare names like Laneige and Clarins, to labels like DKNY and Hermes.
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands®
If unadulterated luxury is what you’re looking for, you won’t have to look much further than The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands®. You’ll be able to shop the latest seasons by Chanel, Dior, Escada and Louis Vuitton, which has one of its Island Maison concept boutiques here, as well as sample the creations of celebrity chefs at restaurants Long Chim, db Bistro Moderne, CUT, Waku Ghin and more.
Tiong Bahru is home to one of Singapore’s favorite indie bookstores, BooksActually. Pick up hot fiction and non-fiction titles from authors in Singapore and around the world, diaries and other knick-knacks, then pop next door for more quirky finds at Strangelets. Venture into multi-label clothing boutiques nana & bird and Flea & Trees for women’s fashion and unique home décor pieces.