My Favourite Things about Singapore

This is a series of posts sharing what I liked best about the countries I have visited. Here are my favourite things about Singapore

Something particularly annoying might get a mention too though. This will not be everything we did, just some of the memorable bits, and perhaps some useful tips. It will give you an insight as to what to expect when you visit.

Skip to the bottom for the latest 2023 update.

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Singapore Apr 2011/Jan 2013

Singapore was our first Asian destination ever (A stopover in Kuala Lumpur where we only saw the hotel doesn’t count!) and the first time we backpacked. On our first visit, our kids were 13 and 11. You can just imagine the excitement as we got off the plane that first time.

We were in Singapore for four days on that first trip, then we went to Malaysia for two weeks. On the next trip to Singapore, we were there two nights on our way to Vietnam, and another night on the way back. Singapore is also the first stop on our upcoming trip.

We are animal people, and Singapore Zoo was well worth the visit. The enclosures are large and open and there is a great variety of animals to see. Although we didn’t take advantage of it, there are some great extra activities, such as breakfast with the orangutans.

We arrived as the zoo opened, and were there until it closed. After a short wait, we then went to the Night Safari too! While the Night Safari was also fantastic – perhaps even more so as it is a different perspective than most zoos – I don’t recommend doing both in one day.

It was really exhausting, and lead to one of my most memorable travel mishaps, which you can read about here.

Singapore Zoo
The Rhinos at Singapore Zoo
Singapore Zoo
Just hanging around.
Singapore Zoo
Sloth and baby

The most memorable activity was a food tour we did. It was with Tony Tan and was around the Joo Chiat area.

This is a traditional part of Singapore, where shophouses abound. It was more than a food tour though. We got a real rundown on Singaporean life, from how the locals live, to the chewing gum rumours and some more controversial “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” topics.

In between we tried close to 40 different foods. The tour went for around six hours, and because we were staying in the hostel run by Tony, we only had to pay a small amount for the tour to cover the cost of the food.

This tour also created a great family memory. At the beginning of the tour, we were asked if there were any foods we didn’t like. My daughter Bailey responded with “Asian food!” As you can imagine, there was much laughter at that!

The details of the tour are on the Betel Box website.

Food tour
Yummy packages of food on the Food Tour
Food Tour
Sweet treats
Food Tour
More asian sweets

Gardens by the Bay is also worth a visit. We went there on our second visit to Singapore. Our flight landed at about 6 am after an overnight flight from Australia. We could drop our bags at our accommodation, but we couldn’t check in yet, so off we went to have a look at the giant trees.

We spent the morning wandering around the area, climbing up into the treetops, and visiting the Cloud Forest.

The heat and humidity had kicked in by the time we got to the Cloud Forest, and the relief we felt as soon as we stepped inside was fantastic! We went and stood right next to the big waterfall to cool ourselves down in the spray.

Gardens by the Bay
The Big Trees
Dragonfly at Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay
The Cloud Forest waterfall. Relief from the heat.

Shopping is a big thing in Singapore. I am not a shopper, but we do sometimes walk around the shopping areas window shopping. Orchard Road is a shoppers’ paradise.

Side by side stands modern, gleaming shopping malls. There is every shop you can imagine and even a few more that you didn’t! It was on Orchard Road that we first tried a fish spa.

This is one of the most bizarre sensations as hundreds of tiny fish nibble at the skin on your feet. At first it tickles like crazy, and it took me a little while before I could leave my feet in the water.

It’s supposed to leave your feet smooth and soft. I’m not sure that it made a huge difference, but it was a fun experience.

Orchard Road
Some Christmas lights were still up in Orchard Road when we visited early in January
The fish spa

While I can’t fully recommend it because we only had about an hour to explore, I think Sentosa Island would be a great day or two out. We took the skylift across, and wandered around for an hour before rushing off to get on a flight.

On Sentosa there are now many theme parks and activities that would appeal to any visitor. We just enjoyed looking around. The kids particularly liked finding the first ever Candylicious store we had seen. We had never seen that many M&Ms in one place before!

The skylift going across to Sentosa Island
Sentosa Island
The Aussie kids combatting the heat on Sentosa Island.

I can’t talk about my favourite things in Singapore without mentioning mangosteens! These fruit are probably my favourites, and it’s rare to get them in Australia. When I can get them, they are crazy expensive!

So on landing in Singapore, I normally grab some at the first fruit and veg shop I see, and stuff my face with them for the next few days. Yum.

The Logistics

Every time we have been to Singapore we have stayed at the Betel Box backpackers hostel. Yes, this is a hostel, so therefore not the most luxurious of accommodation, but we do stay in the private room while we are there.

What they lose in luxury is more than made up for by the atmosphere and the amazing staff. We have always felt welcomed, and enjoy interacting with other guests and the staff.

We will again be staying there for the first night of our visit in April. The only reason we are moving is because one of my bucket list items is to swim in the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands, so we are staying there for two nights to be able to do that. Fairly sure we will be back at Betel Box again afterwards.

Marina Bay Sands

The best way to get around in Singapore is the MRT. It will take you almost anywhere you need to go. If it doesn’t, there will be a bus to help out instead. At the airport it is easy to buy a transport card that you can continue to put more credit on throughout your stay.

In the past we have just bought the same type of card the locals use, and then on leaving return it for a refund, but I can see that there is now a Singapore Tourist Pass available, offered unlimited travel for as little as $6.70SGD per day. That sounds like a bargain to me! There is a card deposit, but that will be refunded as you return it on leaving Singapore.

Singapore is in the tropics. It is therefore usually hot and steamy. There is also the likelihood of an afternoon shower. By afternoon shower, what I really mean is torrential downpour. We always manage to end up in a downpour at some stage on every holiday.

In Singapore it was on our first day, and we were wandering around near Clarke Quay. The thunder and lightning rolled in, and the rain came down. There was so much water on the ground that it was ankle deep in places.

The kids ended up walking with no shoes on because they only had one pair of closed in walking shoes with them each, and we didn’t want them to be soaked through. After that, thongs (flip-flops for the non-Australians) were an essential item in our day pack, so they could be put on when it rained!

Rain! It’s bucketing down.

Would I Go Back?

I’ve already given this away, but yes I would – and am – going back. We will be there for three days this time and there is no way I am going to cross everything I want to do off our list.

Most of the time this trip will be spent hanging around by the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands, but I would love to get to Haw Par Villa to see what could be a most disturbing theme park.

It is easy to visit Singapore from Australia, as it’s an ideal transit location when travelling, well, almost anywhere. I anticipate many more visits in the future.

2023 Update

When I wrote the above, it was before my gap year, before Covid, and before I had been to so many more places across the globe. Singapore though, is still one of my favourite places to visit.

I have been there five or so more times too, including an eight-day visit to Singapore in 2022. It will be my first stopover as we leave Australia on our 2025 trip to Europe too.

Singapore has become all about the food for me, and I can’t wait to get to a hawker centre and stuff myself silly. I am working my way through all the Michelin-starred/hatted locations and I am yet to be disappointed.

After eating, there is an endless amount of things to see and do. I am always shocked by people who say “three days in Singapore is enough”. I’ve probably spent three weeks there in total and still have more things on my list for the next trips.

From museums to theme parks, wildlife experiences, and local history. Fireworks and light shows, rooftop bars, beach bars and Singapore Slings. There is no way to be bored in Singapore.

Want to read about later visits to Singapore? You might like these
Travel Diaries – Singapore
Haw Par Villa, Singapore’s First Theme Park
Travel Diaries – Singapore (Our 2nd gap year visit)
Travel Diaries – Singapore (Our 3rd gap year visit)
Things to do in Singapore on a Budget
Is Marina Bay Sands Worth It?

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4 thoughts on “My Favourite Things about Singapore”

  1. Great post Josie. Just make sure you go to Raffles and have a Singapore Sling… in the famous Long Bar. It’s a classy old Hotel. The Halia Bar downstairs is very nice and a bit quieter than the Long Bar … well when I was there. Steeped in History and it features in so many old movies.

    • Ahhh, I was going to put that in the article as one of the things I can’t believe I haven’t done yet ? Not sure we’ll get there this trip – so many great things to do, so little time – but I’ll definitely get there one day. In all likelihood we will go to Singapore again on our way home, so maybe then.

    • Yes, I can’t wait! I’ve had it on my bucket list for a while. It’s been out of my budget but I was lucky enough to win a voucher from a travel agent and this is what I decided to splurge on.

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