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Singapore: Once you arrive - Must read

Top five places to visit in Singapore

Keen to discover Singapore, but not sure where to start? Let our guide to the top five places to visit in Singapore help

Little India Singapore
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There’s no shortage of things to do in Singapore. Between the sights, sounds, smells and the sheer amount of people, finding your way might seem a little overwhelming for a first-time visitor. To help you get a handle all the things to do and see in your new city, we’ve put together a list of our top five, must-see places to visit in Singapore.

Little India

Traditionally where Tamil immigrants settled beneath the British segregation policy, today Little India is one of Singapore’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. Like many other places in Singapore, Little India is a mini shopper’s paradise. Take a walk down Seangood road, the area’s main shopping strip and take a peek at the clothes, jewellery and other wares on show. As well as some well-earned retail therapy, don’t forget to check out the many traditional temples flecked around the area: Leong San See Temple, Abdul Gaffoor Mosque and the Temple of 1,000 Lights (Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya) are just a few religious sites that will give you a terrific cross-section of the nation’s cultural diversity.

There are also a number of cultural festivals and events run each year, usually with music and public performances, and almost always with traditional Indian food. Don’t be shy to dig into the many culinary treats on offer, eaten in the traditional way—with your hands!

Chinatown

If Little India didn’t pack enough of a cultural punch for you, head across to Chinatown, another of Singapore’s ethnic neighbourhoods, and discover what the nation’s Chinese community have to offer. Comprising the nation’s largest ethnic group, Chinatown is broken up into a number of smaller precincts, large sections of which have been declared national heritage sites. By night, make sure you take the time to stroll beneath the bright lights and Chinese lanterns on Pagoda and Smith Street, stopping on your way to sample treats from any of the area’s fresh food and market stalls.

Known for its terrific street food, there are plenty of food options for those who fancy a cheap bite to those with a three-course masterpiece in mind. You’ll find many of the nation’s famous Hawker centres in Chinatown: a distinctly ‘Singapore’ experience you’ll sorely regret missing out on.

Singapore Riverside

Jostling for space amongst the skyscrapers, it’s here you’ll find the majority of Singapore’s historical sites and government buildings dotted along the riverside. Set in the colonial part of the city, pay a visit to the famous (yet expensive!) Raffles Hotel and treat yourself to one of its signature Singapore Slings. Typically the region of bankers and employees of government buildings, it’s here you’ll get that picturesque view of the Merlion and Central Business District skyline so often pasted across postcards. Right on the pulse of Singapore’s metropolitan centre, make sure you visit the Raffles statue, which marks the spot where Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore first landed.

If you have the afternoon to spare then why not head to some museums and markets in the area, with pickings like the Asian Civilizations Museum and the Peranakan Museum open seven days a week. Like almost everywhere else in Singapore, the Riverside is a great place to grab a bite. Whether it’s SG$5 (US$ 3.99) Indian fast-food or a SG$60 (US$48) pepper crab, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s tastes (and wallets!).

Orchard Road

If eating is Singapore’s national pastime, shopping comes a close second. Orchard road is the most famous shopping street in all of Singapore, with a number of huge, air-conditioned shopping malls to tide you over. With 6 department stores and 22 malls to choose from, lose yourself between any of 5,000 brands before taking a break in one of the street’s many food courts or cafes.

Undergoing a SG$40 (US$32) million revamp in 2009, Orchard road now sports a number of new street lamps and decorative planter boxes. If you’re lucky enough to be in Singapore near Christmas time, make sure you check out the lights that are sure to cover the shops fronts and line the road.

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari

Often called one of the world’s best zoos, Singapore zoo’s large, landscaped enclosures have inspired TV channel Animal Planet to film some of its documentaries there. The nine-time winner of the Singapore Tourism Board’s Best Leisure Attraction Award, you can take a look at over 2,800 animals from over 300 different species of mammals, birds and reptiles. Standing on elevated platforms and visiting underwater galleries, you’ll get a special viewing experience of animals in lush, spacious habitats.

You can also opt for a guided tram tour that will take you around the zoo, or cross through any of the walk-through exhibitions on foot. For those a bit more daring, book a ticket on the night safari—a guided tram ride that crosses environments modelling the world’s seven geographical zones.

 

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About Author

Little India Singapore

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.