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How to Plan a Singapore Trip?

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Singapore, a dynamic city-state nestled in Southeast Asia, seamlessly blends the traditional with the contemporary. It’s a pulsating cultural kaleidoscope, where a rich tapestry of cultures, languages, and flavors create a myriad of experiences for its visitors. From the emblematic Merlion statue and the state-of-the-art Marina Bay Sands hotel to the verdant expanse of Gardens by the Bay and the vibrant hues of Chinatown, Singapore caters to varied tastes and interests. As a global epicenter for commerce, finance, and innovation, Singapore is known for its prowess and efficiency. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing getaway, a cultural exploration, or a business venture, Singapore is a compelling destination that beckons exploration.

Singapore Fast Facts

  • Official name: Republic of Singapore
  • Population: 5,866,139 (as of 2020)
  • Area: 719 square kilometers
  • Capital and largest city: Singapore (city-state)
  • Currency: Singapore dollar (SGD)
  • Official languages: English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil
  • Religion: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, and others
  • National flower: Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid
  • National animal: Lion
Singapore Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay

Why Travel to Singapore?

  • Cultural Diversity: Experience Singapore’s multiculturalism with four official languages, ethnic enclaves like Chinatown and Little India, and vibrant cultural events including Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, and Deepavali.
  • Culinary Delights: Singapore’s diverse culinary scene offers Michelin-starred restaurants, hawker centers, street food, and food festivals influenced by China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and more.
  • Modern Art and Architecture: Explore innovative landmarks like Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Esplanade, and Singapore Flyer. Immerse yourself in art through public trails, museums, galleries, and festivals.
  • Clean and Green Environment: Known as a garden city, Singapore blends lush greenery, eco-friendly malls, parks, and cleanliness rules to create a harmonious urban-nature environment.
  • Endless Entertainment: Singapore’s vibrant nightlife in Clarke Quay and Orchard Road, world-class attractions like Universal Studios, and thrilling events like the Grand Prix Season offer entertainment for all ages.

Recommended Itinerary

Top Things to Do in Singapore

There are many amazing things to do in Singapore, whether you are looking for culture, nature, adventure, or entertainment. Below are some recommended things to do in Singapore:

  • Indulge in Singapore’s renowned hawker fare: Satisfy your taste buds at affordable hawker centers, offering a wide range of mouthwatering dishes from chicken rice to satay, providing an authentic culinary experience that caters to all tastes and budgets.
  • Marvel at Marina Bay’s iconic skyline: Enjoy a scenic stroll along Marina Bay’s waterfront, take in the architectural wonders like Marina Bay Sands, snap a fun photo with the Merlion statue, and cross the unique Helix Bridge on your way to the lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum.
  • Immerse yourself in Singapore’s cultural neighborhoods: Explore Singapore’s rich multicultural heritage by visiting neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam, or join in the festivities during cultural events like Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, and Deepavali.
  • Wander through Singapore’s lush gardens: Experience the green side of the city by visiting attractions like Gardens by the Bay, featuring the futuristic Supertrees and stunning conservatories, or the UNESCO-listed Singapore Botanic Gardens, home to a vast array of orchids and heritage trees.
  • Experience Jewel Changi Airport: More than just an airport, Jewel Changi Airport offers a nature-themed shopping, dining, and entertainment extravaganza. Highlights include the awe-inspiring Rain Vortex, an indoor forest with suspended walkways, and nearly 300 stores. Don’t miss the Canopy Park, where you can bounce on nets, traverse glass bridges, and explore intriguing mazes.

See also the Top Things to Do in Singapore

Singapore New Year Marina Bay
Appreciate the magnificent fireworks in Marina Bay during the New Year

Best Time to Visit Singapore

The optimal period for a Singapore visit typically falls between February and April when the climate is delightful, and vibrant festivals are in full swing. Nonetheless, Singapore welcomes travelers year-round, with its diverse culture, top-notch cuisine, contemporary art and architecture, pristine environment, and abundant entertainment options available regardless of the season.

Factors that you may want to consider when planning a Singapore trip:

Rainy Season: Singapore experiences two monsoon seasons, from December to January and from June to September, bringing frequent but short-lived rain showers. While outdoor activities may be affected, you can still explore indoor attractions and enjoy cooler weather during these periods.

Haze Season: Between May and August, haze from Indonesian forest fires may impact air quality and visibility in Singapore. Check air quality advisories before traveling during this unpredictable period.

Peak Season: Be mindful of peak tourist times, including Chinese New Year (usually in February), National Day (August 9), Formula One Night Race (usually in September), and Christmas/New Year (December/January). Expect higher prices, longer queues, and limited availability, but also relish the festive atmosphere and special events during these bustling periods.

Read more about Best Time to Visit Singapore

Important Singapore Festivals

Singapore is a country that celebrates a variety of festivals throughout the year, reflecting its multicultural and multi-religious society. Some of the most important and popular festivals in Singapore are:

  • Chinese New Year: Celebrated by the majority Chinese community in January or February, this 15-day festival involves family gatherings, red packet exchanges, lion and dragon dances, and Chinatown’s vibrant markets and fireworks.
  • Hari Raya Puasa: Observed by the Malay Muslim community in May or June, marking the end of Ramadan. People wear new clothes, visit mosques, and enjoy festive lights and stalls in Geylang Serai.
  • Deepavali: Celebrated by the Indian Hindu community in October or November, Deepavali signifies the victory of good over evil. It involves home decoration, new attire, gift exchanges, and vibrant festivities in Little India.
  • National Day: Commemorating Singapore’s independence on August 9, 1965, this festival unites all Singaporeans. Activities include flag displays, the National Day Parade with military and cultural performances, and spectacular fireworks.

How to Get around Singapore?

Getting around Singapore is a breeze, thanks to its excellent public transport system and infrastructure. Here are some of the best ways to get around Singapore:

MRT (Mass Rapid Transit): The city’s subway system covers most attractions, offering speed and affordability. Consider the Singapore Tourist Pass for unlimited one, two, or three-day MRT and bus travel. Alternatively, use contactless bank cards or mobile wallets for payment. Stations provide information in English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil.

Bus: An economical choice with scenic routes to destinations not served by the MRT. Use the same pass, bank cards, or mobile apps like Google Maps for convenient fare payment and route planning.

Taxi or Ride-Hailing: For comfort and convenience, taxis are available, but note potential surcharges. Ride-hailing apps like Grab or Gojek offer private car options and easy booking.

Biking: Rent a bike from platforms like SG Bike or Anywheel for an eco-friendly and adventurous way to explore Singapore. Scan a QR code with your smartphone to unlock a bike and enjoy rides through parks, gardens, and neighborhoods.

See also How to Travel around Singapore

Singapore MRT Mass Rapid Transit
Singapore Mass Rapid Transit

Where to Stay in Singapore?

Singapore is a great destination for travelers who want to experience a modern, diverse, and vibrant city-state. There are many options for where to stay in Singapore, depending on your budget, preferences, and interests. Here are some of the best areas to consider for your trip:

  • Orchard Road: Positioned at the heart of central Singapore, Orchard Road reigns as the premier shopping haven, boasting an array of malls, dining establishments, cafés, and entertainment venues. Additionally, its proximity to the UNESCO-designated Botanic Gardens enhances its allure.
  • Downtown Core: Serving as the city’s nucleus, the Downtown Core houses iconic landmarks such as Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Merlion Park, and Esplanade. It is also a bustling financial and corporate hub, characterized by towering skyscrapers and corporate offices.
  • Sentosa Island: A picturesque island retreat within Singapore’s boundaries, Sentosa Island beckons with a myriad of attractions including Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium, Adventure Cove Waterpark, and the scenic Palawan Beach. It’s a sought-after destination for golf enthusiasts, cyclists, and hikers alike.
  • Clarke Quay & Chinatown: This vibrant district comes alive at night, offering an inexhaustible nightlife experience with numerous bars, clubs, pubs, and dining establishments nestled along the picturesque Singapore River. Additionally, it boasts a rich cultural and historical backdrop, featuring attractions like the Chinatown Heritage Centre, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Sri Mariamman Temple, and Fort Canning Park.
  • Little India & Arab Streets: This hip neighborhood is teeming with boutique shops, distinctive hotels, and captivating street art. It’s also a place where you can bask in Singapore’s cultural mosaic, with temples, mosques, churches, and museums celebrating the city-state’s rich tapestry of ethnic diversity.

See also Where to Stay in Singapore

What to Eat in Singapore?

Singapore, a culinary haven, celebrates diverse cultures through a multitude of dishes. Whether you crave street eats or fine dining, Singapore has a wealth of options. Here are some must-try dishes:

  • Hainanese Chicken Rice: Singapore’s iconic dish, featuring tender steamed chicken served with fragrant garlic-infused rice, complemented by tangy chili sauce, ginger paste, and dark soy sauce.
  • Chilli Crab: This signature dish showcases hard-shell crabs in a thick, spicy tomato-based gravy, best enjoyed with steamed or fried mantou buns to soak up the delectable sauce.
  • Laksa: A spicy noodle soup blending Chinese and Malay influences, featuring rice noodles or vermicelli in a rich coconut milk broth infused with curry paste, dried shrimp, lemongrass, and other spices, topped with prawns, fish cakes, tofu puffs, eggs, and bean sprouts.
  • Char Kway Teow: A Teochew-inspired stir-fried noodle dish with flat rice noodles and yellow noodles, cooked with dark soy sauce, garlic, eggs, bean sprouts, Chinese sausage, fish cake, cockles, and sometimes lard, offering a savory, smoky comfort food experience.
  • Satay: Popular across Southeast Asia, especially in Singapore, this dish features grilled meat skewers (chicken, beef, mutton, or pork) marinated in spices and turmeric, served with peanut sauce, cucumber, onion, and ketupat rice cakes.

See also 15 Top Singapore Foods and Dishes

Singapore Food Fish Head Curry
Singapore Fish Head Curry

How Many Days to Plan for a Singapore Trip?

Determining the ideal duration for your Singapore trip hinges on your individual preferences, budget, and interests. However, here are some general guidelines and suggestions for your reference:

4-5 Days – Comprehensive Exploration:

For travelers eager to savor the full Singaporean adventure, it’s advisable to allocate a minimum of 4 to 5 days. This timeframe provides ample opportunity to immerse yourself in the city-state’s cultural tapestry, with visits to renowned landmarks like the Merlion, Gardens by the Bay, and the impressive Marina Bay Sands. Furthermore, you can delve into the vibrant fabric of various neighborhoods, each with its unique charm – from the bustling streets of Chinatown and the colorful allure of Little India to the historic district of Kampong Glam and the hip enclave of Tiong Bahru.

2-3 Days – Quick Getaway:

If you have limited time, say, during a short layover or weekend getaway, you can still relish Singapore in 2-3 days. Focus on main attractions in the Downtown Core area, including Marina Bay, the Singapore Flyer, Esplanade, and Merlion Park. Additionally, venture into cultural districts like Chinatown or Little India to savor Singapore’s varied cuisines and cultures.

6-7 Days or More – Leisurely Exploration:

Extend your stay to 6-7 days or beyond if you desire a leisurely and unhurried trip. This extended duration allows for exploration of hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path attractions such as the Southern Ridges, Pulau Ubin Island, Haw Par Villa, and the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It also provides ample time to indulge in entertainment options like Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium, Night Safari, and Sentosa Island.

How Much Does a Singapore Trip Cost?

The expense of a trip to Singapore varies depending on several factors, including your length of stay, choice of accommodation, planned activities, and the season of your travel. Here are approximate cost estimates for different scenarios:

1. Solo Traveler in a Hostel or Capsule Hotel:

  • Daily expenses for food, transportation, and sightseeing: Approximately $40
  • Weekly total: Around $281
  • Note: Flight costs are not included.

2. Couple Traveling and Staying in a Mid-Range Hotel or Vacation Rental:

  • Daily expenses for food, transportation, and sightseeing: Approximately $410
  • Weekly total: Approximately $2,868
  • Note: Flight costs are not included.

3. Luxury Hotel or Boutique Hotel Experience:

  • Daily expenses for food, transportation, and sightseeing: Approximately $743
  • Weekly total: Approximately $5,200
  • Note: Flight costs are not included.

Essential Singapore Travel Tips

Prior to embarking on your Singaporean adventure, acquaint yourself with these indispensable travel insights to enhance your journey and reduce any potential inconveniences. Here are some of the key guidelines:

  • Secure an EZ-Link Card: Prioritize obtaining an EZ-Link card, a prepaid card that simplifies payments for public transportation, including buses, trains, and taxis. Economical and hassle-free, it surpasses cash payments and single tickets. These cards can be purchased at any MRT station or convenience store and can be reloaded at EZ-Link machines or online.
  • Leverage Public Transport: Singapore boasts a world-class public transport system featuring efficient, clean, and secure buses, trains, and taxis. This network seamlessly connects you to nearly every corner of the city, saving both time and money. Apps like Google Maps or Citymapper are invaluable tools for route planning and real-time updates.
  • Familiarize Yourself with Local Laws: Singapore’s reputation for stringent laws and regulations underscores the importance of adherence to maintain order and cleanliness. Familiarize yourself with these laws, which include prohibitions against chewing gum, littering, smoking in public places, jaywalking, vandalism, drug-related offenses, and bringing durians onto public transport. Violations can result in substantial fines or even incarceration.
  • Hunt for Happy Hours: Singapore’s hefty liquor tax can make alcohol consumption pricey. To enjoy a drink without draining your wallet, seek out happy hour promotions at bars and restaurants. Happy hours typically run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, offering discounts on beverages and food.
  • Dress Lightly: Singapore’s consistently hot and humid climate, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 35°C, necessitates packing lightweight, breathable attire for comfort. Additionally, be prepared for sudden rain showers by bringing waterproof clothing and an umbrella.
  • Visa Application in Advance: If you require a visa to enter Singapore, submit your application at least one month before your intended trip. Although the visa application process is generally efficient, processing times may vary depending on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Visit the official website of the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore to check visa requirements and apply online.
  • Explore Internet Options: Singapore offers extensive coverage of free public Wi-Fi hotspots, accessible with your foreign mobile number. Download the Wireless@SG app and register your number for connectivity. Alternatively, acquire a local SIM card with data from airports or convenience stores, ensuring you bring your passport and mobile voucher for the purchase.

See also 12 Essential Tips for Traveling to Singapore

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