What to do in Singapore in 2018

Singapore has long been heralded as a city one simply passes through en route to other 'more exciting' Asian counterparts. Over the years however, and rather unassumingly, this city has become a destination in its own right. It is now very much a hub of activity and culture, with a people to match.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Singapore's Flyer with Singapore River Cruise. Photo: Shutterstock
Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Singapore's Flyer with Singapore River Cruise. Photo: Shutterstock

With an area of just 277.6 square miles, you can see a great deal of Singapore in just a few days. It's worth a few extra days just to spend a little longer in each area though; to savour every sight, sound, and taste and to really get under the skin of this eclectic city. A nation with rules certainly, and a strong sense of ‘right’ (no chewing gum, a restriction on buying alcohol after 10pm and fines associated with feeding the pigeons) but Singapore knows how to enjoy itself. 

Where to eat 

So let’s start with the single most uniting force in Singapore: food. Believe it or not, eating out is often cheaper than preparing fresh food in Singapore, and as a result restaurants are kept in good business 7 days a week. With such a diverse cultural mix of inhabitants – and indeed tourists – there is a taste to suit everyone. Think chilli crab, dim sum and matcha tea ice cream. It is not an exaggeration to say that every other free-holding in this city gives way to food, and it really does bring everyone together. Each of Insight Guides' trips to Singapore can be customised to include more of the stops and specialities below: talk to a local expert today, share your budget, interests and travel style. Our local experts will create an itinerary exclusive to you and your requirements, which you can amend until it's just right. Alternatively, browse and modify ready-made holidays to create your dream trip today. 

Shukuu Izakaya

8 Stanley Street, Downtown 

A warm atmosphere makes this a little like eating in your best friend’s living room. It's perfect for those locals seeking a post-work drink and also for the weary traveller. We recommend a bit of everything from their ever-evolving menu; this is the best Japanese food you’ll find in Singapore too. Dried stingray fin is a firm favourite, and anything with Iberico pork in the title is a very safe bet. To its credit, and like every local, this place doesn't take itself too seriously. 

My Awesome Cafe 

Telok Ayer Street

Although worlds apart, English hipster cafes easily find their place in this Asian metropolis. In what used to be a free health clinic (don’t let this put you off!), this small cafe provides every home comfort for the wanderer. Located in the Design District, it is no surprise the interior is perfectly Instagram-ready. It is industrial in its foundation with a healthy dollop of cosy. Come here if you want salad, sandwiches, a cooked breakfast and plenty of fruit smoothies. 

Akbar Roti 24 hour

2 Lim Teck Kim Road

This is one of the most unassuming places to eat in Singapore, and is the perfect place to blend into the crowd. Nestled on the edge of the CBD, this place is a hotspot for the locals and a haven for those battling against hunger and jet lag. Roti prata is the dish to try, try it for an alternative breakfast – served in a canteen style tray, with sugar in one section and curry sauce in the other. Another example of different tastes brought together to create a unique fusion. Here, as with many other cafes, they display a worthy drinks menu filled with creations such as the Milo Dinosaur – go on, give it a try!

Kopi-C, a speciality at Nanyang Old Coffee.Kopi-C, a speciality at Nanyang Old Coffee. Photo: Shutterstock

Nanyang Old Coffee

268 South Bridge Road

Kaya toast has been waking Singapore up since 1944, and this is the perfect spot to sample this sweet treat. The set menu, at just 4 SGD, gives you kaya toast, half boiled eggs and a Kopi-C. The latter is coffee with a shot of condensed milk, and the toast has a delicious layer of butter and coconut jam that, although simple in description, is beyond anything on any Western menu. 

Jumbo Seafood

48 The Riverwalk

If you don't like the ‘see your food swim before it hits your plate’ type-of-experience, this may not be for you! For those more adventurous travellers though, the cereal prawn, and classic chilli crab are two must eats. At the Riverwalk location (there are many others around the city), the views overlooking the river are spectacular, boats drifting, lanterns blowing in the evening breeze. It’s a little more pricey than some of the other spots on the list, but definitely one to squeeze into your budget if you can!

Lobster is served at Jumbo Seafood. Lobster is served at Jumbo Seafood. Photo: Edsel Little/Flickr

What to do 

Gardens By The Bay

18 Marina Gardens Drive

Architecture meets horticulture. Just across the road from the famous Marina Bay, these stunning sculptures set their roots at the heart of the city. The famous sculptures are actually modelled on Madagascan baobab trees, with an Asian twist. Every evening, an impressive light show takes hold at the SuperTree Grove, named the ‘Garden Rhapsody’ no less. Set to music, the giant steel structures light up and create a beautiful display worthy of waves of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. Shows are nightly at 7.45pm and 8.45pm so arrive early to get a spot. On your Uniquely Singapore holiday with Insight Guides, look out for other seasonal floral exhibits such as Tulipmania and War of Roses. 

Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay. Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay. Photo: Shutterstock

River Cruise 

30 Merchant Road

Setting off from Clarke Quay, Singapore’s historical centre of commerce, this 40-minute trip talks you through the history of the city and some of its most iconic landmarks. The breeze as you sail is welcome relief in 30ºC (86°F) temperatures, and an audio guide tells you everything you need to know about this historical landscape. At just 25 SGD, this is a rather inexpensive way to get to the grips with all the landmarks. Try this one at night for some wonderful skyline shots. 

Singapore Zoo

80 Mandai Lake Road

A little way out of the centre is Singapore’s world famous zoo, with an unparalleled collection of animals in a 'open' environment. In parts, there is very little that separates visitors from inhabitants. Views across the local reservoirs are awe-inspiring and you will feel closer than ever before to these animals. Be prepared to do your fair share of walking (this place is big and houses over 2800 animals!) but should you get tired, you can treat yourself to the tram! It is wonderfully themed, and even the signposts have 3D animal heads to guide you to the animal you want to see. An educational and enjoyable experience for both young and old. Check out animals from all continents in just one venue! 

Universal Studios theme park, Sentosa island, Singapore. Universal Studios theme park, Sentosa island, Singapore. Photo: Shutterstock

Sentosa Island

A short 20-minute taxi ride from Telok Ayer is Sentosa. This island is entirely manmade and is Singapore's self-titled 'state of fun'. Sentosa, a Malay term for peace and tranquility, found its groove in the 90s and hooked onto the idea of being a ‘destination resort’. Essentially, the brains behind this location didn’t want you to have any reason to leave! It has activities to suit every visitor – check out Universal Studios for a day of fun or relax on one of the many manmade beaches. Take in the view on the Jewel Cable Car ride on a sunny day, the views are something to behold. 


1 Raffles Place

The place to go for the best views in Singapore. At 282 metres above sea level, and a 360 degree view, this will make you feel like you're on top of the world. Literally! The entrance fee (30 SGD before 9pm, and 35 SGD after) gets you one complimentary drink – and you really can't beat a Singapore Sling at these heights. It would be rude to decline! There is no pretence around this place, and is one of the best places to soak up the Singapore skyline. Your benefit here is that you can see the iconic Marina Bay Sands building rather than be standing on it! Make the Raffles Hotel your base on Insight Guides' Indulgent Singapore holiday.

So what are you waiting for? Make Singapore your destination in 2018!