As a globe-trotting journalist, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing countless cities and their unique offerings. Yet, Singapore, the Lion City, has always held a special place in my heart.
This year, I embarked on a journey to uncover the hidden gems and must-visit spots in Singapore for 2023. From the remnants of its rich history to the innovative experiences of the present, here’s a countdown of the top things to do in Singapore this year.
Stuff To Do
22. Find Nocturnal Animals in Sentosa’s Rainforest
Sentosa, often associated with its beaches and theme parks, hides a secret world that comes alive at night. With just a torch in hand, I ventured into the dark rainforests of Sentosa, guided by experts who shared fascinating insights about the nocturnal creatures that call this place home.
It’s a refreshing alternative to the usual night safaris, offering a more intimate and natural experience. Sentosa Naturalist Night Adventure is a must-try for nature enthusiasts.
A Symphony of Sounds
The beauty of this adventure lies not just in the sights but also in the sounds. The symphony of nocturnal creatures, from the chirping of crickets to the distant hoot of an owl, creates an immersive soundscape that transports you to a world far removed from the urban hustle.
21. Uncover Hidden Marine Life in Singapore’s Intertidal Zones
Singapore’s beaches are home to intertidal zones teeming with marine life. With a marine biologist as my guide, I explored these zones and was amazed at the biodiversity. From hermit crabs and starfishes to sea cucumbers, the variety of marine creatures was astounding. This intertidal walk is a treat for wildlife lovers and photographers alike.
A Dive into the Unknown
What struck me most was the realization that such rich marine biodiversity exists right at our doorstep. Each tide reveals a different set of creatures, making every visit unique. It’s a gentle reminder of the delicate balance of our ecosystem and the wonders it holds.
20. Hike the Rail Corridor
The Rail Corridor, built around abandoned railway tracks, offers a unique blend of nature and history. Starting from the iconic train tunnel near Clementi Forest, this 24km trail took me on a journey through time. The remnants of the old railway tracks, juxtaposed against the lush greenery, tell a story of Singapore’s past and its transformation.
The highlight of my hike was the breathtaking view from a Jurassic Park-esque viewpoint. The early morning mist, the chirping of birds, and the serenity of the surroundings made it a surreal experience. And if you’re up for a treat post-hike, head to Springleaf Prata for a delicious breakfast.
19. Explore the Secrets of Fort Canning Park
Nestled in the heart of the city, Fort Canning Park is a testament to Singapore’s rich tapestry of history. As I wandered through the ancient ruins and artifacts, I was transported back to the days of the Malay kings and the colonial era. The Fort Canning Archaeological Dig offers a hands-on experience, allowing visitors to unearth relics from the past.
A Green Oasis Amidst the Urban Jungle
Beyond its historical significance, Fort Canning Park is a verdant paradise. The Spice Garden, a tribute to Singapore’s history as a major spice port, is fragrant with the scents of nutmeg and cloves. The park also offers a respite from the city’s hustle with its serene walking trails and panoramic city views.
18. Dive into the World of Virtual Reality at VResorts
In 2023, Singapore has taken entertainment to the next level with VResorts, a virtual reality theme park. Donning a VR headset, I was transported to fantastical worlds, from battling dragons to exploring underwater cities. The realism and immersion were unlike anything I’ve experienced before. For those keen on exploring the cutting edge of technology and entertainment, VResorts is a must-visit.
Beyond Gaming: A New Way to Learn
What truly sets VResorts apart is its educational experiences. I took a virtual tour of ancient Rome, walking its streets and interacting with its citizens. It’s a revolutionary way to learn, making history and culture come alive in the most interactive manner.
17. Revel in the Beauty of the Singapore Botanic Gardens
The Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a living testament to Singapore’s commitment to greenery and conservation. As I strolled through the gardens, I marveled at the stunning Orchid Garden, home to over 1,000 species of orchids. The Swan Lake with its elegant black and white swans, added a touch of magic to my visit.
A Melting Pot of Flora and Fauna
Beyond its floral wonders, the gardens are a haven for wildlife. From monitor lizards basking in the sun to vibrant butterflies dancing amidst the flowers, nature truly comes alive here. The Symphony Lake, with its iconic stage set on water, hosts regular concerts, making it a perfect spot for an evening of music amidst nature.
16. Experience the Thrills at Universal Studios Singapore
Universal Studios Singapore, located on Sentosa Island, is a whirlwind of excitement and adventure. From the adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to the enchanting world of Harry Potter, every corner promises a new thrill. I particularly enjoyed the Transformers: The Ride – a hyper-realistic 3D experience that left me at the edge of my seat.
A Cinematic Journey
Beyond the rides, the park offers a deep dive into the world of cinema. The Hollywood Dreams Parade showcases beloved movie characters, making it a hit among families. And for those looking to cool down, the WaterWorld show, with its spectacular stunts, is a must-watch.
15. Savor the Flavors at Singapore’s Hawker Centers
Singapore’s hawker centers are a melting pot of cultures and flavors. From the spicy Laksa to the savory Hainanese Chicken Rice, every dish tells a story. I embarked on a food trail across these centers, savoring the diverse culinary offerings and interacting with the local chefs who pour their heart into every dish.
While Singapore is renowned for its culinary delights, it’s also interesting to note the economic disparities in the broader Asian region, shedding light on the richest and poorest countries in Asia
A UNESCO-Recognized Culinary Heritage
In 2020, Singapore’s hawker culture was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This recognition underscores the significance of these centers in Singapore’s cultural fabric. It’s not just about the food; it’s about the community, the history, and the shared experiences that bind the city together.
14. Marvel at the Architectural Wonders of Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands is not just a hotel; it’s an architectural marvel. With its three towers connected by the stunning SkyPark, it dominates Singapore’s skyline. The Infinity Pool at the SkyPark offers a panoramic view of the city, making it a favorite spot for both tourists and locals.
A Hub of Entertainment and Luxury
Beyond its architectural splendor, Marina Bay Sands is a hub for luxury shopping, world-class entertainment, and gourmet dining. The ArtScience Museum, with its lotus-inspired design, hosts a range of innovative exhibitions, blending art, science, and technology in a captivating manner.
13. Navigate the Labyrinths of Chinatown
Chinatown, with its bustling streets and vibrant colors, is a sensory delight. The rich aroma of traditional Chinese herbs, the intricate designs of the lanterns, and the hum of conversations in various dialects create an atmosphere that’s both nostalgic and invigorating. The Chinatown Heritage Centre provided a deep dive into the history of Chinese immigrants, painting a vivid picture of their struggles and triumphs.
A Culinary Expedition
No visit to Chinatown is complete without indulging in its culinary delights. From the Michelin-starred Hawker Chan to the traditional mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival, every dish is a celebration of flavors. The bustling Chinatown Street Market is a treasure trove of souvenirs, antiques, and spices, making it a shopper’s paradise.
12. Revel in the Nightlife at Clarke Quay
Clarke Quay, with its neon-lit facades and pulsating beats, is the epicenter of Singapore’s nightlife. The riverside quay, lined with bars, clubs, and restaurants, comes alive as the sun sets. I danced the night away at Zouk, one of Asia’s top nightclubs, and enjoyed a serene river cruise, offering a different perspective of the city’s skyline.
Gastronomic Delights by the River
Apart from its vibrant nightlife, Clarke Quay is also a haven for food enthusiasts. I savored a delightful meal at JUMBO Seafood, renowned for its award-winning chili crab. The alfresco dining experience, with the cool breeze and the shimmering reflections on the water, added a touch of magic to the evening.
11. Embrace Spirituality at the Sri Mariamman Temple
Located in the heart of Chinatown, the Sri Mariamman Temple stands as a testament to Singapore’s multicultural ethos. As the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, its intricate architecture and vibrant frescoes narrate tales from Hindu mythology. The rhythmic beats of the drums, the fragrance of incense, and the devout prayers create an ambiance of serenity and devotion.
A Festival of Colors
One of the highlights of my visit was witnessing the Thimithi festival, where devotees walk on burning coals as a test of their faith. The temple, adorned with lights and flowers, becomes a hub of cultural activities, with traditional dances and music performances celebrating the rich tapestry of Indian culture.
10. Discover the Wonders of Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is nothing short of a horticultural marvel. Spanning over 101 hectares, this green haven in the heart of the city is a testament to Singapore’s vision of becoming a “City in a Garden.” The iconic Supertrees left me in awe, especially during the mesmerizing light and sound show, aptly named “Garden Rhapsody.”
Floral Fantasies Come Alive
The Flower Dome and Cloud Forest are architectural masterpieces that house exotic plants from around the world. The cool-mist of the Cloud Forest, with the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, provided a refreshing respite from the city’s tropical heat.
9. S.E.A. Aquarium
The S.E.A. Aquarium on Sentosa Island is one of the world’s largest aquariums, offering a window into the vibrant marine life of our oceans. From majestic manta rays to the vibrant coral reefs, every exhibit was a deep dive into the mysteries of the deep blue. The interactive displays and informative guides made the experience both fun and educational.
Conservation at its Core
What truly resonated with me was the aquarium’s commitment to marine conservation. Their efforts in rescuing and rehabilitating injured marine animals and their initiatives to reduce ocean pollution are commendable. It’s not just an attraction; it’s a beacon for marine conservation.
8. Experience Traditional Peranakan Culture at Katong
Katong, with its colorful shophouses and aromatic eateries, is the heart of Peranakan culture in Singapore. The Intan Museum offered a glimpse into the rich heritage of the Peranakan community, showcasing artifacts, costumes, and traditional crafts that have been passed down through generations.
A Culinary Delight
No visit to Katong is complete without indulging in Peranakan cuisine. The spicy and tangy Laksa, the flavorful Kueh Pie Tee, and the sweet Chendol are a testament to the community’s culinary prowess. Kim Choo Kueh Chang is a must-visit for authentic Peranakan treats.
7. Soar High with the Singapore Flyer
The Singapore Flyer, standing tall at 165 meters, offers an unparalleled view of the city’s skyline. As the observation wheel gently ascended, I was treated to a 360-degree panorama of iconic landmarks, from the Marina Bay Sands to the lush Gardens by the Bay. The sunset ride, with the city bathed in hues of gold and crimson, was particularly breathtaking.
A Journey Beyond Sightseeing
Beyond the visual spectacle, the Flyer offers thematic experiences. The in-capsule dining, where I savored a gourmet meal while overlooking the city lights, was truly memorable. For history enthusiasts, the interactive gallery at the base provides insights into Singapore’s transformation over the decades.
6. Immerse in Art at the National Gallery Singapore
Housed in the restored City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, the National Gallery Singapore boasts an impressive collection of Southeast Asian art. As I meandered through the galleries, I was captivated by the masterpieces that chronicled the region’s tumultuous history and rich cultural tapestry.
Innovative Exhibitions and Programs
The gallery constantly reinvents itself with rotating exhibitions and interactive installations. The “Art and Play” section, designed for younger visitors, offers a hands-on approach to understanding art. The rooftop garden, with sculptures set against the city backdrop, provides a serene space for reflection.
5. Revel in Retail Therapy at Orchard Road
Orchard Road, often dubbed Singapore’s shopping paradise, is a 2.2-kilometer stretch of retail euphoria. From high-end boutiques like Gucci and Chanel to local brands and pop-up stalls, it’s a shopper’s dream come true. The festive season, with the road illuminated in fairy lights and thematic decorations, adds a magical touch to the shopping experience.
Beyond Shopping: A Culinary and Entertainment Hub
While Orchard is synonymous with shopping, it’s also a hub for gastronomy and entertainment. The myriad of restaurants, cafes, and food courts offer a smorgasbord of global cuisines. The ION Sky, perched on the 56th floor of ION Orchard, offers a bird’s eye view of the city, making it a perfect spot to unwind after a day of retail therapy.
4. Traverse the Historic Kampong Glam
Kampong Glam, with its rich history and cultural significance, is a testament to Singapore’s Malay heritage. The majestic Sultan Mosque, with its golden domes and towering minarets, stands as a beacon of the Malay community’s spiritual journey. The nearby Malay Heritage Centre offers a deep dive into the traditions, arts, and history of the Malay world.
A Tapestry of Cultures
Beyond its Malay roots, Kampong Glam is a melting pot of cultures. The vibrant Haji Lane, with its eclectic boutiques, street art, and buzzing cafes, embodies the area’s cosmopolitan spirit. From Turkish kebabs to Mediterranean delicacies, the culinary offerings here are as diverse as its cultural tapestry.
3. Experience Serenity at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Located in the heart of Chinatown, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is an architectural masterpiece and a spiritual haven. The temple houses what is believed to be the left canine tooth of Buddha, making it a significant pilgrimage site. As I walked through the ornate halls, the chants of the monks and the fragrance of incense created an ambiance of peace and reverence.
A Journey Through Buddhist Art and Culture
The temple also boasts a museum that showcases Buddhist art from various Asian countries. The rooftop garden, with its tranquil pagoda and prayer wheel, offers a space for meditation and reflection. Regular ceremonies and rituals provide a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Buddhist traditions.
2. Take a River Safari at the Singapore Zoo
The River Safari at the Singapore Zoo offers a one-of-a-kind experience, allowing visitors to explore the world’s most iconic rivers. From the mighty Mississippi to the majestic Nile, each zone is meticulously crafted to replicate the native habitats. The Giant Panda Forest, home to the adorable Kai Kai and Jia Jia, was a personal highlight.
Conservation at the Forefront
The River Safari is not just an attraction; it’s a commitment to conservation. The park plays a pivotal role in breeding and reintroduction programs for endangered species. The Manatee Exhibit, which emphasizes the importance of freshwater ecosystems, is a testament to the park’s dedication to environmental education.
1. Witness the Spectacle of the Light and Water Show at Marina Bay
The crown jewel of Singapore’s attractions in 2023 is the mesmerizing Light and Water Show at Marina Bay. As I stood by the bay, the city’s skyline served as the backdrop for a breathtaking display of dancing fountains, vibrant lasers, and visual projections. The show, aptly named “Spectra,” is a harmonious blend of technology and artistry, creating a narrative that celebrates Singapore’s journey from a fishing village to a global metropolis.
A Reflection of Singapore’s Spirit
What makes “Spectra” truly special is its ability to capture the essence of Singapore. The show’s storyline, accompanied by a soulful orchestral soundtrack, delves into themes of diversity, unity, and progress. The finale, with its crescendo of lights and fountains reaching for the sky, left me and countless others in awe, serving as a poignant reminder of Singapore’s relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation.
As I reflect on my journey through Singapore, I’m overwhelmed by the city’s ability to seamlessly weave its rich heritage with its futuristic vision. Every experience, from the tranquil temples to the bustling streets, tells a story of a nation that’s constantly evolving, yet deeply rooted in its values and traditions. Singapore, with its tapestry of cultures, cuisines, and attractions, stands as a testament to the possibilities of human endeavor and imagination.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Is Singapore suitable for family vacations?
Absolutely! Singapore offers a range of family-friendly attractions like the Universal Studios, Singapore Zoo, and the Science Centre. There’s something for every age group.
2. What’s the best time to visit Singapore?
While Singapore is a year-round destination, the months between February and April are considered the best due to pleasant weather.
3. Is Singapore expensive for tourists?
Singapore can be pricier than some of its Southeast Asian neighbors. However, with a range of options from luxury to budget, it caters to every type of traveler.
4. How many days are ideal for a Singapore trip?
A 5-7 day trip is recommended to fully experience what Singapore has to offer, from its cultural landmarks to its modern attractions.
5. Do I need a visa to visit Singapore?
Visa requirements vary based on nationality. It’s advisable to check the official Singapore Immigration website for the most up-to-date information.
6. Is English widely spoken in Singapore?
Yes, English is one of the four official languages in Singapore and is widely spoken and understood.
7. Are there any cultural etiquettes I should be aware of?
Singaporeans value respect and courtesy. It’s advisable to dress modestly when visiting religious sites and always ask for permission before taking photographs.
Singapore, the Lion City, is a mesmerizing blend of the past and the future, tradition and innovation. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or someone seeking the thrill of modern attractions, Singapore promises an unforgettable experience. Dive deep, explore, and let the city’s magic envelop you.
Thank you for joining me on this exploration of the Lion City. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, Singapore promises a myriad of experiences that will leave you with cherished memories and a longing to return. Until next time, safe travels and keep exploring!
- Singapore Tourism Board (STB)
- Description: The official website of the Singapore Tourism Board provides comprehensive information on attractions, events, and experiences in Singapore. It was a primary source for up-to-date details on the top attractions and activities in the city.
- Link: VisitSingapore
- National Parks Board (NParks)
- Description: NParks is responsible for providing and enhancing greenery in Singapore. The website offers detailed insights into parks, nature reserves, and biodiversity in the city.
- Link: NParks
- Sentosa Development Corporation
- Description: The official website for Sentosa Island, offering information on attractions, events, and activities within the island resort.
- Link: Sentosa
- National Gallery Singapore
- Description: The official website of the National Gallery Singapore, providing information on exhibitions, collections, and the history of the gallery.
- Link: National Gallery
- Fort Canning Park
- Description: A source that delves into the historical significance, events, and attractions within Fort Canning Park.
- Link: Fort Canning Park
- Description: The official website for VResorts, detailing the virtual reality experiences, attractions, and educational programs offered.
- Link: VResorts Official
- Singapore Botanic Gardens
- Description: The official site for the Singapore Botanic Gardens, detailing its history, attractions, and significance as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Link: Singapore Botanic Gardens
- Universal Studios Singapore
- Description: The official website for Universal Studios Singapore, offering details on rides, attractions, events, and more.
- Link: Universal Studios Singapore
- Chinatown Heritage Centre
- Description: A source that provides insights into the history, culture, and significance of Chinatown in Singapore.
- Link: Chinatown Heritage Centre
- S.E.A. Aquarium
- Description: The official website for the S.E.A. Aquarium, detailing the marine life, conservation efforts, and attractions within.
- Link: S.E.A. Aquarium