TIPS FOR TRAVELING TO SINGAPORE FOR THE FIRST TIME
Welcome to Singapore!
When you land at Singapore’s Changi Airport, you’ll feel like you’re living in the year 3000.
It looks and feels futuristic in many ways, and it’s the perfect place to spend a weekend.
Below, I have all the tips for traveling to Singapore for the first time.
From where you should go to what you should do to how you can save money, here’s what you should know.
Places to Visit in Singapore
Marina Bay Sands
You haven’t really seen Singapore until you’ve seen Marina Bay Sands.
Marina Bay Sands (strictly speaking) is a high-end luxury hotel.
However, the hotel connects to a mall with a canal running through it.
And along with the Marina Bay Sands Skypark Observation Deck, it turns into a vantage point for the entire city.
You can either pay to go up onto the Skypark Observation Deck, or you can grab a drink at the hotel’s pool bar (only guests are allowed to use the infinity pool).
The drink is a good option if you want to see the views AND grab a drink with your companions.
Gardens by the Bay
Once you’ve seen pictures of the Gardens by the Bay, you’ll know you have to stop by.
If you’ve seen Crazy Rich Asians, you may also recognize the Supertree Grove.
This is often where the tourists are drawn.
I can’t blame them!
It’s pretty spectacular.
Visit here for more information.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Thought you had seen the gardens Singapore had to offer when you visited the Gardens by the Bay?
Singapore receives its first UNESCO World Heritage nomination for the Singapore Botanic Gardens, so it’s well worth stopping by.
It’s free to visit as well, which often makes it a great place to hang out for those looking for some inexpensive things to do.
However, the park’s crown jewel – the National Orchid Garden – charges SG $5 for admission.
So, not everything comes entirely free.
Singapore Changi Airport
Yes, Singapore Changi has been ranked the #1 airport in the entire world.
It’s considered a destination in itself because of the shops, bars, restaurants, and sights to see (including a waterfall!).
If you don’t believe me, read My 27-Hour Vacation in Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Just make sure you go when you’re departing or arriving in the country.
You’ll see signs posted saying that only people with tickets are permitted past a certain point (and they mean it!).
Singapore is known for its shopping in Southeast Asia to the point where people will fly from other countries.
Yes, you heard that correctly.
Just a quick flight over from Thailand or Vietnam for the weekend for the best shopping available.
If you’re in the mood for a little bit of retail therapy, head to Orchard Road.
This neighborhood has 22 malls and six department stores.
There are also plenty of restaurants available when you inevitably get hungry.
Have a thing for Ferris wheels?
The Singapore Flyer is the world’s largest observation wheel, but other than its size, it’s incredibly similar to the London Eye.
If you’re dying to take a spin, there are different packages that allow you to be served and pampered while you’re enjoying the view of Singapore’s skyline.
Singapore’s Chinatown is beyond authentic.
If you’ve ever been to China, it’ll take you right back (as if you were standing in the country!).
There are some beautiful temples absolutely worth seeing like the Sri Mariamman Hindu temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic temple.
After that, don’t hesitate to try some local and authentic Chinese cuisine.
There are plenty of mom and pop shops throughout this neighborhood.
Sentosa is an island located off the southern coast of Singapore’s main island.
The cheapest way to get there is to walk by foot via the Sentosa Boardwalk that connects Vivocity to Sentosa.
If you’re dying for some beach time while you’re in Singapore (hey, all good if you are!), this is really your only option as Singapore isn’t known as a beach destination.
You can also play volleyball, go kayaking, or swim with dolphins.
Clarke Quay was the center of commerce during the 19th century.
Today it’s full of colorful buildings and provides a place for tourists to admire some of the city’s historic bridges and landmarks.
If nothing more, grab a Tiger Beer here.
You’ll be glad you did.
Singapore Zoo advertises itself as the world’s best rainforest zoo.
Like the rest of the city-state, this spot is clean and inviting.
The animals appear well-treated with plenty of lush vegetation and a large habitat.
Unique Things to Do in Singapore
One of the first tips for Singapore travel is that there will be an unlimited number of unique things you can do and see.
Here is a quick list to help you decide which sites you want to travel to and what experiences you want to achieve throughout your Singapore travels:
Indulge in the Exotic Cuisine – If you are like many travelers, one of the biggest perks of going someplace new is the opportunity you will have to try their cuisine. One of the biggest tips for traveling to Singapore is to try the food, all of it! Singapore is known for its cute cafes, unique fashion, and gourmet food. From chic cocktail bars to sophisticated eateries, Singapore has it all for enthusiastic travel foodies! Not only will you be able to enjoy the cuisine, but you will also get a good dive into the Singapore culture by being exposed to the language, various sounds, music, and the culinary presentations of each establishment.
Enjoy the Most Beautiful Scenery – There is no denying that Singapore has the most astounding scenery. If this is your first time traveling here, the best traveling tip I can offer is that you try to see as many of the exotic sites as you can. From the botanical gardens to the reservoir parks, Singapore is truly a terrific place aesthetically.
Try Out Local Sporting Events – Underwater hockey! Yes, you read that right. Underwater hockey is one of the most fun underwater games, dating back to the 1900s. You grab some snorkels and sticks before you dive into the pool with fellow players. This game is held at local complexes. You can call to inquire about when games are held and how you can sign up to play.
Learn All About Chinese Tea – I mentioned Chinatown as a must-stop place to visit while you are in Singapore. While you are there, you can learn about the Chinese tea culture and how it revolutionized the tea culture we know throughout the globe. You can sample various teas, learn how to prepare the tea, and experience Chinese tea drinking rituals. It is a uniquely marvelous thing to experience while you are in Singapore.
Jam Out at the Local Art Jams – Art jamming cafes are all the rage in Singapore. This is a unique café where you can experience local culture while you paint and sip on a delicious beverage of your choice. These cafes are an excellent place to go to unleash your creative side and experience Singapore in a way that many travelers do not know about. The best part is that you get to take your painted masterpiece home with you when you leave. Talk about a memorable souvenir!
Marvel at the Local Cultural Goods – Singapore is home to an array of fabulous trinkets, goods, and antiques. If you do not like to waste your money on novelty souvenirs, then taking a stroll around some of the marketplaces will help you find remarkable items that encompass the Singapore culture. Purchasing one of these unique finds is the best way to acquire a souvenir you will cherish for years.
Take these tips for traveling to Singapore and enjoy the special culture all around you.
Money Saving Tips
Alright, sooner or later you’ll figure out that Singapore is the most expensive place to travel in Southeast Asia.
And, while it’s well worth it, you’ll need some money-saving tips for traveling to Singapore.
Fortunately, I’ve got those on hand.
Here’s what you need to know:
Use public transportation
Taxis are never the cheapest way to get around Singapore.
The city has a state-of-art public transportation system called the MRT.
It is clean and efficient and can get you just about anywhere you want to go.
Take it from the airport and learn how to use it early on in your trip.
Consider tourist passes and promotions
If you’re using public transportation (and you should be!), then you’ll want to check out the available transportation passes for the duration of your trip.
These transportation passes are geared towards encouraging the use of public transportation and saving money.
For whatever period of time you purchase it for, you’ll receive unlimited taps on the country’s buses, MRT system, and LRT system.
This is hard to beat!
Many attractions also offer discounts for online purchases.
If you know you’ll be going somewhere in advance, do a quick search to see if you can save yourself a few bucks by purchasing your ticket ahead of time.
These savings can add up over the course of your trip.
Don’t buy bottled water
Singapore tap water is perfectly safe to drink.
Bring your own bottle and fill up at the tap instead of dropping $1-5 every time you need something to drink!
Eat at local hawker centers
If you plan to eat in restaurants every single night, you’ll be hit hard by Singapore’s high prices.
A great way to avoid this is by going for a more authentic experience: local hawker centers.
These are informal, open-air eateries that mainly cater to locals.
The food is fabulous and incredibly affordable.
You’ll have a delicious meal while saving yourself quite a bit of cash.
Do not tip
Servers in countries in Africa and the Middle East as well as the United States rely on patrons providing an extra 15 to 20 percent tip.
However, this isn’t customary in Europe or Asia.
While most restaurants and cafes automatically charge an additional 10 percent service fee with the final bill, additional tipping is not expected.
You can save money by understanding the country’s tipping culture and not tipping simply because it’s done in your country.
Enjoy free things to do in the city
Often, people spend money on food and activities when traveling.
Yet, if you take advantage of free attractions and eat at hawker stalls, then you’re minimizing a lot of your expenses.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens are one of the biggest free things to do.
There are also a bunch of well-maintained free parks as well as Chinese and Hindu temples.
Take your time walking around this futuristic city.
You won’t regret it!
How to Get Around Singapore
As noted above, the best way to get around Singapore is by using public transportation.
The MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) is the city’s transit system that stretches across the entire city.
Even if you don’t use public transportation regularly at home, expecting to use it here is one of the top tips for traveling to Singapore.
You can read more about the MRT and how to navigate it here.
You can strive to understand the basics (definitely how to get from the airport to your accommodation) before you get there, but don’t stress yourself out too much.
Often, you’ll pick it up naturally after having been on it a few times.
You can also ask your hotel or a friendly local if you’re in need of help.
Get to Know Singapore on a Hop on Hop off Tour
Not up for walking or navigating the city by public transport?
There are still options for you!
Singapore has the BIGBUS Tours (if you don’t know them by name, you’d know them if you saw them!).
You can visit here to understand how the process works.
This is a great way for people both young and old to see all that Singapore has to offer.
Ready to explore?
Singapore is a great spot to add on to any Southeast Asia trip.
While it is more expensive, you’ll get a chance to relax and refresh in a clean and beautiful destination.
I hope you use these tips for traveling to Singapore.
Do you have any additional tips for traveling to Singapore? If you do, comment below!
For more travel tips, read our blog on International Travel Tips for First-Time Travelers.
If you are still feeling overwhelmed, or simply do not have the time to plan your trip to Singapore, why not let us help you? We will create the perfect bespoke itinerary just for you!