This was a bit of a different trip as I was traveling with my brother, sister in law and two wonderful nieces who are 8 and 13. So accommodation and meals were chosen based on likelihood to eat of my two cheese, tomato and chicken nugget loving nieces. Having said that they did branch out and have some dumplings and chicken satay. I did a mix of family oriented attractions with them and then some solo travel activities which were more focused on photography. Here is my complete Singapore Travel Guide!
Singapore Travel Guide: Great Walks to do in Singapore:
I went solo for this activity and followed a neighborhood Walk in Lonely Planet Singapore (love their neighborhood walks)! This kicked off at the Farrer Park MRT. There were some very photogenic temples along the way – the Taoist Leong San See Temple was one of my favourite attractions followed by the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. I stumbled across a pop up art display in one of the small parks. Several trees were without leaves it being summer and all so colourful umbrellas had been installed for shade.
Tan House was my other photographic attraction highlight. This is a very colourful house that now seems to house some type of tourist agency and a few small vendors. It would be preferable if the vendors were not there as they can make getting a nice shot tricky but I guess they are making a living whereas I am visiting for about five minutes!
I enjoyed my first Lonely Planet walk so much I decided to include a second one in my Singapore travel guide and went with their guide to Tiong Bahru. This is much more hip part of Singapore vs the more cultural Little India walk. It is filled with white buildings which were apparently Singapore’s first public housing. Now they give a touch of Sidi Bou Said to this area. There are cute coffee shops and cafes galore around here.
I visited the Tiong Bahru Bakery which was excellent (I also discovered later there is one of these on the ground floor of the Tang Centre on Orchard road – good place to get decent coffee on Orchard Rd). It is a gorgeous café filled with many tempting treats. I went with their specialty savory croissants. These are sort of mini croissants – well actually more like a mini sandwich with croissant style bread. They then provide a choice of four fillings – I went with a sausage version and a pork version. It was 2 for $10 so silly not to try two of them. Delicious! And their coffee was fab.
I also visited the Tiong Bahru market and food centre. Downstairs was a traditional style market with lots of flower stalls. Upstairs it’s a busy hawker centre. The choice on hand is almost overwhelming. Interestingly there were about three stalls that had long queues vs the balance of stalls that were waiting for customers. I did find this one a bit intimidating in terms of food choices thus my croissant consumption at Tiong Bahru Bakery.
This is a lovely little neighborhood for wandering. There are many cute little shops – particularly gorgeous book shops. A highlight here was Nana & Bird – this store has a bit of everything with women’s fashion as well as some baby clothes. It has interesting and fresh designs and whilst not cheap it is not overly expensive.
Chinatown most definitely deserved more than the fairly quick tour that I took. I would highly recommend having a leisurely couple of hours to wander around and explore the back streets. This is my quick overview.
I started off at Chinatown MRT and did the lonely planet walk backward as I was coming from Tiong Bahru. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a major Singapore tourism attraction. I didn’t go in as a church or temple has to be pretty special these days to get me to take my shoes off and head inside. From a photography point of view, I enjoyed being able to capture its traditional architecture against the modern buildings of Singapore. Tourist buses galore here.
There is then a lovely road to follow called Ann Siang Rd which is to the side of the temple. The beginning of this road is a full on tourist tat market. However, if you continue to follow the road it becomes far more atmospheric with beautiful buildings and delicious looking restaurants. This road then takes many turns and requires some stairs to take you on to Amoy Street. This was also a great street for wandering – very photogenic and interesting and different shops and restaurants.
Singapore Travel Guide: The big tourist activities
Mount Faber Park
The highest point of this Singapore travel guide sits at the top of Mount Faber Park. You can take a cable car up here or you can drive. We headed up for dinner at Spuds and Aprons which is the restaurant at the top. The food was okay – I did keep noticing that portion sizes are not particularly large in Singapore. I had the mustard chicken and mashed potato which was very tasty but I could have used more food.
There is a fantastic view out over the southern end of Singapore. Around the restaurant, there is a wooden verandah/stairs etc that you can walk to take pics of the view. The banisters are covered in golden bells which add a nice touch to photos. There is also a large happiness bell up near the children’s play area which was rung rather frequently while we visited – mostly by my 8-year-old niece. The kids were thrilled with the fish pond which contained rather a large koi fish. Fish food was available for purchase and distribution.
We stayed literally steps from Orchard Road and a few minutes’ walk from the MRT stop for Orchard road which was a great location. (see Sleeping further down this post)
Orchard Road is all about shopping and no Singapore Travel Guide would be complete without shopping! There is an insane number of malls. They are literally everywhere and it is not easy to tell the difference. ION mall was quite near our hotel and had an absolutely gigantic H&M (there is an even bigger free standing one further down Orchard road). It is also quite photogenic at night – got that futuristic feel that Singapore is so good at.
My favourite was the mall at the mandarin oriental hotel (333 Orchard Road). This was a three-story mall but it contained quite a few cute boutique stores by what appeared to be local designers. Surprisingly these stores were not that expensive – about SD$150 for a frock.
The best part of the malls are the food courts. There is a broad choice, quality is high and the costs very reasonable. I do suggest you take your own tissues though – it was very difficult to find napkins at any of the food courts we visited. Some did have hand washing stations which were great for post meal but not really effective when you have just shelled a prawn.
Gardens by the Bay
This was my Singapore travel guide highlight! Sure it is a massive tourist attraction but it is fantastic. I particularly loved the sci fi trees. It is such a mix of garden meets futuristic design. Most importantly it provides many photo opportunities!
The closest MRT is Bayfront. On arrival, there are many signs helping to guide you to the entrance. There is a free entrance option but if you want to visit the Conservancies (the best bit) you need to pay. The Conservancies are the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest Dome – two of the best things to see. It was super-hot the day we visited so we decided the shuttle bus $3 trip was a requirement.
First up was the Flower Dome. The domes are the same type of thing you find at the Eden Project in Cornwall. The Flower Dome is focused of course on flowers and plant life. It is pretty but this one is definitely more of a thrill if you have a green thumb.
One thing I didn’t do which would have been great was to visit Pollen. This is a Jason Atherton restaurant in the middle of the Flower Dome. I love his restaurants and it would have been great to have a meal in the middle of the dome – next time. Singapore does a great job of putting fab restaurants in its major tourist sights (see the National Orchid Park).
I far preferred the Cloud Forest Dome. This houses a mountain of sorts and features the highest indoor waterfall in the world. The path essentially takes you to the top of the mountain and you then head down some fantastic stairways to “climb” down the mountain (not a good one if you have a fear of heights as it is very open).
We then walked down to Satays by the Bay. This is a touristy hawker bar set up that is outside and as the name implies situated on the Bay. Having said that it is very easy to figure out what each stall is offering and the quality was good. We went with a serving of 10 chicken satays which were very tasty.
Next up was a walk down to the Supertrees. These were my favourites in terms of photography. The key was trying to get the right angle and as always the right light. They look best with a very blue sky behind them. I paid the $8 to do the OCBC Skyway and this was well worth it. This is basically an outdoor bridge between the super trees and was the best way to get some great shots.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens are huge and very beautiful! There is also loads going on throughout the Gardens so you may want to put aside a few hours to explore. It was a very hot steamy day when we visited which took away the enjoyment a little bit – I would have definitely stayed longer if the weather was cooler.
We started off with the kid’s section which was a bit of a dud even if you were a kid. Well, I am being a bit unfair – I think it is more suited to kids under 5. Once we were done with that I headed for the National Orchid Garden. It was a lovely walk with everything from bonsai trees to gazebos in-between. Near the entrance to the Orchid Garden is Halia. I stopped in here for a coffee and it has a lovely atmosphere – again would be a great place for a proper lunch.
Post caffeine it was into the Orchid Garden. This is a big place!!! It is very beautiful – they have made the most of every step with lots of benches surrounded by gorgeous orchids all designed as Photo stops! It is selfie stick central in here especially as I went on a Sunday – helper’s day off.
There is every type of orchid experience you could imagine – orchid strands developed for VIPs from Margaret Thatcher to Kate and Wills. There is a mist room as well as a cool room for the rarer strands. It is almost easy to get lost in here!
Last up was a stroll down to Swan Lake. I had read there were mute swans on the lake and for some reason, this intrigued me. Alas by the time I got there I was exhausted from heat and walking and only took a cursory look around – no swans! It was rather steamy and overcast by this time so dreadful light thus no photos. It would be worth coming back here in different weather conditions.
Marina Bay Sands
Wow, this place is over the top! We started at possibly the largest hotel lobby I have ever seen! We headed past the Casino into the giant shopping centre. A map is a requirement for this place. The ground floor of the shopping centre is a lake and you can hop on a boat a la Venice and be gondoliered (not sure that’s a word but it possibly should be) throughout the centre. Rather surreal to be shopping and look down and see water and a boat!
There are almost too many bars and restaurants here! Again we hit the food court to keep all stomachs happy and I did have a delicious laksa (again too small) . Then it was upstairs and onto the bay for the sounds and lights show. This is run twice a night usually and we went to the first show which was at 8pm.
The show is worth seeing as the city skyline view is fantastic. There are then loads of sprouting fountains in the bay that explode and have different light colours projected onto them. All to 13 minutes of very Disney style music. My favourite bit was the many many bubbles that exploded on the land side – always very cute to see small children determinedly chasing bubbles!
Singapore Travel Guide: Getting there and getting around
I flew Singapore Airlines Economy return. Darn, no A380. An A330 on the way over and I think a 777 on the way back although they appeared identical. It is quite a spacious feeling economy. Most importantly it has an excellent entertainment system. A huge range of movies and TV and a decent sized screen in the back of the seats. Their headphones are not great so would suggest you bring your own.
The MRT is a fantastic sub way. It is super easy to use and the trains are quite frequent. The only thing that is a bit annoying as a traveler is the ticketing system. They have a permanent style of card like an Oyster or Opal. However, the only other option is a Standard Ticket. You can use this ticket for 6 journeys but you can’t top it up with money and then draw down – you must purchase each journey separately. This is a bit of a pain when you are hopping around Singapore. Having said that the journeys tend to be very cheap (about Singapore dollar 1.70 for many one way trips).
Uber is also up and running in Singapore and we used it several times. Rates very good as always.
Singapore Travel Guide: Sleeping – Treetops Executive Residences
The location of this hotel was fantastic – just off Orchard Road. It was literally a 30-second walk to Orchard road and about a further 5 minutes to walk to the Orchard MTR and ION shopping centre.
It’s a big place! I had the most basic one bedroom and it was huge. Room one was a large living area including a kitchen. A very nice touch here is that they do the check in in your apartment rather than the lobby. There was also a welcome basket with milk, tea, coffee, biscuits etc – all you need for your first couple of days. Nice toiletries in the bathroom but they are not replaced. Wifi in the room was excellent but could be patchy in the general areas.
The bedroom was large with a very big king sized bed made up with good quality sheets.
There is a big very busy breakfast buffet – lots of changes each day which was good – waffles one, pancakes the next. The coffee was not bad considering it came out of a basic machine.
A highlight was the very large pool. The pool had two spa areas – great jets to put on your sore feet after a big day walking in Singapore!
Singapore Travel Guide: Some other places to eat
California Pizza Kitchen on Orchard Road. Not the exactly a high-end culinary experience but their bbq chicken pizza is a classic and it is a very kid friendly menu and place.
Wine is not cheap in Singapore – there are happy hour offers but outside of that, you will be paying circa Singapore dollar 13 for a very small glass. Obviously, this is a good use of funds and time vs no wine at all but it is a bit of a pain. Well, I found the small glass size more of a pain than the price!
Wild Honey is a great brunch/lunch place on the 3rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental mall. This is a funky western style brunch place with a wonderfully long and interesting menu. It was full the Sunday that I visited. I had the Greek breakfast which was a small pan with baked eggs, lamb moussaka, béchamel sauce and Japanese eggplant on the top and Turkish bread on the side – very tasty. They also had excellent coffee.
And to finish off…
Singapore Travel Guide: Somewhere different
My brother found this fantastic little place called the Mad Museum (as in Make a Difference) and we headed here for dinner. It is on Orchard Road just past Orange Grove road. It is fantastically quirky. The ground floor is full of different modern art installations. One of our favourites was a painting of a chair that you can “sit” in. There is also a great little museum shop. Upstairs the art continues with a mix of installations.
We had dinner here and it was delicious (again small Singapore portion sizes). I had a Wagyu burger with purple chips. It was a little disappointing that the purple chips were actually crisps but the burger was super tasty. We then headed to the ice cream section where we were able to sample some of their interesting flavours like salted egg yolk (actually very tasty!) although I stayed safe with the salted caramel when it came to the final order.
This was a really fun different place to visit and the staff was also incredibly friendly.
Singapore is a fantastic way to experience Asia – particularly for the first time or as a stopover. It is very family friendly but also great for couples and perfect for a girls trip with all that shopping. Use my Singapore Travel Guide to help you plan the perfect trip for you!
Singapore Travel Guide: Useful Links
Singapore Travel Guide Accommodation:
Singapore Travel Guide Flights:
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Singapore Travel Guide: Tours
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Also published on Medium.