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Singapore City Break: 21 Must-Do Experiences for an Unforgettable Trip

Explore things to do on a Singapore city break. Discover what to do on a Singapore city break. Plan a city break in Singapore with these helpful tips.
Singapore is a fantastic place to visit if you are looking for an easy introduction to Southeast Asia and is an excellent hub for travel around Southeast Asia.  

Singapore is safe, clean, and easy to get around (Changi Airport is one of the best airports in the world).  

Whether you are visiting Singapore for first time or you are a return visitor, I think you'll find plenty of Singapore attractions to keep you busy. Just mind the heat and humidity! 

Here are my recommendations for cool things to do on a Singapore city break based on my personal experience. 

Skyline views on a Singapore City Break

1. Sample Street Food at a Grade 'A' Market Hall

The best way to get to know a place is to try its street food and in Singapore you can do so safely.  All food stalls have a prominently displayed health rating.  

If you stick with the 'A's you'll have lower risk of the SE Asian equivalent of 'Delhi Belly' ruining your trip.  We ate breakfast at a local food hall each day.  

I especially loved these little nutty roll-ups.  For dinner, skewers of chicken satay and a large beer took the edge off Singapore's extreme heat and humidity.
City Break Singapore - Street Food

Chinatown is home to the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre. It's worth stopping here whether you are a first, second, third, or infinite visitor to Singapore! 

I always go for a nutty pancake and kopi (Singaporean coffee optionally made with sweetened condensed milk). 

We stuck with A and B rated establishments and our stomachs thanked us.

Rolled pancakes at Maxwell Road Hawker Stalls in Singapore

2. Try Ice Kachang

In Singapore, we had one of the most unusual desserts I've ever tasted.  Ice Kachang is a mountain of shaved ice with Jello cubes and kidney beans inside with corn and a bit of condensed milk added over the top.  You can find it in the food court at any of the shopping malls.
Ice Kachang on a city break in Singapore

3. Hang with the Monkeys In and Around Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

It's possible to get to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve using a combination of public transit, taxi, and walking.  The reserve sits very close to a residential neighborhood and we were amazed to see monkeys playing in the street!
City Break Singapore - Monkeys at Bukit Timah

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Interested in experiencing other Asian cities but not sure where to go? I recommend:

4. Window Shop Your Way Down Orchard Road

Orchard Road is the premier shopping destination in Singapore and a favorite thing to do in Singapore among locals (the malls are always crowded).  Mall after air-conditioned mall offers welcome relief from the heat as well as high end goods to meet every need and interest.
Orchard Road on a Singapore City Break

5. Admire the Orchids at Singapore Botanic Gardens

Not far from Orchard Road, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a delightful diversion.  In particular, the collection of orchids are amazing to behold.
Orchids spotted on a Singapore City Break

6. Channel Your Inner Disney on Sentosa Island

While in Singapore, I had the sense that it was somehow familiar.  It took me a while to realize what it was.  

Because Singapore is so neat, orderly, and clean, it's almost like being in a controlled environment like Disney World.  This is no more true than on Sentosa Island which features beaches, rides, shopping, and restaurants.
Sentosa Island on a Singapore City Break

7. Relive WWII History at the Battle Box

We've developed an interest in World War II history as a result of our extensive travels around the world.  Check out the Battle Box in Singapore to see the underground command center constructed at Fort Canning.  

We could just imagine the tension thinking back to what the military must have been feeling as the Japanese were blitzing their way down the Malay Peninsula.  It was at this location that Singapore was surrendered to the invading Japanese during WWII.
WWII - The Battle Box on a City Break in Singapore

8. Go Around the World Without Leaving the City (Chinatown and Little India)

Singapore is culturally mixed and you can effectively go around the world without even leaving the island.  Chinatown and Little India are welcome contrasts to the western style skyscrapers and expat communities.

9. Catch a Dragonboat Race

Dragonboat racing is a popular pastime.  We heard drums beating on the river and arrived just in times to see crew teams straining toward the finish line.
Dragonboats spotted on a city break in Singapore

10. Go on a Night Safari

Singapore Zoo offers a unique attraction, a Night Safari.  In fact, even if you are spending just a few hours layover in Singapore you may be able to squeeze this in.  

Once again, it felt a bit Disney-esque as we queued up to board our zebra-striped vehicle.  The animals enjoy wide open spaces and the barriers between you and the wild are hard to discern.  It is actually almost like being on a real safari.
Singapore Zoo Night Safari on a Singapore City Break

11. Singapore's Gardens by the Bay

Deer sculpture at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
The Gardens by the Bay features a cluster of over-the-top attractions and should definitely be on your list of things to do in Singapore if you are a first-time visitor.

Supertrees

Supertrees at Marina Bay in SIngapore
The supertrees are the most iconic element at the Gardens by the Bay. Giant man-made structures tower above the ground with foliage grafted on.

Cloud Forest

Cloud Forest from above at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
The Cloud Forest at the Gardens by the Bay was pretty awesome. Located inside a giant dome (greenhouse), a waterfall and tropical plants dominate the scene.

Cloud forest and waterfall at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
We even saw a lego display of carniverous plants.
Lego display of carniverous plans at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
When exploring the Cloud Forest, you'll ascend a series of elevators, escalators, and staircases to reach the top and get up close to this tropical microcosm in the middle of Singapore.

Flowers

Dragon sculpture at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
The Gardens by the Bay in Singapore also features an impressive botanical garden. Once again housed in a climate-controlled dome, you can explore nature in utmost comfort. Wooden sculptures add to the atmosphere.
van Gogh tulip display at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
When we visited, tulip displays were fashioned to resemble paintings by van Gogh. I've come to expect nothing less than over-the-top in Singapore so this turn of events didn't surprise me at all.
Tulip display at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

May the 4th Be With You

May the 4th Be With You Star Wars Portrait at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
We happened to visit the Gardens by the Bay on May 4th and arrived just in time for the May the 4th be With You Star Wars event. Characters were on hand for photographs and you could queue up for a picture with Chewbacca himself.
Chewbacca at the May the 4th Be With You Star Wars celebration at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
When the sun went down, the supertrees lit up and we were treated to a Star Wars themed light show.
Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay lit up at night in Singapore

12. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Glass Buddhas at the Buddha Tooth Relic temple in Singapore
We spent a fair bit of time in Singapore's Chinatown. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is worth a stop. See countless colored glass Buddhas lined up in the center of the hall. It was a striking display.

13. Visit Kampong Glam

Artwork on the walls at Tolido Espresso Nook in Kampong Glam neighborhood of Singapore
Kampong Glam is a fascinating neighborhood in Singapore that we missed on our first visit. Grab a coffee at Tolido's Espresso Nook to fuel up before a walk around this section of town.
Coffee at Tolido Espresso Nook in Kampong Glam neighborhood of Singapore
Kampong Glam is anchored by Masjid Sultan or Sultan Mosque.
Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam in Singapore
Street art in Kampong Glam in Singapore
A variety of shops and Halal restaurants crowd the streets around the mosque.
shopfront in Kampong Glam in Singapore

14. Geylang Serai Hawker Stalls

Hawker stall at Geylang Serai
For a more local and slightly edgier take on street food stalls, check out Geylang Serai. 
Coconut dessert at Geylang Serai hawker stalls in Singapore
We sampled a cakey, coconut flavored dessert which was outstanding after tasting a Malaysian laksa. Pro-tip: look for the stalls that have the longest queues to figure out which food is best.

15. Admire the Architecture at Katong and Joo Chiat

Peranakan house in Katong Joo Chiat in Singapore
From Geylang Serai, we made a foray into Katong and Joo Chiat. This primarily residential neighborhood of Singapore features historic and colorful Peranakan shophouses.
Peranakan house in Katong Joo Chiat in Singapore
Peranakan house in Katong Joo Chiat in Singapore
For more on things to do in Katong, head on over to the Rustic Nomad.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Southeast Asia is an amazing part of the world to explore, but where should you go? I recommend:

16. Take a Walk on the Beach at East Coast Park

Beach at East Coast Park in Singapore
We decided to walk off our ice kachang dessert along the beach at East Coast Park. East Coast Park was a fascinating spot for people-watching in Singapore. We visited on a Sunday and tons of locals were out hanging out with friends and having a picnic.

17. Take a Dusk Walk in Fort Canning Park

Singapore skyline views from Fort Canning Park
Fort Canning Park is a huge greenspace in the center of Singapore. It's a great spot for a walk, especially when the sun starts to go down and the heat of the day eases off a little.
Bird in Fort Canning Park in Singapore
We spotted eagle-eyed birds as we skirted the paths winding up and around this hilly park.
Walking path in Fort Canning Park in Singapore
Staircase in Fort Canning Park in Singapore

18. Explore the Tiong Bahru neighborhood

Kingfisher in Singapore
Tiong Bahru is another less touristy neighborhood in Singapore. Tiong Bahru was walking distance from our hotel and we spotted colorful kingfishers and even a ruined gravesite.
Ruined gravesite in Tiong Bahru neighborhood of Singapore
Tiong Bahru had a cool local vibe with colorful street art and a bit of art deco nuances.
Street art in the Tiong Bahru neighborhood of Singapore
Art deco apartments in the Tiong Bahru neighborhood of Singapore
Tiong Bahru Bakery is a must-stop spot in the neighborhood. We sampled the chocolate Kouign Amann which was flaky, buttery, and simply amazing.
Chocolate Kouign Amann pastry from Tiong Bahru Bakery in Singapore

19. Do Brunch with the Common Man (Coffee Roasters)

Common Man Coffee Roasters Sign Fogged Over by Humidity in Singapore
As second-time visitors to Singapore, we had the luxury of playing it cool like the locals do. Brunch is popular in Singapore and we queued up at Common Man Coffee Roasters.
cappuccino from Common Man Coffee Roasters in Singapore
The coffee at Common Man was outstanding, as you might expect, but the food also really hit the spot. Gourmet pancakes will satisfy your sweet tooth and eggs with savory greens have got you covered if you're looking for a healthy breakfast that packs a protein punch.
Pancakes from Common Man Coffee Roasters in Singapore
Egg dish from Common Man Coffee Roasters in Singapore

20. Sip Happy Hour Beers in Clarke Quay

Clarke Quay canopy in Singapore
To be honest, Clarke Quay feels a little bit fabricated in a Disney sort of way. Restaurants and bars sit in the shade of the canopy along the Singapore River. Clarke Quay is admittedly a great spot to grab a well-priced drink during happy hour, especially if you are staying nearby. 

21. Take a Morning Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir

Colorful bamboo at MacRitchie Reservoir in Singapore
MacRitchie Reservoir is where locals and expats go for a hike. We charted a course through the trails around the reservoir. We were hoping to see the monitor lizards that are known to frequent the area. 
Hiking trail at MacRitchie Reservoir in Singapore
Alas, the monitor lizards were elusive that day but we did see some cool turtles and curious monkeys.
Turtle at MacRitchie Reservoir in Singapore
Monkey at MacRitchie Reservoir in Singapore

Best Things to Do In Singapore Map

Click on the image of the map below to open up an interactive version in Google Maps to help you connect with fun things to do in Singapore on your trip to the island.

Best things to do in Singapore Map

Where to Stay in Singapore

Hotels in Singapore can be quite expensive. You could consider splurging and staying at the unequivocably fabulous Marina Bay Sands. Or, you could pick a more down-to-earth accommodation and consider staying in a serviced apartment like the Oakwood Premier OUE.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Singapore City Break: 21 Must-Do Experiences for an Unforgettable Trip
Singapore City Break: 21 Must-Do Experiences for an Unforgettable Trip
Explore things to do on a Singapore city break. Discover what to do on a Singapore city break. Plan a city break in Singapore with these helpful tips.
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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog
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