Vertical gardens meet terraced shophouses in Asia’s rapidly developing island city, offering surprising experiences by day and night.
Singapore’s rapid transformation into one of the world’s pre-eminent 21st-century metropolises means it offers an enviable mix of the old and the new that ensures it never gets boring. Despite its small land area, this city-state is welcoming, accessible, and laden with world-class attractions from engineering wonders to amazing nature and wildlife features. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or returning, these six spots provide the perfect opportunity to explore the ever-changing city.
DISCOVER THIS VERTICAL GARDEN CITY
Stroll around Singapore Botanic Gardens
Lush, abundant greenery is apparent everywhere along the streets, nature trails, and in wetland reserves, offering respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. The venerable Singapore Botanic Gardens is the city’s only UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the National Orchid Garden containing the world’s largest collection of orchids. After a morning or evening stroll, stop for a meal at Corner House for an unrivaled taste of French-Asian cuisine.
Insider tip: Don’t forget to snap a shot at the iconic Bandstand on Lawrence Niven’s parade ground or one of the Heritage Tembusu trees that are thought to antedate the foundation of the gardens.
Visit the futuristic Supertrees
Gardens by the Bay, with its 50m-tall engineering wonders called Supertrees, is home to more than 160,000 plants of more than 200 species. Seven of them are even designed to harvest solar energy. Situated at the mouth of the city’s Marina Bay area, this green oasis offers refreshing strolls around the Bay East Garden, Dragonfly and Kingfisher Lakes, with art sculptures to discover in and around the garden landscape. And, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll spot Singapore’s famed wildlife – the smooth coated otters that have made the gardens their home.
EXPLORE STREET LIFE
Stroll heritage enclaves
Modern Singapore was founded as a thriving trading post that attracted immigrants from China, India, and the Arab world, among many other regions. Many of these immigrants first settled in ethnic enclaves delineated by the British colonials and have over the years created a culture uniquely Singaporean. Whether it’s the Civic District, Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam, or Joo Chiat, historical buildings and shophouses still exist and are best experienced via a walking tour that tells the story of a forgotten time, mixed with memories of World War II and rapid urban development.
Insider tip: Hop on a trishaw to discover these neighborhoods and enjoy a ride on this traditional form of transportation.
Head to a shopping and entertainment paradise
For those who enjoy shopping and entertainment, Singapore’s Orchard Road is lined with malls, entertainment centers, and is popular among travelers as a sightseeing street and a chance to explore the multitude of retail experiences. Likened to Paris’ Champs-Élysées and London’s Bond Street, Orchard Road contains 22 upmarket malls and six department stores. Featuring the world’s coolest designer labels, this is a stretch of road that is not only a place to see and be seen but also an area that will give your credit card a serious workout.
Concierge tip: Stop by Emerald Hill for a drink and snack in between shopping, and marvel at the old and refurbished shophouses that used to form part of a residential neighborhood.
EXPERIENCE NIGHTLIFE AND NOCTURNAL SAFARIS
See animals up-close
Award-winning Singapore Zoo and the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals, the Night Safari, is home to more than 2,500 animals from over 130 species spanning six geographical zones of the world. From the rugged Himalayan foothills to the jungles of Southeast Asia, a visit to these attractions never gets old. Whether you’re looking to visit in the day to see the famed Panda family or by night to see the mysterious habitats of endangered species like the southern three-banded armadillo and binturongs, you'll be able to get up-close and personal with these fascinating creatures.
Insider tip: For those visiting with young or old ones, there are guided tram rides with a live commentary.
Uncover hidden cocktail bars
Singapore’s exploding cocktail scene first took root around the early 2000s when an influx of talented bartenders from around the world brought new knowledge and perspectives to the dining scene. Today, beyond its iconic cocktail, the Singapore Sling, the city is home to many speakeasys and hidden bars boasting innovative creations using local spirits, flavors, and spices – the experience is unrivaled from decor to drink.
Insider tip: These hidden cocktail bars usually have tasting workshops for guests to enjoy local liquors ranging from butterfly pea gin to cendol (an iced coconut dessert) gin and more. We recommend an evening walking tour with an expert mixologist.