With its hawker centres, shopping malls, and cultural attractions, there’s plenty to do in the Southeast Asian island nation of Singapore. But if you want to escape the city, you’ll also find plenty of fun day trips from Singapore! Whether you’re looking for beautiful beaches, traditional villages, and ancient temples, get away from the crowded streets of Singapore by embarking on one of these must-do side trips…
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If you’re looking for the most convenient side trips from Singapore, start with Sentosa Island. It’s a short trip from the city centre, leaving plenty of time to explore the island.
Sentosa is mostly a resort island stuffed full of amusement parks, water parks, sprawling five-star hotels, and some of the best beaches in Singapore. When you first arrive, visit some of the busiest spots on the island before they become packed with visitors.
Start with the S.E.A. Aquarium. It’s one of the largest aquariums in Asia and opens at 10 am. After viewing sharks, dolphins, and various fish, visit one of the amusement parks. Universal Studios Singapore is among the top things to do in Sentosa Island, with a wide variety of movie- and TV-themed attractions and rides for the whole family.
Spend the evening checking out the high-end department stores. At night, visit the Wings of Time venue and experience the local cuisine. The venue hosts a colourful nighttime show on the waterfront near some of the tastiest restaurants on the island.
How to get to Sentosa Island
Getting to Sentosa Island can be lots of fun, as there are a variety of options to choose from. The fastest way to reach the island is via taxi. If you want to save money, you can still get to the island quickly using one of several public transport options.
The cheapest option is the train. Purchase a Sentosa Pass from the third floor of VivoCity Mall at the Harbourfront Station. The pass covers the train ride and entrance to the island.
You could also take a ferry or simply walk across the bridge. For an aerial view of the coastline, take the cable car from Singapore to Sentosa Island.
The island of Pulau Ubin offers a peaceful contrast to the bustling resorts and shopping malls elsewhere on this list. While it’s a popular destination, Pulau Ubin is often less crowded compared to Sentosa Island. The island, wedged between Singapore’s main island and Malaysia, is a relaxing paradise with long biking and hiking trails along with many kilometres of pristine coastline.
Pulau Ubin is also home to one of Singapore’s last intact traditional villages. The rural village has just 100 villagers, but the government of Singapore is committed to preserving it. You won’t find large-scale urban development on the island.
Instead of shopping malls and waterfront promenades, Pulau Ubin offers tourists abundant outdoor activities. Along with kilometres of trails, the island has nature tours and various scenic points of interest that you can hike or bike to. In fact, most of the island is divided into nature preserves.
After exploring some of the trails, visit Chek Jawa. The sprawling wetlands are found at the southeastern tip of the island and include a variety of ecosystems. You can walk through mangrove forests before swimming around the coral reef.
How to get to Pulau Ubin
Getting to Pulau Ubin requires a few steps, starting with a bus ride to the Tanah Merah MRT Station. Board the Number 2 bus to the Changi Village bus interchange, which drops you off at Changi Point Jetty. From the jetty, hop on the next bumboat to the island. It’s a ten-minute ride down the coast.
Located about an hour south of Singapore, the Indonesian island of Batam is known for its nightlife and affordable prices, making it the perfect getaway for budget travellers. The island is home to casinos, shopping malls, and lots of bars and restaurants.
Batam has a few cultural attractions. Start your trip to the island by visiting the Mesjid Raya Grand Mosque and the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist temple. These sites get more crowded throughout the day; be sure arrive early.
Use your afternoon to indulge in various water sports and recreational activities. A trip to the beach should offer everything from surfing to parasailing and jet skiing.
In the evening, visit Waterfront City, a bayside region with a commercial strip containing seafood restaurants and bars. If you plan on staying overnight, you’ll likely find accommodations at one of the hotels or resorts in this area.
Batam Island is part of the Riau Archipelago and is connected to two other islands via the Barelang Bridges. The six bridges allow you to easily travel between Batam, Rempang, and Galang. It’s also one of the most scenic spots on the island at night.
How to get to Batam
To reach Batam from Singapore, travel to the Harbourfront Ferry Terminal located south of the downtown area. Ferries depart the harbour every other hour, with one-way trips taking just 45 to 50 minutes.
Another nearby destination, Bintan is a small island in Indonesia. As with many of these Singapore day trips, Bintan offers a wide range of outdoor activities. You can spend your day away from the city swimming, surfing, or relaxing on the beach.
The northern part of Bintan Island contains more upscale resorts and commercial developments. Here, you’ll find private beaches, golf courses, and water activities. To the south is Tanjung Pinang, the capital of the province, full of colonial architecture and historic sites.
To get your cultural fix, visit Panglong Village. It’s one of the earliest settlements in the region and contains many wooden seaside houses and small brick igloos used to make charcoal.
Bintan is also home to the Thousand Face Temple. The Buddhist site contains about 500 life-size statues with different expressions and poses.
When you’re ready to eat, travel to the village of Senggarang. The small fishing hamlet has a few more shrines and temples to explore, along with unforgettable local cuisine. Fill up on shrimp porridge or shark filet.
How to get to Bintan
With a high-speed catamaran ferry ride, you can reach the shores of Bintan in just 60 minutes. To make the trip, visit the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in Singapore and purchase your ticket.
Johor Bahru is the third-largest city in Malaysia and a top shopping destination in the region. At less than two hours, it’s also a shorter trip compared to some of the other Singapore side trips, giving you plenty of time to shop.
Like Batam Island, Johor Bahru has a mixture of modern developments and cultural sites, including temples and mosques. However, most people come for the commercial attractions. Visiting its theme parks, zoos, and large malls can easily fill an entire day.
If you’re travelling with kids, spend part of the day at Legoland Malaysia. This popular theme park includes over 40 rides and large-scale Lego structures. Legoland Malaysia is also not far from Kids Republic (formerly the Angry Birds Activity Park). Covering 26,000 square feet, the park is offers plenty of fun activities to keep the kids busy for an afternoon.
After visiting the parks, stop at Salahuddin Bakery (26 Jalan Dhoby), the oldest bakery in the region, for a filling lunch. Opened in 1937, Salahuddin Bakery serves a wide range of baked delicacies. Indulge in curry puffs stuffed with meat and vegetables or other traditional Malay snacks.
While crowded central Johor Bahru contains many department stores and modern attractions, it also hides a few ancient sites. Stop at the Glass Temple to view one of the most important Hindu sites in the region. The glass décor helps reflect the sunlight in a variety of interesting ways, highlighting the statues of Buddha and Jesus Christ found in the main hall.
How to get to Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru is directly north of Singapore, just on the other side of the Malaysia/Singapore border. You can reach the city via bus, taxi, or car. It’s about 22 kilometres from downtown Singapore and is connected by a bus route.
Jump on any bus route that takes you to the SG Woodlands Checkpoint across the river from Johor Bahru. The entire trip is a little over two hours, along with a short wait at the two border checkpoints.
Melaka, also spelled Malacca, shares many features with Singapore. Both cities were important trading ports ruled by Western empires and have become melting pots showcasing a fusion of cultures. In Melaka, the older streets are lined with examples of well-preserved colonial Dutch architecture, while other parts of the city have a strong Portuguese influence.
Malacca is known for its distinct cuisine, combining elements of traditional Malay dishes with Peranakan flavours. You’ll have plenty of chances to indulge in the local tastes as you explore the city.
Start in the centre, where you’ll find some of the top things to see & do in Melaka. You can’t miss the bright reddish-orange Dutch buildings, including the large town hall and Christ Church. Most of the buildings are now museums that provide a closer look at the history of the region.
From the Dutch public square, you can visit some of the other cultural sites showcasing Malay and Chinese heritage. The Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum and Cheng Hoon Teng Temple are two of the most visited cultural sites in the city.
How to get to Melaka
Melaka is a little further compared to some of the other day trips, located about 240 kilometres east of Singapore. You can reach the city via train, bus, or taxi, with most trips taking nearly three and a half hours.