As I prepare for yet another Asia adventure, let’s give a shout out to one of my now favourite cities: Singapore. While the Lion City’s reputation is, at times, lackluster among travellers, don’t let its critics get in your ear.
I’m fortunate. I recently discovered how to bag cheap flights to Asia from my, normally, not-so-cheap home airport. My saucy secret travel hack? Flying on United Airlines via Singapore.
Let’s say, I’m more than okay with the arrangement. The insanely long flight time between LAX or SFO and SIN aside, anything that’ll get me to Asia more often for less is a-OK with me. And if it ALSO allows me to roam the streets of Singapore for a couple days? Even better.
Need a little push to visit the Lion City? Here are a few of the best reasons to visit Singapore…
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#1: Oh-so-tasty food
Even jet-lagged and cranky AF after a 17.5-hour (yikes!) flight, my love of Singapore blossomed via the tastebuds—as travel love often does.
In a half-daze, I roamed around Chinatown, looking for a late-night snack. Finally, I stumbled upon one of Singapore’s most famous hawker centres, the Chinatown Complex Food Centre.
Spoiler alert: It didn’t disappoint.
After wolfing down the world’s most succulent wonton noodles & char siu combo, I knew my love affair with Singapore wouldn’t end in one trip.
The best part about Singaporean cuisine is the variety. As you roam the city-state, the country’s three main ethnic groups—Chinese, Indian, and Malay—are well-represented. You see it in the architecture and the culture. And, of course, in Singapore’s most famous foods.
Besides those oh-so-delicious wonton noodles, a couple other dishes to taste include:
- Laksa: Along with Japan’s tonkotsu ramen, laksa is a god among mere soups. As you scroll through the Malay Peninsula, each region has their own different version of this classic dish. You’ll find just about every variety of laksa in Singapore. Keep on the lookout for the city’s two most famous variations, curry laksa and katong laksa.
- Char kway teow: This Chinese-inspired dish is a Singaporean classic. It tosses together broad rice noodles with a dark-soy-based sauce. A variety of ingredients like sausage, pork fat, eggs, cockles, and fish cakes are also added. Char kway teow is one dish you can’t miss.
- Nasi lemak: This popular dish is a Malay breakfast staple. Nasi lemak starts with fragrant coconut rice and fried chicken. The dish is topped with ingredients like sambal paste and peanuts. It also includes deep-fried anchovies, but they’re not likely as fishy as you’d imagine.
#2: Charming historical districts
Singapore’s often seen as a beacon of modernism. But the city’s also surprisingly packed with historical flair.
People often forget that Singapore’s emergence as a global financial powerhouse is recent. Up until about 50 years ago, it was, along with its former country-mate, Malaysia, underdeveloped and traditional.
If you’re a history buff, spend your first 24 hours in Singapore in search of its historical charms.
Start with a stroll along the Singapore River. Visit its lovely historical quays—Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, and Robertson Quay. Grab a drink along the way to soak in the views.
Next, head north of central Singapore. Wade through boutique shops in the old Malay quarter of Kampong Glam. Or sort through saris in the colourful Little India district.
No matter where you are in the city, you’re not far from getting a sense of Singapore before its mega economic boom.
#3: Brilliant modern architecture
On the flip side, it’s hard to ignore the beauty of Singapore’s modern side.
Start with peering upon the central business district in the evening from Marina Bay. It’s one of the simplest pleasures while visiting Singapore.
And let’s not forget the nearby Marina Bay Sands. If you’ve watched Crazy Rich Asians—a persona you’ll have to summon to stay at this luxury hotel & casino!—you’ve seen this extraordinary hotel. The unique three-towered structure, topped with its boat-like rooftop, is unmissable.
Not keen on re-mortgaging your home for a night at Marina Bay Sands? (Hey, it is, after all, one of the absolute top choices for where to stay in Singapore—if not in the entire world!)
You can still pop up to the hotel’s Marina Bay Sands Sky Park or one of the rooftop restaurants & bars for incredible views over the modern skyline.
#4: Innovative attractions
It’s no secret: Singapore’s got some tremendously cool attractions you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Case in point: Gardens by the Bay.
Sprawling 101 hectares in Marina Bay, Gardens by the Bay is one of the coolest things to see in Singapore. Actually, it’s undoubtedly one of the world’s most unique places to see!
As you wander around the gardens, there’s plenty to enjoy. You’ll find everything from a Flower Dome and Cloud Forest to art sculptures within well-manicured Asian gardens.
The most famous attraction at the Gardens by the Bay, though, is its space-age Supertree Grove.
These innovative trees aren’t just built to harness spirit of Pandora. They act as an exhaust for cooling for the nearby conservatories. The supertrees also contain panels to harness solar energy.
Time your visit to the Gardens by the Bay with the nightly Garden Rhapsody. Watch as the supertrees explode into a cavalcade of colours timed to a musical medley.