From Kampong Glam to Gardens by the Bay, what better way to visit some of the best tourist attractions that Singapore has to offer than via a private bus charter?
Singapore has over the years managed to shed its squeaky clean image to one that is hip and happening thanks to events like the world’s first Formula One Night Racing.
This has helped put the Lion City on the international map with its iconic skyline featured prominently in Hollywood movies like ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians’.
Although just a tiny little red dot, make no mistake – this economic powerhouse offers plenty of things for tourist to see and do.
Here are our top ten definitive list for tourists visiting the Lion City for the very first time.
#1: Little India
As its name suggests, Little India is a vibrant and colourful enclave where you can find anything under one roof – from colourful sarees to the sweet smell of spices. Visiting Little India is very much an assault on your senses – from the lively Bollywood music being played loudly from the stereo at the nearby shops to the fragrant smell of curry at the many restaurants. Must visit places here include the three Hindu temples Shree Lakshminarayan temple, Sri Veerama Kaliamman temple and Sri Veerama Kaliamman temple.
However, there is more to Little India than just the smell, sights and sounds. Shopping! One of the must visit places here is the iconic Mustafa. Located nearer to the Farrer Park MRT side, this 24-hour store is popular among locals and tourists as it offers just about anything and everything. Toiletries and perfumes (yes, they are genuine) here are priced around 20 per cent cheaper than other retail stores making it a popular haunt among bargain hunters.
Singapore’s Chinatown is unlike the other Chinatowns you may have visited elsewhere. The shophouses and streets are so clean and well-maintained that some tourists may find it too artificial for their liking. Nevertheless, Chinatown is a treasure trove for history and culinary buffs. Find out a little bit about Chinatown’s history at The Chinatown Heritage Centre located at Pagoda Street before heading to Singapore’s largest and oldest Hindu temple, the Sri Mariamman Temple located at the end of the street. Other attractions in the vicinity include the Masjid Jamae mosque which was built in the 1830s and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. The latter, in particular, houses a sacred Buddha tooth relic in a stupa composed of 420 kg of gold. For authentic and affordable local fares, head down to the Chinatown Food Street at Smith Street or at the nearby Maxwell Food Centre
#3: Kampong Glam
Kampong Glam is a historic district that serves as an early settlement area among the Malay/Muslim community during the 18th century. Home to the majestic Sultan Mosque, Kampong Glam was gazetted as a conservation area by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in 1989.
Bussorah Street, in particular, which is located just in front of the mosque, has become even more vibrant recently as the authorities have now paved and landscaped the street. From perfumeries to restaurants, the entire stretch comes to alive in the evening against the backdrop of the majestic mosque. Kampong Glam is also home to the Malay Heritage Museum where you can find out more about the history behind Singapore’s ethnic Malay community. Kampong Glam is a uniquely Singapore experience that is best experienced during the month of Ramadan whereby the entire area comes alive with street vendors selling affordable yet delicious Malay and Middle Eastern fares.
#4: Arab Street
Just parallel to Bussorah Street is Arab Street which is known for stores selling Thai silk, textiles and carpets. Housed within pre-historic shophouses, you can find every fabric imaginable here as well as some of the most intricate Persian carpets. There are also Muslim shops selling religious paraphernalia. Just behind Arab Street is a hip bohemian stretch called Haji Lane where you can find fashionable stores selling vintage clothing to apparels by independent local designers.
#5: Clarke Quay
What better way to enjoy the scenic view of the Singapore River than dining alfresco-style at Clarke Quay? Since Singapore’s founding in 1819, the Singapore River was a hub for trade during the colonial era where boats will transport goods upstream here. However, the river got so polluted over the years that the Singapore government embarked on an ambitious cleanup campaign from 1977 to 1987. As a result, Clarke Quay was revamped into a lifestyle and entertainment district. The quay is home to a number of bars, restaurants and clubs, the most notable being Zouk. There are still moored junks that can be found here that have been converted to a floating restaurant.
#6: Orchard Road
Orchard Road is Singapore’s pre-eminent shopping district which had undergone a major revamp in 2007 costing some US$26.7 million. Boasting interesting streetscapes with lightings, artworks and installations, luxury labels can be found at every nook and cranny here. From ION Orchard to The Mandarin Gallery, you can shop till you drop within the air-conditioned comfort of the malls. To make your shopping a breeze, most of the malls here are linked to one another via underground linkways or link bridges. The best time to experience Orchard Road is during the Christmas season where colourful street lightings will adorn the entire shopping district.
#7: Marina Bay Sands
10 Bayfront Avenue
Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort that has been featured prominently in the Hollywood movie, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’. Boasting the iconic SkyPark with a 150 m infinity pool, the entire complex comprises a 2,561-room hotel, a 120,000 sqm convention-exhibition centre, a 74,000 sqm mall called The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, a museum, two large theatres, 10 celebrity chef restaurants, two floating Crystal Pavilions, art-science exhibits, and the world’s largest atrium casino with 500 tables and 1,600 machines. Some of the luxury labels that call Marina Bay Sands home include Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci. Entry to the casino is free for tourists. However, the SkyPark is accessible for hotel guests only.
#8: Gardens by the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive
Tel: 6420 6848
Opening hours: Varies
8 Sentosa Gateway
Tel: 6577 8888
Opening hours: 10 am – 7 pm
#10: Night Safari
80 Mandai Lake Rd
Tel: +65 6269 3411
Opening hours: 7.15 pm to 12 midnight