I’ve asked many foreigners what their impression of Singapore is and I usually get the same few answers each time. “That boat building” (Marina Bay Sands), “Those tall tree things” (Gardens by the Bay), The Merlion, how clean and safe it is.

Despite all this, however, Singapore can often be overlooked for other countries in the region. Seasoned travellers and first-timers often look towards other destinations such as Bali, Bangkok and other more famous tourist destinations. But Singapore has a lot to offer and can be a unique experience if one knows to look past the mega-malls and Orchard road. Here is the essential travel guide you need if you plan to visit Singapore.

Visiting Singapore? Take this guide with you!

Where can I stay in Singapore?

Plenty of places to stay in Singapore if you fancy a nice hotel then that is easy enough to find as Singapore is littered with them and you won’t need any help finding them. However, if you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, you’d be well taken care of too.

1. Five Stones Hostel

Image Credit: Five Stones Hostel

Offering colourful themed rooms with designs that showcase Singapore’s local culture, Five Stones Hostel has both dormitories and private rooms. Located in the vibrant Kampong Glam, it provides free Wi-Fi and free all-day drinks. Dormitory beds come with an individual reading light, a blanket, and a security locker.

The private rooms feature a flat-screen TV, DVD player, and towels. Guests share usage of bathrooms with toiletries and hot showers. Five Stones Hostel is within 8 minutes’ walk of Bugis MRT Station. It is about 40 minutes’ train journey from Changi Airport.

2. Capsule Pod Boutique Hostel

Image Credit: Capsule Pod Boutique Hostel

Located within the culturally-rich district of Chinatown, Capsule Pod Boutique Hostel offers free WiFi is available throughout the property and is only a stone’s throw away from the Chinatown MRT station. Many attractions such as the Asian Civilization Museum and Sri Mariamman Temple. It is also very close to popular food courts such as the Maxwell food centre and Amoy food centre if you want to try some proper local food.

There are obviously many other budget options but these are the ones that I’ve had friends stay at and vouched for the quality.

Where to go and things to do in Singapore

Well, that depends entirely on your interests. For example, I had a friend from the United States who loved photography. So I took him to places where he could get great photos and he particularly liked Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands area such as the Helix bridge.

Image Credit: Zhu Hongzhi | Unsplash

Another friend loves animals and spent hours at the River Safari and the S.E.A Aquarium and she was entranced by the huge display at the aquarium with the giant ray which is honestly a mesmerizing experience even for me. Just sitting there and having this massive tank in front of you and watching the marine life is awesome she also spent a long time watching the hyperactive and curious otters at the River Safari and was constantly delighted by their antics. She even enjoyed watching the pandas placidly eating their way through an unfeasibly large amount of bamboo,

  • Shopping? Orchard road and its myriad malls is the place for you to be. Shoppes by the Bay could be your thing if you are into high fashion and luxury shopping as well.
  • How about food? you may have heard that Singapore is a foodie haven and it honestly depends on what your personal preference is. If you want to sample what the locals normally eat, the aforementioned Maxwell and Amoy food centres are great places to start with.

If you want to try fine dining. The Michelin guide and popular local food guides and blogs can guide you to your preferred cuisine of choice. Some good restaurants that I’ve visited for many years and are still good are as follows.

Where to eat in Singapore for all budgets

1. JB Ah Meng

Image Credit: Burpple.com

Singapore has a lot of local seafood restaurants and JB Ah Meng is one that I visit often with my friends and overseas guests. Even Malaysian friends have said that JB Ah Meng is really good and it is known as the place that many local chefs including Michelin star chefs go to eat after they close their restaurants.

2. La Taperia

Image Credit: La Taperia

Tucked away on the 2nd floor of Shaw Centre, La Taperia is a Spanish restaurant that has been around for many years. My suggestion, go for the lunch set which is a steal at $32.

3. Ryo Sushi

Image Credit: Ryo Sushi

A relative newcomer to the local scene RYO sushi made waves with their $18 omakase lunch which was swiftly cancelled due to apparently being “abused”.  They still offer amazing food at a great value but be warned. Reservations are notoriously hard to secure so keep trying and book early.

Best time to visit Singapore

The best time to visit is in the later months of the year during monsoon season. Why? because it is cooler. Unless you love scorching heat and debilitating humidity, avoid the middle of the year such as June.