Although I was only in Singapore for a long weekend, having a local show us the ropes meant that we did and saw all the very best in the short amount of time that we had. Plus, if I’m being honest, there isn’t all that much to see, so if you’re planning on visiting this super slick city I would say a handful of days is more than enough to cover all the bases.

1. STAY IN THE MARINA BAY SANDS FOR A NIGHT

The polar opposite of an intimate boutique hotel, the Marina Bay Sands is an entirely impersonal vast hotel behemoth. Akin to hotels in Las Vegas and Dubai, don’t come here expecting the reception staff to remember your name, but absolutely do come here to experience the super cool world’s longest elevated infinity pool. The hotel has recently tightened up security around gaining access to the pool since some people spoilt all the fun, so that it is now absolutely impossible to fool the system and if you want to check it out, you’re going to have to pay the pretty penny of a room for the night. That said, I was more than happy to, with awesome views from our hotel bedroom, an immense bathroom and EPIC sushi rolls + fries on hand at Spago pool bar, I’d say it was money very well spent.

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2. WANDER AROUND THE SUPERTREE GROVE AT NIGHT

The Gardens by the Bay are absolutely AMAZING and were a real highlight for me. The Supertrees are futuristic avatar-looking trees that come alive at night with bright, multi-coloured lights that flash in sequence to a daily evening music show called the “OCBC Garden Rhapsody” (the far cooler Singaporean equivalent to Hong Kong’s “Symphony of Lights” shown along Victoria Harbour).

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The Supertrees are even so cool as to be fitted with environmental technologies that mimic the ecological function of trees; they have photovoltaic cells that harness solar energy which can be used for some of the functions of the Supertrees, such as lighting, just like how trees photosynthesize; and collection of rainwater for use in irrigation and fountain displays, exactly like how trees absorb rainwater for growth. Aka not just a pretty face. There is an elevated walkway, the OCBC Skyway, between two of the larger Supertrees where you can walk to get a panoramic aerial view of the Gardens, and you can also grab a drink atop the tallest Supertree.

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3. HAVE A SINGAPORE SLING AT RAFFLES

Make sure you set aside time to visit the Long Bar at Raffles hotel, where the world-famous national drink, the “Singapore Sling”, was created in 1915 by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. The bar’s regal wooden decor, oriental carpets and tiled floors are inspired by Malayan plantation life in the 1920’s, and it feels like a place of history. Raffles is now considered to be somewhere travelers can undergo one of the truest rites of passage of travel: come and sip on the world-famous pink cocktail whilst munching on a bottomless bag of peanuts, the shells of which you are encouraged to toss on to the floor. If nothing else, it’s worth a visit simply to litter in the only place in Singapore where “littering” is permitted.

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4. VISIT F.R.I.E.N.D.S CENTRAL PERK CAFE

If you love F.R.I.E.N.D.S then obviously visiting the newly-opened Central Perk Cafe is a must-do (and if you don’t, get off my blog as we have nothing in common. I joke (but seriously we don’t)). I mean, by no means is it the real deal, but it is cute and iconic and worth a trip to try “Ross’ Thanksgiving Sandwich”, choose a cup of coffee customised to the personality of your favourite character, or catch up on a couple of episodes of the best show ever created (R.I.P). Plus, there is some classic overpriced merch on offer and you can take a photo beside the world’s best logo.

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5. GO TO THE HAWKER CENTRES AND TRY “CHICKEN RICE”

Singapore is well-known for its plethora of hawker centres, which offer cheap as chips delicious local food. Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, famously awarded a Michelin-star in 2016, is one of the first two street food locations to be awarded a star in the Michelin Guide. The queue, however, is notoriously long {check out the snake below}, and when William & I didn’t budge an inch in all of 5 minutes we bailed in favour of another seemingly popular stall offering the same famed “soy sauce chicken and rice” dish, as well as a pork and noodle dish.

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In my personal opinion, there is no way in hell a street food stall should have a Michelin-star; to me, a Michelin-star is the epitome of nailing numerous aspects, and predominantly but not only the food, so sloppily presented food served on paper plates doesn’t quite cut it for me. I’m not a big fan of meat served on the bone (except for ribs, mmmm ribs), especially chicken like this {I had similar issues with the signature roast goose at Ho Lee Fook} so we were never going to be a match made in heaven. That said, I appreciated the sauce (yes, sauce monster over here) and the pork was tasty.

6. VISIT CHINATOWN

Singapore’s historic Chinatown is a bustling mix of old and new, filled with traditional shops and markets as well as cool stores and cafes. In sharp contrast to the rest of the city, with low-rise buildings and culture bursting out on to the streets, from the fragrant smells of traditional cuisine (and where you will find many good hawker stalls) to the bold red & gold tones that run through the neighbourhood, this is an area proud of its heritage, and is very much on display.

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7. VISIT LITTLE INDIA

Little India is a buzzing ethnic district in Singapore. As you wander down the main Serangoon Road and neighbouring streets, you’ll find Hindu and Chinese temples, mosques and churches, with the main attraction being the vibrant and intricate Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Plenty of yummy food is available, with offerings including the best of south Indian vegetarian food, north Indian tandoori dishes and local fare like roti and dhal. You can also shop in the 24-hour shopping mall Mustafa Centre and take a peek in the overwhelming number of goldsmith shops and sari stores.

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8. BOTANIC GARDENS

Singapore’s Botanic Gardens is a 156-year-old tropical garden that has been honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been ranked Asia’s top park attraction since 2013 by TripAdvisor. It is free to enter and roam around though you have to pay for access to the National Orchid Garden (enclosed within), which you absolutely must do if you visit. The National Orchid Garden houses the world’s largest orchid collection of 1,200 species and 2,000 hybrids and is at the forefront of orchid studies and a pioneer in the cultivation of hybrids, complementing Singapore’s status as a major exporter of cut orchids.

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9. HAVE DRINKS AT 1-ALTITUDE

1-Altitude boasts the highest views in Singapore, and arguably some of the best. The bar, located on the 63rd floor of One Raffles Place, offers 360-degree views of the city and with only a thin, shoulder-height pane of glass preventing people from falling off the edge, is the only one of its kind to offer a real “on top of the world” feeling. The DJ was on point and the cocktails well made. I would definitely recommend for sunset drinks or a late one to dance the night away!

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10. NIGHT SAFARI AT THE ZOO

Singapore’s night safari is the world’s first nocturnal zoo and is one of the countries most popular tourist attractions. The night safari currently houses over 2,500 animals representing over 130 species, of which 38% are threatened species. Unlike traditional nocturnal houses, which reverse the day-night cycle of animals so that they will be active by day, the night safari is an entire open-air zoo set in a humid tropical forest that is only open at night. It is divided into 7 geographical zones, which can be explored either on foot or by tram. The animals include all of your usual staple fare as well as animals that I had never in my life seen before, like white tigers, which I found very exciting.

I’m not usually a fan of zoos as I find them to be cruel but I took exception with the night safari; I really appreciated the evident effort made to keep the animals comfortable and replicate their natural habitats as much as possible. For example, the animals are made visible by lighting that resembles moonlight and are separated from visitors not by cages, but by natural barriers, such as cattle grids to prevent hoofed animals from moving from one habitat to another, moats designed to look like streams and rivers to enable fishing cats and servals to be put on show in open areas, and hot wires designed to look like twigs to keep animals away from the boundaries of their enclosures.

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There is also a truly epic “Creatures of the Night Show” (again, I’m not usually one to rate these things) but you could tell how passionately the staff cared for the animals and the girl presenting the show did a fantastic job of engaging the audience and was incredibly loveable.

11. VISIT THE CHILLED CONSERVATORY GARDENS

The Gardens by the Bay is part of a strategy by the Singapore government to transform Singapore from a “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden”, and with the combination of the Supertree Grove and conservatory domes, they are most definitely succeeding at achieving just that!

The conservatories put the Eden Project to severe shame. They comprise of two cooled conservatories, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, which are intended to be an energy-efficient showcase of sustainable building technologies and provide an all-weather edutainment {did you know that this word means educational entertainment?! I love it!} space within the Gardens. I’m not sure which I preferred as they are both beautiful in their own right, but maybe you can choose from the photos below.

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The Flower Dome is the lower but larger of the two, at 1.2 hectares and replicates a mild, dry climate. It features plants found in the Mediterranean and other semi-arid tropical regions, e.g. parts of Australia, South America and South Africa. At 38 metres high it’s home to 7 different “gardens”, as well as an olive grove with a bistro and a central changing display field, which due to Bekky & I visiting in mid-December was beautifully and festively decorated for the imminent Christmas celebrations.

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The Cloud Forest is higher but slightly smaller at 0.8 hectares and replicates the cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions, such as South-East Asia, Middle- and South America. It features a 42-metre “Cloud Mountain”, an intricate structure completely clad in all sorts of incredible plants with different levels showcasing different themes, and also features a stunning 35-metre waterfall.

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Have you been to Singapore? Did you like it/is it somewhere you’d like to visit? Would you stay in the Marina Bay Sands just to check out the infinity pool? What are your thoughts on street food stalls having a Michelin-star? Which of my recommendations are of interest to you, and have I left any out which you think should be included? I’d love to know! xo