One of the great things about living in such an awesome city is that people love to come and visit! But with all the fun comes the inevitable worry of what you should actually do with them… there’s endless hours to fill, a desperate need to impress and the pressure of showcasing the best of the Lion City. With our super handy Visitor’s Guide to Singapore however, we’ve got you covered for what to do, where to eat and where to stay (with kids and without kids) so that you can sit back, relax and look like the city-pro that you are mama!
What to Do
Below are our top picks of places to go and things to do with visitors — pick and mix depending on the season and type of visitor, kids or no kids!
1. First thing’s first — Marina Bay. It might seem like such an obvious choice for newbies (which it is!) but starting at Marina Bay Sands is a fab way for your guests to absorb the beauty of the Singapore skyline. At only 23 clams (17 for kids) to gain access to the Skydeck, this towering “boat in the sky” is a viewing deck, an outdoor playground and dining spot all in one. From there head downstairs to the shoppes — grab a quick coffee from any of the waterfront restos – and start walking mama! Allow an hour to walk around the harbour, past the financial district towards the Merlion for those must-have tourist photos.
2. Get your shop on at Orchard Road. We all know how popular shopping is in Singapore, so it’d be pretty remiss of us not to mention our beloved shopping strip and its high-street offerings. We’d recommend starting at TANGS (only the oldest department store on the island!) and work your way towards Somerset, stopping to oooo and ahhhh over the luxury brands housed in malls like ION Orchard and Mandarin Gallery.
3. A day trip to Sentosa. Start the day at Quayside Isle for some leisurely brunching, before skipping over to Universal Studios for some thrill-ride action. When the sweats start to settle in, hop on the tram to beach station and wander over to Tanjong Beach Club for a cheeky evening cocktail (and a splash in the water if you’ve got kids underfoot!). Head here to see our round up of Kid-Friendly Eating Spots on Sentosa for when your youngest guests get the munchies.
Image by Ronnie Chua via Shutterstock
4. Singapore Slings at the Raffles Hotel. Yes, we realise everybody does it, but you can hardly have visitors and not take them to Singapore’s most well known hotel for a sundowner in the iconic Long Bar. After all, kids are most welcome here too!
5. Head to the Singapore Zoo, stay for the Night Safari and spend a day getting up close and personal with the animals in one of the most interactive zoos around. There are no glass walls or stuffy enclosures here mama, plus we’ve found people of all ages lined up for their furry friend encounters.
6. Weekend brunch is a Singapore staple, with many of our favourite eating spots serving some seriously good grub. Browse our all-in-one list of the best fam-friendly brunches out there or drop past any of the big hotels for a sumptuous feast (the spreads at the Pan Pacific and Shangri-La hotels get the big thumbs up from us!).
7. If time affords it’s definitely worth sending your charges off for a stroll around the hip and happening Kampong Glam area. Drop them off at Bussorah Street and let them wander in and around Arab Street, Baghdad Street, and Haji Lane, shopping and snacking as they go.
8. It might be a touch cheesy, but for first-time visitors to the Lion City, you must send them to Clarke Quay to pick up a boat tour of the Singapore River. Taking to the water is a simple yet beautiful way to see the city from a whole new perspective.
9. Yep, it’s another tourist trap, but oh-so-worth-it to see Gardens by the Bay in all its floral glory. If you’ve got young ones start at the free children’s playground before making your way to the Flower Dome and then towards the supertrees and all their offerings.
10. Guests with children will want to have the S.E.A Aquarium on their radar too – it’s only billed as the biggest Oceanarium in South East Asia! Just make sure you send your guests early otherwise they’ll be caught in the massive queues (and we know how grouchy long waits make us!).
11. In might not be the London Eye, but a slow spin on the Singapore Flyer is a fabbo way to see the city from 42 floors above. We’d recommend boarding around 7pm so you can view the sunset and see the lights start to sparkle as sunset descends.
12. For an outdoorsy type of day start at the Singapore Botanic Gardens (do send the oldies into the Orchid Garden if you can) where you can stroll through 74-hectares of greenery before stopping for a refreshment at Casa Verde.
Where to Eat
You can’t have newcomers staying with you and not take them on a mini culinary tour of Singapore… not with the treasure trove of foodie offerings out there! Here’s our faves for some seriously good munching…
1. Hawker Delights
Everyone knows how iconic a humble plate of chicken rice is in Singapore, so definitely take your guests to your local hawker centre to get their fill. We love dropping past Zion Riverside Food Centre, Newton Food Centre, or Chomp Chomp Food Centre in Serangoon, for our chicken fill. Adam Road Hawker Centre is also worth a visit for its diversity in cuisine — you’ll be able to impress your visitors with local classics like Nasi Goreng, Char Kway Teow, and Nasi Lemak.
2. Dim Sum Delicacies
It might not be Hong Kong, but chowing down on Dim Sum is always a fun idea when you’ve got newbies in town. Tim Ho Wan is a popular choice (if the queues are anything to go by, it’s a hands-down winner every time ), but we also love Crystal Jade — both their Golden Palace spot at Paragon and their Crystal Jade Restaurant at Ngee Ann City — and Yum Cha Restaurant in Chinatown when we’re craving some old-school classics.
3. Chilli Crab Baby
A Singapore classic and for good reason! Chilli Crab is not to be missed when you’re passing through the Lion City (it is the “unofficial” national dish after all!) so head to Jumbo Seafood Restaurant at either their Dempsey Hill or East Coast locations to get your finger-licking-good crab.
4. Yummy Curry
One of the true joys of Singapore is the veritable melting pot of cuisines! It’s a foodie haven of delicious proportions, and getting your guests to tuck into some authentic Indian cuisine in no exception. Make time to visit Yantra at Tanglin Mall, where they’ll eat some of the best Indian food in Singers, or head to Dempsey Hill for a range of curry choices at Samy’s Curry.
5. Smoky Satay
Satay sticks cooked the old fashioned way over smoky street BBQs — oh yes it is! Once daylight descends pack up your entourage and take them to Boon Tat Street (next to Lau Pa Sat) for some satay classics. Delish!
6. A Drink with a View
There’s nothing like a long day of touristing to really get a thirst up, and we’d suggest a drink with a to-die for view is the best way to show off a little in front of out-of-towners. Level 33, 1 Altitude, Ku De Ta or Lantern Bar all get the thumbs up for us for wow-factor… best to offer to babysit your visitor’s kiddos so you can score some serious brownie points, while they enjoy a quiet drink sans-kids.
7. Fine Dining
After filling up on local delights, it’s worth showing guests the quality and diversity of Singapore’s dining scene. With some of the best restaurants in the world it may be worth saving up and splashing out… our top choices for high-end dining are definitely DB Bistro Moderne at Marina Bay, il Lido at Sentosa Golf Club, and Pollen at Gardens by the Bay.
Where to Stay
No-one likes it when a well meaning visit turns into too many people in your pad, which is why (as much as we love having guests in town) we are happy to outsource the accommodation to any of the fab hotels around town. Luckily as Singapore is one of Asia’s most popular cities the choices for hotel rooms are plentiful… here’s our top picks mama!
1. Wanderlust Hotel
Tucked away amidst the hustle and bustle of Little India, this boutique hotel is perfectly placed for easy access to the more cultural side of Singapore. Boasting just 29 rooms, each fresh and funky room is based on themes including pop art, origami and even outer-space. Each room has iPod docks and flat screen tvs (luxury we like it!) and the hotel even has its very own hit French restaurant, Cocotte for little ones too weary to travel far for dinner.
2. W Hotel
If your lodgers are more glam than drab, the W Hotel is the perfect spot for them to frolick in the pool, plus its a strategic choice as it’s located just that little bit further afield (giving you some much-needed breathing space!). Sitting pretty in a prime spot on Sentosa Island, the W is one of the more chic and contemporary hotels, with 230 rooms, outdoor pool, gym, spa and choice of restaurants.
3. Shangri-La Hotel, Orange Grove Road (the choice for families!)
Surrounded by an impressive 15 acres of tropical gardens, it’s hard to believe that the Shangri-La is just minutes from Orchard Road. With everything your guest would expect from a luxury hotel, the kids can enjoy a knock about on the tennis courts, a splash in the kiddies pool, and if the temptation of the nearby bars gets too much for the grown ups, the hotel also offers a full babysitting service. Hurrah!
4. Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa (the choice for beach loving visitors!)
Boasting one of the very best beaches on Sentosa Island, there’s plenty to keep the little ones entertained with the likes of kayaking and paddle boarding and even the nearby flying trapeze or zip lining experiences (also great if you’ve got tweens and teens visiting!). But where the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa really gets our vote is with the wonderfully creative children’s club; the aptly named Cool Zone.
5. Marina Bay Sands
In terms of keeping everyone busy they’ve really got it covered; there’s the rather breath-taking infinity pool and the observation deck, not to mention the skating rink, museums and shows in the nearby Marina Bay Sands Shoppes. And for mama? Think Singapore’s greatest and grandest shopping centre and you’ve got the vibe.
Phew… that’s it mamas! Time to print off this list and give it to your next set of visitors so they can see the best of Singapore, while you enjoy their company (without the stress!).