I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Singapore multiple times for business. But I’ve never had the luxury of spending quality time exploring all the different things that this cosmopolitan city has to offer.
I’ll admit that I’ve been one of Singapore’s harshest critics, labelling it ‘sterile’ and ‘boring.’
But this time around I set an intention that I was going to view Singapore though ‘beginner’s eyes,’ approach everything with an open heart and release any expectations. (If you want to know how you can do this too, grab yourself a FREE copy of my e-Book ‘Wanderlust’…just sign up under this blog post).
To my genuine surprise I had a fantastic time and enjoyed every second of my week’s holiday.
There was the odd bit of shopping, some island hopping, a night safari and did I mention eating and drinking? Well I did a lot of that!
Below I have selected the top 6 things for you to explore the next time you are in Singapore.
Get ready for a unique shopping experience, a laid back island escape, exotic animals and lots of dining options!
1. Haji Line
If you have done all the upmarket shopping malls along Orchard Road, you’ll love the unique shopping experience of Haji Lane.
Situated in the heart of the Muslim quarter of Singapore, this colourful street lined with traditional shop-houses is overflowing with quirky charm.
Haji Lane is known for it’s unique selection of items, including home wares and clothing boutiques.
There is also a number of quaint cafes and bars along the strip as well as the odd nail artist and funky hairdresser salon.
This store has a wide selection of cute dresses, cool accessories, books and stationery.
Another store of interest was The Salad Shop. If you’re in the market for some interesting home wares, this place has you covered.
You’ll find scented soy candles, handmade porcelain plates and bowls, decorative birdcages and jewellery by both local and international designers.
ModParade is also a boutique to take a look at along Haji Lane. It’s well priced (read cheap), on-trend clothing and accessories may pique your interest.
ModParade has an interesting array of scarves, sunglasses, jewellery and leather goods.
- Closest MRT station – Bugis, take exit A2 for Raffles Hospital.
- Go later in the afternoon as the shops don’t really open until Midday. I assume the atmosphere would be quite fun late afternoon/evening.
- I get the feeling that shops open and close regularly along this strip. So don’t be too surprised if you go hunting for a shop I’ve mentioned above and it’s not there any more. (I had this experience).
- Be prepared to be yelled at if you take photos inside the boutiques. Some of the shopkeepers are quite mean! (But my experience made for a funny story….hit me up if you want to know what happened!)
- If you’re keen to see more cool pics of Haji Lane head over here
If you’ve already been to the famous Raffles Hotel and devoured a Singapore Sling, why not head to Chijmes?
Once a Catholic convent, this historical site in Singapore is now an aesthetically pleasing entertainment precinct.
Within Chijmes you will find an array of restaurants, cafes and bars with cuisines from around the world.
I had dinner with a friend at el Mero Mero, a very cool contemporary Mexican restaurant. If the weather is fine, sit outside and enjoy people watching whilst taking in the chilled-out atmosphere…and have an el Mero Mero cocktail! They are delish!
Chijmes is a pricey part of town but it’s worth going for a meal or drink just to admire the beauty of the place.
- Closest MRT Station – City Hall
- If sitting outside, be prepared to run for cover when a thunderstorm hits (don’t worry, it all adds to the experience!)
- I recommend Chijmes for a night out rather than lunch as the atmosphere is far better.
3. St John’s Island
If you want to escape the city of Singapore, or you just want to do something different, why not take a day trip to St John’s Island?
St John’s Island isn’t to be confused with the famous Island of Sentosa. There are no resorts or theme parks here!
But if you want to unplug from the world for a day, this is the place.
Located just 6.5km offshore, you reach St John’s Island easily in 30-45 minutes by ferry. You can spend the day soaking up the sun, enjoying a picnic on the beach or lazing around the lagoon.
St John’s Island was originally a quarantine station for cholera-stricken Chinese immigrants, followed by a holding place for political detainees and then a rehabilitation centre for opium addicts! But despite it’s dark history, this island is worth a visit!
We took a picnic lunch over and spent the day wandering around the island and swimming at the beach. It’s very chilled out.
- There are no shops on the Island so make sure you pack lots of food and water.
- It’s a whole day affair as there is only one ferry over and back (plus you stop at Kasu Island on the way back to Singapore, and there isn’t much to do there).
- Pack a book, iPod, iPad or anything to keep you occupied. You make your own fun at St John’s.
- Make sure you wear/pack sunscreen….even if it starts out raining. Singapore sun has some sting!
- Catch the ferry from Marina South Pier. Tickets are $18 SGP pp return.
4. Dine Out at Bacchanalia
If you want to experience fine dining whilst in Singapore I highly recommend the sleek and sophisticated Bacchanalia.
Voted as the Best New Restaurant in Singapore for 2014, it was the perfect place to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary.
The intriguing 20-dish menu is broken up into vegetables, seafood, meat and dessert. Sharing is encouraged at Bacchanalia and the knowledgeable wait staff will recommended that you select 3-4 dishes each.
All the dishes were exquisite but highlights included the Cauliflower Gratin, Rice & Coconut Risotto, Lamb Roti and the White Chocolate & Cherry Tart to finish.
- We selected 6 dishes in total and had the delicious ‘Breaking Bread’ to start.
- I recommend making a reservation, which you can do online via their website.
- Bacchanalia is a fine dining establishment, so I suggest you take your credit card!
5. Lau Pa Sat Food Market
If local food is more your thing, head to the famous Lau Pa Sat food market situated in the heart of Singapore’s financial district.
This striking octagonal landmark is home to the best hawker market I’ve experienced. Get your fix of Asian street food from Chinese, Peranakan, Malay and other South East Asian delicacies!
This place has a fantastic atmosphere and after 7pm they close down the side street and turn it into satay street heaven.
We enjoyed a mix of traditional Singaporean noodles and a number of Indian dishes. This is definitely a ‘value for money’ outing. Our combined meal was only $20 SGP, including drinks.
I just wish they had South East Asian hawker markets in Hong Kong!
- Closest MRT Station – Downtown or Telok Ayer
- Do at least one lap of the market before deciding on what you want to eat. There are SO many options!
- Take your own napkins/tissues as the vendors don’t supply any…and you may get into a mess depending on what you eat.
6. Night Safari
Visiting the Night Safari was my favourite activity this time around in Singapore.
I wasn’t too sure what to expect but I loved it all. From the Fire Dance when we first arrived to the Creatures of The Night show, followed by wandering around the walking trails and the amazing Tram Safari, it was all pretty wonderful!
Expect to see amazing animals including tigers, lions, leopards, hyenas, elephants, hippo’s…the list goes on.
I couldn’t take photos due to the lack of light (obviously) and you aren’t allowed to use flash photography as it scares the animals. But for once I didn’t want to take photos, as I was too enthralled looking at all the animals.
If you’re young or old, I highly recommend you experience Singapore’s Night Safari.
- There are no MRT stations nearby so it’s advised to catch a taxi or bus
- Buy your tickets online before arriving. You get a small discount and it saves you time. You can show your tickets on your mobile phone and they scan the bar code.
- You may want to take some insect repellant to ward off any mosquitos
- Make sure you do the Tram Safari and Walking Trails so you see everything. You don’t want to miss anything!
I hope I’ve given you a few great ideas for your trip to Singapore! If you have any questions feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment in the box below.
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