Best Things to Do in Singapore

Wildlife parks, sightseeing, rollercoasters and museums: what's best to see and do in Singapore.

There is no shortage of world class visitor attractions in Singapore, and so you will always find plenty to keep you entertained, no matter how long your visit.

Three entries on our list – The Singapore Zoo, the Jurong Bird Park and the Night Safari are probably the most publicized in Singapore and are all excellent choices whether you are travelling with the family in tow or not. The open-zoo concept of these three parks makes for a fun and thrilling experience, and there are plenty of shows and animal-feedings to keep you occupied. Universal Studios is also a must for fun-loving film lovers and families with older children.

One of the most enjoyable ways to take in the sights of Singapore is to jump aboard a traditional bumboat, sit back and enjoy the scenery during a leisurely cruise up the river. If it’s spectacular views you’re looking for, then the most fun way to experience them is to jump aboard the Singapore Flyer, the highest observation wheel in the world.

Culture vultures will not be disappointed with the array of museums in Singapore. We highlight three here – the excellent Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in the heart of Chinatown to learn about the life and teachings of Lord Buddha, the National Museum of Singapore to garner an overall history of the nation and the poignant and memorable Changi Museum which highlights the plight of prisoners of war and residents during the Japanese occupation.

To escape the hustle and bustle of the city, do not miss the spectacular Orchid Garden within the Botanic Gardens, which boasts the biggest collection of orchids and hybrids in the world.


Enter the world of movie magic at Southeast Asia's only Universal Studios theme park at Resorts World Sentosa. Divided into seven zones, including Far Far Away and Madagascar, visitors can expect to meet some of their favourite characters while having fun on the movie-themed rollercoasters, rides and attractions. Highlights include the Shrek 4-D Adventure, Madagascar: a Crate Adventure, Transformers The Ride - a hyper-realistic 3D thrill ride, and Battlestar Galactica - the world's tallest duelling roller coaster ride. There are several dining options within the theme park, or get your hand stamped to leave the premises for further options within Resorts World Sentosa.

Local Expert tip: The Hollywood Dreams Parade takes place on Saturdays, Sundays and selected holidays at 6.30pm. However, midweek is obviously a quieter time to visit to avoid those queues.

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Changi Museum

When the British army surrendered to the Japanese on 15th Februrary 1942, Singapore came under Japanese occupation, in what was probably the darkest time in the country's history. The Changi Museum is dedicated to the memory of all those who suffered during this time, and is probably the most harrowing collection of stories in all the war museums of Singapore. The incredibly moving exhibition is based on interviews with former inmates, Prisoners of War and their families. Personal accounts of torture and humiliation at the hands of the Kempeitei are interspersed with stories of the hardship of rationing and high inflation, and the struggle for survival.

Local Expert tip: Entrance is free, but it is well worth paying for the personal audio tour which really brings the exhibition to life with additional stories and actual interviews with survivors.

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Jurong Bird Park

The beautifully presented 20 hectare Jurong Bird Park is the World's largest bird park, housing over 8,000 birds from more than 600 species. Highlights include the African Waterfall Aviary – the world's largest walk-in aviary, with the world's tallest man-made waterfall and 1,500 brightly coloured birds; and The Lory Loft, with its suspension bridges, wooden walkways and the opportunity to feed the hundreds of brightly coloured parrots. Feeding times take place throughout the day and are organised around the live shows. An air-conditioned monorail ride gives panoramic views while getting you from A to B in comfort.

Local Expert tip: All kids (and adults!) will love the Birdz of Play wet play area, and it is a great way to cool off on a hot day. Make sure you take a change of clothes for everyone.

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Night Safari

The Night Safari is the world's first night-time wildlife park and is one of Singapore's most popular visitor attractions, with over 11 million visitors since it opened in 1994. Subtle lighting allows visitors to view over 1,000 nocturnal animals from 120 different species in their naturalistic habitat as they explore the 40 hectares of lush secondary rainforest. The eight geographical zones can be explored by a 45-minute tram ride with on-board commentary, or on foot via three 20-minute walking trails. The two shows – Creatures of the Night, where animals show off their prey-catching prowess and survival skills, and Thumbuakar, with its tribal dances, blowpipe demonstrations and fire-eating displays – are held several times a night.

Local Expert tip: Get there early to allow time to take both the tram and explore the jungle paths on foot, in addition to enjoying the shows.

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The magnificent Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is located in the heart of Chinatown. The most revered part of the temple - the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic Chamber is located on the 4th floor, its importance evident in the magnificence of the room, complete with gold floor tiles surrounding the solid gold stupa. One floor up, the roof garden houses the Ten Thousand Buddhas Pavilion with its large Vairocana Buddha Prayer Wheel, while the excellent Buddhist Culture Museum can be found on the 3rd floor. This impressive collection of rare Asian Buddhist artefacts accompanies a display on the life story and teachings of Lord Buddha. Several daily ceremonies take place in the 100 Dragons Hall on the ground floor.

Local Expert tip: Try to visit when a daily ceremony is taking place in the 100 Dragons Hall on the ground floor, when the chanting monks and congregation add to the air of reverence.

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National Museum of Singapore

The National Museum of Singapore should be top of your list if you only have time to visit one museum during your stay. Its main focus is the Singapore History Gallery, a modern, high-tech exhibition walking visitors through the country's history, from the 14th century to the building of modern Singapore. The excellent Audio Companion provided to each visitor supplements the visual displays with interviews, dramatised scenarios and personal accounts. Alongside the History Gallery, the four Singapore Living Galleries celebrate Singaporean society and culture through the years through Food, Fashion, Photography and Film respectively.

Local Expert tip: Free guided tours of the Singapore History Gallery are held at 11am and 2pm on Monday to Friday, and at 11.30am, 2pm and 3.30 pm on Saturday & Sunday.

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Singapore Zoo

The Singapore Zoo is regarded as one of the best zoos in the world, so a visit here is an absolute must for families. This model example of an 'open zoo' houses 2,530 animals from 315 species within its 28 hectares, in spacious landscaped enclosures, separated from visitors by concealed moats, or glass-fronted enclosures. Feeding times and a range of animal shows are spaced throughout the day, meaning whatever time you visit you will be able to watch someone having their breakfast, lunch or dinner, or be entertained by them. Those visiting with children shouldn't miss the Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife – the only place in the world where you can breakfast with an orang utan! Kids of all ages will also love the Rainforest Kidzworld wet play area.

Local Expert tip: The Rainforest Kidzworld wet play area is a highlight for many young kids, and is a great way to cool off – make sure you bring a change of clothes for everyone.

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The stunning Botanic Gardens are just a short walk from the retail frenzy of Orchard Road, and yet provide a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere to while away some time. There is a huge variety of areas to explore within the 52 hectare park, including lakes, fountains, sculpture gardens and well-manicured lawns, all linked by well signposted paths. The highlight is undoubtedly the National Orchid Garden, which boasts the largest display of tropical orchids in the world - over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids, all cultivated here. Other visitor favourites include the Rainforest - a 6-hectare slice of the original rainforest that once covered the island of Singapore; the Evolution Garden; and the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden, which includes a maze, suspension bridge, tree house and secret cave.

Local Expert tip: Seek out for the 'celebrity' orchids in the National Orchid Garden - keep a look out for Princess Diana, Jackie Chan and even Ricky Martin!

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The Singapore Flyer is currently the world's largest observation wheel, at 165m tall � the height of a 42 storey building, or 31 male giraffes stacked on top of one another! Needless to say, the Singapore Flyer boasts some of the best views in town, and on a clear day you can see as far as Malaysia to the North and the islands of Indonesia to the South. The journey takes 30 minutes, and with each of the 28 capsules is about the size of a city bus there is plenty of room to walk around to choose your view. Other attractions at the Singapore Flyer include Fish Reflexology, a Flight Simulator, Rainforest Discovery and various food outlets and shops.

Local Expert tip: For a more exclusive experience, book a cocktail, Singapore Sling or Moet & Chandon champagne flight, or go the whole hog and try the 4-course menu Butler Sky Dining package.

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The wooden bumboats that cruise the Singapore River used to carry cargo into the city from the ships anchored in the harbour. Today it is tourists who are transported up the river, taking in the surrounding sights and architectural variety. Singapore River Cruises have nine different jetties along the river, with a choice of two tours taking 40 minutes or 60 minutes. A good place to start is Merlion Park, where you can enjoy views across Marina Bay before heading up the river towards Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay (60 minute cruise only).

Local Expert tip: Several other tour companies offer alternative river cruises, but Singapore River Cruises are the only ones using the traditional wooden bumboats.

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Meet Marianne Rogerson

Marianne is a freelance travel writer, who has lived in Singapore for six years. She is the author of a travel guidebook to Singapore and has written about Singapore for a range of...  More About Marianne