Best Sightseeing in Singapore

Sightseeing: The best way to see the sights of Singapore

There are plenty of fun ways to see the sights of Singapore. The Singapore Flyer, the world’s highest observation wheel is undoubtedly the most spectacular way to see Singapore from above. However, many of Singapore’s most spectacular views can also be seen from the Singapore River which flows from Marina Bay up through the heart of the Colonial District through Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay. Several tour companies offer boat trips up the river.


Singapore River Cruises add a touch of nostalgia to their tour by utilizing the original bumboats that once transferred cargo in from the harbor. Hippo River Cruises may lack the historical boats, but live on-board commentary helps bring the journey to life. Both DUCKTours and City Tours’ amphibious DUKW add a fun twist to their tours with their World War II vessels, which will be appreciated by younger sightseers.


If you fancy venturing farther afield, then choose to head out to sea aboard the Imperial Cheng Ho allows you to see Singapore from afar and visit its Southern Islands, or board a boat to Pulau Ubin to see how Singapore looked before the skyscrapers appeared.


Back on dry land, both City Tours and Duck & Hippo offer hop-on-hop-off open top bus tours of the city, allowing you to explore at your own pace, while the Singapore Trolley adds a nostalgic twist to a similar concept. Singapore Trolley also run a unique night tour which takes you further of the beaten path. For something uniquely Singaporean, take a three-wheeled tour of Little India with Trishaw Uncle, while Original Singapore Walks run several themed walks around various parts of the city. 


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Pulau Ubin is the second largest of Singapore's offshore islands and makes an excellent day trip from Singapore. As you alight on the jetty it is almost as if you have stepped back in time to the days when Singapore was a rustic village, with traditional kampong houses, swaying palm trees and little traffic. Several well-signposted walking and biking trails allow you to explore the island with ease, and bikes are available to hire on arrival. The main square also contains several restaurants dishing up fresh seafood and shops selling drinks and snacks � there are no other refreshments stops around the island so make sure you stock up before you head off exploring. One of the main destinations for visitors to the island is the Chek Jawa Wetlands, one of Singapore's richest ecosystems, which includes a viewing jetty, a boardwalk offering mangrove and coastal loops, and the 21-metre Jejawi Tower. To get to Pulau Ubin, take a bumboat from Changi Point jetty in Changi Village (not the Changi Ferry Terminal). The boats run from sunrise to sunset and leave once they have 12 passengers on board.

Local Expert tip: A great place to spend a day and enjoy a slower pace of life for a few hours.

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The Imperial Cheng Ho is a modern Chinese junk boat running cruises around the southern coast of Singapore. The fleet is named after a renowned Chinese Admiral who commanded the Chinese imperial fleet between 1405 and 1433. The boats used for the tours have been modelled on the famous ship Da Fu of the Ming Dynasty, with ornately carved Imperial dragons, pagoda roofs and tiger's head at the bow. The cruise sails from Marina South Pier and winds its way in amongst the queuing container ships to give stunning views over the city and out to the Southern Islands of Kusu and Lazarus. Both the morning and afternoon cruises include a 25 minute stopover at Kusu Island, while The Imperial Dinner cruise sets sail at 6.30pm, allowing you to catch sunset on board before an international buffet is served.

Local Expert tip: Free pick-up service is available from a range of hotels and Marina Bay MRT, if pre-booked in advance.

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Mount Faber Cable Car

The Jewel Cable Car links Mount Faber to the Harbourfront Centre and Sentosa, and is one of the more pleasant ways to get an aerial view of Singapore.

Start your journey at the Harbourfront Centre, and from here travel up to Mount Faber. Covered by a secondary rain forest, Mount Faber is one of the oldest parks in Singapore and is home to Faber Point, one of the highest points in Singapore. Faber Point is a leisurely 10-minute walk from the Cable Car landing station and provides panoramic views over the city to the north and over Sentosa and the surrounding islands to the south. Also on Mount Faber, you will find the Jewel Box bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a drink with a view before continuing on your journey. 
From Mount Faber it is a twelve-minute ride back through Harbourfront Centre and on to Sentosa, crossing Keppel Harbour at 90 metres above the water. Here you are rewarded with views over the harbour back towards the city and over the whole of Sentosa and beyond. Sentosa is often referred to as Singapore's playground, and there is plenty here to keep you amused if you have time to explore.

Local Expert tip: The Jewel Box at the top of Mount Faber is a great spot for sunset cocktails.

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Singapore's beloved three-wheeled trishaws were introduced to Singapore in the 1940s, and were once a popular form of transport here. Today they are strictly the preserve of the sightseeing tourist, but remain one of the most pleasant ways to get to know the city, allowing you to get in amongst the people and soak up the atmosphere of the various parts of Singapore. The standard 30 minute tour takes in the sights of Bugis and Little India, with the 45 minute tour dropping you at Clarke Quay to board a bumboat to tour the Singapore River. Food themed tours include the Street Food Trail, which introduces some of Singapore's hawker food. Customised tours are also available.

Local Expert tip: A great fun way to see the sights of Little India and Bugis.

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The Original Singapore Walks narrated guided tours of the city take you on the road less travelled with an expert guide. The walks combine solid historical research with insightful guiding, and will reveal some hidden secrets of the city, while entertaining you with interesting stories of Singapore's history. No booking is required to join in with one of the walks - just turn up on the scheduled day, at the scheduled time and meeting point (mostly at MRT station exits). With a different tour guaranteed to run most days of the week, you could join several different tours during your stay to gain a well-rounded knowledge of the city. Area tours include walks of Chinatown, Little India, the Colonial District and Kampong Glam, while more specialised tours include The Tipple Exchange - a Boat Quay/Singapore River tour which takes in a few favourite watering holes along the way, and End of Empire - Singapore 1942 (Battlefield Tour), a Changi Museum War Trail, which takes in Fort Pasir Panjang, Mount Faber and the Kranji War Cemetery.

Local Expert tip: No booking is required to join in with one of the walks - just turn up on the scheduled day, at the scheduled time and meeting point.

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Singapore city sightseeing tour operator City Tours run both the FunVee double decker open top bus and the Captain Explorer DUKW. The FunVee open top bus allows you unlimited hop-on-hop-off sightseeing, its three routes (City attractions, Ethnic attractions and Sentosa attractions) taking in over 30 attractions and passing by over 48 hotels. The Captain Explorer DUKW (pronounced 'duck') tour runs hourly one-hour tours on board an authentic revamped Vietnam War era vehicle, taking in the landmarks of the Colonial District on wheels before splashing into the Singapore River to see them from the water. Tickets for both tours can be bought in conjunction with Singapore Flyer tickets and other attractions.

Local Expert tip: Free hotel transfer to the Singapore Flyer tourist hub is provided when you purchase any City Tours tour.

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For a nostalgic way to tour Singapore, climb aboard the Singapore Trolley, an authentic trolley bus designed and built in Singapore. Half air-conditioned and half open-air, the Singapore Trolley offers fully- narrated tours by onboard storytellers. A 75 minute Day Tour takes in all the sights, including the architectural and cultural variety of the Civic District, Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam and can be bought in conjunction with HIPPO River cruise. The Red Lantern Night Tour is a three-hour tour which shows you the 'other' side of Singapore � from heartland district to suburban town, street fruit market to red light district. Night Tours leaves nightly at 6.30pm from Suntec Galleria, and drop you at nightlife emporium Clarke Quay.

Local Expert tip: The Red Lantern Night Tour is a unique and interesting way to see a lesser-visited part of Singapore.

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Duck & Hippo are a one-stop sightseeing company that provides a wealth of tour options for your Singapore sightseeing needs. Hop-on, hop-off topless buses allow you to visit all the city's major sights at your own pace, while the HiPPO River Cruises brings you all the sights of the Singapore River from the comfort of a boat with live commentary (available as a 30 minute tour or as hop-on, hop-off). Duck & Hippo also own the Singapore Trolley and the amphibious DUCKtours, meaning a whole variety of different packages are available, depending on your preferences. Sightseeing packages can also be bought in conjunction with other attractions such as the Singapore Flyer and the Chinatown Heritage Centre.

Local Expert tip: There are lots of different packages available so be sure to talk through all the options with the sales staff to ensure you get the best deal to suit you.

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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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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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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