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Singapore Stopover Guide – Explore The Lion City

Singapore, with its ideal location at the crossroads between East and West, is often the chosen stop-off point on a trip to New Zealand.

While Changi Airport is continually voted as the best airport in the world, there is so much more to this fantastic modern city to discover. 

From world-class tourist attractions to local hawker markets and glamorous roof bars to palm-dotted beaches, there’s so much to discover in Singapore.

Whether you like street food or fine dining, roller coasters or museums, we are confident you will find a side of Singapore that captivates you. 

If you’re planning a stopover in Singapore, we’re here to give you the lowdown.

Your Singapore stopover guide

How to get from the airport to the city

Changi Airport is close to the city centre, so it is a quick and easy journey, no matter how you choose to travel. 

Taxi

The quickest and most convenient way is by taxi or rideshare. It is also very reasonably priced compared to most other major cities.

Depending on the time of day and traffic, a taxi should take around 20-30 minutes and only costs around SGD 25-40 to anywhere in the city. 

Taxis are metered and well organised at arrivals.

We also recommend rideshare apps such as Grab, Gojek and Tada (Uber equivalents).

Private car

If you are travelling with a larger group or with lots of luggage, you can also book a 7-seater private transfer at the airport on arrival.

These are SGD60 flat rate to anywhere in Singapore. 

MRT (Mass Rapid Transit/subway)

Another popular option with tourists and budget travellers is the MRT (train).

It takes around an hour to get into the city on the MRT and costs only SGD2.00 (approximately) per person – what a bargain!

⚠️ We love the MRT but it’s important to note that they don’t run 24/7. You’ll also likely need to change trains (which isn’t difficult).

How to get around Singapore

MRT

The most popular way for most tourists to get around is the MRT (train/subway). It is clean, efficient, safe and air-conditioned, and it connects most places visitors want to go.

Download the MyTransport.SG app (Google Play | Apple) to access information on your closest MRT station or bus stop and to see up-to-date timings for arriving buses, etc.

Contactless Visa/Mastercard bank cards are accepted on all public transport.

Did you know? International charges be applied to your credit card, so if you plan to use public transport frequently, it may be cheaper to purchase an EZ Link card instead (available at the MRT station). However, if you have a Wise card, you won’t be charged fees.

Taxi and rideshare

Taxis are plentiful and relatively cheap in Singapore and you also have the option of booking a Grab, Gojek and Tada – Singapore’s Uber equivalents. 

We recommend downloading the CDG Zig taxi app (Google Play | Apple) and one of the ridesharing apps to make booking and comparing fares easy.

Bus

Getting around by bus in Singapore is also easy (though not quite as easy as by taxi/rideshare and MRT).

Tap on and off with your credit card, or use your EZ Link card (the local transport card) if you’d prefer.

Best areas to stay 

Singapore is a relatively small city and public transport makes getting around to most places quick and easy. So, the area you stay in isn’t too important. 

We recoommend you stay within walking distance of an MRT station to make sightseeing easy. 

Here is a breakdown of some of the most popular areas for visitors to stay in Singapore

Marina Bay

Marina Bay is popular with business travellers and wealthy tourists.

It has many high-end hotels and is convenient for sightseeing and restaurants. 

Sentosa Island

Sentosa is popular with families and beach lovers.

It has a good choice of resort-style hotels and has some of the biggest attractions on your doorstep, including Universal Studios, Adventure Cove Waterpark and SEA Aquarium.

Clarke Quay/Robertson Quay

This area has a good range of mid-range hotels and plenty of bars and restaurants.

Orchard

Orchard is Singapore’s main shopping district, with an abundance of shopping malls.

It also has good public transport links and plenty of eating options within the malls. 

Chinatown

Chinatown has a good choice of boutique hotels.

It also has many great bars and restaurants – from some of Singapore’s best hawker centres to trendy cocktail bars. 

Chinatown is a popular place to stay in Singapore.

Civic District

Like nearby Marina Bay, Civic District attracts wealthy holiday makers and business travellers.

You’ll find several high-end hotels there. 

Little India

Little India is popular with budget travellers.

Top things to do in Singapore

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, culture buff, foodie or a fashionista, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Singapore

If you’re only in town for a short time, here are some recommendations on what to do…

Gardens by the Bay

Singapore’s iconic super trees are the focal point of these botanical gardens… but there is more to explore at Gardens By the Bay.

Visit the Cloud Forest, Flower Dome and Floral Fantasy and walk the OCBC Skyway.

Be sure to return after dark for the fabulous light show (which is also visible from the top of Marina Bay Sands).

Universal Studios Singapore

Popular with adrenaline junkies and families, Universal Studios is found on Sentosa Island.

Get your heart racing on the roller coasters and meet some of your favourite kids’ movie characters.

Singapore Zoo

Renowned as one of the best zoos in the world, thanks to its natural rainforest setting and spacious landscaped enclosures, Singapore Zoo is a great stopover activity. 

If you’re travelling with kids, bring their swimmers to cool off in the water park.

Pro tip: Head along to Singapore Zoo after dark for their world-renowned Night Safai. It gives you a chance to see animals that normally hide themselves away during the day. But don’t go too dark – we think it’s best around sunset when you still have some daylight to see the animals.

Wander the cultural districts

Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Gelam all offer a unique atmosphere.

Taking a wander and soaking it all in is one of my favourite things to do in town.

Check out these self-guided Singapore walking tours for a cost-effective way to discover each area at your own pace. 

Eat the local food

One of the great pleasures of Singapore is the food.

Try to eat in a local hawker centre at least once during your stay.

Because eating is such a big part of life in Singapore, we’ve included an entire section to help you plan your meals. More on that soon…

Shop on Orchard Road

If you’re a shopaholic, head on up to Orchard Road. It has one of the highest concentrations of shopping malls anywhere in the world!

And even if you’re not actively looking to buy anything, the malls, hotels and buildings around Orchard are well worth seeing.

Browse the markets

If market shopping is more your thing, you’re also in luck in Singapore.

Visiting a wet market with all the local vegetables, meat and seafood is always an interesting cultural immersion activity.

We recommend the Tekka Centre in Little India.

Or if you’re after souvenir shopping, head to Pagoda Street in Chinatown to browse the market stalls. 

Take a selfie with the Merlion

Half-lion, half-fish, you can’t leave town without snapping a shot with Singapore’s mascot.

Standing next to the Merlion also gives you one of the best views in town – across Marina Bay to the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel (which we also recommend you get a ticket to see from the top).

You’ll want to share this one to your Instagram page!

The merlion and harbour in Singapore, looking out to Marina Bay Sands.

Visit one of the fantastic museums

There’s an abundance of museums and galleries in Singapore.

I recommend:

  • the National Museum of Singapore for a one-stop shop of Singapore’s history
  • the ArtScience Museum for cutting-edge and interactive learning
  • the National Gallery Singapore to enjoy the world’s largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian modern art.

Do a beach bar crawl

People don’t often associate Singapore with beach life, tut head over to Sentosa and you’ll find a whole strip of beachfront bars and restaurants.

It’s the perfect place to relax as you sip on a cocktail under the palm trees.

Where to eat in The Lion City

One of the absolute joys of visiting Singapore is trying the local Singapore food

Thanks to its multi-cultural population, Singapore is renowned for its exciting food scene. No matter what you’re craving, you should be able to satisfy it in Singapore.

For a real local Singaporean experience, head to one of the well-loved hawker centres – the city’s version of street food.

Low prices, strict hygiene standards and a wealth of variety are all yours for the taking here. 

Choose from piles of smoking satay, plates of chicken rice or a gloopy bowl of congee.

Whatever you decide, a rule of thumb is to go for the stall with the longest queue. 

Some of the best Singapore hawker centres to check out include Lau Pa Sat in the CBD, Makansutra Gluttons Bay in Marina Bay and Maxwell Food Centre in Chinatown. 

Or, if a fancy restaurant is more your thing, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice in Singapore.

There are more than 50 Michelin-starred restaurants in the city covering all cuisines.

Of course, they may not be within everyone’s budget. But fear not, there are plenty of reasonably priced restaurants too. 

Singapore is blessed with impressive architecture and an incredibly picturesque skyline. So it would seem only fitting to finish off your night in one of Singapore’s rooftop bars, so you can take in the view as you sip on a cocktail. 

Have the best time exploring my favourite city!

If you have more tips to share, please post them to Global Travel Tips.

Mairanne Rogerson at Raffles in Singapore.
About the Author: Marianne Rogerson


Marianne is the writer/editor of the destination website Singapore Travel Insider.

She is also the author of two guidebooks to Singapore and has written many articles about it for magazines and websites.

Having lived there for 7 years and visiting over 20 times as a tourist, Singapore holds a special place in her heart.

She lives to share her love of the city with others!

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