The Top 20 Things for First-Timers to Do in Singapore | PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay

20 Things to Do on Your Singapore Holidays

Welcome to Singapore! Visiting this tiny tropical island nation for the first time? Well, you’re in luck.

You’ll be glad to know that Singapore has been listed by Travel + Leisure as one of the 50 best places to visit. This vibrant city-state has something for every type of traveller—be they culture buffs, shopaholics, foodies, adventure seekers, or nature lovers. 

Unfamiliar with what Singapore has to offer? You might be wondering where the beautiful places in Singapore are, or what are the best places to visit in Singapore in 3 days. To help travellers like you, our team at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay has put together an insider’s guide to Singapore, which includes:

 

For guests at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore: our centrally located hotel is an ideal base for visitors in the garden city of Singapore. Here are some popular Singapore attractions that are within easy reach for you:

Use our guide to seek out the best of Singapore, and we hope you will have an enjoyable stay!

 

The Best Singapore Places of Interest

 

Don’t skip out on Singapore’s best attractions, many of which are conveniently located in the heart of the city centre.

 

1. Begin (or End) Your Day at the Gardens

In Singapore, the two most popular parks for visitors are Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Botanic Gardens

Of the two, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is more established—it’s Singapore’s oldest garden (from 1859) and has received UNESCO World Heritage status. A lovely place for a quiet morning stroll, you can have breakfast or lunch at the Halal-certified Asian fusion restaurant The Halia, which counts visiting dignitaries among its patrons. 

In contrast, Gardens by the Bay is a visual treat for the modern age. Opened in 2012, the park is a showcase for landscaping and architectural feats such as the Supertree Grove—an Avatar-like cluster of 16-storey trees made from steel and concrete. These so-called “living constructions” collect rainwater, generate solar power, and even act as venting ducts for the park's climate-controlled conservatories. Gardens by the Bay is best visited at night, when dazzling light displays bring the Supertrees to life.

Pan Pacific DISCOVERY Platinum members who are guests at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore, can redeem a visit for two to Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck. Marvel at the Gardens and the Supertrees in their full glory, before heading to the Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck to enjoy an unhindered panoramic view of Singapore’s skyline. (Not a Pan Pacific DISCOVERY member? Sign up for free here!) 

 

Get directions to Singapore Botanic Gardens

Get directions to The Halia

Get directions to Gardens by the Bay

 

2. See Art Differently at the ArtScience Museum

 

With its distinctive lotus-shaped structure, the ArtScience Museum is worth visiting just for an Instagram-worthy picture! But pay its galleries a visit as well—the museum explores the intersection of art, science, culture, and technology, and it has held exhibitions featuring luminaries such as Leonardo da Vinci and Salvador Dali. In its highly popular permanent exhibition, Future World, you can journey through immersive spaces where artworks come alive. 

 

Get directions to ArtScience Museum

 

3. Get a History Lesson at the National Museum

 

This may be the oldest museum in Singapore, but it’s certainly moved with the times. The National Museum now features never-before-seen displays, bolstered by cutting-edge technology to better tell the story of Singapore, where the oldest rock formations date back to the Paleozoic Era (i.e. several hundred million years ago)! 

Need a quick summary of how Singapore came to be? The earliest written records of Singapore describe the city as a thriving port in the 14th century, known as “Temasek” by Chinese traders and “Singapura” by the Malays. In 1867, Singapore became a British Crown colony, but during WWII, it fell to the Japanese and was renamed “Syonan-To” (meaning “Light of the South” in Japanese). After WWII, decolonisation movements swept through Asia and Singapore was granted self-governance in 1959. It merged with, and then separated from Malaysia, and finally became fully independent in 1965. 

The National Museum is the best place to track the country’s triumphs and tribulations through the centuries, and if you prefer a guide, there are daily and weekly tours to choose from.

 

Get directions to the National Museum

 

4. Learn about Singapore during WWII

For history nerds and WWII buffs, sign up for a tour of the Battlebox, a former WWII British underground command centre, which has been rated as Singapore’s top museum by TripAdvisor. The Former Ford Factory is also worth visiting—this is the site where British forces officially surrendered Singapore to the Japanese on 15 February 1942.

 

Get directions to Battlebox

Get directions to Former Ford Factory

 

5. Discover Southeast Asian Modern Art at the National Gallery

 

To see the world’s largest public collection of modern art from Singapore and Southeast Asia, visit the National Gallery. Situated in Singapore’s Civic District, the Gallery has elegantly integrated two national monuments—the former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings—into a sprawling art space. The Gallery also regularly hosts international blockbuster exhibitions; past shows have featured Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama and French Impressionist masterpieces from Paris’ Musée d'Orsay.

Pan Pacific DISCOVERY Platinum members who are guests at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore, can redeem a visit for two to the National Gallery. During this visit, you can participate in an immersive digital journey of discovery, to learn more about lesser-known but significant moments in Singapore’s history that took place at City Hall, such as the appointment of the nation’s first and only mayor. (Not a Pan Pacific DISCOVERY member? Sign up for free here!) 

 

Get directions to National Gallery

 

4. Treat yourself to Dim Sum and More in Chinatown

 

Rich in history and culture, Chinatown is a place to admire majestic temples, appreciate Singapore’s pre-war conservation shophouses, and feast on local delights such as dim sum, Hokkien mee, and char siew (roasted pork) rice at the Chinatown Food Street, Maxwell Food Centre, or Amoy Street Food Centre. 

To step back in time, visit the Chinatown Heritage Centre to experience what life in the area used to be like for Singapore’s early settlers. These settlers not only carried out backbreaking work—they often had to share their meagre resources in cramped living spaces.

Pan Pacific DISCOVERY Black members who are guests at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore, can redeem a trip for two to Chinatown, which includes a hotel pickup and dropoff. At Chinatown, you will be accompanied by a guide, who will shed light on the area’s history. Visit a traditional medical hall to find out about ancient Chinese medicine practices, then stop at a Chinatown restaurant for dinner before heading to a night market to shop for souvenirs. Cap the tour with memorable rides on a trishaw and bumboat; you’ll get a chance to admire the city skyline by night. (Not a Pan Pacific DISCOVERY member? Sign up for free here!) 

 

Get directions to Chinatown Food Street

Get directions to Maxwell Food Centre

Get directions to Amoy Street Food Centre

Get directions to Chinatown Heritage Centre

 

7. Enjoy the Colour and Culture of Little India

At Little India, you can tuck into a hearty local meal at the famed Tekka Centre, enjoy the aromatic fragrances of the flower garlands on display, or admire the multi-coloured statues at the Sri Veeramakaliamman and Sri Srinivasa Perumal temples.

Although it is best known for its Indian restaurants, you’ll also find clothing, hardware, and second-hand stores in Little India, co-existing alongside those peddling traditional wares such as Indian spices and jewellery. More recently, a smattering of artisanal cafes and hipster hangouts have joined the fold. While you’re here, you can even try rock climbing, at OYEYO Boulder Home and Kinetics Climbing

 

Get directions to Tekka Centre

Get directions to Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

Get directions to Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple

Get directions to OYEYO Boulder Home

Get directions to Kinetics Climbing

 

8. Spend Time in Singapore’s “Middle East” at Kampong Glam

 

Known as Singapore’s Muslim Quarter, Kampong Glam has retained much of its heritage appeal. Your first stop should be the iconic Sultan Mosque, which was built in 1824 for the first sultan (Muslim sovereign) of Singapore.

You can also visit the Malay Heritage Centre, or stroll through the streets and browse traditional stores selling Persian carpets, handmade perfume, and ethnic tunics known as the kebaya. But don’t be surprised to encounter the occasional cafe or bespoke bar—this neighbourhood is also a favourite hangout for the indie crowd.

 

Get directions to Sultan Mosque (Masjid Sultan)

Get directions to Malay Heritage Centre

 

9. Revel in Singapore’s Rustic Charm at Pulau Ubin

What was Singapore like in the 1960s? A trip to Pulau Ubin, an offshore island with the last-standing villages in Singapore, may offer some clues. The absence of modern technology, coupled with unblemished beaches, mangroves, and plantations on the island, stand testament to the beauty of the simple life. 

While you’re here, make a stop at Chek Jawa, located on the eastern tip of the island. This is your chance to spot sea stars, crabs, and more. Visit at low tide for the best experience. 

To get to Pulau Ubin, take a bumboat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Bumboats operate from about 6.00am to 7.00pm. The ride takes 10 minutes and costs S$3 per person (S$2 extra if you are bringing a bicycle) each way. There are no scheduled departure times, as bumboats set off only when there are 12 passengers. If you plan to leave Pulau Ubin after 6.00pm, please make arrangements with boat operators. If no boats are available at the Pulau Ubin jetty for your return trip, call the National Parks hotline at 1800-471- 7300 for assistance.

 

Get directions to Changi Point Ferry Terminal

 

10. Have an Activity-Packed Day at Sentosa

 

This island off the coast of Singapore calls itself the “State of Fun,” and it’s perfect for thrill seekers of any age—who don’t mind paying tourist prices. 

From an adventure waterpark, bungee jumping, and experiencing the joy of flight in a vertical wind tunnel, to the Universal Studios Singapore theme park, KidZania (a theme park for kids to learn about city life), and the S.E.A Aquarium, there are endless entertainment options on Sentosa.

To get to Sentosa by public transport, take the North-East Line or Circle Line and alight at the HarbourFront Station. Once there, you may either take the Sentosa Express located at the 3rd level of VivoCity shopping mall (Lobby L), or take a leisurely stroll along the Sentosa Boardwalk into Sentosa.

 

Get directions to Sentosa

 

Top Local Experiences in Singapore

 

Too busy to plan your visit in Singapore? Let a local expert show you what life in Singapore is like!

 

11. See how Singaporeans Live

Tribe Tours specialises in off-the-beaten-track visitor experiences. One of its tours is “Home,” where you will get to see some Housing Development Board (HDB) flats—this refers to public housing in Singapore, where over 80% of Singapore’s population resides. The highlight of this tour involves visiting two homes and meeting with the families there, chatting over homemade desserts, and finding out how a typical middle-class family in Singapore lives. 

 

Book a tour with Tribe Tours

 

12. Take a Joyride in a Vespa Sidecar

 

Singapore Sidecars offers you the chance to travel in the world’s first vintage Vespa sidecar tour—certainly the trendier version of a trishaw ride. You can explore culturally rich neighbourhoods during the day or hit the road at night, where you can check out offbeat drinking spots while knowing that your designated driver will keep you safe. 


Feel like splashing out on something fancy? Take the “Crazy Rich Asians” tour to visit the attractions made famous by the hit movie.

 

Book a tour with Singapore Sidecars

 

13. Taste the Best of Singapore’s Street Food

 

A fan of Netflix’s Street Food series? Join Wok ‘n’ Stroll on their “Singapore Street Food” tour, dedicated to the foods featured in Street Food’s Singapore episode. You’ll get to try wonton (dumpling) noodles, fried carrot cake, chilli crab, and “moonlight hor fun,” a fried noodle dish with a unique wok aroma.

 

Book a tour with Wok ‘n’ Stroll

 

14. Venture into Singapore’s Seediest District

If you’re a non-drinker, you may be wondering what to do or where to go in Singapore at night. Rest assured that there are tour options for you too! For instance, you can join a guided tour with Geylang Adventures to wander along the side streets and back alleys of Geylang, Singapore’s notorious vice district. You’ll also get to quell your hunger—the squeaky clean way—as the tour includes dinner and snacks at the neighbourhood’s best food stops.

 

Book a tour with Geylang Adventures

 

Where to Shop for Singapore Souvenirs

 

Need to bring home a gift or two? Here are the best places in Singapore to get your shopping done.

 

15. Shop Local at Jewel

Want to buy tasteful local gifts? Need to kill a few hours in Singapore before your next flight? You should definitely head to Jewel at Changi Airport! 

 

You may have heard about Jewel’s most visually arresting feature—its Rain Vortex, which is currently the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, standing proudly at 40m. There’s also its Canopy Park, which has play attractions that families will love. But if you’re only in the mood for shopping, head for stores featuring locally designed products, such as Gift by Changi Airport, Naiise Iconic, and Little Red Dot Gifts

 

Get directions to Jewel

 

16. Shop All Day and Night at Mustafa Centre

Fancy some retail therapy, especially after the midnight hour? The 24-hour Mustafa Centre is the perfect place. This megamall boasts a supermarket and department store stocking practically any item under the sun. For the locals, it’s a great place to buy designer products such as watches and scents at slightly cheaper prices. A good gift idea is the Singapore Memories range of Singapore heritage scents, which you can find in Mustafa Centre’s fragrance section.

 

Get directions to Mustafa Centre

 

17. Buy a Singapore Book

 

Ready to discover the best made-in-Singapore stories? Make time for browsing at independent bookstores Books Actually and Littered With Books.

As for the titles you should bring home, the internationally acclaimed graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is one for your consideration; its author/illustrator Sonny Liew took home three Eisner awards for the novel, and he was also the first Singaporean to win at the Eisners. For general fiction, try Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows—film rights to the book have been acquired by acclaimed filmmaker Ridley Scott's production company.

Prefer a historical read? Books by Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew are a must-have, including The Singapore Story. History buffs have also recommended A History of Modern Singapore by Mary Turnbull and Singapore: A Biography by Mark Ravinder Frost and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow.

 

Get directions to Books Actually

Get directions to Littered With Books

 

Where to Eat and Drink in Singapore

 

There’s no doubt that Singapore is a food and party paradise, but where should one begin? With only the best, of course!

 

18. Have a Three-Michelin Star Meal at Odette

Odette, housed in the National Gallery, is a French fine-dining spot helmed by chef Julien Royer. Royer named his restaurant after his grandmother, who taught him the importance of creating meals that “fill the heart.” Be sure to try the Smoked Organic Egg, which features poached eggs still in their shells, served on a cardboard egg carton with dry ice smoke wafting from the dish.

 

Get directions to Odette

 

19. Enjoy a Budget Michelin Meal at a Food Centre

Dreaming of an award-winning but budget-friendly meal? Check out the Michelin Bib Gourmand list of eateries instead. Local food centres with more than one Bib Gourmand winner include Amoy Street Food Centre, Tiong Bahru Food Centre, and Hong Lim Market & Food Centre.

 

Get directions to Amoy Street Food Centre

Get directions to Tiong Bahru Food Centre

Get directions to Hong Lim Market & Food Centre

 

20. Have a drink at the World’s Best Bars

There are a surprising number of Singapore bars on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, with ATLAS claiming one of the top spots. Step into ATLAS, and you’ll be transported onto the set of The Great Gatsby, complete with dashing sommeliers, high-society clientele, and lavishly styled decor. It’s also said to have one of the best gin libraries in the world, with over 1,300 labels on offer.

 

Get directions to ATLAS

 

 

Need more travel suggestions? View more itinerary ideas below, and check out the room offers at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay. For assistance, contact our friendly associates today!

Sign Up for Pan Pacific DISCOVERY

Join Pan Pacific DISCOVERY and instantly receive Gold status as you begin your journey. Enjoy complimentary upgrade and late check-out privilege when you book direct (subject to availability).

SIGN UP NOW