Singapore is a complex city. It has a melange of Chinese, Indian, Malay and British cultures with the historical and the contemporary sitting comfortably side by side. This means that Singapore has nuanced offerings which beg for a deeper look. To get that nuanced look, you are going to need to go deeper than the top five tourist sites.
This list of interesting places in Singapore is designed to take you deeper into the city to uncover the weird, the goofy, the hidden and the elusive.
Top 25 Interesting Places in Singapore
There are lots of unusual places of interest in Singapore, and so this guide is long. Use the links below to skim for the categories that are of interest to you. Better yet, look at them all and create your own unique itinerary.
Cultural Places of Interest in Singapore
Find History at Kampong Buangkok Traditional Village
(From Jon Is Traveling)
The traditional way of life in Singapore has largely been replaced by high rise buildings and weekend trips to air-conditioned malls. There are remnants of the kampong (village) lifestyle though, and a visit to Kampong Buangkok will give you an idea of what all this progress has replaced.
This little oasis of a village is easy to visit and is completely different than anything else you’ll see in the city. The tree-lined paths and old houses melt into the surrounding forest. Kampong Buangkok isn’t on most itineraries but it’s one of the most interesting places in Singapore and is well worth a visit.
Kampong Buangkok is near the Senkang neighborhood. Getting there requires an MRT and bus transfer or a Taxi/Uber.
See the Buddha Tooth Relic
(From Marianne of Mums on the Move)
The magnificent Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is located in the heart of Chinatown. The temple not only contains the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic Chamber, safeguarded in dazzling gold, but also houses one of the most impressive collections of rare Asian Buddhist artifacts in the Buddhist Culture Museum.
Try to visit when a daily ceremony is taking place in the 100 Dragons Hall on the ground floor to hear the monks chanting. The museum is open daily from 9am-6pm.
Go Back in Time at Palau Ubin
(Also from Marianne)
The 1,020 hectare island Palau Ubin is just a 10-minute boat ride from Changi and lets you step back in time and discover what Singapore was like fifty years ago, before the construction companies moved in.
Hire bikes on arrival and head to the Chek Jawa Wetlands – one of Singapore’s richest ecosystems where you can explore the mangroves via boardwalks, and climb the lookout tower. Getting there via bumboat is half the fun. The bumboat is $3 and leaves from the Changi ferry dock.
You can also visit via an organized bike tour.
Singapore for Foodies
Eat at the Cheapest Michelin Star Restaurant
(From Yulia of The Foodie Miles)
One of the most unique things to do in Singapore if you are a food connoisseur is to eat at the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world.
While the words “Michelin star” usually mean that you have to spend a pretty penny for a sophisticated multi-course meal. But with the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, an unpretentious hawker center stall in Singapore, it couldn’t be further from reality. This street food stall received one Michelin star in 2016, and their signature dish of chicken & rice will set you back only $1.50 US. Located in Chinatown just off New Bridge road @ Smith street.
Slurp Ice Kachang
(From Kat of Memoirs of a Globetrotter)
Ice kachang is an interesting dessert made of a mound of shaved ice topped with red beans, sweet corn and condensed milk and drenched with bright red, green and yellow syrup. At the bottom of the pile of ice, you will find a delicious surprise – grass jelly.
You can buy ice kachang in hawker centres and food courts, as well as in some local restaurants. Sometimes, you can even ask for extra toppings, like durian ice cream. It is the perfect way for you to cool down in Singapore’s hot climate!
Travel Fact: Durian is a spiky fruit popular throughout Asia. However, it has a corpse-like smell so bad that the Changi airport forbids you from carrying it onto a flight.
Dare to Eat “Carrot Cake” in Chinatown
(From Katie of The Budget Backpack)
If you’re interested in trying local dishes (while sometimes not knowing exactly what you’re getting), grab a meal at the hawker stalls in Chinatown. Singapore’s food is largely based off Chinese and Malaysian cuisine, and here you can try foods that cover the whole spectrum of that influence. I recommend trying the ‘carrot cake’ – but just don’t expect it to be a sweet dessert.
What to Do at Night in Singapore
Eat at Late Night Supper Spots
(From Brooke of Roam Escapes)
Singaporeans are known for sleeping too little, too late – perhaps because there’s so much to get done. You’ll want to visit these supper spots if you’re jetlagged, transiting at an ungodly hour, or just want to explore Singapore at night when it’s cooler and less crowded.
Try Sin Heng Claypot Bak Kut Teh (439 Joo Chiat Road, 7:30am–4:30am, closed on Mondays) for rich, peppery pork rib soup. There’s also Swee Choon Dim Sum Restaurant for – you guessed it – Cantonese dim sum (Rochor neighborhood on Jin Basar). If none of these are to your taste, head to Spize for just about any sort of diner delight: burgers, spicy sambal stingray, banana-stuffed roti prata with ice cream (several locations throughout Singapore).
Sneak a Drink at the Library Speakeasy
(From Megan at Bobo & Chichi)
You’ll love the Library Speakeasy on Keong Saik Road because it has a cool, intimate, and steampunk vibe to it that you won’t experience anywhere else in Singapore. Not only is it in a cool neighborhood but their drink menu is unique and impressive. You will want to make sure you look up the password for entry and the entrance as it’s unmarked and an unassuming location. Alternatively, you can ask your hotel for help accessing the password.
Have a Rooftop Drink at 1-Altitude
(From Gemma from Two Scots Abroad)
If you are wondering what to do in Singapore at night, then go to the 1-Altitude and watch the Marina Bay Sands light-show from a birds eye view! This modern bar is 925 feet (282 meters) above sea level and offers 360 views of the city best enjoyed at dusk then into the night. The bar showcases live music and DJs.
Entry fees starts at $22 USD which includes one drink and considering a beer can cost up to $15 that is not a bad deal. The bar is on Battery road at One Raffles Place.
Spot Street Art on Haji Lane
(From Shandos of Travelnuity)
Haji Lane is the hippest spot in Singapore. Whether you’re after a dose of street art, a chance to browse some funky boutiques, or just a cool cafe to hung out in (with an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage of your choice), Haji Lane is where you should head.
Weird, Kooky and Unique Things to Do
Fly a Boeing 737
(From Nikki & Michelle of Cheeky Passports)
Conveniently located on the second floor of the Marina Flyer building, home to the giant panoramic wheel, is an outlet called Flight Experience. This is an authentic flight simulator, accurately mimicking an older Boeing 737-800 model up to the very last button. After a pre-briefing tutorial you will be taken to sit at the helm of the plane’s controls.
What makes this experience interesting is that you are at liberty to choose which runways to land and take off from, including airports like Kai Tak, the former Hong Kong international airport known for its dramatic landings and technical difficulty. Throughout your flight experience you will be accompanied by an instructor (an actual licensed commercial pilot) who will guide you and set the level of difficulty according to your preference and experience. One word of advice though, the imagery is so authentic that you can feel nauseous at times.
They are open daily from 10am-10pm and they offer packages ranging from ~$130 USD and up.
Find Some Whimsy at Haw Par Villa
(From Margherita of The Crowded Planet)
If you’re looking for something unusual to do in Singapore, look no further than Haw Par Villa! This whimsical destination is a cross-between a city park and an amusement park, with statues illustrating scenes from Chinese mythology and gruesome depictions of Chinese afterlife.
It was built by the Aw Boon brothers, owners of the Tiger Balm furniture – for this reason, the place is also known as Tiger Balm Park. It’s one of my favorite destinations in town, even if I’m just on a layover and only spend 24 hours in Singapore, I always make sure I pay a visit to this crazy yet wonderful place.
Har Par Villa is open 9a-7pm daily with free admission. It’s on the West Coast Highway viaduct and is well served by buses.
Revisit Your Childhood at BooksActually
(From Mar of Singapore ‘n Beyond)
In the gentrified neighborhood of Tiong Bahru you can find old and new all at once. This former Social Estate is now the weekend destination of many expats and local hipsters in search of the first artisanal coffeeshop and some quirky local designers. Head to BooksActually for an extra dose of that. BooksActually sells international and local books and even acts as publisher to local writers. You will find all the classics and plenty of Singaporean authors, but not the international best seller type of books.
You can’t miss the back of the shop, behind the counter, where you will be taken back to your childhood. Old bottles of Coca-Cola with the rounded font type, candy wrappers, beer glasses with the Fanta logo and all types of quirky things are for sale. And look out for the two cats who can be found minding their own business among the bookshelves.
Be sure to wander the neighborhood as there are also several other bookstores nearby. BooksActually is a 10 minute walk from the Tuas Link green line MRT station.
Revisit Your Childhood at the Mint Museum of Toys
MINT’s collection is made up of an extensive series of toys and objects from toy figures and games to soft toys and vehicles– most in mint condition. You can geek out on character toys from Micky Mouse to Felix the cat and they have a whole section on outer space toys like Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon and Doctor Who. The museum is open every day from 9:30a-6:30p and sometimes later on Saturdays.
The museum is just northwest of City Hall on North Bridge road. Admission for adults is $11 USD.
Crawl Around in WWII Tunnels
Venture into the Marsiling Tunnel at twilight to explore this colonial relic of Singapore dating back to the pre–World War II era. The tunnels were used by both the British RAF and the Japanese during the war and would be interesting to both history buffs and URBEX seekers. You can visit the tunnel network on a a guided tour of the subterranean bunkers.
Use the Squeaky Clean Bathrooms on the MRT
(From Peter of Where is Your Toothbrush)
The city state has an efficient public transportation system, back-boned by the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train network. You can use the ultra-clean restrooms at each station completely and utterly for free. It’s as if Singapore were telling you, “We forbid you to chew gum or spit, but you can brush your teeth for nothing.”
They also have public art on the whole of the Circle Line. Check out that and other places in Singapore for public art.
Kill Time at the Airport
Some of the most interesting places in Singapore don’t even require you to exit the airport. Unlike so many airports, Changi has been designed with people in mind. Each terminal offers at least one but often multiple outside spaces where you can get some fresh air before wedging yourself into the middle seat of your next flight. Here are a few suggestions:
- The butterfly garden has 40 species of butterflies and a grotto waterfall: Terminal 3, enter at the upper level.
- The cactus garden has 100 species of cacti, a bar and views of the runways: Terminal 1, upper level.
- The swimming pool is like a poor man’s club lounge with pool, hot tub and cash bar for $11 USD: Terminal 1, upper level.
- The sunflower garden offers rows and rows of smiles: Terminal 2, upper level.
Singapore has 45% of their land in greenspace. Check out this post on a 3-day itinerary in Singapore for nature lovers.
Take a Nap
You can get some serious rest by booking into one of the transit hotels. They offer rooms in six hour blocks for reasonable prices and the Aerotel also includes access to the swimming pool.
Or take a catnap in one of the “snooze zones”. These zones are sprinkled throughout the terminals. They are a zen-like setting with lounge chairs and peaceful music and the design magically blocks the bustling noise from the terminal.
See a Movie
Changi has two theaters which screen free movies 24 hours a day. Check the screening schedule in advance to pick the movie of your choice. Located in terminals 2 & 3.
Interesting Places to Stay in Singapore
Stay in a Capsule Hotel
(From Viktoria of Chronic Wanderlust)
A capsule hotel is definitely something you will talk about long after your stay. The Pod is one of those kind of hostels-hotels where you share a room, but have complete privacy. The capsules are just as wide as the mattresses are and high enough to sit upright comfortably.
After you’ve explored the city enough for the day just pull down the curtain and you have your own room.
Stay in a Former Brothel
Check out the Hotel 1929 and it’s location on historic Keong Saik street in Chinatown. The hotel has a sordid past as a bordello but it’s been remodeled with a hip vibe and plantation windows overlooking the street. It’s just a few blocks from a major metro line and is walkable to the cool bars and restaurants scattered throughout Chinatown.
Sleep in a Work of Art
The Hotel Clover/The Arts has a modern arty design. Each room is painted with murals drawn from urban street art, retro, minimalist line art and manga inspired creations. It has a rooftop bar and a marina view.
The MSocial prides itself on fostering a culture of friendship, community and adventure. They’ve designed cool public spaces in their lobby, restaurant and rooftop pool. Guest DJ included.
Pick Your Own Floor Design
The Wanderlust hotel is the newest in the small Unlisted Hotels chain. They’re appealing to the design-loving Wanderluster and have designed a different theme for each floor. The public areas are industrial chic but for your room, you can pick from themes such as: “industrial glam”, “eccentricity”, “just black and white” or “comforts”.
The Hotel Re is updated…and yet it never really left the 60’s. Even the regular rooms have a psychedelic pop of color. But you can go all in and choose one of the theme rooms that include hanging chairs and round beds.
Get some cheap Michelin food, have a secret drink, fly a jet and stay in a themed room. Making time in your itinerary for these interesting places in Singapore will get you deeper into the city and make your trip that much richer. Report back when you return and give me more ideas to add to the list. Happy trails.
Your parting shot
(There’s no denying that Gardens by the Bay is one of the most popular places of interest in Singapore. Go ahead and visit. Their night show is mesmerizing)
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