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Koon Seng Road Shophouses
Photograph: Shutterstock Koon Seng Road Shophouses

A local’s guide to the best places to eat, drink, and shop in Singapore

The best things to do in Singapore when the travel bubble happens

By Time Out editors
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The news about the developing agreement of a Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble had everyone excited, and air ticket prices jumped within just 24 hours since it was announced on October 15. When finalised, this will be the world's first two-way travel bubble. Borders will be open for both cities, and no restrictions on the purpose of travel for visitors as long as they prove they have tested negative for the coronavirus. 

Since most of us have been confined in the city, this exciting travel news had us on our toes already compiling a bucket list of places to explore. So, to get you inspired, we got our friends from Time Out Singapore to give us an insider's guide on the best things to do, eat, and drink in the Lion City. From new bars and restaurants, art exhibitions, and the best places to shop, here's an ultimate guide in discovering the best gems that Singapore has to offer. 

RECOMMENDED: Of course, we want you to travel safely, if you have questions about the new restrictions and rules on public gatherings in Singapore, make sure to visit this link to keep abreast on 'what you can or can't do' in the city. 

The St Regis Singapore
The St Regis Singapore
Photograph: Courtesy The St Regis Singapore

Where to stay

In a bustling metropolis like Singapore, you’re spoilt for choice with the various accommodation options available. Dive deep into Singapore’s history and culture at its beautiful heritage shophouses that have been converted into chic boutique hotels, or splash out on world-renowned luxury hotels with stunning views of the city skyline. For those that want some peace and quiet, take Singapore’s tropical weather in from these gorgeous hotel pools, or retreat into nature at these hotels away from the hustle and bustle of the city

And if you’re thinking of just soaking in the tub all day – that’s perfectly fine too. But not all bathtubs are created equal and sometimes we just want to check into a hotel with a great tub to get away from it all. 

Catfish
Catfish
Photograph: Courtesy Catfish

Where to eat 

Many know Singapore as a nation of foodies – and it’s a title the locals don’t take lightly. There are new food options popping up every month – from cheap eats to Michelin-starred eateries and more – our tiny island has it all. Missed out on the hotel breakfast buffet? Try a local breakfast for champions or settle down in a pretty cafe in a hip neighbourhood. 

Immerse yourself in local culture and sample our world-famous street food from traditional hawker centres, or soak in the best views (and food) from these picture-worthy restaurants. Spoilt for choice? Check out the list of Time Out Singapore’s favourite restaurants in town.

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Atlas bar Singapore
Atlas bar Singapore
Photograph: E.K. Yap

Where to drink 

After all that feasting, it’s time to wash it all down with a drink or two. And Singapore’s growing bar scene is filled with great finds and rising talents. Check out the best that our nation has to offer, or plan a charming night-out at some of the most romantic watering holes. If it’s cool vibes and views you’re after, head up to a rooftop bar and soak in the magnificent scenery. Those feeling adventurous should definitely shake up their usual drink order with some tipples inspired by perennial hawker favourites. For more day time drinking options and caffeine to power through, try some kopi and teh, the local version of coffee and tea.

Baju by Oniatta
Baju by Oniatta
Photograph: Courtesy Baju by Oniattaa

Where to shop

Singapore may be known for its massive shopping malls and fancy boutiques on Orchard Road but what makes this place a unique shopping paradise are the talented local makers and brands. Shop from homegrown labels in Singapore where you can see the best in local fashion and lifestyle products. For something a little different, bring home a piece of wearable culture from Singapore and check out boutiques and shops that specialise in traditional wear – but with a modern update. The vintage and thrift store scene is also thriving and it is the best way to shop on a budget in the city for old souls. 

In case you missed it, Singapore is also the first city with an Apple store that is floating on water. Sure it stocks the same products as other Apple stores around the world, but think of the bragging rights you come back with once you’ve visited (and taken a snap for Instagram of) this shiny orb on Marina Bay.

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Tan Teng Niah House in Little India
Tan Teng Niah House in Little India
Tan Teng Niah House in Little India I Photograph: Shutterstock

Things to do and places to see

The Lion City is not all glitzy skyscrapers and architectural marvels, although that’s one thing it does do brilliantly. After checking its iconic attractions off your bucket list, venture away from the central business district and you’ll find a different side of Singapore. Hunt down street art by local artists that are splashed on the walls of charming neighbourhoods like Bugis (voted the coolest neighbourhood in Singapore recently by the way!) and Jalan Besar, or get your trekking shoes on and conquer the city’s best hiking trails. And don’t be fooled into thinking that Singapore is an expensive city, either. There are tons of free things to do in Singapore that won’t cost a dime. 

Gardens by the Bay Pocket Gardens Surprise
Gardens by the Bay Pocket Gardens Surprise
Photograph: Courtesy Gardens by the Bay/Pocket Gardens Surprise

Events and unique things to do in the area

There’s always something happening in the city whether you’re an early riser or a night owl. Best bit? We’re hoping plans will firm up some time at the end of the year and if they do, a visit to the Orient Express exhibition is a must. For alternative things to do, you can spend all day checking out free museums, art exhibitions… and very, very old cemeteries – if you’re game. For those interested in mysterious abandoned buildings, there is plenty of that in Singapore too.

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Changi Airport
Changi Airport
Photograph: Courtesy Changi Airport

Where to go with kids

This kid-friendly city makes an ace holiday destination for families travelling with active tots, tykes and teens. Keep your pint-sized posse occupied with high-octane activities that won’t break the bank, from cycling through the new Changi Park Connector (look out for the colossal dinosaurs) to taking a wild ride down any one of the 26 unique slides at Admiralty Park. If the kids still have energy to burn, let them run riot at the many outdoor playgrounds and water parks in the city. All free for them to slide, swing and scale.

For nature lovers, Singapore also offers picturesque quarries, mangrove forests, and nature reserves with simple, paved hiking trails to explore – they’re stroller-friendly too. While you’re at it, look out for the flora and fauna that calls this tropical Garden City home including monkeys, birds, monitor lizards, and otters.

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