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The best Singapore attractions to visit

From dizzying rooftop retreats to wild night-time safaris, there's no shortage of amazing things to do in this metropolis

Written by
Time Out editors
&
Rhys Thomas
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With its blend of old and new, colonial and contemporary, Singapore is a true wonder of Southeast Asia. Gleaming skyscrapers, luxury hotels, Instagrammable parks and boulevards filled with air-conditioned malls – Singapore truly has it all. Oh, and there are loads of attractions and great things to do to keep the hordes of visitors occupied too. It can be hard to know where to start. There's nature in abundance, and endless ways to seek out amazing views. There's galleries and shops galore too, for the less adventurou. So here's a run-down of the best Singapore attractions, as selected by our local experts just for you.

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RECOMMENDED: 101 things to do in Singapore and where to see interesting architecture and landmarks in Singapore

  • Property
  • Changi 

If you've just got off the plane, don't have to leave the airport just yet! Entertain yourself at the latest lifestyle concept, Jewel Changi Airport. This majestic dome is home to over 280 dining and retail outlets, with some open around the clock – think dining at ungodly hours at American fast-food chain A&W or food court Five Spice, or killing a couple of hours with a movie at 24-hour Shaw Theatres. You can also catch the hourly light and sound show at the HSBC Rain Vortex, the mall’s 40m-tall indoor waterfall, from 7.30pm to midnight. Honestly, this place is ridiculous. Arguably worth the flight just to see this. Not a sad pasty shop in sight. There's even play attractions for the little ones – including trampolines! Hell, you could even add a day onto the stay and use the on-site hotel. Sure makes checking in a little sweeter. 

Haw Par Villa
  • Things to do
  • Kent Ridge

Opened in 1937, this weird and wonderful park was named after its owners, Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, the brothers who made their fortune from the acclaimed cure-all ointment Tiger Balm. Multicoloured statues and tableaux – some looking rather neglected – depict scenes from Chinese mythology. The highlight is the Ten Courts of Hell (responsible for childhood nightmares for generations of Singaporeans) where dioramas showing human sinners being punished in a variety of hideous and bloodthirsty ways – in extremely gory and graphic detail. It’s a safe bet that you will never see anything like it anywhere else. There is the infamous 10 Courts of Hell to navigate, but don't worry, it's not too scary. You can go in groups of up to 25 if you believe the whole 'strength in numbers' thing. 

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  • Art
  • City Hall

The former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings have been refurbished to become Singapore’s National Gallery. It is the largest visual art gallery in the city-state and is mostly dedicated to local and Southeast Asian art from the 19th century to the present day. So all the pretty modern and contemporary stuff then. Many of the works on display are drawn from the permanent National Collection but there’s also a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions to check out too. So there's always something new to check, even if you've been before. Plenty to look at. 

Chijmes
  • Things to do
  • City Hall

Once a convent school, CHIJMES has transformed into a hip lifestyle enclave brimming with bars, restaurants and cafés. It’s currently undergoing a revamp – and it’s more than just a cosmetic update. A fleet of new F&B joints are flocking to the old school, including El Mero Mero, Here & There, and Prive. Whether you want to just chill on the lawn, get your yoga on, or just eat and drink basically everything you've ever eaten, you can do it here. An essential stop while you're in Singapore really. Especially if you want to just be in a place doing stuff. 

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Gardens by the Bay
  • Things to do
  • Marina Bay

The stuff of nature-lovers’ dreams, Gardens by the Bay is a truly magnificent site. The 250-acre green haven is filled with huge, flora-wreathed towers connected by ‘skyways’ and two enormous conservatories. Opened in 2012 as part of a drive to bring more greenery into Singapore, the gardens are free for guests to explore but you'll need an admission ticket for access to the flower domes that house rotating floral exhibitions. Needless to say, this is a non-negotiable must-see. There's also season passes for $20 (aprx. £11), so you can visit again and again. You'll want to, as it's absolutely massive. And beautfiul. 

Universal Studios Singapore
  • Things to do
  • Sentosa

This outpost of Universal Studios' theme park empire on Sentosa Island has an array of world-class rides across its various regions. There's Transformers: The Ride (a 3D adventure where you have to protect the Allspark), Battlestar Galactica (twin roller coasters that are sure to get your heart racing), Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure (everyone's favourite water ride), Enchanted Airways, Canopy Flyer and Revenge of the Mummy. Your kids will obviously never forgive you if you don’t let them run amok here. There's fun for all the family here though, whether you like thirll-seeking rides or chilling with the cast from Madagascar, it's all going on. Latest additions include a Trick or Thrills attraction. 

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Singapore Zoo
  • Things to do
  • Mandai

With 28 awe-inspiring hectares to explore, it's unlikely that you'll be able to cover Singapore Zoo in its entirety in a day. But you give it a good go. Unlike traditional zoos, which keep its animals in cages, this place was the first in the world to implement the 'open concept', which has animals in individually landscaped enclosures. There are more than 4,000 animals to see across 11 zones, including Wild Africa, Primate Kingdom and Frozen Tundra. There's over 300 species, so honestly, all sorts of things you'll never see anywhere else. Visit the world's largest captive colony of orangutans, feed the friendly Asian elephants and see the rare white tiger. You can also feed giraffes, if you're tall enough. A zoo done properly. Good to see. You also have amazing attractions like the night walk at the rainforst, and virtual experiences. 

  • Things to do
  • Mandai

Set in lush secondary rainforest, the Night Safari is a must-see for visitors. The world’s first night zoo (opened in 1994) allows you to witness what over 2,500 nocturnal animals from 130 species get up to after dusk, in naturalistic habitats and without barriers, via the use of special lighting techniques. Lions? Check. Rhino? Check. Leopards? Check. Flying squirrels? Check! There's animals from seven geographical regions, and you get to see the lot without much work (you'll ride a tram all the way through). You can get open dated tickets too, so no stress on exactly when you rock up to the safari. 

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Singapore River Safari
  • Things to do
  • Mandai

Another animal exploration! This time it's the watery (and other) ones. Manatees, crocodiles, flamingos and monkeys are just some of the 5,000 beasties you’ll encounter in this river-themed wildlife park, which boasts the world’s biggest freshwater aquarium and a panda exhibit housing the cuddly couple Kai Kai and Jia Jia. So good they named them twice, twice. The River Safari is split into two zones: the Rivers of the World, which showcases animals from eight rivers including the Congo and Yangtze, and Wild Amazonia, where you can come face-to-face with over 30 animals from the rainforest on a boat ride aptly named Amazon River Quest. You can also see ancient-looking creatures, from a time long before we all started visiting zoos and stuff. 

Pulau Ubin
  • Things to do
  • Pulau Ubin

Take a walk on the wild side as you step foot on one of Singapore’s most popular off-shore islands. A sprawling 1,020 hectares, Ubin boasts lush greenery and abundant wildlife, drawing nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to explore the many wonders of the granite island. There are plenty of activities to get up to here: go birdwatching at Pekan Quarry, wander through nature trails, and hike 75 metres up Puaka Hill for a breathtaking panoramic view of the islet. The sea-and-mangrove route will be a breeze for moderate kayakers (it's a word) and will be an accessible challenge for beginners. So go on, enjoy the chill chill vibes that are Kayaking around the lushious Singapore islands. 

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Central Water Catchment

Singapore’s oldest nature park is continuously filled with joggers, families and weekend strollers – plus those flocking to see the occasional free concert. You can get into the reservoir’s rainforest via the MacRitchie Trail, which offers straightforward boardwalk treks and more ambitious, longer hikes. There’s plenty of wildlife here, from flying lemurs to tree frogs and pangolins – but they do tend to hide out of sight. The one exception are the long-tailed macaque monkeys that hang about. Be warned, though: having been fed by less responsible visitors, they can be aggressive little terrors. Don't feed them, or wave about snacks. They're cute when behaving though, so do come along wo the big green lung right at the heart of Central Catchment Nature Reserve. It's one of the most significant, untouched, bits of land on the entire island. 

Marina Bay Sands
  • Things to do
  • Marina Bay

The 2,500 rooms at this hotel offer views of the South China Sea or Marina Bay and the Singapore skyline, but let’s be honest: the Moshe Safdie-designed SkyPark is the real crowd-puller, sitting atop the three hotel towers 200 metres above ground level (that's high up, that is). Non-hotel guests have to pay for the privilege of enjoying unfettered views from the Observation Deck across the city – but it’s definitely worth it. To take that selfie to make all your friends back home seethe with envy, if nothing else. We're talking proper panoramic views, from the Gardens by the Bay to the Supertree grove sculptures, and of course that skyline. You can see the lot from up here. Well worth catching at various times of day. 

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  • Travel
  • Changi 

An airport doesn’t sound like much of an attraction – more a series of interminable queues filled with tetchy flyers and shrieking babies. But Singapore’s Changi Airport has been voted the world’s best airport for the fifth consecutive year – and there’s much to marvel at here. Butterfly habitats, Balinese-style rooftop pools, 24-hour cinemas, spa centres, and the highly-raved Jewel Changi Airport – trust us, this ain’t your average airport. There are far worse stopovers during a long-haul flight. I mean, you read about Jewel Changi Airport, didn't you? This is the airports-are-a-great-place epicenter of the world. A lot of the long-haul flghta go out of here too, so why not book yours there? you can just rock up very early, get a massage, have a little swim, the obligatory pre-flight drink at any ridiculous hour, and then you're jetting off. Stress free. Alternatively, when you turn up to the airport just forget the hotel for a few extra hours and chill. It's a holiday no? 

  • Shopping

Once home to an orchard of fruit trees, this area of Singapore is now widely known as the shopping district. Stretching out over two kilometres in the centre of the city, Orchard Road is home to numerous coffeeshops, beauty salons, art galleries, hotels, designer and discount outlets, restaurants and nightclubs. Come armed with cash, and plenty of it. This is a 1.6 mile road full of amazing places to part-take in the old retail therapy. Whether you're looking for fantastic dining, beautiful shops (such as The Grande Whisky Collection, which has a nice 4,500 of the earest and oldest whiskies in the world), and more. There's also some decent hotels, like the Four Seasons. 

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  • Music
  • City Hall

Few buildings have created such a stir in Singapore as the Esplanade. Opened in 2002, the eye-catching bayfront complex has been dubbed ‘the durians’ by locals because of its resemblance to the spiky (and stinky) tropical fruit. It’s the city’s most prominent performing arts centre and the programme bears an eclectic mix of Western and Eastern influences. Book a gig, concert or theatre show in advance and make a cultural evening of it. There's usually around 3,500 events at this venue every year, so you'll find something you like. There's also a lovely park nearby for those of you who enjoy a post-production stroll. 

Singapore Flyer
  • Things to do
  • Marina Bay

Marina Bay’s giant, 42-storey, 165m observation wheel continues to pull a mix of tourists and locals who come for the breathtaking, 360-degree views of the city available from one of its capsules. Each flight lasts 30 mintues and on a clear day the panorama from the top of the wheel stretches into neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia. If you fancy pimping your experience a bit, take a look at the dining and cocktail packages that are available. If you'd like to soak up some sweet sweet knowledge also, you're in luck – these 30 minute adventures come with an in-capsule audio guide and interactive screens designed to help you discover the past, present, and future of Sinapore. 

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National Museum of Singapore
  • Things to do
  • City Hall

After an $118 million refurb and rebranding job, the Singapore History Museum reopened as the National Museum of Singapore: the largest museum on the island. There are two main galleries: the Singapore History Gallery, which traces the history of Singapore from its beginnings in the fourteenth century to the present day and the Singapore Living Galleries, which focus on four lifestyle themes – food, fashion, film and photography. That's over 700 years of Singapore to get stuck into, and over 1700 artefacts. It’s worth a visit just for the building, an imposing neoclassical structure, complemented by modern glass additions. Until October 2021 there's a visual record on COVID-19 too, if current history is your thing. 

  • Art
  • Marina Bay

Shoehorning art and science into the same room and doing justice to both was always going to be a big risk. But by and large, the ArtScience Museum succeeds. Future World: Where Art Meets Science is a collaboration with Japanese art collective teamLab and features interactive experiences that are also perfect Instagram fodder. The building is a lot of fun too, a real spaceship vibe to the layout – it has ten fingers that anchor by a round base in the middle. So that's worth a looking alone. Inside, with the art-science crossover it should have something for everyone. 

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  • Things to do
  • Sentosa

Sing ‘unda tha sea’ as you ogle at over 1000 species of marine wildlife in the world's largest aquarium, which also has the title of the largest collection of manta rays in captivity. Can you name 1000 species? Doubt it, but why not try on the flight over. Amongst the other underwater beasties tenured here are nurse sharks, hammerhead sharks, eels, clownfish, giant octopuses, bottlenose dolphins and seahorses. You can learn a lot about all these wonderful creatures, and also specifically about 50 of the complex ecosystems to be found in the waters of planet earth. 

Adventure Cove Waterpark

You gotta love a waterpark, right? Adventure Cove – located on Sentosa Island – is a great one filled with high-speed rides that spiral, dive and plunge. One standout here is the Rainbow Reef, where you can snorkel among 20,000 tropical fish. For those not feeling so hyperactive, there are plenty of shaded cabanas to relax with a drink. Fun for all the family, whether you're an adrenaline mom or a scared-of-heights dad. You can be sure to have a blast here. If you're new to the rides, dip a toe in. Go onnnnn. 

Check out more great things to do in Singapore

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