Singapore, as the world’s only island city-state, may be well known for its city sights, but to me, the best attraction in Singapore – paid or free – is the Gardens by the Bay, hands down. Entry to the gardens is free, including the light show at night, although charges apply to the domes (the ‘Cloud Dome’ and ‘Flower Dome’ – both are stunning, but the Cloud Dome, which features an artificial mountain covered in high altitude flowers and plants and an enormous waterfall, is my favourite). Even without paying to enter the domes, however, I could easily spend half a day or more enjoying the surrounding gardens. A meal at Satay by the Bay is highly recommended – sticks of satay and an ice kachang for dessert are inexpensive, delicious, and typically Singaporean (approx. $10 for 2 people).
If you want to get a unique view of the city of Singapore, visit the Singapore City Gallery – beautiful miniatures, and interactive museum displays. Entry is free.
In Little India, visit a temple – we went to Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, or check out the Mustafa Centre, a unique department store. Roti Prata, my second favourite food in Singapore after Satay, should be readily available here.
In Chinatown, the Buddha’s Tooth Relic Temple is beautiful is beautiful, but beware, we found the dress code to be stricter here. There is also a museum, and free tours – check the website for details. Donations at the temples are appreciated.
Our most unique pick for Singapore – Haw Par Villa. A semi-abandoned ‘theme park’ of sorts, Haw Par Villa, is filled with 1,000 statues and 150 dioramas mainly depicting Chinese mythology and aspects of Confucianism. It was built by the developers of Tiger Balm in 1937, and we took more photos here than anywhere in Singapore! A word of caution: in addition to more family-friendly dioramas such as the one depicting the Journey to the West (a.k.a. ‘Monkey Magic’), one section of the park is devoted to scenes of hell – these can be quite graphic!