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10 Things You Must Do In…Singapore

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2003-08-31

Raffles hotel

Raffles, home of the Singapore Sling

Check out our essential guide to the best sights, sounds and safaris that makes Singapore special. If you only do 10 things during your stay, make sure they include these.
 
1. Take a trip to Sentosa. Accessible from the mainland either by road or cable car, this resort boasts everything you could need for a relaxing holiday, from spotless beaches and clear blue seas to luxury hotels, restaurants and bars. It’s so small you can either walk everywhere or take the monorail which runs round the resort.

Touristy highlights include a huge aquarium, the chance to feed the tame peacocks that walk around the streets, and a waxworks museum where you can find out about Singapore’s Jewish history including that of Sir Menasseh Meyer, a wealthy Asian Jew who had a hand in building Singapore’s two synagogues.

Top Tip: If you take a cable car over to Sentosa, make sure it’s a glass-bottomed one – you’ll get some stunning views of Singapore hundreds of feet below.
 
2. Have some clothes made. Get yourself a made-to-measure suit, shirt, dress or skirt for a fraction of what it costs in the UK. There are plenty of tailors around Orchard Road (the main shopping area) who will whip you up a new outfit in just 24 hours.

Top Tip: Don’t be afraid to negotiate over the cost – and opt to have your clothes made in one of the many types of silk which are readily available in the Far East (and not expensive).
 
3. Have a Singapore Sling at Raffles. Even if you’re not staying in this plush hotel, you can visit the hotel’s famous Long Bar to sample their legendary cocktail. The main ingredients are gin, cherry brandy and fruit juice, but if that’s not to your liking then you can choose something else from their extensive drinks menu.
Top Tip: Don’t forget to take your camera – Raffles is one of the most famous hotels in the world and even if you’re not staying there you can at least say you’ve been there.

Address: 1 Beach Road, Singapore 189673
 
4. Spend some time at the airport. It might sound bizarre, but Changi Airport is more than just a place to catch your plane. This huge airport also features a movie theatre, TV lounges, and several gardens and places of natural beauty where you chill out while waiting for your flight to be called. There’s also so much shopping you’ll need an extra suitcase to carry all your goodies home!

Top Tip: On your day of departure, get to the airport a few hours early so you’ve got time to appreciate all that Changi has to offer.
 
5. Visit Singapore’s synagogues. There are two shuls in Singapore, both of which were built by Sir Menasseh Meyer, who made his fortune in Asia after arriving there penniless at the age of 15. The first of the shuls, Maghain Aboth, opened in 1878. Mayer built the second shul, Chesed El, in 1905 after falling out with a member of the Maghain Aboth community.
Top Tip: The best way to see either shul is to attend one of the daily services, as there are no guided tours.

Address: Maghain Aboth Synagogue, 24-26 Waterloo Street, Singapore
Tel: 337-2189
Address: Chesed El Synagogue, 2 Oxley Rise, Singapore
Tel: 238-693
 
6. Go on a Night Safari. If you’ve ever visited a zoo during the daytime and been disappointed to see so many of the animals sleeping, then you shouldn’t miss one of the best tourist attractions in Singapore. The Night Safari is the first wildlife park in the world designed to be viewed at night, to take advantage of the nocturnal nature of many of its four-legged inhabitants. Regular guided tram tours around the park offer the ideal opportunity for animal-spotting, or you can take one of the three walking trails through the park to do your own exploring.

Top Tip: The Night Safari is a fair way out of the city centre, so make sure you allow plenty of time for your journey – and it’s not walking distance from the subway either. Expect a bus ride to take about half an hour from the nearest station – if you’re really unsure where you are get a taxi from there instead.

Address: 80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826
Tel: 65 6269 3411
 
7. Try some of the local fruit. All manner of exotic fruit is available in Singapore, but if you’re feeling brave then why not sample the delights of the durian. Known as the King Of the Fruits, the durian looks like a big green spiky pear and is notorious for its appalling smell – but if you can get past that, they are actually quite tasty. You can buy them from markets and food shops all over Singapore – but don’t say we didn’t warn you about the odour!

Top Tip: If you do indulge, don’t do so on the Singapore subway – many stations have ‘No Durians Allowed’ signs posted up in the ticket hall.
 
8. Go shopping on Orchard Road. Whether it’s cheap bargains or expensive designer threads you’re after, you’ll find them on this enormous street of shops – and even if you don’t want to buy anything, you can’t help but be impressed by the huge amount of shops and shopping centres on offer. Look out also for authentic ‘cheong-sam’ dresses and other Oriental clothing at far cheaper prices than in Western cities.

Top Tip: Be sure to check out some of the gadget shops for up to the minute inventions that won’t reach these shores for a while yet.
 
9. Visit Little India. A world away from the skyscrapers and ultra-modern shopping centres, this district is worth a look for its shopping arcades, restaurants and food courts offering a wide variety of snacks, drinks and fresh fruit juices.

Top tip: Go in the morning – it gets very crowded in the afternoon.

How to get there: From Orchard Road, take bus 64, 65 or 111 to Serangoon Road
 
10. Stay in an expensive hotel. Think you can’t afford to stay in five star luxury? Think again. The Far East has some of the best hotels around, and if you do a bit of research beforehand you could find yourself bedding down in deluxe accommodation for as little as £70 a night.

Top Tip: Check such websites as Intercontinental (www.interconti.com) and Marriott (www.marriott.com), both of whom have hotels in Singapore, to see what deals are available.
 
Getting To Singapore

A number of airlines fly to Singapore from the UK, including British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas and you can expect to be in the air for around 14 hours so be sure to plan accordingly in terms of comfortable clothing and hand luggage.

You can reach the centre of town either by catching one of the shuttle buses that run hourly from the airport, or you  can get a taxi, which should take around 20-30 minutes to reach the city centre, subject to traffic, and should cost around S$25 (about £9).