Nowhere else in the world is quite like Singapore. Located at the southernmost tip of the Malay Peninsula, the tiny (slightly smaller than New York City) island is a towering city-state of superlatives. The world’s tallest (115 feet) indoor waterfall, largest orchid garden (60,000 blooming plants), and first nocturnal zoo are Singapore originals, as are unlimited opportunities for one-of-a-kind experiences. Whether you’re craving new flavor sensations or seeking new frontiers, here are three reasons why Singapore is the ideal launching pad for your next great travel adventure.
Discover New Possibilities
Singapore’s compact size and efficient public transportation network make it easy to fit a wealth of new life experiences into one epic vacation. Embrace your inner thrill-seeker by taking a breath-taking leap off the 154-foot-high AJ Hackett Sentosa Bungy Tower. Change your perspective by taking awe-inspiring spin on the 541-foot-tall Singapore Flyer, Asia’s largest giant observation wheel. Pump up your adrenaline by slipping behind the wheel of a Lamborghini Huracan or other sleek supercar for an Ultimate Drive experience. The free-wheeling Ultimate Drive options range from a 15-minute spin on part of Singapore’s official F1 street circuit to a custom driving tour lasting an hour or more.
At Chinatown’s Food Playground cooking school, expand your recipe collection and gain newfound confidence in the kitchen. Expose your taste buds to different flavors and textures by taking a hands-on class to make—and eat—local favorite foods like Roti Jala (Malay “net” pancakes) and Ondeh Ondeh (sticky rice balls filled with gula melaka and covered with coconut shavings).
Discover Singapore’s surprisingly green side (some three million trees—including a stand of virgin rainforest—cover the city) on a nature hike through MacRitchie Reservoir Park, home to flying lemurs, long-tailed macaques, and other wild things. While exploring the park, conquer your fear of heights—and get a bird’s-eye view—on the TreeTop Walk, an 820-foot-long suspension bridge crossing through the MacRitchie forest canopy.
Embrace the Passion for Life
There’s an irresistible spirit of adventure and discovery in Singapore, making the island the perfect place to pursue your passions. If capturing awe-inspiring images inspires your travels, Singapore’s stunning backdrops are guaranteed to elevate your Instagram. Get expert tips on capturing after-dark images of iconic downtown locales such as Marina Bay, Dragonfly & Kingfisher Lake at Gardens by the Bay, and the city’s shimmering skyscraper forest on a guided night photography excursion with Aperture Tours.
Photographers, history buffs, and lifelong learners will find inspiration in Singapore’s vibrant neighborhoods. Historic districts such as Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam, and Joo Chiat/Katong are veritable treasure troves of art, architecture, culture, and history. Satisfy your intellectual curiosity by learning about Singapore’s storied history and unique Chinese-Indian-Malay-Peranakan-Eurasian heritage with The Original Singapore Walks®. Led by local researcher-guides, the off-the-beaten-path tours offer an entertaining and in-depth look at a different historical district each day (Monday to Saturday).
If food is your passion, Singapore is your place. While Malay is the national language and English the official language, food is the universal language of Singapore. Dig in and discover the island’s multi-ethnic smorgasbord of tantalizing aromas and tastes at the island’s iconic Hawker Centers. The open-air food courts—such as the world-famous Maxwell Food Centre and the Chinatown Complex Food Centre—are packed with stalls serving fresh and affordable street foods like Singapore-style chicken rice, Hokkien Prawn Mee (stir-fried noodles and shrimp). Beyond the mind-boggling array of new foods, visiting hawker stalls is the best way to learn how to eat like a local. Order a steaming bowl of spicy fish head curry, for example, and you’re sure to get friendly advice on how to eat it: with rice, with your hand, and, if you dare, pop the eyeball in your mouth.
Hawker stalls also hold some artisanal gems—if you know where to look. Get an early start (opens at 5 a.m.) to savor a distinctively Singaporean breakfast: a bowl of silky sweet handmade tau huay (bean curd) from Teck Seng Soya Bean Milk at Tiong Bahru Market. What sets Teck Seng apart from most tau huay vendors is the passion poured into the bean curd. Unlike hawkers who serve pre-made products or use machines to grind, strain, and cook the soya bean milk, owner Low Teck Seng makes fresh bean curd the old-fashioned way: by hand daily at his stall.
Be Inspired by Singapore’s People
Wherever your interests lead you in Singapore, you’ll encounter locals whose stories will enlighten and inspire. Gain a deeper appreciation for Singapore’s rich artisanal heritage on a Tribe Disappearing Trades Tour. Led by locals, the behind-the-scenes walking tours last about four hours and offer the rare opportunity to meet and watch quintessentially Singaporean tradesmen, such as Jimmy Mah, owner of Jie Bakery and Confectionery. Mah learned his roti (bread) making craft by observing traditional Hainanese bakers. Today, he makes additive-free breads and buns (including sweet-and-soft Singapore breakfast-style bread) in one of the city’s oldest remaining traditional bakeries.
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Preserving Singaporean culinary traditions also is the mission of pastry chef Aisha Hashim. The rising culinary star returned to Singapore from the United States to help revive her family’s four-generation tradition of making putu piring (steamed rice cake). Be inspired by Hashim’s commitment to culture and family, and taste her family’s sweetly fragrant—and nearly lost—dessert recipe at one of four Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring locations.
On Pulau Ubin, the rural island home of Singapore’s last kampongs (traditional villages), spend a day embracing laid-back village life. Located an easy 15-minute ‘bumboat’ ride from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal, Pulau Ubin seems a world away from the buzzing mainland. In the small village near the boat jetty, visit the few shops to chat with locals, whose numbers have dwindled to less than 100. Biking (rentals are readily available) is the big tourist draw here, but it’s the unhurried pace of the Pulau people that inspires. Cycle around the island to experience a rare gift: unplugged and unscheduled time in a rustic, natural setting.
For up-close views of Pulau Ubin’s wild side, schedule a nature walk with the legendary Subaraj Rajathurai, founder of Strix Wildlife Consultancy and Singapore’s foremost nature guide. Rajathurai, a self-taught naturalist and wildlife consultant, has dedicated his adult life to preserving and protecting Singapore’s natural spaces, including Pulau Ubin’s unspoiled Chek Jawa Wetlands. Book an intertidal guided tour of the wetlands well in advance of your visit (tours regularly sell out) to look for octopus, cuttlefish, and other marine animals and be privy to one of Singapore’s most-diverse ecosystems.