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10 Places in Singapore That You shouldn’t Miss

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Singapore’s uniqueness lies within its reciprocal relationship between its localized past and globalized present. 

On the one hand, Singapore is deeply rooted in traditional Southeast Asian culture. On the other hand, it has been enthusiastically open to the global marketplace, welcoming multinational corporations and immigrants from all over the world. This unique juxtaposition gives Singapore its distinctive character and makes it an interesting place to visit or live in. 

Merlion Park – The most famous landmark in Singapore

Location: Merlion Park, in front of Fullerton Hotel and overlooking Marina Bay 

Okay, sure, Marina Sands Bay, and Supertree Grove are plastered all over the ‘gram when it comes to Singapore landmarks. But trust us, the humble, old Merlion is the definitive icon of the city and is regarded as the pride of Singapore. This city symbol has been drawing visitors for almost half a century since it was unveiled in 1972 to a starry-eyed nation that would go on to dominate the region’s economy. 

The statue is of the mythical Merlion, a creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. The Merlion is rooted in Singapore’s history and mythology. The story goes that once, a prince from the Srivijayan empire (1183-1377) named Sang Nila Utama was sailing across the seas when he discovered a spot of land. He encountered a majestic lion that might have given him the idea to find Temasek’s city (the old Malay word for ‘lake town’), which would eventually become Singapura, aka Lion City. 

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Here’s where the tale gets a bit fishy – what about the ‘mer’ part of Merlion? Well, that part came later – in 1964 to be specific – when British ichthyologist (lovers of all things fish) and occasional city emblem designer Alec Fraser-Brunner made the sculpture for the Singapore Tourism Board. He added a fabulous fishtail to signify Singapore’s humble origins as a fishing village. 

Surrounded by multi-million dollar building projects and cloud-piercing skyscrapers, the Merlion withstands the test of time and is a reminder of the city’s often forgotten ancient past.

Singapore Flyer – The world’s largest observation wheel

Location: 30 Raffles Ave, Singapore 039803

 

The Singapore Flyer is the world’s tallest observation wheel. Standing at a whopping 165m, it’s almost as tall as Niagara Falls. It offers stunning panoramic views of the cityscape, Marina Bay, and even parts of Malaysia and Indonesia on a clear day. 

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It first started turning in 2008 after three years of construction and has become one of Singapore’s most popular attractions. A ride on this behemoth wheel lasts about half an hour, giving you plenty of time to snap some pictures and take in the breathtaking views. 

If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can even book a private capsule for up to 10 people and enjoy a Champagne toast while taking in the sights.

Night Safari – The world’s first nocturnal wildlife park

Location: 80 Mandai Lake Rd, Singapore 729826 

Opened in 1994, the Night Safari is the world’s first nocturnal wildlife park and is home to over 2,500 animals representing over 130 species. 

This unique park is set in a forest Clearing and uses special lighting techniques to recreate the setting of a tropical forest at night. You can explore the park via foot on one of the many walking trails or take a tram ride through the different zones for a closer look at the animals. 

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The park is divided into four main sections – the Wallaby Trail, the Leopard Trail, the East Lodge Trail, and the Fishing Cat Trail. Each section offers a different experience, so be sure to check them all out! 

One of the best times to visit the Night Safari is during its special event nights, where you can catch shows like the Creatures of The Night Show or the stunning fire dance performance.

 

Chinatown – The cultural heart of Singapore

Location: Chinatown is located in the Downtown Core, near the Central Business District 

Chinatown needs no introduction. This iconic district is one of Singapore’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s easy to see why. Chinatown is a feast for the senses, from the ornate Chinese temples and Peranakan shophouses to the bustling street markets. It’s also home to some of the best food in town, so be sure to come hungry! 

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Some of the must-see sights in Chinatown include Telok Ayer Street Market, Maxwell Road Food Centre, Sago Street (also known as ‘little India’), Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, and Thian Hock Keng Temple. 

Chinatown is also the site of the Chinese Heritage Centre, built to preserve and promote Chinese culture in Singapore. The center houses an exhibition gallery, library, and theatre. 

Chinatown has undergone a hipster makeover with trendy cafes and bars popping up left and right in recent years. If you need a break from shopping and eating, head to one of these spots for a well-deserved rest.

 

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Cloud Forest, Gardens by the Bay – A must-see for first-time visitors

Location: 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953 

Gardens by the Bay is one of those rare places that are just as magical in real life as in photos. This 101-hectare (250-acre) park was built on reclaimed land in 2012 and has since become one of Singapore’s most popular tourist attractions. 

The park is home to over a million plants from more than 200 species, and its main feature is the spectacular Supertree Grove. These man made trees are between 25 and 50 meters (82 and 164 feet) tall and function as vertical gardens that provide shade and shelter from the harsh sun and rain. They’re also home to some of the world’s largest greenhouses, which contain a mix of temperate and tropical plants. 

The Cloud Forest is another major attraction in Gardens by the Bay. This towering glasshouse is modeled after the montane cloud forests of South-East Asia and is home to pitcher plants, orchids and other exotic flora. It’s a great place to escape the heat, and the misty environment gives it a cool (pun intended) vibe.

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Clarke Quay – A popular nightlife destination

Location: Central Singapore along the Singapore River 

One of the most happening places in Singapore, Clarke Quay, is a riverside development comprising restored warehouses and boathouses. It was named after Sir Andrew Clarke, Singapore’s second governor and one of the key figures transforming from a British trading port to a bustling metropolis. These days, the precinct is well-known for its trendy bars, nightclubs, restaurants and cafes. 

If you’re looking for a place to drink, dance and just let loose, Clarke Quay is the place to be. The party starts after sunsets, with revelers flooding the clubs to paint the town red. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes along the quay to refuel. Singapore is also well known for having the some of the best casinos in Asia if you are a gambling lover 

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Universal Studios Singapore – The first and only Universal Studios in Southeast Asia

Location: Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway 

As the first and only Universal Studios in Southeast Asia, this theme park has become one of Singapore’s most popular tourist attractions since it opened its doors in 2010. Located on Sentosa Island, the movie-themed park brings together some of the most well-known blockbuster films under one roof. 

Enter through the Hollywood zone and find yourself transported to Tinseltown with iconic landmarks such as the Hollywood Hills and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre replica. Action fans will revel in the New York zone that features sites such as a full-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty (minus the crown due to height restrictions) and the Central Park roller coaster. 

Fans of the magical world of Harry Potter can explore the Diagon Alley section, while younger kids will love the Sesame Street and Madagascar zones. The park even has its version of Singapore’s very own Merlion, which you can find in the Jurassic Park zone. 

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Be sure to catch one of the park’s many shows and parades, which feature larger-than-life characters such as the Transformers, Shrek and the Minions. With so much to see and do, you’ll need more than a day to explore this park!

 

Singapore Botanic Gardens – A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s best gardens

Location: 1 Cluny Road, Tanglin

 

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a nature park located at the fringe of the city center. The 74-hectare park has three gardens and is the only tropical garden to be honored as a UNESCO Heritage Site. The Gardens’ rich history began in 1859 when they were established as a colonial pleasure ground and experimental garden to study economic plants. 

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Nowadays, the Botanic Gardens are open to the public from 5 am to midnight daily, making it a popular spot for early morning joggers, picnickers and nature lovers. The park is also home to the National Orchid Garden, with more than 60,000 orchids! 

The Singapore Botanic Gardens isn’t just a pretty face – it’s also a world-renowned research institution. The Gardens houses the Centre for Plant Conservation, the Tropical Rainforest Conservation Programme and the world’s largest glasshouse, the Temperate Pavilion.

 

 

Henderson Waves – A bridge made of wooden slats that look like waves

Location: Henderson Waves, 36 Henderson Road 

If you love Instagramming picturesque bridges, then Henderson Waves is a must-visit. This pedestrian bridge, designed by world-renowned architect and Singaporean Wong Wee Cheong, is one of the most photographed places in Singapore, and it’s not hard to see why. The bridge looks like giant wooden waves arching over Henderson Road, providing a gorgeous view of the city skyline.  

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The best time to visit is during the night when LED lights are turned on and cast a magical glow on everything below. There’s also an interactive art installation called ‘Light Moves’ on the bridge, which responds to the movement of pedestrians, adding an element of fun and playfulness. 

Henderson Waves is part of a longer stretch of park connectors called Southern Ridges that links up popular parks in the southern part of Singapore.  

So if you’re feeling energetic, you can walk or cycle from Telok Blangah Hill Park to Mount Faber Park, taking in some of the most scenic views of the city along the way.

 

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Marina Bay Sands – The most famous building in Singapore

Location: 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 

Marina Bay Sands is an easily recognizable sight in Singapore, standing at a whopping hotel and casino complex. The hotel’s three towers are topped by what looks like a giant surfboard, and the whole building is lit up in different colors at night. 

The design of Marina Bay Sands was inspired by traditional Oriental art and culture, with a modern twist. The result is an amazing building that’s become one of Singapore’s most popular tourist destinations. 

Apart from being home to the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool, Marina Bay Sands also has a range of shops, restaurants and bars, as well as a casino. If you want to experience some of the best views of Singapore, then head to the SkyPark Observation Deck on the 57th floor.

 

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