Singapore, once considered little more than a stopover, has become a travel destination in its own right. Credit: Marella Cruises

Port guide to Singapore

Author: Nicole Carmichael

Published on:

From high-end shopping to sizzling street food, southeast Asia’s lively port city has it all – so get set for an action-packed day

Once a jewel in Britain’s imperial crown, this tiny but densely populated island off the southern tip of Malaysia is now one of the great ‘tiger economies’ of southeast Asia.

Singapore may have a futuristic skyline to rival any sci-fi blockbuster, yet below the triple-towered Marina Bay Sands (pictured left) and the otherworldly Gardens by the Bay, it is a mosaic of urban neighbourhoods, each with a personality of its own.

Little India, Chinatown, Kampong Gelam and Tiong Bahru all reflect the rich history and diverse ethnic makeup of this prosperous city state, where tech meets tradition and commerce rubs shoulders with beauty.

Naturally the cuisine and the shopping are also world-class – and the climate is so fertile that locals say you can plant a broom handle and it will burst into flower overnight.

Related articles

Must see

Marina Bay

Head to the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade and cross the Helix Bridge for a fabulous skyline vista including the Marina Bay Sands Hotel with its incredible observation deck, the Gardens by the Bay and the stunning ArtScience Museum, built in the shape of a lotus flower.

You’ll also meet Merlion, the symbol of Singapore – a statue with the body of a fish and the head of a lion.

Botanic Gardens

The island’s humid climate is perfect for exotic blooms, and Singapore Botanic Gardens is the only such institution to be honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

An important centre for science, research and cultivation since 1875, the gardens are free to visit.

The nearby National Orchid Garden is also a must for plant-lovers, though here there is a small admission charge.

Ride the cable car to get to Sentosa Island, Singapore. Credit: Shutterstock

Gardens by the bay

The world’s largest vertical garden has to be seen to be believed.
A haven for nature lovers, the 250-acre site is divided into three distinct but equally extraordinary zones.

The most iconic attraction has to be those gigantic manmade Supertrees, best viewed from the 22-metre high OCBC Skyway bridge.

But don’t miss the incredible Cloud Forest – a cooled conservatory of plants from around the world – and the Flower Dome, a magical world of perpetual spring inside the largest greenhouse on earth.

Sentosa Island

Easily reached by cable car, sky train or taxi, Sentosa Island offers another slice of Singaporean life that’s not to be missed.

Most famous for its massive Resorts World, which is packed with rides, adventures and attractions, it also offers award-winning spas, lush rainforest and stunning beaches.

Adrenaline junkies can snap up a day pass for Universal Studios (around £35), while for history buffs the museum at Fort Siloso is a vivid reminder of Singapore’s dark days during the Second World War, when occupying Japanese forces used Sentosa as a POW camp.

The Hawker Centres also features an impressive shopping centre. Credit: Shutterstock

Dine & Drink

Hawker Centres

Singapore loves its street food but the city is also famously spotless. How do they square the circle? By gathering all the street vendors into ‘hawker centres’.

Each stall is independently owned and specialises in just a few dishes, with Indian, Chinese, Indonesian and Malay cuisines all represented.

Prices are amazingly low – in fact the world’s cheapest Michelin- starred meal can be enjoyed at Hawker Chan – so work up a serious appetite before you go in.

Clarke & Boat Quays

For more upmarket dining with views to match, check out Clarke Quay and Boat Quay (both handy for the cruise port).

The chilli crab at Red House Seafood is a local favourite but you’ll find all manner of excellent Japanese and other international eateries too.


Peranakan cuisine is a fusion of Chinese and Malay cooking, and here it’s raised to a Michelin- starred artform.

Situated in Dempsey Hill, Candlenut gets busy, so book ahead for a sensational taste of modern Singapore.

Raffles Hotel

You can’t visit Singapore without sampling its famous cocktail in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel.

A blend of gin, cherry brandy and pineapple juice, invented here in 1915, the Singapore sling is sure to put a spring in your step.

Find a treasure at Kampong Gelam. Credit: Shutterstock


Orchard Road

Credit cards at the ready! One of the world’s most famous shopping streets, Orchard Road offers miles of retail heaven.

Take your pick from around 5,000 local, international and high-end shops – from Marks & Spencer to Tiffany & Co – and if you need a breather, head to the roof garden at the top of Orchard Central for stunning views.

Kampong Gelam

The city’s Malay and Muslim quarter is a treasure trove of handicrafts, from authentic batik fabrics to artisan Arabian perfumes – a refreshing contrast to the shiny shopping malls you’ll find elsewhere.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel

Yes, it’s a hotel, but for the most glamorous luxury brands and all the latest tech toys, the shopping opportunities here are off the scale - as are some of the price tags.

Trip planner

Plan ahead, as there’s so much to see and do in Singapore. It’s expensive to shop but cheap to eat, and as long as you stick to the strict local laws (littering, smoking, vaping and chewing gum are big no-nos) you can’t help but love the place. As long as you can cope with the humidity...

Most recent articles