Singapore is a sovereign city-state and island country just south of the Malay Peninsula, just 137 kilometres from the equator. The main island, known as Singapore Island or Pulau Ujong in Malay, is surrounded by more than 60 smaller islands. A place once rich in primary rainforest, much of which has been urbanised, it is still growing constantly through ongoing land reclamation.
As the Singapore Media Fusion website says:
There is no other place in the world that blends East and West, tradition and modernity, quite like Singapore. The cosmopolitan high life weaves seamlessly into the island’s multiracial and multicultural tapestry. Old colonial buildings provide a peek into the past, while brilliantly fashioned skyscrapers point to a city-state that is constantly on fast-forward. Singapore shines with a “can-do” energy that is characteristic of a young, bold and dynamic nation. With the myriad of experiences and opportunities it offers, Singapore is the place to be.
Singapore is an internationally significant commercial centre, the world’s fourth largest financial centre and one of the five busiest ports on the planet. The economy is global, depending heavily on trade and manufacturing, and it enjoys the third highest per capita income on earth. It is also known for its excellent education and healthcare systems.
As you can imagine it is a very popular destination for expats, with excellent potential for making money, very good infrastructure, exotic landscapes, friendliness and wonderful climate. Whether you have already made the move or are considering moving there, we thought it would be interesting and useful to look at where to go in Singapore for entertainment, and what to do in Singapore in your spare time.
What’s on in Singapore?
What to do in Singapore? One thing is certain, there is always plenty to do whatever your taste, budget or inclination. If you move there you’re in for a treat. Here’s our list of exciting, unusual, traditional and contemporary things to do in Singapore.
Festivals in Singapore
You’ll discover a vast range of festivals and events in Singapore, including:
- The Chingay Parade – a huge Chinese New Year procession and street parade featuring dancers, street floats, jugglers, percussionists, lion dancers, dragon dancers, clowns, acrobats, musicians, flags, remarkable costumes and more.
- Deepavali – Hinduism’s most important festival, the Festival of Lights, a joyous celebration of good over evil, light over darkness. Head for Little India to enjoy the festival to the full, complete with fragrant spice stores, restaurants, art galleries, sari shops and Bollywood music outlets.
- Dragon Boat festival – Held at the Bedok Reservoir, 20 minutes by road from the city, 22-strong dragon boat crews from across the world pit their skills and strength against one another in a spectacle it’s hard to beat for drama and beauty.
- Hungry Ghost festival – An annual event in which Taoist Chinese residents celebrate the tradition of paying respects to the dead. In August they believe the Gates of Hell open, and souls roam free on the earth, a little like the British ‘Halloween’. Boisterous, colourful and vibrant.
- Singapore Arts Festival – A world-renowned, month-long annual arts festival with a different theme every year, showcasing visual arts, dance, theatre and music.
- Singapore Food Festival – Since 1994 the annual Food Festival consists of a thrilling menu of food-related events and activities, held right across the country.
Sporting events in Singapore
In 2012 Singapore was named Asia’s best city for sporting events. As the Singapore Sports Council says:
As Asia’s top sports city, Singapore hosts and organises more than 40 marquee events and some 600-plus community events a year. From world championships to sport-entertainment events to home-bred events, a myriad of sporting occasions have brought Singaporeans together as a nation to share meaningful experiences through sport.
Here are just a few of the amazing events and facilities that expats can enjoy:
- Grand Prix season – The ultimate in motor sports glamour and excitement, as well as the race itself Grand Prix season in Singapore means glamorous parties, famous faces, entertainment, night-life, rooftop bars, dining, shopping and more.
- Singapore City Race – a marathon event with mini, short, midi and long distance routes. There are also other runs, including the Bedok Reservoir Ultra-Marathon.
- Singapore Indoor Stadium – This absolutely magnificent entertainment centre sits in the outskirts of the Central Business District, easily accessible by public transport and including a National Stadium, Indoor Stadium, Sports Halls, Aquatic Centre and Water Sports.
The Singapore Sports website contains a detailed calendar of sporting events throughout the year.
There’s a wealth of fabulous attractions in Singapore. Here are just a few of the best:
- Sentosa island – A popular island resort visited by five million people a year, with a gorgeous 2km beach, a historic fort, golf courses, two very smart five-star hotels, amazing wildlife plus Universal Studios Singapore, a remarkable theme park.
- Singapore Zoo – Known locally as the Mandai Zoo, the zoo covers 28 hectares and sits on the edge of the beautiful Upper Seletar Reservoir.
- Jurong Bird Park – An incredible landscaped bird sanctuary on the western slope of Jurong Hill.
- The Singapore Flyer – A massive Ferris wheel with spectacular views.
- Singapore Botanic Gardens – Founded in 1859, a stunning 74 hectare botanical garden open 5am to midnight 365 days a year.
- Science centre – A fascinating place specialising in scientific and technological education.
- Telok Ayer Market – Known locally as Lau Pa Sat, the historic market is packed with delicious local foods.
There are countless excursions and trips, most designed for tourists but ideal for expats and their families, an excellent way to find out more about this incredible country. Here’s the kind of thing you’ll be able to find by searching online for ‘excursions in Singapore':
- Night Safari and Jungle Tram ride – Experience the wonder of the dense, fragrant jungle at night on an illuminating tour of 40 hectares of dense, hot, secondary jungle.
- Singapore City Tour – Including Merlion Park, Thian Hock Temple, the National Orchid Garden and bustling, vibrant Little India.
- Cable car and island paradise – A remarkably scenic cable car ride from Mount Faber to an island rich in peace and tranquility, a place that’s home to a beautiful dolphin lagoon.
- Universal Studios Day Pass – Discover the thrilling world of movie magic on roller coasters and loads more movie-themed attractions, a dazzling experience bringing the silver screen to life.
- The Changi Museum War Trail – Find out about the tragic Defence and Fall of Singapore during World War Two complete with site visits to places that were famous during the dark years of captivity and suffering.
- Singapore Pub Crawl – a great way to pinpoint some of the best bars in town plus entry to a mega-club with VIP treatment and free shots.
- Legoland Malaysia – Seven themed areas, more than 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions, 76 acres of full-on adventure for children and adults alike.
- Singapore By Night -Dine by the River at sunset, enjoy scenic views of the famous central business district, see Benjamin Sheares Bridge, experience the planet’s biggest fountain… and pop into the Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling.
- Singapore Cooking Class – Find out how to make delicious Singaporean dishes like laksa, satay and chicken curry.
- Wildlife River Safari – Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park with more than 300 species, eight river habitats, loads of stunning freshwater galleries, plus giant pandas.
Knowing the history of the place you live helps you understand it, the people and their culture. Here are some brilliant historical sites to visit:
- The Chinese Heritage Centre, Chinatown Heritage Centre, Malay Heritage Centre, Civil Defence Heritage Gallery and Eurasian Heritage Centre.
- Peranakan Museum – Discover the rich history, traditions and culture of early settlers in Singapore, Malacca and Penang.
- Places of worship – You can find a list of marvellous places for worship here.
Do you already live in Singapore?
Are you a Singapore resident? If so, that are your favourite things to do in Singapore, attractions and events? We would love to share your recommendations with our readers. Feel free to leave a comment.