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Singapur mit dem Boot erkunden, Bild: Efired / shutterstock

Singapore – Sights and tips for first-time visitors

The Republic of Singapore is the smallest island nation in Southeast Asia and is located about one degree north of the equator at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. The Asian metropolis is one of the richest countries in the world. In addition to Singapore’s importance in the field of finance and economy, the state is known above all for its culture and cuisine, which is characterized by multi-ethnic groups. Chinese, Indians and Malays make up the largest parts of the population and invite visitors from all over the world to get to know the country’s cultures and cuisines.

While in Chinatown you can taste authentic bok choi, dumplings or various Chinese soups and dishes, in Little India you seem to be immersed in a completely different country. And in a way, they do: crowds of people crowd through narrow alleys, fresh spices are traded at street markets, the scent of which can still be smelled for miles in the tropical, humid air. There is simple street food and upscale restaurants, tons of jewelers with real gold displays, clothing stores, Indian supermarkets and also a huge shopping center that is open around the clock. All integrated into a noisy, absolutely authentic backdrop.

Just one bus stop or a ten-minute walk away, and you’re in the Central Business District, where there’s hardly anything left of the hustle and bustle. Welcome to Singapore!

Places to visit in Singapore: Tips for first-time visitors

Skyline Singapore
The skyline of Singapore, Image: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

They say that first impressions count and are largely responsible for whether you like a city or – in Singapore there are a lot of first impressions and thus many chances to fall in love with the beautiful metropolis. Different districts, the unique combination of city and nature, the colourful mix of tradition and modernity will always give you new impressions of a country full of opportunities. Sights and tips for your first visit to Singapore.

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Marina Bay with Marina Bay Sands, Merlion and Gardens by the Bay

A cliché: If you have seen the area around the Marina Bay Sands, then you are almost an expert. That’s not true, and yet the iconic hotel is somehow part of it as an unofficial landmark of the country. Also to be found in the area is the official landmark, a lion’s head on the body of a mermaid: the Merlion. From the water-spouting statue you have an incredible view over Marina Bay, including views of the Marina Bay Sands and the Gardens by the Bay beyond. You can experience the latter in all its glory as part of evening light and music shows. The approximately 100-hectare park area was originally planned by the Singaporean government to provide the city with green corridors and thus improve the quality of life of the inhabitants. Today, the complex with the supertrees and the largest greenhouses in the world captivates not only the city’s population, but also millions of visitors.

Chinatown and Little India

Singapore’s neighborhoods give the country its authentic charm. It’s no wonder that Singapore is often referred to as the food capital of the world – you won’t find this unique coexistence of diverse cultures and cuisines anywhere else. Chinatown is home to particularly authentic experiences. The former enclave for Chinese immigrants is now one of the most popular districts for tourists from all over the world. Tradition and modernity, old and new alternate harmoniously here, Chinese music and cult dances create a great atmosphere and the unique backdrop in front of the skyscrapers of the Central Business District guarantees unforgettable experiences.

Here you will also find one of the most important and oldest religious sites in the country, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. The interior of the temple is particularly fascinating: architecturally in the form of a mandala, it depicts an important concept of Buddhism and Hinduism, namely the universal connection. A short walk along South Bridge Road will take you from this site to the next highlight, the Indian Sri Mariamman Temple and the oldest Hindu temple in the city. That’s right – this temple is also located in Chinatown and is an important testimony to the harmonious cultural coexistence that prevails in Singapore. An important ingredient for a healthy, common togetherness: respect and appreciation, which are beautifully exemplified in Singapore.

Little India itself is also a place that is bursting with authenticity. Enjoy delicious curries, teh tarik and fresh bread dishes in one (or more!) of the countless street stalls and simply let yourself drift with the crowds. Especially on weekends there is a lot going on and with a bit of luck you may even attend one of the many traditional rites that are celebrated here.

Eating at the hawker center

Hawker Center Singapore
The Hawker Center on Smith Street in Singapore, Image: DerekTeo / shutterstock

Hawker Centers are the name given to the semi-open, covered buildings where you can buy various delicacies at reasonable prices at various stalls. The hawkers are mainly located near public housing estates or in the center of districts or neighborhoods and offer all kinds of food: whether Chinese soups, Indian specialties or Malay dishes, different cultures coexist harmoniously here.

The hawker centers are run by local authorities and were primarily used to enforce hygiene standards. With the relocation of street vendors to Hawker Center, there was no longer a lack of running water and space. Visitors typically sit on plastic chairs and tables, vendors have their own stalls or “stalls” where they can keep their ingredients safe and fresh. In the meantime, many of the centers are being replaced by so-called food courts, i.e. integrated into air-conditioned shopping centers. In addition, there is an increasing focus on the appearance as well as varied and creative menus in order to reach the younger Singaporeans and visitors. More and more often, you can now find dishes on the menus that are usually offered in restaurants.

Orchard Road and Emerald Hill

Orchard Road is the city’s most famous shopping street. Here you will find both cheap discount stores and popular international chains, but also luxury brands as well as large department stores and bazaar-like structures spread over many floors. Individual boutiques and luxury hotels complete the backdrop, and there is also a wide range of culinary offerings in the department stores, at food stalls or in the well-known Newtown Food Court.

It is said that the latter is especially popular with dessert lovers. The shopping street stretches over 2.2 kilometers. Strolling along Orchard Road will automatically take you to Emerald Hill Road. In the midst of the temples of consumption and department stores, a stroll through this street feels like a walk through a (historic) oasis: Behind the colourful facades of beautifully restored, old houses are trendy bars and pubs, exclusive boutiques and restaurants that invite you to linger in the evening hours.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Botanic Gardens in Singapore serve as a refuge from the urban and shopping jungle. Located just a few minutes’ drive or walk from the northern end of Orchard Road, they offer visitors and locals a place to relax in the countryside. With more than four million visitors per year, the Singapore Botanic Gardens are the most visited in the world. In 2015, the garden even received UNESCO World Heritage status, becoming Singapore’s first site with this title. The extensive complex extends over 74 hectares of land and, in addition to being a recreation area, jogging route and green space, is also an important research centre in the field of botany and horticulture.

Admission is free, only for the National Orchid Gardens you pay a small fee. And it’s worth it: Over 60,000 plants and orchids have been beautifully draped and put together, making the orchid collection the largest exhibition in the world. A green sight in Singapore that will impress you!



About the authors

Manja and Marcel, both 26, have exchanged the dark university basement for a trip around the world for almost a year. Manja loves writing, Marcel loves creating websites, and so they decided to start their own travel blog www.faube.com . There you will not only find comprehensive tips on the planning, costs and organization of a trip around the world, but also interesting facts and reports on the most beautiful countries and cities in the world. Take a look!