After a few months of traveling in Southeast Asia and a daunting heartbreak, I was tired and all I wanted to do was curl up on my mother’s couch. Attending a conference and exploring a new city was the last thing on my mind. Singapore especially – a city I only knew for its amazing airport – seemed quite overwhelming in my mind.
But when ITB Asia and an invitation to speak about influencer marketing came along, I pulled myself together. I quickly got some business cards printed, booked a flight from Thailand, and waved goodbye to my little beach dresses for a while.


Luckily I didn’t regret it. Not only was ITB a huge success but Singapore and I hit it off immediately. Why you may ask? Singapore is the perfect big city for travel newbies and a well-deserved breath of fresh air (quite literally) for us veterans. It has excellent infrastructure, is super manageable and dare I say – incredibly charming with a dash of big-city excitement. Whether you are looking for the perfect stopover city on your way to other Southeast Asian destinations or for a weekend city getaway – Singapore is the place to be!


Getting Around

I believe that mastering public transport is the way to conquer any new city. That is easy in Singapore so you get an instant feeling of success. And not only that but the MTR is incredibly clean (yeah, really no spitting, eating or even the import of gum is allowed) and for impatient people like me, it comes as a relief that the escalators and subways are incredibly fast and efficient. You can buy single tickets or get a card for multiple rides.
For late nights, I can recommend Uber. In Singapore, you even have the choice to share your ride in order to reduce the costs.

While not the most original way to see a city I am still a big fan of hop-on, hop-off buses and city tours – plenty of choices for all interests and budgets in Singapore. And in case that isn’t fancy enough, you always have the option of renting a Lamborghini for a fifteen minute spin around town 😉

The Neighborhoods

One of my favorite things about Singapore was its diverse neighborhoods. From Little India to Chinatown, Labrador Park and especially the Instagram-worthy streets of Kampung Glam – Singapore is as diverse as it gets.

I love skyscrapers and historic buildings with a story alike. What I don’t like are cookie-cutter houses that all look the same. Realizing that in many parts of Germany you are not free to paint your house pink if you wanted to I always revel in other countries where people can paint their house any color they please.

In Singapore, you will find it all. The old next to the new. The high next to the wide. Steel and wood, grey and rainbow colored. And I loved it! For some reason it also works, giving the city a really interesting and harmonious face where one extreme compliments the next.

My favorite was finding Wes Anderson locations (this wonderful post is based on a Reddit thread called ‘Accidental Wes Anderson’ showcasing real locations that could have been taken straight out of a Wes Anderson film). I am a huge fan and was delighted to realize that Singapore is full of Wes Anderson-esque locations (even though I missed out on seeing the iconic subway station). The government-funded buildings showcasing their best pastels and the former police station especially reminded me of his style.

A city of cultures: Discovering the local side of Singapore

Where to Stay

Let’s just be very honest for a moment – Singapore is lovely but comes with a steep price tag that is easily compared to London, New York, and Shanghai. Therefore finding cheap accommodation isn’t easy. I stayed at Wanderlust Hotel, a beautiful quirky boutique hotel right in Little India, ideally located as it was next to an MTR station and great Indian food stalls.
If you are looking for something less pricey check out the Adler Luxury Hostel – surely the girliest, prettiest hostel I have ever seen.
And if you are looking to really splurge? There is only one option in town – the incredible Marina Bay Sands, the hotel with the most famous infinity rooftop pool which may justify its rates.

What to eat

Singapore is known for its great street food and hawker centers. They are the ideal place in Asia to give this whole street food thing a go if you have a nervous stomach. Most stalls are rated by the city for quality and cleanliness (rated A obviously being the best) and are incredibly appealing.

Head to Smith Street in Chinatown for some chili crab dim sum, fresh seafood or noodles. At the Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, you will find famous Hawker Chan who makes such good noodles that the esteemed Michelin guide awarded him with a star. If you don’t want to brave the long queues of fame this award brought him, you can head to his restaurant around the corner. The same noodles will cost you $5 but you can get aircon on the side and will have a shorter wait time.

The beauty of Singaporean food is its diversity; there are just so many different things to eat. In the different neighborhoods you will find Malay, Chinese, and Indian as well as Western cuisines, sushi and to my utter delight, some really great Mexican options.

Some great Singapore dishes you shouldn’t miss: Kayan Toast, Chicken Rice, Carrot Cake (not what you may expect) and the oh so famous, Singapore chili crab. And of course, a cocktail with a view is in order – it doesn’t even have to be a Singapore Sling.

Things to Do in Singapore

There is much to do and see in Singapore but the city is so manageable, making it the perfect stopover destination for 24 or 48 hours. Things Singapore newbies shouldn’t miss? Here are my favorite things to do on a first-time visit:

Gardens by the Bay

I have a thing for botanical gardens in general but Gardens by the Bay took the cake. They are just insanely beautiful and the ideal spot for couples, families, and nature fans alike. The Flower Dome hosts different exhibits of plants and flowers according to the season. For me visiting in fall that meant lots of pumpkins and an overall harvest theme.
Adjacent you will find the Cloud Forest, a magnificent indoor rain forest. Fear not, photographers, it has aircon – so while there is a fine mist covering the whole dome in frequent intervals your lens will not fog!

If it wasn’t enough that the domes are open until 9pm, the Supertrees come alight at night. Every evening there is a magnificent free light show with music in the Supertree Grove outside.
Whether you are out on the town with your girlfriends or are looking for romantic date option, this is a cannot miss activity! Yes, the show is a bit cheesy and touristy – but somehow also absolutely magical.

City Streets & Shopping

For those who cannot do a city trip without some serious shopping, you must head to fancy Orchard Street or Boogies where you will find nicknacks and souvenirs.

If you are looking for cute boutiques or just a really cool Instagram location, Kampong Glam is the place to be. On Arab Street and Haji Lane, you can find anything and everything from art galleries to handmade perfumes, hipster eateries and great coffee, murals and colorful backdrops everywhere for that perfect Instagram. For those who interested in religion and culture, do visit the beautiful Sultan Mosque.

Colonial Tour

English colonialism impacted massively on Singapore and has become a big part of its history. History nerds can even take a whole tour centered around the colonial past of Singapore.
Alternatively, you can just take a bumboat on the Singapore River leaving from Clarke Quay to learn more about the city’s fascinating history and see some of the important monuments from the water. The boat has a hop on hop off function so you can choose your destination and stops to explore more – in your own time.
Not to be missed if you wanted a fancy English experience: high tea at the beautiful, iconic Fullerton Hotel. Come hungry!

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

If you want a bit of greenery after the skyscrapers of Singapore head to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. This nature reserve is not far from the city, but it feels like a different world.
Here you can see bats, iguanas, crocodiles, an array of birds, if you are lucky a python (lucky enough I was not lucky to see one 😉 ), and go for walks through the mangrove forests.

Naturalist Subaraj who works here is an absolute well of knowledge and passion about this green oasis and conservation in Singapore. A visit to Sungei Buloh is a great little escape from city life and an educational one at that. If you do want to see that python, come for a night tour!

Have you visited Singapore? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!