7. Raffles Hotel Singapore
This colonial building is one of the world’s last grand 19th-century hotels, once visited by literary luminaries such as Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad, as well as movie star Charlie Chaplin. Built in 1887, the property has served as a city landmark for well over a century and continues to live up to its tony reputation with excellent food and service. The classical architecture and tropical gardens provide a refined setting and represent another facet of Singapore’s varied and rich history.
The Raffles Hotel Singapore is located in the city’s Colonial District, which is also home to several other historic sites, and a good place to base yourself in the city. Here, you’ll find the Raffles Landing Site, where Sir Stamford Raffles is said to have stepped ashore in 1819. The story has it that he saw the small fishing village but recognized its potential as a port, so he purchased the land from the Sultan of Johor and invited Chinese and Indian immigrants to move here. And so the seeds of Singapore’s multi-ethnic identity were sown.
Address: 1 Beach Road, Singapore
If you’ve ever visited China, Singapore’s Chinatown neighborhood will bring you right back there. From the small mom-and-pop stores and authentic Chinese food to the bright red lanterns, there’s an excitement and hustle in this district. You can visit the Chinese Heritage Centre and see the impressive and beautiful Sri Mariamman Hindu temple. Another temple worth seeing is the Buddha Tooth Relic temple. If you’re up early enough (think 4 am), you can hear the morning drum ceremony. Or you can just check out the closing ceremony in the evening after viewing the relic.
Heritage markers have been installed throughout the neighborhood in English, Japanese, and simplified Chinese, so visitors can better understand the significance of the area. But this neighborhood is not just a testament to the influence of the Chinese throughout Singapore’s past. This is a progressive neighborhood (with free Wi-Fi for all), and it’s home to the trendy Ann Siang Hill area, where the quaint bistros and upscale boutiques could be at home in any Western city.
9. Sentosa Island
Singapore isn’t exactly known as a beach destination, but if you’re really craving some fun in the sun, Sentosa Island is the place to find it. Siloso Beach is a good spot for getting in beach time, and visitors can play volleyball on free courts or go kayaking and skimboarding. There are several other beach attractions as well, plus an Underwater World aquarium, where you can swim with dolphins. A must-see on Sentosa Island is the Merlion, Singapore’s famous statue that has the head of a lion and the body of a fish. You can take an escalator to the top of the statue and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area. Fort Siloso, the country’s only preserved fort, is also located on Sentosa Island. Adventurous types will want to check out The Flying Trapeze and the SeaBreeze Water-Sports @ Wave House, where you can try your hand at flying strapped to a water-propelled jetpack.
10. Clarke Quay
The “center of commerce during the 19th century,” Clarke Quay lives up to its legacy as a busy hub. Today, it has a more polished sheen, so after a long day of shopping on Orchard Road, visitors can happily head to Clarke Quay for an evening of waterfront dining and entertainment. River taxis and cruises also depart from here, giving tourists the chance to admire some of the city’s historic bridges and view landmarks like the Merlion from the water. The Quay’s biggest hit with younger tourists is a giant bungy-jumping attraction, an adrenaline-packed thrill ride. Nearby attractions include the Asian Civilisation Museum; the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery located in Singapore’s oldest fire station; and the Hong San See Temple, a picturesque century-old Buddhist place of worship.
11. Universal Studios Singapore
Universal Studios Singapore occupies 49 acres of Resorts World Sentosa. The park is arranged thematically, with each area paying tribute to a location, film, or television show. Destinations include New York City, Hollywood, Madagascar, and a trip back to Ancient Egypt. Fiction-themed areas include Shrek’s Far Far Away, the Lost World, and Sci-Fi City where a pair of Battlestar Galactica-themed roller coasters dominate. In addition to the many rides that range from kiddie-friendly to Daredevil, the park has diverse dining options, shopping, and live shows throughout the day and night.
Address: 8 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore