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Exploring Singapore: tips from a local

Visiting Singapore soon? I’m Jac, a Singaporean travel lover who’s lived here all my life and here are some of my personal recommendations on things to do in Singapore, including some local tips for those who want to go beyond the usual tourist sights.

I love travelling but when I’m out of annual leave, I try to spend more time exploring my own backyard a little more. The official Visit Singapore is useful to learn about the main sights to see in Singapore, but I’m here to share some of its lesser known corners and experiences.

Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool Me

Singapore has a certain stereotype and image to the rest of the world. Most people think that you can see the major sites here in a day or two, but I want to show that there is more to Singapore than you think.

As a travel writer, I’m often asked by visiting friends about Singapore’s must-see sights and other local recommendations, so I put together this page as a useful resource I can point them (and others) to.

Note: Some links will point you to articles on this blog, while others will link to Singapore related articles that I have written for other publications marked by [brackets] in this article. You can also see all my Singapore posts.

Last Updated on 5 September, 2023

Essential Information about Singapore

Some of the must-knows and things to prep for your trip to Singapore

Survival Guide: Top 10 tips for travelling to Singapore

From how to dress to budgeting and laws to take note of – your essential overview of things to look out for before visiting Singapore.

The worst possible advice to give someone travelling to Singapore

There’s a lot of advice written about Singapore where its obvious the writer knows nothing about Singapore. Here’s my real take on things.

5-day Singapore Guide – Best things to do for first-timers

I designed this 5-day guide for first timers to Singapore covering major attractions, things to do and what to eat.

How to use public transportation to get around Singapore

From how to take the bus and MRT to other public transportation tips, here’s my guide on getting around Singapore on a budget.

Best things to do in Singapore

Short on time? Here are the highlight things to do in Singapore for first time travellers who want to get a taste of the country and culture quickly.

Top free things to do in Singapore

Singapore may be considered an expensive country to visit, but there are plenty of things to do for free and still experience what it has to offer!

Outdoor Spots in Singapore

Singapore as the Garden City, is definitely not well-known for its natural offerings, and while most of Singapore may be covered in tall buildings, there are more green spaces than you might imagine… if you know where to look. If you are into hiking or nature, here are some nature spots in Singapore worth checking out.

Kranji Countryside


This remote northwestern corner of Singapore has some of the last remaining farms that you can visit, as well as one of our best nature parks for animal and bird watching: Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve.

Keppel Hill Reservoir & Seah Im Bunker


This once-forgotten reservoir near Mount Faber was left off maps for over 50 years and makes for a fun short hike if you are exploring the Southern Ridges.

Bukit Batok Quarries


Former granite quarries in Singapore’s western residential neighbourhood of Bukit Batok have been transformed into scenic parks that make for a nice stroll. Nearby Bukit Timah also has several quarries and parks worth hiking.

Changi Beach


This beach on the eastern shores of Singapore is most popular for intertidal walks during the low tide. Visit at night and take a guided walk to learn about some truly strange marine life.

Sembawang Hot Spring


Singapore’s only publicly accessible natural hot spring is located up in a small park in Sembawang, perfect if you want a hot foot bath soak and something quirky.

Mount Faber


Most people come here to ride the cable car or walk the southern ridges which gives you a lovely view of the surrounding area

Offshore Islands of Singapore

Did you know that Singapore is a part of an archipelago with over 60 smaller offshore islands? Many of these are used for industrial purposes, but some of them can be visited for a fun day out.

Pulau Ubin


Pulau Ubin on the northeast shore is home to an excellent nature reserve Chek Jawa Wetlands, stone quarries for some cycling and hiking, and home to one of Singapore’s last remaining villages. It’s a great day trip and escape from city life.

Pulau Hantu


Yes you can arrange a dice trip to scuba dive in the waters around this offshore island, and in its murky depths you might find some unusual nudibranchs, seahorses and more! Alternatively take an intertidal walk there at night and see its shores come to life.

St John’s Island / Lazarus Island / Kusu Island


Take a ferry from Marina South Pier to the Southern Islands of Singapore to discover some quiet white-sand beaches, beautiful island scenery and a quirky temple or two.

Pulau Satumu


This little island on the southern edge of the Singapore Straits is home to one of Singapore’s oldest lighthouses and can only be visited on a special tour by the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore.

Local Neighbourhoods in Singapore

Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Gelam are our most popular heritage neighbourhoods that tourists love, but venture further into the heartland districts for a truly local experience



This northern neighbourhood has a surprisingly amount of WWII history, beautiful British colonial bungalows and one of Singapore’s last natural beaches. Also, Singapore’s only publicly accessible hot spring!



Yes you can arrange a dice trip to scuba dive in the waters around this offshore island, and in its murky depths you might find some unusual nudibranchs, seahorses and more! Alternatively take an intertidal walk there at night and see its shores come to life.

Jalan Besar


This neighbourhood near Little India has been gentrifying and is a quirky mix of hardware shops and hipster cafes. Check out the OH! Open House review I did exploring this area.

Joo Chiat


This well known Peranakan (mixed local born Malays with immigrant Chinese) neighbourhood has lots of great food, heritage and culture in its narrow alleyways. Check out the Katong Dreaming review for more about this area.

Tiong Bahru


This gentrifying neighbourhood is the perfect mix of old school markets, shops and businesses alongside hip cafes, eateries and boutiques.

Street Art in Singapore

It may surprise you to know that while Singapore is pretty strict about what it considers vandalism, murals and street art have become quite popular in recent years and can be found all over the island. Here are some of my favourite spots.

Bugis / Bras Basah


Singapore’s cultural quarter home to many museums and art institutions alongside cultural landmarks.

Jurong West


This residential district sprung up around the western industrial area in Jurong.

Katong / Joo Chiat


This eastern quarter is a mainstay for Singapore’s unique Peranakan culture and a favourite for good food.

Kampong Glam


This Malay/Arab heritage quarter is home to the statuesque Sultan Mosque, traditional cloth shops, and indie hipster retail, set amidst some lovely shophouses

Little India


The Indian heritage area is a favourite with the local and immigrant Indian community as a hangout spot. It’s great for a look at the local Indian culture and food



The historic Chinese enclave is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Singapore with lots of significant religious and heritage architecture.

Ang Mo Kio


This residential neighbourhood is home to some quirky murals, cool sculptures and interesting architecture.



A rare spot where you can find huge murals on the sides of its HDB apartment blocks.

Bukit Merah


A southwestern neighbourhood whose name translates to ‘red hill’ after an old legend.

Cultural Sights in Singapore

Historic places in Singapore [AccorHotels] and museums like the National Museum of Singapore and National Gallery are great cultural institutions, but here are some reviews on some unusual museums and places of interest that I think are worth checking out.

The Intan


Learn about the Straits Peranakan Culture in a traditional house crammed with artefacts and an intimate tea session with its owner.

For more about Peranakan Culture, check out Live like a Peranakan in Singapore [Accor Hotels]

Haw Par Villa


This once-popular park is free to enter these days and home to some pretty bizarre Confucianist and half-human/animal statues and the infamous 10 Gates of Hell diorama. Good if you want to see something really offbeat in Singapore.

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

One of my favourite niche museums in Singapore where you can learn about local biodiversity and see the famous whale skeleton that washed up on our shores

Fuk Tak Chi Temple

One of many religious buildings along Telok Ayer Street which was the former waterfront of Singapore, the Chinese temple Fuk Tak Chi has a backdoor that now leads to the fancy Amoy Hotel.

SEA Aquarium Overnight Stay

Sure the SEA aquarium is cool to visit during the day, but staying in the main gallery overnight and getting to stare at sharks and rays swim by as you fall asleep was pretty cool.

Shuang Long Shan

Not so much an actual attraction worth travelling for, but just an oddity in Singapore to see if you happen to be in Clementi – a cemetery right in the middle of a busy housing estate

Hidden Gems

A sponsored post that I wrote for Expedia sometime back about the the less commonly known things to do in Singapore.

5 Places in SIngapore that don’t live up to the hype

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t visit Singapore’s major tourist attractions, but don’t raise your expectations up too high for some of them!

Food in Singapore

If there is only one thing you do in Singapore, make it to eat as much as you possibly can, whether you are a foodie or not.

Hawker Centres

Singapore’s hawker centres are home to our street food and are a quintessential part of Singapore life where you can eat a huge variety of local food that’s cheap and good. Some hawker centres are even home to Michelin-standard food stalls.

What to eat and drink in Singapore

Want to eat your way through Singapore’s famous food culture but don’t know where to start? Here’s a primer that I wrote on quintessential Singaporean food to try.


For the hipsters who like hanging out at cute cafes for good coffee and desserts, this is a compilation of recommendations by my readers on the best cafes to check out in Singapore

Cheap Meals under $5

Many things in Singapore are expensive but food is still relatively cheap overall… if you know where to go. (Of course, inflation is affecting us all though)

Singapore Sling

Often considered the iconic Singaporean drink, I think the Singapore Sling is more a great marketing experience by Raffles Hotel. My local drink of choice is a good ol’ teh tarik (tea with milk).

Artisanal Ice Cream

Artisanal home-made ice cream has taken off in Singapore, but these are the stores you have to check out if you want to have a taste of local favourite flavours like durian, teh tarik and more

Alternative ways to explore Singapore

Everyone has different styles of travel, here are some of my suggestions on routes to help you see Singapore in a different light.

Singapore by a Singaporean

Everything I usually recommend my visiting friends to check out in Singapore in one post. Also, some of my reflections on my home country.

Journey to the West (by MRT)

I’ve always found Singapore’s subway or MRT system the best way to get around. Here’s what you can see where you take the subway from east to west in Singapore.

Sightseeing Singapore when it rains

Tropical Singapore sees downpours any time of the day! Here’s how to explore Singapore and see the sights without letting the rain wash out your day.

15 Non Touristy Things to do in Singapore

Alternative sights that I recommend repeat visitors to Singapore or those looking for a less touristy side to check out.

Uniquely Singaporean Culture

What does it mean to be Singaporean, and how true are some of the stereotypes and things you’ve been told about Singapore? Some views from a local’s perspective.


The bastardisation of English with lots of local slang words from Singapore’s diverse cultures, Singapore may have 4 official languages but Singlish is our truly unique patois that combines all these languages and more in one.

How to piss off a Singaporean

This is one of my earliest and most successful articles that went viral and features the stereotypes about Singaporeans that really, really annoy us.

The evolution of Singapore’s Street Art Scene

Singapore has a reputation for cleanliness and harsh laws against vandalism, but we’ve somehow grown our local street art scene. This was a fun piece where I spoke to local street artists and delved deeper into these wall murals and public art that I love.

5 things you didn’t know about Singapore

Fun facts about Singapore that you never knew about. Here’s a similar article that I wrote for Culture Trip.

Where to stay in Singapore

A common question I am asked is whether I have any hotel recommendations in Singapore or which area to stay in. Here are some of my suggestions and some of the hotels that I have reviewed.



  • Quincy Hotel – Free drinks from the fridge and snacks from the lounge all day long
  • Rendezvous Singapore – very convenient to all the major museums and tourist attractions
  • Yotel Singapore – Fabulous location for shopaholics on Orchard Road
  • Amoy Hotel – One of the hotel’s entrance is in an actual temple