From dining at award-winning restaurants, tasting classic cocktails or touring a prison camp-turned-resort island, Singapore makes for the ultimate stopover destination.
With a major international airport serving over 100 airlines, a great public transportation system, and plenty to do, Singapore is the perfect stopover point between long-haul flights. The city is small enough to tackle on a shorter stopover, but also offers plenty to do for those planning to stay longer.
Singapore’s hawker food scene is one of the top reasons food lovers visit this city. There are even two Michelin-starred hawker stalls, Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles and the Liao Fan Hawker Chan Soy Sauce Chicken. Singapore’s cuisine is made up of influences from the many immigrant groups in their population, so whether it’s the Indian roti parata, the Malay ice chendol, or Indonesian nasi padang, a great meal can be had in Singapore for under S$10, and often under S$5. Some of the iconic hawker dishes include Hainan chicken rice, Katong laksa, and various noodle dishes.
Related: 13 Things to Eat in Singapore
Award-Winning Fine Dining
Singapore may be known for its hawker fares, but the city’s fine dining scene is not one to be ignored. Based on the 2019 list, Singapore is now home to 44 restaurants with at least one Michelin star. The three-starred Odette in Singapore has also been named the best restaurant in Asia by San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best list. With seven restaurants on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list from French cuisine at Les Amis to Australian-style barbecue at Burnt Ends and modern British cuisine at JAAN, a gastronome will have much to explore on a stopover in Singapore.
World Class Cocktail Bars
When Asia’s first 50 Best Bars list was released in 2016, Singapore’s 28 Hong Kong Street topped the list. Since then, Singapore’s craft cocktail scene has only grown bigger and better with three Singaporean bars named to the top five of the current list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars. Singapore’s cocktail scene holds its own against the best in the world, with Manhattan Bar at The Regent Hotel listed as number three on the 2018 World’s 50 Best Bars list and Atlas Bar landing the eight spot in 2019. Whether imbibers are looking for an expertly crafted cocktail or a drink imbued with local flavors, there is no shortage of great bars in the city.
Related: 10 Best Cocktail Bars in Singapore.
For most of the country’s history, Singapore’s population growth has largely been fueled by immigration. This resulted in a multiracial population including a large percentage of non-residents. A visit to this small island-nation gives travelers a glimpse into many cultures. Visit the temples and street food in Chinatown or take a selfie in front of the colorful homes in Little India. The Civic District offers a look at Singapore’s colonial history with 19th-century buildings such as Parliament House rebuilt as The Arts House, Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, and The Raffles Hotel. To see all that modernization of Singapore has to offer, wander through trendy Orchard Road and Marina Bay.
Shoppers in Asia have all heard of Orchard Road, known locally as simply Orchard. This street is a famous shopping destination for a reason. With 26 malls and shopping centers at last count, a full day isn’t even enough to shop Orchard. There are high-end brands at malls such as ION Orchard and The Paragon but there are also cheap fashion brands popular with students at Far East Plaza. Department stores also abound, including Robinsons’ flagship store at The Heeren Shops. Also worth checking out and shopping at is Design Orchard, an incubator space and retail shop that showcases over 60 of both Singapore’s established and up-and-coming local designers.
Gardens and Parks
Singapore may be primarily an urban destination, but the Singaporean government has made a number of green initiatives over the years. The gardens and national parks in Singapore offer an escape to nature for travelers and locals alike, and many of them are free to visit. The most famous is the Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay and it is easily accessible from the city. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a UNESCO Heritage Site and located not far from Orchard Road. However, a short train trip opens up a lot of possibilities with national parks and nature reserves throughout the island.
Family Fun at Sentosa Island
Family travelers looking for something for everyone typically heads to Sentosa Island. An island off the coast of Singapore, Sentosa was once used as a prison camp during the war, but in 1972 the island was renamed and developed as a tourist destination. Now, Sentosa is a resort island that welcomes twenty million visitors annually. There are attractions for all age groups from three beaches to Fort Siloso (a former British fort) and adventure parks. Resorts World Sentosa is another popular destination. It’s an all-encompassing complex with a casino, Universal Studios Singapore, a water park, aquarium, high-end retail shopping, and celebrity chef restaurants. Sentosa is easily accessible from Singapore, making it either an easy day trip or a good home base for visitors to Singapore.
Changi International Airport
The airport is a major part of a stopover, of course, as travelers may spend a lot of time at airports during pre-boarding. Changi International Airport has been named as the world’s best airport seven years in a row, making a stopover in Singapore much more appealing than other destinations. Singapore makes it easy for travelers to leave the airport and see the city, but even for travelers who cannot leave the airport, there is so much to see and do at Changi. The new Jewel at Changi Airport boats an Instagrammable indoor waterfall (the world’s tallest) surrounded by a garden with walking trails, and more than 280 retail stores and restaurants. Instagram to your heart’s content with Jewel’s free Wi-Fi and free 12 hours of power bank loan. Many of Singapore’s famous restaurants and hawker stalls also have locations at the airport.
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