Surprising Singapore: Popular Spots & New Attractions

16 March 2017

Just eight hours’ flight from Sydney (and under six hours from Perth), Singapore is a close-to-home holiday hotspot with world-class attractions, a buzzing dining scene, chic shopping and multicultural influences complemented by pleasant balmy weather all year round. The compact city-state, with its sparkling cityscape, historic and happening neighbourhoods and plentiful green spaces, is easy to get around by taxi or via the efficient air-conditioned Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system.

Singapore is filled with green spaces and parks. (Image: Getty)

If collecting edible experiences is your thing, Singapore is most definitely the place to be. Whether it’s enjoying a cocktail with a sky-high view, choosing a delectable meal at a bustling hawker centre or sipping an artisan coffee along rejuvenated eat streets, the Lion City caters for all tastes. Singapore’s national pastime is eating out, and you can sample the cultural influences in traditional pastries, unique Nyonya cuisine and modern cafe fare alike.

Don't forget to look up along Little India's heritage trail. (Image: Singapore Tourism)

Singapore’s melting pot of cultures extends past the foodie finds to ethnic enclaves such as Little India, Chinatown (visit Chinatown Heritage Centre, located within three restored shophouses, for a glimpse of 1950s-era Singapore) and the Malay-Arab area of Kampong Glam, each with its own distinct flavour where you can easily while away a few hours exploring the shops, markets and places of worship, or enjoy the many vibrant multicultural events that take place throughout the year.

Welcome to fun central – Sentosa Island! (Image: Getty)

This all-inclusive nature is what makes Singapore such a great destination for families. Sentosa Island is a one-stop entertainment, dining and shopping precinct with attractions that will entice all ages. Witness the aquatic life at S.E.A. Aquarium, get your thrills on the Skyline Luge or Skyride chairlift, or go behind the movie magic at Universal Studios Singapore. AJ Hackett Sentosa is also set to open this year, offering adventurous activities such as two 14 storey-high jump decks and a 47 metre-high skybridge.

Also for the littlest travellers, let your kids live out their Tonka truck dreams at the construction-themed Diggersite amusement centre at Raintree Cove. Children (and adults!) get to don hard hats and high-vis to operate small-scale machinery for hands-on clean fun with realistic construction machinery. With state-of-the-art multimedia technology from Japan, if you can dream it, you’ll find it at MOSH! - Singapore’s first interactive digital family edutainment centre. Here, you can create imaginary worlds, orchestrate fireworks, and launch a jumbo at this virtual creative space. 

Street-level style in Haji Lane. (Image: Singapore Tourism)

Another of Singapore’s favourite pastimes is shopping, and retail therapy here is anything but one size fits all. While mega malls along world-famous Orchard Road tempt with everything from high-end labels to high-street favourites, the markets in neighbourhoods such as Chinatown offer an authentic slice of local life with souvenirs, street eats and eye-popping displays of tropical fruit. Fashionistas flock to Bugis Village, a complex of 34 restored pre-war shophouses for bargainista prices on apparel, accessories and footwear, and for something different, Haji Lane is considered Singapore's original hipster neighbourhood with one-off boutiques, local designers and vintage wares. If you're looking for high-street brands and international labels, VivoCity has you covered. The five-storey shopping centre even has its own rooftop water feature.

Gardens by the Bay comes alight and alive at night. (Image: Getty)

When it comes time to switch gears, revel in the serenity of one of Singapore’s many green spaces. Gardens by the Bay is a five-minute stroll from the CBD with an enchanting environment containing two conservatories: the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. Visit at night to see this 101-hectare horticultural park come alive with choreographed lights and sounds. Chestnut Nature Park South opened last year and with the addition of Chestnut Nature Park North, the entire shared community area will total 81 hectares when completed, with Singapore’s first separate hiking and mountain-biking trails.

With new attractions regularly unveiled and up-and-coming neighbourhoods to explore, Singapore is sure to surprise first-timers and frequent visitors alike.

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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Singapore.

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Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.