Singapore, the multi-ethnic state and the gateway to Asia, inspires with a unique mix of tradition and modernity. A land tour here can be so diverse: Look forward to historic and colorful neighborhoods alongside forward-thinking modernist architecture and safaris at night. We present the top sights and things to do during your shore excursion in Singapore – you can't miss it all!
Singapore is probably one of the most important port cities in Asia and one of the most visited cities in the world. On many cruises to Asia a stop at the island state is obligation program, nevertheless it is considered as "Asia for beginners. After all, three quarters of Singapore's residents are Chinese. After that come Malays, Indians and the rest, which is spread out among other ethnic groups – including Europeans. You won't find so many cultures in such a small space anywhere else in the world!
As many cultures as live here, so absolutely diverse and varied is the flair of Singapore: Numerous green spaces and botanical gardens characterize the cityscape, which is composed of a modern skyline and traditional neighborhoods. No two places are alike here.
Holidaymakers will be especially pleased with the climate of the archipelago, which is only 100 km from the equator: the average annual temperature is just under 31°C, while the water is only three degrees colder.
Starting point cruise terminal
Since 2012, Singapore has had two cruise ports where passengers from around the world arrive to tour the island nation. Both ports are excellently integrated into the public transport system, making cabs unnecessary. If you still want to get to the city center by "cab", you can calmly sit down in the means of transport, the cab prices are calculated with the taximeter. Public transport users benefit especially from the "Singapore Tourist Pass" with unlimited rides within the validity period. A one-day ticket costs 10 Singapore dollars (SGD), a two-day ticket costs 16 SGD and the three-day ticket costs 20 SGD. Guests can travel by bus as well as by Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT). MRT) move freely around the city.
The "old" cruise terminal Singapore Cruise Center (SCC), which was renovated in 2012, is located in the south of the island, practically opposite the "pleasure island" Sentosa, which is off the main island of Singapore and has numerous attractions to offer. From the Harbour Front you can reach Mount Faber as well as Sentosa with a cable car. A recommended starting point for such a cable car ride is the Mount Faber cable car station, from where you can enjoy a magnificent view over the harbor. The cable car transports passengers over the Harbour Front Station to the station on Sentosa. After a stay on Sentosa you can take the cable car back to the Harbour Front or Mount Faber. The Harbour Front is also conveniently located: One of the four bus lines takes you to the city center, and there is even a dedicated MRT station here.
In 2012, the new cruise port at the famous Marina Bay was inaugurated. It is said to welcome around 1.5 million passengers a year on their cruise through Southeast Asia. The state-of-the-art Marina Bay Cruise Center terminal gives guests a view of Singapore's skyline as soon as they enter, with the Marina Bay Sands, a prominent hotel with the world's highest and largest infinity swimming pool.
Like the SCC, the new terminal is also connected to the city center by bus (line 402) and MRT. Depending on the time of day, a train departs from "Marina South Pier" every ten to fifteen minutes for "Jurong East Station" or "Kranji Station".
Of course, shuttle buses are also waiting at both terminals to take passengers to the city's most popular sights or to the main attractions on a city tour. Decide for yourself whether you prefer to explore Singapore on your own or as part of an organized tour on your shore excursion. Should you opt for the former, we have compiled the most important tips and highlights for you here:
1. Colonial Quarter
It's hard to believe that 200 years ago, the global metropolis of Singapore was home to just 20 Malay fishing families. Much has changed in the colorful city-state since then. Of course, especially significant was the time when Singapore, like many other Asian regions, was part of the Commonwealth and was a British colony. It was not until 1963 that the island state was declared independent by the United Kingdom; recognition as a sovereign state by Malaysia finally followed in 1965. Of course, the colonial era still characterizes the cityscape today: Among the magnificent buildings in the colonial quarter are City Hall from 1827 and the Supreme Court, both of which now house the National Gallery Singapore. Also worth a visit is the Victoria Theater & Concert Hall or the Empress Place Building, which was built in 1864 and now houses the Asian Civilisations Museum.
Singapore's oldest government building, Parliament House, can also be seen on a walking tour of the neighborhood near Marina Bay. When strolling through the colonial quarter, next to the luxury Raffles Hotel, where the world-famous cocktail "Singapore Sling" was invented, another absolute highlight awaits visitors: the Merlion. The imposing statue watches over Marina Bay and is half fish half lion. Its name is composed of the words "Mermaid" (engl. Mermaid) and "Lion" (engl. Lion) together. The mythical figure is considered the patron saint of the city-state.
2. Gardens by the Bay
In the region Marina South, lies one of the most beautiful oases in the world: Gardens by the Bay. This 101-hectare garden in the heart of the city has fascinated millions of visitors every year since it opened in 2012 – and not just because of its incredible variety of plants. One of the highlights are the so-called "Super Trees": 25 to about 50 meter high sequoia trees, which were made of steel and serve as vertical gardens by planting climbing plants. Entire photovoltaic systems sit on their crowns, storing energy for the evening light show, among other things. In addition to these surreal-looking structures, there are other attractions, such as the "Cloud Forest", a greenhouse of almost 1 hectare with a cloud forest, or the "Flower Dome", which was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest glass house in the world in 2015.
3. Kampong Glam
Singapore has three ethnic enclaves, one of which is the Muslim district of Kampong Glam. Once the seat of the Malay royal family, the neighborhood is now the center of the republic's Muslim population. Around Arab Street and Haji Lane, which are the lively heart of the district, there are numerous stores, restaurants and boutiques to be discovered and which give the district its oriental and extraordinary flair.
In the "Malay Heritage Center" you can explore the origins of the Malay culture and learn interesting facts about the past of the district or the history of the city. also experienced by the whole of Singapore.
The highlight of a tour through Kampong Glam is certainly the visit of the Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque).
The magnificent building with its golden domes is considered the most important Muslim place of worship in Singapore. It is located on Muscat Street and can accommodate up to 5,000 people at a time in its spacious prayer halls. If you want to visit the mosque, which was built in 1824, you should adapt your clothes accordingly: Long pants and sweaters are obligatory, as well as a headdress for the woman. The latter is also only allowed to visit certain parts of the impressive mosque, the main prayer hall is not one of them. But also the other parts are really worth seeing, so a visit to the Sultan Mosque should not be omitted.
New York has it, London has it and, of course, Singapore also has a district called Chinatown, which has been significantly influenced by Chinese culture. South of the Singapore River is the lively district with small alleys and numerous colorful stores. It is now the main attraction for many tourists who stop in Singapore on their Asia cruise, for example. In the Chinatown of the Lion City old buildings from the time before the Second World War line up with new modern facades. If you make a detour to the district in the evening, you should definitely visit the historic part Tanjong Pagar with its many karaoke bars.
Hardly a traveler can avoid a tour through the lively Chinatown in Singapore. It seems equally impossible to leave the district without a visit to the Sri Mariamman Temple. It is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore and was already completed in 1862. Since then, a ceremony takes place every 12 years, during which the building is completely renovated. Not only during the day a visit of the temple is worthwhile, also in the evening this is highly recommended, when the building is illuminated by colored lights.
5. Sentosa Island
Sentosa is a small islet offshore from the main island, expanded in 2006 by land reclamation to about 5 square kilometers. The island is not only one of the main attractions for travelers, but also serves as a recreational area for locals with its various parks and entertainment facilities, which can be reached by cable car from Mount Faber, among other things. Sentosa is home to a variety of attractions, including Fort Siloso, the last surviving artillery fort on the islands. The Tiger Sky Tower, the highest free-standing observation tower in Asia, promises a fantastic view of Singapore and the offshore Southern Islands. The Universal Studios, another theme park on Sentosa Island, is also entertaining.
6. Shopping in Orchard Road
Singapore's shopping possibilities seem endless. In the many different parts of the city you can buy not only souvenirs, but also clothes and other things in small boutiques. The most popular place for an extensive shopping tour is Orchard Road, at the southern end of which is the President's residence. More than 30 shopping malls are lined up on this street, one more modern than the other. In small stores and international designer stores, everyone is guaranteed to find what they are looking for.
7. Enjoying the view
You can see as far as the mainland of Malaysia and also the Indonesian islands from the probably highest Ferris wheel in Asia: the Singapore Flyer. At 165 meters high, the glass cabin reaches its highest point. From here, the skyscrapers seem just a short hop away. Below is the impressive Formula 1 track. The attraction was built by a German, Florian Bollen. A ride on the Ferris wheel takes a total of 37 minutes. Time enough to look out over the ocean, the harbor, Sentosa Island and the rest of the bustling city.
8. Short Trip to India
The third ethnic enclave of Singapore invites us for a leisurely stroll through the colorful streets and alleyways, where the smell of spices and traditional cuisine is wonderful. Little India is much less visited by foreign guests than the Chinese or Arabian part of the city, but no less recommendable for a short stroll. There are no big buildings to visit here, here the focus is rather on the small features that want to be discovered. Everywhere in the small markets you can taste excellent food and look for souvenirs for home in typical Indian stores left and right of Serangoon Road.
9. Adventure Zoo: Jungle Experiences and Night Safari
The probably most worth seeing animal parks of the world are in the middle of the island state Singapore. The famous Singapore Zoo sets new standards. Forget everything you know from European zoos: Species-appropriate husbandry is an absolute priority here and you won't find any caged animals. Instead, natural boundaries provide the necessary distance from the beast. In some places you sometimes don't even notice them and think you are standing directly opposite the animal. A special highlight is beside the Singapore Zoo (day zoo) also the night zoo, in which from 19:30 o'clock to 23:00 o'clock night-active animals in the light of special lamps can be observed. This is right next to the day zoo and has a separate entrance. You can ride a small train through the area without disturbing the animals, and start your own discovery tours on wide paths through the darkness from the stops. The Night Safari is a highly recommended experience that you will not soon forget!
10. Food & Drink
Due to the many cultures that come together in Singapore, you can look forward to a colorful culinary offering. In the different parts of the city there are numerous smaller and larger markets where specialties of Asian cuisine can be sampled. Delicious street food is sold on every street corner and true specialties of the island nation are waiting to tantalize your palate in the city's many restaurants. We have put together some culinary highlights for you:
- Clarke Quay is a particularly popular place for both travelers and locals, especially in the evenings. It can be considered as a large entertainment complex, consisting of numerous restored warehouses and modern buildings. The waterfront along the Singapore River is divided into several cultural blocks, z.B. Indian or Chinese, divided. Discotheques, restaurants and bars open during the day resp. open their doors in the evening and ensure a lively nightlife.
- In the middle of the Financial District is one of the most famous markets in Singapore: Telok Ayer Market. Better known as "Lau Pa Sat" it became a national landmark in 1973. The hall from the 19. Although the building was renovated in 2014, it has not lost any of its more than 100 years old charm. The many market stalls offer not only fresh produce, but also the best local cuisine at fair prices.
- One of the national dishes of Singapore is the "Hainanese Chicken Rice", which is seasoned with a special chili ginger paste. Many small bistros and also big restaurants have the dish on their menu. A dinner at the Maxwell Food Center in Chinatown is highly recommended. In front of the "Tian Tian" there is usually already a long queue to try the rice dish with chicken. It is worth queuing!
- On the menus of the pubs and restaurants you can find a lot of fish dishes, which is of course due to the location of the island state. One of the traditional dishes is the "Chilli Crab". Freshly caught crab is served in a sweet and spicy sauce. The tomato chili paste is clearly the real star of this dish. We recommend a visit to the "No signboard seafood restaurant" or the "Jumbo seafood restaurant", where each chef adds a special touch to the dish. Delicious!