No-Fly Travel Ideas from Singapore

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Local Attractions

Sentosa Island is a popular tourist destination in Singapore. It is located a short distance from the city centre. In the 1970s, the island was a military fort, and it was only in the 2000s that the island has been at the forefront of Singapore’s tourism industry. The island features several hotels, two golf courses, and theme parks such as Universal Studios Singapore, and also serves as a residential area for some people. With its close proximity to the city centre, it is a popular place to spend the weekend. Some tourist destinations include the Merlion Statue, Fort Siloso, two beaches, and Madame Tussauds. To travel to Sentosa, visitors can take the Sentosa Express, a train that goes into the island, or take a short stroll across the Sentosa Boardwalk, open 24 hours a day.

Gardens by the Bay is a world-famous botanical garden and one of Singapore’s most popular tourist destinations. The garden consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden, and Bay Central Garden, spanning a total of 101 hectares. The aim of Gardens by the Bay is to represent an exemplar of horticulture and garden artistry, creating a national iconic garden that is a must-see for all visitors to Singapore and a garden that has pride of place in Singapore and the region. Some interesting features of the garden are its supertrees, conservatories, and horticulture displays. The garden is open all year round and offers free entry, although there is a fee to enter the conservatories.

Gardens by the Bay

Sited on the waterfront, the iconic Marina Bay Sands provides a backdrop for the garden. At nighttime, there is a light and water show called Garden Rhapsody in which the Supertrees come alive with colors.

The Flower Dome is an eternal spring with a cool dry climate featuring plants found in the Mediterranean and subtropical regions. The Cloud Forest is higher and cooler, featuring a 35-meter tall mountain covered in diverse vegetation shrouding the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. The themed gardens aim to provide an educational and interactive experience. Collectively, the gardens have garnered a number of awards, including the World Building of the Year in 2012.

Designed by Grant Associates, Bay South Garden is the largest at 54 hectares. It showcases the best of tropical horticulture and garden artistry with a number of smaller gardens featuring the latest in garden design. One of the main attractions is the Supertree Grove, which consists of 18 tree-like structures that are as high as 16 storeys. These unique vertical gardens have large canopies that provide shade in the day and come alive with an exhilarating display of light and sound at night. Aerial walkways provide a breathtaking view of the gardens.

Gardens by the Bay is a park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The park consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden, and Bay Central Garden. The largest of the gardens is Bay South Garden at 54 hectares.

Sentosa Island

Sentosa Island is a man-made island that was built for fun and recreation. Located just half a kilometre away from the mainland, it is now accessible by a short bridge to and from the main island. The 500-hectare island resort is packed with interesting attractions perfect for young people and families alike. Sentosa has a long history dating back to just 40 years ago, where it was known as the Pulau Blakang Mati (which translates to the island after death from Malay), and was a lively settlement of about 400 villagers from Kampong Tengah, who lived in 120 attap roof huts. Sentosa had been a witness to many of Singapore’s key historical events. However, its development came to a peak during the 70s, when the Sijori Growth Triangle was drawn up by the surrounding Indonesian islands and Malaysia. An agreement of cooperation in the development of tourism and an enhancement of the economic standing for the respective territories was formed. This led to the Singapore government to redevelop and enhance the infrastructure of Sentosa to accommodate the changes in time. Today, Sentosa is a prestigious world class island resort visited by 5 million locals and tourists yearly.

Universal Studios Singapore

It would be a crime not to let your hair down at the Universal Studios Singapore on Sentosa Island. This relatively new attraction has taken Singapore by storm and it’s a hit with both the locals and the tourists. There are a total of 24 attractions in 7 themed zones ranging from the Lost World to Sci-Fi City. Fans of thrilling roller coasters will love Battlestar Galactica which is the world’s tallest pair of dueling roller coasters, and those who prefer something a little more laid back will enjoy the river boat ride in the Madagascar zone. The main draw for Universal Studios Singapore however, is the fact that many of its attractions are unique to Singapore. Universal Studios Singapore is the 4th Universal Studios theme park in the world, and the only one in South East Asia. On top of that, many of the attractions and rides are based on blockbuster movies such as Transformers, Madagascar, Shrek and Jurassic Park. The people at Universal Studios have taken great care to not only incorporate these movies into the rides, but also create themed zones that resemble the sets of these movies. It is quite a surreal experience walking through New York City one moment and then finding yourself in the Amazon rainforest the next.

Nearby Getaways

The first destination mentioned in the article entitled “No-Fly Travel Ideas from Singapore” is one of the well-known destinations for Singapore residents, which is Bintan. It is an island in Indonesia and is part of the Riau Island Province. Bintan can be reached from Singapore by taking a ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal or from Singapore Cruise Centre at HarbourFront to Bandar Bentan Telani in Bintan. The ferry ride takes approximately 1 hour. Bintan is the largest island among 3, the other 2 are Batam and Karimun. The Bintan resorts are one the biggest tourist destination for Singapore residents and one of the leading resorts is Banyan Tree Bintan. Bintan has been known as a great golfing destination and other activities include water sports, a visit to the local fishing villages, and of course a visit to the Mangrove forest. The next destination that is mentioned is Johor Bahru. It is the capital city for the state of Johor, Malaysia. It is just across the causeway from Singapore and can be reached by road or the KTM train. The train stop is also in the same location as the Malaysia customs and immigration, and from there travelers can take the local bus to various parts of Johor, taxi, or on foot. Johor has been a well-known shopping destination for Singapore residents because the items there are cheaper due to the lower cost of living in Malaysia. There are several shopping centers in Johor, one of the well-known ones is Pelangi Plaza and Holiday Plaza. Due to the proximity to Singapore, some people work in Singapore but live in Johor to take advantage of the lower cost of living. Johor is also well known for its food, particularly the seafood. One of the popular seafood destinations for Singapore residents is at a place called Senibong.

Bintan Island, Indonesia

The high level of development comes at a cost to the environment and the local people, although visits to some Melayu and Orang Laut villages and towns where one can still find the traditional kampong lifestyle provide an interesting change of scene. At some of these places, you can find locally guided tours and homestay programs. These can be arranged with some clear distinctions from reputable volunteer programs to exploitative tourism. An example would be a homestay program run through Yayasan Budi Pekerti, established to improve the situation of the marginalized Melayu people.

Through comparisons as a spa destination, Bintan can come very affordable with some resorts running promotions with the ferry package included. Food prices are relative to Singapore, though there are some cheaper options at local Padang food and seafood restaurants. Shopping won’t be too interesting for most, with a few exceptions such as the unique Bintan local handicrafts and kudus which are sold around Bintan.

Bintan Island, although heavy on resorts and rather pricey ferry transport, offers a fine range of activities from a very good selection of resorts, world-class 18-hole golf courses, water sports, to the very popular Bintan Offroad (ATV) and the Bintan Elephant Park. With its close proximity to Singapore and its development as a high-end retreat, this island is a good alternative to a weekend at the resorts in Sentosa.

Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Johor Bahru is the state capital of Johor, Malaysia. Johor Bahru is the closest city to Singapore and can be easily accessed by buses and cars. One of the major attractions in Johor Bahru is the Legoland which opened in 2012. It is the first Legoland in Asia. Located 23km from the Tuas checkpoint, it is just half an hour drive to the place. It is not difficult to find as there are clear road signs showing direction to the place. At Legoland, there are seven different themed areas such as the Beginning, Miniland, Castle Hill, Imagination, Land of Adventure, Lego Technic and Lego City. The park opens daily from 10am to 6pm. This place is suitable for children age from 2 to 12. Besides, it is the very first international theme park that has come to Malaysia. Next to Legoland, there is also a Legoland Medini Nusajaya. This is a service apartment with a distance of 130m direct link to the Legoland Theme Park. The place is specially designed for short trip accommodation, which is very convenient to the tourists. Like Legoland, this is also the first Lego Land themed apartment in Malaysia. This apartment is targeting the staff of the Medini Iskandar Malaysia in which is expected to be around 5,000 people. Do check out more info about this at the official Legoland site.

Batam Island, Indonesia

Batam is located in Indonesia’s Riau Islands, quite near to Singapore. Being one of Indonesia’s special economic zones, Batam is a place where many Singaporeans work due to its proximity and cheap cost of living. It is merely an hour away from Singapore by ferry. Similar to Bintan, Batam is currently undergoing massive infrastructural development as part of Indonesia’s effort to promote the island into a major gateway for international tourists, especially those from Singapore. It is infamous for its nightlife and entertainment, which is a big draw for visitors. Waterfront City in the northern part of the island is developed specifically as an international tourist destination with many attractions and international hotels to support the tourism industry there.

Malacca City, Malaysia

Malacca is steeped in history and is a worthy visiting destination. Look out for its various historical sites. Malacca is rich in scenes of historic value and tales of foreign conquests. The A’Famosa Fort is one of the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Asia and where the famous St. Francis Xavier is enshrined. Visit St. Paul’s Hill for a panoramic view of the straits and the old town of Bandar Hilir. There is also the well-known Dutch Stadhuys or city hall, a fine example of Dutch masonry and the flourishing local craftsmanship. In the same area, you will find the Christ Church, an architectural masterpiece which is still in use today. Do not miss the opportunity to take a river cruise from the Quayside to enjoy a close view of the riverside houses and old town. This half an hour boat ride will be quite enchanting. If you are an avid shopper or enthusiastic bargain hunter, go to Jonker Street in the old town. This is the place where you can get antiques, textiles and regional crafts. This street is the venue for the Jonker Street Fair in the mid and end of the year, the Antiques Fair in April and the ‘Melaka heatwave’ fun fair in October. Souvenirs are quite cheap and plentiful and a Museum of History and Ethnography has just been built at the last road of Jonker Street. If you are tired and thirsty, there are various food and drinks outlets to replenish your energy.

Cultural Experiences

Little India, on the other hand, is quite an experience. It is more cluttered and unkempt than the rest of Singapore despite recent renovation. Its shop houses are quaint and colorfully painted. Walking through the streets can feel like you are in Tamil Nadu, the smell of incense, jasmine, spice, and the sound of India is everywhere. This is the place to go for Indian food in all its authenticity. The Mustafa Centre is an institution in Singapore located in Little India. It is open 24 hours a day and is one of the only places where you can do late-night shopping on the island.

Chinatown is an ethnic neighbourhood featuring distinctly Chinese cultural elements. One of the most interesting times to visit is during the Chinese New Year when the entire neighbourhood is decked out in traditional decoration. There are many old temples such as the Thian Hock Keng temple and Sri Mariamman Temple. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is the most recent one and also houses a museum depicting the rich culture and heritage of the greater Chinese community. More information about the Singapore Museum.

Chinatown and Little India are the most popular cultural areas of Singapore. They are unique in the sense that they maintain their cultural inheritance while embracing the present. Indian and Chinese people still live in those districts, although they have been joined by other cultures.


You can get your first taste of the cultural experiences by visiting Chinatown. On a walk through Chinatown, you may explore historical places of interest, shop for souvenirs or traditional Chinese products, and sample the delectable local delicacies. The Chinatown Heritage Centre is located at 48 Pagoda Street, occupying three shophouses that vividly brings to life the early days of Chinatown. The Peranakan Museum at Armenian Street, which is the first of its kind in the world, offers an interactive and stimulating experience that will take you through the history and culture of the Peranakans in the region. The architecture from temples and five-foot way shophouses to food street notably at Smith Street has been preserved over the years, with a recent infrastructural facelift with the addition of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train network, a convenient air-conditioned underground MRT station, and a 4km City Link Mall, which connects the MRT network from City Hall to Marina Square and Suntec City. This makes Chinatown an accessible place and a great place to have an enriching journey during any time of the day.

Little India

Little India is located close by to Chinatown and is one of the most characteristic areas of Singapore. Here, the Indian community gathers and has turned the area into a little chunk of India. The area is a buzz of activity and full of interesting characters. Shopping is excellent in Little India, with many interesting stores selling everything from Indian food, sweets, clothes, trinkets, and jewelry. One of the most interesting places to visit is the Mustafa Centre on Syed Alwi Road. This shopping centre is open 24 hours a day and you can literally buy anything from spices to gold. Opening hours for most shops in Little India are typically 10 am-9 pm. On the little streets around the main Serangoon Road, there are many pre-war shophouses, which are two-story buildings with unique designs from the different architectural influences of the 1930s; they are joined by five-foot ways that provide sheltered walkways. Many Indian restaurants are found in shophouses and it is interesting to sit in one with a mango lassi and watch the diverse crowds that pass by. Usually after a ‘banana leaf meal’ clients are offered a small piece of cone-shaped brown paper that is filled with spices then set alight as a natural mosquito repellent, an interesting and practical custom. On Serangoon road, the Tan Teng Niah house built in 1900 is the last of its kind, featuring unique Chinese architecture with European gables and sitting in a colorfully painted building amidst all the Indian merriment. At the junction of Race Course Road and Buffalo Road, is the Sri Veerama Kaliamman Temple, a temple built in 1881 and dedicated to Kali, the Goddess of Power. This is one of the most famous temples in Singapore and is the focus of the annual Thimithi Festival, a 10-day event where Kavadi bearers walk on a 4 km pilgrimage from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to the temple on Tank Road. The area around Little India is best explored by simply taking a leisurely walk through the streets. Come prepared with a hat and water and make sure to take time out to rest in one of the many interesting and unique shophouse doorways. This is a great way to experience the more relaxed side of Singapore.

Arab Street

For examples of exotic sounds, sights and smells, Arab Street definitely takes the lead. So named after the Arab traders who settled in the area in the early 19th century, this colourful area is still a hive of activity. The area around Arab Street and Victoria Street is especially known for its textiles – from ready to wear batik sarongs to fabric of every texture and colour, and a few tailoring shops here can conjure up anything you may have in mind. A glut of stores selling Persian and Turkish carpets means there are good bargains to be had; Restu at the beginning of Kandahar Street has a good selection of Afghani and Pakistani Tribal carpets and Central Asian suzanis. Textiles aside, the area is also known for a good selection of antiques, with some reproductions of course. Try Cavenagh Antiques on Cavenagh Road for Chinese furniture and housewares, and The Rambutan Shop on Sultan’s Street for old Dutch and Peranakan household and decorative items. Do pay a visit to the side streets too as many quaint peddlers lay out their goods along the five-foot ways.

Kampong Glam

During the 1960s, Arab Street was a destination for Malays when they visited Singapore because it was the closest to a ‘village’ that they could create in a foreign land. Currently, it is a mesh of lively activity filled with makeshift bazaars, textiles and carpet shops. Hindu and Muslim temples and mosques are all just a stone’s throw away from each other, adding to the unique cultural elements that Singapore has to offer. A personal recommendation when visiting this area is to rent a bicycle. With the area being so compact and the roads relatively quiet, you can take your time to soak in the surroundings and stop at any point without any hassle.

Kampong Glam is a boutique area of Malay and Middle Eastern influences with small meeting rooms and retail outlets. The very small yet famous area also highlights the grand Sultan Mosque, a must-see for the complex’s amazing and impressive architecture. Kampong Glam is a great area to explore and you can do so on foot, particularly from the Bugis MRT, exiting from Victoria Street and making your way down North Bridge Road. As you walk, notice the street names, many of which are named after different trades, reflecting the area’s history.

Food and Dining

Hawker Centres A trip to a hawker centre would be a crash course in Singapore cuisine; a microcosm of food from all around the region. Hawker centres are the most practical choice for the budget traveller as food is cheap and of a decent quality. These small and non-air conditioned centres are dotted all around the island with the largest, such as the Old Airport Road Food Centre, boasting over 150 stores. Most hawker food stalls in Singapore have been in operation for at least one or two generations, with the food know-how spilling over from their ancestors’ homeland. With the life-span of 30-40 years for a hawker stall in these modern times, the chances that a specific stall will dish out something quite close to authentic are high. Note that if the hawker centre is renovated or being moved to a new site, the original hawkers are sometimes offered 6-figure sums for their store and forced to retire. This creates controversy as the “disappearing hawker” act is seen as the loss of Singapore heritage. The government, in response, has tried to get some of these pioneer generation hawkers to mentor younger ones by offering them grants for training arrangements.

Much of the culture that has made Singapore famous, and still yet to discover, can be found in its varied forms of cuisine. Influences for Singapore’s vast array of food come from many countries. Hawker centres, Peranakan (a blend of Chinese and Malay cuisine) and Indian food make up the majority of everyday meals with the higher-end luxury of Chinese, Japanese and Western cuisine also available to the more affluent. A meal at a local hawker centre will cost around SGD$3-5. At a regular restaurant, a meal can be anywhere from SGD$5-12, and at a more luxurious restaurant, it can cost in excess of SGD$25. Must-try foods include Hainanese Chicken Rice, Chilli Crab, Katong Laksa, Fried Carrot Cake, Bak Kut Teh, Hokkien Mee, Satay, Durian and Ice Kachang.

Hawker Centers

During lunchtime on weekdays or on a Sunday morning after a trip to the nearby market – anytime is a good time for a trip to the hawker centre to enjoy local delights such as Hainanese Chicken Rice and Fish Ball Noodle. Whether it is a blistering hot day or a rainy night, hawker centres are covered so you can always enjoy a satisfying meal regardless of the weather. Some favourite hawker centres amongst locals include Tiong Bahru Market, Old Airport Road Food Centre, and Newton Food Centre (note: prices are typically higher at the hawker centres located in the city area, so it may not be representative of local fare). The authentic experience of eating at a hawker centre includes sipping on a sugarcane drink or a freshly cracked coconut. However, you can cool off from the Singapore heat with a cold beer or a lime juice at a cheap price. Many hawker centres are also walking distance to hip bars and hole-in-the-wall cafes – there is no better way to sample a large variety of local food and hit the town after.

Cheap, bustling, and chock full of every imaginable type of Asian cuisine, hawker centres are an integral part of Singaporean culture. More than just a convenient and inexpensive dining option – it’s a way of life.

Peranakan Cuisine

The Peranakans are descendants of 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants who settled in the Malay Archipelago including British Malaya. The intermarriage between the Chinese and the local Malays created a unique fusion of cultures. This is reflected in the cuisine, arts, and culture of the Peranakans. Peranakan Chinese commonly refer to the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay archipelago including British Malaya (now Malaysia and Singapore) between the 15th and 17th centuries. This intermingling of cultures between the Chinese and local Malays resulted in a unique culture known as the Peranakan culture. It produced a vibrant and interesting blend of customs, food, clothes, and language. The Peranakan’s way of life is a living testament to a one-of-a-kind blend of Chinese and Malay influences. Patrons of Peranakan cuisine can visit Singapore’s first Peranakan Cultural Centre, situated within a three-storey building along Armenian Street, in the heart of the city’s Peranakan enclave. The air-conditioned centre serves as a one-stop venue for Peranakan cultural information and is easily accessible to visitors. Step into the past and discover for yourself what the colorful culture of the Peranakans is all about. The Peranakan Museum houses the world’s largest and finest collection of Peranakan artifacts. Opening in April 2008, the Museum is a first of its kind in the world. This state-of-the-art new museum at the NUS Bukit Timah Campus traces the development of the Peranakan communities in the former Straits Settlements and the cultural and material legacy of this community in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Visitors will find themselves returning to the Peranakan Museum time and time again. This is because there is just too much to learn in one visit. Now with so much more in place, there is every reason to rediscover the defining moments that make this culture the most colorful one yet. A culture that defines a people and a people who define only the best in everything they do.

Michelin-starred Restaurants

Michelin is synonymous with luxurious dining and the coveted Michelin stars remain a prestigious accolade coveted by restaurants worldwide. Though the Singapore edition only came about in 2016, it has already seen its fair share of winners, proving that Singapore is not just a street food paradise. Celebrity Chef Joël Robuchon’s self-named restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa is the proud recipient of 3 stars, the highest rating. Expect nothing less from his Restaurant de Joël Robuchon at ECP. French fine dining is elevated to a high art at this elegant eatery that features degustation menus of exquisitely crafted cuisine with rich flavors and inventive desserts. Be sure to check out other French establishments such as two-star Saint Pierre at One Fullerton and Les Amis at Shaw Centre. Joel Robuchon has since closed on 30 June 2018. Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle was awarded one star in the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore. But they have decided to give back the star in July 2017. Michelin confirmed this a day after, a second edition of the guide will be launched. More information will be released later. Being the cheapest Michelin Starred meal in the world only costs $5. Do not cooperate with Michelin. Next, the world-renowned confectionery that is the Japanese Sweets Restaurant at CHIJMES, Nogawa Japanese Restaurant is a hidden gem in the Michelin world, just being awarded their star this year. Sushi Take is another quality Japanese eatery that has one star. Tsuta, the world’s first Michelin-starred ramen eatery has shut down its gallery at Pacific Plaza to prepare for relocation, word is still out on their new locale. Moving on to Western cuisine, Braci at Boat Quay is an establishment serving Italian food and wine with a rooftop bar that has garnered its first star. Burnt Ends, the modern Australian barbecue led by chef David Pynt is a top recommendation. With a Michelin star, it’s a tight squeeze getting a table and equally tight trying to get to the open-kitchen concept to watch the chefs in action! The mejin katsubou is harder to get than a table. 1 Michelin star is an impressive feat seeing as it was actually a street cart known as Labyrinth serving unorthodox local favorites using premium Japanese ingredients. Kin at the corner has one star too. Ash & Elm’s wholesome and unpretentious European dining is another aspect not to be missed when it received its star back in 2017. Finally, we come to an interesting eatery that is Meta Restaurant, which specializes in reworked Asian classics such as laksa or pork bun and contemporary European fare using quality Japanese ingredients to achieve unique flavors. This innovative take was awarded its star late last year. Staying within the realm of the avant-garde, the forthright restaurant is set to offer diners art-worthy plates and glasses at its cozy premise near Raffles Hotel.