06 Dec 2023

Singapore's 8 Must-See Sights for First-Time Travelers

Singapore's 8 Must-See Sights for First-Time Travelers

Singapore is a cosmopolitan city-state in Southeast Asia known for its rich culture and diverse ethnicities. The indigenous culture of Singapore originated from the Austronesian people who arrived between 1500 to 1000 BCE. Over time, the Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Eurasian communities shaped Singapore into the multicultural society it is today.

Singapore’s strategic position along the Strait of Malacca transformed it into an important port city and trading hub. Its central location and free trade policies continue to attract immigrants, expats, tourists, and businesses. This confluence of cultures is what makes Singapore so vibrant and dynamic. The country embraces its multiculturalism through its food, architecture, festivals, and attractions. Visitors can immerse themselves in Peranakan culture in Little India or marvel at religious sites like the Sultan Mosque or Sri Mariamman Temple. From hawker stalls to luxury restaurants, the diversity is echoed in Singapore’s world-renowned cuisine. Though a small island, Singapore offers an outsized cultural experience for visitors.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning 101 hectares (250 acres) 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 (130 acres).

Bay South Garden is home to the iconic Supertree Grove, a cluster of tree-shaped vertical gardens that have become a symbol of Singapore. The Supertrees are between 25 and 50 metres tall. They serve multiple functions, acting as air venting ducts for nearby conservatories and incorporating solar panels that harvest solar energy and rainwater collection systems (1).

Another highlight at Bay South Garden is the Cloud Forest, a cooled conservatory housing a 35-metre (115 ft) high mountain covered in lush vegetation and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. The Flower Dome nearby showcases cool-dry flora from Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Australia and South America. Both glasshouse domes have digital displays that recreate the climates of these regions, providing a welcome contrast to Singapore’s tropical heat (2).

With its eye-catching structures and lush greenery, it’s no wonder Gardens by the Bay is one of Singapore’s most visited attractions. Visitors can easily spend half a day wandering around the expansive gardens. The attractions are open into the night, when the Supertrees are lit up by multimedia light and sound shows.

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay SandsMarina Bay Sands is an integrated resort located in Marina Bay, Singapore. It features a 2,561-room hotel, casino, shopping mall, convention center, museum, two large theaters, celebrity chef restaurants, an ice skating rink, and the iconic Marina Bay Sands SkyPark observation deck.

With 2,561 rooms, the Marina Bay Sands hotel is the largest hotel in Singapore and one of the largest in Asia. The rooms and suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular views of the city skyline. Guests can relax at the lahrge swimming pool, dine at celebrity chef restaurants, or enjoy complimentary fitness classes.

The Marina Bay Sands casino has over 600 table games and 1500 slot machines spread out over 4 levels. It attracts both leisure and business travelers who want to try their luck at games like baccarat, blackjack, roulette, and poker. The casino holds the distinction of being the most expensive casino property ever built.

The highlight of Marina Bay Sands is the iconic SkyPark observation deck spanning across the three hotel towers. The cantilever observation deck is home to restaurants, bars, infinity swimming pools, and offers breath-taking 360-degree views of Singapore’s skyline from 57 floors up. The observation deck stretches longer than the Eiffel tower is tall, making it an architectural marvel.

Singapore Zoo

Singapore ZooSingapore Zoo has always exhibited animals in naturalistic, ‘open’ exhibits with hidden barriers, moats, and glass between the animals and visitors. It spans 28 hectares on the margins within Singapore’s heavily forested central catchment area.

The highlights of Singapore Zoo’s open concept design are the various naturalistic habitats and exhibits that give visitors an up-close look at the animals. Some key exhibits at the zoo include:

  • Orangutan Island - This lush, tropical island exhibit is home to Singapore Zoo’s family of orangutans. Visitors can observe these apes swinging through the treetops and nesting in their leafy home.

  • Fragile Forest - An indoor air-conditioned exhibit featuring wildlife from the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. Species include plantain squirrels, sloths, and cotton-top tamarins.

  • Frozen Tundra - Features a climate-controlled habitat for penguins, polar bears, and other animals suited for cold environments. The glass allows for underwater viewing.

  • Reptile Garden - Showcases a variety of reptiles like pythons, cobras, monitor lizards, and crocodiles.

  • Elephants of Asia - Herds of Asian elephants can be seen bathing and grazing together in a large open enclosure.

The zoo offers many opportunities to see rare wildlife up-close, including white tigers, komodo dragons, proboscis monkeys, and giant pandas. With engaging exhibits modeled after natural habitats, Singapore Zoo offers an immersive experience interacting with wildlife.

Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios SingaporeUniversal Studios Singapore is one of the most popular theme parks in Singapore, attracting millions of visitors every year. Located on Sentosa Island, it is the only Universal Studios theme park in Southeast Asia.

Universal Studios Singapore is organized into seven themed zones: Hollywood, New York, Sci-Fi City, Ancient Egypt, Lost World, Far Far Away and Madagascar. Some of the park’s most popular rides and attractions include, a 3D indoor roller coaster based on the Transformers movies, Battlestar Galactica, an intense dueling roller coaster, and Revenge of the Mummy, an indoor roller coaster set in an ancient Egyptian tomb. Other favorites are Puss in Boots’ Giant Journey, a family roller coaster inspired by Shrek, and Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase, an interactive dark ride for kids.

In addition to rides, Universal Studios Singapore features live entertainment and shows based on popular films and TV shows. Attractions like WaterWorld, a stunt show with pyrotechnic effects, and Shrek 4-D Adventure, a 4D film, allow visitors to become immersed in on-screen action. Throughout the park, visitors can have their photo taken with walkabout characters such as Marilyn Monroe, Beetlejuice, Woody Woodpecker and more.

With world-class rides, interactive attractions, and entertainment for all ages, it’s no wonder Universal Studios Singapore is so beloved by locals and travelers. A visit to this immersive theme park is a must for anyone looking for thrills, laughs and unforgettable family fun in Singapore.

Singapore Flyer

Singapore FlyerThe Singapore Flyer is one of the most iconic attractions in Singapore. At 165 meters tall, it was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel until the High Roller in Las Vegas surpassed it in 2014. The giant observation wheel offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the Singapore skyline and beyond from within its fully air-conditioned capsules.

Some interesting facts about the Singapore Flyer:

  • It reaches the equivalent height of a 42-storey building at 165 meters tall.
  • Each of the 28 capsules can carry 28 passengers, for a total capacity of 784 people per ride.
  • A complete rotation of the wheel takes around 30 minutes.
  • It was designed by Singaporean company DP Architects and constructed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The views from the Flyer are unmatched, allowing you to take in iconic landmarks like Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore River, Gardens by the Bay, and more. On a clear day you can even see parts of Malaysia and Indonesia across the sea. It’s a unique way to get oriented and take in sprawling views of the city. Tickets can be booked in advance online. The Flyer is best experienced in the evening when you can see the glittering lights of the cityscape. It’s a memorable way to cap off a day of exploring Singapore.

Night Safari

Night SafariThe Night Safari is a unique nocturnal zoo and one of Singapore’s most popular attractions. As the world’s first nighttime zoo, it allows visitors to observe nocturnal animals in a natural setting under the moonlight.

The Night Safari is home to over 2,500 animals representing over 130 species, many of which are native to Southeast Asia. Some of the key species found at the Night Safari include the Sunda pangolin, Asian elephant, Malayan tapir, fishing cat, sloth bear, Indian rhinoceros and Malayan tiger. Nocturnal creatures like owls, civets, slow lorises and leopard cats are also highlights.

The zoo consists of different habitat zones, each giving a glimpse into the nocturnal life of animals from specific regions. The Southeast Asian tropical rainforest is home to creatures like the binturong and Malaysian flying fox. The Himalayan Foothills feature red pandas and Asian lions. And the Indian subcontinent zone has sloth bears and Indian wolves.

Some unique experiences at the Night Safari include the Creatures of the Night show, which highlights the talents of nocturnal wildlife. Visitors can also go on walking trails or take a tram ride to observe the animals. Overall, the Night Safari provides an immersive look into the nocturnal world and is a must-visit for animal lovers.

Sentosa Island

Sentosa IslandSentosa Island is an idyllic resort island in Singapore known for its beautiful beaches, tropical climate, and variety of exciting attractions and activities for the whole family. Just a 15 minute trip from the Singapore mainland, Sentosa offers visitors an escape from the city into a paradise filled with amusement parks, nature trails, historic sites, and more. Whether you’re looking for an action-packed day at the theme parks or a relaxing beach getaway, Sentosa Island is a must-visit for those looking for fun in the Singapore sun.

The island contains over 30 attractions and sights, many built in the past decade. Perhaps the most famous is Universal Studios Singapore amusement park, with rides inspired by hit movies like Transformers and Jurassic Park. Guests can enjoy the thrills and entertainment of an internationally renowned theme park, as well as shopping and dining options. Sentosa also offers pristine beaches, including the popular Palawan Beach with its suspension bridge and whimsical themes, as well as Siloso, Tanjong, and Kiddie beaches. Spend a day surfing, swimming, or just soaking in the sun and sand.

For some cultural activities, there’s Images of Singapore, an interactive museum that brings Singapore’s history and culture to life through life-sized figures depicting traditional life scenes. Fort Siloso is a historical fort dating back to the 1880’s that offers tours and exhibits. Adventure Cove Waterpark is a hit with its marine life and water slides. At night, there are dazzling multimedia light shows. All in all, Sentosa Island has something for everyone looking to experience the beauty and fun of an island retreat minutes from the Singapore mainland.

Botanic Gardens

Botanic GardensThe Singapore Botanic Gardens is a 156-year-old tropical garden located at the fringe of Singapore’s main shopping belt. It is one of three gardens, and the only tropical garden, to be honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Botanic Gardens has an international reputation for its scientific, historical, and horticultural work. Today, it spans 82 hectares and contains more than 10,000 types of plants.

The Botanic Gardens was established in 1859 by an Agri-Horticultural society. Sir Stamford Raffles had proposed the idea of a botanic garden in Singapore in 1822, more than 30 years before the gardens were founded. The original purpose of the gardens was to evaluate crops that could provide an economic advantage to planters in Singapore and the region. In 1874, the gardens were radically transformed under the direction of the new superintendent, Henry James Murton. Murton oversaw the planting of ornamental plants and tropical crops for scientific research.

Today, the Botanic Gardens contains several historically significant gardens and buildings. The National Orchid Garden has a collection of over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids. Many VIP orchids are cultivated here, including orchids named after dignitaries who visit Singapore. Other collections include rare plants like those in the ginger garden and a palm collection. Several historic buildings can also be found in the Botanic Gardens, like Burkill Hall and Swan Lake Gazebo.

The Botanic Gardens continues to be an oasis of greenery and a leading center for plant research and conservation in Singapore. It’s a must-see for first time visitors interested in botany, horticulture, and the history of Singapore.


Singapore is a vibrant city-state with no shortage of amazing attractions for first-time visitors. From breathtaking nature sights like the Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Botanic Gardens, to thrilling amusement parks like Universal Studios and the Singapore Flyer, there are activities and entertainment options to suit every traveler’s interests.

The attractions highlighted in this article, including Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore Zoo, Sentosa Island, and the Night Safari, showcase some of the most iconic and memorable destinations in Singapore. By visiting several of these top picks, you’re sure to get a comprehensive introduction to Singapore’s diverse neighborhoods, cultures, cuisine, and tourist offerings.

In summary, must-see attractions for those visiting Singapore for the first time include Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, Sentosa Island, Universal Studios Singapore, the Singapore Flyer, Orchard Road shopping district, and the Botanic Gardens. This mix of cultural sites, amusement parks, wildlife encounters, scenic vistas, and more provides a well-rounded Singapore experience perfect for first-time travelers.

Things to do

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