Putting Singapore into words is not that easy. Because Singapore is a lot – modern, expensive, clean, futuristic, safe, sterile, diverse. And above all, Singapore is unique – and therefore absolutely worth seeing. Singapore and its sights and attractions can not be compared to other cities in Asia. In Singapore, you don’t have the hectic chaos on the streets as in other Asian cities. Nevertheless, backpacking Singapore won’t get boring as there is much to see and discover here. I have spent several days backpacking in Singapore and will tell you more about the best places to visit and the highlights that you should not miss when visiting the country on your backpacking journey. Further, I will give you important travel tips for backpackers in Singapore.
Best places to visit when backpacking Singapore
These are the most important tourist attractions and places which you have to visit on your backpacking adventure around Singapore.
The Marina Bay Sand and its infinity pool
When people hear about Singapore, they usually imagine first a picture of the Marina Bay Sand with its stunning infinity pools. Especially through our social networks like Instagram, the Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool became famous, and the best Singapore souvenir for many backpackers is an Instagrammable picture in the pool with the skyline in the background.
Unfortunately, getting this picture isn’t cheap or easy. A few years ago, there was a way to enter the infinity pool (secretly) without staying in the hotel (you had to climb on fire exit stairs). However, these ways are now all blocked and getting into the pool is only possible for hotel guests. It should also be mentioned that a night at the Marina Bay Sands is not cheap and the hotel is not even considered particularly luxurious or good (for the price, you can get better value for less money somewhere else in Singapore – but you’d need to skip the infinity pool!). Is it worth spending a few hundred Euros to take a picture in the pool? This is up to you.
However, even without an infinity pool and a hotel room, the Marina Bay Sands is an interesting spots to visit that you should not miss when backpacking Singapore. First of all, the building looks extremely futuristic from afar, and one really wonders what the architects were thinking when they decided that a hotel should consist of three pillars and a floating ship on top.
As usual in Singapore, there is also a huge shopping mall and a casino built in the lobby of the Marina Bay Sands. You can enter the entrance area of Marina Bay Sand for a glimpse. Here you will quickly see that it is very busy and hectic in the hotel, since there’s a mix of hotel guests and curious tourists who want to see the hotel up close and somehow try to sneak into the infinity pool (the chances for this to work are low by now).
However, there is good news on how you can still enjoy the view of Singapore. Right next to the Infinity Pool is a Skybar and an observation deck, which you can enter even if you do not spend the night in the hotel (Attention: A passport is required for your age proof). Here you can enjoy the views of Singapore’s skyline as well as a glimpse of the adjoining (and mostly crowded) infinity pool. But you will not be able to enter the pool – so close and yet so far away.
The Gardens by the Bay with the Supertrees
This Singapore attraction is as unique and futuristic as the Marina Bay Sands. Just behind the hotel complex you can get access to the Gardens by the Bay. This is a huge and clean park, which is worth a visit both during the day and in the dark. There are two huge greenhouses in the park (Flower Dome and Cloud Forest), which have all sorts of exotic greens, but unfortunately are not that cheap to visit from the inside – you can enter the two greenhouses for 28 Singapore $. If that’s not worth the money for you, the (free) Supertrees will be exciting enough to visit, as they are one of Singapore’s most extraordinary sights.
These huge and artificial trees are easy to spot in the park and you inevitably feel reminded of the landscape of the movie Avatar. Some of the trees are connected to each other via a skywalk and for a few dollars you can walk across the bridge. But even from below, the view of the Supertrees is unique. In the evening, there’s a music and light show at different times which you can attend (7:45pm and 8:45pm). A visit to the Gardens by the Bay is great both during the day and in the evening when backpacking Singapore.
Visiting the Helix Bridge when backpacking Singapore
This bridge is located directly on the Marina Bay Sand hotel complex and the Gardens by the way (and guides you in the direction of the Merlion, another highlight when backpacking in Singapore). The Helix Bridge is, as the name implies, designed in the form of a DNA and is also cool to see at night due to the lighting.
The Merlion: Singapore’s most famous landmark
You will see this famous statue – with a lion’s head and fish-body – everywhere in Singapore. On souvenirs, posters, and in many other places. This statue is the landmark of Singapore. The original version can be found on the lake right in front of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. You will recognize the statue by the masses of tourists taking a picture in front of it. The Merlion is not particularly huge or incredibly impressive, but cannot be missed. It is one of the most famous sights in Singapore and a popular picture stop.
Sentosa Island: Relax from backpacking on Singapore’s artificial island
Sentosa Island is just outside the city center, but is easily accessible by public transport. This artificially created island is a way to escape the futuristic city for a day. There is plenty to keep you entertained – a large aquarium, Universal Studios, green rainforest and parks, and even a private beach (Tanjong Beach). Of course, you won’t find exotic and remote beaches here (as in Indonesia), but you can still enjoy a day relaxing in the sun.
Chinatown: Singapore’s backpacking district
If you’re backpacking and on a budget, you’ll be shocked by how pricey things are in Singapore (especially for accommodation and restaurants). If you’re backpacking, Chinatown is the place to be. This district still retains the typical and local Asian atmosphere. In addition, you will find here very cheap restaurants and even street food, souvenir shops and much more to discover. Further, there are some budget accommodation and hostels and the location is also conveniently located and you can even walk to the Marina Bay from there. If you’re looking for culture and sightseeing, you will also find some temples in Chinatown – for example the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
Singapore’s Little India district
Would you like to get a glimpse into the colorful world of India? Then head off to Little India. While this neighborhood is not nearly as wild and chaotic as a true India backpacking trip, it’s still interesting to walk through the streets of Little India.
Sightseeing in the colonial quarter
This is the place to spot the British influence in Singapore! Walk the streets and discover the beautiful colonial buildings of the city, such as the well-known Raffles Hotel, Parliament House, Supreme Court and City Hall. You will also find some museums and other Singapore attractions here.
Backpacking Highlights in Singapore’s Little Arabia (Kampong Glam)
The Arabian quarter of Singapore is just as worth seeing as the other corners of the metropolis. Especially nice to visit is the Haji Lane Street Art and the impressive Sultan Mosque. This mosque will take you straight to the Middle East and is considered a highlight in Singapore.
My travel tips for your Singapore backpacking trip
In the following, I’ll give you some important advice and tips for your travels around Singapore.
Do I need a visa for Singapore?
This depends on your passport. However, many nationalities (including Germans) can enter Singapore without a visa and get a stamp at the border immigration in their passport – it’s very easy!
Is backpacking Singapore safe?
Yes! Singapore is one of the safest destinations in the world and crime basically doesn’t exist. Backpacking Asia in general is safe, and Singapore has to be the safest country of the region. You’ll be fine!
How do I get around Singapore?
While you can get around Singapore by foot, it might take you a bit to get e.g. from Little India or Chinatown to the Marina Bay and back – especially if it’s hot and humid outside. However, a good public transport system and a modern metro exists and will easily take you around the city. You can also reach Sentosa island by metro.
Where should I stay in Singapore?
Singapore is normally a pretty expensive city. However, there are still a few nice and affordable hostels in town, most of them are located in the Chinatown area. Here’s where I stayed as well! You’re close to markets, cheap food and you can reach the Marina Bay area by foot or metro. Especially The Bohemian Chic Hostel and River City Inn have awesome reviews online. Read more about where to stay in Singapore.
Where can I get cheap food in Singapore?
Singapore might be a bit difficult for backpackers on a low budget. You might easily find restaurants with European prices (and much higher!). If you’re looking for good and cheap street food, head to Chinatown. Besides that, the Hawker centers (huge food courts) are the best spots to get a delicious and affordable meal. You got a wide range of choice since Singapore (and therefore its cuisine) is a melting pot. Chinese, Indian, Thai – it’s all there. Enjoy! A dish will only cost you a few Euros.
Is backpacking Singapore expensive? What’s a good budget?
Backpacking in Singapore is not as cheap as e.g. Thailand or Indonesia. Especially accommodation is more expensive and a dorm bed will cost you on average 20€ per night. Further, bars, fancy restaurants, posh hotels and clubbing costs a lot of money. Luckily, many of the best things to do don’t require an entrance fee (see above) and you’ll be able to eat cheap in the Hawker Centers.
What’s the best season to go backpacking in Singapore?
Singapore has a hot climate and a short monsoon season in winter. Therefore, it’s the opposite as e.g. Thailand, where the winter is dry and the summer is wet. The best season to visit Singapore is the European summer, but you should be fine to visit all year round.
Where should I continue my backpacking trip after visiting Singapore?
Singapore is very well connected to many places around Asia. If you want to travel overland, it’s easy to cross overland into Malaysia and continue to Kuala Lumpur. Besides that, the huge airport offers plenty of cheap flights to every corner around the world.
Conclusion about backpacking Singapore
As you’ve seen, Singapore has a lot to see and explore – from futuristic buildings like Marina Bay Sand to the colorful and bustling streets of Chinatown. For many backpackers in Asia, Singapore may seem boring and sterile at first (especially if you’ve been to cities like Bangkok or Hong Kong before). Nevertheless, Singapore is unique with its sights and I recommend spending about 2-3 days here, which should be a good amount of time for a nice Singapore itinerary. What I like more about Singapore is to see how the most diverse cultures and religions live together peacefully with their temples, mosques, churches and neighborhoods right next to each other. Singapore is a melting pot of different cultures and ethnic groups – and therefore, backpacking Singapore certainly won’t be boring!
Have you been to Singapore before? Did you like it? Let me know in the comments!