Things to Do in Singapore At Night

By Abi King | South Asia

Jan 22

From sweaty, syrupy coffee houses to pyramids of spice and semi-precious stone, Singapore squeezes flavour, colour and character into every other street corner. With an unbelievable amount of things to do in Singapore at night (and by day) here are some of the highlights.

Things to Do in Singapore at Night

According to many, Singapore is too sterile. That’s what folk kept telling me, anyway, as my time in the micro-country approached. Sterile, serious and sombre with death penalty threats thrown around at tourists simply for chewing gum. (And, no, that last part isn’t true.)

But nor, it turns out, is the rest

How could it not with its steamy influx of influences from India, Malaysia, Britain, China, Korea, Australia and more.

No, if Singapore is too sterile for you then one of two things has happened:

One, you haven’t found its quirkier charms.

Two, you’ve misunderstood the word sterile. (In which case, stay away from me at dinner. And, you know, surgery and the like…)

cheery food in Singapore

Sterile?

Taste grass jelly and take a food tour

Delve into the back alleys and hawker centres to taste things like grass jelly, kopi guyou and fish balls (and look out for names like the “Million Star Fried Banana.”) No idea how to find them? Enlist the help of a local food blogger. I’d highly recommend Maureen from Miss Tam Chiak.

Roam the Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is one of those strange ideas that doesn’t sound like it’s going to work – but somehow it just does. Built on reclaimed land, it’s a park with artificial trees (that you can both walk on and sip cocktails on) and a big bubbly greenhouse with an artificial waterfall, a kaleidoscope of plants and a confusing array of dragonfly made from stone.

One of the best things about a visit to Singapore, so the world tells you, is the chance to taste its food. Flavours from India, China, the Malay, remnants from Britain, influxes from almost everywhere else plus an infusion of unmistakably Singaporean identity line the stomach in a unique, and sometimes challenging, way.

People even say “have you eaten?” to mean the more generic “how are you?” and queue patiently at specific food stalls in hawker markets to wait for THE version of nasi lemak, curry puff or shaved ice kachang.

Yet one thing the world HADN’T told me about was a difference kind of culinary specialty: the ice cream sandwich.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a slab of ice cream (think chocolate, strawberry or mango) served with a single slice of bread.The bread wraps around the melting block to keep your fingers warm (Abi’s interpretation) and the bubblegum swirls represent Singapore’s cultural diversity (er, also totally made up.)

So there you are. No matter how old you grow, the world can still surprise you.

Who needs a sophisticated Singapore Sling when you can embrace such raw pink syntheticity?

Head to Raffles (but skip the Long Bar)

Besides the soulless skyscrapers that gave Singapore the whole sterile vibe, twinkles Raffles, a colonial style hotel that’s a legend in its own right. It’s the birthplace of the famed Singapore Sling and back in its heyday it entertained Somerset Maugham and Ernest Hemingway (and I am partial to a beautiful hotel with a bit of writerly history.) Fresh, white and awash with tropical greenery, it’s a a great place to stop for a drink – in the terrace or lobby bars. (The Long Bar attracts a long queue and the literary inspiration inside sounds suspiciously like tourist chatter.)

Raffles Hotel Singapore

Raffles Hotel: Skip the Long Bar

Go to a chocolate night club in Singapore

Chef Janice Wong blindfolds herself to concentrate while painting and then decorates her tables with melted chocolate. She’s also the mastermind behind 2am: dessertbar , a cocktail bar come confectionery extravaganza which serves vodka tonics amid black sesame seeds, mango and popcorn mousse.

 

Take a bumboat cruise in Singapore at Night

The Merlion (half mermaid, half lion) shoots water across the air and into the water. Traditional, atmospheric bumboats set sail (well, OK, no sail but…) from nearby, gliding beneath illuminated bridges and taking in the best of the city’s skyline. Is it touristy? For sure. Is it worth it? I’d say so. Lovely…

Singapore Skyline

 

And a few cool things to do in Singapore by day as well…

Cycle through the wild jungle in Singapore

Hop on a short boat trip to Pulau Ubin and cycle along the protected roads surrounded by lush greenery and the sticky Singapore air. Cool off with a fresh coconut served from one of the small shacks by the harbour.

Surf the Henderson Waves

Saunter over the air at the Henderson Waves (the city’s highest pedestrian bridge. Imagine a cross between an airborne helix of DNA and a wooden yet loved centipede.

Disclosure

For some of these tips, I travelled as a guest of the Singapore Tourist Board and Singapore Airlines, For others, I travelled on my own. Either way, I only chose these tips because they’re recommendations I’d give to a friend. I always keep the right to write what I like here on Inside the Travel Lab. Otherwise, there’s just no point. Million star fried bananas or not.

What do you think are the best things to do in Singapore at night?

 

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About the Author

Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!

  • De'Jav says:

    Great time on this post as I’ll be heading to Singapore soon. Looks to be a great time with lots to do.

    • Abi King says:

      Ah – glad to hear it! Lots more things to do as well…

    • Maryann says:

      The pottery jungle is a must see in my opinion…we just loved it.

  • yikes are those lizards? wow, what is the consensus for meditation there? or yoga?

  • Abi King says:

    You know, I’m not quite sure! I THINK they’re bats….Not sure about the meditation factor…but it’s such a cosmopolitan place that I think you’re likely to find whatever you need/want.

  • Alvina Labsvirs says:

    I had a 3 day stop in Singapore on the way to Cambodia. My top spot for a short stay was the Gardens by The Bay. Longer stay I recommend the zoo. Even if you are not generally a zoo person. Which I am not.

    • Abi King says:

      I was really impressed by the Gardens by the Bay. Quite an impressive mix of futuristic ideas with encouraging nature. I didn’t make it to the zoo (I’m not really a zoo person either) but given your recommendation perhaps next time I will.

  • Charlotte says:

    I love this post!

    I totally adore Singapore, which really surprised me as I’d always been told it was a little soulless, which isn’t really what I look for in a travel destination.

    Gardens by the Bay is one of my favourite places in the entire world. I just think it’s magical – like Avatar in real life! The light show is awesome as well, even if it is a little cheesy :)

  • rebecca says:

    Oh I never knew about this jungle, pretty cool. I shall check it out next time I’m there

    • Abi King says:

      Oh, yes, please do! It’s so different to the concrete city. And peaceful (well, apart from the pigs I suppose…)

  • wildjunket says:

    Awww so heartwarming to read the nice things you say about my hometown! Singapore has been criticized by many, myself included, but like what you said, if you dig a little deeper, it really has got character. Thanks Abi for opening our eyes. ;)

    • Abi King says:

      Ah, well maybe I was lucky with the people I travelled with! They’d already sussed out so much of the city. I can certainly see why Singapore does attract criticism – a little like London! But both places are so diverse really – I’m now a firm fan of both :-) Would be good to see your hidden corners one of these days!

  • Howard Johnson says:

    I have been to 4 of them, But definitely gonna try the rest of 3.

    Lovely post.! Keep sharing;

    Glad to see this before I go next time to Singapore.

  • I totally love Singapore and always take issue with those who say it is too boring or sterile, or see it as nothing more than a stopover destination! There is so much soul to Singapore if you just scratch below the glitzy, clean and uber efficient surface. You get the best of both worlds here!

    • Abi King says:

      I couldn’t agree more! In fact, I’m keen to return as I know there’s so much that I still haven’t seen.

  • Paul and Carole says:

    Great tips we are back for our second trip and will look out for the food and cycle tours. We loved our last trip and looking forward to going back!

    • Abi King says:

      Oh – have a great time! And, yes – highly recommend both of those tours.

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