Singapore is among some of the coolest travel destinations in the world. It’s a country consisting of one city, bordered by Malaysia to the North, and nothing but water on three sides. If you’ve ever dreamed of a seaside city with pleasant weather year-round, Singapore is it. The people of Singapore are very friendly and welcoming, and speak perfect English. Coupled with the fact that it has incredible museums, parks, shows and other attractions, Singapore is an absolute must-visit place.
When in Singapore, there’s a lot to see and do – from the Changi airport, to Star Cruise or the night safari. However, if you’ve been wondering where to stay in this tiny country, we’ve got you covered! Here are some of the best Singapore neighborhoods for staying in – based on factors such as price, sights, food, and much more!
What makes these the best places to stay in Singapore?
First, let’s quickly go through why we’ve chosen these particular places. There are several reasons:
Connectedness – We’ve chosen areas that are easy to access for travelers. While on a trip most of us use public transport, and Singapore has a wonderful MRT (mass rapid transit) network which is very simple to use, cheap, and fast. Since it’s quite possibly the best mode of transport in the city, we’re focusing on places that have MRT access. Make sure you get an MRT card!
Cheap food and lodging – Even if you’ve set aside a reasonably large budget for a trip, it’s always nice to save a little money. While the posher locations in Singapore are undeniably worth the money, the budget-friendly ones aren’t bad either, so they’ve made the list with a comfortable margin.
Things to see and do – If you live miles away from tourist attractions and shopping areas, it can be a real bother getting to and from them (although the MRT is positively a delight to use, believe me). So, we’ve picked places that have plenty to see and do – from interesting tourist spots and experiences, to shopping centers and fooderies.
Safe and friendly – While overseas, safety is paramount. You’re in a foreign place among foreign people, so it’s important that you feel able to trust them. Luckily, Singapore is pretty nice in this regard. They have a robust police department which is internationally famous for its zealousness in fining lawbreakers. The country’s small, safe and sweet. However, we’ve done some quick elimination to bring you the best of the best.
The lowdown: Where to stay in Singapore
In no particular order, here are some of our top picks in Singapore:
1. Sentosa Island
If you love sun, sand and surf, you’ll love this place. It’s to the South of the city proper, reachable via monorail or cable car. Getting there is a fun experience, and once you’re on the island, you’ll find yourself amid breathtaking scenery, and incredible tourist attractions. It’s not the cheapest place to stay, but it makes up for it in a big way!
While in Sentosa, you can visit attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore (a must-visit spot and day trip rolled into one), Tiger Sky Tower, Sentosa Luge, Fort Siloso, S.E.A. Aquarium (fascinating place – recommended highly), Mega Adventure, Wings of Time, and various spas. Resorts World is perhaps the best place to stay in Singapore’s Sentosa Island.
During the day you can lie on one of the beautiful beaches, gaze at the sea, watch the local flora and fauna, bask in the sun, try out some fun watersports, or check out the numerous parks, walking trails, golf courses and other nature-based attractions nearby. Sentosa is home to some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen in Asia.
The island’s attractions lean towards the nature-based, so if you’re more interested in nightlife and museums and such, you’d be happier in the Marina Bay area. Sentosa is perfect for people who want more of a nature resort feel (as opposed to a city feel).
2. Little India
I stayed in Little India on a recent trip to Singapore, and I loved it! It’s called Little India because it houses a large number of Indians. The neighborhood is roughly 11 miles (17 km) from the airport, and it’s hands-down the best place to stay in Singapore if you’re traveling on a budget. The hotels and restaurants there have very reasonable rates, and if you like Indian food you’re in for a surprise, because there are some wonderful North Indian restaurants in the area.
While the area is very distinctively Singaporean, the names of businesses, the people and other little signs around the place remind you that you’re in Little India. All businesses there speak English, and you have convenient access to the MRT network. Its budget-friendliness, MRT access and pleasant combination of cultures makes it one of my favorite areas in the country.
Little India isn’t great when it comes to nearby attractions, but the neighborhood is great for a morning stroll, for foodies, and for shopping. The Mustafa Centre is a veritable heaven for deal-hunters, while others like Bugis and City Square Mall are great for window-shopping.
3. Dempsey Hill
Hidden away in the middle of this bustling metropolis is Dempsey Hill, which appears to have just about everything going for it, if you’re into nature. It’s among the lesser-known Singapore neighborhoods, which surprises me, but it’s good news for travelers because that means the place has affordable hotels and restaurants. If you want a quiet, relaxed stay in the midst of greenery, this is perfect for you!
Singapore Botanic Gardens, located in the area, is mind-bogglingly beautiful. Being the nature-lover I am, I would stay in the area for the botanic garden alone. The garden is spread over an enormous area, and is everything you’d want a botanical garden to be. Interesting plants, beautiful flowers, towering trees, exotic birds, and a swan lake to top it off. You could spend all day here.
Next to the Botanic Gardens is the National Orchid Garden, which showcases thousands of rare orchid species and other interesting plants (including carnivorous ones)! The former has an MRT station close by, making the area fairly easy to reach.
Dempsey Hill is fairly close to Orchard Road, which is a shopper’s paradise. You can get from one point to the next through the MRT, although you’ll have to change lines once – all the more reason to get a card! The neighborhood has some wonderful walking trails and boutique shops that are also worth exploring. 10/10 for atmosphere alone.
4. Marina Bay
The Marina Bay area is packed full of things to do – whether it’s shopping centers, tourist spots, shows, museums, whatever you could think of! The place is just as fun during day as it is at night. The Marina Bay area is lit up like a jewel at night, and its light shows are so great you can’t afford to miss them.
The area doesn’t have very wide MRT access so you’ll have to walk a bit to get around, but there are plenty of other options for getting around, and two lines are currently under construction. The neighborhood’s a bit pricey, so it’s ideal for those looking for luxury accommodation. If you’re on a budget, you’ll still find plenty of places to stay here!
It’s one of the best Singapore neighborhoods for roaming around in. With the Marina Bay hotel (plus infinity pool!), Gardens by the Bay, Merlion, Singapore Flyer (Singaporean version of the London Eye), the Esplanade, ArtScience Museum (my favorite!), National Museum, National Gallery, Suntec City and much, much more, it’s all too easy to see why. You have dozens of attractions a stone’s throw away. It’d be a fairly light stone – maybe a boomerang – but they’re definitely within walking distance.
The Chinatown area has 4 MRT stations, so it’s super easy to move around. You’ll find a healthy blend of luxury and affordability in the hotels there, and the place has plenty to see and do. The Red Dot Design Museum is really interesting, as is the Singapore City Gallery. They provide a wonderful learning experience, and you’ll go back home knowing a lot more about Singapore and, interestingly, everyday objects.
The best thing about Chinatown is without doubt the local food. If you (like me) love Chinese food, you knew where this was going. I visited the area expecting a taste bud explosion, and was not disappointed. The area has a whole street dedicated to food, called the Chinatown Food Street. The prices there are super cheap, you get to sample interesting types of street food, and you’ll quite possibly eat the best Chinese food you’ve ever hard.
If you want something a little bit fancier, Chinatown has its fair share of restaurants. The Chinese food is of course unbeatable, but I’d recommend sampling some Singaporean items as well. You can also learn a lot about Chinese culture, and roam around the area’s busy markets and streets.
So these were some of the best Singapore neighborhoods for people traveling to the delightful little country. The interesting thing about Singapore, though, is that all its neighborhoods are quite lovely. I’ve been there a number of times and have had enough time to explore the city, and if the city has a bad side it’s remarkably good at keeping it hidden. So don’t worry too much, and enjoy your stay in Singapore – you’d find it hard not to!