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Singapore | Image: Mike Enerio/Unsplash

Travel Guide: Discovering the Magic of Singapore

Singapore, a vibrant and dynamic city-state in Southeast Asia, offers an enchanting blend of modernity and tradition. Whether you’re a food enthusiast, an architecture admirer, or a nature lover, Singapore has something to offer everyone. If you’re anything like me, you might have stopped by Singapore’s world-class Changi Airport in transit several times but have never ventured out into the city. I recently had the opportunity to change that and spend a week immersing myself in all that Asia’s Lion city-state has to offer.

From the clean and seamlessly functional infrastructure to the surreal and captivating cultural attraction, my time in Singapore almost felt like a dream. I can see why the city’s becoming a melting pot of cultures, filled with migrants, expats, and generations of locals, choosing to call the city home. You literally have all the best of Asia in one convenient city where you can drive from one end to the other in around 40 minutes. It may or may not also surprise you that Singapore is also often dubbed the “Cocktail Capital of Asia”, with a vibrant nightlife, and is home to a handful of the World’s 50 Best Bars.

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The stunning Marina Bay at night | Image: Supplied, Singapore Tourism Board

Best Time to Visit

Singapore’s climate is typically hot and humid year-round with an average humidity of over 80%. However, it’s essential to note that from November to January, the city experiences its rainy season, which brings cooler temperatures but more precipitation. The best time to travel for pleasant weather is between February and October.

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The stunning Marina Bay by day | Image: Supplied, Singapore Tourism Board

Where to Stay

With a number of world-class hotels and resorts at your fingertips, Singapore is a luxury paradise, however, it’s important to shop around. Here are some of the best places that I found to stay.

The Pan Pacific, Singapore | Image: Man of Many, John Guanzon

Pan Pacific Singapore

This iconic hotel offers breathtaking views of Marina Bay and is conveniently located near the city’s key attractions. The landmark hotel has recently undergone a $30 million renovation, featuring upgraded rooms, a stunning lobby area, and more family-friendly facilities like family-sized rooms and a kids club. The hotel also connects to three major malls and an MRT station. The Pan Pacific Singapore is also within reasonable walking distance of Marina Bay Sands complex and Gardens By the Bay. Stay here if you want a convenient base for the city’s hotspots and a reliable luxury stay.

Tropical getaway at Capella Singapore | Image: Supplied

Capella Singapore

Nestled on Sentosa Island, Capella offers a luxurious and tranquil retreat with stunning sea views. Less than 15 minutes from Singapore’s downtown financial district, you’ll find this ultra-luxury resort surrounded by lush green foliage and a tropical forest. While it is relatively removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, you’ll find everything you need for a quiet, luxurious rainforest retreat with a peaceful view of the ocean. Stay here if you want a secluded, peaceful resort retreat.

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The Ritz-Carlton, Millennia is all class | Image: Supplied

The Ritz-Carlton, Millennia

Located in the heart of the city, The Ritz-Carlton provides opulent accommodation and world-class amenities. When I say opulent, I’m talking shiny marble floors, gold accents everywhere you look, and dramatic vaulted glass ceilings. The Ritz-Carlton is also home to one of the largest contemporary art collections in Southeast Asia with over 4,000 stunning artworks to gawk over. Stay here if you’re on your honeymoon or are a fan of classic luxury.

Pan pacific
Pan Pacific Orchard is lush | Image: Supplied

Pan Pacific Orchard

Situated in the upscale Orchard Road shopping district, this hotel is perfect for shopaholics and visitors wanting to be in the hustle and bustle. Orchard Road is the shopping capital of the city with rows upon rows of shopping centres to suit every end of a shopper’s budget. The mid-city hotel was recently demolished and rebuilt to look like a stack of Jenga blocks, featuring lush green vertical gardens and tropical elements all throughout. Stay here if you love being right in the centre of all the action or want a luxurious tropical stay in the middle of the city.

Where to Eat Like a Local

A hub of International commerce and one of the world’s most globalised cities, Singapore is not only a melting pot of blended cultures, but of incredible cuisine at every corner. Sure, you’ll be able to find your Westen big-chain restaurants and your basic fast food brands, but if you’re wanting to get a true authentic taste of Singapore, here’s some spots to get you started.

Nam Kee Chicken Rice Restaurant is a must try | Image: Man of Many, John Guanzon

Don’t Sleep on Hawker Centres

Singapore hawker centres are basically large open-air food courts with stalls serving everything from full meals to snacks and drinks. Food stalls generally specialise in variations of one of two dishes, but you can bet that little hawker stall has perfected that recipe for generations. Singapore Hawker Centres as a pillar of Singaporean culture.

In fact, many locals told me that it’s quite common for locals not to ever cook at home, since you can get top quality home-style cooked meals for $3-$5. I completely get it. How many times have you spent a small fortune on collecting ingredients to cook something at home, only to create something dubiously sub-par? Me? Too many times.

Lau Pa Sat at night was a trip highlight | Image: Man of Many, John Guanzon
  • Lau Pa Sat: Located right in the heart of the Central Business District and walking distance from Chinatown and Marina Bay, Lau Pa Sat is one of Singapore’s most famous Hawker Centres. At night, the festivities spill out into the road, transforming to ‘Satay Street’ filled with barbecue and seafood vendors.
    • Must try: Satay sticks, Singapore Chilli Crab
    • Location: 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore
    • Open: 24/7
  • Maxwell Food Centre: One of the popular Singapore hawker centers, we suggest hitting this place early as lines tend to get long. It’s home to two of the country’s Michelin-awarded Hainanese chicken rice stalls, Tian Tian Chicken Rice, and Ah Tai Chicken Rice.
    • Must try: Tian Tian Chicken Rice, Ah Tai Chicken Rice, Xing Xing’s tapioca cakes
    • Location: 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore
    • Open: Daily from 8 am to 10 pm
  • Chinatown Complex Food Center: The largest hawker centre in Singapore with over 260 food stalls, you’ll find a mix of elderly, local businesspeople, and tourists at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. Here, you can find the CHEAPEST Michelin Star Meal you can get anywhere – a plate of a plate of Soya Sauce Chicken Rice for SGD$2.00 (AU $2.20)
    • Must try: China La Mian Xiao Long Bao, Char Kway teow at Hill Street Fried Kway Teow
    • Location: 335 Smith Street Chinatown Complex, Singapore
    • Opening Hours: 8am – 9pm (Daily)
Still thinking about these satay sticks and prawns | Image: Man of Many, John Guanzon

Hainanese Chicken Rice: Singapore’s National Dish

Hainanese Chicken rice, the unofficial national dish, is eaten “everywhere, every day” in Singapore. No doubt, almost everywhere you go, you’ll see a succulent cooked chicken hanging neatly in a row at a food stall or restaurant. It is deceptively simple but Hainanese chicken rice does not want for flavour, packing chicken goodness into the silky poached meat, fragrant rice, and tangy chili sauce (and often cucumber garnishes)

The Chicken Rice at Nam Kee Chicken Rice Restaurant | Image: Man of Many, John Guanzon

The recipe for the dish is adapted from early Chinese immigrants from Hainan Island, off the southern coast of China. Back in Hainan, locals call the dish “Wenchang chicken”. They use a particular fowl that is bony and fibrous and serve the chicken with oily rice. A ground green chili dip rounds off the dish. While you can get a great plate of Hainanese Chicken rice almost anywhere, here are some places to note:

Where to find the best Hainanese Chicken Rice

  • Nam Kee Chicken Rice Restaurant: 201 Upper Thomson Rd, Singapore
  • Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice: Maxwell Food Centre, #01-10/11, 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore
  • Chin Chin Eating House: 19 Purvis St, Singapore
  • Boon Tong Kee: 399, 401, 403 Balestier Road, Singapore

Where to Drink

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Atlas Bar is a stunner! | Image: Supplied


A grand art deco bar known for its extensive collection of gin and stunning interiors. As soon as you step in, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time into a classy European hotel lobby from the early 1920s. Make sure to clear your camera roll to make room for stunning pics here.

Location: Parkview Square600 North Bridge Rd, Singapore
Open: Tue-Thu 12pm-12am, Fri-Sat 12pm-2am; Closed on Mondays

Offtrack bar is a complete vibe and a half | Image: Man of Many, John Guanzon


A hidden gem for cocktail enthusiasts, with innovative drinks and a cozy ambiance. Unassuming from the outside, but vibrantly fitted out and full of personality inside. The interiors are fitted out by an eclectic local DJ and the music programming provides local and regional DJs and record collectors with the opportunity to curate music that doesn’t normally find its place in a traditional club. Definitely a stand-out during my visit.

Location: 34 N Canal Rd, #01-01, Singapore
Open: 5pm-12am; Closed Sundays

The drinks at Native were unique and tasty | Image: Man of Many, John Guanzon


An eco-conscious cocktail bar offering drinks inspired by local flora and fauna. Ask about their cocktails made with live ants.

Location: 52A Amoy St, Singapore
Open: Mon-Fri 5pm-10.30pm; Sat & Sun 4pm-10.30pm

Make sure to stay for the burlesque show at EO | Image: Supplied

Employees Only

A lively spot for classic cocktails and a vibrant atmosphere. For anyone who’s been to an Employees Only bar in New York or Sydney, you’ll know to stick around for the fun burlesque shot.

Location: 112 Amoy Street, Singapore
Open: Mon-Fri, Sun 5pm-1am; Sat 5pm-2am

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Jigger and Pony is Asia’s best bar | Image: Supplied

Jigger and Pony

One of the OG cocktail bars that put Singapore’s drinks scene on the map, where you can savor expertly crafted drinks. This place is currently the second-best bar in Asia and 14th-best in the world, so you know you won’t be disappointed with any drink on the menu here.

Location: Amara Hotel165 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Singapore
Open: Mon-Thu 6pm-1am; Fri & Sat 6pm-3am

Can’t go to Singapore without a visit to Raffles Long Bar | Image: Supplied

Raffles Long Bar

A visit to Singapore wouldn’t be complete without sipping a Singapore Sling at the historic Raffles Hotel. It’s not every day you have the opportunity to sip a drink at the birthplace of Asia’s most famous cocktail (unless you’re a local), so this must-do bucket list item for anyone visiting Singapore. Don’t forget to snack on the accompanying side of peanuts, and toss the shells straight on the floor.

Location: Raffles Arcade328 North Bridge Rd #02-01, Singapore
Open: 11am – 11pm

What to Do

Take a leisurely stroll along the iconic Marina Bay Sands waterfront

With stunning sights to marvel at everywhere you look, the Marina Bay Sands waterfront is the perfect low-cost activity for anyone visiting the Garden City. Early mornings are a good time to enjoy this walk to avoid the heat of the day, but of course, a golden hour sunset is the ticket to some picturesque views. If you can, get to the rooftop of Marina Bay Sands for amazing views over the entire area.

So much to see along the Marina Bay walk | Image: Man of Many, John Guanzon

Explore these futuristic Gardens By The Bay

If you’re wondering how Singapore got its Garden City nickname, Gardens By The Bay is a great place to start. You could easily spend a whole day walking through the alien-like Supertrees the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and the various garden installations.

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You could easily spend a whole day here | Image: Supplied, Singapore Tourism Board

Bugis Street Markets

Who doesn’t love a good bargain, honestly? Bugis Street market is a bustling market that’s popular with both locals and tourist. Here you’ll just about everything from souvenirs, t-shirts, shoes, jewellery, knick knacks and other fashion items. Over 800 shops of all shapes and sizes also make this the biggest market in Singapore. I easily spent half the day here shopping for gifts and walked away with $3 watches and the latest designer Christian Dorio bag.

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Don’t be jealous | Image: Man of Many, John Guanzon

If you love a bit of cultural history, art, and happy hour this one’s for you. Immerse yourself in Singaporean art and culture at the National Gallery, housed in two beautifully restored colonial-era buildings, then sip an art-inspired cocktail at the in-house rooftop bar. The National Gallery’s 2-hour Art x Cocktail tour allows you to discover the art pieces that inspired craft cocktails from the gallery’s bar, Smoke & Mirrors, while learning about the evolution of cocktails throughout history.

Cocktails and art at the National Gallery | Image: Man of Many, John Guanzon

Sentosa Island

Just a short drive out of the main city is Sentosa Island, Singapore’s premier island resort getaway. This 500-hectare resort island is home to a suite of themed attractions, spa retreats, alongside lush rainforests and golden sandy beaches. It’s also where you can enjoy attractions like Universal Studios, Adventure Cove Waterpark, and Madame Tussauds. It’s easily accessible via the MRT network or by taxi, Sentosa Island is great for a day trip or an extended stay with family.

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Sentosa Island | Image: Supplied, Singapore Tourism Board

Travel Tips: bring a hat!

What I love about Singapore is that it offers all the best of Asia in one well-designed, functional, and beautiful city. It’s a captivating destination that seamlessly combines modernity with tradition and there’s so much to see, taste, and experience in this remarkable city-state. If you’re planning a visit soon, here are some handy tips to take note of before visiting:

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The vibrant streets of Singapore | Image: Supplied, Singapore Tourism Board
  • Wear Airy Clothing: Given Singapore’s warm and humid climate, lightweight and breathable clothing is a must. Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat.
  • Save Money at Local Markets: Bargain hunters will enjoy the numerous local markets, such as Bugis Street and Chinatown. You’ll find unique souvenirs and tasty street food at affordable prices.
  • Know the Country’s Laws: Singapore has strict laws and regulations, so it’s essential to be aware of them. For example, avoid spitting in public places and respect local customs.
  • Tipping Isn’t Mandatory: Tipping isn’t customary in Singapore, as a 10% service charge is typically included in your bill. However, feel free to leave a small tip for exceptional service.

Disclaimer: The author of this article, John Guanzon, traveled to Singapore as a guest of the Singapore Tourism Board for the purposes of this review.