Things to do this weekend or today!
Whether you’re a new expat looking for fun things to do in Singapore, or you’re in the middle of the ‘visitor phase’ and inundated with guests (don’t worry, it slows down once you’ve been here for two years or so!), it can be hard to keep coming up with awesome ideas for activities around town. That’s where the Expat Living team comes in! After years of playing tour guide to billions of friends and family, we’ve got all sorts of tips for the fun things to do with kids, some free activities and things to do in Singapore for all ages too. We also have some awesome ideas for things to do at night time – with or without kids.
And don’t forget to watch our short video on things to do in Singapore this weekend at the end of the article.
Enjoy a leisurely cruise
Indulge in a sail aboard the Royal Albatross. The traditionally-rigged ship is the only one of its kind in Asia, having sailed for 15,000 kilometres from Chicago to Singapore. With elegant carvings and interiors made from 100-year-old Kempas hardwood, the tall ship is the masterpiece of Hollywood rigger Jim Barry, who designed the ships on the Pirates of the Caribbean. One great option to experience the Royal Albatross is a signature Sunset Sail, a two-and-a-half hour dinner voyage along the southern coast of Singapore. Starting from RWS, the cruise takes you along Sentosa and pass the Southern Islands. There are two timings available: a Dinner Cruise (6.30pm to 10.30pm) and a Sunset Sail (4pm to 7pm) where you’ll be served a three-course dinner. Special packages for proposals, anniversaries and birthdays are also available. Besides cruises, the luxury ship also offers fun experiences such as a thrilling mast climb and the chance to get behind the helm.
Psst… Use discount code “EXPATLIVING10” to get $10 off each ticket. For reservations and queries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have an exciting VR experience
Looking for something fun to do while visiting Orchard Road? Head to Sandbox VR, and you can enjoy a team-based virtual reality game for the whole family. This is an immersive VR experience where you’ll embark on thrilling missions in a wide variety of locations, from a haunted mansion and pirate ship to a futuristic city in 2088. The centre offers the latest in VR tech, including haptic suits and full-body motion-capture technology. Lasting an hour, the game starts with 15 minutes of training and setup, followed by 30 minutes in VR and a final 15 minutes of debriefing where you’ll be able to view cool video highlights from the experience. It’s priced at $32 (before 6pm on weekdays), $42 (after 6pm from Monday to Thursday), $45 (after 6pm on Friday, weekends and public holidays).
#05-31 Orchard Central. Open 12.30pm to 10pm, Monday to Thursday, 11.30am to midnight on Friday, and 10.30am to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays. Get your tickets now.
Give kayak fishing a shot!
Kayak fishing is a great outdoor activity that you can do right here in Singapore. As its name suggests, it combines the fun of paddling a kayak with the thrill and skill of trying to catch fish. Kayak Fishing Fever offers three itineraries, covering different distances: The Playground (2-4 kilometres), Big Boat Small Boat (3-5 kilometres) and Island Hopper (7-10 kilometres). You’ll be glad to know that fish caught during the tours are released back into the sea as part of the company’s catch-and-release practice. Each tour has a maximum of four people, with one dedicated guide. Instead of using regular kayak paddles, the company’s boats are Hobie kayaks, which are leg-powered – so get ready for some peddling! All equipment is provided, so just bring a hat and sunblock to protect yourself from the rays. Kids are welcome, but those aged 12 and under should be accompanied by an adult in a tandem kayak for safety reasons. Tours typically start at 7am daily, but special arrangements can be made at other timings.
9660 9928 | fever.sg
Enjoy music with the family
Always wanted to play a tune? You can pick up a new instrument, attend a fun workshop with the kids or join a Drumming for Wellness circle at Ritmo Music Studio. Ritmo also offers eight-week courses, including a jamming session and mini performance at the end of each course. These short-term sessions are perfect for those who have a specific goal in mind, such as performing for a special occasion. Alternatively, enrol in a set of one-on-one music lessons to hone your skills – you’ll get to perform at Ritmo’s events, too! Choose from various classes, including vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, cajon, ukulele, percussion, keyboard and drums. The studio’s teachers can craft a personalised curriculum to suit your needs, whether you’re looking for a class for your kids or you’re an adult with a tight schedule.
Not sure which instrument you’d like to learn? Quote “EXPATLIVING” to attend a trial class for just $30 (usual price: $60).
11 Broadrick Road and #02-59 Hong Lim Complex. 8808 9763 | email@example.com | ritmostudio.sg
Stroll through Gardens by the Bay
The gigantic waterfront garden has a cool, futuristic feel and plenty of exotic plants, making it a wonderful spot for a leisurely walk. Must-see bits include the Flower Dome, which focuses on Mediterranean flora and the Cloud Forest, a misty tropical wonderland with a roaring indoor waterfall (the tallest in the world). Want to get closer to the space-age Supertrees? Hit the Skyway trail after dusk for a surreal 22-metre high stroll amidst the glowing structures. If you have kids to keep amused, toddle off to the huge Children’s Garden, which has sprawling tree houses, a water play area and a toddler zone (free entry, too).
18 Marina Gardens Drive. 5am-2am (general areas), 9am-9pm (ticketed areas). $28 (adult), $15 (child) for entry to Cloud Forest and Flower Dome; $5 (adult), $3 child for entry to OCBC Skyway. Get discounted tickets here.
Hike along the Southern Ridges
Great for nature lovers (or folks with a hankering for fresh air), the Southern Ridges trail weaves through the treetops of Mount Faber all the way to Labrador Nature Reserve. As you clomp along the avant-garde wooden bridge, you’ll get a wondrous view of lush greenery and birds flitting through the trees, along with Singapore’s urban skyline.
From Mount Faber Park, 109 Mount Faber Road.
Spend an afternoon at the Botanic Gardens
Still one of the top parks in Singapore for hitting with a picnic mat (as mentioned in our handy picnic round-up!), the Botanic Gardens has plenty of meadows, picturesque foliage and public sculptures to stumble upon. If you want to admire beautiful blooms, make your way to the National Orchid Garden, which houses over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids. We love plonking down by Symphony Lake too – especially when they’re staging a free (and fairly regular) classical musical concert.
1 Cluny Road. $5 (adults), $1 (students above 12), free (children below 12) for entry to National Orchid Garden. For more info, call 6471 7138.
Wander down a MacRitchie Reservoir trail
Aside from being a beautiful location for a jog, MacRitchie Reservoir has five scenic hiking trails through the forest. Ranging from 3km to 11km, each path gives you magnificent views of the reservoir and its surrounding bush, as well as chances to spot heaps of creatures like long-tailed macaque monkeys, wild boar, squirrels, snakes and monitor lizards.
Entrances along Lornie Road and Venus Drive.
Explore the Sungei Buloh Wetlands
If your guests fancy getting acquainted with Singapore’s unique wildlife, keep this serene nature reserve high on your list. It’s recently opened a new extension that boasts a coastal boardwalk and a mid-canopy walk, both of which let you get much closer to a host of critters, including monitor lizards, mudskippers, herons, horseshoe crabs and lots of creepy crawlies. As you head deeper into the mangrove trees, you might even spy a crocodile. Getting home after you’ve had a good look-see can be tricky, so try booking a cab on your way out or grab a bus to Kranji MRT.
301 Neo Tiew Crescent. 7.30am-7pm.
Visit the Singapore Zoo and River Safari
Animal enthusiasts shouldn’t miss Singapore’s award-winning zoo, which is home to over 300 species of creatures. There are heaps to see in each zone – from baboons in the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia to komodo dragons in the Reptile Garden – as well as lively animal shows. Kids in tow will love the Kidzworld area, which has a water playground, an obstacle course, farmyard animals and more. And, if their little legs get tired of walking, you can tour the zoo by guided trams.
While you’re here, the River Safari next door is worth a visit too. This new park house over 6,000 animals that live in or along the world’s most famous rivers. Highlights include Giant Pandas and a cruise along an Amazon-like river.
80 Mandai Lake Road. $32 (adult), $21 (children 3-12); $28 (adult), $18 (children 3-12) for River Safari. For more information, head here. Book tickets now.
…And stay on for the Night Safari! Stirring to life after dusk, the Night Safari offers an elusive look at beasts and critters that are soundly snoozing during regular zoo hours. While visitors are free to trek through the dimly lit park on foot, the guided tram is a wildly popular option for its unique insight into the nocturnal habits of the animals – you might even spot some friendly ones roaming freely as you trundle past. Mammals seen along the trails include spotted ‘laughing’ hyenas and Malayan tapirs.
80 Mandai Lake Road. $42 (adult), $28 (children 3-12) for entry. Book tickets now.
Heading to both? Get a bundle deal for River Safari and Night Safari.
Cycle through Punggol Waterway Park
With heaps of foliage and cycling and jogging paths along calm waters, Punggol Waterway Park is lovely for an afternoon jaunt. Bring along your bicycle or skates, or rent them from stalls along the stretch, and enjoy breezing past the peaceful backdrop of nature. Bird-watchers have plenty to keep an eye out for too, such as rose-ringed parakeets and collared kingfishers. Kids can have fun running amok in the watery playground.
Sentul Crescent Road.
Discover the backstreets of Chinatown
The busy alleys and shophouses of Chinatown are ripe with Chinese heritage, and a great place to load up on souvenirs too. Duck into shops for antique wares, Chinese tea leaves, traditional remedies, clothing and more, before stopping by the hawker stalls and eateries along Smith Street for a local meal. Better to go in the evening when it’s a loot cooler! Prominent places of worship, including the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple to the Sri Marriamman Hindu Temple, are also a short walk from one another. Aside from historical sights, Chinatown is teeming with cool bars and restaurants to try – check out Ann Siang Hill and Club Street for some of the best spots.
Various streets, including Sago Street and Temple Street.
Wander around Little India
The cultural enclave of Little India has lots of interesting lanes to explore. Savour Indian desserts from the famous Moghul Sweet Shop in Little India Arcade, visit temples or find out your fortune from a street-side parrot astrologer. Ladies will also love Little India for beautiful saris, cheap eyebrow threading and intricate henna tattoos. If it’s a kooky late night experience you’re after, try shopping at Mustafa Centre – the 24-hour shopping mall sells everything you could possibly want, and then some.
Get up to your ears in art at the National Gallery
Did you know that the National Gallery is home to the biggest public collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian art in the world? Yep, there’s a whopping 8,000 artworks on display! (If that sounds daunting for a family visit, be sure to visit the Kids & Families section of the Gallery website for ideas on what to see and do for younger ones.) The Gallery opened in 2015; it occupies the former City Hall and Supreme Court heritage buildings, making it the largest visual arts venue in Singapore and the region – matching the likes of Musée d’Orsay (France) and the Tate Modern (UK) in size. If you’re more “foodie” than “arty”, you should still visit for the plethora of restaurants and bars at the venue, including modern French at Odette, and spectacular skyline views from Aura Sky Lounge & Bar.
1 St Andrew’s Road
Chill out at Kampong Glam
A short walk from Bugis MRT, the Kampong Glam district has rows and rows of vibrant shophouses hiding quaint cafes, trendy boutiques, laidback bars, Middle-Eastern restaurants and more. For a more traditional taste of Malay culture, visit the stately Masjid Sultan Mosque or the old fabric and trinket shops nearby. Families can also make a pit-stop at the Children Little Museum on Kandahar Street, a delightful archive of olden day toys, antiques and curios from the 50s to the 80s. You can’t miss the giant robot out front.
Head across to Pulau Ubin
For just two or three bucks, you can catch a 10-minute bum-boat from Changi Village to one of Singapore’s biggest offshore islands. Pulau Ubin is like taking a step back in time – local villagers still live on the island and offer an insight into what life was like before Singapore became a busy city. For around 10 dollars, you can hire bikes near the ferry point on the other side, and cruise around the rural island for a good few hours. There are also some harder mountain bike trails, if that’s your thing. Keep an eye out for monkeys and wild boars, plus head to the Chek Jawa wetlands trail.
Brave the fabled oddities in Haw Par Villa
One of the most unique places in the actual world (or so we think), Haw Par Villa has over 1,000 statues, not to mention the 150 dioramas, that dramatise Chinese legends and folklore. Have a good laugh as you witness characters such as Fu Lu Shou, Confucius and the Laughing Buddha doing some very odd things indeed. Ten Courts of Hell, Journey into the West and numerous other exhibits aim to take you on an experience through ancient times, complete with blood, gore and, er, human crabs. The level of weird here is so famous amongst locals that it’s even inspired a homegrown music video.
262 Pasir Panjang Road. Open daily from 9am to 7pm. Free admission.
Tour Changi Museum
For a poignant look back at Singapore’s wartime past, visit Changi Museum. (Editor’s note: the museum itself is currently closed for renovations, though the chapel remains open for now. Work is expected to finish on both in 2020.) Here, you’ll find lots of photos, letters and artefacts from prisoners-of-war that shed light on their plight while being interned at Changi Prison. For a more immersive experience, rent an audio tour set ($8) to listen to real stories of survivors as you explore. The museum also has a little chapel (replicated from the one built by POWs during the war) where you can light a candle for the victims. Note: Both the museum and the chapel are currently closed for a revamp and are expected to open some time in 2020. Follow changimuseum.sg for news and updates.
1000 Upper Changi Road. Open daily from 9.30am-5pm. Free admission.
Step into the past at Kampong Buangkok
Believe it or not, Singapore still has one surviving kampong (traditional village) amid its jungle of high-rise apartments. Home to less than 30 families, the rustic cluster of zinc-roofed houses near Hougang has been standing since 1956 and feels like a portal to the past. It’s common to see cats, dogs and chickens roaming about, as well as more exotic wildlife in the surrounding foliage. Word has it that Kampong Buangkok is slated to be redeveloped by the government in due time, so make a trip down before it disappears.
5 Lorong Buangkok.
Visit the National Museum of Singapore
The National Museum of Singapore is Singapore’s biggest museum, and regularly features exhibits full of the island’s historical and cultural artefacts. Keep tabs on their website for their latest interactive workshops and outdoor movie screenings.
93 Stamford Road. Open daily from 10am-6pm. Free for citizens and permanent residents, $6 (adults), $3 (students) for foreign visitors.
Catch music and art at the Esplanade
The Esplanade’s intimate Outdoor Theatre often plays host to live music gigs spanning all kinds of genres – from jazz to pop rock – and makes a decent chill-out spot by the bay. Look out for scheduled shows on their website. If your guests prefer visual candy, stop by Jendela (Visual Arts Space) at Level 2 for ever-changing exhibits, often spotlighting local artists.
1 Esplanade Drive. Open daily from 11am-9pm.
Board the Singapore River Cruise
Take a tranquil tour of Clarke Quay, Boat Quay’s colourful shophouses and historic bridges, plus Marina Bay’s modern landmarks by boarding a traditional bum-boat. Here, you’ll get the best view in town while learning about Singapore River’s long history. The boat ride is best done after sunset for an incredible view of twinkling city lights and the laser show.
Board at jetties along Clarke Quay. For more information and a map, visit the official website. Book your cruise now.
Visit the junkyard for knick-knacks
If shabby chic is your thing, you will love the junk shops that sit behind the Turf Club in Bukit Timah. They are piled – and we mean piled – high with everything and anything you might want in a home. Whether you’re looking for dining chairs, tables, desks, mirrors or storage, these shops have everything by the dozen and for insane prices. Simply dig (on your hands and knees through cobwebs sometimes!) through the pieces to find the item you love, take a photo and show it to the staff. They will come up with a price (as there’s no way they can tag the stores!) and you can haggle a little too. On our last visit, we saw a huge vintage carousel (merry go ’round), a life-size statue of Jesus and a wooden hot tub.
2 Turf Club Road
Try a durian (go on, we dare you!)
The spiky, pungent ‘King of Fruits’ usually gets lots of extreme reactions and flak from foreigners. But whether you end up loving it or swearing off another bite completely, it’s one of those things you have to try once just for kicks. Geylang is famous for durian stalls – for a wide selection, try Ah Hung Company. Open 24 hours, durians here range from $5 to $18 depending on type and (debatable) tastiness.
204 Geylang Road.
Soak up sun on Lazarus Island
For the best sand-and-sea experience in Singers, jump on the ferry from Marina South Pier to Lazarus Island – next to St John’s island. A morning visit is your best bet, when the powdery stretch of sand is usually empty, save for a few other day-trippers. Pack along some food and drinks for a sandy picnic, and enjoy splashing in turquoise waters. Although there’s zero infrastructure here, internet access is still decent (for folks who’d like to upload envy-invoking shots of the day onto Insta…).
Board a ferry at Marina South Pier, 31 Marina Coastal Drive.
Visit Gillman Barracks
Taking roost in former colonial barracks, this art hub’s cluster of galleries always has cool contemporary shows going on. After spending an afternoon gazing at the intriguing artworks here, retreat to one of the hip neighbourhood restaurants for a hearty dinner. We like The Naked Finn for beautifully grilled seafood and bespoke cocktails.
9 Lock Road. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch a local gig
If your guest is the type who loves sniffing out new records and bands, they’ll be thrilled to know that the local music scene is alive and kicking. Aside from the Esplanade’s frequent shows on the outdoor stage, live music bars like Hood Bar and Café and Timbre take pride in plugging homegrown bands with original tunes. Keep an eye on pop-up gig series like The Diarists Sessions too – they often spotlight new and rising talents.
Catch a cat café
With Singapore’s third-wave coffee scene thriving, café-hopping has become a genuine hobby. And a handful of cafés have hit on a new fad to rake in the crowds: cuddly kitties. Taking after Tokyo’s cat cafés, there are currently four cosy spots where you can grab a cuppa and mingle with the furballs. Cat Café Neko No Niwa and The Company of Cats have a soft spot in our animal-loving hearts for only taking in rescued and abandoned cats.
Zoom down The Luge
If you’re hitting Sentosa with little ones, The Luge is worth a pit stop. Popular with families, the 1.2km track lets you whiz down slopes, hairpin corners and smooth stretches on slick go-kart-style vehicles. The joyride takes all of two minutes, but don’t be surprised if the kiddos want a second (or a tenth) go.
Near Beach Station, Sentosa. $15, $3 for children under 6 riding tandem with a paying adult.
Marvel at marine life in the S.E.A. Aquarium
Home to more than 100,000 animals of over 800 species, the S.E.A. Aquarium on Sentosa goes all out when it comes to learning about the deep blue sea. Its Open Water Habitat is one of the biggest in the world, and filled with enormous sharks, rays and turtles. Fancy staring at them over a fancy dinner? There’s actually a high-end dining spot called Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora that offers just that experience.
Take the plunge at iFly
The indoor skydiving complex lets guests float and flip in a state-of-the-art 16.5 feet wide wind tunnel – the largest in the world. And since this does away with the daunting task of leaping out of a plane, it’s perfect for folks who get a bit jittery about heights – and kids! Suitable for ages seven and above, each ‘flight’ is supervised by fully-qualified instructors, who will train you before ‘take off’ and keep you on the right track during the dive.
43 Siloso Beach Walk, #01-01, Sentosa. Book your e-tickets now.
Get your thrills at Universal Studios
Get your hands on a queue-jump pass for a few extra bucks, or head along on a weekday for the best experience at Universal Studios. Sure, it’s not as huge as the ones in the US, but a day in this wacky theme park definitely makes for a fun day out – with or without kids. Expect rollercoasters, 3D experiences, water rides and movie-set towns and eateries.
Scratch your head at the Trick Eye Museum
Snap-happy tourists will love the Trick Eye Museum for its bevy of interactive 2D and 3D scenes that make for fun, outrageous illusions. Just pose in the right spots (pointed out with markers) and you could be balancing on a circus elephant’s trunk or flying on a broomstick. It’s a hilarious, lighthearted way to spend a few hours, and you’ll leave with lots of photos to baffle friends and family with.
8 Sentosa Gateway, Sentosa. For more info, call 6577 8888. Book discounted tickets now.
Visit a rooftop bar
With towering high-rise buildings at every turn, it’s no shock that Singapore is home to some of the best rooftop bars in the world. And not only are the views amazing, the drinks are top-notch too. Head here for our pick of the best bars to feel on top of the world.
Dance till you drop at a local DJ night
While we get a fair share of hyped-up international acts in Singapore’s clubs, the local DJ arena isn’t to be dismissed either. In recent years, parties fuelled by Singaporean beat-meisters have been gaining a following amongst both locals and foreigners. Our favourites include Sunday at the Training Shed (funk, reggae, soul and disco) at Labrador Park, Poptart (indie pop and rock) at Kyo and Drop Shots (drum & bass) at Koi Bangers + Izakay.
Is it raining? Read on for things to do indoors!
Moving to Singapore? Find more helpful tips in our Living in Singapore section.