Where else would you find a city like this?
It’s no surprise that SG is also known as a Garden City. In fact, the island has the second-highest density of greenery in the world, according to Treepedia, which measures tree cover in cities. The late Lee Kuan Yew, SG’s founding Prime Minister, kickstarted the green movement with a tree-planting campaign in 1963. Look out for events in November on the National Parks Board website to join in on the annual Tree Planting Day efforts.
It’s an urban jungle…in a good way. Singapore has found innovative ways to bring nature into city life. From the 24-kilometres, hiking- and biking-friendly Rail Corridor (a converted railway track) to its many vertical gardens and green walls on the exteriors and interiors of buildings, SG doesn’t let its small land size limit its green lungs’ capacity.
Between the glittering Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay (a.k.a., the Durian Building) to the instantly iconic Marina Bay Sands, Singapore’s Central Business District skyline looks like no other. Just take one of the water taxi “bumboats” at sunset or after dark to see the city at its glitteriest best.
It’s no wonder SG has been designated a UNESCO Creative City of Design. Click here for some of the most Instagrammable spots in the city!
Singapore may only be in her 50s (not counting the 140-plus years after Sir Stamford Raffles founded it!), but the city holds a wealth of heritage and history.
One of the most visible expressions: the fanciful shophouses that dot the city-state. Stucco dragons and other exotic creatures are splayed across facades, flanked by glazed tiles, stained glass, family emblems and ornately carved doors.
To see conservation houses decorated with antiques from the early 20th century, book a tour of The Intan or NUS Baba House. Entry to both is by appointment only. (69 Joo Chiat Ter., 427231; 157 Neil Rd., 088883)
No, not talking about coffee here – though there are dozens of ways to order a cuppa in SG, from kopi-c or kopi-o (variations of the local “long black” brew) to flat white, espresso, nitro cold brew, etc.
It’s SG’s multicultural DNA that makes newcomers, regardless of their nationality or ethnic background, feel more welcomed here. Check out a roundup of great ways to meet like-minded people on the island here.
In Singapore, not only do you have the world at your fingertips (skip to #9), you can have it on your taste buds, too. Enjoy practically any cuisine here in Singapore – from French to Filipino, Peranakan to Peruvian, Australian to African and many more.
SG restaurants are also regularly included in prestigious Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list as well as the Michelin Guide, which even bestows its coveted stars on standout hawker stalls. Whenever you’re looking for something tasty to eat, make www.thefinder.com.sg/tag/restaurants your first stop.
Where to dig into the most authentic local food for as low as $3? SG’s legendary hawker centres, of course! While they may seem intimidating for the uninitiated – they’re stark and can be a tad overwhelming, with multiple rows of food stalls – to Singaporeans, they’re a labyrinth of culinary greatness forming a quintessential part of the culture (see #8 and #11 for handy tips).
Put The Finder’s own short-list of top hawker centres on your expat bucket list.
Travelling to any part of Asia or Oceania – be it for a tropical getaway or immersive holiday – is so convenient… from the world’s best airport, no less. With the recent Jewel Changi Airport extension, it’s now a more enviable dining and retail destination, perfect for day trips with the family or date nights with your bae.
15. Not to say that there’s any lack of entertainment options here in Singapore.
Just because you could probably go on vacation every weekend and still not run out of incredible destinations to visit, Singapore is no slouch in the things-to-do department. We’ve got an extensive collection of “A Day Out” neighbourhood guides (see the latest on here, or peruse all of them at here!).
Likewise, our online Calendar and monthly and weekend “What’s On” posts can keep you up to date on the latest haps. (Want our event listings delivered to your inbox? Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter on The Finder’s homepage!)
No question, hawker centres dish out some of the best comfort food in the country. If you feel lost, consult our go-to guide to the unsaid rules about navigating a hawker centre and have the ultimate local experience at here.
Rule 1: Reserve your seat first. To the uninitiated, tissue packets, umbrellas and even business cards placed on empty tables might be a baffling sight. But, it’s actually a common practice to reserve, or chope, a seat before heading off to queue up for food.
Sure, Singapore has regularly been ranked as the most expensive for expats to live, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. But, even in the heart of town – at the famed shopping belt that is Orchard Road – there are tonnes of free things to do that don’t involve shopping or eating (see exactly what we’re talking about here).
And, parents, our popular roundup of fun, free or affordable things to do with kids should come in useful for you!
Singapore is the best country in the world for children to grow up in, according to the 2019 End of Childhood Index published annually by the non-governmental organisation, Save The Children. As the first out of
176 countries, SG performed well across the eight indicators, including out-of-school children and youth and child labour.
Beyond these serious markers, though, students in SG are some of the top in the world, a distinction that goes for local students and international ones.
And there are tons of social clubs and organisations to help you meet fellow expats and locals, too.
The country’s excellent healthcare system and network of hospitals ensure Singaporeans have a longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality rate than most other countries, and it regularly ranks amongst the healthiest populations in the world.
While healthcare is subsidised for citizens, even expats can take advantage of world-class healthcare with options like the island-wide International Medical Clinic (IMC). Read more from one of its experienced doctors here.
Singapore is well-known for having expensive cars: A Toyota Corolla, for one, will cost you about $100,000 with a Certificate of Entitlement (COE). (Tip: Do a long-term rental instead, and drive the same brand-new car without worrying about the costs.) Compared to other major cities, however, the taxi fares here are reasonable.
Plus, SG’s five Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train lines (with the new line being built), more than 300 bus routes and its extensive, pedestrian-friendly Park Connectors, make traversing the Red Dot a real breeze.
Little wonder Singapore was ranked the second least miserable country in the world!
By Pinky Chng, March 2017 / Updated September 2019
Like this? Read about other things to do here.