Despite being a large, modern city, Singapore offers a wide variety of activities for an outdoor lover. From nature parks to interesting street art to open-air hawker centres, you can easily fill your days in Singapore's steamy, tropical outdoors.
As you may have noticed by now, I'm an outdoor lover and am happiest when exploring outside. So, it's rare that you'll find me spending an entire day in a museum. Even in a hot and muggy tropical city like Singapore, I still prefer to spend most of my day outdoors. If it starts raining? I whip out my umbrella and carry on!
Though I've only been to Singapore a couple times, I've found plenty to keep me occupied outdoors. To help you do the same, I'm sharing some perfect activities in Singapore for outdoor lovers like me.
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1) Visit the Iconic Gardens by the Bay
No trip to Singapore would be complete without a visit to the famous Gardens by the Bay. This park consists of three tropical waterfront gardens - Bay South, Bay East, and Bay Central - which are the perfect place to spend a day in nature.
There are several gardens and lakes around the parks through which to wander. Entrance to the parks is free, but several of the notable attractions require purchasing a ticket. That said, here are a few of those attractions that I'd recommend visiting.
Supertree Grove and the OCBC Skyway
While exploring Gardens by the Bay, you have to visit the Supertree Grove to see the large futuristic, purple metal trees. These solar-powered supertrees are vertical gardens and you can see a variety of flora and fauna growing on them.
In the Supertree Grove, purchase a separate ticket for the OCBC Skyway - an elevated walkway winding through the Supertrees. It's a great spot to get a bird's-eye view of the gardens, the city, and the marina.
Pro Tip: If you're afraid of heights or don't like shaky walkways, the OCBC Skyway may not be for you. Although the walkway doesn't move a lot, it does sway slightly. I barely noticed it but my mom did not enjoy the motion combined with the height.
Conservatories - Flower Dome & Cloud Forest
Another spectacular sight within Gardens by the Bay are the immense indoor conservatories - the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. You may be wondering, why include indoor conservatories on an outdoor lovers' guide? Well, they're gardens, so somehow they still feel like they should be on the list!
Pro Tip: Because these gardens are inside, the air conditioning may be on the cool side. I was FREEZING while walking through them and would have brought a sweater had I realized how cold it would be. My mom, on the other hand, thought the aircon felt great and was relieved to be out of the heat!
The Flower Dome, the largest glass greenhouse in the world, replicates the cool, dry Mediterranean climate and showcases plants from around the world. (Again, which feels really cold to someone used to heat and humidity!) The floral displays change periodically and when we visited in December, everything was decked out for Christmas.
The Cloud Forest is a cool-moist forest which also features an amazing 30-meter indoor waterfall. Visitors ride the elevator to the top, then make their way down the elevated walkway past the misty forest walls.
2) Get Lost in the Hustle & Bustle of Little India
As an outdoor lover, I not only enjoy visiting parks and gardens, but also fun neighborhoods. And Singapore's Little India is a vibrant and fascinating place to wander. With its colorful temples, traditional Indian restaurants, bustling streets, and lively markets, it almost feels like you're in India. But with fewer cars honking at each other!
The main streets of Little India are Serangoon Road and Race Course Road, but be sure to also explore the narrow alleyways which have smaller shops and plenty of vivid street art.
Pro Tip: Be aware that some temples close during the afternoons but re-open in the evening. When we visited, evenings seemed to be a much more lively time to be on the streets in Little India.
3) Grab a Drink + People-Watch at Clarke Quay
One of the things I love about Singapore is the pedestrian walkway with alfresco bars and restaurants at Clarke Quay. Many of the bars have live music playing and outdoor seating where you can grab a drink and people-watch.
After the sun goes down, Clarke Quay is a vibrant and buzzy place to be and the lights are pretty spectacular too.
Need more trip ideas? Check out these 28 Memorable Activities in Asia!
4) Explore the Chinatown Neighborhood
Despite the fact that the neighborhood is called "Chinatown," you'll still notice a vibrant mix of cultures and historic architecture. Take time to walk around and explore this neighborhood with its various temples, markets full of knick-knacks, colorful historic shophouses, and the Maxwell Food Centre - a well-known hawker centre.
A Few Notable Stops for Your Outdoor Tour
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
This temple was built in 2007 to house what Buddhists believe is the left canine tooth of the Buddha. The temple is ornately decorated with lots of Buddha statues.
Thian Hock Keng Temple
Built in the mid-1800s when Telok Ayer Street was waterfront property, Thian Hock Keng Temple is Singapore's oldest Buddhist Temple and a must-visit! The temple was built by prominent members of the Hokkien community and dedicated to Mazu - the Goddess of the Sea.
With all the land reclamation, the temple is no longer on the sea, but is nestled in a cool neighborhood with lots of trendy bars and restaurants.
Sri Mariamman Temple
Chinatown is also home to Singapore's oldest Hindu temple - Sri Mariamman Temple - which dates back to 1827 when it was a wooden structure. The current structure was built in the mid-1800s. It is dedicated to the Goddess Mariamman who is known for her power to cure diseases.
Pro Tip: Many temples and mosques that you can visit have a dress code. Look out for signs at the front telling you what clothes are appropriate (i.e. no shorts, sleeveless shirts, etc.). Usually you can borrow or rent a cover up before entering.
5) Ride the Singapore River Bumboat Cruise
During the 19th and 20th centuries, wooden bumboats were used to transport goods along the Singapore River. Now, you can ride one starting at Clarke Quay through Boat Quay and into Marina Bay.
The trip returns to Clarke Quay, but you can hop off at another stop to end your trip. During the ride, you'll learn interesting historical facts as you float along the river.
This experience feels like one of those "obviously touristy" things. But I love boat rides and gawking at buildings from a river, so I enjoyed it! It's a nice way to see the charming riverfront, historical buildings, and the marina from a different perspective. Plus, it gives your feet time to rest!
6) Hike around MacRitchie Reservoir and the Treetop Walk
If you're tiring of urban exploration and want to get out in nature, I recommend heading north to the MacRitchie Reservoir. Here, you'll find a variety of trails and nature walks through lush forests that are perfect for an outdoor lover.
One of the features you'll encounter on your hike is the Treetop Walk. This elevated walkway provides a canopy view from which you can bird watch, but is a little toasty in the sunshine. Also, don't forget your sunscreen!
Although we'd heard we might see monkeys on the treetop walk, we actually ended up finding them at the rest area instead. They seemed to know where the humans might stop to have a snack. Beware of your food and bookbags - these monkeys can be agressive and will grab whatever they can!
As an outdoor lover, be sure to visit the Hiking page to get ideas for hikes around Asia!
7) Check out the Colorful Buildings of Kampong Glam
Back into the city, head for Kampong Glam. This neighborhood is known as the Muslim quarter in Singapore and has beautiful street art, colorful 19th-century shophouses, plus the large golden-domed Masjid Sultan.
As you walk down Arab Street, the restaurants and shops in combination with the beautiful mosque in the background will make you feel as though you've been transported to the Middle East! Grab a bite to eat and admire the view of the mosque while you people-watch.
8) Rent a Bicycle to Explore
When you're tired of walking, hop on a bicycle to continue exploring Singapore's outdoors! Singapore has numerous cycling trails around the city to explore!
If you're visiting and don't have a bike, you can rent a bicycle at several shops around the city. The Gardens by the Bay's East Coast Park is an easy place to start your cycling adventure with a 5.4-hectare Cyclist Park offering trails for every level of rider.
I'll admit, I haven't tried this mode of transportation in Singapore yet, but friends of ours who live there swear by it!
9) Enjoy Rooftop Drinks with a View
In my opinion, one of the best ways to enjoy a city view is on a rooftop with a drink. And Singapore has plenty of rooftop bars to enjoy! Although a bit hot during the day, these outdoor terraces and rooftops are the perfect temperature for Singapore's balmy evenings.
10) Wander through Fort Canning Park
Right in the heart of downtown, Fort Canning Park is a beautiful hilltop landmark which has been significant throughout Singapore's history. The park features nine historical gardens, plus the luxurious Hotel Fort Canning.
Visitors can either wander through the park on their own to discover the various gardens. Or you can download the BALIKSG app which takes you on the Fort Canning Trail - a 2.5-km trail with various augmented reality (AR) stops along the way.
Pro Tip: As most of Singapore is flat, Fort Canning Park's hillside is one of the only hills you'll have to climb during your visit. Since Singapore is always hot and muggy, plan to visit the park in the morning. And no matter when you go, be prepared to sweat!
11) Set Sail for a Luxury Dinner Cruise at Sunset
If you're looking for a special weekend experience while you're in Singapore, consider a sunset dinner cruise on the Royal Albatross. For 2.5 hours, you'll sail on a luxurious tall ship and enjoy a 3-course alfresco meal on the top deck while admiring beautiful views of the sunset and the city.
They offer several packages, including birthday, anniversary, proposal. But my favorite is the "I'm sorry" option - "a unique apology package". Which I guess is perfect for when you get into a fight with your traveling partner!
Though I haven't tried this cruise, it's on my radar for a return visit to Singapore. I think it'd be perfect for a special dinner.
12) Hunt for Street Art EVERYWHERE!
Admittedly, hunting for street art could be rolled into a few of the outdoor neighborhood activities. But since Singapore has some fantastic street art scattered all over the city, I wanted to highlight it!
I'm including a few photos of some of my favorite murals, but there are so many more to discover while you're wandering around Singapore's outdoors.
Murals in Kampong Glam
Since Kampong Glam is full of colorful shophouses, many of which have murals on them, you'll be overwhelmed by the colorful sights. Here are a couple of the murals that I especially liked in Kampong Glam.
Murals in Little India
Another neighborhood with lots of color and vibrancy is Little India. Not only does it have the colorful Chinese villa - Tan Teng Niah - which is popular for Instagram photos, but it has several beautiful murals. These two are very close to the villa, so be on the lookout for them in this area.
If you love street art, check out this 3-day Itinerary for Georgetown, Malaysia!
13) Eat Delicious Local Cuisine in Hawker Centres
If you're looking to find delicious and cheap food on your trip to Singapore, look no further than the many hawker centers scattered around the city.
Here you'll find an impressive mix of Singapore's multi-cultural cuisine made by chefs that excel at cooking their signature dish. Since all of these shops are in one centre, you can go around and order yourself a table full of food at different stalls.
By the time you've finished ordering, you'll most likely have more food than you can eat, but you'll be so happy!
Although most of the hawker centres are covered, from what I saw, they tend to be open-air. That means during the day, they can be pretty hot. Try to sit in an area that's open to the outdoors and near a fan. That way you get a breeze of fresh air and aren't surrounded by the cooking steam.
14) Relax Beside Your Hotel Pool
Finally, since you're on on vacation, you may just enjoy taking an afternoon to relax beside (and swim in) your hotel pool. Because, as you may realize after about five minutes of walking outside, Singapore is a hot and muggy city!
When I'm booking a trip in a place in which I know the afternoons are going to be blisteringly hot for doing a lot of walking, I (sometimes) book a nicer hotel with a pool. That way, I can retreat to the pool for a couple hours to cool off and refresh for the evening.
After a couple visits to Singapore, here are a couple hotels that I'd recommend for a nice stay, plus a great pool.
Swissôtel Merchant Court
When I visited Singapore with my parents in December 2018, we stayed at the Swissôtel Merchant Court in Clarke Quay. It was a great location and the staff were very friendly and helpful.
Since Singapore was the last destination on a long two-week trip, we were ready to take it easy. As a result, the pool was a huge bonus because it allowed us to chill out in the afternoons when it got to hot to be trekking around the city.
PARKROYAL COLLECTION, Pickering, Singapore
The PARKROYAL COLLECTION, Pickering is another fabulous hotel in Singapore to consider, especially if you want a gorgeous pool at which to hang out in the afternoons. This hotel is luxurious with fabulous rooms and offers great amenities.
When we met up with our friends in Singapore last year, they stayed at the PARKROYAL while we stayed in an Airbnb down the road. But since we visited them and heard their reviews, I can attest to how fantastic the hotel is! Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of the pool area, but from the quick tour I got, it looked beautiful!
Planning your Trip to Singapore
After seeing all of these activities for outdoor lovers in Singapore, I bet you're ready to start planning your trip now! Here are some recommendations to get you started.
Finding Places to Stay in Singapore
Trying to find the perfect hotel in Singapore or to get idea of what to budget for accommodations? Use the map below to start your search!
Filter by your individual preferences and input your travel dates to see what places are available and what their nightly rates are.
Airbnb Recommendation in Chinatown
The Airbnb that we booked for our last trip to Singapore was incredibly budget-friendly and in a fantastic location. Right on Club Street in Chinatown, it was walking distance to lots of bars, restaurants, and historical sights.
Despite not having a pool or other hotel amenities, it was perfect for us. The unit we booked was a 1-bedroom flat with a kitchen. Overall, it was larger than our flat in Hong Kong! I highly recommend checking it out if you're visiting Singapore.
As an outdoor lover, I was pleased with how much Singapore has to offer. From its incredibly beautiful parks and gardens to outdoor murals that will delight street art fans. There's plenty to keep you occupied as you explore!
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