Posted: 2/16/2023 | February 16th, 2023
Singapore is one of the world’s smallest countries. But this tiny nation packs a punch.
Home to some 5.7 million people, Singapore is a cosmopolitan city-state that separated from the British in 1963 and gained independence from Malaysia in 1965. In the decades that followed, it evolved from a low-income country to one of the centers of world finance.
It’s a foodie’s dream, bursting with tasty hawker-stall offerings, delicious Indian cuisine, and fresh seafood. In fact, some of the cheapest Michelin-starred eateries in the world can be found here.
For more active visitors, there are hiking trails on which you can stretch your legs, numerous cycling paths, and plenty of kayaking adventures to be had. And when you run out of energy, there are beaches for chilling out and soaking up the sun.
Though a small city-state, each neighborhood in Singapore has its own unique vibe. Here’s my breakdown of them all so you can figure out where to stay in Singapore when you visit.
But, before I get into specifics, here are some common questions I get asked about Singapore neighborhoods:
What’s the best neighborhood in Singapore for budget travelers?
Kampong Glam is one of Singapore’s oldest neighborhoods. It has loads of shops selling textiles, rugs, and Turkish homewares; some delicious Arabic restaurants; the enormous golden-domed Sultan Mosque; and a ton of eye-catching street art.
What’s the best neighborhood in Singapore for families?
While many families gravitate to Sentosa for the beaches and laid-back vibe, Orchard Road is a much more central place to stay. Known more for being the shopping center of Singapore, it is well connected to the rest of the island, is filled with restaurants in the malls and along the street, and has some great family-friendly hotels.
What’s the best neighborhood in Singapore for first-time visitors?
Not far from the modern Central Business District, Chinatown is the best place to get a real sense of Chinese culture in Singapore. The streets are lined with temples, craft shops, stalls, and restaurants, so you can pick up a bargain here and then get some tasty food.
What’s the best neighborhood in Singapore for partying?
If it’s a buzzing nightlife scene that you’re after, any of the Quays (Clarke, Robertson, or Boat) are the place to go. They have loads of bars and restaurants and most of the clubs are in or around this area too.
What is the best neighborhood in Singapore overall?
Chinatown is centrally located and has (or is super close to) many of the island’s main attractions, including its delicious hawker food, beautiful temples, bright street art, and abundant history.
So, with those questions answered, here’s a breakdown of each neighborhood, with suggested accommodations for each, so you know exactly where to stay in Singapore:
Chinatown is my favorite area: it’s perfect for browsing shops and tasting local dishes. It’s also super central, so it’s easy to get to and from other popular parts of the island, including Gardens by the Bay, Little India, Kampong Glam, and the Botanic Gardens.
If you can, eat at Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle (aka Hawker Chan), the world’s most affordable Michelin-starred restaurant. Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice is another Michelin-starred hawker stall worth a visit. Like Hawker Chan’s, it’s located in the Maxwell Hawker Center.
Best Places to Stay in Chinatown:
The three main Quays (pronounced “keys”) are Clarke, Robertson, and Boat. Packed with vibrant bars, tasty restaurants, cute cafés, and lively clubs, this is the best place to go for a night out (or just some fun people-watching). While the venues on the main drag (by the riverfront) are the most popular for their location, the side streets are where you can find some less touristy venues.
Best Places to Stay in The Quays:
Graffiti in Singapore is illegal, but that doesn’t mean there’s not an abundance of street art all over town: the artists just need a license to paint there.
Kampong Glam, also known as the Arab Quarter, has the most street art on the island. Wander around Haji Lane, which is brightly decorated from top to bottom, and walk through Gelam Gallery, a backstreet dedicated to this kind of art. Singapore’s most famous street artist, Yip Yew Chong, has some murals here too.
Little India and Chinatown, both street art hot spots, are just walking distance away as well.
Best Places to Stay in Kampong Glam:
If you’re in need of some R&R, look no further than Sentosa. One of Singapore’s 64 islands, it’s linked to the main one by a causeway. It is full of nice beaches, luxe resorts, and a load of attractions, including Universal Studios, an aquarium, bungee jumping, and much more.
It was also a strategic military point during World War II and Siloso Fort is an interesting place to explore if you want a break from the resorts and expensive activities.
Sentosa is not the cheapest area of Singapore, as there are only resorts to stay at, but if you’re in the mood to break the budget, this is the best place to do it!
Best Places to Stay in Sentosa:
Famous for its many stores and shopping malls that line the street almost from beginning to end, Orchard Road is one of the most central places to stay in Singapore, making it a great choice for families. Lots of the hotels here are family-friendly (although they can also carry a bit of a price tag), and there are many dining options around here too.
Best places to stay on Orchard Road:
If you’re looking to get away from the main tourist trail, head to the East Coast. Around the Joo Chiat area is where some of Singapore’s most famous shophouses can be found; there is all manner of independent stores, restaurants, bars, and cafés to browse and hang out in. There are a few walking trails, some cool street art, several temples, and a decent beach with a long bike track that leads all the way into Gardens by the Bay and beyond.
Best Places to Stay on East Coast:
Singapore is small, but there really is a lot to do here. The good news is that most of the attractions are between the center and the south of the island so you’re unlikely to have to travel too far to get anywhere, meaning you can find somewhere to suit your budget and plan accordingly.
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Singapore?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Singapore for even more planning tips!
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