Singapore is a cosmopolitan city-state in Southeast Asia. Founded as a British trading colony in 1819, since independence it has become one of the world's most prosperous countries and boasts one of the world's busiest ports, second only to Shanghai. Combining the skyscrapers and subways of a modern, affluent city with a medley of Chinese, Malay, and Indian influences along with a tropical climate, tasty food from hawker stalls, copious amounts of shopping malls, and a vibrant night-life scene, this Garden City makes an enjoyable stopover or springboard into further island exploration.
The compact size of Singapore means that getting around is easy and efficient whether by public transport or on foot. The island is dotted with green spaces and parks, making it one of the most pleasant cities in Asia to just wander around and explore. There are tons of must-see attractions in Singapore that should factor into your choice of where to stay. Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay. It includes a hotel, casino, mall, convention center, and museum. The Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning 101 hectares (250 acres) of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The park consists of three distinct gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden, and Bay Central Garden. You should also consider a trip to nearby Sentosa Island. It's a popular island resort destination with a host of leisure activities and attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A Aquarium, Adventure Cove Waterpark, and much more.
If you're looking for things to do in Singapore at night, there's no shortage of options. The city-state comes alive after dark, with a vibrant nightlife scene that offers something for everyone. From chic rooftop bars to bustling nightclubs, singalong bars to speakeasies, there's plenty to keep you entertained well into the wee hours. When it comes to food, Singapore is home to a diverse range of cuisines, from Chinese and Indian to Malay and Peranakan. And of course, no trip to Singapore would be complete without sampling some of the world-famous street food.
Before you embark on a journey through the neighborhoods of this city, make sure that you're not carrying more than is necessary. Drop off your bags at a Bounce storage location in Singapore, and let us take care of it all.
Now that the bags are out of the way, let's get to our guide on the best places to stay in Singapore:
For any tourists who want to combine culture, history, great food, and shopping, Chinatown is a perfect place to stay in Singapore. It also provides a good balance between cost and convenience. Chinatown is centrally located close to attractions like Raffles, Fort Canning Park, and Clarke Quay, but has budget-friendly accommodations like hostels ideal for backpackers. You should make sure to visit the Chinatown Heritage Center once you get settled. Chinatown also boasts a Chinese Night Market, Chinese medicine shops, a convenient metro stop called Chinatown Station, and so much more. It's only about a mile walking distance from Chinatown to other popular places to stay in Singapore, like the Marina Bay area and the Civic District.
Staying in Chinatown is recommended for younger adults and families with older kids. The lively atmosphere can get noisy at times, which isn't great if you're trying to get the kids to sleep. One of the highlights of a Chinatown stay is the abundance of amazing restaurants at your doorstep. Although many offer Chinese cuisine, there is a variety of international options, most of which are very affordable. Chinatown also offers a Michelin-starred restaurant if you prefer your meals a bit fancier.
The Marina Bay area is a Singapore neighborhood that's recommended for first-timers to the city-state and young families. Staying at the Marina Bay Sands, if you can afford it, is a great option. The hotel and neighborhood have impressive Marina Bay and Garden Bay views. The whole family will enjoy the free light displays, free water shows, and the sampan boat rides at the hotel. Hotel prices at the Marina Bay Sands vary depending on what you need and the time of year, but generally, you can expect to dish out at least US$250 a night. Other hotel room prices in this area will set you back at least that, with others, like the ParkRoyal Collect Marina Bay, averaging more like US$500 per night.
Even if you can't afford this high-end Singapore neighborhood, you should still make time during your trip to visit the Marina Bay Sands. It's quite an experience! Plus, its proximity to the Central Business District doesn't hurt either.
Orchard Road, known simply as Orchard, is the place to stay in Singapore for anyone who loves shopping malls. The road is lined with mega-structures that contain everything you can imagine when it comes to retail therapy. The two-mile stretch is home to the Ion Orchard Mall, Far East Shopping Center, Forum, Mandarin Gallery, and the Centrepoint to name only a few. The bad news about staying in the Orchard Road area is that once you pay for your hotel, there won't be much money left over to shop with. This area is also a great place to get some of the best brunch in the city.
The Hilton Singapore Orchard Road will set you back about US$500 per night, as will the Sheraton Towers Orchard Road and the St. Regis Singapore. In general, if you want to stay in this desirable area, you'll need to be prepared to spend. But, if you do your research, and are traveling in the off-season, you can find rooms in the US$150 to $200 range, which comparatively, seems like a deal.
Kampong Glam/Arab Street
Kampong Glam is Singapore's historic Malay quarter, located in the downtown area of the city. The Kampong Glam area was designated as a Malay reserve in 1822 and has since been home to many of Singapore's Muslim community. The area is well-known for its vibrant atmosphere, colorful architecture, and delicious food.
In recent years, Kampong Glam has undergone revitalization efforts by the Singapore government in order to preserve its unique heritage and culture. These efforts have resulted in the opening of new businesses and attractions, such as the Malay Heritage Centre, which showcases the history and culture of Singapore's Malay community.
If you're looking to experience the best of Singapore's Malay culture, Kampong Glam is the perfect place to start. From delicious food to historic landmarks, there's something for everyone in this vibrant neighborhood.
In Kampong Glam you can eat relatively cheap, shop for vintage goods on Haji Lane, and find more affordable accommodation. Unlike the Marina Bay area and Orchard Road areas, Arab Street offers the choice between a budget hotel, boutique hotel, and mid-range hotels. Generally, you can expect to pay between US$100 to $200 per night here, and there are cheap hotels even less expensive than that. If you want the best budget hotel in the area, head to the Pod at Beach Road Capsule Hotel. You won't get many amenities but if all you need is a place to sleep, the US$50 a night can't be beat.
Central Business District
Another sought-after place to stay in Singapore is the Central Business District. This neighborhood is ideal if you like tall buildings and a more modern feel. When you stay here you're within walking distance of all the main tourist locations, and if you like nightlife, this is a good option. This central Singapore neighborhood comes alive at night once the work day finishes. This area is busy during the day with commuters and tourists and also busy at night, so if you're looking for a relaxing vacation feel, this might not be the one for you.
For US$150 to $200 per night, you can get a mid-range hotel accommodation here, and budget hotels are rare, but not impossible to find. If you are prepared to stay towards the edge of the district, you can save a bit of money.
Due to its central Singapore location, you can easily get to the Marina Bay Sands and all its amenities, and even Chinatown for an inexpensive meal. Don't get confused when you're looking for hotels, as this area can be referred to as the CBD, City Center, or downtown.
Perhaps the most budget-friend area on our Singapore neighborhood guide is Little India. Aptly named, the district is home to much of the city's Indian population and the result is a lively place with Indian-themed shops full of things like exotic spices and saris, great restaurants, and welcoming people. Make sure to check out the Indian Heritage Centre for a look at how the area was created.
Little India is quite removed from areas like Marina Bay, but luckily, Singapore has excellent public transportation to help you to get around the city. If you don't mind spending a little time on the metro (MRT) instead of walking, this reasonably-priced area might be the right one for you. For help in navigating the city, check out our guide on how to get around Singapore.
The neighborhood is just east of the Singapore River, which offers the opportunity for a scenic evening stroll before you return to your hotel. Wanderlust by Oakridge is a good option at prices of about US$150 per night. You'll also find more well-known affordable brands in this area, like the Holiday Inn Express.
Little India is a great place to stay in Singapore for those who need to stick to a budget and don't mind traveling a bit to get to the action. On the plus side, this neighborhood will be quieter at night compared to Marina Bay and the downtown CBD.
If you have traveled to Singapore for its many unmissable things to do at night, a hotel in the Singapore River area is in order. Some of the best nightlife in the city is here, and in the evenings, the river itself is lined with tourists and locals dining and drinking on the riverside patios. The many nightclubs, bars, and restaurants in Singapore River tend to cater to the more affluent crowd, so eating and partying here won't be nearly as cheap as in places like Chinatown and Little India.
Aside from Marina Bay and Marina Bay Sands, Sentosa Island is probably the best place to stay in Singapore for families. Famous as the home of Universal Studios Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa, Adventure Cove Waterpark, and S.E.A. Aquarium, you can quickly see why picking Sentosa Island as your place to stay in Singapore is a good option.
Sentosa Island may sound far removed, but it isn't. It's connected to Marina Bay Sands by a monorail making it easy to get to and from your hotel. As for the actual hotels, if you're traveling with your family, you'll likely want to stay somewhere with onsite restaurants, a pool, and other amenities. Consider Resorts World Sentosa Island when you're making your decision. It has everything you need, including dining, shopping, and comfort, and will cost you about US$250 per night, which isn't too high when you think about everything you get. Just don't get confused, because there are multiple Resorts World Sentosa hotels on the island.
When it comes to finding the best place to stay in Singapore, the answer will differ for everyone. Those who shy away from crowds and like budget accommodation should seek out hotels in the Little India and Chinatown neighborhoods. To be in the heart of the action, Marina Bay, downtown Singapore, and Chinatown are all good options, but some come with a hefty price tag.
For the best nightlife in town, head to Singapore River or the Central Business District, but remember that most neighborhoods do offer at least some nightly entertainment close to home. For families, especially those with young kids, you'll likely want to avoid the party areas, so Sentosa Island and Marina Bay, with its great location, should be your go-to places. That's if you can afford it. And, the shopper's paradise of Orchard Road should never be overlooked.
Don't overthink your decision on where to stay in Singapore too much, though. Remember that the city has great public transportation, so you can easily get to the attractions in any of the neighborhoods we have mentioned. No matter where you choose to stay, you're bound to have an unforgettable time in this island city-state.