As a rule, people come to Singapore just for a few days: three to five days usually are considered enough to cover most of the sights. If your goal in Singapore is seeing historical attractions, three days might really be enough – the most “ancient” sight in Singapore is the remnants of the 19th century British fort. But if you want to equally divide your time between sightseeing, thrills and funs on Sentosa, shopping, and beach vacation, then plan for at least 8 to 10 days in Singapore.
Below you will find information about various districts in Singapore to help you choose the best accommodation option for your trip. These are:
Hotels in the center of Singapore:
Hotels beyond the center:
What Area is the Best to Stay in Singapore?
Most of tourists in Singapore are attracted to the above-mentioned Sentosa Island. It is connected to the mainland by the cable car line, by public transport, or you can also reach there on foot (around 700 meters). The island is famous for entertainment options it provides, many of them are unique. We are talking here about the Universal theme park, the largest in the world aquarium, as well as a water park, various 3D attractions and lots of beaches with their own fun events. If you are primarily interested in Sentosa, it would make sense to find accommodation on the island, with all the entertainment in the close proximity. The island boasts good infrastructure: cafes and restaurants, a supermarket, and a pharmacy are at your disposal. For those interested to explore the city many hotels offer a free of charge transfer to the main shopping street – Orchard Road and the district Marina Bay, as well as to the Vivo City mall, with the metro station right inside it.
There are a number of hotels on the island which offer traditional rooms and large villas with private access for accommodation. Vacation in Sentosa means relaxation, so there is no wonder that many hotels offer day spa services. But you should keep in mind that usually doctors and beauty therapists don’t recommend to combine sunbathing and swimming with spa procedures. If you want to pamper yourself, choose just one of the pleasures at a time. The drawback of the hotels in Sentosa is their price: it starts with approximately $200 per night, and in some hotels you will have to pay extra for the Internet and parking, besides breakfast is not always included into the price. Some of the hotels face casinos, beach parties, and new hotels and/or recreational facilities under construction, which can’t be counted as an advantage for the hotel. That’s why it is recommended to read the travelers’ reviews on booking websites before you proceed to booking. You should also take into account that there are no private beaches at the hotels on Sentosa, that’s why you will have to go to public beaches which are open for everyone. I would recommend the following local hotels: Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa, Mövenpick Heritage Hotel Sentosa, The Sentosa Resort & Spa and W Singapore – Sentosa Cove.
Hotels in the Proximity of Sentosa
An alternative option for those who are not ready to pay that much money for staying in one of the Sentosa hotels could be hotels located right opposite the island. If you stay here, you will be able to reach the center of the island on foot for just twenty minutes (if you use a cable car that will be just a few minutes). The island beaches are just half an hour away from these hotels. At the same time you will have within easy reach a large mall Vivo City, with a supermarket, food court and Harbour Front metro station, as well as Mount Faber park. This district is a twenty-minute walk away from the Chinatown where you can purchase souvenirs, cloths and food, or just have a lunch or a dinner in one of many budget-friendly establishments. The drawbacks of the district include intensive traffic and permanent construction works – many foot walks are simply dug out. But if you are not going to walk on foot everywhere (with the exception of walking to the beach), this should not be much of a disturbance. In this district, you can consider, for example, the hotel Bay Hotel Singapore.
A long while ago the houses of the first settlers were built along the Singapore River. Fine samples of colonial architectures are situated on both banks of the river: the old governor house, the old golf club, etc. One of the historically significant buildings houses The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, not far from it you will find another iconic Singaporean hotel – Raffles Hotel. I paid an extra attention to these hotels for a reason: among modern designer hotels they stand out because of their history, service, and famous guests. Both hotels have a favorable location – in the city center. Besides, you will find that the quay and the main tourist attractions, including city museums, as well as Orchard Road – the heaven for shopaholics are within easy reach. The main disadvantage is again the price – staying in these hotels will cost a pretty penny. That’s why if your budget is limited, it would make sense to take a closer look to other hotels along the river which could be quite interesting options for accommodation. Their novelty and stylish design (I, for one, always like it when hotel rooms look new and not shabby) draw lots of tourists.
The advantages of this district include a convenient central location and a good infrastructure – a good number of shops, malls, cafes and restaurants with various cuisines, workrooms and studios are around. Many companies book hotels for their employees in this area when they want to take part in expos, conferences, and other events held in Singapore. This is the reason why the prices in these hotels are subject to fluctuations. You have to pay attention to this while booking so that you wouldn’t overpay. You should also keep in mind that modern design is often rather a mixed blessing. Not everyone would like a bathroom with a glass wall, for example. It might be interesting from the designer’s point of view but most of people would prefer taking bath with no spectators. In other words, before booking a hotel, check out the photos of the rooms and make sure you are fine with them. In this district you can choose one of the following hotels: Fraser Suites River Valley, Fraser Place Robertson Walk, Village Residence Clarke Quay or Swissotel Merchant Court. A special mention deserves a new hotel with an original outline which becomes more and more recognizable – the Marina Bay Sands. The hotel is located at the place where the river enters the Strait of Singapore. The hotel also boasts the most interesting sky deck of the city from where you can make wonderful photos.
Orchard Road Area
The main shopping street in Singapore is Orchard Road. I have mentioned above that the city accommodates a number of large shopping malls, but Orchard Road is in some way the pinnacle of shopping: you will see a mall after mall after mall with a few luxury brands boutiques in between. The advantages of this area are evident: if you’ve come to Singapore to shop (like many Japanese do – you can spot them leaving Singapore with large suitcases), just pick one of the hotels on this street, and move around from store to store. Actually, the street is located very conveniently: it is just a 15-minute walk to the botanic garden and the orchid garden, and you can also reach the haven and the quay in just 15 to 30 minutes (depends on the location of your hotel in the Orchard Road), just a couple of the metro stations – and you’ve reached the Little India, a few more – and you are on Sentosa. The street continues till the strait – the closer to it, the more expensive your accommodation would cost. If you are lucky you will get a room with a splendid view of the Strait of Singapore. If you are not lucky, your room will face the neighboring buildings, but don’t be too disappointed because it can be quite refreshing too – most of the buildings in this area boast interesting design. The disadvantage of the accommodation on the Orchard Road is noise: there is transport everywhere; you can hear music from the malls, etc., that’s why it is recommended to have a thorough look at the hotels descriptions and check if the rooms in the hotel you chose are sound-proof.
The hotels here are as expensive as hotels on Sentosa, that’s why if you see the price less than 200 Singapore dollars you have to think twice and pay extra attention to the reviews of fellow travelers – chances are there will be a lot of complaints, starting from the noise and ending with outdated interior. If you ask my recommendations for hotels near Orchard Road I would say that the most interesting are Rendezvous Grand Hotel Singapore, Swissotel The Stamford and Grand Park Orchard.
A special attention should be paid to the district where diplomatic residences and embassies are situated, the diplomatic quarter. It is located between the Orchard Road and the Botanic garden. On the one hand, all the stores and fun places are within an easy reach from here, on the other hand, the atmosphere here is quiet and undisturbed. The most wonderful thing about this area is its greenery: the buildings are surrounded by flowers and gardens. Many hotels of the diplomatic quarter focus on providing relaxing stay for their guests and offer a wide range of spa procedures. If you decide to stay in this district, I recommend to take a look at The St. Regis Singapore, Regent Singapore – A Four Seasons Hotel, Traders Hotel Singapore and Shangri-La Hotel Singapore.
Singapore as a multinational city has a few national enclaves, with the most significant ones being Little India and Chinatown. Each district has a metro station of the same name which definitely simplifies finding these places for tourists longing for Asian flavor and ethnic character.
Chinatown pleases the eye with two-three storey colorful houses and vibrant lanterns. Here you will find a large number of cafes and restaurants with an average bill of just 4-5 Singapore dollars (compare it with 10–15 in the downtown). This quarter is responsible for the most purchases of souvenirs from Singapore and inexpensive ethnic-style clothes. Additionally, in Chinatown there are a lot of tailor’s shops where you can get tailor-made business suits or a dozen of silk dresses. Chinatown is also home to a food market (stalls selling fish are especially recommended) as well as to a couple of spectacular temples. Location-wise the district is very favorable: you can reach Sentosa on foot (or take a bus/metro, it’s just a couple of stops away), it is also not far from the Singapore river quay and its main sights. The Chinatown has a lot to offer in respect to hotels – from family guesthouses on the upper floors of grocery stores to up-to-date designer hotels like New Majestic Hotel. However, before booking the room, make sure to specify if the hotel is equipped with air conditioners – the climate might be unbearable without them, especially for non-locals. From this point of view I recommend to pay attention to relatively large chains because they should have air conditioners. We should also mention the noise from the streets and dining places that contributes to the whole picture in the day but is hardly a welcome thing for a sound good night sleep. Keeping that in mind, always pay extra attention to other guests’ feedback. Good accommodation and budget-friendly options are Rucksack Inn @ Temple Street and 5footway.inn Project Chinatown 1.
Little India is also quite distinctive: women here, as a rule, wear sari, and houses and streets are richly decorated in holidays. However, it is one of those districts in Singapore where I would not recommend staying. The guides and locals also recommend to stay away from here because during religious holidays (and they happen quite often here) the Indian quarter is very crowded and loud. Besides the streets here are quite dirty and cluttered compared to the rest of Singapore, sometimes there is a strong scent of local food and spices, malls look like storage facilities, sellers pay no attention to you, and half of the stores sell textile of not a very good quality and gold jewelry of dubious provenance. The restaurants here, in my opinion, are overpriced, and the waiters there overstress their importance. Hotels, like almost all buildings here, are impersonal panel buildings, and there is a good chance that the room will not have an air conditioner, or even a towel.
Quarters near the metro station Novena where a large hospital is situated build an interesting district a little far away from the downtown. Medicine in Singapore is considered advance, and if you’ve come to Singapore not only for fun but also for medical reasons, this district would be the best to stay in. Besides, it is only a 20-minute walk (or 2 metro stops) away from the Orchard Road and around 30 minutes away from the Little India. It is a little too far away from Sentosa but local hotels arrange free of charge transfers to the island. At the same time the famous Singaporean zoo is closer from here which could be an advantage for some of travelers and make them choose the accommodation here instead of staying in the downtown or on Sentosa. Here you can pay close attention to the following hotels: Ramada Singapore at Zhongshan Park, Oasia Hotel by Far East Hospitality, and especially – The Forest by Wangz.
Singapore Airport Neighborhood
Finally, there are some hotels in the area of the Changi airport and the nearby Convention Center Singapore Expo. Probably, the proximity of the Convention Center is the reason for the high prices of accommodation in this area. To book the room here would cost you almost as much as booking one in the downtown area. The hotels here are usually booked by the participants of various exhibitions and conferences, as well as by those who travel to Australia or Bali via Singapore and want to take advantage when they have to wait too long for a connecting flight. As a rule, hotels in the airport area are connected with the terminals by special shuttle buses or even might have their own exit to the terminal. An essential condition for up-to-date hotels in the airport area is soundproofing which allows the guests take proper rest even with planes taking off and landing all the time. The airport has its own mall with food court, that’s why you don’t have to pay for breakfast at the hotel – you can save a little and get to know local cuisine at the same time. Among the hotels in the airport area I recommend to take a look at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport and Capri by Fraser Changi City.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Hotel in Singapore
In conclusion let me focus on some characteristic features of the hotels in Singapore.
The prices for accommodation in Singapore could become an unpleasant surprise for tourists trying to book a hotel here. The cost of 200 dollars per night is considered a rather reasonable rate and not something outrageous, the cost of accommodation on Sentosa goes over the top. That’s why it would be especially frustrating to pick the “wrong” hotel.
Another matter you should pay attention to is that the rate for the hotels in Singapore on websites like www.booking.com often does not include taxes and additional service fees which amount to 7 to 20 %. You should also remember that Singapore has strict antismoking laws that’s why there are no smoking rooms in hotels here and smoking on the hotels’ territories is prohibited. The offenders have to pay a fine of 1,000 Singapore dollars.
A possible drawback of the hotels in Singapore is that you will be asked for a deposit when you check in.
On the other hand, almost all locals speak English, and you won’t have a problem of miscommunication with the hotel’s staff.
Singapore is a former British colony; people here respect the old tradition of tea-drinking, so there is a good chance that your room might have a kettle and tea bags.
Almost all hotels in Singapore are equipped with air conditioners. Hotels, malls, and even regular public buses usually have air conditioners (the standard temperature in the air-conditioned areas is 19–21C, whereas the outside temperature can reach 27–33C, so if you are one of those people who catch cold easily, it’s recommended to carry a stall or a light jacket all the times).
When you plan the visit to Singapore, you have to consider the local climate, particularly, the rain season which begins in the second half of November and ends in March. During this period the rain can pour for hours which can ruin all your sight-seeing plans. Though, if you plan to stay on Sentosa, rains won’t disturb your plans, you can easily move around the island hiding from rain under special-purpose tents.