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Singapore is really a city that needs no introduction! This small country has long been a popular tourist destination with visitors in South East Asia, and its unique culture and cosmopolitan atmosphere means it will likely be one of the world’s biggest destinations for years to come. Notoriously clean and green, this is a great gateway into Asia – and is a popular final stop to relax after a bigger itinerary in the region.
Whilst Singapore is undoubtedly a popular destination, it can be tricky to navigate. This city state sprawls across an entire island, and has multiple different neighborhoods with different things to offer.
Some of the boundaries in the city centre are hard to define, so it’s a good idea to try to build an idea of what to expect from each neighborhood before you arrive.
That’s where we come in! We consulted travel experts, locals and bloggers to bring you this guide to the seven best neighborhoods in Singapore. Whether you are looking for bustling nightlife, decadent cuisine or simply somewhere to kick back and relax we have you covered with this bumper guide to the city.
So let’s just jump straight into it!
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At A Glance: Where To Stay In SINGAPORE
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Singapore.
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This spacious apartment is one of the best in Singapore! Whilst hotels are generally more popular with tourists visiting the country, AirBnBs are rising in popularity and offer a great alternative for those that want to live like a local.
This apartment in the heart of Chinatown – making it a great pick for both foodies and budget conscious travellers. It is also only a short walk from Riverside.
Singapore is a notoriously expensive city, so you’ll have to max your budget regardless of where you stay, but this three star dream in the heart of Riverside is a great option to help you avoid completely breaking the bank!
It is within walking distance of all the best nightlife venues in the city, and is well connected to the Marina Bay area. Interiors are stylish and reflect the beautiful nature that surrounds Singapore.
Whilst many of the hotels in Singapore are pricey, this four star dream strikes a great balance between affordability and luxury. It comes with an impressive infinity pool with views across the city – as far as Marina Harbour!
Its location on Orchard Road gives you immediate access to the main shopping street, and it is also only a short walk away from an MRT Station. This is great if you want a bit of an upgrade without breaking the bank.
Singapore is a city packed with many different cultures. Whilst it was administered by the British as part of Malaysia, it broke off from the country to form its own city state and has only been on the up since!
During the colonial era, significant Indian and Chinese communities grew in the city, and these influences can still be seen today. It is now also home to expats from across the world, and serves as one of the biggest business hubs in Asia.
By far the most recognisable neighborhood in Singapore is Marina Bay! If you’ve been looking through photos of the city, chances are most of them are from this area. With plenty of entertainment attractions, sky-high viewpoints and modern restaurants, you will be spoiled for choice in this ultra contemporary neighborhood.
Moving slightly further inland, the Riverside neighborhood is also a popular area with tourists – especially those looking for nightlife! Cutting through the Central Business District, this neighborhood is where locals come to let their hair down after a long week at work.
You will have plenty of opportunity to mingle with both locals and visitors in this area.
Chinatown is just south of Riverside, and is a great example of the cosmopolitan nature of Singapore! Whilst communities mingle a lot more these days, some of the communities have their own established neighborhoods.
Chinatown is one of the closest to the city centre, and is a massive hub for foodies visiting the city. Make no mistake – it isn’t just Chinese food in this area, but some of Singapore’s finest cuisine overall can be found in the Hawker Centres in Chinatown.
Over on the opposite side of the city centre is Little India! Like Chinatown, this neighborhood has retained its cultural influences from its time as a major Indian community.
These days it serves as one of the coolest places to stay in the city – especially for hip, young tourists that are more concerned with living like a local than hitting up the major tourist attractions. There are also plenty of great food options on offer.
Heading even further inland, Orchard Road is considered one of the city’s big shopping streets!
This leafy neighborhood is popular with couples and families with teens that want somewhere a little bit quieter away from the city centre whilst still remaining connected to the main tourism hubs. Malls aside, it also has some great modern cultural venues and food courts.
Heading out of the city centre now, Sentosa is increasingly becoming a major tourist playground in the country! Once a military fort, Sentosa has now been purposely redeveloped to cater to the tourism market.
This makes it one of the easiest neighborhoods to navigate for families – and also one of the most entertaining with theme parks, beaches and museums. It is one of the most expensive neighborhoods, but well worth the extra cost if you’re willing to splurge on the ultimate family vacation.
Last but not least, we have Newton and Novena! Though two separate neighborhoods, we have lumped these together as they both offer great options for tourists sticking to a tight budget.
Just north of Orchard Road, they have some great shopping venues of their own – though this is a mostly residential area. It is one of the best connected suburbs for those on a budget, and has a unique local atmosphere.
Still undecided? No need to worry – we have longer guides to each neighborhood below with information about our favourite things to do in each, as well as our three favourite accommodation picks for each area.
Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the seven best neighbourhoods in Singapore. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.
Marina Bay is Singapore’s newest district – and has already taken its place as the premier tourist destination in the city! For first time visitors, Marina Bay will be the most recognisable neighborhood where you can see the iconic city skyline and visit some of the best known attractions in the city.
Marina Bay is also the best connected neighborhood – with a large MRT station serving as the terminus for many routes across the country! Whilst the definitions of Marina Bay as an area are vague, for this guide we include much of the Central Business District as this is also a great area for first time visitors to gather their bearings.
Whether you are looking for nightlife, great cuisine or high-flying attractions, Marina Bay is easily one of the most exciting destinations in the city! This is where you can grab those all important Instagram shots and truly live the high life.
This gorgeous studio is in a prime location only two minutes walk from Marina Bay! It is also close to the Central Business District, making this a great place for business travellers to stay in Singapore.
Though it is quite small, this modern studio comes well equipped with a reasonably sized kitchen and great bathroom. The host has superhost status, which AirBnB only awards to hosts with excellent reviews and high levels of service.
Planning a trip? See our list of the best things to see in Singapore!
Marina Bay is a notoriously expensive area in an already expensive city, so there aren’t really any budget hotels – however, this pod hotel by Bugis is a great alternative if you really just need somewhere to sleep and don’t want to break the bank!
This is one of the highest rated pod hostels in the city, and is only a short walk away from the Marina Bay entertainment area. Breakfast is also included.
This hotel is an attraction in its own right – with three iconic towers and a huge pool deck on top, it forms one of the most recognisable parts of the Singapore skyline.
Alongside the Instagram famous infinity pool on the rooftop, this hotel also has its own shopping mall, museum and casino – as well as twenty restaurants! This is absolutely only one for those that want to splash out, but is well worth the extra expense.
Newton and Novena are two large neighborhoods that are usually reserved for residential purposes, but have recently seen a few hotels and tourist attractions spring up! For budget conscious travellers, these areas can both be easily reached by MRT and also provide some of the cheapest accommodation options in the city.
Newton and Novena are close to Orchard Road – giving you easy access to the largest shopping street in the city! Whilst they don’t have many big tourist attractions, this is often considered part of the charm with visitors that want to discover local culture and see a more authentic side to the city.
Both Newton and Novena are incredibly multicultural, and act as major housing areas for the city’s workers! As such, not only are the bars and restaurants in the area cheaper than the city centre – but in many cases, they’re also livelier. This is a great choice for off-the-beaten-path visitors.
This gorgeous apartment is also a bit further out in Novena – but this results in a calm and peaceful atmosphere, which is still well connected to the city by MRT! The interiors are modern and comfortable, and the apartment itself comes with great views of the city.
Sleeping up to two people, this is an excellent option for young couples that want to save some money. It also has an Italian dry kitchen.
Wyndham is known for their budget friendly comfort across the world, and this hotel is a great option for those that want to visit Singapore without splashing out!
Though it is quite far out from the city centre in the Novena district, it is only a minute away from an MRT station, keeping you well connected with destinations across the city. Rooms are well equipped with comfortable furnishings and modern technology, and breakfast is included.
This four star hotel in Newton is a great option if you are happy to splash out a little on some luxury without going overboard! They offer a variety of studio apartments that are fully serviced and come with all of the features you would expect from a normal hotel.
There is a sauna on-site, as well as an infinity pool with a glass bottom. A complimentary buffet breakfast is included in the rate.
Once an industrial wasteland, Santosa has recently been redeveloped into a major tourism hub in Singapore! Whilst this does result in it being one of the most expensive neighborhoods for visitors, it is well worth the extra expense for anyone that just wants to kick back and have fun in the nation’s playground.
For families, Sentosa is one of the easiest places to stay! Away from the city centre, it maintains a calm atmosphere despite its touristy reputation. It is also packed with great entertainment venues – including the only theme park in the city, the oldest casino and plenty of cultural venues.
Locals don’t completely avoid Sentosa either – and the island is popular with Singaporean residents that want to hit the beach! It contains the three most popular beaches across the island, making it the perfect destination year round amongst the tropical humidity of the city. If you want an easy-going getaway, Sentosa is the place to be.
Whilst there aren’t any AirBnBs in Sentosa itself, this house is just across the bridge and is well connected to the island by public transport!
This apartment is arranged with families in mind, and comes with all the equipment you need for young children such as high seats and kids cutlery. Discounted taxi services are available to guests, meaning you can reach Universal Studios in five minutes.
Whilst there aren’t any budget hotels in Sentosa, this four star accommodation is a great option if you’re not quite ready to splash out on one of the pricier options!
Though it is only recently opened, it already has plenty of excellent reviews thanks to their great levels of service. The hotel has a natural theme, with greenery around every corner. The large pool area is popular with families and comes with slides.
As an area purpose built for tourism, Sentosa has its fair share of five star hotels! Capella Singapore is easily one of the best rated by previous guests, and will leave you feeling like a VIP from the second you walk in the door.
Surrounded by greenery, it makes the best of the tropical climate with a private beach for guest use. There is also an award winning spa and a whopping three swimming pools.
Cutting straight through the Central Business District, Riverside is where Singapore’s local population come to party! It is also popular with tourists, and is a must visit for anyone that likes to party. Its central location also means it is packed with great hotels to suit a variety of budgets – allowing you to stay close to the action.
Clarke Quay is easily the most popular nightlife destination in Riverside, and where you will find the majority of the bars, nightclubs and restaurants!
This colourful neighborhood lights up in the evenings, featuring many different venues with various music styles and even the odd drink offer here and there. Boat Quay and Robertson Quay also offer great options for those looking for something a bit more laid back.
During the day, Riverside is a surprisingly quiet area whilst the local residents are at work! There are some great river tours based in the area, as well as restaurants where you can eat away your hangover.
Despite being the biggest nightlife destination, Riverside is your best bet if you want to relax in a calm neighborhood during the day.
Featuring stylish interiors and well positioned plants, this bright and airy apartment is a great place to unwind after a long day exploring the city – or, indeed, a long night of partying in the local hotspots!
It can sleep up to six guests, making it a popular choice with large groups wanting to hit the town in SIngapore. The large window gives guests unparalleled views of Riverside and towards Marina Bay.
This gorgeous three star hotel comes with fantastic guest reviews thanks to the impeccable service standards! The interiors are decorated to represent the grass and plant life that Singapore is famous for, giving the rooms a bright and airy atmosphere.
Rooms come with modern conveniences – including a spacious bathroom. There’s also a communal terrace where you can admire views of the city.
Swissotel are a well known luxury hotel brand across the world – and their Riverside offering will have you right in the heart of the main nightlife zone in Singapore!
A stone’s throw away from Clarke Quay, this modern hotel comes with great reviews from previous guests. The large pool, in particular, is popular and there is also a spa centre and a two story fitness suite. A complimentary breakfast buffet is provided.
Named after the nutmeg orchards that used to line the street, Orchard Road is still a leafy neighborhood that reflects the nature loving spirit of Singapore! As one of the biggest shopping destinations in the city, Orchard Road is probably the most visited neighborhood outside of the Downtown area.
Orchard road stretches for 2.2km, and contains a truly eclectic mix of shops! Whether you want luxury, high street or bargain finds, there’s something for everyone along this vibrant neighborhood. This neighborhood is packed with locals and tourists alike every weekend trying to find the perfect clothing, souvenirs and electronics.
Aside from shopping, Orchard Road also offers some interesting cultural attractions! As you get to the end of the road, you will find a more residential district with some colonial style housing.
This area also has some great museums and locally owned art galleries where you can check out the work of up and coming artists from across Singapore.
This gorgeous apartment is just off Orchard Road, and only a two minute walk from the main shopping area! It is popular with couples visiting the city thanks to the cosy atmosphere.
The building it is located in has a tennis court and gym that can be used by guests of the apartment. A complimentary breakfast is also included on weekdays, and for those on a long term stay it is cleaned weekly.
Holiday Inn are a popular brand across the world – and their Express brand focuses on providing comfort without the trimmings to pass on affordable rates on their rooms!
This hotel is located right on Orchard Road, giving you immediate access to one of the best shopping strips in the city. There is a fitness suite on-site that runs all day everyday, and they provide breakfast every morning with vegetarian, halal and gluten free options.
With many hotels in Singapore commanding eye-watering prices, this hotel is a great option if you want a luxurious experience that won’t leave you bankrupt!
Aside from the gorgeous infinity pool, dry cleaning and car rental services are also available to guests. Rooms are well equipped with modern conveniences, as well as gorgeous floor to ceiling windows that let in plenty of natural light.
Whilst the Chinese population make up the largest ethnic group in Singapore, Chinatown still retains a unique character that can’t be found anywhere else in the city!
This was the designated Chinese neighborhood in the city during British colonial rule, and has managed to keep some of its traditions and authentic atmosphere since.
As with many Chinatowns around the world, this area is one of the best in Singapore for food! What makes this neighborhood different is that it isn’t exclusively Chinese food on offer – but rather a good mix of all the different cultures represented in the city.
The Chinatown food scene is truly a microcosm of the country as a whole.
Food aside, Chinatown naturally hosts some of the more unique cultural attractions in the city – though these can be quite touristy these days! Nevertheless, there are some hidden gems if you look beyond the two main tourist strips (Pagoda Street and Smith Street) and embed yourself in this fascinating neighborhood.
This gorgeous, ultra modern apartment can host up to eight guests across three rooms – perfect for large groups and families planning on staying in the food hub of Singapore!
The host has superhost status thanks to the excellent reviews remarking on how bright and modern this apartment is. The door is secured by an electronic lock with a code – perfect if you are arriving late and need a quick check in.
This petite little hotel is a great choice if you want somewhere basic, but affordable, to stay close to the city centre! All of the rooms come with a dedicated work space, making it a great option for digital nomads and business travellers. The front desk offers discounts on local tours and can help you book taxis 24/7. They offer some single rooms – which are perfect for solo travellers on a budget – as well as family rooms.
KēSa House is a great example of how budget friendly Chinatown is – despite being right in the heart of the city! This four star hotel seems like a typical colonial building from the outside, but the rooms inside are beautifully decorated in a modern style.
They offer complimentary refreshments throughout the day, as well as some basic concierge services. This has left them with some excellent customer reviews.
Like Chinatown – but for the Indian community instead – Little India is a cultural enclave within the cosmopolitan city! Little India has also opened up more to other cultures in the past few years, whilst still maintaining a unique atmosphere and interesting attractions that make it one of the coolest places in Singapore.
Little India hasn’t succumbed to the major tourism that Chinatown sees, so it has a more authentic vibe in general! This makes it a great option for off-the-beaten-path tourists that want to see the real side of the city.
Whilst this is more restricted to the Indian community, it borders both the city centre and Novena, giving it a little bit more of a multicultural feel these days.
Also like Chinatown, Little India has an extensive culinary scene – though this is much more limited to Indian cuisine. Nevertheless, the perfect day in Little India definitely involves hopping around some of the most renowned restaurants in the area! For those that want to enjoy Singapore’s cosmopolitan atmosphere without the crowds, Little India is a great option.
Live the high life with this gorgeous penthouse right in the heart of Singapore! Located on the boundary between Little India and Downtown Singapore, this apartment is perfect for staying close to the city centre on a modest budget.
It can sleep up to six guests across three bedrooms, making it an excellent option for both large groups and families planning a longer trip in the city.
This is truly one of the most beautiful three star hotels in the city, and is an absolute steal if you’re looking for a budget friendly pick in one of Singapore’s coolest neighborhoods!
Rooms are well equipped with modern conveniences – including powerful showers and bidets in the bathrooms. The decor is somewhat industrial, but beautifully designed to reflect a modern elegance.
This gorgeous five star hotel is located right above an MRT Station, giving you quick access to most other neighborhoods in the city! For this reason, it is popular with business travellers – but also has some great things to offer regular tourists.
It comes with five restaurants, a spa and fitness centre and a large pool. Rooms are also well equipped, many of which come with their own spa baths and walk-in wardrobes.
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Singapore is a truly eclectic destination with plenty to offer visitors! More than just a gateway to Southeast Asia, Singapore offers plenty of fantastic entertainment attractions, delectable restaurants and awe-inspiring cultural highlights.
Easily one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, Singapore is bursting with things to do that this will definitely not be your first visit to the Southeast Asian gem.
In terms of the best area, we’re pretty stuck – but if we were forced to pick an answer, we love Little India! This neighborhood is one of the few city centre areas to have avoided major tourism numbers, giving it a more authentic atmosphere with plenty of great locally owned restaurants, boutiques and bars.
That being said, each area mentioned in this guide has its own charms – and where you end up will largely depend on what you are looking for! Whether you want a culinary adventure, somewhere laid back to relax after a bigger trip or simply the chance to hit the sights, we hope this guide has helped you narrow down your itinerary.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
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Born in Los Angeles, Aaron Hovanesian is one of the original staff writers for Hotel Jules. Having backpacked the world as a young man, Aaron now prefers to travel the world in luxury, proudly staying in the world's most amazing hotels and properties.When Aaron is not traveling he lives in Western Colorado he can be found brewing his own beer (probably an IPA) or spending time with his two amazing golden retrievers.