Singapore expat bucket list

By: Janine Clements

There are certain things that should feature on every expat’s list of things to do while they live in Singapore, things that are unique to this fascinating island, things to try, to visit and to experience. Here's the top 10: 

Try Chilli Crab

This is one Singaporean delicacy that is not to be missed. Put your plastic bib and gloves on and get stuck in. Yes, Chilli Crab is messy, but it’s truly delicious. The Chilli Crab at Red House in Robertson Quay is highly recommended.

Fill your boots at a hotel Sunday Brunch

Singapore’s decadent hotel Sunday brunches are legendary. All the top hotels put them on each weekend. Forget about your waistline for a day and instead imbibe free-flow champagne and gorge on seafood, meats and divine deserts. Many of the hotels have a supervised kids playroom or plenty of entertainment so even parents can relax and enjoy themselves.

Every expat’s mission should be to do as many hotel Sunday Brunches as possible whilst living in Singapore.

Visit Pulau Ubin

Take a step back in time and take a bumboat to Pulau Ubin. Just ten minutes away, this island is a sanctuary for nature lovers and the place where you can find Singapore’s last remaining traditional villages, or Kampongs, as they are known.

Initially earmarked for redevelopment, the process of resettling the villages to the main land commenced in the early 1980’s. This process was halted due to public outcry but may one day recommence. Today there are less than 45 families living in Pulau Ubin.

Go biking, bird-watching or camping, and get glimpse in to how life was in the sixties.

Enjoy it while you can!

Watch the ThaiPusam festival

ThaiPusam must be a contender for the world’s most bizarre festival and Singapore is home to one of the world’s biggest ThaiPusam celebrations. Taking place at the end of January each year, this Hindu festival is an extraordinary visual spectacle. Devotees pierce their bodies with multiple skewers, which are then attached to a heavy Kadavi. They then walk in a 3km procession from Little India to River Valley Road and it’s not uncommon to see them collapse with exhaustion (and possibly pain) enroute. It’s noisy, crazy and there’s a great atmosphere. It’s not to be missed.

Go trick-or-treating at Woodlands

If you’re a fan of Halloween, head to Woodlands for Singapore’s ultimate trick-or-treating experience. The residents (nearly all Americans) put huge effort into decorating their homes and gardens for this extraordinary Halloween event. An entire street is closed and security is called in as residents dish out bucket loads of sweets to eager children. Attended by thousands, there’s a real street party atmosphere and it’s so much fun.

Visit Changi War Museum

Dedicated to all those who lived and died in Singapore during World War II, this museum tells the story of more than 50,000 civilians and soldiers who were Prisoners-of-War during the Japanese Occupation. The Singapore of today is a world away from what it used to be, and Changi War Museum will give expats a deeper appreciation of this part of Singapore’s history during an event that had an impact on the world.

Watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix Night Race

Even if you’re not an F1 fan, the experience of going to the Grand Prix’s only night race is like nothing else you’ve ever experienced. It’s a street circuit and goes past many of the major landmarks in the fascinating colonial district and there are plenty of prime viewing points.  It’s noisy, it’s thrilling and there’s a superb line up of international acts each year, ranging from Katy Perry and Rihanna to Maroon 5 and The Killers. You can also walk up the racetrack when the race is finished.

Top tip: What many people don’t realise is that you can go on the Singapore Flyer for free!

Throw a party on a catamaran

Every expat who lives in Singapore should have at least one party on a luxury catamaran. And if you don’t organise for your own party, make sure you wangle an invitation to someone else’s. Whether it’s a day trip with a barbecue, sunbathing and swimming or a classier affair by night as you sail up the coast, it will give you memories that will last much longer than your time in Singapore.

Eat Durian

Durian is known as Singapore’s national fruit. Even the Esplanade theatre is designed in the shape of a Durian.

You can’t go into a supermarket or into China Town without inhaling its overpowering, retch-inducing odour. The smell is so strong that you’re not allowed to take it on trains or into hotels.

The Durian fruit has a prickly exterior and a creamy texture that supposedly tastes like sweet custard, but for most people, the pungent smell is more akin to rotting flesh and makes most of us keep a wide berth. BUT, every expat needs to try it (just once) while they are living in Singapore. If you can’t face the thought of trying the fruit, then less offensive alternatives include Durian icecream or Durian puffs

Travel, travel, travel

Singapore is in a prime position for travelling to so many incredible places cheaply and easily. Deserted beaches, bustling cities, ancient history and endless natural wonders are all easily accessible. In five hours you can be in Chengdu in China to see the pandas; in three you can reach Burma to explore endless historic sites or be in Borneo to see the Orang-Utans; in just over two hours you can arrive in bustling Bangkok or touch down in Cambodia’s awe-inspiring temples in Siem Reap; and in under an hour you can be in Langkawi for some R&R.

Expats should make the most of living in such an amazing location and travel as much as they can.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingJanine Clements is a British expat living in Singapore. Blog description: British expat mum & wife blogs about family life in singapore. Reviews, news, opinions, family holidays & travel, parenting, shopping and having fun.
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Contest Comments » There are 50 comments

Sarah Walker wrote 10 years ago:

I love this blog because it is fun and entertaining!

Francine wrote 10 years ago:

I love this blog, it's entertaining yet informative and realistic.

Brynie Fidan wrote 10 years ago:

I love this blog because it's reminding me just how fantastic Singapore is!

Nessa wrote 10 years ago:

I really enjoy reading this blog. It's always fun and full of new tips for the best places to go in Singapore.

Ashley OReilly wrote 10 years ago:

Janine has made me excited about my 2014 weekends! There is obviously a lot more to SingaBore than is immediately obvious. I moved here from HK in May 2013 and thought there was more to do in HK until I read Janine's summary. I love the "travel travel travel" idea.. SE Asia here I come.

Fleur Vella wrote 10 years ago:

Great blog! Wonderful source of information for where to go and what to do in Singapore.

Kirsty Evans wrote 10 years ago:

A great blog, always an entertaining read with top tips, reminding me what a wonderful place Singapore is!

Vanessa wrote 10 years ago:

Another great post from a top expat blog! I still have great memories from the swanky catamaran soirée I managed to wangle an invitation to. ;)

Maja wrote 10 years ago:

Great tips, still few things to do and places to visit..., great job. Thanks!

Samantha A wrote 10 years ago:

thankyou for some great ideas - my birthday on a yacht - don't mind if I do!

Genevieve Brock wrote 10 years ago:

Thanks for this, great post. As a newbie this is going to be very handy for me!

Christine Falzon wrote 10 years ago:

So many great ideas! It has given me enough reasons to come back to Singapore.

Stacey wrote 10 years ago:

Well I've done 5 from the list but not a fan of Halloween really so might give that one a miss ;) 21st Century Mummy is a daily read for me - 2 thumbs up!

Katrina Glassick wrote 10 years ago:

I love 21st century mummy, my go to blogger for new and interesting things to do in Singapore and around the region. Going to start working my way through the things to do on this fantastic bucket list!

Janet Hong wrote 10 years ago:

This is a great blog! Very entertaining and lots of ideas and useful tips!

Emilia Law wrote 10 years ago:

Such a great blog for Singapore related info - very talented author!

Claudia Walshe wrote 10 years ago:

Great list. Excited to try out some new things. Done durian and won't do it again. High on my bucket list is chilli crab at no signboard restaurant at the Esplanade.

Angela wrote 10 years ago:

Great blog. Definitely wanting to go to Pulau Ubin and Changi War museum.

Paula wrote 10 years ago:

Well done... , Janine has managed to entertain us with these ideas for making our small "home away from home" interesting again! Paula McAdam

Karen wrote 10 years ago:

Great ideas and well recommended - useful info from the blog as always.

Trudi wrote 10 years ago:

Quite the A List! Love the ex-pat tidbits which make me want to respond or rant, or just chuckle along with. Thumbs down to Durian, but thumbs up 21stCM.

Nicole Schollum wrote 10 years ago:

Wow, I thought I knew all the big things to see and do in Singapore but the ThaiPusam Festival was a new one for me. The tip about the Singapore Flyer was a revelation. Thanks Janine!

Linda Legaspi wrote 10 years ago:

I have done 6 and 4 more to go!! Thanks for the useful information.

Deborah wrote 10 years ago:

Excellent Blog! I'm so looking forward to experiencing some/all of the things on Janine's list of places to visit and things to do when I am in Singapore for Christmas and New Year - some wonderful ideas! Keep the ideas coming!

Anja wrote 10 years ago:

Great tips which will come in handy one day - hopefully for me!

Amy Pickett wrote 10 years ago:

As a busy mom of two toddlers and first time expat this had been my go to blog since moving to Singapore two years ago. All of Janine's articles have been not only relevant to my family but to our visitors as well. Out of a sea of internet blogs this has remained my number one spot and will probably continue even after we move on.

JAnina Howell wrote 10 years ago:

The best blog around. So informative and easy to read. Thanks Janine. More of the same please!

Elin Jones wrote 10 years ago:

I follow a number of blogs from around the globe just to keep in touch with various activities, tips and advice. I love this particular blog for its variety.

Terri-Anne wrote 10 years ago:

I love this blog & love this article, need to tick a few more of those things off my Singapore list - especially the boat party!!

Helen Wainwright wrote 10 years ago:

Great tips and advice, Great Blog, no need for Trip Advisor

Elena Cardnell wrote 10 years ago:

This blog has given me so many ideas of new activities to try out. Since moving here in march I have been an avid follower. Working through the bucket list now, only managed 4 so far. As a busy mum and first time expat this blog has been my how to guide to singapore!

Nicole S wrote 10 years ago:

A great entertaining blog - terrific balance between informative and fun. Always look forward to new articles!

Tiffany Kapadia wrote 10 years ago:

Great blog! always fun and interesting and gives inspiring ideas of what to do in Singapore and with the children.

Anna-Karin Birnik wrote 10 years ago:

Great article covering a wide range of things to fo and experience while living in Singapore. I have been here almost 8 years and there a re a few things on the list I haven't done yet.

Natalie Bayliss wrote 10 years ago:

I think I have some work to do. Quite a few things on this list I haven't covered yet!

Mike wrote 10 years ago:

An informative and interesting blob. Well written too. Great feedback from all my friends. A must for expats in or vsisting Singapore

Delphine Hastwell wrote 10 years ago:

A great read very informative with lots of practical tips and places to go !!

Sinead wrote 10 years ago:

Great article - loved the tip about the Catamarans - I think I'll put that on my list for 2014

Leigh Du Toit wrote 10 years ago:

Great to have a blog like this to get some great expat information.. Keep up the good work!

Wendy wrote 10 years ago:

I always love to turn to this blog for fresh ideas! Extremely reliable recommendations - I have never once been disappointed after following the tips here!

Linda Petrie wrote 10 years ago:

I always find the blog very informative, easy to read with great tips and recommendations. Very useful for a time pressured working mother!

Susan Clements wrote 10 years ago:

An excellent post! Good, vivid description of things to do and see in Singapore. Valuable information, of use to both people new to Singapore and those who may already be familiar with the place.

Livvy Duncton wrote 10 years ago:

Fantastic blog, full of great ideas and very enticing stuff. It certainly encourages those stuck in the UK to do some travelling. If only I had something as good as this when I was travelling!

Lynn wrote 10 years ago:

Wow! Some great ideas for things to do in Singapore, many of which I have not yet tried. Thanks for ideas I can add to my list. Great blog.

Victoria Walder wrote 10 years ago:

Very useful and informative. I thought I had a list of things to do/see but I shall certainly be adding to it. Thanks

Nicola wrote 10 years ago:

Brilliant article, it's making me dream of eating chili crab!

Michelle wrote 10 years ago:

As usual a great read, great ideas, most helpful thanks !!!

Roo wrote 10 years ago:

Great blog and very interesting reads. I wish I could spend more time in Singapore.

Rae wrote 10 years ago:

Loved this article! A great reminder of the many things Singapore has to offer... after 3 years there's still so much more for us to explore in 2014.

Josie Jacobs wrote 10 years ago:

I loved this blog because it gave me some really interesting tips/experiences to explore. It made me see Singapore in a new light and reminded me just how great this place is.

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