Trip Ideas

7 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Singapore RIGHT NOW

If there was ever a "best" time to make the long trek to the Lion City, it's now. New flights, a fresh look for one of the world's best hotels, and big movie buzz have thrown tiny Singapore into the spotlight, and the island city-state couldn't be any more ready for its close-up. Here, seven undeniable reasons why Singapore is the destination of the year.

Senior Editor, Jetsetter | @lindseytravels |

See recent posts by Lindsey Olander

1. Singapore Airlines just launched a new nonstop flight from the U.S.

In 2018, Singapore Airlines made international headlines when it launched the longest flight in the world—a nonstop route from Newark, New Jersey to Changi International Airport with an in-flight time of 17 hours and 25 minutes. Not prepared to be in the air quite that long? Say hello to the airline’s latest feat: a new nonstop leg between Seattle-Tacoma and Singapore that clocks in at just under 16 hours. The inaugural flight left the runway in September, finally connecting Southeast Asia to the Pacific Northwest. If you’re coming from the eastern seaboard, think of that overnight in Seattle as the perfect way to break up the connection.

To make the journey even easier, the airline also partnered with renowned wellness brand Canyon Ranch to design in-flight sleep and stretch exercises as well as healthy meals developed by Canyon Ranch’s own chefs. The selections change depending on seasonality, but when Jetsetter flew, options included prawn ceviche with lavosh, seared chicken with lemon vinaigrette, and delicious juices including a hydrating cranberry bitter mocktail (Seattle to Singapore) and an agave-ginger lemonade (Singapore to Seattle) packed with vitamin C and antioxidants.

Bedroom at Raffles Singapore
Bar at Raffles Singapore
Pool at Raffles Singapore
Exterior of Raffles Singapore

2. The city’s best hotel is back—and better than ever

Two years feels like an eternity when you’re waiting on something spectacular, and that’s how long the world had to endure before Singapore’s esteemed Raffles Hotel reopened following its latest renovation. The wait, we can say from first-hand experience, was worth it. The 1887 landmark has turned over a glamorous new leaf: rooms are brighter and airier, suites feature new enhancements and butlers for every guest, and an overhauled food and beverage program includes destination restaurants like La Dame de Pic (French), 藝 yì By Jereme Leung (Chinese), and BBR by Alain Ducasse (Mediterranean) along with new details for old classics such as herringbone floors in the Tiffin Room and plantation-inspired patterns on the historic Long Bar, where the Singapore Sling was famously invented.

RELATED: 7 Iconic Hotel Reopenings We Can’t Stop Talking About

Don’t fret: despite new trimmings and trappings, the hotel’s colonial heritage was kept perfectly intact. You’ll still find the iconic turbaned doorman in his white uniform manning the entrance along with the gravel driveway, which harkens back to when horse-and-buggies would come and park there. 

Shiseido Forest at Changi Airport

3. The Jewel at Changi Airport is worth the flight alone

Air travel can be a slog, especially when you’re preparing for (or coming off of) a 16-hour flight, but the Singapore Changi Airport does the impossible: it makes you want to stay even longer. How? It could be the rooftop pool and jacuzzi or the 24-hour movie theaters. It could be the sheer quality and quantity of shops and restaurants including a Hello Kitty-themed café, Singapore’s only Shake Shack, and six dining halls.

Bouncing Nets at Changi Airport
Jewel at Changi Airport

However, all of that pales in comparison to the Jewel, a brand-spanking-new shopping and entertainment complex inside Terminal 1. It’s all built around the world’s highest indoor waterfall and four-story garden, which features (among many things) a hedge maze, sculptural playscapes, a glass-bottomed bridge, and “sky nets” that you can bounce and walk on. There’s so much fun to be had, in fact, that locals recommend arriving at least five hours before your flight so you can properly experience it all. (There’s even a Yotelair hotel, where travelers can book a napping room or an overnight stay up to 24 hours before departure.) No wonder they call it the world’s best airport.

Exterior of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
helix bridge at marina bay, singapore
Panoramic view of urban landscape in Singapore.

4. The architectural landscape keeps getting better and better

For a country so small (read: roughly half the size of L.A.), Singapore’s skyline sure packs a visual punch. We can’t get enough of architectural feats like Marina Bay Sands, whose surfboard-like tower complex has become of the most recognizable structures in the world, to Gardens by the Bay—a 250-acre nature park that includes the largest glass greenhouse on Earth. Even bridges get their time to shine. The Helix Bridge near Merlion Park was built to echo strings of DNA, while Henderson Waves—the pedestrian bridge linking Mount Faber and Telok Blangah Hill parks—is a study in how design can improve its environment. Let’s not forget the heritage shophouses on Katong, Joo Chiat, Amoy, and Telok Ayer streets, whose Peranakan tiles, French windows, and Malay timber fretwork show just how many cultures have thrived in this tiny city-state.

RELATED: Incredible Places to Visit in Singapore

5. The buzz from “Crazy Rich Asians” is still palpable

Want to live out your own version of the 2018 smash-hit romcom? It’s easy to go scene-spotting around the city, from Merlion Park to Supertree Grove. These vertical gardens, built to look like towering trees and come alive at night in a thrilling display of lights, were used as the backdrop for the movie’s over-the-top wedding reception. It’s also worth checking out Chijimes, a 19th-century Gothic-style chapel (now an events space) that stood in for the movie’s big wedding ceremony. Snap a photo of the chapel’s stark-white archways and stained-glass windows, then head to one of the connecting restaurants and bars for a pick-me-up.

A grill and skewer expert at work on Lau Pa Sat hawker center's famous Satay Street. Singapore.

6. The city is ground zero for experiencing one of 2019’s biggest travel trends: food tourism

Increasingly, food dictates how and where we travel. Hotels are now putting their restaurants front and center and diversifying their options—just look at all those rooftop restaurants and basement speakeasies. Popular tours now include chef-led cooking classes and home-cooked meals with locals. When people talk about great food cities, Singapore always comes out on top thanks to its melting pot of flavors best enjoyed at one of hundreds of hawker centers—one-stop shops for incredible street food. Two of our favorites are Lau Pa Sat downtown and the Newton Food Centre, where you can taste everything from Chinese and Indian to Malay, Peranakan, and Eurasian specialties.

RELATED: America’s Best Food Cities of 2019

Singapore skyline at night view from the Garden by the bay.

7. 2019 marks Singapore’s Bicentennial

Nothing deserves celebrating quite like a milestone birthday. This year marks 200 years since Sir Stamford Raffles arrived and founded the city in 1819. Although major parades have come and gone, there are still multiple ways to get in on the action. Our picks: the multi-sensory From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience at the Fort Canning Centre as well as the nightly iLight show that takes place on the marina.

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