We found Singapore to be an oddity when it comes to LGBTQ rights. On the one hand, there is a large thriving LGBTQ community here, with lots of gay bars, clubs and events taking place throughout the year. On the other hand, homosexuality is illegal (for men only!), punishable with up to 2 years imprisonment!
In reality, the anti-gay law of Singapore is rarely enforced and strong efforts have been (and continue to be) made to get rid of it. We found Singapore to be super gay. Put it this way, when we were hanging out in Kuala Lumpur's gay scene, the drag queens we met told us that Singapore is one of the places in Asia they aspire to perform in, citing it as one of the continent's gay meccas…kinda like Dubai is for the Arab world.
We put this down to the country being so affluent, with many big companies having their Asian headquarters here, like Google, Bloomberg, Barclays, and many more. In addition, the Singaporeans are very well educated and affluent (have you SEEN some of the prices in this country?). They’re also a very internationally minded bunch, with English as the official language: it’s estimated that every 2 out of 5 people in Singapore are foreigners.
In this gay guide to Singapore, we explore the LBGTQ rights in more detail, write about our experience travelling here as a gay couple and also set out some of the best gay hotels, bars, clubs, events, and more.
Gay rights in Singapore
Homosexuality is legal for women, illegal for men in Singapore. This is because section 377A of the Penal Code punishes male homosexuality with up to 2 years imprisonment but is silent about female homosexuality.
Attempts have been made to repeal Section 377A, but the government has insisted on keeping it. In June 2019, at the Smart Nation Summit, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reiterated that Singapore would keep Section 377A “for some time”, arguing that:
“Whoever you love or are attracted to, you're welcome to come and work in Singapore…You know our rules in Singapore. It is the way this society is: we are not like San Francisco, neither are we like some countries in the Middle East. We are something in between, it is the way the society is”!
In addition, Singapore has no anti-discrimination laws to protect its LGBTQ community, nor any laws recognising gay relationships.
On the upside, Singapore introduced the right to change your legal gender in 2003, and in late 2018, the courts ruled in favour of a gay Singaporean man to adopt a child he fathered through a surrogate.
Is Singapore safe for gay travellers?
Whilst Singapore seems so conservative, ironically it’s one of the gay meccas of Asia, with a handful of gay hangouts like Tantric, Dorothy's and Taboo. It also has a number of prominent LGBTQ events taking place throughout the year, like the annual Pride in August called IndigNation and Pink Dot SG every May.
As a gay couple travelling in Singapore, we found it to be extremely safe. Crime is very low here, the people incredibly polite and respectful. As it's so international with a large ex-pat community, it felt more like we were in a big cosmopolitan city rather than in a conservative Asian metropolis. Maybe we could have walked the streets holding hands without any problems, but we opted not to given the anti-gay laws. And we advise you do the same when in Singapore – best leave any PDAs for the queer-friendly spaces.
Gay hotels in Singapore
Singapore does not have any outright all-male gay hotels as you'd find in Berlin or Fort Lauderdale. However, most high-end hotels in Singapore are more than accustomed to LGBTQ travellers given how international the country is. Just be prepared – they ain't cheap!
On the higher end, the bulk of the luxury hotels in Singapore are pretty damn lush, with most featuring an infinity pool looking out to the unique city skyline. If you're on a tight budget and don't want to stay in a claustrophobic hostel (remember, space is tight and pricey in Singapore – similar to Hong Kong and Tokyo), consider basing yourself in Johor Bahru, which is the nearest city in Malaysia, around 1 hour away by bus.
These are some of the best gay friendly hotels we recommend in Singapore based on our own experience and recommendations from fellow gay travellers we met along the way:
Why we love it
- Beautiful and luxurious resort with relaxing spa
- 2 restaurants and a pool-side bar
- Free shuttle services into the city
- Fabulous and huge outdoor pool
As an offshoot of the very gay friendly Marriott hotel brand, we love staying at W Hotels around the world. And the W Singapore is right up there with the best of the best!
Located on Sentosa, Singapore's exclusive resort island, the W Singapore is a huge 5-star resort with a fabulous outdoor pool area. There are loungers everywhere for working on your tan, as well as a bar serving up tasty poolside cocktails.
The Away Spa is absolute heaven. It's designed to feel like a rainforest, offering so many pampering options! There's a decompression area, sauna, steam room, vitality pool, herbal bath and experiential showers. Plus, you can have massages and beauty treatments. You can also have romantic couples massages together, then enjoy some drinks and nibbles in the garden outside.
Rooms at the W are gorgeous, with either sea or pool view, some with private balconies. One of the best things about the resort is that they provide free return shuttle services to Orchard Road, Vivo City Shopping Centre, Universal Studios Singapore and the Marina Bay Financial Centre. If you don't feel like leaving the resort there are also two on-site restaurants – our favourite was SKIRT for delicious steak and sustainable seafood.
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.
Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa
Why we love it
- Huge 5-star luxury resort
- Two swimming pools and water slides
- 6 restaurants and bars
- Gorgeous spa with holistic treatments
The other best gay friendly resort on Sentosa Island, in our personal opinion, is the 5-star Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa.
All the rooms and suites here feature balconies or private terraces, with many offering views over the swimming pool towards the beach and the South China Sea. The views over the tropical landscaped gardens are just as lovely if you don't want to pay a premium for the ocean views!
Rasa Sentosa is a huge resort with plenty of fun and relaxing activities to take part in. The gym is open 24 hours a day with big windows opening out onto the garden so you can feel like you're sweating it out in the jungle, just like Tarzan! As well as swimming in the pools, you can take part in nature walks, spend time on the beach, or head to Chi, the resort's spa, for a range of holistic treatments in a tranquil setting.
There are four different delicious restaurants on-site, so whether you're in the mood for Chinese, Italian, an international buffet or a la carte, you'll be filled up with yummy food no matter what. We loved the lotus-shaped Bubble Bar for a cheeky cocktail at sunset. Even though Sentosa Island is a bit out of the main part of Singapore, there are plenty of fun things to do on the island. Also worth noting, the Rasa Sentosa Resort provides free Sentosa monorail passes for its guests.
Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore by Shangri-La
Why we love it
- Trendy and gay friendly
- Rooftop infinity pool with amazing views
- Weekly pool parties
- On-site restaurant with local and western cuisine
One of our favourite places we stayed in Singapore was the medium budget Hotel Jen Orchardgateway. It's in a fantastic location right in the heart of shopping district Orchard Road and also boasts direct access to public transport so you can explore the rest of the city.
Housed in a big contemporary glass building, the best part about Hotel Jen has got to be the incredible rooftop infinity pool with amazing views across Singapore and comfy little nooks for relaxing.
We found Hotel Jen to be very gay friendly, and didn't feel uncomfortable at all to be staying there as a gay couple. It's also very trendy and quite quirky in some ways, with a robot butler that delivers room service! We also liked the well-equipped gym and the fact that you can join sunset yoga sessions beside the rooftop pool. You can also take part in an Aquaspin class or book in for a massage in the cabana beside the pool if you're feeling less energetic.
Makan@Jen is a fantastic restaurant with both local and western-style cuisine on offer, either buffet-style or a la carte. We loved the make-your-own salad bar and the regular buffet offers where you can enjoy things like lobster, brunch or high tea at great prices. There's also a cocktail bar next to the rooftop pool and a lounge on level 10, both wonderful for sunset drinks after a long day of shopping in the streets below!
The Scarlet Singapore
Why we love it
- Excellent medium-budget boutique hotel
- Gorgeous suites or luxurious rooms
- On-site gym and an outdoor hot tub
- Located in vibrant Chinatown neighbourhood
For those who want a touch of luxury without the hefty price tag, we recommend you check out The Scarlet Singapore boutique hotel.
Located in a pre-war shophouse, the entire hotel has been decorated with shades of passionate red, opulent gold and sophisticated black, which makes it feel quite theatrical. The reception area looks like a small ballroom, with marble floors and a huge glittering chandelier.
At The Scarlet, you can stay in beautiful rooms or grand suites, many with private balconies. The suites are incredible. There are only five and they each have a different theme: Lavish, Swank, Splendour, Passion and Opulent. But for a truly romantic experience, we definitely recommend Passion as it has its own private outdoor Jacuzzi! Even if you don't stay in one of the suites there's also another outdoor hot tub for guests to enjoy.
There's a gym that's open 24 hours to help you burn off all those Laksa calories and prepare to show off your tits when partying topless later at Taboo… The other reason we love The Scarlet is the location – right slap bang in the heart of Chinatown! It's not only walking distance to most of the main gay bars and clubs, but also close to the Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay areas. And calling all foodies – some of the best street food in Singapore is right on your doorstep!
The Pod @ Beach Road Boutique Capsule Hotel
Why we love it
- Elegant capsule hotel for budget travellers
- Lots of privacy and no party atmosphere
- Free buffet breakfast included
- Plenty of complimentary amenities
If you're travelling to Singapore on a budget but aren't usually a fan of hostels, we think you will fall in love with The Pod @ Beach Road Capsule Hotel.
Yes, there are bunk beds here, but they are not your usual hostel dorms, as everything is so elegant, clean and sturdy – with plenty of privacy. Here you get to sleep in cosy capsules, with single or double beds, a fold-down table for using your laptop, reading light and power socket.
There are also pod suites so you can be totally away from other guests, but you're only paying for the absolute necessities like a bed and tiny desk. Capsule hotels are becoming increasingly popular with travellers who just want a place to sleep but may not be interested in the party atmosphere of hostels. Everything about The Pod is clean, chic and modern, even the shared bathrooms.
You get a lot of bang for your buck here with a free buffet breakfast provided each morning, as well as complimentary amenities like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes and towels. There are laundry and business facilities for those who are staying for a while or might need to get some work done. The area around the hostel is called Kampong Glam, which is close to the Arab Quarter of Singapore in case you wanted to shop for a few Persian rugs…
Gay bars in Singapore
For a gay ‘ole time in Singapore, you wanna be heading to Chinatown. This is where the bulk of the country's gay bars can be found. And there are quite a few! For a small country with an explicit anti-gay law, it certainly packs a punch when it comes to gay bars. Here are the main ones we found and think you should try out:
Located on two floors of the same building in Singapore's gay street are Tantric Bar and May Wong's Café. On the ground floor is Tantric Bar, the most popular gay bar in Singapore which gets particularly busy on Fridays and Saturdays. It's got a super buzzy courtyard, where we loved hanging out. On the top floor is May Wong's Café, a classy cocktail bar inspired by the famous late US/Chinese Hollywood actress, Ms Anna May Wong. The cocktails are divine and probably one of our favourite places in the country for Singapore Sling tasting sessions (we had many of these here!)
Geeky but important fact: when Tantric first opened in 2004, it was the first LGBTQ establishment to fly the rainbow flag outside, and continues to do so to this very day. In your face Section 377A!
Tantric Bar and May Wong's Café is located at 78 Neil Road. They're both daily until 3am, and until 4am on Saturdays.
Are you a friend of Dorothy's? We quickly became her BEST friends with her after discovering this is the only bar in the whole of Singapore brave enough to offer Absinthe towers and shots! Warning though, you'll be less of a friend of Dorothy's when those hangovers kick in…
Dorothy's is another staple on the Singapore gay scene, located in the Chinatown area. It's actually the oldest gay bar in Singapore, having been around for over 20 years. We recommend heading here during their happy hours, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings when they have an all you can drink offer for SG$50 (£23/$36).
Dorothy's is located at 13a Trengganu Street and is open daily until 1am, and until 2am on Saturdays.
“There's no business like show business!”…think musical theatre posters on every wall, plus lots of semi-nude men…this is Backstage Bar a cosy hangout during the week and a buzzing hot spot on weekends. The staff are one of the highlights – cute, super cheeky and quite flirty! Be sure to try out a few Casablancas or Golden Girls Cheesecakes – they've named their cocktails after famous TV shows and movies. Then when you're done with those, wash them down with a few Blowjobs, Butt Plugs and Cockteasers for good measure (this being the name of their more famous shots!)
Backstage Bar is located in the back (duh!) of the building where Tantric is. You can get into Backstage Bar either through Tantric (78 Neil Road) or via the back entrance (ooh la la!) on Teck Lim Road. It's open daily until 3am and until 4am on Saturdays.
Lluvia is the Spanish word for rain, and the motto of this little gem of a bar is ‘there is no rainbow without rain'. We say there is no rainbow without our darling bear boys! And Lluvia completes this nicely cause this is THE go-to bar for the bears, cubs, otters, wolves, unicorns and mermaids (Seby is the unicorn, I'm the mermaid…). The atmosphere is totally chilled and down-to-earth, which is why we love coming here. And then there is the karaoke: do NOT try to challenge a Singaporean bear boy at karaoke, you will lose! These guys can sure belt out a few anthems…
Lluvia is located at 145 Telok Ayer Street and is open daily until 2am, and till 4am on weekends.
OUT Bar is where the Singaporean twink lads are most likely to hang out, especially on Saturdays. Lots of purples here, with the walls decked out with pop art portraits of gay icons (Madonna, Marilyn, Mariah etc). It's got quite a cool, trendy hip vibe going on, but we'll be honest, we felt like tired old Queens hanging out here! Most of the guys are young, like ‘barely legal' young – late teens or early twenties… What we did love about OUT Bar though is the music 'cause it is the only gay bar in Singapore that we could find that plays a mix of both Mandarin and English pop hits.
OUT bar is located at 43 Neil Road and is open daily until midnight, until 1am on Fridays, and until 2am on Saturdays.
Calling all karaoke queens – audition for the next Asia's Got Talent right here!
We're only joking, but Ebar is notorious for having some of the best karaoke nights in town! Similar to OUT bar, Ebar attracts a younger crowd, located in a converted shop directly opposite Tantric in Chinatown. Tip: if it's your birthday, show them your ID and they'll give you a few free shots to celebrate!
After midnight, Ebar transforms into a dancing venue apologetically blasting out cool house music till closing time.
Located at 57 Neil Road, Ebar is open daily (except Sundays) until 1am, until 2am on Fridays, and until 3am on Saturdays.
Gay clubs in Singapore
Whilst Singapore has a large chunk of gay bars, it's rather lacking on the gay club front. The main one is Taboo. In addition, be sure to check out the Hypertainment events 'cause when they happen, they're raucous – famous for being some of the largest gay parties in all of Asia!
Taboo is currently THE go-to gay club in Singapore. It's just across the road from Tantric, so most will head here after Tantric starts to wind up for the night. Look out for HandBag Nite on the 2nd Saturday of each month when they have some of the best drag queens from Asia performing. Other popular nights to look out for here include their iconic Tutti Frutti Nite on the 3rd Saturday of each month, and another favourite of ours, FLIRT Friday! Oh and if you're worried about spending too much on booze in Singapore (drinks ain't cheap here!), on weekends, entry includes an all you can drink “liquid buffet”!
Taboo is located at 65/67/67A Neil Road and is only open Wednesday to Saturday until 2am on Weds, midnight on Thurs/Fri and until 4am on Saturdays.
The Hypertainment team organises some of the best gay nights at various places across the country. The best one to look out for is their flagship party called Hyperise, which takes place at 1-Altitude. This place is super impressive, set in a massive tower block which has an impressive 360-degree view of the city skyline. To give you an idea – the rooftop bar at 1-Altitude is one of the tallest in the world, standing proud at 282m (925ft). There are two different party zones and events, often featuring guest appearances from famous queer artists.
1-Altitude is located at 1 Raffles Place and you can visit the rooftop bar every day from 6pm until late (2-4am), but for the Hyperise gay parties, keep an eye on the Hypertainment social channels.
Gay saunas in Singapore
We remind you that this is a country with an explicit anti-gay law in place. Despite this, Singapore has several gay saunas thriving. Some of the most popular are set out below:
Ten Mens Club (aka 10Mens Club), is targetted to the bear boys. They have regular themed nights like Bear Night on Tuesdays, Beefy Stocky Night on Thursdays and Skin Nights on Wednesdays/Saturdays. It features a steam room, private rooms, a maze, movie hall and rooftop garden area.
Ten Mens Club is located at 32A Pagoda Street and is open daily: Sunday–Thursday from midday until 11pm, then from midday until 2am on Friday and Saturday.
Shogun is another popular gay bear sauna, targetted towards the older lads. It's located just around the corner from 10Mens Club. Shogun is open 24 hours a day and gets super popular, especially on weekends. There are two different floors with facilities including a glory hole maze, an orgy room, outdoor shower, hot steam room and plenty of places for relaxing or hooking up. Not bad for a city where homosexuality is illegal, right?!
Shogun is located at 51A Pagoda Street and is open 24/7.
Hook Club (temporarily closed – updated 07/28/2020)
Hook Club is temporarily closed. As soon as we get an update from them, we'll update our guide straight away!
Hook Club is more of a cruising club than a sauna. We love that they call themselves a “private gentlemen’s club serving the discerning few”…a gentleman's club with a steam room of course, as well as a gym, maze, cosy cafe and a networking area(!) Each night has a different theme ranging from towel, underwear, speedo and their most popular: just skins!
Located at 285 New Bridge Road, Hook is open from 2pm–midnight on Sunday–Thursday and from 2pm–8am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Keybox (permanently closed – updated 08/04/2020)
One of the most popular gay saunas in Singapore, which attracts a younger crowd. The best time to come is around 3am when the gay clubs have closed and the party boys are looking for a place to hang out and play! It's also very big, with a large jacuzzi, dry sauna, steam room, TV room, a well-equipped gym and private cabins spread out over 5,000 square feet. Also, look out for some of their themed nights, like “Locals and Foreigners” on Mondays, “Gym Members” on Wednesdays, “Underwear/Swimwear” on Fridays and (ahem!) “Sunday Couple's Day”!
Keybox is located at 17 Upper Circular Road and is open daily from midday until 8am the following day.
Gay events in Singapore
We keep repeating this, but for a country with an anti-gay law, Singapore sure packs a punch when it comes to gay events! Along with the IndigNation Pride event in August, Singapore also features Pink Dot, which has become one of the most popular LGBTQ events in the whole of Asia! This is our roundup of some of the best gay events happening in Singapore throughout the year, which we recommend looking out for:
Circuit Parties – usually around April/May
April is when the largest gay parties take place over in Thailand for Songkran (imagine: huge parties with live DJs, muscle boys, a foam zone, GoGo dancers, drag queens and more). Singapore has taken a leaf out of Thailand's book and also hosts similar events around this time like “Bring Your Own Trunks”, “Top Up” or “BeachBall Singapore” (the latter coincided with the Buddhist Vesak day celebrations back in May 2019 when it was last held). While there isn't an official website, we recommend keeping an eye on Hypertainment's website for details of the next event.
Pink Dot SG – May/June/July
Pink Dot SG is an annual rally/festival that takes place in Hong Lim Park in the summer months. However, in recent years, a change in local laws has restricted attendance to just Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, but you might still be able to get if you know people locally. We hope they relax this law soon…! The Pink Dot team does however, organise other events during the year, such as queer film screenings, art exhibitions and even markets.
IndigNation – August
IndigNation is Singapore's month-long Pride festival taking place every August. There are usually talks, workshops, film screenings and other events taking place throughout the city, although currently there is a bit of a pause on programming so that the organisation can focus more on consulting with the local communities. But make sure you keep an eye on their Facebook page for details of the next events.
Gay restaurants in Singapore
Since Singapore is such a melting pot of cultures, you can bet you'll be able to find many amazing places to tempt your tastebuds. The only problem is going to be choosing from the wide variety on offer and cramming in as many recommendations as you can during your visit. We hope to help fuel your culinary inspiration with some of our personal favourite gay friendly restaurants in Singapore:
National Kitchen by Violet Oon
If you want to try traditional and authentic dishes from Singapore then you can't go past National Kitchen by Violet Oon. Violet Oon has been Singapore's food ambassador since 1988 and is pretty much the city's first celebrity chef with multiple restaurants and cookbooks to her name. We loved the colonial decor at her National Kitchen location, as well as the sumptuous Peranakan cuisine on the menu. One of our favourite dishes was the Sambal Kimchiam Udang salad, which was made with lily buds in a sweet, spicy dressing topped with prawns and starfruit… talk about a foodgasm!
One of the best gay restaurants in Singapore is Peppermint Park, a pizza joint run by the same fabulous management team behind Tantric gay bar. Their 12-inch pizzas are the stars of the show, with all the regular favourites. Unique ones to check out include their seafood pizzas, a fiery chicken and even a “big breakfast” pizza with a runny egg on top! If you don't fancy pizza you can also get snacks such as baked potatoes and shrimp cocktail or meals like burgers and pies.
With so many locations across the city (as well as in Shanghai and Seoul) PS Cafe must be doing something right. All the locations are gay friendly and very popular with the local LGBTQ community. Famous for their delicious truffle shoestring fries, indulgent cakes and yummy cafe classics, you cannot go wrong when stopping here for a bite at any time of day. We especially love heading to one of the cafes for a lazy brunch or a romantic afternoon tea. The one on Orchard Road is probably our favourite though, with an indoor glasshouse and big leafy plants adding greenery throughout.
JAAN by Kirk Westaway
For those who can't handle too much spice, you could also visit the incredibly romantic, Michelin-starred restaurant JAAN by Kirk Westaway. Serving modern British cuisine alongside amazing views of Marina Bay, this spot is sure to impress. Everything looks incredible, from the design in the restaurant (just look at that ceiling!) to the dishes that are basically little works of art. And there's nothing boring about this British grub! The menu is seasonal and aims to modernise traditional dishes but you should definitely save it for a special occasion if you're not rolling in cash…
Vegetarian and vegan diners will be very happy to find lots of dining options in Singapore. Our personal favourite was Soul Alife in the middle of the Changi Business Park. Yeah, it's a bit out of the main city but if you're travelling to or from the airport then stopping at this completely vegan cafe is a must. Their colourful Buddha Bowls are delicious and very popular, but it was their burgers that had us coming back for more! So juicy and delicious, but made from plants that mimic the different meats so perfectly. They also serve all-day brunch which is perfect if you've been out late partying the night before.
Best things to do in Singapore
Well if you’re not here on business or in transit, then Singapore is great for shopping, especially if you’re looking to replace that (ahem!) broken Go Pro camera of yours. Nonetheless, there’s also much more to do than just shop. These are our favourite things to see and do in Singapore for gay travellers:
Ride on the Singapore Flyer
The Singapore Flyer is like the London Eye: a giant Ferris wheel with pods moving around at 0.24m per second (0.76km/h), so it takes half an hour to ride it the whole way round. At its highest point, it reaches 165 metres, which is like 31 male giraffes stacked on top of each other (the average height of a giraffe is 5.3 metres). So you can imagine the incredible views you get of the iconic Singaporean city skyline, particularly if you go after sunset and see it at night. We really liked this tour we did of Singapore city because it took us to many of the main attractions, including the Singapore Flyer.
Explore the Marina Bay area
One of the most-visited parts of Singapore is the area known as Marina Bay. There is an excellent 3.5km waterfront promenade linking all the main attractions of the Marina Bay area, including the Merlion fountain (lion’s head from a fish body), the Marina Bay Sands resort (which looks like a giant ship at the top) and the lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum. We definitely recommend wandering around Marina Bay, and for incredible views make sure you head up to the Marina Bay Sands observation deck for a fraction of the price you'd pay if you were to stay there and swim in the pool!
Stop and smell the flowers at the National Orchid Garden
The National Orchid Garden is rated as one of the top five things to do in Singapore according to Tripadvisor and we think it's a must for anyone who enjoys natural beauty. Located within the Botanical Gardens it’s a peaceful place to get away from the big city as well as being educational. It has a stunning wow factor with more than 2,000 orchids on display – making the trip worthwhile. While it's free to visit Singapore's Botanic Gardens you do need to pay a small fee to enter the National Orchid Garden, but then you can wander among the pretty flowers for as long as you like.
Learn about Singapore's history
We always believe it's important to learn some background history on a place we're visiting, even when it's sometimes a bit dark and depressing. This historic walking tour of Singapore is an excellent way to learn about the city's past, from the history of ancient Singapura and its 5 kings, right up to the Japanese invasion during WWII. Visiting the Battlebox command centre was particularly interesting as this is where the British forces decided to surrender the city during the Battle of Singapore (a feat labelled by Winston Churchill as the “worst disaster” in British military history!) It's now a fascinating museum with informative displays.
Visit the world-famous Gardens by the Bay
Without a doubt, one of the most famous and popular attractions in Singapore is the incredible Gardens by the Bay nature park. More than 50 million people visit the gardens each year, to marvel at the largest greenhouse in the world (the Flower Dome) and the 18 structures known as the Supertrees. There are actually three main garden areas, but the most famous is the Bay South Garden which is home to the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and Supertree Grove. If you purchase a ticket to the Gardens by the Bay you'll have an entire day to visit all the different parts.
Feel like a kid at Universal Studios
If you grew up during the 1980s and 1990s (like us!) then you will be just as excited about the attractions at Singapore's Universal Studios as we were. Here you can immerse yourself in the worlds you discovered through classic movies like Jurassic Park and Waterworld or the TV shows Battlestar Galactica and Transformers. Of course, the rides are thrilling, whether you're ducking to avoid velociraptors or hurtling through the sky on the world's tallest duelling roller coasters. Fans of Shrek, Puss in Boots and the Minions from Despicable Me will also love meeting their favourite characters on this exciting day out.
See the city from a different perspective on a Duck Cruise
Since Singapore is built over many different islands, there are lots of waterways to explore. Instead of doing the usual river cruise or a walking tour of the city, we opted for something totally different: a Singapore Duck Tour! These take place in refurbished amphibious vehicles from WWII so you're able to see the city while driving along the roads and cruising on the water. You get to see all the famous landmarks like the Merlion statue, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Flyer but from a completely different perspective. We found this to be one of the most fun and unique things we did in Singapore!
Enjoy the flavours of Singapore on a food tour
Singapore is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, which means there's a veritable smorgasbord of different cuisines for us greedy boys to try! We joined a food tour of Singapore which took us through very different parts of the city in order to sample a delicious mix of Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian cuisine. This is also a fun way to learn about the history of Singapore and how different cultures have influenced the city, but not just through food. We really enjoyed exploring the Malay Village, Chinatown and Little India neighbourhoods, but, of course, we especially enjoyed all the tastings!
Visit Sentosa Island
Even if you're not interested in Universal Studios, you should definitely spend some time exploring Singapore's Sentosa Island. While there are lots of resorts on the island there are also plenty of fun attractions like a Marine Life Park, a butterfly park, the Mega Adventure Park, the Wings of Time show (more on that in a bit), Madame Tussaud's and the tall ship Royal Albatross which was used as Bruce Wayne's private yacht in “The Dark Knight” film! The best way to get to Sentosa Island is via the Sentosa Cable Car which takes you across the harbour from Mount Faber with awesome aerial views.
Experience the stunning Wings of Time show
Speaking of Sentosa Island, one must-do activity on the island is the incredible Wings of Time show – the world's first permanent night show in the open sea! Tickets for the Wings of Time are surprisingly affordable, and once there you'll be treated to a dazzling display that tells the story of Shahbaz, a pre-historic bird-like creature. Using a 3D screen in the water along with lasers, pyrotechnics and fountains, this performance was like nothing we've ever seen before. The colours and effects were glorious, plus the story takes you all over the world through different time periods. It was absolutely amazing!
Before you go
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Singapore. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.
How to get there: Since Singapore is built on a series of islands, the easiest way to get there is by flying into Changi Singapore International Airport. You can also reach Singapore from Malaysia or further afield (say from Thailand) via train, or even by sea if you're perhaps visiting on a cruise. We usually fly to Singapore and then book a private airport transfer with Welcome Pickups from Changi to our accommodation. This ensures there'll be an English-speaking driver waiting for us at the airport so we can go straight to our hotel without juggling luggage on public transport.
Visa requirements: Citizens from nearly 80% of all countries in the world can travel to Singapore for 30 or 90 days without needing a visa. If you're visiting from the United States, United Kingdom, any EU country, Australia and some other countries then you won't need a visa but you may need an electronic arrival card. Make sure you check your personal visa requirements and apply for a visa or electronic arrival card before you book anything!
Getting around: Singapore has an excellent Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) subway system for getting around the city. The subway is clean, efficient and affordable, with maps available at all stations. You can purchase an Ez-Link Card and add credit as you go – just like London's Oyster card. This card can be used on all subways and buses, even for getting from the airport to the city centre.
Power Plugs: Singapore uses power plug type G, which only works with type G. This is of British origin so if you're travelling from the United Kingdom you shouldn't have a problem but travellers from most other countries will need to bring a travel adaptor along.
Travel insurance: Even when travelling to Singapore, you can encounter problems like missed flights, cancellations, lost luggage or illness. We recommend all travellers make sure they never go anywhere without travel insurance. Our favourite is WorldNomads Travel Insurance. They offer excellent comprehensive cover at affordable prices and it's easy to make a claim online when you need to.
Safety and Security: While Singapore is a very safe destination, wherever you are you can encounter situations where you need immediate help. When we travel we like to use Close Circle's “virtual bodyguard” app so that we can access anything from advice to evacuation at just the swipe of a button on our phone. Find out more about Close Circle in our post on staying safe while travelling.
Vaccinations: All travellers to Singapore should be up-to-date with routine vaccinations for measles, mumps, chickenpox etc. Most travellers should also be vaccinated against hepatitis A and typhoid. Depending on what you may be doing in Singapore then you might also need vaccines for rabies, yellow fever and hepatitis B. You can see the most recent health advice on the CDC website but make sure you also talk to your doctor before you travel.
Currency: The currency used in Singapore is the Singapore dollar, which uses the code SGD and is usually written as S$ to distinguish from other dollar currencies. Currently, $1 US converts to about S$1.39, €1 is worth about S$1.51 and £1 is around S$1.80.
Tipping culture: Singapore doesn't have a tipping culture so you generally don't need to tip at all, unless, perhaps, you're staying at a fancy hotel and want to tip the bellhop. Otherwise, tips are not expected and a service charge is usually automatically added to your bill at restaurants.
Internet access: You can get online throughout the city of Singapore by downloading the Wireless@SG app. You'll then be able to access free WiFi from places like MRT stations, Capitaland malls, most of the museums and libraries. If you think you're going to need a lot of bandwidth then you could also bring a portable WiFi device with you.
Online privacy: You won't have any problems accessing gay dating apps like Scruff or Grindr to meet up with gay locals in Singapore. If you want to keep your online activities private then we recommend using ExpressVPN. With ExpressVPN you can ensure your internet use is completely anonymous for an affordable price.
Accommodation: When looking for accommodation in Singapore we love using Booking.com because they have the best prices and so many choices. They also have excellent online customer support that's available 24/7 and many listings offer free cancellation if needed.
Sightseeing and adventure: There are plenty more fun things to see and do in Singapore beyond what we've listed in this guide. We use GetYourGuide to find fun activities when we're travelling because they also provide lots of choices, an easy to use online booking system and 24/7 customer support.
When to visit: Singapore experiences generally high heat and humidity year-round, so when you visit will probably be based on when you have holiday time or which events you'd like to experience. We do recommend avoiding going between May and September (May and June in particular) as it gets very smoggy and smoky due to clearing fires in nearby Sumatra.
Gay map of Singapore
We've made this gay map of Singapore with all the gay bars, clubs, hotels, restaurants and attractions we've talked about here, so you can more easily plan your own fabulous visit to Singapore.
For more inspiration:
- Check out our friend Erika Travel's post for a more detailed guide to Singapore's ethnic neighbourhoods
- Find out which are the most gay friendly countries in Asia
- Read about our experiences travelling in Asia as a gay couple
- One of our favourite destinations in Asia is the very gay friendly country of Thailand
- Don't miss our guide to the hidden gem of Koh Adang in Thailand
- As well as the beautiful Thai island of Koh Tarutao, with lots of fun beach activities
- Speaking of beaches, these were our favourite scuba diving spots in Asia
- If you want a touch of luxury why not join one of these fabulous gay cruises to Asia?
- Or if you're brave enough, you could join one of these awesome gay nude cruises!
- Check out our gay guide to gorgeous island of Bali as well