Where To Stay In Singapore – The Only 5 Areas You Need To Know

Last Updated on 7 November 2022

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What is the best area to stay in Singapore?

Deciding on the best neighbourhood to stay in when going abroad can be an overwhelming part of the travel planning process. And despite Singapore being a relatively small, it’s no different. Singapore is divided into the Central, West, North, North East and East Regions, but for typical tourist activities you’ll want to focus on staying somewhere in the Central area. This is the heart of the city, where some of the best things to do in Singapore are located, and is a walkable district with fabulous public transport connections. And the Central Region is much more than just the lavish area of Marina Bay – it’s a multicultural hive of activity. But where you stay will depend on your budget and personal preferences, so to help you decide where to stay in Singapore, here are the 5 absolute best areas for tourists!

Supertree Grove and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
Supertree Grove in Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

1. The Quays – Where to stay in Singapore for nightlife

Useful information about the Quays

Best for: Nightlife, sightseeing, mid-range to luxury budgets, river views.

Nearby attractions: The sights of Marina Bay (such as the Merlion, Esplanade, and Gardens by the Bay) and Chinatown (like the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple), and the iconic Raffles Hotel.

Closest MRT Station: Clarke Quay or Raffles Place.

The Merlion, Singapore
The Merlion near the mouth of the Singapore River

Why stay at the Quays on Singapore River?

Wondering where to stay in Singapore for nightlife? Then the Quays on Singapore River might be for you. Positioned a stone’s throw from the iconic Singapore attractions of Marina Bay and the Merlion statue, the Singapore River meanders through the city and is home to a population of traditional bumboats (also known as tongkang or sea-going barge). And located along it are various historic Quays – Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay.

The area is dominated by a mass of restaurants and bars, and suits travellers who love the sociable nightlife vibe and river views. Locals and tourists alike gather here to enjoy evening entertainment, but the popularity of the area can mean food and drink is more expensive than in some of the other best areas to stay in Singapore on this list.

Near to the mouth of the Singapore River where it spills underneath Jubilee Bridge and out into Marina Bay, you will find the historic area of Boat Quay. As you wander west down the river and past Elgin Bridge, you will come to the buzzing area of Clarke Quay before finally reaching the tamer Robertson Quay.

It is worth bearing in mind that the further west you stay on the Singapore River, the further you are going to be away from the main Singapore attractions, so it’s probably best to venture no further than Robertson Quay for accommodation. Think of the Singapore River as the sandwich filling in between Chinatown (to the south) and Little India and Kampong Glam (to the north).

2. Marina Bay – Where to stay in Singapore near tourist attractions

Useful information about Marina Bay

Best for: Sightseeing, world-class views, luxury budgets. 

Nearby attractions: The Quays on Singapore River, Chinatown, and some of the most iconic Singapore attractions like Marina Bay Sands, the Esplanade, Gardens by the Bay, and the Merlion.

Closest MRT Station: Bayfront or Marina Bay, but there are other MRT Stations which are close to Marina Bay like Esplanade or Raffles Place depending on where you want to be.

Marina Bay skyline, Singapore
Marina Bay skyline at dusk

Why stay in Marina Bay?

Marina Bay is one of the most famous places in Singapore, and is an area you are likely to see featured in travel guides and brochures for the city. It is where you’ll find the glitz and glam of Singapore, and is home to attractions that should be on any bucket list for Southeast Asia, like the enchanting light and sound show at Supertree Grove.

A stone’s throw from the Quays on Singapore River to the west, Marina Bay is home to some world-renowned sights like Marina Bay Sands (the hotel with a boat shaped infinity pool on top), the water spouting Merlion, the futuristic Gardens by the Bay and the gorgeous Esplanade. If you are wondering where to stay in Singapore for one night because perhaps you have a layover in the city, then consider Marina Bay because of its close proximity to all the sights you’ll probably want to get a taste of in your short 24 hours.

But you should know that Marina Bay is an area reserved for those who have a budget to match the lavish skyline, because prices are inflated here, especially when it comes to accommodation. Don’t expect to find backpackers hostels, budget hotels or even mid-range options in Marina Bay. Regardless of whether or not you decide to find a bed in this area, you must definitely factor some time exploring Marina Bay into your Singapore itinerary, because any trip would be incomplete without a visit.

Marina Bay Sands and Supertree Grove

Tip: One of the top travel tips for Singapore is to eat in Hawker Centres – lively open-air food courts which sell good quality local dishes at affordable prices. A great Hawker Centre in the Marina Bay area is Makansutra Gluttons Bay – ideal to suit budget travellers who are exploring the area.

3. Little India – Where to stay in Singapore for food

Useful information about Little India

Best for: Sightseeing, culture, food, and budget travellers. 

Nearby attractions: The sights of Little India such as Tan Teng Niah and Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and one of the other best areas to stay in Singapore – Kampong Glam.

Closest MRT Station: Little India and Rochor.

Travel tips for Singapore
Tan Teng Niah in Little India

Why stay in Little India?

If you are wondering which neighbourhood to stay in Singapore for foodies, then look no further than Little India. Located north of the Singapore River and just next to the area of Kampong Glam, Little India is one of Singapore’s most vibrant, colourful and cultured areas where modern and traditional collide! (note: this is where I stayed).

The streets of Little India are probably the closest you could get to being in India itself – there are bustling markets adorned with the most beautifully bright fresh flower garlands, 24 hour shopping centres where you can buy cheap electronics, clothes and food (like the Mustafa Centre), and Indian restaurants serving some of the most delicious food imaginable! One of the best places to eat in Little India that I found was Komalas Vilas Restaurant – a vegetarian restaurant serving authentic Indian cuisine! 

Little India is a great option for those who want to be right in the midst of the hustle and bustle, but are travelling on a budget, given the abundance of hostels and affordable hotels on offer. Little India is a whole world away from the lavish area of Marina Bay, and is one of the best places to stay in Singapore for those who want to see more than just the chic and futuristic skyline.

Wandering around Little India is a feast for the senses – you will stumble across traditional Hindu temples as you wander down Serangoon Road (the centre of Little India) and the sweet smell of incense permeates the humid Singaporean air. The neighbourhood is still easily accessible to other points of interest by foot if you like to walk, and is well linked by public transport if you don’t.

Little India flower garlands, Singapore
Flower garlands in Little India during Deepavali

Tip: Little India is particularly spectacular during Deepavali (also known as Diwali) when the Festival of Lights illuminates Serangoon Road and beyond as a celebration of good over evil. Deepavali usually falls in October or November every year, dependent on the lunar calendar.

4. Chinatown – Where to stay in Singapore on a budget 

Useful information about Chinatown

Best for: Sightseeing, culture, food, nightlife, and budget travellers.

Nearby attractions: Marina Bay and the Central Business District, Raffles Hotel, and the sights of Chinatown like the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.

Closest MRT Station: Chinatown, but others also surround the area like Telok Ayer, Outram Park, Tanjong Pagar, and Raffles Place.

Travel tips for Singapore
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown

Why stay in Chinatown?

Another one for the foodies and budget travellers amongst us, Chinatown is another district of Singapore known for its buzzing atmosphere and stunning architecture. Similar to London’s Chinatown, Chinatown in Singapore is located south of the Singapore River and is nestled in behind Marina Bay and the Central Business District, making it another great central location! Close to the iconic Raffles Hotel, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple also sits proudly here – something which is a must on any list of things to do in Singapore!

With more affordable options for nightlife than the Quays at Singapore River and bars of Marina Bay, Chinatown attracts budget travellers from all around the world. The atmosphere which permeates Chinatown is buzzing day and night, which might be a disadvantage if you have a hotel on a busy street.

Like Little India, it’s another of Singapore’s areas where diverse communities can be seen living side by side in perfect harmony. If you love places like Beijing or Hong Kong, Chinatown might be your first choice for accommodation. Dotted with Chinese temples, and lined with Oriental architecture, bustling shopping streets like Pagoda Street come to life at night when they are illuminated with Chinese lanterns which zigzag from building to building.

5. Kampong Glam – Where to stay in Singapore for culture

Useful information about Kampong Glam

Best for: Sightseeing, culture, food, boutique shops, nightlife and all budget types.

Nearby attractions: The sights of Little India and Kampong Glam, like the grand Sultan Mosque. 

Closest MRT Station: Bugis.

Bussorah Street and the Sultan Mosque, Singapore
Sultan Mosque on Bussorah Street in Kampong Glam

Why stay in Kampong Glam?

Bordering on the vibrant neighbourhood of Little India, the Kampong Glam area of Singapore is a melting pot of culture and cuisine, and is the Muslim quarter of the city. It’s a picturesque district full of heritage architecture and Arabic influence, which can be seen in the colourful shop houses and abundance of textile outlets. And if you are wondering where to stay in Singapore for a mix of culture, hipster cafes, and quirky boutiques, all with a pinch of great nightlife, then start looking for accommodation in Kampong Glam right away!

Kampong Glam has a mix of hotels to suit all budgets, and has its own fair share of things to do and see. Some of the notable attractions are the golden-domed Sultan Mosque, Arab Street, the palm-tree lined Bussorah Street, and Haji Lane, where you will find a whole host of unique shops and an eccentric street art scene! The food is pretty diverse here too given the Arabic influence, but you will find cuisine from all over the world, like Turkish, Japanese, Italian, Indonesian and Chinese!

Haji Lane street art, Singapore
Artwork on the hipster Haji Lane in Kampong Glam

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Where to stay in Singapore - the best areas and districts
Where to stay in Singapore - the best areas and districts