Though it is widely considered to be a playground for the wealthy with its high-end shopping malls, astoundingly luxurious hotels and Michelin star restaurants, Singapore also has a wealth of historical and cultural significance, with vibrant ethnic districts and gorgeous green spaces.
While you should by all means indulge in the high-end temptations of the city-state, as well as the cultural ones, Singapore happens to be incredibly well situated when it comes to visiting other places for the day.
You can reach the neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia in a matter of hours and all the glorious paradise beaches and islands that they offer.
Singapore itself also contains various outlying islands which offer everything from cosmopolitan to traditional, with a variety of gorgeous beaches and traditional villages in between.
Let’s explore the best day trips from Singapore:
1. Sentosa Island
An island which is an undeniable tourist hub owing to the tremendous amount of activities on offer there, Sentosa Island is arguably Singapore’s most popular day trip and it’s easy to see why.
Coined as the “fun state”, Sentosa literally does have something for everyone; from shopping malls and casinos to nature walks and even the famous Resorts World Sentosa.
Here you’ll find a Universal Studios Theme Park; perfect for families and casual visitors alike.
You can reach Sentosa Island by cable car, giving you sweeping views and an adrenaline rush before the real fun has even begun.
2. Pulau Ubin
The island of Pulau Ubin is a wildly contrasting alternative to the heaving, commercial bustle that is Sentosa.
As Singapore’s second most-known island, it still sees its fair share of visitors, but feels nowhere near as crowded.
Pulau Ubin is a mixture of beautiful coastline, serene bike paths and the breath taking Chek Jawa Wetlands; all of which can be seen in the space of a day and offer a much-needed escape from Singapore’s urban sprawl.
Here, you’ll also find the last surviving traditional villages of Singapore; a cultural gem which is a pleasure to walk around while learning about the island’s history.
Wide, sweeping white-sand beaches and lush jungles are the main port of call on the island of Bintan in Indonesia, only a short ferry ride away from Singapore’s metropolitan areas.
The island caters for adventure travellers looking for sun and surf, whilst also offering a tempting array of world-class, high-end resorts for bigger spenders.
In Pantai Trikora, you’ll find a laidback beach vibe with excellent food, where many travellers make their way to experience the authentic atmosphere.
Towards the north coast of the island, where the beaches become ever more pristine, you’ll find the resorts and hotels offering untold luxury and various beach bars where you can go to enjoy a drink for a few hours.
A mixture of cultural and entertainment attractions can be found on Batam Island: also in Indonesia and a mere hour away from Singapore by ferry.
Popular amongst expats and Singaporeans alike, there are notably cheaper shopping and casino experiences to be found here, as well as a thriving nightlife scene, meaning you can expect a buzzing hub of travellers and locals enjoying themselves.
The predominantly seafood cuisine is particularly delicious on Batam.
There is a wide variety of water sports to be enjoyed, all of which can be found at Waterfront City.
For a slice of culture, head over to the Mesjid Raya Grand Mosque or the famed Buddhist temple: Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya.
5. Johor Bahru
Situated on the Southern Malay Peninsula, Johor Bahru, also referred to as JB, is Malaysia’s third largest city and well known as a great shopping destination, with most consumer goods being considerably less expensive than Singapore.
Only an hour away on the bus, here you can also find an enchanting mixture of cultural sites, ranging from mosques to Chinese temples.
Particularly popular is the Hindu Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Glass Temple due to its unique design.
Before Singapore took the title, Malacca used to be the most important trading port in Southeast Asia, making it a truly fascinating place to visit.
The preservation of colonial architecture is one of the main attractions for tourists, and popular sites include the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum, as well as the 18th Century Dutch House at Heeren Street.
Food is also a red-hot attraction here, with Malay and Perankan dishes featuring heavy Portuguese influence found around every corner.
This, combined with the colonial beauty of the area, gained Malacca UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008.
7. Iskandar Puteri
The thriving city of Iskandar Puteri is a fantastic place for a family day trip, owing to the wildly popular Legloland Malaysia and Hello Kitty Indoor Theme Park, both instant hits with local children and playful adults.
Puteri Harbour is also renowned for its world-class restaurants serving everything from Indian to Western food.
If you’re up for a spot of retail therapy, you’ll find some unbeatable shopping at the premium luxury brand outlet: Johor Premium Outlets.
Glittering, sapphire-blue waters and pristine white sand beaches are commonplace on the island of Desaru, making it one of the most popular getaway spots for Singaporeans looking for a paradise getaway.
The fact that it’s only a 30-minute ferry ride away from Changi Ferry Terminal makes it all the more appealing, especially for a quick day trip.
If you want to experience something other than just a day relaxing on the beach, then head over to Desaru Ostrich Farm, where you can get up close and personal with these enormous birds and even try ostrich egg products.
9. Kusu Island
Only a brief ferry ride away from Singapore is the island of Kusu; which also means “Tortoise Island” in Chinese.
The island is an intriguing combination of religious significance and almost untouched pristine tropical land.
Kusu is full of blue lagoons, gorgeous beaches and an abundance of wildlife, but it is also the site of an annual pilgrimage for many people who flock to places like the Da Bo Gong Temple in search of prosperity.
There are three Malay saints housed in holy shrines perched at the top of a 152-step climb.
Both sites are fascinating to visit and, combined with the island’s natural beauty, make Kusu an unmissable day trip.
10. St John’s Island
An island spanning 40 hectares that has been thoughtfully developed into a haven for outdoor activities, St Johns Island is an endearing tranquil getaway for those who want to have island time but not be completely without amenities.
Here you can swim in lagoons, settle down for a picnic, hike some moderate trekking routes, or kick a ball around on one of the soccer fields.
For those that may want to spend the night there, you’ll have no trouble finding various bungalow and chalet complexes available for rent.
11. Lazarus Island
Easily reachable via a short walkway from St John’s is the enviably beautiful Lazarus Island; even more gorgeous than its neighbour and much more untouched, providing a real island getaway for the nearby Singaporeans.
Here there are barely any amenities, so get ready to completely unwind, unplug, and find a spot of unspoiled white sand to have a picnic, or a patch of jungle to stretch the legs.
You can arrive from Marina South Pier; be sure to pack supplies for the day.
12. Sisters Island
Only a short ferry ride from Singapore are the legendary Sisters Islands, made up of two spits of land separated by a narrow channel.
Wildly popular amongst snorkelers for the abundance of marine life found amongst the reefs below the surface, the islands attract many marine enthusiasts, whether professional or just giving it a go.
The beaches peppered with palm trees and beach huts are also a hit with picnic-goers who will often come here for the day in search of a quiet place to relax.
13. Coney Island
Coney Island has long been focussed on sustainability and environmental initiatives, which led to it even closing its gates to the public at one time.
Now that it has reopened, visitors can come and explore how the natural elements of the park are maintained, and learn about water and energy conservation.
Coney Island Park and the island itself are reachable from Singapore by taxi.
14. Pulau Hantu
Another island that is incredibly popular with snorkelers is Pulau Hantu, whose diverse ecosystem of fish includes clownfish, seahorses and damsel fish; all thriving under the surface of the crystal-clear waters.
The island is also inviting to children as it’s full of safe, shallow lagoons and sheltered beaches, making it an ideal place for them to play.
Arriving is slightly more complex than with other islands however, as you’ll have to charter your own boat from the West Coast Pier of Singapore.
15. Pulau Semakau
Though it may seem unappealing to the average traveller, Pulau Semakau was actually built on top of a landfill.
However, it has been designed so conscientiously that it is completely unpolluted, odour free, and completely clean.
The huge scale recycling feat has actually gained the island legendary status among eco activists and Pulau Semaku is now a thriving eco getaway.
Flourishing mangrove habitats attract visitors from far and wide and the snorkelling scene is also flourishing.
Here, the coral reefs are vibrant and full of life, and there is even a coral nursery.