View of Singapore's downtown skyline from a rooftop pool.
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Things to do in Downtown Singapore Business District

Singapore’s Central Business District, also known as the CBD, financial district or downtown core, is a gleaming jungle of soaring skyscrapers with sensational waterfront views and more landmark attractions than you can shake a very large stick at. Add to that Michelin-starred restaurants, trendy cocktail bars and some of the best shopping in the city and you have the recipe for a fantastic break. Hera are just a few of our favorite things to do in downtown Singapore’s business district, including:

  • Merlion Park
  • The SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands
  • National Gallery Singapore
  • Singapore Flyer
  • Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
  • Shopping at Orchard Road and Marina Bay
  • Bay cruises
  • Gardens by the Bay
  • Cocktails at Raffles

Mythical Beasts and Dizzy Heights

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A stroll around Marina Bay is a fine way to get your bearings in the downtown area. Here, close-up views of the CBD’s sensational skyscrapers give you a sense of the scale of the place and the iconic Merlion statue, emblem of Singapore’s growth from humble fishing village to mighty all-conquering lion is a must-see. Grab a selfie by this 70-tonne fish/lion hybrid with its arc of spouting water that crashes into the Singapore River below, then head up to the SkyPark atop the Marina Bay Sands resort for a different perspective. Steady your nerves with a cocktail before taking in exception 57th-floor views of the Singapore skyline and out across the bay.

National Gallery Singapore

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Immerse yourself in 200 years of Singaporean art and culture at the National Gallery. Appropriately, this stately collection of of more than 9,000 modern and contemporary pieces from Singapore and southeast Asia is housed within two immense national monuments in the heart of the CBD; namely Singapore’s former City Hall and Supreme Court. Step inside to goggle at works that range from 19th-century oil paintings and woodcuts to 21st-century video installations. Visiting in the middle of monsoon season? There’s plenty here to fill an entire day, with major works by Singaporean artists including Georgette Chen, Liu Kang and Cheong Soo Pieng to admire, plus art-inspired shops for unique souvenirs, and two Michelin-starred restaurants.

The Singapore Flyer

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It should come as no surprise, in a city where the title of tallest building is highly prized, that the observation wheel is one of the biggest on the planet, soaring to a knee-trembling 541 feet at its highest point. Steel your nerves for the 30-minute flight aboard the Singapore Flyer from where you can expect views across the CBD skyline to Sentosa Island and even, on a clear day, as far as Indonesia and Malaysia. That’s assuming you haven’t closed your eyes in absolute terror by the time you reach the top. One rotation lasts 30 minutes and you can book tickets that include cocktails and champagne, should such nerve-settling measures be required.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

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Back on terra firma, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a stunning (and surprisingly recent) example of the Chinese Buddhist architectural style, all decorative flourishes, pagoda-style rooftops and cavernous indoor spaces. Built in 2007, the temple contains what is said to be one of the Buddha’s teeth, though skeptics may question its provenance given the proliferation of Buddha tooth temples in the region and, well, the size of the tooth itself which, at 7.5cm in length, is likely to raise a quizzical eyebrow at the very least. Visit this stunning temple and make up your own mind!

Shop ‘Til You Drop

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There are more malls and brand-name stores along the 2.5-kilometer shopping mecca that is Orchard Road than you could hope to explore in a lifetime, never mind on your two-week vacation. Orchard Central is one of the most interesting, with its digital-art skin, huge indoor climbing wall, public art installations and roof garden. Further opportunities to max your credit card await at Marina Bay Resort’s cavernous Shoppes mall which, in spite of its ye olde name, is an ultra-modern, ultra-luxe shoppers’ paradise that’s guaranteed to give your bank manager serious palpitations. Venetian-style canals and sampan boat rides make for a fun way to get from store to store.

Singapore River Cruise

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Hop aboard a traditional bumboat to get a new perspective on the CBD’s many highlights. Ideal for the lazy sightseer, these scenic cruises tick off a number of the city’s big ticket attractions in one short jaunt along the Singapore River. Expect to see highlights including Marina Bay Sands, with its space-age triple towers topped by what, from way down here, looks for all the world like a giant surfboard, as well as the legendary Raffles hotel, the Gardens by the Bay and the Old Parliament House. Hopeless romantics can catch the golden hour on a sunset cruise as the Singapore skies puts on their colorful daily show and lights twinkle on across the city.

Gardens By The Bay

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With its gargantuan durian-shaped glass hothouses, tranquil East Bay Garden and iconic supertree structures complete with fun elevated walkway, Gardens By The Bay is a treat at any time of day. But it’s arguably at its most enchanting in the evenings, when the Supertree Grove puts on an epic display of colored light accompanied by a rousing symphonic soundtrack, sure to enliven your Instagram feed. Better still, this event is free! Light and music themes change with the seasons but the show generally runs twice per evening, with some variation for holidays and special events.

Sip a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel

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What’s the first thing you think of when someone says the word ‘Singapore’? Skyscrapers? Orchids? No! The answer is of course a Singapore Sling, that delightful gin-based tropical cocktail that’s as iconic a symbol of this island nation as its Merlion mascot. And where better to sample one than in the very place they were invented? We’re talking, of course, about the legendary 19th-century Raffles Hotel, where bartender Ngiam Tong Boon first mixed gin with cherry brandy, grenadine, pineapple, bitters and lime juice back in 1915, and the Singapore Sling was born! Join such illustrious former guests as Hemingway, Kipling and Grahame Greene and try one for yourself in the hotel’s smart Long Bar.

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