This guide on where to stay in Singapore lists the best areas for visitors in the central area of Singapore. This includes all accommodation types, from the cheapest guesthouse room to the famous five-star hotels and resorts.
The city-state of Singapore is the most modern country in Southeast Asia. While it sometimes feels like a western city, its Malay, Chinese, and Indian heritage makes it a cosmopolitan Asian city.
If you’ve been travelling in the region then Singapore will be a shock to the system when it comes to accommodation prices. There are neighbourhoods that offer cheaper accommodation, and the excellent metro systems means you are never far from anywhere.
I live and work in Southeast Asia, and I am a frequent visitor to Singapore. I love walking around Singapore and exploring the neighbourhoods, and I have good feel the main places where visitors stay.
If you are a visitor it’s best to stay in the historic central area to make the most of your time. I have put together this Where to Stay list of the best areas to stay in Singapore.
Where to stay in Singapore guide
Map of Singapore hotels
Best areas to stay in Singapore
Chinatown (Best area to stay in the CBD area)
Tanjong Pagar (Upmarket heritage district in CBD )
Central Business District (Business and finance hub)
Marina Bay (Stay at that hotel with the iconic rooftop infinity pool)
Singapore River (Nightlife along the Quays)
Civic District (Historic colonial area of Singapore)
Bras Basah Bugis (Central location with accommodation for all budgets)
Orchard Road (Famous shopping street)
Kampong Glam (Trendy lanes in the old Muslim quarter)
Lavender/Jalan Besar (Cook inner city residential area)
Little India (Vibrant cultural area with more budget options)
Other areas to stay in Singapore
Geylang (Residential area with cheaper hotels)
Sentosa (Island with resort and theme park hotels)
Changi Airport (Layover at the best airport in the world)
Map of Singapore hotels
Map of the best areas to stay in Singapore.
[View where to stay in Singapore map.]
This map shows areas mentioned in this article. The outlined areas are not official boundaries.
Best areas to stay in Singapore
Best areas to stay in Singapore are within the Central Area of Singapore. There is no single best area, so this list goes though the merits of each area, starting from the CBD and working its way north.
Chinatown is where the original community of Chinese immigrants settled in Singapore, though like most Chinatowns nowadays, it’s not exclusively Chinese. The area is filled with Chinese stores, markets, temples, and great places to eat for all budgets.
Chinatown is within the Central Business District of Singapore, but the historic shophouses have kept this area low-rise compared to the rest of the CBD. There is a variety of accommodation options, from hostels to 5-star luxury hotels.
With good public transport and a wide range of food options, Chinatown is one of the best areas to stay in Singapore.
Budget (1-2 Stars)
There are no cheap guesthouses like in Malaysia, and no backpacker areas like Khao San Rd in Bangkok or Pham Ngu Lau in Saigon. For backpackers, this will mean it’s back to hostel dorms.
Chinatown hostels and budget hotels aren’t as cheap compared to other parts of Singapore (such as in Little India or Bugis), as you are paying the premium of the inner city location. If you prefer location over price then here are some budget options.
The Bohemian is a hostel that offers tradition bunk beds and capsule-style beds.
Mid-range (3-4 Stars)
Bliss Hotel Singapore is a 3-star hotel in the thick of the action on Upper Cross Street.
The Keong Saik Hotel is a 3-star hotel near Duxton Plain Park.
Search for hotels in Chinatown.
Tanjong Pagar is a district in the Central Business District, below Chinatown. Some maps show the two historic neighbourhoods overlapping, so the Chinatown name is sometimes used in parts of Tanjong Pagar. Both of these areas are distinct from the rest of the CBD for the amount of preserved shophouses.
Tanjong Pagar was the location of the terminal railway station (Tanjong Pagar Railway Station). While the railway line has closed down, the station and surrounding area is being redeveloped.
Tanjong Pagar is a more upmarket version of Chinatown, with cool cafes and trendy restaurants. Hotels here are in the upper end of the scale.
Duxton Reserve Singapore, Autograph Collection is a 5-star hotel in a row of restored shophouses.
Tanjong Pagar is where you can see old and new Singapore merging together. One of the most exceptional modern buildings is Oasia Hotel Downtown, Singapore by Far East Hospitality. This hotel stands out among the grey and blue glass towers with its red facade covered in a vertical garden.
Nearby is the 5-star Carlton City Hotel Singapore.
Central Business District
The Central Business District (CBD) is Singapore’s business and financial hub. It’s also referred to as the downtown area, though defining a boundary is difficult as there are different definitions.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority defines the Downtown Core Planning Area as the CBD, City Hall, Bugis, Marina Centre, and Nicoll zones. Part of the CBD is also in the Marina Bay development area, but this is not a helpful definition for visitors.
To keep it simple, the CBD area refers to the area below the Singapore River and surrounding the Chinatown area. Raffles Place is the central point of the CBD.
The CBD of the Marina Bay development area is to the east of Chinatown. This area is dominated by big boxy business buildings, so I have not highlighted that area on the map.
Needless to say, the CBD is the preserve of the 4-5 star international hotel chains, so you won’t find any budget hotels here. This area is best if you are doing business in Singapore or if you have a favourite hotel group that you are loyal to (or burning credit card award points).
In the area between the river and Chinatown is the PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, Singapore. This hotel is on an entire city block and has integrated sky gardens in the property. The hotel is dubbed ‘Singapore’s most awarded sustainable hotel’, and upholds Singapore’s stature as the garden city.
[This is where people stand and dream of staying at the Marina Bay Sands.]
Marina Bay is the basin of the Singapore River and is where the Merlion fountain can be found spraying water that tourists pretend to drink from.
Marina Bay includes part of the CBD on what is mostly reclaimed land. With the opening of the Gardens by the Bay and a metro station, this area has shifted the centre of gravity of the city. For the purpose of defining where to stay, the best area of Marina Bay is surrounding the bay. The section in the CBD is mainly office towers and luxury residential apartments.
Being a redevelopment project in a prime location, the hotels here are at the high end of the market. I have read some “where to stay in Singapore” guides that that claim that Marina Bay as the best place to stay for for first-timers. It’s not, but it’s an area to consider if you want a luxury hotel with great views of the city.
Marina Bay Sands is the most recognisable hotel in Singapore with its giant swimming pool straddled across its three towers overlooking the bay.
The world’s largest rooftop pool stretches 150 metres across Sands SkyPark, and it might also be world’s most famous Infinity Pool. The pool is only accessible by hotel guests, just in case you were thinking of sneaking a pool selfie for the ‘gram.
For views of the Singapore skyline – including the Marina Bay Sands – the best-rated hotel is the The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.
On the old side of the bay is Collyer Quay. Along here is The Fullerton Bay Hotel. This hotel has assimilated the historic Customs House and Clifford Pier into its architectural fabric. The Art-Deco style concrete arch trusses of Clifford Pier have be retained in the design.
Search for hotels in Marina Bay.
North of Chinatown is the Singapore River. Starting near the mouth of the Singapore River is the Fullerton Hotel Singapore. This city landmark is a five-star luxury hotel that occupies the former General Post Office Building.
[Check rates for The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.]
Boat Quay is is on the southern bank, between the Fullerton Hotel and the Elgin Bridge. There are many bars and clubs along Boat Quay, making it a popular area for visitors looking for nightlife. This area still has a surprising amount of budget accommodation considering its prime location on the river. The historic shophouses have acted as a bulwark against multinational hotel groups, who would have demolished this area long area given the chance.
Upstream from the Elgin Bridge is Clarke Quay. This area includes the Clarke Quay Mall shopping centre. The main hotel here is the 5-star Paradox Singapore Merchant Court at Clarke Quay. On the north side of the river are more bars and clubs.
Search for hotels near Clarke Quay.
[Clarke Quay, Singapore.]
Further upstream is Robertson Quay. A notable hotel here is The Warehouse Hotel, which is a converted 19th-century spice warehouse on the Singapore River.
The Civic District is the historic centre of Singapore on the north side of the Singapore River. This is where Stamford Raffles landed to claim the colony, thus it is also referred to as the Colonial District.
This area has many civic buildings that have been converted into museums and art galleries. These include the National Gallery Singapore (in the Old Supreme Court Building and former City Hall), National Museum of Singapore (the former Raffles Library and Museum), The Arts House (in the former Parliament House), the and Asian Civilisations Museum (the former Empress Place Building).
Opposite the National Gallery Singapore is the Padang, which is a big open field (literally “field” in Malay). This is the home of the Singapore Cricket Club. This area is green and spacious, and at times it’s hard to believe that an area so quiet is the city centre.
There are mainly high-end hotels around here, with the majority of them being around the City Hall MRT area.
The most famous hotel in Singapore is the Raffles Hotel.
Raffles Singapore is a colonial-era luxury hotel that was opened in 1887 by Armenian hoteliers, the Sarkies Brothers. The hotel is named after the founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles,
“The Raffles” has become a byword for staying somewhere luxurious. The Grand Old Lady of Singapore re-opened in August 2019 after a two-year renovation.
Even if you’re not staying there, you can still visit the Long Bar to have a Singapore Sling, which is where the famous cocktail was invented. Note that no one in Singapore actually drinks this, but don’t let that stop you from fulfilling your bucketlist duties
Bras Basah Bugis
Bras Basah and Bugis are neighbourhoods in central Singapore to the north of the Civic District. These neighbourhoods are referred to as the Bras Basah.Bugis (BBB) precinct, and i’s known as the arts and heritage district. Bras Basah is home to many museums and art galleries, while Bugis is better known for shopping.
[Map by Welcome to Bras Basah.Bugis.]
Bras Basah Bugis is one of the best all-around areas to stay as it has accommodation types for all budgets, good transport, and ideally-located to be able to walk around Central Singapore.
I like staying in Bugis because it’s on the East-West MRT Line that goes to the airport.
Bluewaters Pods @ Bugis is a hostel that offers pod-style bedding, which gives a bit more privacy than a standard bunk bed.
Many hostels in Singapore have adopted the “pod style” of bedding, where your bed is either in a capsule (Japanese style) or has little walls and curtains around the bed for privacy.
South East Asia Hotel is a 2-star budget hotel that has the vibes of an old-school Southeast Asia guesthouse. The furnishings are decades old but it’s kept in good condition.
Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen Hotel is a 3-star hotel from the reliable Ibis brand.
Hotel G Singapore is a 4-star “lifestyle hotel” from the popular Hotels G group.
In 2018 another architectural landmark was added to the Singapore skyline with the addition of DUO, by German architect, Ole Scheeren. These pair of concave skyscrapers are clad in a latticework of hexagonal windows, and one of the towers is home to Andaz Singapore – A Concept by Hyatt. This is the first Andaz hotel in Southeast Asia, where each hotel is one of a kind. DUO is connected via underground pedestrian walkways to Bugis MRT station.
[Check rates for Andaz Singapore – A Concept by Hyatt.]
InterContinental Singapore is on the same block of the Bugis Junction Mall and Bugis MRT Station.
Search for hotels near Bugis.
Orchard Road is the premier shopping street of Singapore. It used to be more famous internationally as a shopping street before the age of globalisation. It was known as a place to go for cheap shopping. Now that the same shops are everywhere it lost some of its competitive advantage.
In recent years there’s been a redevelopment arms race, where each mall seeks to outdo the other in brashness. And unlike the malls of the US, UK, and Australia, the malls are actually good places to eat.
Most of the hotels here are high-end hotels, with the few mid-range hotels getting average reviews. The big-name hotels along Orchard Road have been keeping up with the times with rebranding and renovations.
Mid-range (3-4 Stars)
[Check rates for JEN Singapore Orchardgateway.]
At the far end of Orchard Road is the Orchard Rendezvous Hotel by Far East Hospitality.
Luxury (5 Stars)
[Cheack rates for Pan Pacific Orchard.]
Hilton Singapore Orchard (formerly the Mandarin Orchard Singapore) is an icon of Orchard Road and it’s the largest Hilton Hotel in Asia.
[Check rates for Hilton Singapore Orchard.]
[Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore.]
[Bussorah Street and Sultan Mosque.]
Above Bugis on the other side of the Rochor Canal is the Kampong Glam area. This is where Arab and other Muslim traders set up shop, with street names such as Haji Lane, Baghdad St, and Arab St. There is also the photogenic Bussorah Street and Sultan Mosque. The neighbourhood is now one of the trendiest in Singapore.
Search for hotels near Kampong Glam.
Budget (1-2 Stars)
Cube Boutique Capsule Hotel @ Kampong Glam is a good example of how Singapore has embraced the capsule model for their hostels.
[Check rates for Cube Boutique Capsule Hotel @ Kampong Glam.]
Mid-range (3-4 Stars)
[Check rates for Hotel NuVe.]
PARKROYAL on Beach Road, Singapore is on the edge of the Kampong Glam area.
Lavender is a subzone that includes parts of Kampong Glam and Little India. For the purposes of defining a neighbourhood, Lavender refers to the area between the distinct neighbourhoods of Little India and Kampong Glam. This area is also called Jalan Besar, named after the main street that goes through the area. The two neighbourhood names appear to be interchangeable, as I have found Singaporean bloggers switching between Lavender and Jalan Besar.
I have stayed in Lavender/Jalan Besar a few times and I have found it to be an underrated place to stay compared to its better-known neighbours of Kampong Glam and Little India. There are still many historic shophouses here, lots of cheap places to eat, and cool cafes tucked away in side streets. There are less tourist crowds here, and there is a good selection of accommodation for all budgets.
[Check rates for Hotel NuVe Urbane.]
V Hotel Lavender (4-star)
The Vagabond Club, Singapore, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel is a boutique hotel by the world renowned French designer Jacques Garcia.
[Colourful shophouses in Little India, Singapore.]
Little India is where most of the original Indian migrants (mostly from South India) made their home. Today it still retains its sub-continental flavour with Hindu temples, markets, and lots of cheap places to eat. It’s a popular spot for backpackers and there are some good mid-range options here.
Search for hotels in Little India
I have stayed at Ali’s Nest, which is the possibly the cheapest guest house in Singapore.
Other than that, the cheapest places are going to be hostels such as the 7 Wonders Hostel @Upper Dickson.
[Check rates for Bunc Hostel.]
Some of the cheapest hotels with private hotels in Singapore can be in Little India. Just lower your expectations as many of the hotels are showing thier age and have tiny rooms.
At the northern end of Little India is One Farrer Hotel and Spa. This hotel has the advantage of being next to Farrer Park MRT.
[Check rates for One Farrer Hotel and Spa.]
Other areas to stay in Singapore
I have listed the best areas to stay if if you are a new visitor. There are of course other areas to stay, so I list them here and explain why you may or may not want to stay here.
An emerging neighbourhood that is worth considering for budget hotels is Geylang. I say emerging because this area that was better known for being the red-light district has been (for better or worse) cleaned up, and it’s now seeing new hotels. With its location close to central Singapore and a good stock of heritage buildings, it was only a matter of time before it became desirable as a place to stay.
I have stayed here a few times, mainly when I have booked a trip at the last minute and couldn’t find a reasonable price in the city area. You will have a better chance of finding a cheap private room in Geylang. The main drawback is that some of the hotels are a 10-15 minute walk from the closest MRT station (Aljunied).
When doing a hotel search you will see hotels from Singapore’s largest budget hotel chain, Hotel 81. This hotel group was inspired the salaryman hotels in Japan.
ibis (the economy hotel chain by Accor) have seen the opportunity in Geylang and have opened hotels here as well.
This area is worthy of consideration if you are a repeat visitor and want a cheap private room. If you are new, then stay closer to the city.
CapsulePod@Aljunied is the nearest accommodation to Aljunied station.
The bulk of the budget hotels are below Geylang Road. There are ibis budget and Hotel 81 hotels scattered throughout the streets between Lorong 4 and Lorong 22. The area associated with the red light district of Singapore is between Lorong 24 and Lorong 30. Local media reports that this area is not what it used to be.
Sentosa is an island off the island of Singapore. I don’t recommend it if it’s your first time in Singapore, but I list it here for reference. Getting to the island requires getting the MRT to Harbourfront and then getting the resort monorail at VivoCity Station. This is a private monorail that doesn’t interchange with the MRT, so it’s a bit time-consuming if you want to spend most of your time exploring the city.
Sentosa is home to Resorts World Sentosa, which is an integrated resort that includes Universal Studios Singapore theme park (the first in Southeast Asia), Adventure Cove Waterpark, the S.E.A. Aquarium (the world’s second largest oceanarium), and the other casino in Singapore (after Marina Bay).
Sentosa is a popular staycation destination for Singaporeans, and it’s a good option if you have kids in tow and you don’t feel like sweating it out in the city. There are hotels and villas that are connected to Resorts World Sentosa. You might also consider Sentosa if you are on a stopover in Singapore for the umpteenth time and you just want to relax by a resort pool in between flights.
As one of the biggest airports in the region, the chances are you might just be passing through without time to stay. Changi Airport is consistently awarded as one of the best in the world, so if you have to do an overnighter at an airport then you could do worse than Changi. Here is a review of one time I stayed overnight at SIN. I didn’t get any sleep but it was an enjoyable stay at the airport.
[A lounge chair with alarm clock at Singapore Changi Airport.]
Ambassador Transit Lounge Terminal 2 has nap rooms on the airside if you are not clearing immigration.
Even if you are not going into the city, you should definitely clear immigration (passport permitting) to have a look at the spectacle that is Jewel Changi Airport. Exiting and entering immigration at Changi is quick so there is no stress in going landside if you have enough time between flights.
If you have a longer stopover but not long enough to stay in the city, there is the YOTELAIR Singapore Changi inside Jewel,
[Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.]
This where to stay in Singapore guide is part of the Nomadic Notes Where To Stay series.