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Everything You Need to Know about the Central Business District in Singapore

Welcome to Singapore’s Central Business District!

The Central Business District of Singapore is the heart of Singapore. It’s home to many local and international corporations, business institutions, shopping malls, and lifestyle centres.

It’s considered the prime area to experience the best of cosmopolitan Singaporean life and a great example of a tech-driven and economically thriving city. 

The district is flagged with towering skyscrapers, most of them being global business institutions, while some are residential buildings and shopping centres. 

The diversity, convenience, and vibrant pulse of city life are what make the CBD a highly sought-after location for expats to settle in. 

Where is the Central Business District?


The Central Business District is located in the southern part of Singapore, within the island’s Central Region. Marina Bay courses through the eastern side while the Singapore River flows through the centre of the CBD’s western end.  

It’s bordered by the districts of Novena, Kallang, Tanjong Rhu, Tanglin, Tanjong Pagar, and Bukit Merah. 

What are the main streets in the Central Business District?

The main streets in the Central Business District are Orchard Road, Somerset Road, Rochor Road, Havelock Road, Marina Boulevard, and Raffles Avenue. 

The major expressways that pass through the CBD are the Central Expressway, Nicoll Highway, Marina Coastal Expressway, and the East Coast Parkway.  

These streets course through the most popular attractions and destinations within the CBD, particularly the museums and historical landmarks of the Civic District, Marina Bay Sands, the Quays, and the shopping malls of Orchard.  

How to Get to the Central Business District 

By Train: You can reach the Central Business District in Singapore by taking either the North-South Line, Downtown Line, Circle Line, or the East-West Line, then alighting at Raffles Place Station, Bayfront Station, Downtown Station or Marina Bay Station. 

By Bus: Many bus lines serve the Central Business District. The most efficient ones are from the City Direct Line that takes passengers from neighbouring housing estates to the CBD area. These City Direct lines are bus numbers 651 to 672. 

By Car: The Central Business District is well-connected by major roads and expressways like the Marina Coastal Expressway, Central Expressway, and East Coast Parkway. 

What to Do and See in the Central Business District

Strike a pose next to the Merlion Statue 

Address: 1 Fullerton Road (Google Maps)

Contact Details: +65 6736 6622

Pricing: Free 

Operating Hours: 24/7 

One of the must-dos in the Central Business District is heading to Merlion Park and striking a pose next to the infamous Merlion Statue. It’s also located within walking distance of the historical Fullerton Waterboat House and One Fullerton Mall.

The 70-ton statue of a half-fish and half-lion creature is Singapore’s most iconic symbol and landmark, so a photo next to it is a bucket-list item for any tourist visiting the city. From right across the bay, you can find Marina Bay Sands and the Esplanade. 

The Merlion Park is fairly small and it’s not hard to spot the Merlion statue from far away. I highly recommend dropping by before sunset (around 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm) to take photos next to the statue while the water reflects the orange rays of the sun! 


Aside from dropping by right before sunset, Merlion Park is also beautiful during the wee hours of the morning. There are also fewer crowds if you come by around 6:00 am to 7:00 am, so arrive early to get first dibs on a cool sunrise photo! 

If you stay within Merlion Park past 7:00 pm, you can catch the Spectra: Light and Water Show from across the bay. The show features water and light projections, with matching sound effects. It’s free to watch, just make sure you get there before showtime to snatch a good vantage point from Merlion Park. 

Explore the majestic floral displays at Gardens by the Bay  

Address: 18 Marina Gardens Drive (Google Maps)

Contact Details: +65 6420 6848

Pricing: Starts at $32 per adult and $12 per child, some attractions inside are free to visit

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday, 5:00 am to 2:00 am 


Gardens by the Bay is not your regular garden attraction. It’s a massive garden complex, featuring world-class displays of global plants and flower species. If you love gardening, flowers, and cascading waterfalls, this place might be your cup of tea. 

The main attractions inside Gardens by the Bay are the Cloud Forest, Flower Dome, Floral Fantasy, and the Supertree Grove. The first three are located within a glass greenhouse that keeps all sorts of plants and flowers in full bloom all year round. 

The Supertree Grove, on the other hand, features 18 giant vertical gardens made to look like trees. These structures are solar-powered and include a suspended bridge to give you breathtaking views from the canopies! 


Gardens by the Bay is a very popular tourist attraction, welcoming hundreds of people, so taxis can be hard to get if you’re leaving just before closing. I recommend walking a bit towards Marina Bay Sands and hailing a taxi from there. 

If you stay within the Supertree Grove from 7:00 pm onwards, you can catch the Garden Rhapsody light show. The trees light up at night and “dance” to catchy tunes for about 15 minutes. It’s completely free, so stay back for a bit!

Take a leisurely walk at Fort Canning Park  

Address: 2 Cox Terrace (Google Maps)

Contact Details: +65 1800 471 7300

Pricing: Free

Operating Hours: Open 24/7 


Fort Canning Park is one of the most important historical landmarks in Singapore and one of my favourite parks in the Central Business District. The whole park sits on Fort Canning Hill and used to be the home of Malay royalty during the 14th century. 

After the British Empire took over Singapore, the hill became a major trading post and used Fort Canning as a military port for defence and security. You can still find remnants of both precolonial and colonial structures within the park, too! 

There’s the former command centre, the Fort Canning Heritage Gallery, old cannons, gates, trees dating over 100 years old, and more. You can explore the grounds of Fort Canning Park on your own or with a tour guide from the visitor centre! 


You can embark on self-guided heritage trails around Fort Canning using the park’s official walking tour map. There are two parts: the Ancient History Trail and the Colonial History Trail. 

These two will take roughly 45 minutes to an hour to complete and will take you through the most important sites within the park. Check out this page for more details. 

The whole park is wheelchair accessible, but the only drop-off and pick-up point that’s wheelchair friendly is at the Cox Terrace roundabout. Make sure to pin your location correctly! 

Go on a river cruise

Address: Clarke Quay Jetty (Google Maps)

Contact Details: +65 6336 6111

Pricing: $28 per adult, $18 per child

Operating Hours: Monday to Thursday, 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm, Friday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 10:30 pm


The Singapore River flows through the heart of the Central Business District, and if you’re looking for an activity that will take you through the best parts of the district, then a cruise on a traditional boat along the river is a solid option. 

The Singapore River Cruise provides boat tours on the river, passing by Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, and Marina Bay along its route. You’ll be joining other tour groups in a traditional bumboat while a tour guide gives insights about the river and areas. 

You’ll learn about Singapore’s history, the uses and significance of the river during colonial times, and a brief background of the city’s progression from a trading port to a global city. The cruise lasts about 40 minutes, so it won’t take up too much time! 


While going on the Singapore River Cruise is recommended during the day, I personally prefer doing it at night. This is because the city lights up and you get wonderful views of the city skyline slowly coming to life once the sun sets. 

Just remember to book your tickets from the Clarke Quay Jetty before the last boat departure at 10:00 pm. 

If you prefer to do the cruise with fewer crowds, I recommend booking it in the morning (as soon as they open). The queues at the ticket booth are not that long in the morning. 

Go on a shopping spree in Orchard Road’s best malls

Address: Orchard Road (Google Maps)

Along Orchard Road, you’ll find world-class shopping malls and lifestyle centres like Takashimaya Centre, ION Orchard, Wisma Atria, 313@Somerset, and Orchard Central. Here, you’ll find a myriad of retail stores, restaurants, and luxury shops. 

You can say that Orchard Road is like Singapore’s very own Fifth Avenue. You can snatch amazing deals on various goods and services, buy the latest clothing from global brands, or window shop until you drop. 

If shopping isn’t your thing, Orchard Road is still a beautiful place to explore on foot. The wise sidewalks, shaded areas, pocket gardens, and rooftop terraces make it a wonderful spot for tourists who don’t want to spend a dime in the meantime. 


If you spend about $50 on the same day while shopping at ION Orchard, you get free access to ION Sky, a rooftop observation deck located on the 56th floor of the ION Orchard Mall. 

You’ll also enjoy a free welcome drink from the deck’s rooftop bar! Check out this page for more info. 
At some malls like ION Orchard, you can rent power banks to charge your mobile devices as you shop. You only need to give them a deposit, which will be returned to you after you surrender the loaned power bank.

Got your hands full? Drop off your shopping bags by renting lockers at the mall’s visitor booths. Some malls may offer storage for free, while others may charge a small fee for each use. 

Ride the Singapore Flyer

Address: 30 Raffles Avenue (Google Maps)

Pricing: Starts at $40 per adult and $25 per child, senior citizen, and person with disabilities

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 10:00 pm


Got no fear of heights? Brave the skies and take a few trips on the Singapore Flyer for nail-biting but breathtaking views of the city. 

The Singapore Flyer stands 165 metres tall, making it one of the largest observation wheels in the whole world. It was opened in 2008 and features 28 coaches that can fit up to 28 passengers. 

Each coach travels up to 0.24 metres per second, and one whole revolution on the wheel can take as much as 30 minutes. That’s ample time to take in the views and enjoy the ride as you go higher and higher on the wheel! 


You can elevate your experience on the Singapore Flyer by booking the Sky Dining or Singapore Sling Experience. These experiences allow passengers to enjoy a full-course meal or rounds of Singapore’s iconic cocktail as their coach goes around the wheel. 

Rates vary per package, but the Sky Dining option starts at $260 per person. 

If you purchase your tickets online, you can easily reschedule your visit in case of inclement weather. The Singapore Flyer management strictly halts operations if the weather isn’t fine during your visit. 

Visit the National Museum of Singapore

Address: 93 Stamford Rd (Google Maps)

Contact Details: +65 6332 3659

Pricing: $15 for tourists, free for locals

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 6:30 pm


The National Museum of Singapore should be on your travel bucket list if you’re a fan of art and art history. This museum dates back to 1887 and houses the island’s biggest collection of Singaporean art and artefacts spanning over 700 years. 

It’s hard to ignore this museum when walking around the Civic District because of its beautifully preserved colonial design. You’re free to take pictures from the outside, but I highly recommend spending about an hour exploring the inside. 

Permanent exhibitions include the Singapore History Gallery (which showcases art and artefacts on Singapore’s growth from a settlement to a global city), and Singapore, Very Old Tree (a collection of photographs of heritage trees across Singapore).


To better accommodate visitors who may find regular crowds overwhelming, the National Museum of Singapore hosts Quiet Mornings held every first Saturday and Thursday of the month. These sessions give elderly and special needs guests prime access to the museum an hour before their official opening time, giving them the space and peace they need to enjoy the exhibits. 

Where to Eat and Drink in the Central Business District

Maxwell Food Centre

From eatlondonfoodie

Address: 1 Kadayanallur St (Google Maps)

Contact Details: +65 6225 5632

Pricing: $ to $$

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday, 8:00 am to 2:00 am

Did you work up a big appetite after shopping all day at Orchard Road? Quench your thirst and satisfy your cravings at Maxwell Food Centre, one of Singapore’s best hawker centres right in the heart of bustling Chinatown. 

Maxwell Food Centre always brings me a sense of nostalgia. I grew up buying my favourite snacks like kueh (cake) and prawn noodles from the friendly hawker uncles and aunties manning the stalls. 

My top recommendations at Maxwell are Old Nyonya (best for Peranakan curry dishes), Zhen Zhen Porridge (best for porridge), Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (Michelin award-winning stall), and Xing Xing Ondeh Ondeh (best for cakes). 


Feeling overwhelmed by the idea of a busy hawker centre? Try visiting Maxwell Food Centre on a weekday afternoon, between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm, to avoid large crowds and lengthy lines. 

To secure a free table, use the Singaporean custom of “chope-ing.” Simply place a packet of tissues or an umbrella on the table to reserve it.

Hong Lim Market and Food Centre

From xiaoqiangwalker

Address: 531A Upper Cross Street (Google Maps)

Contact Details: +65 6225 5632

Pricing: $ to $$

Operating Hours: Open 24/7

Whenever I’m in the CBD and I crave a hot bowl of spicy laksa and or wonton soup, I turn to Hong Lim Market and Food Centre right away. It houses hawker stalls with some of the best soup dishes in the city, so I recommend dropping by for a bowl or two here. 

Hong Lim Market and Food Centre is one of the oldest hawker centres in Singapore, so you’ll find a lot of hawker stalls selling mostly Singaporean fare here. Aside from laksa and soup dishes, other bestsellers are roasted duck, braised pork, and mutton curry. 

The top stalls to watch out for are Tang Kay Kee Fish Head Bee Hoon (best for fish head noodles), Noodle Memories (best for chilli minced meat noodles), Ji Ji Wanton Noodle Specialist (best for wonton noodles), and Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa (best for laksa). 


Due to its location within the CBD, Hong Lim Market and Food Centre is always packed during lunch hours (12:00 pm to 1:00 pm) thanks to the influx of office goers dropping by for their lunch break. I highly recommend coming here a little later in the afternoon (around 3:00 pm) to beat the crowds. 

Prepare to sweat a bit while dining here. There’s no air conditioning inside the hawker centre, so bring a fan or wear light clothing to keep yourself cool while eating. 

Lau Pa Sat

Address: 18 Raffles Quay (Google Maps)

Contact Details: +65 6220 2138

Pricing: $ to $$

Operating Hours: Open 24/7


There are dozens of hawker centres in Singapore, but arguably the most iconic of them all is Lau Pa Sat. Built inside a preserved Victorian-style building, this hawker centre not only serves good food but also offers a beautiful old-world ambience. 

Lau Pa Sat is also home to many hawker stalls that have earned Michelin recognition. A few examples are Lau Fy Fried Kway Teow for its fried noodles, Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang for its fried rice, and Feng Xiang Bak Kut Teh for its pork bone soup. 

Another thing Lau Pa Sat is famous for is its Satay Street, a nightly street market that flags Boon Tat Street once it hits 7:00 pm. Dozens of stalls selling freshly grilled satay (barbecue) await any hungry tourist who passes by the hawker centre. 


Be sure to research before visiting Lau Pa Sat. This will help you find Michelin-awarded stalls more easily, especially with the increased crowds at night!

Don’t forget to withdraw extra cash with you when dining at Lau Pa Sat. Not all hawker stalls will accept credit cards or cashless payments, especially the stalls along Satay Street. 

Where to Stay in the Central Business District 

The Fullerton Hotel 

Address: 1 Fullerton Square (Google Maps)

Contact Details: +65 6733 8388

Check In: 3:00 pm 

Check Out: 12:00 pm

Pricing: $$$

Book Now

I love the Fullerton Hotel. It is, in my honest opinion, one of the most stunning hotels in Singapore, not just because of its colonial architecture and design, but because of its rich history and old-world luxurious feel every time I visit. 

My husband and I would book a night or two here during our anniversary and spend a whole day just relaxing in our spacious room. When we feel like it, we spend a few hours indulging in the hotel’s spa packages and get massages, facials, and more. 

If that’s not your thing, then you can always head out and explore the attractions near the hotel. Museums, parks, and landmarks (like the ones I mentioned in this guide) are just within a few minutes from the hotel, so getting around is really easy! 


If you enjoy staying active but prefer to skip the gym, you can request a jogging path map from the Fullerton Hotel’s concierge. They offer guests routes for jogging around the city or within the Civic District.

Carlton City Hotel 

Address: Gopeng St, 1 (Google Maps)

Contact Details: +65 6632 8888

Pricing: $$$

Check In: 2:00 pm

Check Out: 12:00 pm

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Carlton City Hotel sits near the southernmost part of the CBD, but it still is just a walk away from the heart of downtown. There’s a shopping mall right next to it, a park just across, and multiple spots nearby to wine and dine. 

There are four room types: Deluxe, Executive, Carlton Club, and Carlton Suites. The rooms are comfortable, spacious, and clean, offering stunning views of the Singapore skyline through floor-to-ceiling windows. 

For a staycation, I recommend booking the Executive Suite, especially if you’re with children. These rooms comfortably accommodate four people and include free minibar snacks, desk chairs, and unlimited Wi-Fi in case you need to get some work done.


Booking a room at the Carlton City Hotel for four nights or more entitles you to a 25% discount on your total bill. Discover more about this stay package and promotion here.

Feeling hungry in the middle of the night but don’t want to splurge on room service? Just right across from the hotel is a supermarket that’s open 24/7. The hotel staff won’t mind if you sneak in a few snacks to your room!

Marina Bay Sands

Address: 10 Bayfront Ave (Google Maps)

Contact Details: +65 6688 8868

Check In: 3:00 pm 

Check Out: 11:00 am

Pricing: $$$

Book Now

For an exceptional stay in Singapore’s Central Business District, consider the Marina Bay Sands Singapore. While it might be a splurge, it offers unparalleled luxury and convenience (but I honestly think it’s worth every penny!).

This iconic hotel is perfectly situated next to Marina Bay, providing easy access to many nearby attractions like Gardens by the Bay. My favourite thing about this hotel is that you have everything you need to enjoy a luxurious holiday within a few minutes. 

Rooms are outfitted with entertainment systems, plush beds, luxurious decor, and spa-like bathrooms. The hotel boasts a mall, fine dining restaurants, an infinity pool, and prime access to its world-class casino. 


If you book the Grand King Room, you’ll get access to the Sands Lounge, an exclusive lounge where guests can relax and enjoy priority check-in privileges. There’s a little station inside where they serve refreshments (all part of the privilege of staying in the hotel’s best rooms). 
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