Singapore glimmers and shimmers like a jewel at the very tip of the Malay Peninsula. A breath of mechanised modernism in the midst of Southeast Asia, its heart is an uber-efficient banking and big-business hub that hits a zenith with the UFO-like skyscrapers of the Marina Bay. Swirling around that is a metropolis of epic proportions, not afraid of a little grit. At one point, it rolls through streets lit by red-paper lanterns with the soy-scented walks of bustling Chinatown. At another, it delves between the lotus-strewn shrines and spicy thali joints of Little India. Between those come colossal shopping malls, rich art galleries, audacious urban gardens, and hipster enclaves, all before the city fades into the rolling jungles and hazy hills beyond.
Airbnbs in Singapore can help you make this the trip of a lifetime. From budget-friendly studios to chic condos with communal pools, they come in all shapes and sizes. This guide aims to give you an idea about where you can book, with an intro into the top Airbnb neighbourhoods across the city. It’s also got some hot tips on the best individual properties on the market.
Airbnb itself is totally legal in Singapore. There are no restrictions in place that mean you can’t browse and book a stay over the sharing service. That said, the country does have other local rules that govern short-term lettings for tourists. Strictly speaking, no one’s allowed to rent out their private pad for periods of less than three months. In practice, these rules aren’t really enforced on the ground – the hundreds upon hundreds of listings currently available in Singapore should testify to that! What’s more, it’s likely that any legal repercussions will be directed at property owners, not travelers, and we can only find a single reported instance of guests being turned away from their booking.
Where should I stay in Singapore Airbnb?
If money’s no object, a stay in a penthouse down on Marina Bay(1) could be in order. Alternatively, there’s the wonderful hipster shopping area of Kampong Glam(2), or the foodie haven of Chinatown(3) close by. Singapore’s Little India(4) remains a fantastic choice if you’re watching the travel budget and want something truly immersive. For markets and something upcoming, Tiong Bahru(5) could be on the menu, while next-door River Valley(6) has some of the finest family condominiums the city can muster.
Some of Singapore’s most iconic sights
Upscale dining galore
Very, very expensive
You might not even find a single Airbnb in the heart of the district – it’s that exclusive!
Marina Bay is the kernel of Singapore. It’s the iconic halo of skyscrapers and twinkling lights that makes it onto most postcards of the metropolis. It’s also a place that every first-time visitor should have on their radar. As prime real estate, it’s likely that most of the condo buildings near this uber-famous area will be located a little up the Singapore River. They’ll still put you within walking distance of the main attractions of Marina Bay, which include the endless fashion shopping of the Marina Square mall, the Gucci-touting Shoppes arcades, and the amazing Gardens by the Bay.
Charge the camera for Kampong Glam, because this historic quarter of downtown Singapore is a veritable kaleidoscope of colours. The streets are garlanded in daffodil-yellow mansions and scarlet trading houses that date back centuries. It’s actually the old Muslim district, which shines through in the wealth of Middle Eastern mezze joints and Persian kitchens. Shoppers will want to hit Haji Lane to be lost betwixt the shisha pipes and Berber carpets and bejewelled saris. For food, head to Arab Street – it’s got everything from Swedish bakeries to Lebanese take out!
The aromas of ginger and cumin and bubbling garam masala roll through the blocks of Little India, while multicoloured Hindu shrines loom overhead and blooms of puja flowers burst from the alcoves and the markets. For a tiny taste of New Delhi, this is the place to go. Only, it retains a little of that Singapore style, with its straight-laced electronics shops and clean streets fringed by boutique hostels. Perhaps the most enticing aspect of Little India is that prices tend to be some of the lowest in the city here.
There’s no doubt about it – Chinatown is one of Singapore’s most immersive areas. A great wedge of the downtown to the immediate west of Marina Bay, it begins with the lantern-dangling bazaars of South Bridge Road, where the sellers tout everything from bubble tea to cutting-edge electronics goods. Temple Street and Smith Street reach beyond that, taking you deeper into the mix of Canton cookhouses and noodle buffets. On rainy days, check out the Chinatown Heritage Centre to unravel the tale of multicultural Singapore and its Chinese migrant cohort.
Tiong Bahru really revolves around Tiong Bahru Market. A trip there is an experience in itself, offering a glimpse of a bona fide Singaporean wet market, where steamed rice cakes are stacked next to pungent fish fresh off the boat. Around the famous trading courts is one of the oldest residential parts of the metropolis, which is now slowly edging into the realms of the hipster, with a growing number of artisan coffee outlets, record emporiums and bespoke bookshops. It’s also quieter and cheaper than the main centre.
River Valley might be fringed on its northern side by the retail mecca that is Orchard Road, but it’s actually among the quieter havens in central Singapore. Leafy and green, the streets come threaded with mahogany trees and ferns. Meanwhile, a forest of skyscraper condos looms behind gated walls. They often have shared pools, shared gyms, communal gardens, and high levels of privacy, making them prime territory for family Airbnbs.
On the fringes of the buzzy hipster neighbourhood of Kampong Glam, this lovely duplex apartment has recently been redone with contemporary finishes and furnishes. Downstairs is a compact living area with a dining table for two. Upstairs comes the mezzanine-style bed. The best feature? This property is located inside a condo complex that boasts a communal swimming pool and gym!
You’ll have the whole floor of a house to yourself if you score this luxury listing on the northern outskirts of Singapore. It puts you in a great place for visits to acclaimed Singapore Zoo, the TreeTop Walk, and local golf courses. Inside, there are 103 square metres of space that flaunt frills like a steam room and a private office area.
In a metropolis where family-sized flats can be hard to come by, this three-room pad is something of a rare find. Inside, it’s simple but comfy, with a quirky dining area that converts into a billiards room and a trio of sleeping quarters with interesting art pieces on the walls. The local neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru only adds to the charm, what with its artisan cafés and historic shophouse architecture.
Located a few MRT stops to the north-east of Singapore’s central core, this five-bedroom place could be the perfect choice for your large travel group, especially if budget is an issue. There’s space for up to 12 guests in total throughout the contemporary home, which also comes with air conditioning and a generously sized lounge come diner.
To save some dollars for those jaunts through the Chinatown bazaars or Singapore Slings in Raffles, be sure to consider this lovely pod hostel. It offers sleeping in shared dorms, but with beds that have private curtain pulls for extra seclusion. On top of that, there’s a fantastic panoramic terrace where you can kick back with likeminded travelers while the sun sets over the metropolis.
Singapore isn’t known as one of Southeast Asia’s more budget-friendly cities. In fact, it’s regularly listed among the priciest destinations on the planet. That’s probably why Airbnbs have proved so popular in recent years, because they do generally tend to give lower nightly rates than resorts or hotels. On top of that, you can mitigate costs further by sharing apartments with more travelers and making use of the self-catering facilities that come part and parcel to many an Airbnb.
On the downside, these sorts of stays won’t give the same height of luxury that’s on the menu in Singaporean hotels. Take a place like the YOTEL Singapore Orchard Road. It’s got clean, stylish and compact rooms, along with sumptuous breakfast buffet offerings and a stunning swimming pool that opens onto views of the downtown skyscrapers. You’ll probably pay extra there, but will be pampered more!
Skyscraper-topped and jaw-dropping in its urban design, Singapore is one of the world’s bucket-list cities. Choose an Airbnb to have a pad of your own in the sprawling metropolis, so you can explore the Gardens by the Bay and the heady markets of Chinatown at whatever pace you like.