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Singapore vs Tokyo: Which Urban City Should You Visit 2024

Singapore vs Tokyo – the ultimate face-off for your next city adventure!  If you’re gearing up for an epic trip to Asia and are a little stuck in choosing between two of the most modern cities in the world, you’ve come to the right place! 

Picture this – the organized efficiency of Singapore pitted against the dynamic fusion of tradition and modernity in Tokyo. We are going to unpack the pros and cons of visiting Tokyo and Singapore so you can choose the best city for you!

As an avid traveler who has visited Asia a few times now, I’m here to be your guide through the intricacies of these two captivating cities, no fluff, just the facts, and my honest opinion. 

So, let’s dive straight into the heart of the matter – the Singapore vs. Tokyo showdown. 

Get ready to make your next travel decision a breeze!

Singapore vs Tokyo: How Does Singapore Compare to Tokyo 

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what it’s actually like traveling to Tokyo and Singapore!

We’re diving deep into the essential aspects of Tokyo and Singapore including food, accommodation, cost, safety, transportation, and more, providing you with the insights you need to pick the right destination for you.

When it comes to Singapore vs Tokyo weather, Singapore experiences year round heat
Kampong Glam, Singapore

Tokyo Vs Singapore Weather

When it comes to weather, Tokyo and Singapore offer distinct atmospheres for your city adventures.

Tokyo experiences four distinct seasons, with cherry blossoms painting the city during spring and bright red and orange foliage decorating the streets in autumn. 

Summers can be warm and humid (especially in the large crowds of people), with the occasional typhoon making its way through the city. Then there is winter where you may even experience a small amount of snowfall, so yes it can get pretty cold!

In contrast, Singapore boasts a tropical climate, with high temperatures and consistent humidity all year round.

If you are looking to escape the heat on a winter vacation where you can rock trench coats and boots, Singapore may not be the Asian city for you. 

You can also expect frequent rain showers, especially during the monsoon season, so make sure to pack an umbrella and a raincoat.

Whether you’re donning layers to combat Tokyo’s winter chill or embracing the warmth of Singapore’s perpetual summer, both cities present unique weather experiences. 

Personally, I prefer places that have four distinct seasons, perhaps that’s just because I am an Aussie and that’s what I am used to, or perhaps because I need a break from the summer heat and humidity!

Anyway, for me personally I prefer Tokyo weather over the constant heat of Singapore. 

? Winner: Tokyo

Ichiran ramen is a must eat in Tokyo to try the local Japanese cuisine
Ichiran Ramen, Tokyo

Tokyo Vs Singapore Food

Prepare your taste buds for a culinary showdown: Singapore Vs Tokyo is going head to head! 

Tokyo and Singapore, both renowned foodie havens, offer delicious treats that cater to diverse palates.

Tokyo’s street markets and upscale restaurants showcase the artistry of Japanese cuisine, from katsu curry and ramen to tempura and yakitori.

As you eat your way through Japan you’ll taste the delicate umami, fresh seafood, and meticulous craftsmanship that makes Japanese food the popular cuisine it is. 

Must Eats in Tokyo 

✔️Tsukiji Outer Market for sush and fresh seafoon

✔️Ichiran Ramen for the popular individual booth ramen experience

✔️Ameya Yokocho Street Market

Singapore on the other hand offers a melting pot of cultures, with its hawker centers and Michelin-starred establishments presenting a fusion of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Peranakan flavors. It’s a true underdog when it comes to destinations for foodies to visit!

Try iconic dishes like Hainanese Chicken Rice, roti prata, chili grab, and Laksa noodle soup.

Must Eats in Singapore 

✔️Maxwell Food Centre, one of the best Hawker centres

✔️ Chilli Crab Red House Seafood Esplanade

✔️Hainanese Chicken Rice at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice:

Is anyone else hungry now after all of this talk of food?!

Whether you’re craving the savory umami of Tokyo or the spicy, aromatic dishes of Singapore, both cities offer some top-notch street food, fine dining, and everything in between. 

It ultimately comes down to your tastes, literally… Looking for flavour-packed spicy dishes like Laska that will make you break a sweat, head to Singapore. Prefer rich salty, meaty, and slightly sweet flavors like miso soup or Japanese curry, head to Japan.

For me, I have to give a slight edge to Tokyo as the city often goes above and beyond just offering delicious food, it’s an experience to remember. 

? Winner: Tokyo!

Singapore or Tokyo Transport 

Navigating the bustling streets of these jam-packed, populous cities requires an efficient transportation system, and lucky for us both Singapore and Tokyo deliver. 

Tokyo’s extensive and punctual train network, including the iconic JR Yamanote Line, makes exploring the city and beyond a breeze. Heading to Kyoto or Osaka? No problem, just jump on a bullet train and you’ll be there in no time! 

And don’t worry, as someone who can be a bit geographically challenged with navigating, I was able to get the hang of the subway system in Tokyo surprisingly quickly. Most signs have English translations and when in doubt Google Maps is your best friend for finding which line to jump on and what station to hop off at. 

Buses and taxis in Tokyo offer additional convenience. There are Uber’s available in central Tokyo although the locals tend to opt for hailing a taxi. 

In Singapore, an efficient public transport system featuring buses and an extensive MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) network ensures seamless connectivity. 

The city’s compact size also makes walking and cycling around a great option, perfect if you only have a few days to explore the city.

For a more personalized trip, consider hopping on a Grab – the Southeast Asian equivalent of ride-sharing, as Uber is not available. 

Additionally, take advantage of Singapore’s proximity to stunning destinations and efficient and cheap transport system by heading on day trips to neighboring gems like Sentosa Island or Bintan.

The winner goes to Singapore for it’s easy of getting around, walkability and proximity to neighbouring South East Asian countries!

? Winner: Singapore

Little India in Singapore is a safe destination to visit. Both Singapore and Tokyo are safe to visiti
Little India, Singapore

Singapore Vs Tokyo Safety

Safety is a top priority for any traveler, especially if you are a solo traveler like me, and both Singapore and Tokyo excel in providing secure environments. 

Tokyo, renowned for its low crime rates and remarkable societal order, ensures a secure environment for tourists. I felt incredibly safe and respected traveling alone to Tokyo as a young woman. 

The locals are always happy to lend a hand if you’re lost yet they maintained a respectful distance, allowing everyone to go about their business seamlessly, creating a reassuring atmosphere.

Similarly, Singapore, known for its strict laws, boasts one of the lowest crime rates globally, allowing you to explore with peace of mind. The city’s well-lit streets and efficient policing contribute to a safe atmosphere.

I think other solo female travelers will feel very comfortable exploring Singapore, soaking in the orderly operation of the city.

Whether wandering through the vibrant districts of Shibuya or strolling along Singapore’s Marina Bay, both cities prioritize the safety and well-being of their visitors, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the wonders they have to offer.

It’s a tie when it comes to safety!

? Winner: Tie!

Golden Gai in Shinjuku Tokyo is one of the best things to do to explore the nightlife
Golden Gai, Tokyo

Singapore or Tokyo: Things To Do

When it comes to things to do, Singapore and Tokyo offer a range of activities, perfect for a variety of travelers.

Tokyo has a fantastic blend of modern and traditional experiences to add to your Japan itinerary – from the quirky streets of Harajuku and the serenity of Meiji Shrine to the electrifying energy of pop culture neighborhood Akihabara. 

Top 5 Must-Do’s in Tokyo

1. Shibuya and Harajuku: Visit the infamous Shibuya Crossing and explore the eclectic fashion scene in Harajuku.

2. Golden Gai and Shinjuku Nightlife: Visit the alleyway bars at Golden Gai in Shinjuku and afterward explore the lively nightlife in Kabukicho. 

3. Wander around Akihabara: Explore the futuristic and otaku culture of Akihabara, with its electronic shops and anime stores.

4. Visit Ueno: Discover Tokyo’s cultural side in Ueno, home to Ueno Park, museums, and cherry blossom-lined paths in spring.

5. Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea: Experience the Disney magic at Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea

In Singapore, be amazed at the iconic Gardens by the Bay, explore the vibrant neighborhoods of Chinatown and Little India, or venture into the renowned hawker centers for some tasty treats.

Top 5 Must-Do’s in Singapore 

1. Gardens by the Bay: Experience the future at Gardens by the Bay, where there are epic towering Supertrees and light shows.

2. Sentosa Island: Escape to Sentosa for a day at Universal Studios, Adventure Cove waterpark, or one of the beaches.

3. Marina Bay Sands: Visit the iconic Marina Bay Sands, home to a stunning rooftop pool, SkyPark with panoramic views, and luxury shopping and dining.

4. Chinatown and Little India: Dive into Singapore’s diverse culture in Chinatown and Little India, filled with vibrant streets, temples, and fantastic street food.

5. Singapore Botanic Gardens: Wander around UNESCO-listed Singapore Botanic Gardens, exploring the greenery, the National Orchid Garden, and all the gorgeous landscapes.

Overall, I’d say Tokyo has more experiences on offer which makes it a better spot to visit if you are visiting for more than a few days.

Whilst Singapore is smaller, you can pack a punch with some of the cultural sights and it can be a more manageable trip if you only have a couple of days to spare. 

? Winner: Tokyo

Singapore Vs Tokyo Accommodation

Choosing the right accommodation is crucial for a comfortable and enjoyable stay that meets your budget. 

Accommodation in Tokyo can be pretty expensive, especially in popular areas such as Shinjuku and Shibuya. That being said there is a range of accommodations in the city center to choose from from hostels, traditional ryokans to modern high-rise hotels.

If you are on a tight budget yet still like some more privacy than a typical hostel stay, there are some pretty cool capsule hostels or affordable 1-bed hotels that whilst tiny, provide the comfort of having your own room and bathroom. 

Where to stay in Tokyo

✔️ Budget StayUnplan Shinjuku ⭐ 7.9/10 (2,254 reviews)

✔️ Mid-Range StayHotel Matsunoi (Where I stayed!) ⭐ 8.4/10 (615 reviews)

✔️Luxury Stay Park Hyatt Hotel ⭐ 9.2/10 (266 reviews)

Singapore accommodation can also be a pretty penny, particularly in areas such as Marina Bay and Orchard Road. 

You can opt for some pretty cool luxury hotels with stunning skyline views in the city center or more mid-range cozy boutique hotels tucked away in cultural neighborhoods.

Budget travelers, don’t expect hostel prices to match those in Thailand or Vietnam and sometimes the value for the price isn’t quite what it should be. 

Where to stay in Singapore

✔️ Budget StayThe Bohemian ⭐ 8/10 (609 reviews)

✔️ Mid-Range Staylyf Funan Singapore ⭐ 8.5/10 (4481 reviews)

✔️Luxury Stay Pan Pacific Singapore ⭐ 8.5/10 (2075 reviews)

Overall I’d say if you are after luxury hotels with stunning views, check out Singapore, on the other hand, if you’re looking for great budget stays, check out Tokyo.

Mid-range seekers, you really can’t go wrong with either, there are some great 3 and 4-stay business hotels. 

? Winner: Tokoyo

Shinjuku in Tokyo has better nightlife than Singapore
Shinjuku, Tokyo

Singapore and Tokyo Nightlife

Both Singapore and Tokyo kick into high gear, each with its own spin on nightlife – one cranking it up a notch more than the other.

Tokyo’s nightlife is a wild mix, from the buzzing energy of spots like Shinjuku and Roppongi to the cozy vibe of Golden Gai’s pocket-sized bars. 

Picture this: futuristic neon lights dancing alongside traditional izakayas. In Kabukicho there is an entertainment tower with a virtual DJ, arcade, night club, and restaurants all in one building!

Meanwhile, in Singapore, Clarke Quay is pretty much the go-to, buzzing with bars and clubs, setting the stage for a lively night out. 

And don’t miss out on the city’s rooftop bars, like the legendary Marina Bay Sands SkyBar – sipping cocktails with jaw-dropping views is the kind of nightcap that is perfect for ending a day of exploring. 

In my opinion, Tokyo’s nightlife is much more diverse than Singapore’s. You can sit in a traditional sake bar, sip cocktails on a rooftop with insane views, or dance the night away at a raging club that will have you staying until closure. 

? Winner: Tokyo

Singapore accommodation can be pretty expensive, same goes for the cost of living
Singapore

Singapore Vs Tokyo Cost of Living

When it comes to the cost of living, Singapore and Tokyo both fall on the higher end of the spectrum, but with a few differences in their expense profiles. 

Tokyo, while still considered expensive, offers more varied choices for affordable accommodation and street food. The key here is in navigating your preferences and finding a balance between luxury and frugality. 

For some, it may mean splurging on a Michelin star bowl of soba (yes that is a thing) whilst staying in a capsule hostel, for others, it might mean staying in a hotel apartment with a kitchen and making food with local ingredients from the market. 

On the flip side, Singapore is renowned for its pricey lifestyle, particularly in terms of accommodation and dining. However, efficient public transport and an array of hawker centers provide some budget-friendly options so that’s a tick! 

Now, let’s break it down with a snapshot of basic cost comparisons:

ExpenseSingapore (USD)Tokyo (USD)
Meal at a Street Market$3 – $8$6 – $15
Mid-Range Restaurant Dinner for Two$50 – $100$60 – $150
Public Transport (Monthly Pass)$80 – $120$60 – $100
One-Night Accommodation (Mid-Range Hotel)$100 – $200$70 – $150
Coffee from a Café$4 – $6$3 – $5
Cost of Beer in a Bar$6 – $10$5 – $8

These figures give you a glimpse into the day-to-day costs in each city. Remember, the actual expenses can vary based on personal choices and lifestyle preferences.

? Winner: Tokyo

Hawker centre in Singapore offers some of the best Asian street food
Hawker Centre, Singapore

Tokyo and Singapore Pros and Cons Summary 

Below I have provided a summary of some of the pros and cons of visiting Tokyo and Singapore, some of which we’ve already touched on earlier!

Tokyo

ProsCons
Cultural RichnessHigh Living Costs
Efficient TransportCrowded Streets and transport
Very SafeCan Be Very Noisy
Loads of Things To Do & Great NightlifeLack of Fruit and Veggies
Diverse Food Scene SceneLimited Natural Scenery in the City Centre

Singapore

ProsCons
Cultural DiversityHigh Living Costs
Efficient TransportHot and Humid Climate
Very safe Crowded Spaces
Cleanliness & OrderSmall Country – Less To Explore
Great Location in AsiaLimited Natural Scenery

FAQ’s: Singapore vs Tokyo

Moving onto some commonly asked questions about Singapore vs Tokyo!

Is it better to live in Singapore or Japan?

The decision between living in Singapore or Japan depends on your personal preferences and priorities. 

Singapore offers a well-organized and efficient lifestyle, a melting pot of cultures, and a vibrant business hub. 

On the other hand, Japan, with its unique blend of tradition and modernity, provides a rich cultural experience, beautiful landscapes that are easily accessible, and a diverse range of activities. 

Consider factors such as career opportunities, cultural preferences, and lifestyle when making this decision.

Where is more expensive Singapore or Japan?

In general, both Singapore and Japan are known for being pretty expensive to visit and live in.

Singapore is often considered one of the most expensive cities globally, with high housing and dining costs.

Japan, particularly Tokyo, can also be costly, but as an Australian, I found it pretty reasonable, and you do tend to get good value for what you pay for.

It ultimately depends on individual spending habits, lifestyle choices, and specific locations within each country.

Where should I go for my first time in Asia?

For a first-time visit to Asia, both Singapore and Tokyo offer a fantastic first taste of Asia.

Singapore provides a seamless introduction to Asia with its multicultural environment, great public transport, English-friendly atmosphere, and modern amenities. It’s a great starting point for those seeking a blend of city sophistication and cultural diversity. 

Then there’s Tokyo another epic choice that offers a unique fusion of tradition and innovation, giving visitors a taste of Japan’s rich heritage amid a futuristic city. 

If you are on a tight budget and want to experience more of the raw unfiltered hustle of Asia – street food, bang-for-your-buck stays, and a vibe that’s a bit more old-school – Thailand or Vietnam in Southeast Asia is the way to go. Get ready for the real deal without breaking the bank and let loose in the chaos.

The Wrap-Up: Singapore Vs Tokyo (My Opinion)

Alright, we’ve dished out the deets on Singapore and Tokyo, and it’s decision time! So which is better to visit?

Whether you’re vibing with the futuristic chaos of Tokyo or digging Singapore’s cultural cocktail, both cities bring something special to the table. 

Tokyo has my heart for its delicious food, mix of tradition and innovation, range of seasons, and buzzing nightlife. I absolutely love Tokyo and in my opinion, there is just more to see here compared to Singapore. Plus you can easily hop on a train in Tokyo and in a few hours you’re in Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, or Honshu. 

If you’ve only got a few days in your pocket and you’re after a cultural blender, killer food, and a sweet spot to kick off your Southeast Asia exploration, Singapore’s an excellent option. It’s like a great breather from the mad chaos, and the not-so-pleasant smells you might find in the neighboring countries.

So, pick what speaks to you, the sleek streets of Singapore or the lively buzz of Tokyo. Here’s to rolling with the punches, savoring the local flavors, and making your journey one for the books. 

✔️ Flights: Book your flights on Skyscanner 

➡️ Car rental: Rent your car on DiscoverCars

✔️ Travel insurance: I recommend World Nomads

➡️ Accommodations: Book your stay at booking.com

✔️ Activities: Arrange your adventure trips and tours

Read next!

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Seoul or Tokyo: Which City Should You Visit?

7 Best Countries Near Japan to Visit: Extend Your Japan Travels!

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