Singapore might make you think of a lot of things – delicious food, Marina Bay Sands, Crazy Rich Asians. However, there’s so much more to this small country than meets the eye. We had the chance to stopover in Singapore en route to the Maldives. Singapore’s blend of cultures makes it one of the most unique places I’ve visited. While you may need an extra day to experience everything in Singapore, this 2 day Singapore itinerary highlights all of the main sights.
- Day 1: Getting Acquainted with Singapore
- Day 2: Explore Singapore’s Cultural Side
- Got a Few More Days?
- Final Thoughts
Day 1: Getting Acquainted with Singapore
Arriving at Changi Airport
We arrived at Changi airport after midnight on our first day in Singapore. Having just come from Japan, our first impression of Singapore was “wow, this place is humid”. The easiest way to get downtown from Changi Airport late at night is a taxi, but there is a 50% surcharge for after midnight fares. If you arrive earlier in the day, you can explore other options like the bus or train. We stayed at two hotels in Singapore, the InterContinental Singapore and the Conrad Centennial Singapore. Both were nice options, especially with points. However, as a Hilton Diamond member, I would recommend the Conrad for its complimentary breakfast and executive lounge.
Explore Singapore’s Chinatown
Start your day in Chinatown. First, stop at the Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple completed in 1827. If you want to enter the temple, be sure to respect the dress code by covering your shoulders and knees.
Next, explore the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Built in 2007, this ornate four-story temple is free to enter. It opens early so try going before the crowds arrive for a more peaceful experience. Then, head to the Chinatown Complex, Singapore’s largest hawker center. We decided to try Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, a hawker stall that earned a Michelin star in 2016. You could spend an hour or two wandering around the complex sampling different items.
Walk Through Gardens by the Bay
After gorging yourself at the Chinatown Complex, head over to Gardens by the Bay, a massive park near Marina Bay Sands. Gardens by the Bay includes the Supertree Grove, Flower Dome, and Cloud Forest. It is free to explore the Supertree Grove but there is a fee to access the elevated walkway between the trees. You can also come back at night to see the trees lit up during the Garden Rhapsody light show at 7:45pm and 8:45pm. Cloud Forest and Flower Dome are indoor conservatories that require a ticket to enter. I recommend visiting both, especially if you get caught in one of Singapore’s many rainstorms.
The Flower Dome is the largest greenhouse in the world. I recommend visiting this before the more impressive Cloud Forest. The Cloud Forest replicates the climate of the tropical mountain regions of Southeast Asia and South America with the 138 foot “Cloud Mountain” as the main focal point of the exhibit.
Visit the Glamorous Marina Bay Sands
After Gardens by the Bay, visit the massive complex that is Marina Bay Sands. You can walk around the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, a megamall of luxury stores. Another option is the Sands SkyPark Observation Deck, though I recommend saving money on the ticket and coming back at night to get a drink at the CÉ LA VI Skybar instead. You could also stop by the casino.
A Fancy Dinner at Odette
Singapore is known for its hawker stalls and street food, but it is also a hub for Michelin star restaurants. I recommend Odette, located at the National Gallery. I’ve been to several Michelin starred restaurants and this was one of my favorite experiences to date.
Grab a Drink at CÉ LA VI Skybar
Walk off dinner by heading to Merlion Park to check out the statue of Merlion, a creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish. Then head to Marina Bay Sands for a drink at CÉ LA VI Skybar on the 57th floor. As I mentioned earlier, you get the same great city view as the Observation Deck but don’t have to pay a fee. Of course, the drinks aren’t cheap.
Day 2: Explore Singapore’s Cultural Side
A Tour of Little India
On Day 2 of your time in Singapore, head to Little India. Start at the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, a Hindu temple built in 1881 and named for the Goddess and destroyer of evil, Kali. Again, be sure to cover your shoulders and knees if you plan to go inside. Next, check out the House of Tan Teng Niah, a brightly color Chinese villa formerly owned by a Chinese businessman. Even if you’re not interested in shopping, stop by the Tekka Center and the Mustafa Center. The Tekka Center is a more traditional marketplace with a hawker center and shopping stalls. The Mustafa Center, on the other hand, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. This 24/7 shopping complex has any item you can imagine from food to electronics to jewelry.
Explore Kampong Glam (Arab Quarter)
Start by visiting the Sultan Mosque, the biggest mosque in Singapore. It was first built in 1824, though the original building was replaced by the current structure five years later. The Sultan Mosque is open from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm. The Mosque is the main site to see in Kampong Glam. Spend the rest of your time walking down the Instagram-famous Haji Lane or grabbing a drink or bite to eat on Arab Street.
Eat at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
If you want to try the other Michelin star hawker stall, make your way over to Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle. I would only recommend this if you are patient since the line is usually extremely long and takes at least an hour!
Head Back to Changi
We had a night flight back to the US (on Singapore Suites, no less!) so we didn’t eat dinner in Singapore on our last night. If you’re still in town at dinner time, try satay on Boon Tat Street — also known as “Satay Street“. Sticks of meat and a cold drink, what else could you ask for?
Got a Few More Days?
Here are a few other ideas if you have more time in Singapore:
- Singapore Botanic Gardens: A 160-year-old tropical garden with free admission
- Orchard Road: Singapore’s biggest shopping area
- Universal Studios Singapore: A theme park on Sentosa Island
- Singapore Night Safari: The world’s first nocturnal zoo
This 2 day Singapore itinerary is packed with cultural experiences of old-world Singapore and the modern flare of the Marina district. And of course food, lot’s of food! While there are a few things I wish I had time to do, this Singapore travel guide covers the highlights that any first-time visitor should see.