While it’s a compact little island, Singapore has everything you would want to experience while on holiday, all easily within reach.
Shopping ‘til you drop? Check! Architectural wonders galore? Check! Enchanting parks and gardens? Check! Food so flavorful you won’t have any self-control? Check, check, check!
With so many things to see and do and so little time, how can you decide? Well, we’ve got you covered: here’s a concise two-day itinerary to help you make the most of your weekend in the Lion City.
Have a Singaporean-style breakfast in Chinatown
When in Singapore, you may want to do as the Singaporeans do, so eat like the locals at Tong Ah Eating House on Keong Saik Road – it’s a no-frills establishment where you can grab a typical Singaporean brekkie in the form of kaya toast (coconut jam and butter slathered between two pieces of hot toast) with a side of soft-boiled eggs and a steaming cup of coffee.
You can also opt for the more tourist-friendly Toast Box, a popular chain eatery that offers a wider variety of local dishes with a Western touch (they have French toast and sandwiches).
Afterwards, you can work off your breakfast by walking the streets of Chinatown. Check out the shops along the street market on Pagoda Street, or ornate temples such as the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Thian Hock Keng Temple, and Sri Mariamman Temple.
Discover Singapore’s heritage at Little India and Kampong Glam
Singapore is known to be a melting pot of cultures, so you’ll want to explore the ethnic enclaves of Little India and Kampong Glam – oozing with individuality and history, discover each neighborhood’s charming streets and sample their gastronomical delights, from thosai and chapati to briyani and murtabak.
The bright, cheery colors of Little India’s buildings will immediately perk you up and you won’t be able to resist taking photos of its famous landmarks, like Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and House of Tan Teng Niah.
If you’re into vintage outfits and indie labels, then you’ll love what Kampong Glam has to offer – Haji Lane and Bali Lane are treasure troves of boutique shops offering offbeat threads and accessories, in addition to quirky street art and hip cafes. When viewed from North Bridge Road, the Sultan Mosque is a sight to behold, acting as a grand centerpiece.
Savor the city’s finest coffee near Robertson Quay
Next, head down to Robertson Quay, where you’ll find some of the best coffee roasters and cafes in town, such as Toby’s Estate, which overlooks the Singapore River, or Common Man Coffee Roasters on Martin Road.
You can then take a leisurely stroll down the river on Queen Elizabeth Walk, which will take you towards the Downtown Core and Marina Bay. Along the way, you’ll pass by buildings of interest, such as the Parliament building, the National Gallery, the Arts House, and the Victoria Theater & Concert House.
Once you reach Singapore’s most iconic landmark, the Merlion statue, pause for a moment and enjoy the stunning view, which spans across Marina Bay, encompassing Marina Bay Sands and the Helix Bridge, with lights that change color throughout the night.
Get a panoramic view of Singapore’s glittering nightscape
For an awe-inspiring view of Singapore’s cityscape at night, book a capsule on the Singapore Flyer. Or better yet, catch an elevator up to one of Marina Bay Sands’ chic bars or restaurants, like Cé La Vi or Spago by Wolfgang Puck, where you can savor the view for as long as you like over dinner.
Explore Singapore’s most happening ’hood
Be in the know and hang around one of Singapore’s up-and-coming neighborhoods, Tiong Bahru. You can either grab a quick breakfast at Tiong Bahru Bakery, a French-style pâtisserie known for its light, buttery croissants, or sit down at Tiong Bahru Market, where you can find hawker stalls serving up local favorites such as chwee kueh (steamed rice cakes typically eaten with preserved radish and chili paste) and lor mee (braised noodles).
Later, explore the trendy shops which exude cool, from Curated Records for your vinyl fix to BooksActually, an indie local bookstore stacked with homegrown and international titles, as well as cute stationery.
Go on an outdoor adventure at Sentosa Island
Did you know that there’s more to Sentosa than Resorts World and the Universal Studios theme park? (Although admittedly, they’re pretty awesome.) For example, you can arrive in style via cable car, where you can get a bird’s eye view of the island as you dangle hundreds of feet above.
You can then take to Siloso Beach for a bit of sun and surf. From there, head over to Fort Siloso, a historical fort turned war museum, to learn a bit about Singapore’s history.
There are several ways to get there: you can take the scenic route via the Fort Siloso Skywalk or the free shuttle bus, which also stops by all the major attractions on the island.
Escape the crowds at Singapore Botanic Gardens
If you’d rather skip the touristy wonderland of Sentosa altogether and find yourself in need of some peace and quiet, then you’re sure to find it at Singapore Botanic Gardens – a lush, 183-acre stretch of tropical greenery.
Take your time exploring its crisscrossing paths, gardens, and lakes. One of the Gardens’ most popular attractions is the National Orchid Garden, where you can admire the splendor of various species of orchid blooms.
If you take a walk through the Rainforest, you’ll probably come across trees that are far older than the Gardens themselves.
Indulge in some retail therapy at Orchard Road
If you’re an avid shopper, then you’ve likely heard of Orchard Road, Singapore’s most famous shopping district, akin to London’s Oxford Street. With malls upon malls packed with high-end stores lining the street, you can shop to your heart’s content.
Besides shopping, however, there are a number of fun alternative activities nearby. For those into art and museums, there’s the National Museum and the Art Museum.
Take a detour off Orchard Road, and you’ll come across Emerald Hill Road, its well-preserved heritage buildings a jarring yet welcome contrast to the high street’s modern structures.
Take in the spectacular sight of the towering Supertrees
Who says modern technology and Mother Nature don’t go together? Since their unveiling in 2012, the Supertree Grove at the award-winning Gardens By the Bay have drawn millions of tourists. Comprising 18 tree-like structures standing at varying heights of 25 to 50 meters tall, the futuristic trees come to life at night with a breathtaking light and sound display.
The Supertrees embody Singapore’s ambition to become a state-of-the-art garden city, as they are able to generate solar power, act as air vents for nearby conservatories, and collect rainwater for reuse.
If the Supertrees don’t have you feeling like you’ve stepped onto another planet, try the Flower Dome, which feels like spring all year around, and the Cloud Forest, a misty conservatory mimicking a mountainous climate and home to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
Enjoy a late-night snack at Lau Pa Sat
By now, you’ve probably worked up quite the appetite, so head on over to Lau Pa Sat, also known as Telok Ayer Market. The historical building is striking in its octogonal design, featuring wrought-iron filigrees and Victorian columns.
But what keeps visitors coming is not its architecture, but its food. Hawker stalls selling some of the best local cuisine spill out from the building to an outdoor area, where you can smell the mouthwatering, smoky aroma of satay (meat skewers) being grilled.
So that’s it – the best of Singapore packed into a whirlwind two-day trip!