Itinerary: Singaporean Favourites in Two Days
Singapore is an island packed with sights and attractions, and two days would never be enough to see and do everything in this vibrant, bustling city. However, we have carefully crafted a itinerary which will guide you in experiencing the finest that Singapore offers, to make the best of your two days here. This itinerary takes you through Singapore's best attractions, ethnic districts, heritage areas, vantage points, foodie heavens and watering holes, all in two days, at a pace that allows you to take a breather. At certain points, the itinerary allows you to choose between attractions to tailor your Singaporean journey to suit your own personality and preferences.
Your first day begins with the friendly animal friends at the deservedly world-famous Singapore Zoo. After a session of retail therapy in the malls of Orchard Road at lunchtime, dive into the heart of Singapore's heritage district at either of two of the biggest museums in Singapore which are considered authoritative in their fields – the National Museum of Singapore and the Singapore Art Museum. An evening amidst the elegant flowers and lush greenery of the Botanic Gardens is a change in view as you watch the sun set. Head back into the bustle of city life in the cacophony of Singapore's most authentic neighbourhood, Little India. As midnight approaches (and passes), dance like nobody's watching at the clubs at hip-and-happening Clarke Quay, or chill out in exotic style in ethnic Kampong Glam.
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Singapore's very own theme park island of Sentosa fills your second day with entertaining, exhilarating and even enlightening experiences. Coming back down to earth, a tour of Chinatown offers insights into the rich cultural heritage of Singapore. Board a bumboat and sail down the Singapore River and around the Marina Bay for a journey in Singapore's history, before proceeding to dinner at the modern Esplanade Theatre. In a city that is never less exciting even as night falls, get high at either of the best vantage points of the island, where you can watch the iconic skyline of the city light up the night sky – the classy and luxurious Marina Bay Sands SkyPark or the fun and family-friendly Singapore Flyer. Have a satisfying end to a satisfying day with the classic Singaporean supper at Lau Pat Sat Hawker Centre, or seafood delights at Newton Food Centre.
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We have only kept the best of Singapore in this itinerary – your time will not be wasted.
Singapore Attractions Express (8am)
Start your day early with a bus journey across Singapore from the heart of the Orchard Road shopping district to the Singapore Zoo. The Singapore Attractions Express picks up passengers from hotels in the area; we have chosen two closest to the Orchard MRT Station [NS22] for your convenience. (from Sheraton Towers (8.05am) or Grand Hyatt Hotel (8.10am) to Singapore Zoo. +65 6753 0506. $4 adult, $2 child.)
Singapore Zoo (9am)
The world-famous Singapore Zoo deservedly tops many must-see lists for kids and grown-ups alike, offering visitors the opportunity to get up-close and personal with nature, where over 2500 animals from 315 species (of which 16% are threatened species) live in spacious and landscaped environments simulating their natural habitats. The Zoo has attained a strong reputation internationally and received accolades for its conservation initiatives and quality as a tourist attraction, including a 3-Star Michelin rating.
Start your journey of discovery with Southeast Asia's best breakfast - Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife at Ah Meng Restaurant. Catch the Splash Safari Show at Shaw Foundation Amphitheatre and Elephants at Work & Play at Elephants of Asia. Watch giraffes, Asian elephants, white tigers, white rhinos, kangaroos, and even polar bears roam in natural, lush settings. There are also tram rides, children's play areas, elephant rides, and feeding times to keep you and your kids entertained.
(3 hr. 80 Mandai Lake Road. +65 6269 3411. Daily 8.30am – 6pm.
Admission $20 adult, $13 child 12 & under. Tram $5 adult, $3 child 12 & under.)
At lunchtime, descend upon the ultramodern shopping malls of Orchard Road for your retail therapy needs. The journey there will take approximately an hour on public transportation. To get to Orchard Road from the Singapore Zoo, take bus 138 from “S'pore Zoological Gdns” to “Ang Mo Kio Int” and proceed from the interchange to Ang Mo Kio MRT Station [NS16] to take the train towards Marina Bay to Orchard [NS22].
Lunch and Shopping at Orchard Road (1pm)
Shopping in Singapore is synonymous with Orchard Road, a canyon of shopping malls that extends beyond sight, each housing an extensive range of brands and labels. For lunch, have your pick of eateries from the selections of restaurants and cafés available in every mall. There are cuisines from all around the world, and the quality of dishes and service offered tends to be of at least a reasonable to high standard, and pricier too. Orchard Road is a popular destination for Western, Japanese and Chinese food of a higher end, but offers the more eclectic food courts too.
Start from Orchard's new swanky centrepiece, ION Orchard (2 Orchard Turn. +65 6238 8228.), built just above the MRT station, which is arguably one of the best malls ever built. This megamall packs in 330 shops that range from luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Yves Saint Laurent (mostly above-ground) to high street fashion labels such as Topshop and River Island as well as smaller boutiques (mostly in the basement levels). Head on to Ngee Ann City (391 Orchard Road. +65 6506 0458.), known by locals as “Taka”, derived from Takashimaya Shopping Centre which anchors the building. Taka is a perennial favourite among Singaporeans which boasts both variety and style, and houses numerous boutiques such as Burberry, Chanel, Christian Dior and Ted Baker as well as specialty shops such as Shanghai Tang and Kinokuniya.
The new Mandarin Galllery (333A Orchard Road. +65 6831 6363.), with its undulating curvaceous facade and all-glass spaces, is home to a plethora of international luxury stores such as Dolce & Gabbana and Emporio Armani, and also stylish local boutiques. Another recent addition to the shopping scene is [email protected] (313 Orchard Road. +65 6496 9313.), which is home to the multiple-storied flagship stores of the international fashion scene, such as Forever 21 and Zara.
After indulging the shopaholic in you, travel by MRT from Somerset MRT Station [NS23] right under [email protected] towards Marina Bay and switch at Dhoby Ghaut [NS24/CC1/NE6] to the Circle Line train to take you to Bras Basah [CC2], which takes around ten minutes.
National Museum (for history buffs) or Singapore Art Museum and High Tea (for culture vultures)
Museums in Singapore, albeit compact, are generally well-maintained and curated carefully, positioned as engaging and educational cultural destinations that remain relevant amidst changing times. The best museums are located around Bras Basah [CC2], where the air-conditioned exhibits are a welcome relief from the afternoon heat. We have selected two of the biggest museums in Singapore, which are considered authoritative in their fields. For history buffs and those with families, the National Museum provides a grand and interactive overview of Singaporean history and culture, while the Singapore Art Museum will delight those with greater artistic sensibilities.
EITHER National Museum (3pm)
Rated one of the world's most interactive museums, the National Museum of Singapore is at once modern and classical – an immersive one-stop guide to Singapore's history and cultural heritage. Once known as the Raffles' Library and Museum housing well-known Southeast Asian natural history collections, Singapore's first museum is today the grand dame of the nation's museum scene, featuring exhibits on the history, ethnology and arts of Singapore and surrounding regions.
Singapore's largest museum houses two main galleries in a neoclassical 19th century architectural masterpiece – the Singapore History Gallery and the Singapore Living Galleries. The History Gallery traces the tale of the island from its roots in the 14th century as a fishing village known as Temasek, through the colonial-era founding of modern Singapore, to the bustling metropolis it is today. The Living Galleries showcase the Singaporean Story through themes close to the heart of Singaporeans – food, fashion, film and wayang (shadow puppetry), and photography.
(2 hr. 93 Stamford Road. +65 6332 3659. Daily 10am – 8pm. Admission $10 adult, $5 child/student/senior. History Gallery last admission at 5.30pm.)
Now, for a change in view, travel by bus 174 or 106 from “SMU” to “Opp S'pore Botanic Gdns”, which will take around twenty minutes.
OR Singapore Art Museum (3pm) and High Tea at Raffles Hotel (4pm)
One of Singapore’s finest example of colonial architecture, the Singapore Art Museum is today the centrepiece of Singapore's major arts and cultural district, and is the nation's premier venue for international art exhibitions. It houses the national art gallery and is home to a permanent collection of over 4000 Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art pieces, featuring exhibitions ranging from Chinese calligraphy to contemporary works examining issues of Asian identity and the modern Singapore experience. (1 hr. 71 Bras Basah Road. +65 6332 3222. Daily 10am – 7pm, except Friday 10am – 9pm. Admission $10 adult, $5 child/student/senior.)
Opened in 1899, the regal Raffles Hotel, known as the “Grand Lady of the Far East', has hosted royalty and celebrities, and was featured in the works of Joseph Conrad and Somerset Maugham. The world-famous Singapore Sling was first concocted here, where it is still served, at the Long Bar. The Tiffin Room serves an iconic afternoon champagne high tea, where polished silverware and crisp white linens add to old-world charm and décor that complements the quintessential colonial experience. Dishes served include a mix of petite finger sandwiches, freshly baked pastries and scones served with clotted cream and sweet homemade jams. (1 hr. 1 Beach Road. Reservations +65 6412 1816. Daily 3.30pm – 5.30pm. $65++ adult, $27.50++ child.)
Having had your fill of dainty delights, take a short walk from Raffles Hotel and board bus 7 from “Cosmic Insurance Bldg” to “Opp S'pore Botanic Gdns”. This will take around twenty minutes.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Painstakingly manicured, the Botanic Gardens are a living, breathing monument to Singapore's eminence as a garden city. The three lakes and open spaces of the Gardens are complemented by elegant displays of orchids and the only urban tropical rainforest in the Eastern Hemisphere. This green sanctuary, tucked away in the city, is perfect for an evening stroll.
Singapore Botanic Gardens (5.30pm)
Start your nature trail from the Tanglin Gate, where frangipani blooms pave the way into the Gardens, past the cast-iron Victorian gazebo (a popular spot for wedding photos) towards the Swan Lake, where a pair of friendly resident swans reside. Take the right fork in the path past the hand-sculpted Swiss Ball Fountain, and three Sydney Harpley bronze sculptures (Lady on a Hammock, Girl on a Swing, and Girl on a Bicycle), to the beautiful Bandstand, which is a centrepiece of the Gardens. From here, continue on the Ring Road, then Maranta Avenue, bordering the only urban tropical rainforest in the Eastern Hemisphere.
One of the highlights of a journey around the Botanic Gardens is the National Orchid Garden, hailed as the world's largest orchid display. Over 1000 species (in the orchidarium) and 2000 hybrids (mostly designed by the Gardens' horticultural staff) are displayed in their full splendour amidst waterfalls and fountains, including Singapore's national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim. As the sun sets, cross the Palm Valley (a favourite spot for picnics), which groups the six palm sub-families into islands, and the Symphony Lake, where concerts and performances are sometimes held, towards the Visitor Centre for a drink, snack, or just a breather, at the Casa Verde café.
Alternatively, if you are accompanied by young ones, check out the excellent Jacob Ballas Children's Garden, which provides a unique garden setting for discovery and learning about the plant world. Either way, stroll past the Eco Lake as the cool evening settles and exit the Gardens at the Bukit Timah Entrance. Cross the canal to board bus 67 or 170 from “Aft Kheam Hock Rd” to “Little India Stn” as you head into the mad bustle of Little India.
(2 hr. 1 Cluny Road. +65 6471 7361. Daily 5am – 12mn. Admission free. National Orchid Garden Daily 8.30am – 7pm; Admission $5 adult, $1 student/senior, child free. Jacob Ballas Children's Garden Daily 8am – 7pm, except Monday closed; Admission free.)
Known as Singapore's most authentic neighbourhood, Little India is the colourful enclave of the local Indian community, and a feast for the senses – beautiful jasmine garlands, bright saris and eateries serving delicious Indian fare are all immersed amidst the cacophony of Indian music and immersed in the pungent smell of spices and the aroma of incense and perfumes.
Little India (8pm)
Head first to the famous Tekka Centre (665 Buffalo Rd. Daily 6.30am – 9pm), currently operating at its temporary location whilst the original market undergoes renovations. This bustling market houses stalls selling inexpensive Indian, Indonesian and Thai clothes in brilliant colours and patterns, a wet market selling fresh produce (indeed a sight and smell to behold), and a hawker centre offering local fare. The nearby Little India Arcade (48 Serangoon Road. +65 6295 5998. Daily 9am – 10pm.) is a treasure trove of 1920s-era shophouses filled with wares from Indian clothing and jewellery to local sweets, snacks, souvenirs, books and henna, a dye made from plant leaves used to create intricate patterns on your skin.
There are a myriad of cuisines and eateries to choose from in Little India, and dinnertime calls you to make your choice. Besides Tekka Centre, many popular eateries are open to satisfy your culinary desires. Komala Vilas (76/78 Serangoon Road. +65 6293 6980. Lunch 11am – 3.30pm, Dinner 6pm – 10.30pm.) serves up South Indian vegetarian dishes such as dosa (lentil and rice crepe served with various fillings). Along Race Course Road, two restaurants serve signature fish head curry dishes, considered one of Singapore's (many) national dishes – the Banana Leaf Apolo (54 Race Course Road. +65 6293 8682. Lunch 12nn – 4.30pm, Dinner 6.30pm – 10.30pm.) and Muthu’s Curry (138 Race Course Road. +65 6392 1722. Daily 10am to 10pm.).
Make your way through the crowds (there is always a crowd) and past the bustling shophouses to the eye-catching and colourful Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (141 Serangoon Road. +65 6295 4538. Daily 5am – 9pm.), which was built by Indian pioneers for the burgeoning Hindu population. From there, a few minutes' walk takes you to Mustafa Centre (145 Syed Alwi Road. +65 6295 5855. Daily 24 hours.), a thoroughly Indian shopping complex that never closes. This bona fide Singapore institution offers a dizzying array of products from electronic to gold jewellery, clothes, foodstuff and household goods, and is always seething with bargain-hungry shoppers.
Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay (for late-night partiers) or Kampong Glam (for bohemians)
Singapore is a city that never sleeps, and as night falls and the next day approaches, numerous dancing, drinking, and dining establishments remain open throughout the night. Two late-night destinations cater to different crowds – Clarke Quay for the party animal looking to rave all night, and Kampong Glam for the more bohemian traveller seeking something more exotic.
EITHER Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay on the Singapore River (10pm)
For the late-night party animal, board the train at Little India MRT Station [NE7/DT12] towards Harbourfront to Clarke Quay [NE5].
Clarke Quay is an area steeped in cultural heritage by day; but at night, it transforms into the iconic epicentre of local nightlife. Five full blocks of clubs, bars and restaurants offer thrilling events all year round, and partiers of all sorts will be spoiled for choice with different venues catering to different crowds. The flamboyant Attica (#01-03, 3A River Valley Road. +65 6333 9973. Sun/Mon/Tue 5pm – 2am; Thu 5pm – 3am; Wed/Fri/Sat 5pm – 4am.) is one of the swankiest joints in town, where the bold and beautiful meet to dazzle and be dazzled. Alternatively, head farther afield to Zouk (17 Jiak Kim Street. +65 6738 2988. Wed/Fri/Sat 10pm – late.), the granddaddy of Singapore's clubbing scene and one of the best in Asia. Of the four outlets here, Zouk itself plays host to some of Asia's hottest and trendiest DJs and musicians, avant-garde beats are played at Phuture (Wed/Fri/Sat 9pm – late.), Balearic soul at Velvet Underground (Wed – Sat 9pm – late.) and Wine Bar (Tue 6pm – 2am, Wed/Thu - 6pm to 3am, Fri/Sat - 6pm to 4am) is the watering hole.
If a casual pub crawl suits you more, cross the river to Brewerkz (#01-05, Riverside Point, 30 Merchant Road. +65 6438 7438. Mon – Thu & Sun 12nn – 12mn; Fri – Sat 12nn – 1am.), a microbrewery and restaurant that offers a variety of beers brewed on site and served by the riverside. A walk along the Singapore River will take you to Robertson Walk (11 Unity Street. +65 6834 2465. Daily 11am – 1am.), a quieter and more upmarket district of bars and pubs, popular with expatriate crowds.
OR 2200 Ethnic Kampong Glam (10pm)
For bohemians, or travellers seeking a more exotic late-night destination, board bus 48 from “Little India Stn” to “Near Bali Lane” in ethnic Kampong Glam (Nearest MRT Station: Bugis [EW12].)
Kampong Glam is a unique ethnic quarter with a modern twist. Once an area where migrant Malays settled down and built a life for themselves, it is now a district thriving in unique fashion trends as well as traditional goods such as exotic fabrics from around the world, as well as authentic ethnic clothing and dried foods. At the heart of Kampong Glam lies the impressive Sultan Mosque (3 Muscat Street. +65 6293 4405. Daily 9.30am – 12nn, 2pm – 4pm, except Fridays 2.30pm – 4pm.). Still an integral place of worship for Muslims, this majestic building is orientated towards the Mecca, with a dome adorned by a bluish ring made entirely out of glass bottles contributed by the poor. The nearby Singapore Zam Zam Restaurant (697-699 North Bridge Road. +65 6298 6320. Daily 8am – 11pm.) specialises in authentic Indian Muslim dishes which are supper favourites, such as murtabak (a prata stuffed with eggs, onion, and mutton).
For those looking for more exotic cuisines, try the best Middle Eastern food in the area at Café Le Caire (39 Arab Street. +65 6292 0979. Sun - Thu 10am – 3.30am; Fri – Sat 10am – 5.30am.), a vaguely Egyptian café which serves dips, breads, kebabs and shisha (smoked in waterpipes) as you rest on rugs or at tables spread along the street. For drinks, head to Blu Jaz Café (1 hr. 11 Bali Lane. +65 6292 3800. Monday to Thursday 12nn to 12 mn, Friday 12nn - 2am, Saturday 4pm – 2am, Sunday closed.), a three-storeyed establishment offering shisha, a range of dishes (including a popular grilled dory), and drinks to accompany live music.
Singaporean Favourites in Two Days (Day Two)
Sentosa Island is Singapore's very own tropical beach theme park. Locals and tourists alike flock here to frolic on the beach, explore attractions such as the new glitzy Resorts World Sentosa and the world-class Underwater World, chill out in spa retreats or simply to enjoy outdoor activities such as golf and cycling. In short, there's something for everyone on Sentosa, making it a great place to take a break from city life and to indulge your senses. (+65 1800 736 8672. Nearest MRT Station: Harbourfront [NE1]. To get there: Sentosa Boardwalk from VivoCity $1. Sentosa Bus from Harbourfront Terminal $2. Sentosa Express from VivoCity Level 3 $3.)
For a grand entrance into Sentosa, consider the Jewel Cable Car Ride (Mount Faber to/from Imbiah Lookout. Daily 8.30am – 10pm. One-way $24 adult, $14 child. Two-way $26 adult, $15 child.). The breathtaking views of southern Singapore, as you travel some 60 metres above the sea from scenic Mount Faber to Sentosa, makes this a perennial favourite among tourists.
As you step off in Sentosa at Imbiah Lookout, start your day with a high at the Tiger Sky Tower (30 min. Imbiah Lookout. Daily 9am – 9am. Admission $15 adult, $10 child under 12.), which, at 131 metres above sea level, offers panoramic views of Singapore's skyline, including glimpses of Malaysia to the north and Indonesian islands to the south. Alternatively, for something more kitsch, go to the top of the Merlion (30min. Imbiah Lookout. Daily 10am – 8pm. Admission $8 adult, $5 child; Merlion Walk free.), one of five official replicas of Singapore's national symbol, where you can stand in the creature's mouth and on it's head for a great lookout.
Moving on to something more exciting, line up for one of Sentosa's best rides – the Luge & Skyride (30 min. Imbiah Lookout. Daily 10am – 9.30 pm. Admission $12.). Part go-cart, part toboggan, the Skyline Luge offers a uniquely thrilling joy ride suitable for all ages, as you navigate a course filled with curves and slopes. When you're done, board the Skyride and admire the panoramic views of Singapore's skyline and beautiful coastline. If you really want to get your adrenaline pumping, head to the MegaZip Adventure Park (30 min. Imbiah Lookout. Weekdays 2pm – 7pm, Weekends 11am – 7pm. Admission $29.) instead, where you glide past the jungles across the beach as you hang on for dear life to a flying fox on a whopping 75 metres high, 450 metres long zip wire.
Sentosa offers more than thrill rides and entertainment – learning journeys feature all around the island. At Imbiah, the award-winning Images of Singapore (1 hr. Imbiah Lookout. Daily 9am – 7pm. Admission $10 adult, $7 child 12 and under.) has gained a reputation for bringing Singapore's past to vivid life using a multi-screen special-effects show, multimedia presentations and life-sized tableaus depicting scenes of local history. If you are more inclined towards natural life, the Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom (1 hr. Imbiah Lookout. Daily 9.30am – 7pm. Admission $16 adult, $10 child 12 and under.) will captivate you, where more than fifty butterfly species are allowed to flutter freely in a lush tropical garden setting.
From Imbiah Lookout, walk towards Siloso Point for either of two of the best attractions on Sentosa. Enter the realm of sea creatures at the Underwater World & Dolphin Lagoon (1 hr. Siloso Point. Daily 9am – 9pm. Admission $22.90 adult, $14.60 child.), which takes you on journey starting at the shallow water’s edge, and through flourishing shoals of sea creatures and magnificent marine life thriving all around you in the a 83 metres long tunnel under the sea. History buffs will want to check out Fort Siloso (1 hr. Siloso Point. Daily 10am – 6pm. Admission $8 adults, $5 child.), which presents Singapore's war years through film, photographs, and artefacts such as WWII memorabilia to 17th century guns and cannons, all set in the original tunnels and barracks of the coastal fortress.
As you make your way back to Singapore (yes, a day at Sentosa indeed inclines you to feel like you've been in another land), make a stop at the glitzy Resorts World Sentosa (Sentosa Gateway. +65 6577 8888.). This latest offering on Sentosa is an integrated resort boasting a casino, a wide variety of dining and shopping options, a sophisticated spa, six themed hotels, and Universal Studios Singapore, the only one of its kind in the region. From there, travel on foot through the lush greenery of the garden-themed Sentosa Boardwalk.
Cultural Tour of Chinatown and Ann Siang Hill (3.30pm)
To get to Chinatown from Sentosa, head back to Singapore Island and board the train at Harbourfront MRT Station [NE1] towards Punggol to Chinatown [NE4/DT19].
One of Singapore's oldest ethnic districts, Chinatown is a juxtaposition of old and new, and still bustles with life much as it did years ago. This enclave continues to be a tourism hot spot and a cultural treasure trove of insights into traditional Chinese life. Chinatown offers a culinary tour that is a feast for the senses – including cheaper eats such as dim sum, frog leg porridge, and Asian desserts, as well as pricier restaurants serving roast duck, Peranakan and speciality Chinese dishes.
Start from Chinatown's excellent Chinatown Heritage Centre (48 Pagoda Street. +65 6325 2878. Daily 9am – 8pm. Admission $10 adult, $6 child 12 & under), which faithfully recreates entire home and street scenes from turn-of-the-century Singapore. This is an authentic slice of Singaporean history that showcases relics such as cooking utensils and opium pipes and the dark, cramped quarters that early Chinese immigrants lived in.
Visit Singapore's oldest and most important Hindu temple, the intricate Sri Mariamman Temple (244 South Bridge Road. +65 6223 4064. Daily 7am – 12nn & 6pm – 9pm.) which features a distinctive, colourful gopuram (tower). The new Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum (288 South Bridge Road. +65 6220 0220. Daily 4.30am – 9pm.) houses a relic believed to be the scared tooth of the Buddha. Cross over up-and-coming Ann Siang Hill, stopping at the tiny park for a panoramic view of Singapore's skyscrapers from a different perspective, to the beautifully decorated courtyards of the Thian Hock Keng Temple (158 Telok Ayer Street. +65 6423 4616.), Singapore's oldest and most important Hokkien temple.
Marina Bay – Singapore River Cruise and the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
Moving on from ethnic Chinatown to the colonial Civic District, board bus 131 or 167 from “Prudential Twr” to “Victoria Concert Hall”, or bus 961 from “People's Pk Cplx” to “Supreme Ct”. Both journeys take around fifteen minutes. From either stop, walking towards the Singapore River, and head for Raffles' Landing Site where Sir Stamford Raffles, considered to be the founder of modern Singapore, is believed to have first set foot in 1819.
Singapore River Cruise (6pm)
As the sun sets, catch the next bumboat leaving the nearby pier for an excursion down the quays of the Singapore River and around the Marina Bay that lasts for either 45 minutes (Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, Robertson Quay, Marina Bay) or 30 minutes (Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, Marina Bay).
The Singapore River has been a lifeline for Singaporeans since ancient times, through the colonial era and the early days of the nation's independence. Here, bumboats used to carry cargo and people up and down the river, and the tour boats are replicas authentic enough to take you back in time. The century-old godowns and shophouses stand in stark contrast to the striking skyscrapers of the downtown skyline, and the river journey provides insight into an incredible microcosm of Singapore's rich historical and cultural heritage. Spot the Merlion, the nation's mascot, an imaginary creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. (45 min. Boat Quay. +65 6336 6111. Daily 9am – 11pm. Ride 45 min $20 adult, $10 child; 30 min $15 adult, $8 child.)
Dinner at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay (7.30pm)
Walk toward the modern Esplanade through the historic Civic District and Esplanade Park, where national monuments and colonial-era civic buildings collectively cover almost 200 years of Singapore's history and architectural heritage, from the colonial period through World War II right up to independence. Spot the Old Parliament House, Old Supreme Court, and City Hall, which are fine examples of classical and neo-classical colonial architecture.
Alternatively, cross the Singapore River to the Fullerton Hotel, housed in a majestic structure with a 400 foot frontage along the waterfront, monumental columns and a lighthouse on its rooftop. Once a symbol of British power in Singapore, this building now houses a luxury hotel. Cross the Esplanade Bridge for a breathtaking view of the Marina Bay and the downtown Raffles Place business district, into the prime arts and cultural destination in Singapore – the Esplanade.
(Both routes last approximately ten minutes on foot.)
Affectionately known by locals as the 'durian' because of its eye-catching architecture, the Esplanade (1 hr. 1 Esplanade Drive. +65 6828 8377. Nearest MRT Station: Esplanade [CC3].) is the most prominent signal of national efforts to recast Singapore as a fun and creative cultural hub. This world-class venue features local and international performances. Dining options here are aplenty, but we recommend sampling local dishes at either the outdoor Makansutra Gluttons Bay (+65 6438 4038. Daily 5pm – late, except Sunday 4pm – late.), which brings together 12 of Singapore's most famous hawkers, or the No Signboard Seafood restaurant (+65 6336 9959. Daily 11am – 11pm.), which is pricier and offers some of the best local seafood delicacies around town.
Marina Bay Sands (the luxury integrated resort) or Singapore Flyer (the eye in the sky)
At night, the city's skyline lights up and dazzles the sky with it's distinctive brilliance, making this the perfect time to take a journey up, up and away for a view of Singapore from a different perspective. Two of the best vantage points in Singapore are within walking distance of the Esplanade on the Marina Bay (nearest MRT station: Promenade [CC4/DT15].) – the SkyPark of the luxury Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, and the more family-friendly Singapore Flyer. Both offer top-notch views of a city that never sleeps, and an experience you will not soon forget.
EITHER Marina Bay Sands and Sands Sky Park (9pm)
From the Esplanade, cross the Helix Bridge, considered a world first in bridge design, to Singapore's first integrated resort, consisting of a world-class casino, top-notch dining choices and high-end entertainment. The Marina Bay Sands offers luxury shopping in the Shoppes, as well as idyllic sampan rides through the mall. Envisioned to host both business and leisure visitors, the Marina Bay Sands' main draw is probably the awe-inspiring panoramic views of Singapore offered from a superior vantage point - the Sands SkyPark. (1 hr. 10 Bayfront Avenue. +65 6688 8868. Skypark: Daily 10am – 10pm; Admission $20 adult, $14 child 12 & under, $17 senior 55 & above. Sampan Rides: Daily 11am – 8pm; Admission $10 adult, $6 child.)
OR Singapore Flyer (9pm)
From the Esplanade, walk through the Youth Olympic Park to what is billed as the world's largest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer. At 165 metres high, this is the most-celebrated and certainly the most family-friendly way to get high in Singapore. A half-hour journey carries you up into the sky for breathtaking views of Singapore, and gently back down again into a rainforest-covered park and shopping mall. For those looking to get high in style, the Singapore Flyer also offers a special Signature Cocktail Flight. (1 hr. 30 Raffles Avenue. +65 6333 3311. Daily 8.30am – 1030pm. Admission $29.50 adult, $20.65 child 12 & under, $23;60 senior 60 & above. Signature cocktail flight $69 adult, $48.30 child, $55.20 senior. Flight is 30 minutes.)
Supper at Lau Pa Sat or Seafood at Newton Food Centre
The late-night supper is truly a Singaporean institution – with countless eateries opening late all around the island, both locals and tourists are spoiled for choice. Here, we introduce two of Singapore's most famous hawker centres, which stay open long enough for a late-night feast. Although rather well-worn on the tourist trail, these establishments never fail to offer great and authentic local dishes in a memorable atmosphere.
EITHER Lau Pa Sat (10pm)
For those who want a more authentic local supper experience, travel on bus 75 from “Bef Temasek Ave” to “One Raffles Quay”. Housed in the largest remaining Victorian filigree cast-iron structure in Southeast Asia, Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre is famous for its all-night Satay Club stalls decked out along the roadside at night. This was Singapore's first wet market that dates back over 150 years ago, subsequently converted into the well-known gourmet paradise, and has been gazetted as a national monument. (1 hr. 18 Raffles Quay. +65 9730 9991. Daily 24 Hours. Nearest MRT Station: Raffles Place [NS26/EW14].)
OR Newton Food Centre (10pm)
For a supper place that has been tried and tested by countless tourists before, board bus 171 at “Bef Temasek Ave” and drop off at “Newton Stn”. Actively promoted by the Singapore Tourism Board as the place to sample Singaporean cuisine, Newton Food Centre has undergone a major revamp which mimics the style of nearby colonial houses. Interestingly, beyond the 83 hawker stalls vying for your attention, there are spaces around for buskers to entertain foodies and even designated areas for a mini flea market. (500 Clemenceau Avenue North. Daily 12pm – 2am. Nearest MRT Station: Newton [NS21/DT11].)