Only a short flight but a world away from Hong Kong, Singapore offers up a different take on an Asian city break. A cultural melting pot of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Western cultures there is loads to explore by way of food, shopping and culture. Here are our handy hints to make a weekend break as easy as possible:
- Transportation is Singapore is really efficient so take the bus or MRT wherever possible to commute from one place to another but grab a taxi from the airport for the quickest way into the city centre
- The first language in Singapore is English, so don’t worry about being lost in translation
- It gets really hot and humid in the day so do remember to put on some sunblock and pack an umbrella or hat
- There are many useful apps when you’re out exploring Singapore so do download apps like GoThere, or the Singapore Train System Map
- Singapore is a fine city (literally) so be careful where you smoke and throw your litter!
- Keep in mind that Singapore prices in restaurants and hotels are ++ – when the final bill comes service and taxes will add another 27% or so to your total
With so much to see and do we have asked our wonderful editorial team over at Sassy Singapore to put together their ultimate 48 hour guide to Singapore. If you’re looking for any more Singapore reviews, recommendations and up to the minute news, check out all the latest over on our sister site.
Start your trip by taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the beautiful Gardens by the Bay for a true insight into why Singapore is known as the Garden City. Book onto a guided tour through the Bay East Garden, stroll along the OCBC Skyway giving panoramic vistas from 22 metres up in the air or step into the Cloud Forest, a misty conservatory with the world’s largest indoor waterfall. If all that nature has you working up an appetite then stop by Café Crema for a cup of artisanal coffee and gourmet sandwiches. Or to dine amongst the towering gardens, head to Supertree Dining for a mix of local and international fare.
Walk over to the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands via the link bridge for a spot of light shopping. Choose from a mix of refreshing international luxury and emerging brands. For a hint of culture head to the ArtScience Museum, right by the mall. A magnificent building facing the impressive skyline of Singapore’s financial district.
For the laziest option, take your pick from the plethora of restaurants at Shoppes Mall; celebrity chefs, Asian specialties and European fine dining is all on offer. Or for a real insight into Singapore’s street food scene head to the Singapore Food Trail, located on the first floor of the iconic Singapore Flyer. This 1960s themed food street transports you back to an era when people savored popular local delights along the roadside from makeshift stalls. Tuck into the rich flavours of pork noodles, barbecue seafood and old favourites like ice balls and kachang putih.
Freshen up back at your hotel before jumping on the MRT to the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals. The award winning Night Safari will definitely be one of your more unique Asian nights out!
Start your day off bright and early with a local breakfast at the Geylang Serai Market, about 5 minutes walk from Eunos or Paya Lebar MRT stations. This is the heart of the Singapore Malay community with a fantastic wet market on the first floor and great food and shopping on the second floor. Check out Haijah Mona Nasi Padang (listed in our top 10 best Nasi Padang stalls in Singapore) or GS Oli Thosei & Food Stall – the perfect place to enjoy Appom, Thosai and Masala chicken (check out our round up of Singapore’s top hawker dishes here).
After you’ve had your fill, walk over to the Joo Chiat Complex and browse the Malay textiles, crafts, jewellery and traditional clothing on offer.
Continue your Malay cultural experience at Kampong Glam (head to Bugis MRT station). Visit the popular shopping haunts such as Bugis Junction and Bugis Street Market. Check out the conserved shophouses in their vibrant colours and seek out the cool cafes and stores along the alleys of Haji and Bali Lane.
Head to Little India MRT station to Serangoon Road, one of Singapore’s most vibrant districts with oodles of character and a mix of Hindu and Chinese temples, mosques and churches. If you’re still peckish, fill up on South Indian vegetarian food, North Indian tandoori dishes and other Indian delights such as Tarik – pulled milk! Do a spot of shopping at the Mustafa Centre – covering everything from electronics to saris and groceries – this buzzing hotspot is open 24/7.
Having explored Singapore’s melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities, it’s time to hit up Chinatown. Wander through the narrow street and pay a visit to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. Stop by medicinal halls, teahouses and pop into some hipster bar and lifestyle shops located in Neil Road, Duxton Road or Keong Saik Road. For some street food snacks try the delicious char kway teow (stir-fried noodles) and satay at Chinatown Food Street.
WHAT ELSE TO DO
There are obviously an endless number of other exciting activities we can recommend if you find yourselves with more time on your hands.
One of our favourite excursions is to head over to Sentosa Island for a touch of beach relaxation – head over early and hit up one of the beach clubs for a day of sunbathing and beach dining. Check out our round up of the best ones here.
Check out our picks of the most up to date events and happenings on our Sassy Singapore What’s On page.
EAT & DRINK
Singapore’s bar and restaurant scene is constantly evolving and full of tantalising options…
For al fresco dining head to the many options on Club Street with its old school shop houses or linger amongst the trees down at PS Café in Dempsey or by the waterfront at Clarke and Robertson Quays. For more inspiration check out our Outdoor Dining roundup.
Marvel at the Skyline from one of Singapore’s many rooftop bars – hang with the cool kids at Marina Bay Sands or head to 1-Altitude and check out our top 5 restaurants with a view round up.
The list of places to recommend is endless so to find the right option to suit you browse our Singapore City Guide where you can plug in exactly what your preferences are…
WHERE TO STAY
There’s no shortage of boutique, chain and all other sorts of hotels in Singapore. However, our top pick has to be the hotel most famously linked with the Lion City; the legendary Raffles.
Coming from Hong Kong, Raffles offers up an oasis of history, tradition and architectural splendour. It’s incredibly glamorous, steeped in history and synonymous with Singapore’s decadent colonial history. With wonderfully restored architectural features, a tranquil pool and calming courtyard gardens it provides the perfect respite from the tropical heat and crowded streets. Rooms all come in the form of suites, with antique furniture and gloriously old-fashioned bathrooms complete with gold bath taps and 1920s style light switches. After sipping a Singapore Sling in their place of origin, the Long Bar where you’ll be throwing peanut shells on the floor listening to live music and feasting on afternoon tea in the imposing Tiffin Room, you’ll be shocked stepping back into the modernity of Singapore proper.
It’s not the cheapest option but in terms of offering the best glimpse of all sides of Singapore, with its central location, amazing history, beautiful décor and sense of grandeur, this Singapore stalwart is definitely worth a stay.
Raffles Singapore, rooms from $740 Singapore dollars.