A three day visit to Singapore will give you the opportunity to get a real sense of the city, and enough time to see the best mix that the Little Red Dot has to offer, while still including enough time to rest and relax a little.
This itinerary is a combination of heritage architecture and local foods, bright new futuristic structures, and excursions into the jungle parks that help develop the reputation of Singapore as a “Garden City.”
Day 1: New Development and the Outdoors
Pre-purchase your ticket for one of Singapore’s Hop On, Hop Off Bus Services. Different companies have slightly different routes, itineraries, and pricing options, but all of them generally visit each stop about every 30 minutes. Here is a general suggestion of attractions to see and how you should plan your day.
Get an early start, so you have the opportunity to wander in the Singapore Botanic Gardens before it gets too hot. The park is a UNESCO world heritage site, recognized for it’s remarkable preservation indigenous plant life. It opens at 5 AM every day, so if you arrive by 7 – you should be able to get a few good hours in, ending your trip at the world famous Orchid Gardens.
Orchard Road should be your next stop. Wander through the luxury stores, cafes, and art galleries found in the malls for a great option to escape the hottest part of the day. There are countless restaurant options with economical lunch sets for you to stop and recoup some of your energy.
By the mid afternoon, make your way to the Gardens by the Bay. Prepare to be blown away by the towering structures of the Supertree Grove – an artwork fusing nature and science, harvesting solar energy to power the attractions below, and featuring the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
Only a few minutes walk away is the famous Merlion sculpture. The fountain combines the tail of a fish and the head of a lion and is said to represent the identity of the city. Take advantage of the sunset views, as well as the nightly light and water show that happens across the Bay.
If you still have energy, make your way to the Singapore Zoo’s Night Safari. The feature attraction of the park is the guided tram tour that will take you on a wander through 7 different geological ecosystems including the Himalayas, equatorial Africa, and Southeast Asian river forests.
Day Two: Singapore History and the Local Experience
Head to Maxwell Road Food Center for a genuine local food court experience and start the day with a roti prata, a fried and flaky Indian bread, served alongside a thick spicy curry gravy. Prata is just one of the many dishes that are make Singapore known as the hub of fusion cuisine. Other headliners for local eats include: chili crab, laksa curry, and Hainanese Chicken Rice.
Wander around the Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar neighborhoods to check out the bright and beautiful shop houses. These structures are a charming and nostalgic feature of traditional Singaporean architecture.
Built in narrow rows with shared walls, and a unique design to hold both businesses and living quarters – their bright colors and beautiful tile detailing add a real sense of character to the city.
Get a glimpse into the British Colonial history of the country by making an afternoon stopover at the legendary Raffles Hotel. A Singapore Sling and some bowls of peanuts (you can throw the shells on the floor!) in the hotel’s Long Bar is a mandatory tourist stopover.
Make your way to Little India for an opportunity to see a quarter unlike anything else in Singapore. While the majority of the city can feel quite empty and quiet, the streets of Little India bustle with shops selling sundries, snacks, and offerings for the many Hindu temples of the area.
Stop in the Tekka Market to get a glimpse into one of Singapore’s remaining wet markets before popping into one of the many local restaurants for a delicious meal.
For South Indian specialties, including biryani and fish dishes – make a stop at Banana Leaf Apollo. Those who prefer North Indian curries can stop at Jaggi’s North Indian for a more budget option, or Mustard – just next door, for a fancier meal.
Walk off some of that curry by making your way to Kampong Glam, the historic Arab quarter, about a 15-minute walk away from Little India. The traditional Masjid Sultan mosque is beautiful at all hours of the night, and if you time it just right you can hear the sweet sounds of the evening call to prayer buzzing throughout the Singapore sunset.
Make your way to Haji Lane for another example of shop houses that have been turned into hip boutiques and cafes. Stop for a nightcap at Bar Stories, where a bespoke cocktail will be crafted spontaneously to respond to your tastes of the moment.
If you happen to be in town on a Thursday, head to The Beast for Open Mic night, or spend your Friday or Saturday night at Going Om, where the acoustic music serenading late into the night gives the city a distinctively cosmopolitan, yet cozy feel.
Day 3: A Little Bit of Everything
Get up early again and make your way to MacRitchie Reservoir for a break from the city sights and a first hand experience of why so many praise Singapore for being clean and green. MacRitchie Reservoir Park is gateway to the city’s many nature parks.
Stroll along the water and then make your way up to the Treetop Walk where you can feel like a monkey scaling the top branches. But beware of the long tailed Macaque monkeys patrolling the grounds, and be sure to hide away any snacks because those little primates have grabby hands!
Make your way back downtown for a nice stroll through the newly re-opened National Gallery. The building is a marvel of art and architecture. Visitors to the museum will go for two reasons; first being the remarkable collection of Southeast Asian art that spans centuries.
The second reason is that the gallery is housed in two national monuments – the old Supreme Court and City Hall, which are relics unto themselves.
Patrons of the gallery will be treated to restorations and commentary of the art, which spans across the region and from classical to contemporary. The same curation is also provided for the space and how the facilities were used in the course of law and order in Singapore under British colonial rule.
Wander through Tiong Bahru, a heritage housing estate rich with retro charm. Tiong Bahru is a nice escape from the skyscrapers of downtown and has a much more quiet feel. Your apartment is likely to be a walkup, but if you can handle the stairs, you will enjoy a beautiful space.
The postwar apartments, when kept up well – or renovated – boast elegant vintage details such as covered porches and intricate window grates. In the last 10 years, Tiong Bahru has seen a revival of young artsy shops and hip cafes and restaurants that have some calling it Singapore’s Brooklyn.
Grab a cocktail at one of the city’s famed rooftop bars. Watch the sunset and the city lights sparkle and feel the equatorial breezes blow your hair as you toast to a fantastic trip in Singapore!