Singapore is a bustling metropolis with high rises? Sure it is but it’s not just that. You’ll be amazed to know the flora and fauna you can find here. Singapore’s vision as a “Garden City” or “City in a Garden’ was established some four decades ago when the then PM Lee Kuan Yew initiated the greening programme. At the moment the whole thing is managed by NParks.
Friends, family and acquaintances have often called us up and asked us about things to do in Singapore when planning to visit.
Typically, the length of the visit is 3-4 days as a visit to Singapore is often coupled with another south east asian destination, most notably Malaysia.
So here are a couple of itineraries we suggest to help you plan:
Itinerary 1: Fast paced, lots to do
Day 1: Sentosa
Plan an entire day at Sentosa. You can get there by taking the monorail from Vivo City Mall or take a cab directly from whereever you are. Alternatively, take a cable car from Harbour Front but that’s a bit pricey.
There are several options at Sentosa but we recommend Universal Studios if you are keen on amusement parks. Other suggestions would the the S.E.A Aquarium, Luge and Images of Singapore museum.
Day 2: Chinatown, Lau Pa Sat Hawker Center, Marina Bay, Clarke Quay
Start the day by visiting the Chinatown Pagoda Street Market. Visit the Buddha Tooth relic temple nearby.
Head to Law Pa Sat Hawker Center for lunch. Hawker Centers are a way of life in Singapore and this one is one of the oldest. Plenty of local and vegetarian options are available here.
Early evening head to Marina Bay area. Here you get to view the Merlion and the Marina Bay Sands hotel. If you have time at hand, visit the Marina Bay shoppe or take a ride on the Singapore Flyer nearby. As evening descends, come back out outside the shoppe and enjoy a beautiful sunset, weather permitting.
Later catch the free sound and light show at Marina Bay right outside Shoppe, called Wonder Full.
Take a bumboat river cruise and get down at Clarke Quay for drinks and food.
Day 3: Little India, Arab Street, Gardens by the bay
Start with strolling around in Little India, catch the sounds and smells from the Indian subcontinent and glimpse temples along the way. Then head to Arab Street or the muslim/middle-eastern quarters. Stroll around Haji Lane and check out boutique stores and wall art, then complete the circle by going up to Sultan mosque. Or you can reverse the order and rest for lunch – indian or middle eastern depending on what you choose to visit second.
In the evening head to Gardens By the Bay and catch the free Garden Rhapsody show. Later, visit one of the night haunts in Singapore – Club Street or Holland Village. Level 33 is another suggested bar with a view. For an amazing rooftop bar experience, we recommend 1-Altitude.
Day 4: Zoo, Bird Park/Museums, Orchard Road, Casino or Parks
Visit Singapore Zoo and Jurong Bird Park esp. if you are with kids. Else head to one of the museums. Our suggestion would be the National museum or Art Science museum.
Head to Orchard Road, the shopping mecca where you can find everything from a Zara to a Louis Vuitton.
In the evening, you may visit the Casino at Marina Bay Sands which is free to enter for foreigners. Then go to the terrace bar at Marina Bay Sands called CE LA VI. If you just want to enjoy the view, you can goto upto the hotel sky deck for a fee.
If Casino doesn’t interest you, picnic at one of the many parks. Our picks will be – East Coast Park, Labrador Park or Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Itinerary 2: More relaxed
Day 1: Hop on Hop off, Marina Bay
Start the day with taking a hop on hop off bus tour. This will give you a good overview and you can decide where you want to get down or what you’d like to revisit.
Spend the evening in the Marina Bay area – enjoy a coffee/drinks as the sun sets and watch the city skyline as it grows dark. Also, catch the free sound and light show at Marina Bay right outside Marina Bay Shoppe, called Wonder Full.
Day 2: Parks, Little India/Chinatown or Arab Street, Gardens by the bay
You can picnic at one of the many parks in Singapore. Our top picks are – East Coast Park, Labrador Park and Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Next visit Little India, Chinatown or Arab Street depending on which area you prefer or do all. Later in the evening, visit Gardens by the bay and catch the free Garden Rhapsody show in the super tree grove.
End the day with food and drinks at Club Street or Holland Village.
Day 3: Museums, Law Pa Sat, Clarke Quay
Start the day with visiting one of the museums. We suggest the National Museum. Some also prefer Art Science museum or you can do both.
Lunch at a hawker center to get a flavor of local way of life. We suggest Lau Pa Sat Hawker Center, one of the oldest in town.
In the evening take a bumboat river cruise and enjoy food and drinks at Clarke Quay. You can also enjoy views from Singapore Flyer, the ferris wheel near Marina Bay
Day 4: Sentosa, Orchard Road
Head to Sentosa, visit the SEA Aquarium, try the Luge or relax at a beach side cafe. Also pop by the Images of Singapore museum.
Stroll/Shop at Orchard Road, the shopping hub in Singapore.
Q What are the options for airport transfers? A Taxi from the taxi stand is the fastest way. Just queue and hop onto one and you should be at the city center in 30 mins, costs around 30-35 S$. The other cheaper option is the MRT (metro/subway) which costs around 3 S$ and should take about an hour to the city center. But you still need to get to your accommodation from MRT station which could be a walk if it’s close by or a short cab ride
Q How to get around within the city? A Singapore has a very good public transport system of buses and MRT and that’s the cheapest way. While you can purchase tickets on the spot, a good idea is to purchase a EZ Link card from a MRT station or a 7-Eleven store. Start with 15-20 S$ and top it up as needed. Other more convenient option is cabs – Uber, Grab and local taxi services like Comfort, TransCab, Premier, CityCab etc.
Q Which is a good weather to visit? A The weather in Singapore does not differ much throughout the year. It’s usually hot and humid but it can rain anytime of the year giving some respite from the heat. As such, this is ‘anytime of the year’ destination
Q What type of clothing is best suited for Singapore? A Wear light comfortable clothing for outdoor touring – shorts/skirts/summer dresses for women, t-shirts, cotton shirts and shorts for men. If you intend to go clubbing/partying/fine-dining just go with whatever you wear anywhere else in the world
And you are all set!
One of these weekends was an extended one and we thought of putting that to good use. Since we are saving up for something, we decided to stay back in Singapore itself but visit somewhere we hadn’t before. And, so we decided to give Pulau Ubin a try. It’s one of the tiny islands around s’pore just a few mins ride from the mainland, on a bumboat. Ubin Island, as they say, is the last ‘kampung’ (village) in s’pore. The place is representative of s’pore in the 1960s.
We caught the bumboat from Changi ferry terminal. A two way ride will cost just S$ 2.5 and takes about 10 mins or so. At Ubin, we rented bicycles for as low as S$ 10 for the whole day. They are not in the best condition though. We noticed people carry their own cycles on bumboats as well.
We pedaled around for a bit. Some paths have smooth roads while elsewhere its quite strenuous, where we had to get down to push the cycles along. If you are not comfortable riding a bike, don’t do this! There are several hidden points one can explore.
And thankfully, the day was partly cloudy with a light breeze (even then we were soaked, as is the case in s’pore). There are also couple of food shacks selling mostly local seafood and drinks but we didn’t give that a try.
In terms of natural beauty, this place is not spectacular but if you go with a nonchalant explorer’s attitude, you’re less likely to be disappointed.