Singapore is young. About only 52 years since it became an independent state, actually. Yet it’s considered as one of the leading countries of the modern world to date. From education to discipline, Singapore has become a game-changer to the international marketplace.
Plus, tourists flock to Singapore on a year-round basis for the shopping, Universal Studios, and the many coffee shops made with Singapore’s unique coffee blend.
I’ve probably gone around here about three times now and always opt to go here when I have a connecting flight (see: Europe, Africa, and the USA).
Even though I’ve been to Singapore so many times, I can’t help but feel giddy every time I visit! That’s why I’ve compiled this post as a simple guide for you to know where to stay in Singapore, what to do, and why you should keep coming back!
First thing’s first: Where do you stay?
Last time I was here, my family and I stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel all the way to Sentosa! I wouldn’t necessarily recommend staying here unless your only plan is to hang around Universal Studios. We stayed here because of the theme park special for Halloween and didn’t want to commute all the way back in case we stayed up late. Good thing too since we stayed a week here and found it so easy to walk around the entire Sentosa Area.
Around here you’ll find: Universal Studios, Dim Tai Fung, The Aquarium, Madame Tussauds’ Wax Museum, and the Merlion park
However, if you’re more interested in shopping for designer items or fancy restaurants and cafes, you might want to try Hotel Jen Orchard Getaway by Shangri-la which has a view to die for! Okay, totally kidding on that front. But still. The hotel is perfect if you want to make your first pit stop to H&M, Forever 21, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. Plus, there are neat little cafes at the bottom which make it easier to work if you’re a digital nomad.
Around here you’ll find: National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, Istana, Emerald Hill, The Picturehouse
Finally, if you’re on a budget, I’d like to suggest checking out the Bugis area. During my family’s first stay in Singapore, we checked in at V Hotel Bencoolen which was convenient at that time since there was a grocery store, a bakery, street food, and the metro nearby. I find the rooms awfully small, however, the breakfast was too good! Especially since it’s a rooftop restaurant at the top of the hotel.
Around here you’ll find: Kuan Yin Thong Hood Temple, Haji Lane, Arab Street, Malay Heritage Centre, Chijmes, Bugis Village
Second thing: What will you do or where will you go for your 48 hours in Singapore?
Although Singapore is considerably small compared to its neighbouring countries, there are a variety of things to do and places to explore! I’ve never stayed in Singapore for only 2 days or on the weekends as I always make it a priority to get 4 days in at least. But I totally understand if you find Singapore (or this guide) quite expensive as the SGD is almost equal to the US dollar now a days. Very expensive if you come from SouthEast Asia where the US dollar has a high conversion rate.
Either way, here are my favourite places to go and recommended places to try when in Singapore! Oh, and please take note, I’ve tried to squeeze in as much as possible.
Day 1: Arrival in Singapore
9:00AM Estimated arrival time in Singapore
11:00AM Check in at the hotel (Note: I don’t know the exact time of your arrival but I’ll just assume you’re not staying at the Hard Rock Hotel for this one)
12:00 NN Have lunch at Clarke Quay and Riverside — the area is known for all the best food establishments around the city!
2:00 PM Either visit the Asian Civilisation Museum or Fort Canning Park for your daily dose of relaxation and culture before really taking the city by storm
4:00 PM You haven’t left Clarke Quay yet and now on your way to join in the cruise along the Singapore River (also to get a chance to see the pretty sunset)
6:00 PM Go on the G-Max Reverse Bungee before your dinner! It’s considered as a landmark of the entire Clarke Quay area and would be a great thing to do before you have food in your stomach
6:30 PM Make your way over to Sentosa and gear up for Universal Studios at night
7:00 PM Arrive at Universal Studios by bus and join in as much rides, shows, and fun as you possibly can!
10:00 PM Since the park closes at a considerable time, many tourists tend to go beyond Sentosa and explore the nearby cinemas and restaurants. If you’re still hungry, go ahead and eat at Dim Tai Fung as it’s open well into midnight.
11:00 PM Totally optional but one of the best to experience while in Singapore, head on over to Loof. It’s a famous rooftop bar, at the top of Odeon Towers. It’s a pretty chill place, so you’ll have the chance to unwind the night away.
Day 2: Taking the city by storm
8:00 AM Head down to your hotel’s restaurant or a nearby cafe for some coffee and a heart breakfast.
10:00 AM Visit the Singapore Botanical Garden. Those are the giant trees you’ll see standing proudly at the heart of the city.
1:00 PM Make sure you’re well past the lunch hour before heading over to Tiong Bahru to try some authentic Singaporean food like Laksa, Hokkien Mee, Char Kway Teow, and Chicken Rice
3:30 PM If you’re up for it, visit Haji Lane for some hipster-inspired clothing or Orchard Road for designer items. Although, if you’re not a big fan of shopping, try heading over to Singapore Zoo or Aquarium as its one of the biggest you’ll ever see.
5:30 PM Make your way over to the Singapore Flyer to get a panoramic view of the city with the sunset to boot!
7:00 PM If you aren’t hungry yet, it would be fun to check out Bugis Street or Little India to look for trinkets to bring home from your trip.
8:00 PM I hope you noticed I’m trying to avoid dinner hour as much as possible. Ha! Anyway, for something more Singaporean (rather than touristy and commercial), head on over to Hawker Centre to have your mix of Indian, Chinese, and European food at your fingertips.
10:00 PM Finally, have fun at the Singapore Night Safari way until midnight. Believe me — it may not be anything like Africa’s, but it’s also worth a trip for first-timers!
Day 3: 3 hours left and you’re on your way to the airport
After squeezing in much fun in Singapore, one of my favourite things to do is also to hang by Changi Airport. It’s one the largest and most interactive airports you’ll ever have the chance to explore.
You have the botanical gardens, butterfly sanctuary, thousands of shops, and restaurants that I’m sure you’ll enjoy!
My last recommendation to conclude your trip around the city would be to try the famous Gong Cha milk tea. I know there’s a ton of these in Manila and everywhere else but trust me. It’s too good to pass up.
5 Reasons to keep coming back to Singapore
Reason #1: There’s still so much to explore
I find one of the reasons — if not the main reason — why travellers return to a place is because they feel they haven’t fully explored a city yet. And honestly, a weekend in Singapore will never be enough. There’s just too much to do and a lot of places to discover. Plus, Singapore is one of the fastest growing countries to date! There will be tons of new adventures waiting for you at every turn.
Reason #2: Super safe and has this aura of familiarity
Colour me biased but I really do feel safe whenever I go to Singapore. Whether it’s just me with my mom or our entire family, you can go walk around without feeling like someone will pickpocket your things. Or do worse. You know what I mean.
Plus, I really love how even for many first-timers, you won’t get lost in the city.
Reason #3: Every facility is top-notch
Seriously! Haha! If there’s one airport that is always clean and always asks for feedback, it’s Changi. If the barista or server is super friendly to you, it’s because they are. All the latest gadgets are sold out in Singapore on the day it arrives. Trust me, I witnessed the release of the iPhone 6 first-hand here and everyone was flocking to the Apple store. Not 3 days later, they all ran out of stocks.
Whether it’s your education or the simple use of the lavatories, everything is A+ in this side of the world.
Reason #4: The city is small enough you don’t get lost. But big enough to still be amazed by what it has to offer.
I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again — Singapore is a relatively small city/country! Their trains arrive every few seconds, so you won’t have difficult commuting from Bugis to the Merlion Park. But more than that, Singaporeans thrive to keep everything local. So all their best coffee shops and even their restaurants, are always by local entrepreneurs instead of the other way around.
Reason #5: Whether it’s only for the weekend or a week-long vacation, you’ll not tire of Singapore
And I mean this wholeheartedly. Though you might have difficulty with the language or you might feel like you’ve seen it all…You haven’t.
I feel like Singapore really does have it all.
They make sure you have the best experience possible and ensure that you won’t have complaints about the city itself. It’s also clean everywhere and people aren’t going to be rude to you. They know how to converse in English.
It’s a great mix between people in this side of the world and an even better mix of history the modern world.