Singapore lies at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia and is a thriving city-state with many distinguishing and inherent attributes. This vibrant city is a perfect stopover destination whether you have a few days or a week to spare and offers visitors a heady mix of history, culture, nightlife, dining, shopping and attractions whatever your age.
Follow this detailed itinerary for a 3 day guide to Singapore and make the most of your stay in this unspoilt country.
3 DAY GUIDE TO SINGAPORE
SIGHTS COVERED :
- Botanic Gardens (2/3 hrs)
- Kampong Glam (2 hrs)
- Little India (1/2 hrs)
- The Shoppes At Marina Bay Sands (1/2 Hrs)
- Cocktails At 1-Altitude Gallery & Bar (1 Hr)
- Spectra Light & Water Show
MORNING : BOTANIC GARDENS
Alight at Orchard MRT (North-South Line), then take a 5 minute bus ride to Tanglin Gate park entrance, exiting at Napier/Holland Road.
After a hearty breakfast, start the day early and avoid the heat for your visit to Singapore’s 158-year-old Botanic Gardens, which are justifiably the country’s first UNESCO Heritage Site.
From the Tanglin Gate, join the Heritage Trail which loops around the Tanglin core of the gardens, home to numerous historical landmarks and heritage trees.
Wander at your own pace and admire the resident pair of beautiful swans in Swan Lake, drought tolerant cacti in the sun garden, the octagonal Bandstand surrounded by a ring of Yellow Rain Trees and the exquisite Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim, Singapore’s National Flower.
At each stop be sure to read the interpretation plaques which provide plenty of interesting facts of each landmark.
The peace and tranquillity of the immaculate sprawling grounds are guaranteed to calm your mind and spirit despite the gardens being located a mere 5 minutes away from the busy Orchard Road shopping district. You will probably see people jogging and practising tai chi at this time of the morning and I can’t think of a better way of starting your day.
Turn off the trail and continue along Maranta Avenue past the Ginger Garden and to the elegant crane statues signalling the entrance to the National Orchid Garden. Containing the world’s largest orchid display, this is the only part of the botanic garden where there is a charge, although at S$5 per adult, I think this is a steal considering the beautiful array of orchids on display.
Continue your walk along Lower Palm Valley Road, to view the impressive Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, set in a large sloping valley. Performances are held throughout the year and this is a great picnic spot.
Continue to Maranta Avenue and rejoin the Heritage Trail loop back to the Tanglin Gate.
AFTERNOON : KAMPONG GLAM, LITTLE INDIA & SHOPPING
Return by bus to Orchard MRT (NS22) and continue one stop, to Newton (NS21/DT11). Join the Downtown Line (Blue) towards Chinatown and alight after 3 stops, at Bugis MRT (EW12/DT14). Exit onto Victoria Street, keep right and continue before turning right onto Ophir Road. When you hit North Bridge Road, turn left and continue before taking the first road on the right, Haji Lane.
Take a leisurely stroll down this quaint colourful narrow lane, lined on each side with cafes, unique chic indie boutiques selling vintage clothing, home decor, gifts and eclectic trinkets. Kampong Glam is considered to be a trendy and hip neighbourhood by locals and was once the residency of Malay royalty, so is wrapped in a cultural history of Malay heritage. Originally an ethnic enclave for the Muslim community, including Bugis and Arab traders, it is a lovely area to stroll around with plenty of sights to see.
Stop for a lunch break at the delightful two-storey outlet Shop Wonderland (37 Haji Lane) which combines a cafe with a florist and arts/crafts workshop.
After lunch continue your journey around this Malay enclave by turning left along Beach Road and then left into another iconic area, namely Arab Street. Wander in and out of the vividly coloured shops selling intricate batiks and linens, dazzling persian rugs, Asian and Muslim inspired crafts and trinkets and a diverse mix of clothing from independent, local designers.
As you stroll through the many side streets you will see the golden domes of the impressive Sultan Mosque, a focal point for the areas Muslim community, at 3 Muscat Street. Admire the construction of the exterior before going inside to view the beautiful prayer hall. The Mosque was originally built for the first sultan of Singapore in 1824 and it is definitely worth looking around.
Within an easy 10 minute walk from here is the hub of the Hindu community, the neighbourhood of Little India. Head towards the areas main artery, Serangoon Road which cuts through the neighbourhood and breathe in the heady perfume of incense, perfume and spices. Brightly coloured shops house cafes, restaurants, fabrics, jewellery and scented flower garlands.
Along Serangoon Road is another temple of note, Sri Veeramakaliamman which takes pride of place as one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temples. Even if the colourful and intricate detailing is not to your taste you have to admire the craftsmanship.
Make your way back to Little India MRT and join the Downtown Line (Blue) towards Chinatown. Alight after 3 stops at PromenadeMRT (DT15/CC4) and join the Circle Line (Orange) towards Marina South Pier. Alight after 1 stop at Bayfront MRT (DT16/CE1). Take Exits C & D which connect to The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, your next destination.
As one of Singapore’s largest luxury shopping malls, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands offers a mix of luxury brand labels, gastronomic dining options and an exceptional space in which to wander, browse and escape the humidity of the day.
Sit and enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafes, do some shopping (or window shopping) and people watch!
EVENING : COCKTAILS AND LIGHT SHOW
Depart from The Shoppes at 5.45pm and head South West on Bayfront Avenue then turn right into Collyer Quay. Take the right hand turn onto Raffles Place and your destination will be on your left.
1-Altitude gallery & Bar is situated on Level 63 and isn’t just the highest rooftop bar in Singapore, but also the highest alfresco bar in the world. Sundowner Affair is from 6pm to 8pm and even though there is a cover charge of S$30 per person, which includes 1 drink each, the views of the skyline make the cost worthwhile. Enjoy your drink as the sun sets over Singapore’s iconic skyline.
Walk north on Raffles Place towards Battery Road then continue onto Bonham Street before turning right onto Boat Quay. Turn left onto Cavenagh Bridge, right onto Queen Elizabeth Walk and then turn right onto the Helix Bridge.
This stunning, unique and remarkable piece of architecture which opened in 2010, is a pedestrian link crossing the head of the Singapore River and joining Marina Center to Marina South. Walk along the helix bridge and admire the sheer feat of engineering design. A bonus of walking across at night is that it is brightly lit, illuminating your path and portraying its many incredible design features.
Reaching the other side of the bridge continue along Bayfront Avenue until you reach the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel which has a unique boat shape. Here at the promenade at 9.00pm you will watch a captivating 15 minute light and water show, displayed over the water to with colourful visual arts and orchestral music.
Spectra, is the new free to the public outdoor light and water show and a great way to end your first day in Singapore. Enjoy dinner at one of the many eateries around Marina Bay.
- Botanic Gardens can be reached by SBS Transit bus no 7, 105, 123, 174, 174e and SMRT bus no 75, 77, 106 and NR8.
- Visit the gardens official site for maps, opening times and details of events year round.
- Heritage Trail map and directions can be accessed here.
- Take a refillable water bottle, sun protection and an umbrella.
- There are eateries dotted around Kampong Glam and I can recommend Shop Wonderland.
- Take a virtual tour of Sultan Mosque and check opening times.
- Read about the history of Sri- Veeramakaliamman Temple.
- Check the full list of shops and restaurants situated at Marina Bay Sands.
- Check details of opening hours and dress code at 1-Altitude Gallery & Bar.
- Read about the design, construction and architecture of the Helix Bridge.
- The story of Spectra Light and Water Show is fascinating reading.
SIGHTS COVERED :
Civic District (4 hrs) –
- Civilian War Memorial
- National Gallery
- Asian Civilian Museum
- Singapore River
- Gardens By The Bay (3 hrs)
MORNING : HISTORIC DISTRICT & SINGAPORE RIVER
Alight at Esplanade MRT (CC3) and walk towards War Memorial Park in Beach Road.
Located in the Park is The Civilian War Memorial with its four pillars, each 70 metres in height and representing the unity of Singapore’s four main races, Chinese, Indian, Malay and Eurasian. Commemorating the loss of civilian lives during the Japanese Occupation in Singapore during 1942-1945, this landmark has great significance as the remains of unidentified war victims are buried beneath the monument. It struck me as a modern and simplistic design that didn’t distract from the poignancy of the memorial.
Cross Stamford Road and continue down Connaught Drive.
On the left hand side you will see another important memorial, The Cenotaph, located in Esplanade Park and honouring the brave men who died during World Wars I and II.
Cross over the other side of Connaught Drive and into The Padang.
In this historical Civic District on the 9th of August 1965, Singapore’s Independence was declared. In a national effort to make Singapore a garden city, a campaign was launched and land set aside for what has now become the beautiful Gardens of the Bay site, which you will visit later in the day.
The Padang affords a wonderful vantage point for seeing the iconic architectural Marina Bay Sands Hotel, a ship like structure sitting proudly a top 3 towers.
If you are a keen art fan, now is your chance to visit the National Gallery Singapore, once home to the Supreme Court and City Hall.
Continue down St Andrews Road towards Singapore River.
You will pass by some architecturally pleasing buildings on the way to the River including Parliament House, the Supreme Court,, Victoria Theatre & Concert hall and your next stop, Asian Civilisation Museum.
Privé at the Asian Civilisations Museum makes an ideal mid-morning stop for coffee and cake and offers unbeatable River views from the outdoor deck before
learning the stories of Asian civilisations in the Museum and how they shaped Singapore’s history/heritage.
Keeping right, follow the river towards Clarke Quay MRT, passing the famous Raffles landing Site and statue.
Walk along the riverfront past Boat Quay towards marina Bay, making sure to stop and admire this beautiful part of the city and the architectural buildings. There are some beautiful bronze sculptures along your route so keep a look out for them.
Continue your walk across Fullerton Road to Merlion Park to view the original Merlion of Singapore. At 8.6 metres tall, the statue has a lion’s head and the body of a fish. There will be plenty of places around the park and Fullerton Road for a lunch stop and a reprise from the heat of the day.
AFTERNOON : GARDENS BY THE BAY
From Merlion Park, continue to walk along the boardwalk towards Marina Bay Sands. Walk across the overhead bridge (Lions Bridge) located at Marina Bay Sands Hotel (open daily from 8.00am to 11.00pm), or take the underground linkway via Bayfront MRT Station
(Exit B). Alternatively, take the MTR from Raffles Place (EW14/NS26) to |Bayfront (CE1/DT16). Take Exit B and follow the underground linkway. Exit and cross the Dragonfly Bridge or Meadow Bridge into Gardens by the Bay.
During your visit to gardens By The Bay, remind yourself that this sprawling 101 hectare horticultural park and gardens has been built from reclaimed land. Highlights of the gardens are its two conservatories, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest and be prepared to be truly impressed.
With an unprecedented design which comprising 3,332 panels of spectrally selective glass in 42 varying shapes and sizes, the Flower Dome is an astounding glass greenhouse, showcasing changing displays of plants from the Mediterranean and semi-arid regions. Stand still and turn 360 degrees and give yourself ample time to really take in this spectacular feat.
In contrast to the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest features the world’s tallest indoor waterfall amidst a 35 metre tall vegetation clad mountain. Plants such as orchids and tropical plants ensure a lush and verdant covering for the mist veiled mountain and it is an amazing sight. For great aerial views take the lift to the top of the forest and follow the walkway to admire the canopy and mountainside below.
Once you have visited the two conservatories head outside to admire the Supertree Grove and view the gardens from a different perspective. Twelve of the 18 Supertrees within the Gardens are found here with the tallest one measuring a staggering 16 storeys. The shape was inspired by Singapre’s national flower, the orchid and while some harvest solar energy for lighting purposes, others serve as air exhaust receptacles. Pure geneius!!
Other areas well worth your time include the Dragonfly & Kingfisher Lakes with its boardwalk and great vantage point for photos and the four themed gardens of the heritage Gardens. The site is also home to more than 40 sculptures from around the world which add a different dimension and beauty to the Gardens.
EVENING : DINNER AND LIGHT SHOW
From the Gardens follow the Waterfont Parade towards marina Barrage for about 10 minutes until you reach Satay By The Bay, located within the Park.
You will be spoilt for choice for dinner at this alfresco hawker centre, set within a lush greenery location. There are 19 stalls offering a variety of local hawker fare including the speciality Satay Skewers. Grilled skewered chicken, beef and pork with different flavours and the obligatory peanut sauce tantalise your taste buds with their aromas. Match your chosen dish with a cold beer and your dinner is complete.
There are several other food options together with a welcome onsite bar and all come with a great view, especially at night when the skyline comes to life in an array of colour.
After dinner, return to Supertree Grove in the Gardens.
Every night the gardens host a FREE light and sound show in the Supertree Grove at 7.45 pm and 8.45 pm. Garden Rhapsody signature light and sound show is a creative vision lasting about 15 minutes. The stunning giant metal supertrees are lit up in a profusion of vivid colours and “dance” to the music propelled from hidden speakers hidden amongst the greenery on each tree. Sit or stand anywhere in the area and you will experience the eccentric music, but make sure to look upwards at these towering trees!
Continue your evening at one of the many nightspot bars in the area.
- Check opening times and admission charges for National Gallery Singapore on the official site.
- Details of opening times and admission charges for the Asian Civilisation Museum.
- Check out the menu at Privé.
- Plan your visit to the Gardens Of The Bay.
- Find out more about the attractions at Gardens Of The Bay.
- Check out the official site of Satay By The Bay.
SIGHTS COVERED :
- Fort Canning Park (1/2 hrs)
- Battle Box Museum (1 hr)
- National Museum Of Singapore (2 hrs)
- Chinatown (3 hrs)
- Orchard Road
MORNING : FORT CANNING PARK
Alight at Clarke Quay MRT (NE5) and come out from Exit E. Turn left and walk along Coleman Bridge. Turn left again at the end of Coleman Bridge and head towards the pedestrian overhead bridge (100m away) along River Valley Road. Cross the overhead bridge and you will enter Fort Canning Park.
This sprawling 18 hectare hillside Fort Canning Park, was once the site of 14th century Malay Kings palaces and headquarters of the Far East Command Centre and British Army barracks.
From the moment that you enter the Park you will feel a world away from the city and be transported to an oasis of calm, among the plants, trees and wildlife. Join the well marked path to Raffles Terrace and view the Lighthouse which stands as a legacy of its contribution to Singapore maritime history.
There are a pair of 9-pound cannons which although decorative used to be fired 3 times a day to announce the hours of 5am, 1pm and 9pm. It was also fired as a salute and as a warning of town fires. As you wander through the park, keep a look out for beautiful butterflys, gigantic Heritage trees and a large variety of plants and spices. Breathe in the heady scent of plants such as Ylang Ylang as you enjoy the tranquility.
The ASEAN Sculpture Garden, first created in 1981 as a symbol of cooperation between ASEAN members contains some unusual yet alluring sculptures. Indonesia donated a sculpture which symbolises “Unity” and while it is true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder there is something striking and attractive about the structure.
The path meanders around the park and about midway is the Battle Box, an underground bunker used in World War II, and it was here that the ultimate decision on the 15th of February 1942 to surrender Singapore to the Japanese was historically made.
This former British command centre was part of the headquarters of Malaya Command, the army which defended Malaya and Singapore in WWII. Join a 1 hour tour with a knowledgeable guide and learn the story of Strategy and Surrender, the functioning during the war of an underground command centre and the fall of Singapore during WWII. It is interesting to discover how the Battle Box is intertwined with Fort Canning Hill and there is a wealth of material for you to check out and have any questions answered.
On leaving Battle Box Museum, continue along the path, through the Gothic Gate and down the escalator to the roadside for entry to National Museum Of Singapore.
The National Museum building marries an elegant neo-classical facade with a new quirky modern extension of metal and glass seamlessly. Here you will learn about Singapore’s culture and history through a range of beguiling medias including galleries, art installations, artefacts and video montage displaying everyday life. There is nothing stuffy about this museum. The vast white open spaces are a pleasure to stroll around and the information is relayed in a manner that provides interest and fun in equal measures.
The museum hosts a range of exhibitions throughout the year so be sure to check any event listings before your visit. Permanent exhibitions of note are “We Built A Nation” which explores the first 10 pivotal years of independence (1965 – 1975) that shaped Singapore’s history and “Modern Colony”, a gallery which explores the cosmopolitan nature of Singapore as a British Crown colony from the late 1920s to 1930s.
Undoubtedly a great architectural icon with its history going back to 1887, this is a unique and stimulating museum and a great spot for a coffee break or brunch. They serve great options at Food For Thought and it is a great people watching space!
Depart from the National Museum and follow the path to the back of the School of Accountancy. continue along Stamford Road before entering City Hall MRT (EW13/NS25). Take the East West Line (Green) towards Tuas Link (EW33) and alight after 3 stops at Outram Park (EW16/NE3/TE17). Join the North East Line (Purple) towards punggol Coast (NE18) and alight after 1 stop, at Chinatown MRT (NE4/DT19).
AFTERNOON : CHINATOWN
Nowhere else quite straddles the line between old and new like the bustling neighbourhood of Chinatown, with its traditional shops, teahouses, narrow alleys, markets and trendy new bars. Up until about 1989 when the area underwent redevelopment, Chinatown was still a place where opium dens existed alongside street hawkers and wet markets. This in part is what makes Chinatown an exciting district, bulging at the sides with history, its enclaves relics of a racious past yet there are still stories to be discovered as you wander the cramped and dingy alleys and streets.
Head down Pagoda Street for your cheap souvenirs fix, with stall after stall offering its wares of gifts. You are headed to the excellent Chinatown heritage Centre which is located within three shophouses at 49 Pagoda Street and is not to be missed. It is a great way to trace the journey and lives of the shophouse tenants in the 1950’s.
Entry includes a multimedia guide and as the centre does not close until 8pm be sure to take your time discovering old Chinatown through the dressed rooms and stories depicting residents lives.
When you are ready to leave the rich authentic history lesson behind, continue down Pagoda Street and turn right onto South Bridge Road where you will find Sri Mariamman Temple (no 224), a national monument built in 1827 and the oldest Hindu Temple in Singapore. The five tiers are an elaborate myriad of brightly coloured sculptures and floral decorations and is certainly a sight for your eyes whatever your taste.
Continue walking along South Bridge Road until you arrive at number 288 and the impressive Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum.
What a stark contrast this building is with the high rise modern towers in the background, another example of the “old” rubbing shoulders with the modern day. There is plenty to keep you interested inside the temple, including comprehensive exhibits on Buddhist history. The Temple houses the left canine tooth of Buddha, which was removed from his funeral pyre in India. Admission is free and weekly guided tours are provided.
By now you will probably be feeling hungry so the next stop is for an authentic Singapore dining experience on Smith Street.
EVENING : DINNER AND SHOPPING
From South Bridge Road turn left into Smith Street and stop at number 335, Chinatown Food Street.
The area is especially brought to life in the evening when the street is lined with stalls selling a wide range of authentic Singapore food such as Bak Ku Teh, Laksa, Hokkien Mee, Char Kway Teow and Satay. Follow the lead of the locals and once you have found a stall you like, order and pay for your dish then collect your food and sit at one of the tables situated alongside the stalls. Most of Singapore’s signature food can be found here and the tantalising aromas wafting from the stalls is enough to make your mouth water.
Enjoy alfresco dining from hawker stalls, street kiosks and shophouse restaurants along one street with the bonus of a high ceiling glass canopy and internal spot cooling system to protect you from the elements. Be sure to grab a cold beer and enjoy the atmosphere as you eat.
After dinner, walk the short distance to Chinatown MRT (NES/DT19) and take the North East Line (Purple) towards Punggol Coast alighting after 2 stops at Dhoby Ghaut. Change to the North South line (Red) going to Jurong East and alight after 2 stops at Orchard (TE14/NS22).
Orchard Road is Asia’s most famous shopping street and at 2.2 km long, we are talking serious retail therapy. Even if you are not a shopper, you will be suitably impressed at the sheer scale of buildings here.
Named after the nutmeg and pepper orchards that once lined this area, Orchard Road has an interminable line of shopping malls, boutiques and hotels from one end of the road to the other.
With a plethora of shopping malls to choose from it can be difficult to know where to begin as you certainly won’t have time to visit them all on a short trip. I suggest you start with ION Orchard, the jewel of Singapore’s iconic shopping district. Here you will find fashion, accessories, watches, jewellery, beauty, sports, shoes and electronics stores.
After ION Orchard I suggest a sit down and chance to recuperate at one of the many cafes along Orchard Road.
A new additional to the cafe scene is the recently opened Privé Orchard Cafe located in a prime position for optimal people watching, right outside Wheelock Place, directly facing Orchard Road.
Rest your weary feet and watch the energy of shoppers along Orchard Road while taking advantage of the daily happy hour promotion on half pint draught beers, red/white wines and spirits between 5pm and 8pm.
Tables face outwards and are terraced with the outermost seats at street level so that a good view is ensured. Within spitting distance of ION Orchard, the jewel of Singapore’s most iconic shopping district.
- Fort Canning Park lighting hours are 7.00pm – 07.00am
- Buy tickets for the museum from nearby Battle Box Visitor Centre
- Check here for museum tour times and admission prices.
- Check opening times, admission prices and exhibitions at Museum Of Singapore on the official website.
- Visit the official site for Chinatown.
- Chinatown Heritage Centre is closed every 1st Monday of the month.
- Check the official website of Chinatown |Heritage Centre for details of admission prices and history.
- Find full visitor information for the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum here.
- Chinatown Food Street is open from 11am – 11pm daily.
- Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the Chinatown area.
- ION Orchard Store Guide can be found here.
- Details of opening hours and drinks and food menu at Privé Orchard Cafe can be found here.
- Check the Train System Map for routes.
Even if you only have 3 days to visit Singapore, this detailed itinerary shows you just how much you can pack in with careful planning, meaning that you see some of the main sights, explore local neighbourhoods, sample local food, learn about the culture and history and end your trip with unforgettable memories.
MORE POSTS ON SINGAPORE TO READ :
- 15 Reasons To Visit This Compelling Country
- 15 Free Things To Do in Singapore To Stretch Your Budget
- Budget Travel Tips For Singapore – 17 Ways To Save Money
How about you? Does this itinerary make you want to visit Singapore?
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