We stopped in Singapore as a layover destination on the way to Indonesia. I had been there before as a layover en route to Australia, and I was glad to visit Singapore again as my great grandpa had been archbishop there when it was under Colonial rule. Singapore is the perfect place for a futuristic 2 or 3 day stop en route somewhere else, and although it does have a lot to do in its own right, I don’t think you need more than 3 days there really.
It’s really easy to get around in Singapore; it’s a small country and the metro system is good and easy to navigate. There are also river boats to take you up and down the Singapore river. We used the metro and the boats to get around, and had no problems at all.
My highlights and ‘best of the rest’ are:
ONE. Gardens by the Bay
One of the most iconic areas in Singapore, Gardens by the Bay are insane. There are two main ‘domes’ – the cloud dome and the flower dome. The cloud dome was by far my favourite; built to replicate the tropical mountain regions of Asia and South America and with a massive waterfall in the middle, it really was spectacular. I was less enamoured by the flower dome, which is actually the largest greenhouse in the world. In total we spent about 3 hours going round these 2 domes.
TWO. National Museum of Singapore
I know not everyone wants to learn about the history of a country when they visit it, but Singapore’s is really fascinating. From the pre-British area, to Raffles landing and colonisation, to Japanese invasion, to becoming part of Malaysia to full independence. This museum tells the whole story and it’s both horrific and full of hope at the same time.
THREE. Haji Lane
I loved Haji Lane. It was full of boutique shops, cool cafes, bars, restaurants and street art. I thoroughly recommend going there for lunch one day and just spending an hour exploring the area. You can combine it with a visit to Little India and Chinatown (see below for more info).
FOUR. Supertree Grove
Combine this with a visit to Gardens by the Bay as the two are right next to each other. This group of trees are vertical gardens and provide environmental engines for the Gardens themselves. There is also a skyway walk between the trees to get views over the Gardens and a light show every day at 7.45 and 8.45pm called Garden Rhapsody where the trees light up and music plays.
Finally there is a restaurant up one of the trees, called IndoChine. In nice weather you can sit outside for panoramic views and the food there is delicious.
FIVE. Little India
The Little India area of Singapore is nice to walk around, with nice mosques, temples and restaurants. Some of the architecture is really impressive and it makes for a nice hour exploring.
The best of the rest in Singapore
- Merlion Park – half fish, half lion, this sculpture spits out water from its mouth with the Singapore skyline as a backdrop, facing in to the bay where Marina Bay Sands sits.
- Bumboats and the Singapore River – The Singapore River is lovely to cruise up an down on. Bumboats are effectively local water taxis and we went on one from Merlion Park up to Clarke Quay for dinner (see below).
- Chinatown – A fun area of the country with narrow roads, Chinese street food and cool wine bars. It’s also home to the impressive Buddha tooth relic temple.
- Clarke Quay – An area full of bars and eateries, perfect for dinner and a few drinks, whilst watching the river go by.
- Raffles and Singapore slings – Raffles Hotel is a Singapore institution. In the Long Bar you can have a Singapore sling with a bag of peanuts. Tradition is, you peel the peanuts and sling the shells on to the floor. I’m allergic to peanuts so this wasn’t an option for me and we sat in a side bar, with no nuts, instead. The Singapore slings are still epic though.
- Marina Bay Sands Hotel – The ultimate in infinity pool views, you can look out over Marina Bay and the Singapore skyline. It was so busy when we went we didn’t actually go in the pool, but it looked amazing and perfect for some awesome insta shots!
- Raffles City – This is a shopping mall next door to Raffles hotel and we loved it. It has an amazing food hall offering all kinds of delicious treats (I think we settled on Thai in the end), and then so many shops with designer clothes at good prices. We spent about 3 hours here shopping and eating.
- Orchard Road – This street is the retail centre of Singapore with loads of discount outlets, huge shops and boutiques; along with luxury hotels and apartments.
Full Itinerary (for those who are interested)
- Day 1 – Orchard Road, Little India, Haji Lane, Chinatown, Gardens by the Bay, Supertree Grove
- Day 2 – National Museum of Singapore, Raffles, Raffles City, Merlion Park, Bumboat an Singapore River, Clarke Quay
We did a lot in 2 days. If we had had another day we would have visited the Botanical Gardens and seen all the orchids, but we just ran out of time. Have you been to Singapore? Did you get more in than us? Let me know in the comments below!