When my travel fever kicks in I regularly find myself booking the cheapest flight I can find, no matter where the destination. And that is exactly how I ended up in Singapore for a weekend away from Bangkok. I had absolutely no previous knowledge of what to do in this tiny country. Thankfully you’ll be more prepared than I am after reading this sample itinerary!
- Settle into your accommodation and get your bearings. My favorite way to do this is to just get out and walk around. You can scope out the perfect coffee shop for your morning cup o’ joe and locate the public transportation you’ll need to be using.
Travel Tip: Singapore is not a very big country and it is fairly safe wherever you go. However, I would suggest making your home base somewhere near public transportation. We based ourselves near the Little India neighborhood, which ended up being awesome! We were within walking distance of really cute restaurants and stores as well as the rail station.
- After you’re all settled in, do yourself a favor and visit the Singapore Botanical Gardens. I’m not a big botanical gardens person but these gardens were absolutely beautiful. They’re easy to get to — just 5 minutes off of Orchard Rd, Singapore’s main shopping street. The best part is…they’re completely free. We paid the student price (S$1) to access the Orchid Gardens which we thought was well worth it.
- When you’ve seen all the plants you can handle, treat yourself to some dinner and shopping on Orchard Road. There will be numerous restaurants along this road but you could get a little more local and find some street vendors.
- If you’re a vino fiend like I am you’ll be pleased to know that Singapore has several wine bars. The oldest is called Que Pasa and is located in the Orchard district. They have an extensive wine list and tapas(!). The ambiance is really pleasant and the wine is fairly cheap if you’re drinking with friends.
- Optional: I’ve heard really good things about the Singapore Night Safari. The website describes it as an “exciting tram ride, spectacular shows & up close animal encounters.” We were on a tight budget and so we opted out of this but if you’re looking for more activities to fill your time this one will set you back about S$45 (about USD32).
Where to stay: The Clifden Hostel ($12 for a dorm bed) is located in the heart of Little India. It offers free WiFi, lockers, air conditioning, 24-hour front desk , and is located right near the MRT Station.
- Start off your day with a good meal at Brunches Cafe in Little India. Their vintage seating options are so hipster but the food is incredible. We got to sit in the “car seat” which was an actual vintage car turned into cafe seating. Brunches will set you back anywhere from S$6 to $20 for some damn good brunching.
- Today you’re going to explore the cultural neighborhoods of Singapore. Many people think of Singapore as modern and western but it actually has several neighborhoods that offer great cultural experiences. Little India, Chinatown, and the Arab Quarter are all located within a few minutes of each other and each is worth dedicating some time to. Walk around, eat amazing food, and find some great deals in the many markets.
- After spending a few hours getting all cultured and whatnot, head over to the business district. Here you’ll find impressive skyscrapers, fantastic street food, and dazzling views. Grab an early dinner at one of the many Hawker Centers.
- After dinner, catch the bus to Gardens by the Bay. This is another free attraction that is an absolute must-do if you’re visiting Singapore. You’ll want to get there right before sunset so you can see the ‘supertrees’ both in the light and after dark when they’re all lit up.
- The Gardens are within walking distance to the famous Marina Bay Sands resort. The pool is guests-only but if you have it in your budget you can visit the observation deck for S$23 (USD16) for some of the best views of Singapore. Marina Bay Sands also contains its own shopping mall. It’s open to the public and is really fun to walk through. There is a river running through the middle with gondolas floating by every so often and endless high-end stores that I would be afraid to even breathe near.
- Optional: Take a ride on the Singapore Flyer — Singapore’s answer to the London Eye. It stands at an impressive 165 meters (541 feet for us Americans) and offers stunning views of the Singapore skyline. The last flight is at 10pm and tickets cost S$33 (USD24)
- Grab some breakfast and coffee and get yourself packed up. Most hostels will allow you to keep your bags behind the desk until your flight.
- Spend a couple of hours walking the Southern Ridges tree top walk. It’s a 10 km skywalk around Singapore’s most mountainous area. You’ll see the more natural side of Singapore that most people don’t get to experience.
- If you don’t have a flight to catch, you could also spend day three on the beach at St. John’s Island. This is a secluded island south of Singapore that sees very little tourism. You’ll need to pack everything you need for the day — food water, sunscreen, etc — as there are no shops on the island. If you have the time it would make a lovely day trip and there are daily ferries running from the city.
Singapore was never on my travel radar until I went there. This little city-state packs a big punch but you can see a lot of it in just a weekend.
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