One of the best parts of travelling around Asia is the opportunity to visit so many different countries. Backpackers will often spend a 24- or 48-hour layover in Singapore on their travels through the continent. Instead of spending that time stuck in the airport, spend your time exploring one of Asia’s most unique countries: Singapore.
This mini itinerary will help you make the most of your time in Singapore, I’ve put together the best ways to spend 48 hours here! Even if you only have 48 hours to spend, this guide will help you narrow down where to go, what to eat, and what to see in such little time.
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Singapore Changi Airport
You are likely flying into Singapore’s largest airport, and one of the most important airports in Southeast Asia. There are a few different ways to get from the airport into the city. Taxi is by far the easiest and most convenient, but also the most expensive. Make sure that you have your address written down or a snapshot of its location on a map to help your driver. If you’ve downloaded the Grab app, you can also use this – it works just like Uber.
Another easy option is the Changi Airport Shuttle. You can buy a ticket online or upon your arrival, and the shuttle will drop you off at your hotel. The final (and cheapest) option is to take public transportation. In order to take a bus or the metro (MRT), you will need to buy an EZ-Link card. While you can take the bus and pay with cash, it will cost you more than it will to use these cards. Once you have the card, you will be able travel around Singapore very easily.
Gardens by the Bay
48 hours in Singapore may seem like a long time, but there is so much to see and do! One of the most impressive sights is Gardens by the Bay, a true mixture of human innovation and natural beauty. This place is HUGE. You could spend your entire day wandering around, marvelling at the diversity of plants, so you should try and plan out the specific areas you want to visit. Each area of the gardens is designed to replicate a different ecosystem from around the world. The Cloud Forest is one that you certainly cannot miss. Not only is this the tallest manmade waterfall in the world, it also holds the crown for biggest glass greenhouse!
Another greenhouse worth checking out is the Flower Dome. If you are a plant nerd like me, you will be overwhelmed by the number of trees from all around the world right in front of you. While these trees are impressive, you’ll really be awed by the Supertree grove. These massive steel-framed trees loom over the gardens and are an awesome sight to see when they are illuminated at night. There is a walkway along these structures, and walking it is a great way to spend the evening.
Finally, there are two different lakes at the garden, the Dragonfly and Kingfisher. These lakes are the best spots to check out some of Singapore’s native birds and insects. The Gardens by the Bay are an incredible escape from the hustle and bustle of one of Asia’s largest cities.
Marina Bay Sands Area
Very near to the Gardens by the Bay is a completely different spectacle – the Marina Bay Sands Resort. Don’t worry, even if you aren’t staying here, you can still access the different restaurants, casinos, and shops within the complex. If you are willing to spend the money for a room, the one thing you must do is swim on their rooftop infinity pool.
It’s the largest in the world and offers an excellent panoramic view of Singapore. Wandering around the Marina Bay Sands is something everyone should do to simply admire the architectural masterpiece. For those on a budget, staying here is something you should try to avoid doing.
After walking through the Marina Bay Sands area, you will probably be craving something just a bit more down-to-earth. The Clarke Quay district is a great place to wander around because of its historical importance and beautiful colors. If you are visiting during the day, you have to try one of the area’s many restaurants.
However, I recommend visiting this area at night – there are so many different bars and nightclubs to choose from, and the neighborhood is located right on the edge of the river.
Masjid Sultan is one of the most visited places in Singapore, and once you see it, you’ll understand why. Located in the heart of the Muslim Quarter, Masjid Sultan is a massive mosque that has been claimed as a national monument. One of the best things about the mosque is the fact that there are a bunch of volunteers working there.
They are willing to take you around the mosque and answer any questions that you may have. The mosque is a great way to learn more about Islam as a religion and should be added to your Singapore itinerary.
The best word to describe this little street near Masjid Sultan is quirky. This is the place where you are most likely to find all of the Singaporean hipsters. It’s full of small cafés, mom-and-pop boutiques, yoga studios, and tattoo shops. The walls of the narrow lane are full of murals, and each storefront is unique. If you need to snag yourself a souvenir from your 48 hours in Singapore, come here!
Another neighborhood worth visiting in Singapore is Chinatown. Singapore’s population is predominantly Chinese, and this area of the city is a great way to immerse yourself in the country’s culture. The Nus Baba House is a museum in the neighborhood that provides a bit of context to Singapore’s history. It is a traditional Peranakan home, a group traditionally identified as Malaysian-born Chinese immigrants. This area was traditionally inhabited by Peranakans, and more of their culture can be explored in Chinatown’s many different temples.
The three that I would recommend for your visit are the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, the Shri Mariamman Temple, and the Thian Hock Keng Temple. Each of them has their own unique history, and they’re located within blocks of one another. Visiting them simultaneously will help you to understand the historical significance of each. One of the main reasons to visit this neighborhood is (you guessed it) the food! There are hawker centres, or food courts, all over the city, giving you an opportunity to try an abundance of different traditional Singaporean foods. Don’t know what to order? I got you covered:
Foods to try in Singapore
Wondering what to eat in Singapore? Laksa is a a spicy noodle soup that you will see advertised everywhere. Typically, it is served with chicken, fish, or prawns. Each restaurant has its own way of preparing the soup, and I recommend trying as many different ones as possible. Another soup to try is Bak Kut Teh, which is a pork rib broth. Different peppers and garlic give this soup its distinct flavour. After getting your fair share of soups, two seafood dishes worth trying are chili crab and the oyster omelet. Chili crab is a mud crab that is stir fried in a savoury tomato and chili sauce.
You’ll usually see Singaporeans eating it with their hands, and is not as spicy as the name might suggest. It is one of the most unique dishes to Singapore, and everyone who visits should give it a try. Oyster omelets, or orh luak, aren’t a breakfast food, but instead are a staple at the night markets of Singapore. Unlike omelettes in other parts of the world, starch is added to the egg and oyster mixture to give it a crunchy texture.
One great word to describe Singapore is diverse. There aren’t many other places where you can visit Chinatown, a Muslim mosque, and an Asian art museum all in one day. Another place to add to that diverse list is Little India. There are a bunch of different retailers here and some great Indian restaurants to try. My friends said it felt like they were travelling in India again and highly recommended it, even if you only have 24 hours in Singapore.
Visit the Zoo or the S.E.A. Aquarium
Like I mentioned above, Singapore may be small, but it is packed to the brim with a diversity of things to do. One way to spend your time in Singapore is to visit the Singapore Zoo or the S.E.A. Aquarium. Singapore is revered as the world’s top rainforest zoo, and it has a variety of shows and activities for guests. One of the coolest ones is the Night Safari, which gives you the unique opportunity to see nocturnal animals awake and active.
Like the Gardens by the Bay, the zoo is separated into zones meant to replicate different areas of the world. The S.E.A. Aquarium is another place to see some wildlife. With over 100,000 different marine animals, you can spend an entire afternoon here if you are tired of wandering around Asian cities. It’s an awesome way to do something different.
Singapore may seem like a very modern city, but it also has a complex history to explore. Fortunately, Singapore is home to some of the best museums in Asia, providing history buffs with plenty to do during their visit. If you only have time to visit one museum, I recommend the National Museum of Singapore. This place dates all the way back to 1849, and just walking through the building feels like time travel. As you wander around the streets of Singapore, you will immediately realize what a giant melting pot of cultures it is. The exhibits at this museum provide a context to this aspect of the culture and I highly recommend it!
Another museum worth visiting in your 48 hours in Singapore is the Asian Civilizations Museum. This museum displays the artistic traditions of different Asian countries. After spending time here, you will definitely have a newfound respect for Asian art, particularly Singaporean art.
The Singapore Flyer
During your trip to Singapore, I highly recommend trying to watch the sunset from on top of one of the city’s skyscraper, or even better, atop the Singapore Flyer. The Singapore Flyer is reminiscent of the London Eye. This massive Ferris wheel takes about 30 minutes to rotate, allowing you a bunch of time to soak in one of the best views of the city.
Shopping at Orchard Road
Another thing to add to your Singapore 48-hour itinerary is some shopping. Looking for that thing you forgot to pack into your backpack? You can find it on Orchard Road. This area is packed to the brim with secondhand clothing, expensive electronics, designer clothing, and really anything else that you could imagine. Orchard Road is also filled with restaurants, making it a great area to spend the evening.
Feeling overwhelmed by all of the cityscape of Singapore? Then Sentosa island may be just the places for you. This popular resort has a 2 km stretch of beaches where you can relax on your short trip.
I hope that this guide makes travel in Singapore easy for you! Singapore is truly a unique place and deserves to become not just a place to fly through, but a destination on any traveller’s bucket list.
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