The compactness of the Little Red Dot, and the efficiency of its world-class public transport systems, makes Singapore the perfect city to enjoy a variety of experiences properly without rushing from one attraction to the next. Here’s a 48-hour itinerary to get you started.
Day 1 – Back to nature
8am – Henderson Waves
Get up bright and early for a revitalising walk along the 10km-long Southern Ridges trail that connects Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve. With options to get on or off the trail depending on the distance you’d like to do, these ridges have something for everyone, whether you’re a history buff, nature lover or walking enthusiast. The architecturally stunning Henderson Waves (Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge) offers sweeping views of the city – spot the Daniel Libeskind-designed Reflections at Keppel Bay – and at HortPark, peaceful green spaces and themed gardens fascinate and soothe.
To get to your next stop: Take bus No. 97 from the bus stop opposite HortPark to Marina Bay Sands, where you can walk to Gardens by the Bay.
11am – Gardens by the Bay
Enjoy some cool respite from the Singapore heat in the air-conditioned conservatories at the award-winning Gardens by the Bay: Flower Dome, where it is perpetually spring, and Cloud Forest, a misty wonderland that’s home to rare plants that thrive in the mountains. Grab a coffee or ice cream at Mylos, a pet-friendly cafe set up alongside the newly opened Active Garden. For lunch, head over to nearby Marina Bay Sands for a plethora of celebrity chef options including Spago Dining Room by Wolfgang Puck and Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay
To get to your next stop: Hop onto the MRT train at Bayfront station and alight at Ang Mo Kio station. Take bus No. 138 to River Safari.
4pm – River Wonders
The river is calling at Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park. Learn about various river habitats and their inhabitants, including the Amazon (with its giant anteaters and tapirs) and the Ganges (with its Goonch Catfish and Indian Gharial). This attraction is also home to the well-loved Kai Kai and Jia Jia, two giant pandas that were gifted by China. In August 2021, the panda couple welcomed Singapore’s first panda cub Le Le.
Don’t leave the area so quickly after your visit – pop over to the neighbouring Night Safari, the world’s first wildlife night park where you can observe the otherwise hidden lives of a range of nocturnal animals.
Day 2 – Heritage trail
10am – Intan Peranakan Home Museum
After all that fresh air, book a visit to The Intan. This unique private space is home to Peranakan (Straits Chinese) heritage gems. From carefully curated pots and enamelware to intricate jewellery and beautiful Nonya kebaya (traditional blouse-sarong ensembles), guests will have an educational and holistic cultural experience.
Visits and tours must be booked in advance and include tea or lunch/dinner. But if you’re not having your meal at The Intan, there’s a plethora of delicious offerings to choose from as you’ll be in Joo Chiat, which is one of Singapore’s top foodie enclaves. Continue exploring Peranakan culture at Guan Hoe Soon for some traditional fare or Sinpopo for a more modern take on all of the favourite classics.
To get to your next stop: Take bus No. 33 from Tembeling Road, a short walk from the Intan, to the bus stop opposite Stamford Primary School. From there, Haji Lane is a 400m-walk away.
2pm – Haji Lane
Chase down your lunch with a piping hot cup of teh halia (ginger milk tea) and soak in the indie vibes at narrow Haji Lane, a hip fashionista’s paradise located in the heart of the Malay heritage quarter. Check out beautiful Persian carpets along Arab Street or get some ohm-worthy yoga tights and accessories at Touch the Toes.
To get to your next stop: Take bus No. 80 from Parkview Square to the bus stop opposite The Treasury. The National Gallery is approximately five minutes away on foot.
4pm – National Gallery Singapore
Located within two beautifully restored national monuments – the former Supreme Court and City Hall – the National Gallery, with its balanced architecture that deftly marries the old and new, is the crown jewel of Singapore’s contemporary art scene. The gallery’s complimentary guided tours are a great way to get to know the building and its collections: our picks are the one-hour Building Highlights Tour and the DBS Singapore Gallery Highlights Tour. World-class blockbuster exhibitions are also organised regularly. Another ongoing exhibition worth catching is Listening to Architecture: The Gallery’s Histories and Transformations, which traces the journey of the City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, from their origin to their dramatic transformation into National Gallery Singapore.
When you’re ready for a break, grab a coffee – and some souvenirs – at The Gallery Store., or if you have time to spare, have an early dinner at National Kitchen by Violet Oon, which serves delicious, elegantly-plated Peranakan fare.
To get to your next stop: Take a leisurely 500m-walk to Cavenagh Bridge, which will bring you past the historic Arts House and Victoria Theatre. Cross the bridge to The Fullerton Hotel, which marks the start of Boat Quay.
9.30pm – Chinatown
Round off your day with a tipple (or two) from one of the Singapore bars on Asia’s 50 Best Bars’ inaugural extended list. Many of these hip watering holes can be found nestled between the historic temples and traditional medicinal halls scattered throughout the streets of Chinatown. Stop off at Junior The Pocket Bar on Ann Siang and experience one of its ever-changing themes; or walk up to Gibson, a second floor Bukit Pasoh shophouse, known for putting Asian spins on classic cocktails.
Singapore Tourist Pass
The Singapore Tourist Pass is a special ez-link card (stored value card) that offers travellers unlimited travel on Singapore’s basic bus services, MRT and LRT trains for the duration that those services operate. With special commemorative designs, these passes are available in one- (S$10), two- (S$16) or three-day (S$20) options. This tourist pass is ideal for seamless and affordable use of the various public transport systems. Find out more here.
Check some of these places – and more – can be spotted in the Singapore Airlines safety video here:
– TEXT BY THERESE TAY
PHOTOS: SINGAPORE PRESS HOLDINGS LTD, NPARKS FACEBOOK, NATIONAL GALLERY SINGAPORE, 123RF.COM
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings on 2 May 2018.