Singapore is a popular transit spot for long-haul flights, especially between Australia, New Zealand and Europe. So if you find yourself there with a lengthy stopover, why not get out of the airport and make the most of what Singapore has to offer with our guide to what to do, from the moment you arrive right through until after hours.
The island city-state of Singapore has a lot going on. Food is a serious affair here, from Michelin-starred fine dining to cheap (and delicious!) hawker centres offering aromatic local dishes for just a few dollars. Exciting and quirky neighbourhoods offer unique experiences, from the smell of roti prata wafting through Little India to the dazzlingly colourful street art illuminating Haji Lane in Kampong Glam. The city skyline is now less of the concrete jungle of years past, and more a green and leafy oasis packed with garden-adorned skyscrapers as the city moves towards a greener future. Plus, a very efficient public transport system makes getting around Singapore a breeze.
If you’ve got a long stopover on your journey and want to explore this exciting, futuristic city for yourself but don’t know where to start, let us help you with our perfect 24-hour guide to Singapore. Enjoy!
Note: Most visitors generally do not require a visa when visiting Singapore. For more information on visa requirements and whether you need one, check the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.
9am Breakfast in the ‘Glam
Kampong Glam, that is – a vibrant district in Singapore just north of the Singapore River, which boasts a rich history and great eateries. Grab a coffee and something tasty from the display cabinet at the Dong Po Colonial Café, or try an acai bowl or big breakfast at Artistry.
Note: A lot of cafés in this area don’t open until around 11am, so consider a small bite to eat and a coffee first thing and enjoy a bigger brunch later in the morning when cafés are starting to open.
10am Explore the Arab Quarter and the Sultan Mosque
After your caffeine hit, it’s time to check out the Arab Quarter and the impressive Sultan Mosque, also known as Masjid Sultan. With grand, golden domes protruding above the shop fronts, it’s hard to miss and is one of the most prominent and impressive religious buildings in Singapore.
From the mosque, a stroll down the palm tree-lined Arab Street greets you with colourful shops selling shawls, souvenirs, jewellery and textiles, as well as restaurants and cafés hawking halal food, decorated with pretty islamic-patterned tiles and stained-glass lanterns hanging from ceilings. Like many of Singapore’s neighbourhoods, Arab Street is atmospheric, enchanting and leaves an impression.
Sultan Mosque: 3 Muscat Street, Singapore
11am Brunch with a side of street art at Haji Lane
Welcome to the original Singaporean hipster neighbourhood – just be sure to bring both your appetite and your camera for this quirky, out-of-the-way street (we’re still in the very cool and eclectic Kampong Glam district). Think charming boutiques selling everything from designer clothing and vintage fashions, to cool art and music records, as well as hole-in-the-wall cafés, jazz bars, juice corners and great places to simply sit down and enjoy a spot of brunch. But the real highlight is not inside the shops, but rather on the outside – Haji Lane is adorned from street to roof in colourful street art, with everything from black and white murals to kaleidoscopic explosions of colour on shop fronts, so make time to wander up and down to enjoy it all. Then indulge in a fresh juice, salmon bagel, eggs benedict, coffee or even a slice of rainbow cake at Juice Clinic.
12:30pm Explore Gardens by the Bay
You might have seen photos of the Gardens before – strange, towering man-made ‘trees’ that look as though they belong in a sci-fi movie. In fact these UFO-looking sculptures are Supertree Grove, one of the many fantastic attractions you’ll find in Singapore’s iconic Gardens by the Bay. You can view these impressive vertical gardens by wandering below them and looking up, or by strolling along the 22-metre-high OCBC walkway, which connects two of the biggest Supertrees.
Once you’re done marvelling at the more than 162,000 plants that cover the Supertrees, it’s time to explore the other treasures at Gardens by the Bay. Check out the indoor waterfall cascading down several storeys at the Cloud Forest Dome, where you’ll also find an award-winning orchid display. Or be awestruck inside the Flower Dome, the largest glass greenhouse in the world and home to flowers and plants from all around the world. The domes are set to a cool Mediterranean climate, which can be a welcome respite from the hot and humid Singapore weather.
Note: The Supertrees are free to visit and are open between 5am and 2am every day. The OCBC walkway is open to the public for a fee, but is closed when the weather is stormy and when lightning poses a safety risk.
2:30pm Lunch time at Lau Pa Sat hawker centre
Smack bang in the middle of the CBD and an easy walking distance from Gardens by the Bay is Singapore’s largest hawker centre, Lau Pa Sat. Here you’ll find delicious fare from around the globe, from spicy local laksa (noodle soup), char kway teo (stir-fried rice noodles) and sugar cane juice, to fish soup, chicken rice, Indian curries, Japanese bento boxes and bao buns.
Almost as impressive as the food is the grand 120-year-old building hosting the stalls, with huge green cast iron frames arching over the numerous tables, originally shipped over from Scotland. This former indoor market is open 48 hours, and while it may not be as cheap as some of the other hawker centres in the city (though it’s a far cry from being expensive!), its central location, huge variety of dishes and great atmosphere makes it the perfect pit stop for a delicious lunch.
Lau Pa Sat: Corner of Boon Tat Street and Robinson Road, Singapore
3:30pm Wander the streets of Chinatown
Another fascinating Singaporean neighbourhood, Chinatown is a bustling flurry of red lanterns, incense wafting from temples, traditional shops and markets, and trendy cafés. While you’re here, pay a visit to the impressive Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, said to house the left canine tooth of the Buddha in a huge gold stupa, and where you can listen to the chanting of local buddhist monks while admiring the Hundred Dragons Hall, displaying more than 100 Buddha statues.
Buddha Relic Temple: 288 South Bridge Road, Singapore
5pm Time for an iconic Singapore Sling
Gin, cherry brandy, pineapple juice, Benedictine – no trip to Singapore would be complete without indulging in the famous, rose-coloured fruit cocktail. And you can’t get any more iconic than sampling one at the colonial Raffles Hotel.
First created in 1915 by Ngiam Tong Boon, who was working as a bartender at Raffles at the time, the Singapore Sling is now widely regarded as Singapore’s national drink. So soak up the grandiose, nostalgic atmosphere of the famous hotel (literary giants like Ernest Hemingway are known to have penned some of their work at Raffles) as you have a quick fling with a Singapore Sling.
Raffles Hotel: 1 Beach Road, Singapore
6:30pm Dinner by the bay
Head back towards the Marina Bay waterfront – Singapore’s ‘eat-play-live’ district – for a well-earned meal. The Bay is buzzing with plenty of culinary options for whatever you’re in the mood for, all offering exceptional views across the water. Look out for water taxis bobbing along, or the iconic Merlion water fountain.
8pm Say goodbye with a view
Time to end your day in Singapore with the best view in the whole city, from the rooftop of Marina Bay Sands. Watch the city skyline twinkle a whopping 57 storeys below you. The Marina Bay Sands Hotel rooftop is also home to the world’s tallest infinity pool – unfortunately, pool access is only open to hotel guests, but even without the refreshing poolside dip, you’ll still be privy to simply out-of-this-world views of the city. We suspect that you’ll wish you had more than just 48 hours in Singapore so that you can stay here just a little bit longer…
For a longer trip:
- Take a ride on the Singapore Flyer, a giant ferris wheel and Asia’s largest observation wheel, located next to the Gardens by the Bay.
- Get star-struck at Universal Studios, Singapore.
- Spend a day on the island resort of Sentosa, where you can enjoy panoramic views (and see all the way to Indonesia on a clear day!) from the Tiger Sky Tower.
Travelling overseas via Singapore? Get to or from the airport either side of your journey hassle free with an airport shuttle. Browse affordable airport transfers on Jayride.com so all you need to worry about is how many bowls of steamy hot laksa you can eat!