Singapore – a 3 day itinerary

Let’s be honest!  We weren’t planning on staying in Singapore for too long.  It’s supposed to be small, and expensive.  But we’re so happy we didn’t listen to the rumours.  Singapore may be a small country but there’s so much to see, do and eat.  Most people don’t stay here for much longer than the time of their layover, but if time permits, we highly recommend you explore this awesome place.  And don’t worry, it’s not as expensive as most make it out to be.  We actually did it on quite a small budget, splurging only on a few things.

So here is our itinerary for 3 days in Singapore.

Day 1 – A day of culture and eating – Little India, Chinatown, Kampong Glam

Walk through the colourful streets of Little India

Today is the day to visit the different cultural centers of Singapore.  And if you like food as much as we do, today is going to be delicious.  Start with Little India.  Discover all the scents and sounds that make this place unique.  The colourful houses, the street art, the delicious food and the Mustafa Center.  This place has everything and anything you could possibly want: clothes, shoes, beauty products, appliances, and electronics.  Tons and tons of electronics!

Mustafa Centre, Little India

Also, be sure to have a meal here.  You’ll have quite a few places to pick from.  Our fave was the Masala Dosa at Murugan Idli shop.  It’s South Indian deliciousness!  Expect great food, but terrible service.  Just laugh off the looks and attitude, and enjoy your meal.

How to get there: Take the MRT and get off at the Little India MRT Station on the NorthEast or Downtown lines.

Next, head over to Chinatown.  The streets are filled with stalls selling a ton of fun souvenirs for you to bring back home.  We enjoy looking through the stalls but we never buy anything (we can’t lug these things around for a year).  It’s still fun to see all the cool and crazy things they have available.  There’s also plenty of street food, so treat yo self and try a few different things!

Tooth Relic Temple, Chinatown

Be sure to visit the Tooth Relic Temple with the 10,000 buddhas lining its walls: it’s truly a beautiful temple.  You can admire Buddha’s tooth on the second floor and be sure to make your way up to the roof for the beautiful orchid garden.  Make sure you wear appropriate clothing when you go: cover knees and shoulders, if not, you’ll be given a plain brown sarong and your pick of a shall.  If time permits, you can also walk around Chinatown and find the cool Instagram-able buildings that will make people wonder how you had time to squeeze a trip to Hong Kong

How to get there: Take the MRT from Little India MRT Station towards Harbour Front on the NorthEast line for 3 stops and exit at the Chinatown MRT Station.

Street art in Kampong Glam

Finally, it’s time to make your way over to Kampong Glam.  Although there are only a few streets making up this quarter, it’s still quite a sight.  Clothing shops and restaurants line the streets.  And in the centre is Sultan Mosque.  Make sure you check opening times – we got there as it was closing.  And as always with religious places, make sure you dress appropriately.

Take a stroll down Haji Lane and the surrounding streets to admire all the street art created by local artists.  They really give the area a cool vibe and awesome character.  At night, this quarter comes to life!  The streets are alive with the sound of music pouring out from all the pubs and restos.  So sit down, order a delicious meal and enjoy the show.  Beware of the tourist traps!  A good tip is to look out for anywhere that is packed with locals: there,  you will be able to find a feast fit for a king or queen at a reasonable price.

How to get there: Take the MRT from Chinatown MRT Station towards Bukit Panjang for 5 stops on the Downtown line and exit at the Bugis MRT Station.

Day 2 – Flowers and fun – Botanic Gardens & Sentosa

Head out early and grab the typical Singaporean breakfast.  Half boiled eggs, toast with Kaya (coconut jam and butter) and the famous Kopi C coffee.  This should cost you anywhere from $2 to $5, depending on where you are.  There is a plethora of options: just close your eyes, spin and point.

A stroll through the Botanic Gardens

Now, it’s time to discover the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the only tropical garden in the UNESCO World Heritage List.  It boasts an astounding 82-hectares of gardens, lakes, rainforest and sheer beauty you’ll want to explore, so wear comfy shoes, bring water and get started.  The entrance to the Gardens is free but some expositions (like the Orchid Garden) are paying.  Make sure you head there early enough so you can avoid crowds and the scorching heat.

How to get there: Take the MRT and exit at the Botanic Gardens MRT Station on the Circle or Downtown lines.

When you’ve fully admired the beauty of the Gardens, head out to a fun afternoon at Sentosa, the State of Fun.  This is the entertainment island where you can find Adventure Cove Aqua Park, an 11-storey tall skywalk, the S.E.A. aquarium, Universal Studios Singapore, beaches, a 37-foot Merlion, and soooo much more.

A quick budget tip for you: skip taking the Sentosa Express monorail from the main station.  Instead walk to the second station (S2 Waterfront), just a quick 10 mins away, and you can grab it for free.  It’s a beautiful walk on the boardwalk, and there is lots to see around.  And depending on where you want to go, you can skip the monorail completely by simply walking around the island.  We spent our afternoon at Siloso Beach but you could easily spend a whole day here if you wanted to.

How to get there: Take the MRT from Botanic Gardens MRT Station towards Harbour Front for 10 stops on the Circle line and exit at the Harbour Front MRT Station (end of the line).  Either walk across the Sentosa Boardwalk (free) or jump on the Sentosa Express ($4SGD).

Spectra light show at Marina Bay Sands

Finally, when you’re almost ready to call it a night, make your way over to the Marina Bay Sands to enjoy Spectra, the light show.  There’s one at 9pm and another at 10pm.

How to get there: Get back on the Sentosa Express (this time for free) and exit at the Harbour Front MRT Station (end of the line).  Get on the Circle line for 26 stops and exit at the Marina Bay MRT Station (end of the line).  For a quicker route on the MRT, take the NorthEast line towards Punggol for 2 stops and exit at the Chinatown MRT Station.  Transfer to the Downtown line towards Bukit Panjang for 2 stops and exit at the Downtown MRT Station.  Transfer to the North South line towards Marine Bay for 1 stop and exit at the Marina Bay MRT Station.  Though you will need to transfer twice, this route is a much faster alternative.

Helix Bridge by the Marina Bay Sands

If you want to keep the night going, stroll through the Gardens by the Bay, admiring the Super Tree Grove, the multiple works of art, and all the flora.  If you like ice cream (who doesn’t?!), you can walk across the Helix Bridge and find a local ice cream sandwich vendor offering his sweets in a multitude of flavours.

Or, if you’re tired of walking, you can always grab a drink at Clark Quay.  Both are great options.

Day 3 – Admire the beauty of the modern world – Marina Bay Sands area

You may want to keep this itinerary for a scorching hot day because parts of it will be spent inside.

Start off at the Gardens by the Bay, walking around to explore the different areas, art sculptures and the ever-famous SuperTree Grove.  You can also opt to hop on the self-driving shuttle: it’s a pretty cool experience!

Flower Dome and Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay

When the sun gets too hot, head to the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest.  We wish we had seen these but they were closed for maintenance.  It’s all good though, it gives us an excuse to go back to Singapore!

How to get there: Take the MRT and exit at the Marina Bay MRT Station on the Circle or NorthSouth lines.

For a quick bite to eat, check out the restaurants at the Marina Shoppes.  It’ll also give you a reason to do some window shopping or grab some souvenirs for people back home.

Finally, stroll over to the ArtScience museum, the iconic Lotus shaped building.  We saw 2 expos while we were there: the #instafamous Future world and Art from the Streets.  We spent the whole afternoon here, just immersing ourselves in the technology and beauty behind Future World.  It’s an expo that is perfect for kids and adults alike.  Then, we were left in awe admiring the history of street art, with exhibits from famous artists such as Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and Invader, just to name a few.

Art from the Streets at the ArtScience Museum
Future World at the ArtScience Museum

Now, depending on what time it is, you have a few options.  You can head to our favorite hawker centre for a bite to eat.  Lau Pa Sat is a short walk or MRT ride away, and has food from all corners of the world.  Cheap and delicious, just like we love it.

Lau Pa Sat eatery

If it’s not quite supper time, you can always catch the SuperTree Grove show at 7:45pm or 8:45pm.  They light up the trees and have a whole music show going.  So find a good seat under the trees or just lay on the floor and enjoy it.  You will want to show up 15 – 20 minutes early for the show if you expect to get a good spot to view the lighting of the SuperTrees.

SuperTree Grove light show at Gardens by the Bay

Do this trip your own way

We didn’t have time to do everything we wanted to in Singapore.  Did we mention we obviously have to go back?  Here below are some things we wanted to do but couldn’t squeeze in.  You can always swap out things in our itinerary for these fun finds:

Haw Par Villa. A park of life-sized statues and dioramas that highlight stories from Chinese mythology.  Created by the Haw Par brothers, creators of Tiger Balm

Changi Point Coastal Walk.  Near the world-famous airport, there is a quiet boardwalk by the water where you can see the planes fly in and out.

Treetop walk at MacRitchie Reservoir.  Walk on a free-standing suspension bridge 25 meters off the ground.

And just in case, here’s the ever-practical MRT System Map:

Singapore MRT map

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Singapore - a 3 day itinerary

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