How should you spend two days in Singapore, this small but saturated city-state? Spend one day among the top attractions. Then explore the places tourists don't know about. Yep, I'm about to spill all my secrets into this gorgeous two day Singapore itinerary.
Let the million star fried bananas commence.
How to Spend Two Days in Singapore
Singapore squeezes five million residents into a compact cluster of islands at the southern tip of Malaysia - and a whole lot of food, culture and commerce. The razzamatazz of its flagship buildings and rogue trader reputation disguise a simpler truth: that quiet spots of friendship, million star fried bananas, scarlet-lit lanterns and sweaty, shady coffee houses can be found among the skyscrapers.
As a travel writer who has visited for work and a traveller who has stayed with friends, here's my suggested itinerary for two days in Singapore.
Are two days in Singapore enough to uncover everything? Of course not. But you can still see (and taste) a lot. And it's a great place to start your travels into southeast Asia. Let's go.
Top Singapore Attractions
- The Merlion
- Marina Bay Sands Hotel
- Gardens by the Bay
- Raffles Hotel and the Singapore Sling
Top Singapore Attractions
- Singapore Botanic Gardens & UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Quiet mangrove swamps around Chek Jawa
- Grass jelly and million star fried banana at hawker centres.
Disclosure - if you book or buy through these links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I also travelled to Singapore for a work project with the Singapore Tourism Board once, though I have also travelled there on my own. As ever, as always, I keep the right to write what I like here on Inside the Travel Lab. Cheers!
Two Day Singapore Itinerary
Welcome to our two day Singapore itinerary, a clear path through a sticky, salty, sweet maze of a city-state. Of course, it goes without saying that you can't see all of Singapore in just two days. But you can see a lot. Despite its size, various attractions cluster close together and despite its sometimes sterile reputation, you can unearth plenty of authentic culture here too.
I've travelled through Singapore for work, for fun, with friends and as a stopover on longer flights. Here's what I'd recommend for 48 hours in Singapore.
Day One - Singapore Itinerary
Overview. Prepare for a day on your feet, taking in the sights. You're going to begin in the futuristic Gardens by the Bay, walk around past Marina Bay Sands, head to the iconic Merlion and then sneak a peek at Raffles or hop on board a bumboat cruise. Squeeze in a visit to Chinatown into the itinerary and it's a busy day.
Not to worry, tomorrow will be more relaxing. And will take you off the beaten path. But if you have the energy, the Clarke Quay nightlife awaits.
What is a hawker centre in Singapore? Hawker centres are a cross between a food court and a traditional market, held in a covered space but in the open air. For visitors, it's a great way to try lots of different dishes within one place. There are many, but the most famous is probably the historic Telok Ayer Market , also known as Lau Pa Sat
Gardens by the Bay
Part natural showcase, part synthetic surrender, Gardens by the Bay is one hundred percent spectacle. By now, you'll probably recognise the artificial trees with twisting wire branches that light up at night. Every evening, twice a night, these SuperTree Grove trees put on a spectacular light and music show, Garden Rhapsody amid the faux canopy.
But we're starting this two day Singapore itinerary in Gardens By the Bay for a reason. Several reasons. For one, it contains the world's largest greenhouse, the Flower Dome. And for another, the Cloud Forest dome and its 35 metre waterfall.
And finally, the view back towards the CBD in Singapore and the alien spaceship hotel: Marina Bay Sands.
Marina Bay Sands
When it opened in 2010, the Marina Bay Sands resort became the world's most expensive standalone casino, valued at over 5.8 billion USD. Its spaceship submarine on three cricket stumps dominates the skyline and defines Singapore for many first time visitors.
But as you'll discover on later in this two day Singapore itinerary, Marina Bay Sands is just one part of Singapore.
Guests can swim in the rooftop infinity pool but visitors would do better to glance up, marvel,and move on.
Lunch at an Historic Hawker Centre
Fuse the past with the present at the fascinating Telok Ayer Market or Lau Pa Sat. Housed in a Victorian market hall in the heart of downtown Singapore, it's a great way for beginners to find their way around Singaporean cuisine.
The market itself began in 1824 and was rebuilt in 1838 with metalwork shipped from Glasgow. It's open 24 hours a day and you can find everything from salt and vinegar chips to pig organ soup.
Walking from Telok Ayer Market, enter the narrow maze of scarlet lanterns that highlight Chinatown. Enjoy the brightly painted shutters and souvenir shops and antiques amid atmospheric boutiques and the trendy wine bars along Club Street.
Step through the smoke and incense surrounding Thian Hock Keng Temple, the oldest and most important temple of the Hokkien people in Singapore. It's also known as the Tianfu temple and is dedicated to Mazu, a Chinese sea goddess.
From there, walk to the teetering rust-red architecture of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, created in 2007 to showcase the thousands of years of art and culture around Buddhism. Entrance is free and volunteer tour guides can help to show you around.
The Story Behind the Singapore Merlion
The Merlion combines two ideas that underpin the roots of today's Singapore. One, the lion, comes from the name Singapore or "lion city" in Malay. The fish comes from Singapore's earlier identity as Temasek, a fishing village.
Merlion and Around
Described by many as the icon of Singapore, the Merlion deserves a visit in the same way as the Brandenburg Gate and Eiffel Tower. Half fish, half lion, this white gushing fountain weighs in at 70 tonnes and stands 8.6 metres tall. Thus, it's curiously large when you stand right next to it and oddly small in the context of so many surrounding scrapers.
The best time to visit is just before sunset, when you can also join a bumboat cruise along the Singapore River. It's touristy, for sure, but beautiful to see the lights of Clarke Quay and Boat Quay glimmer into the sticky night air.
The Colonial District
The Raffles Hotel
Ah, Raffles. The "mild-mannered" British colonialist who "founded" Singapore around 200 years ago. Using understated terms, it's fair to say that his legacy is somewhat complicated and you can read more about that here.
The hotel, however, remains a Singapore icon, home as it is to the infamous Singapore Sling cocktail.
You can queue up for a gin and cherry liqueur Singapore Sling in the Long Bar. But it's far less touristy and more atmospheric to sip a drink of your preference in the outdoor Raffles Courtyard.
What is a Singapore Sling?
In short, it's gin, cherry liquer, soda water and lemon served in a highball glass without ice.
Day Two - Singapore Itinerary
Overview. On the second day of this two day Singapore itinerary, you're going to escape the city entirely. Take a boat to Pulau Ubin and spend the morning cycling beneath the canopies, eating fresh coconut and walking through the wetlands and rocky shore of Chek Jawa. In the afternoon, walk along the Henderson Waves and then spend the evening in Little India and around.
Pulau Ubin & Chek Jawa
The wetlands of Check Jawa combine six ecosystems into one easy-to-visit slice of paradise you wouldn't believe was near a city. It's a short ferry ride from the main island to the Ubin jetty but the difference feels like a thousand miles.
Instead of cement and concrete, expect coconuts and bare earth. Pick up snacks from friendly shacks and hire a bicycle to cycle the easy route from the jetty to Chek Jawa. There, a one kilometre boardwalk takes you through mangrove swamps and the rocky coastal are. Birdwatchers can hone their skills spotting collared kingfishers and straw-headed bulbulbs (I had no such luck) but a climb up the viewing tower gives yet another perspective.
Henderson Waves & the Southern Ridges Walk
Hit the boardwalk in a different way along the Henderson Waves: the undulating boardwalk that also claims the title of the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore. At 36 metres above the earth, the balau wood "ribs" sway and swerve for 274 metres to give views of treetops and city skylines.
Henderson Waves also form part of the ten kilometre Southern Ridges walk. If you find yourself with more than two days, continue on to Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and the Labrador Nature Reserve.
Kampong Glam or Kampong Gelam?
No, it's not a typo. It's the ever changing nature of language. A gelam is a type of tree and it's that which gave the area its name. Over time, it became "glam" but now Singapore would like to go back to its origins. So, you'll see both spellings here and while on the road. But Kampong Gelam for the future.
Kampong GElam and Little India
For the evening, head back to Singapore's more famous cultural landmarks.
Kampong Glam centres around Arab Street and is known as Singapore's Muslim quarter. The stunning 19th century shophouses attract instagram snaps and the street art along Haji Lane offers a more modern take on art.
Hipster cafes and boutique shops surround the golden domed Sultan Mosque and if you still have energy in your boots and curiosity in your heart, visit the Malay Heritage Centre.
If you love photography, seek out Begin Tan Teng Niah. It's an historic Chinese merchant’s house from the 1900s and instagrammer's paradise for its sweet-shop coloured facade.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple serves as a landmark for Little India, embellished with Hindu deities in every colour. Between jewellery shops, markets and tailors, you'll find plenty of traditional Indian restaurants along Serangoon Road and Race Course Road. And more quirky cafes in the rather hip area of Jalan Besar.
Personally, I love to spend the evenings in these characterful areas. But you could also always head back to Clarke Quay and the slicker, city side of Singapore or catch the light show at Gardens by the Bay.
Three Day Singapore Itinerary
If you have an extra day, build on the two day Singapore itinerary by adding in one or two of the following:
- In many other cities, the lotus-shaped, Moshe Safdie-designed ArtScience Museum would steal the headlines for its architecture. In Singapore, it's part of the chorus line. While you can simply admire the building's outline in the two day Singapore itinerary, with more time, you can venture indoors. Over 21 galleries showcase traveling exhibitions and also form some light relief from the sticky heat outside.
- Joo Chiat and Katong mark an explosion of colours in eastern Singapore. The two-storey heritage houses in rainbow colours steal the instagram snaps, but you'll find more than just a pretty place behind the facades. Boutique shops and laksa hot spots surround the Eurasian Heritage Centre and it's all just a 10 minute drive from the Merlion.
- The National Gallery overlooks the historic Padang cricket field and contains art from the mid-19th century to the modern day. Highlights include work from Thai artist and activist Manit Sriwanichpoom for its wry humour. Exhibitions include plants grown from land reclaimed from the sea.
- Hop in the cable car to Sentosa Island, the beach resort area of Singapore. Complete with aquarium, sun loungers and Universal Studios, no-one is going to claim that it's an off the beaten track spot. But then, that's kind of the point.
- Take a ride on the Singapore Flyer, the giant Ferris wheel and holder of the record as Asia's largest observation wheel.
- Shop along Orchard Road, Singapore's main retail centre. Stop for food at Newton Food Centre. And if that doesn't appeal, head to Orchard Road to visit the only tropical garden that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
What to Eat in Singapore
What is Peranakan?
The word Peranakan refers to the people, culture and cuisine of the descendants of early Chinese migrants to Penang, Singapore and Indonesia. You'll also sometimes hear the term Nyonya used as well. To some in Singapore, it means "local born." Peranakan food tends to be tangy, aromatic and spicy. In other words, I love it!
The Singapore food scene brings its culture and heritage to life - and a good food tour can lead you away from the skyscrapers and chains and into hidden basements, secretive stalls and thriving markets. I met up with Miss Tam Chiak as she introduced me to her world of grass jelly and million star fried banana. If she's not available, check out other food tours from Get Your Guide.
Luxury Eating Note: Michelin Star Restaurants in Singapore
Try Candlenut, the world’s only Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant in the well-heeled Dempsey Hill district (even if it does live in a former army barracks.) Top tip: the earthy black nut sambal (buah keluak).
Hawker Chan, serves one of the world’s cheapest Michelin-star meals and the soy sauce chicken comes highly recommended.
How to Get Around Singapore
As getting around foreign places go, Singapore makes it easy. It is organised and efficient, on the whole, with the standard city options. However, rules change fast, so always double check when you actually buy. You can read more detail on transport options in Singapore here but here's the at a glance version below:
- Taxis - run by the meter and are easy to find at the airport but slightly harder elsewhere. Alternatively, download apps like Grab, which took over Uber, and Gojek, which applies to motorbikes and book your ride that way.
- Public transport involves the MRT and LRT (metro and light rail) with standard tickets you can buy at the MRT station. If you have more than two days in Singapore then it may be worth buying an EZ -Link card, a little like an Oyster card in London.
- From the main airport (Changi Airport,) it's easiest to take a taxi but if you arrive in the day, the metro is pleasant enough. Take the train to Tanah Merah Station and change there.
- Walking - the area around the main attractions in central Singapore is surprisingly walkable, with fantastic views. With the right footwear, sunscreen and bottled water, you can walk between most of the places on day one in Singapore.
Where to Stay In Singapore
So, you have two nights in Singapore. Where to stay? Somewhere close to the action, that's where. If you book through these Tripadvisor links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
- Fullerton Hotel - a grand, neoclassical landmark in its own right. Five star luxury with an outdoor pool and great views.
- Warehouse hotel - a fascinating, modern hotel in a restored 1895 warehouse.
- Destination Beach Road Singapore - modern, airy hotel between Kampong Glam and Marina Bay.
- Raffles Hotel - restored colonial era hotel and icon. Home of the Singapore Sling cocktail.
Practical Travel Tips for Singapore
What language do people speak in Singapore?
Singapore's official languages are English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. But you'll be able to get by with English.
What’s the time difference between London and Singapore?
Singapore is 8 hours ahead of GMT.
What’s the average flight time from the UK?
Direct flights from London Heathrow take around 13 hours. Singapore is also a popular break for a few days on the route between Europe and Australia.
What currency do I need?
Singapore uses Singapore dollars (S$) and you can easily get cash at Changi airport ATM.
What budget do I need for 2 days in Singapore?
Singapore can be an expensive city, with traders on million dollar bonuses feeling left out of the party at times. But you also have a lot of flexibility. Eating at hawker centres forms a highlight of a trip to Singapore and costs very little. The best views are found when you walk. Base your budget on your accommodation choice and then choose how much you want to spend from there.
Should I tip?
You won't be expected to tip in most places.
Singapore Itinerary FAQS
Is 2 days in Singapore enough?
You can get a great taste of Singapore in two days, yes. But as with so many places, more time gives you more to explore. If your trip to Singapore forms part of an extended trip throughout Malaysia or Borneo then two days may be enough. If you are aiming to travel to Singapore just to enjoy Singapore - then try to stay longer if you can. With a week in Singapore, you can pace yourself more easily, really find some unexplored flavours and perhaps take in day trips to Malacca or Penang.
What are the top sights to see in two days in Singapore?
If you like (or need) to travel slow, then Singapore's iconic sights are the Merlion, Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay. If you have already seen plenty of colonial era architecture in south east Asia, then you can skip Raffles. Likewise, the food markets may not amaze you quite so much if you regularly visit similar. If you haven't, though, and this is your first trip to Asia then I'd reverse my advice. Skip the tourist constructions and zone in on the food and the older temples and architecture.
How many days should you spend in Singapore?
Either spend two or three days in Singapore or stretch to a week. It depends if you are planning a stopover between, say Australia and the UK, or whether you plan to add Singapore to a Malaysian itinerary. You won't go wrong with a week in Singapore and the ease of internal transport means that two days won't be hectic either. Mix and match.
Singapore City Tours and Tour Packages
Singapore is an easy place to navigate. It's also pretty safe and well-connected. So, you certainly don't need a tour to get around.
With that said, tours can help save time and planning and can help to bring a place alive.
I'd highly recommend a food tour with local food blogger Miss Tam Chiak, for example, for a friendly, tasty glimpse of Singapore you won't easily find elsewhere.
For more standard Singapore tour packages and Singapore city tours, check out the following from partner Get Your Guide:
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