Only ever visited Singapore on a stopover? Now is the time to get out of Changi Airport and explore what this tiny country has to offer!
This 2-day Singapore itinerary will take you through the best things to see, do, and eat and what to budget to help you plan your perfect trip. Read on, things are about to get sweaty.
A 2-Day Singapore Itinerary
If I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure if I would like Singapore. My dad visited back in the 70’s and well, he wasn’t a fan. “It’s not like Asia” he said. “It’s clean, dull, and it lacks the colour and liveliness of other Asian countries.” It wasn’t exactly a glowing review.
But… I had recently watched Crazy Rich Asians. Unless you have the opportunity to travel with the ‘Asian Prince Harry’ the movie’s not exactly indicative of what it’s like to travel Singapore on a budget.
But it does make the country look super fun. Marina Bay Sands? Amazing! That scene where they go the hawker centre and try all the local dishes? Drool.
Unsure what to expect, I found I really enjoyed my days exploring Singapore.
In a way my dad was right. Singapore was different from the Southeast Asia I had experienced. It’s not as chaotic, you don’t run the risk of getting bowled over by a motorbike, and it’s a lot wealthier than many countries in the region.
Still, there’s a lot to love about Singapore.
As a first-time solo traveller I found the country amazingly safe. The transport system was efficient and easy to navigate (even for someone as bad with directions as me). And the food I tasted at various hawker centres was, as promised by Crazy Rich Asians, drool-worthy.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SINGAPORE
Honestly, there’s not really a best time to visit Singapore. The weather is hot and humid year-round, and it rains most of the year. (Especially in November, December and January). But the good news for you is that because of that, you can visit Singapore at any time.
SINGAPORE ON A BUDGET
Accommodation in Singapore is pricey compared to other countries in Southeast Asia. I stayed in a dorm in a hostel in Chinatown and it cost $38.85 SGD per night.
If you’re on a budget you can stretch your money further by eating like the locals do. At hawker centres you’ll find delicious food for an average of $5-6 SGD.
Transport in Singapore is relatively cheap, with single tickets on the MRT costing around $2 SGD.
The top tourist attractions are expensive, ranging from $28 SGD for exhibits at Gardens by the Bay, to $49 SGD for entrance to the Night Safari.
To give you a rough idea of what to budget for Singapore I spent an average of $127.5 SGD (approx. $94 USD) per day (not including my cooking class). This was staying at a hostel, using public transport with taxi rides to the airport only, and eating hawker food – most of my money was spent on various attractions.
SINGAPORE QUICK TIPS
Currency: The offical currency in Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (SGD). 1 USD is equivalent to roughly 1.43 SGD.
Language: Singapore has four official languages, representing the diversity of this small nation; Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English.
Credit Cards & ATM’s: ATM’s are found all over Singapore and you shouldn’t have any trouble using your credit or debit card from home. Credit cards are accepted at many places but it always pays to carry a small amount of cash with you, especially if you plan on visiting hawker centres or local markets.
Plugs: In Singapore the power plugs and sockets are type G (the same as in the UK). The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Safety: Singapore is a very safe country to visit, and great for solo female travellers. The country has very strict drug penalties, so be sensible and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home. Or even if you would do it at home, don’t do it in Singapore. Always check your local travel advisory before you go.
2-Day Singapore Itinerary: Where To Go & What To Do
2-Day Singapore Itinerary: Day 1
Morning: Haw Par Villa
To kick-start your 2-day Singapore itinerary hop on the metro and head to Haw Par Villa.
This unusual park was established in 1937 when Burmese-Chinese brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par filled the grounds with over 1000 statues. These are no ordinary statues, however.
One of the main attractions in Haw Par Villa is the Ten Courts of Hell where sculptures depict in excruciating detail the punishment for various sins. Sound like you? This colourful park is also free!
Next get back on the MRT and make for Singapore Botanic Gardens. You’ll probably work up a sweat just walking around (no, just me?), but the 150 year old tropical gardens are well worth checking out.
Don’t miss a visit to the National Orchid Garden. The Orchid Garden is home to a staggering variety of orchids and the flowers are a feast for your eyes (and your Instagram feed). Entry to the Orchard Garden is $5 SGD for adults.
Lunch: Adam Road Food Centre
After a busy morning exploring you’ll likely be getting hungry so now’s the perfect time to visit your first hawker centre and try some tasty Singaporean cuisine. Adam Road Food Centre is only a 5-minute walk from the Botanic Gardens and houses a variety of stalls offering delicious and cheap local food. I had a delish nasi lemak and chilled lychee juice for only $5.50 SGD.
Afternoon: National Museum of Singapore
Next up on your 2-day Singapore itinerary head inside to cool off at the National Museum of Singapore.
I’m not always a fan of museums, but Singapore’s National Museum makes for a fascinating visit. The exhibits are modern and interactive and offer visitor’s an in-depth look into Singapore’s formative history.
The museum also houses a range of installations and exhibits that change throughout the year. When I visited my favourite installation was Story of the Forest. Using a combination of technology and beautiful artistry the viewer is invited to interact with animated wildlife of the Malay Peninsula. It’s a peaceful place to sit and dreamily watch the projections dance across the walls.
Entry to the museum is $15 SGD.
Evening: Maxwell Food Centre
For a cheap and tasty dinner head to Maxwell Food Centre. Maxwell Food Centre is one of the most famous hawker centres in the country and is a food court style venue with stalls offering various dishes. If you’re not fussy just pick a busy stall (always a good sign), and try one of Singapore’s traditional dishes such as carrot cake, nasi lemak, Hainanese chicken rice or laksa.
Night: Night Safari
If you’re not too exhausted from a day of exploring it’s time to spy some nocturnal animals at the Night Safari.
The Night Safari is the world’s first nocturnal zoo and one of Singapore’s most popular attractions. It’s not a traditional zoo or nocturnal house in the sense that it’s only open at night, and the animals are made visible by lighting that resembles moonlight (so it doesn’t disturb their behaviour).
To get there catch the metro to Khatib station and from there a shuttle to the Night Safari.
Make sure to ride a tram around the park. Though the queue for the trams is always long, it does move fast and it’s a fun way to see the zoo. The walking trails are also great and will get you up close to some amazing animals like Asian elephants, lions and the elusive fishing cat. Tickets to the Night Safari are $49 SGD.
2-Day Singapore Itinerary: Day 2
Morning: Gardens by the Bay
It’s day 2 of your 2-day Singapore itinerary, so get up early and head to one of the country’s most iconic sites.
For those of you who haven’t seen Crazy Rich Asians, Gardens by the Bay is a huge, colourful park in the bay area of the city. Spanning across 250 acres of reclaimed land, Gardens by the Bay is a great place to escape the concrete jungle and spend a few hours on your last day in Singapore.
The outdoor gardens are free but you do have to purchase tickets for the indoor gardens. The Cloud Forest was my favourite garden, featuring a 35-metre indoor waterfall and an array of tropical plants. Perfect for that gram shot, ya know? Ascend through the canopies for a stunning view of the city through the foliage.
You should also check out the futuristic Supertree Grove. As you wander around the giant structures you’ll feel like you’ve been transported into Avatar, and if you make your way back at night you’ll be rewarded with an enchanting sound and light show. Head up the OCBC Skyway for views across to the Singapore Flyer and city.
I paid $28 SGD for a combined ticket to the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome and $8 SGD for the OCBC Skyway.
Afternoon: Marina Bay Sands
Next up make your way to Marina Bay Sands, Singapore’s famous luxury hotel and home to the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool.
If your backpacker budget doesn’t quite stretch to staying the night don’t worry; you can pretend to be fancy and enjoy a glass of champagne from the Sands Skypark Observation Deck. Located on the 57th floor the Observation Deck offers phenomenal birds-eye views of Gardens by the Bay below and the surrounding cityscape.
Sands Skypark Observation Deck is $23 SGD.
Afternoon: Explore Chinatown
Next up you’re headed to the other side of Singapore to explore one of the city’s most colourful ethnic neighbourhoods.
Chinatown is in sharp contrast to the rest of the city. Here you’ll find low-rise buildings, narrow alleyways bursting with bright souvenir stalls, indie boutiques, and yes, more food stalls. I spent a great few hours here snapping photos of durians, lanterns and the vibrant street art found down unassuming streets.
While in Chinatown Buddha Tooth Relic and Sri Mariamann temple are both worth checking out. They’re interesting, if not the most spectacular temples I’ve seen in Southeast Asia.
Evening: Little India
That’s already looking like a busy day, but if you’re down for a little more exploring head to Little India.
Little India is another ethnic neighbourhood, and like Chinatown, it’s a lot more colourful, chaotic and lively than elsewhere in this starkly modern city. While in Little India keep an eye out for ornate temples, narrow little lanes and bustling local markets.
Feeling peckish? Tekka Centre is a hawker centre with particularly good Indian food.
Things to Do If You Have More Than 2 Days in Singapore
Food Playground Cooking Class
Food Playground is a social enterprise cooking class that works to provide employment for stay-at-home mums and seniors. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the history and traditions involved in cooking Singaporean food.
You’ll get to learn about how the different cultures, primarily Chinese, Indian and Malay, have fed into Singaporean cuisine to make it what it is today. When I went we got to make (and eat!) coconut chicken curry, roti jala and ang ku kueh or ‘Red Tortoise Cake’.
At $119 SGD it’s a little pricey, but my cooking class with Food Playground was one of the highlights of my time in Singapore.
Have a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel
Feeling a little fancy? Head to the iconic Raffles Hotel for a cheeky cocktail. But not just any cocktail. If you’re visiting Raffles it’s practically the law that you have to have a Singapore Sling. Because, well, where better to have a Singapore Sling than the birthplace of Singapore Slings?
Singapore is a fascinating country that represents a blend of old traditions and new technology, gardens and the city. Get lost in Chinatown or Little India for a taste of some of the diverse cultures that make up the country, and explore the melting pot of flavours at the local hawker centres. Be amazed by Singapore’s incredible cityscape. For a small country, this metropolis likes to build big things.
I wouldn’t say Singapore stole my heart, but it is without a doubt worth more than a flying stopover.
Stay: Beary Best! hostel in Chinatown. The price for an 8-bed female dorm room was $38.85 SGD per night. The hostel provided a basic free breakfast and was in a great location (5 minutes’ walk to Maxwell Food Centre, 3 minutes’ walk to the MRT).
Eat: Make like the locals and try delicious Singaporean food at the various Hawker Centres. Definitely visit Maxwell Food Centre, and make sure to try nasi lemak, carrot cake, Hainanese chicken rice and more. Expect to pay $3-$5 SGD for a meal. For something sweet head to Bengawan Solo for homemade Singaporean treats.