Singapore is one of Asia’s most popular destinations. This tiny city-state packs a punch when it comes to hypermodern architecture, lush green spaces, and a melting pot of cultures. If you’re strapped for time, or on a budget, I’m about to show you why 48 hours in Singapore is all you need to experience the best of this cosmopolitan supercity.
48 Hours in Singapore
Day One in Singapore
Once you’ve checked into your accommodation and freshened up, it’s time to begin making the most of the next 48 hours in Singapore.
Start your Lion City adventure with a visit to one of the most colorful neighborhoods in Singapore – Chinatown. Here, you can explore all six levels of the ornate Buddha Tooth Relic Temple featuring one hundred Buddha statues, all designed by hand and each with their own specific name.
Just behind the temple, immerse yourself in the local culinary culture by visiting the Wet Market in the Chinatown Complex. Head to the bottom floor to be thrust into the high energy of the market complete with the boisterous sounds of vendors and buyers haggling to make the best deal. This is a great way to get a glimpse of local life beyond the city’s shiny skyscrapers.
Now that you’re feeling like a local, it’s time to grab a bite at Maxwell Road Hawker Centre. These open-air complexes house hundreds of food stands, serving up Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian cuisine. Take your pick from the many local classics like grilled satay, laksa soup, or savory carrot cake. One hawker stall worth mentioning is Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, a humble stand turned famous thanks to Gordon Ramsey and the late Anthony Bourdain. You can try their fragrant, Michelin-awarded chicken rice for just S$3.50 (or around $2.50 USD).
Since it is customary to share tables at Hawker Centres, you’ll also get the chance to really be part of the local community as you dine next to fellow Singaporeans.
Once you’ve demolished some tasty eats, it’s time to continue your 48 hours in Singapore with a stroll around the Marina Bay. Take a moment to be dazzled by the stunning architecture that surrounds the bay, including the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the twisting Helix Bridge, and the Art Science Museum resembling a lotus flower. No visit to the Marina Bay can be complete without a photo op of the Merlion statue, a mythic figure that has become a symbol of Singapore.
If you fancy sweeping cityscapes, take the elevator up to the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel to the Observation Deck to admire the city from a birds-eye point of view. An alternative option to paying for an admission ticket to the observation deck is to visit the rooftop bar to soak in the views with some cocktails.
Stick around to see the light show take place at Gardens by the Bay as the Supertrees dazzle with their dancing lights and music every evening at 7:45 PM and 8:45 PM.
After the show, end your first day in Singapore by making your way to Clarke Quay. Its kaleidoscope warehouses have been transformed into trendy cafes, amazing restaurants, and cool nightclubs. This vivid area bursts into life when the sun goes down, making it the perfect choice for a night out.
Day Two in Singapore
Begin your second day with an early visit to the Gardens by the Bay conservatories. Arriving early will not only guarantee a more relaxed atmosphere, but your visit will be much more enjoyable before the city has had a chance to heat up. Though the conservatories are air-conditioned and quite refreshing, the Supertree Groves, as well as the rest of the gardens, are outdoors.
The Cloud Forest is an experience that is so incredibly out of this world, that you can’t leave Singapore without visiting it. If you must choose one activity to pay for in Singapore, let it be the Cloud Forest – I promise you won’t be disappointed.
After you’ve finished roaming the conservatories, it’s time to grab some lunch at Satay by the Bay. Not far from the gardens is an outdoor food court set up in a lush green setting right near the waterfront, where you can enjoy seafood barbecue, hotpots, Indian cuisine, satay, and more.
Continue your afternoon by visiting Singapore’s cultural enclaves – Kampong Glam and Little India.
Just a short distance from the Bugis MRT Station lies Kampong Glam, formerly known as the Muslim Quarter. Over the years, this neighborhood has transformed into one of the trendiest spots in the city, overflowing with vibrant storefronts, hipster cafes, and inspiring street art. Kampong Glam is also home to the largest mosque in Singapore, the iconic Sultan Mosque, that graces the Arab Quarter with its glimmering golden dome and splendid architecture.
Not far away from Kampong Glam, you’ll find the colorful and energetic district of Little India. A walkabout to the different temples is a must, particularly the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple recognized by the elaborate multicolored statues of deities that embellish its roof. If you’re lucky enough, you might even get to see a ceremony or Hindu service. However, be sure to remove your shoes upon entering the temple if you choose to do so.
While in Little India, pay a visit to the Mustafa Centre for a unique shopping experience. This sprawling mall is open 24 hours a day and offers a variety of treasures including everything from designer products to cheap spices.
When you’ve finished wandering around Singapore’s cultural neighborhoods, make your way to Orchard Road. This 2.2-kilometer-long shopping haven is a posh boulevard lined with lush green trees and luxury malls. Even if high-end shopping is not something you were planning on doing in Singapore, I assure you a visit to Orchard Road will be worth your while. The area’s mix of interesting buildings, extravagant shops, and cheap markets make for a wonderful evening stroll.
After some window-shopping (or actual shopping) head over to Paragon Shopping Centre for the best Chinese dumplings your tastebuds will ever encounter. On the basement floor of this upscale shopping complex is Din Tai Fung – voted one of the Top Ten Restaurants in the world by the New York Times. Surprisingly inexpensive, Din Tai Fung serves up the juiciest and most tender steamed dumplings in the world. Not bad for your last meal in the Lion City, right?
Although your 48 hours in Singapore have come to an end, don’t think there’s nothing left to do.
If you have time before your flight, I would highly suggest arriving to the airport earlier than you need to so that you can spend some time exploring its extensive grounds. That’s right, I’m recommending you hang out at the airport for a while because Changi Airport is an attraction in its own right. With a movie theater, swimming pool, butterfly garden, and jaw-dropping Jewel, it’s no wonder Changi was voted Best Airport in the World for 7 years in a row.
That wraps up 48 hours in Singapore! I hope you enjoyed this travel guide and that you find it helpful when planning your visit to the Lion City. If you need some more Singapore travel inspiration, check out these blog posts: