Singapore is a thriving cosmopolitan city, packed with so many incredible things to experience. From billionaire to backpacker, Singapore really does cater for all, no matter what your budget.
Of course, Singapore is considerably more expensive in comparison to other asian countries, which is why I think I didn’t visit Singapore sooner, but surprisingly we didn’t have to watch our dollars. A lot of attractions, food and transport was very reasonable priced and in many cases, free! 4-5 days will definitely enable you to see all the major sights but 7 days will enable you to see them at your leisure and go exploring a little further outside of the city. I Spent 5 days there in October 2018 and totally fell in love with the city – its a real melting pot of cultures, colours, delicious food to taste and beautiful architecture to see!
Here is my actual itinerary from my 5 day trip to Singapore in October 2018 as a guide to help you plan:
Day 1: Marina Bay – Gardens By the Bay – Rooftop Cocktails
How can you visit Singapore and not stay at least 1 night at Singapore’s most iconic hotel which towers above everything else? Exactly, you can’t. I mean, have you even been to Singapore if you haven’t stayed at Marina Bay Sands hotel? This was a splurge for us at £365 a night but hey, you only live once and we figured we would cut costs elsewhere. We checked into our garden view room which had gorgeous views overlooking Gardens By The Bay, and headed straight to the star attraction, the rooftop infinity pool. Here we sipped our first Singapore Sling cocktails ($SGD23/£11), even if it was only 11am. Vacay mode was ON.
After relaxing at the pool and soaking up the views for a few hours (or do I mean taking photos for the ‘gram?) we made a late afternoon visit to the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands hotel. Tickets cost SGD$18 for the permanent exhibition, Future world: Where Art Meets Science, where you get to explore an immersive digital universe. Admission times are as follows: 1000, 1130, 1300, 1430, 1600 and 1730. 45-60 minutes is plenty of time to wander through the exhibition and fall into Instagram heaven.
After we strolled along the promenade at Marina Bay we then headed to Gardens By the Bay (Open daily 0500-0200, free admission) to check out the Supertree Grove. When night falls, the vertical gardens come alive with a free mesmerising garden rhapsody sound and light show, twice a night at 1945 & 2045. You can take a scenic walk along the yellow OCBC Skyway which is 22 metres above the ground to gain a different perspective of the park for $8. After the light show we went for drinks at the open air rooftop bar, IndoChine, which was situated at the top of a Supertree. $20 would gain you access, an alcoholic drink and awesome views towards Marina Bay Sands hotel. After, we headed back to our hotel, swapped our clothes for swimwear and white bathrobes and took and evening dip at the rooftop infinity pool, which had stunning views of the city lights twinkling at night. Only hotel guests can access the rooftop infinity pool, but non guests can head up to the 57th floor for the Skypark Observation Deck and drink in the panoramic vistas for $23. However, instead of going to the observation deck, I suggest KuDeTa Marina Bay’s rooftop bar which is more elevated than the observation deck and is free entry – spend that entrance fee on cocktails instead!
Day 2: Gardens By The Bay – Sentosa Island – Orchard Rd
After an early morning gym session at out hotel (one of the best hotel gyms I have ever used), whilst everyone else was asleep, I decided to grab my camera and head to Gardens By the Bay again as the park looked so empty from our balcony- perfect time for capturing some photos! Over 163,000 plants are planted on the super trees and 11 of the super trees are embedded with environmentally sustainable functions like photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy! Beautiful and functional. It was so peaceful and beautiful there and you can easily spend 2 hours here. I recommend experiencing the Gardens By The Bay both during the daytime and evening .
Weather wise, this day was set for clear skies and sunshine with temperatures of over 30 degrees – a perfect beach day! We went on the monorail (free) to Sentosa Island and relaxed on Palawan Beach, later strolling across to Siloso beach where we stopped at Ola Beach Club for food and cold beers.
In the early evening we checked into our next hotel, Yotel in Orchard, which would be home for 3 nights. There are loads of Hawker stalls and even some Michelin stared Hawker stalls where you can get some delicious Singaporean food for $3-$9 SGD. We took an evening stroll down Orchard Road which is the Mecca for designer shopping, with more than 20 malls. This street is Singapore’s equivalent to New York City’s 5th Avenue. Although shopping is not really my thing, I could appreciate the futuristic architecture and the incredible designer window displays.
Day 3: Emerald Hill – Little India – China Town – Joo Chiat
I was starting to feel suffocated in the city, I needed less people and more colour. It was definitely time to see the Singapore I was expecting – colonial pastel colured Paranaken style terraced shophouses. In any destination I travel to, I love wandering around the neighbourhoods, looking at houses, finding cool cafes, cute indie shops and watching local life. So this was my favourite day exploring the eastern side of Singapore. Day 3 was all about obsessing over colourful two storey heritage shophouses with ornate facades, intricate motifs and ceramic tiles. I put on my OOTD and grabbed my Insta husband. We strolled from Orchard Road to Emerald Hill, which is a jewel of a little street with an air of splendour, and picked my favourite shophouse – this colbolt beauty!
Little India is a vibrant district in Singapore, buzzing with life and all easily explorable by foot. Be sure to wander down Serangoon Road and the neighbouring streets to catch a glimpse of daily life, from marigold stalls to traditional henna painting and beautiful Indian dresses – Little India is a feast for the eyes! Feed your appetite at the Tekka Centre, an authentic Indian food court where a dish can set you back just $2-4. We sampled lots of delicious vegetarian dishes, from roti, naan, Indian sweets and a potato and cauliflower curry.
Be sure to marvel at Singapores most colourful building, House of Tan Teng Niah, the last remaining Chinese villa and a colourful display of heritage architecture. It is smack bang in the middle of Little India and is a prime location for that colourful Insta worthy photo.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is Little India’s most picturesque Hindu temple and is open 0800-1230, 1400-2030 daily and it was a treat to see how beautiful the temple is.
Busy, noisy, filled with people, that’s the general consensus of the Chinatowns of the world. Singapore’s is no different, but here Chinatown has a charming air about it that appeals to both tourists and locals. A good mix of hawker fare and swish eateries, history and architecture, there are a few good reasons to head down to Chinatown.
Chinatown is home to the 5 story buddhist temple, Buddha Tooth Temple Relic (free, open 0700-1900), built in 2007. The temple’s richly designed interiors and comprehensive exhibits on Buddhist art and history tell stories of culture over hundreds of years old. The temple gets its name from what the Buddhists regard as the left canine tooth of Buddha, which has been recovered from his funeral pyre in Kushinagar, India and displayed in its grounds.
Although it is impossible to go hungry in Chinatown, durian can totally put you off wanting to eat – the smell is like you have never smelt before. No way was I tasting the yellow fleshy fruit, despite it being a delicacy.
The Joo Chiat area is the traditional home of Peranakan culture in Singapore, an ethnic group descending from the blending of Chinese and Malay families in the 15th century. In the mid-19th century, this is where the Indonesians and Malays came to work in the local coconut husk processing factories and eventually, the lemongrass farms. In Joo Chiat Road—the centre of the neighbourhood—one can see Peranakan-style architecture.
Joo Chiat does not have its own MRT station. The nearest line is Eunos, where we took exit B and then we then walked through the neighbourhoods, but you can take bus 154 or 76 from Eunos station. I wonder if the residents get pissed off with tourists taking photos of their houses? Surprisingly I was the only photographer there.
Day 4: Haji Lane – Waterfront – Clarke Quay
Haji lane, dubbed the narrowest street in Singapore but it certainly packs a punch with colourful shophouses, murals that span the entire sides of buildings, quirky boutiques, cool cafes, tattoo parlours and yoga studios. Although the street isn’t long, it was nice to stroll around for a few hours, peeking into shops, people watching and snapping photos.Around the corner is Arab Street which is home to Singapore’s Muslim quarter and a gorgeous mosque. We ventured into Lickety, a cute ice cream shop (totally recommend the blueberry ice cream) and went a little crazy with the toppings! I loved this area, it really reminded me of Shoreditch, London but without the rain.
After seeing photos of the old Hill Police Station on Instagram, I had to come and see it for myself – where else have you seen hundreds of brightly coloured louvered window shutters on a serious looking building before? It looked so playful, even when it rained. Nearby is Clarke Quay, where we stopped for a bite to eat and of course, happy hour cocktails! Although I didn’t like Clarke Quay as it felt like a theme park food court, we all enjoyed our meal at Miss Saigon, where we also had a table seated on the riverside.
Day 5: Redhill MRT station – Singapore Botanical Gardens – One Altitude Rooftop Bar
On our way to Singapore Botanical Gardens (free) we went via Redhill station on the MRT sole because it is a pink metro station (green line) and where have you seen a pink metro station before?
Singapore Botanical Gardens, Singapore’s only UNESCO World heritage Site, is a tropical oasis and a welcomed escape from the bustle of city life. I read in travel guides that they recommend 2 hours here, however its such a beautiful, relaxing place you could easily spend all day here. Check out their website as some days there are free opera concerts held at the Botanic Garden’s Symphony Lake. If you are obsessed with orchids like I am, you can visit the Orchid Garden for $5, which is home to the largest showcase of tropical orchids on earth!
Budget long haul flights were found through the Skyscanner app, with Norwegian Air, direct from London, Gatwick to Changi, Singapore for £345. I bought as 2 separate flights in April for October half term departure. Outbound was just £170 and inbound was £175, using the low rate option which does not include in flight meals, checked luggage, earphones etc, just free hand luggage. By opting for this, I saved approximately £200 per person in comparison to other airlines. However, you can purchase in advance inflight meals and checked luggage. We purchased 1 checked luggage for £35 and shared to keep costs down and it also ensured we didn’t over pack.
Getting Around Singapore
From the airport: Taxi’s are available from the airport and run on the meter so no need to haggle, which is great because who wants to haggle after a long haul flight? From Changi Airport to Marina Bay Sands hotel a taxi took 15-20 minutes at 7am and cost us $25 on the meter. Alternatively, Singapore has a fantastic MRT which links you up with Changi airport for just a few $. We took the MRT on our way back to Changi Airport.
Getting around the city by MRT: The MRT opening hours is 05:31 – 23:18 on Mondays to Saturdays and 05:59 – 12:06 during Sundays & Public Holidays. You can buy single or return MRT tickets from the station ticket machine. The machine is really simple to use and has English language options and takes coins, notes and cards. If you will be exploring the city, a great cost effective and time saving option is to buy the Singapore Tourist Pass, which gives you unlimited travel available for 1 (10SG$), 2 (16SG$) or 3 (20SG$) days travel via MRT and the LRT. You need to pay $10 deposit for the card which you can get refunded once you hand the card back to the Transport Link Ticket Office – there is a Transit Link Ticket Office at the airport. I downloaded SG MRT, a free app to my smartphone which shows the MRT system map and it also enabled us to plan our journeys.
Getting around the city by bus: Another cheap way to get to Singapore City is by bus, but this can be time consuming. Travel time is about 1.5 hours. At the basement of Changi Airport Terminal 1, 2 and 3, ride Bus 36/ 36 A to Singapore City. Bus fare is about SG$ 2.60. Exact change is required, no change will be given. So prepare small bills.The bus is available daily; during weekdays from 06:08 – 22:52 and 06:07 – 22:52 on Sundays and public holidays.The bus heads to Orchard Road via Suntec City, the Capitol Building (for Beach Road and North Bridge Road) and the YMCA on Stamford Road (for the Bras Basah Road/Bencoolen Street area)
As a group of 6 adults and 1 child, our accommodation requests needed to suit all of us. We needed hotels that had a family room, swimming pool, gym and something comfortable for all ages but at a reasonable price. Singapore is a very affluent country and so accommodation can be pricey, but the good news is, there is a price range to suit all budgets. Yes Marina Bay Sands hotel was a splurge and it was worth it. Usually I stay in budget to mid range hotels, depending on where in the world I am and of course there is the option of Air BNB too.
$$$ High End: Marina Bay Sands, Garden view Room includes free access to the rooftop infinity pool which is only available for guests. Nearest MRT: Bayfront.
$$ Mid Range: One Farrer £115 per night. Nearest MRT: Farrer
$$ Mid Range: Yotel £92 per night Nearest MRT: Orchard
Eating & Drinking
Alcohol is expensive for an Asian country, no matter where you drank. Most bars in Singapore have happy hour discounts on cocktails, beer and house pours which helped keep our costs down. Food however, was so cheap! Hawker stalls with even a few Michelin starred Hawker stalls! Tap water is drinkable, so bring a water bottle and fill up for free and help reduce plastic waste.
Thanks for reading, I hope I have inspired you to book that trip to Singapore!
Check out my other blog on Singapore and my Instagram account Life.a_daring_adventure