How to Spend 48 Hours in Singapore
Singapore is a city that needs little introduction. On the world stage, this wealthy republic may present itself as a global financial centre. Yet beyond that, there’s a wonderfully eclectic melting pot of cultures, nationalities and colonial heritage to discover. As well as being a great destination for a longer stay, Singapore is a good stop over on the way to destinations further east. So if you only have a couple of days to explore in this vibrant city-state, here’s the best way to spend 48 hours in Singapore.
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The first stop on your Singapore itinerary should be Chinatown. This area is also a good place to stay due to its central location and a decent range of budget to mid-range accommodation to choose from. Hotels and hostels aside, Chinatown is a great place to explore during the day. Its streets are lined with stalls selling touristy souvenirs and made all the more attractive by the strings of Chinese lanterns that hang overhead. Afterwards, head over to the Hawker Centre on Smith Street, home to some of Chinatown’s best food stalls and restaurants, where you can pick up lunch for a reasonable price. Well reasonable for Singapore anyway!
Art Science Museum
The Art Science Museum is something that everyone can enjoy, making it a must visit during your 48 hours in Singapore. Set on Marina Bay, the museum is housed within the futuristic building shaped like a lotus flower. Inside there’s an ever-changing collection of exhibitions where scientific topics are explored through different artistic mediums. Some areas of the museum are free to enter but you have to pay for each exhibition so you can just pick the ones you are most interested in. I would really recommend visiting the Future World exhibition here, which is visually stunning as well as being interactive and fun.
Gardens by the Bay
After the Art Science Museum, continue along Marina Bay to the famous Gardens by the Bay. If you are only going to do one thing during your 48 hours in Singapore make it this. The gardens’ main attractions are two giant glass conservatories: the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, the Supertree Grove and OCBC Skyway that connects a number of them together.
The Flower Dome is more of a traditional botanical garden with collections of plants and trees from around the world. Whilst the Cloud Forest is much more futuristic, with its main highlights being the 35 m waterfall and skywalk around the dome. And not forgetting the powerful exhibition at the end which highlights the world’s current environmental issues and how we can help to overcome them. There is an entry fee of S$14 for each conservatory and if you are only going to visit one I would recommend the Cloud Forest.
Whilst the conservatories have an entry free the Supertree Grove and the OCBC Skyway are free to look around. These are great to visit during the day but even better at night when they’re illuminated. Make sure you come back in the evening for the light show here at 7.45pm. It’s really spectacular to see and was one of the highlights of my time in Singapore.
After Gardens by the Bay, if are looking for somewhere to get dinner and drinks close by then Boat Quay is the perfect place. There’s an abundance of restaurants on this little riverside row, all with outdoor seating. Imagine animated staff waving you onto their riverside terraces, fish swimming in tanks waiting to be ordered and a lively uplift in the air. All set to the skyscraper backdrop of the financial district and Marina Bay Sands. Prices are still reasonable despite the impressive view and if you go early enough they usually will offer you discounts on food and drink too.
Start your day by heading over to Haji Lane, the city’s newest up and coming area. Colourful colonial style buildings line each side of this street, and in-store, a group of hipster indie cafes, shops and bars to shop, eat and drink in. Things here can be a little on the expensive side as you might imagine. But even if you’re on a budget, the brightly painted houses and street art dotted here and there still make it a great alternative place to add to your 48 hours in Singapore itinerary.
Masjid Sultan Mosque
Just round the corner from Haij Street, you’ll reach the Masjid Sultan Mosque – another must see attraction in the area. It’s golden domes and beautiful architectural detailing really make it a feast for the eyes. It’s no wonder that this religious site has been considered a national monument for over 40 years. Wander around and appreciate its outer beauty, or hop on a tour and explore within.
Keep walking a little further north-west from the Masjid Sultan Mosque and you’ll reach Little India. There’s not loads to see here, other than a few notable temples, yet the neighbourhood is fantastic for authentic Indian cuisine. Who’d have thought it? Whether you’re buying samosas on the street or sitting down for a proper meal, if you’re a curry fan the food here won’t disappoint. We were also lucky enough to go to Little India around Diwali, so got to see the festive decorations and visit the Diwali Market too, which were both absolutely stunning.
The Long Bar at Raffles
Next, it’s time to delve into some colonial history at Raffles. Or more specifically the Long Bar at Raffles Place. This hotel bar is famous for being the place where the Singapore Sling cocktail was invented. Apparently, it was created by the bartender to look and taste like a fruit punch so that women could secretly drink alcohol in public, something that wasn’t allowed back then! The bar was also famous for being a hangout for smugglers and for western settlers back in the day. Today, it still sticks to its roots. There’s a rich heritage style throughout, old-fashioned fans on the ceiling and no WiFi. Pull up a chair and enjoy a famous cocktail, with unlimited free bags of monkey nuts dotted around the bar too. And that’s another tradition after you’ve eaten the monkey nuts, you throw the shells on the floor!
Makansutra Gluttons Bay
Another great place for street food place close to Raffles is Makansutra Gluttons Bay. Here, there’s so much choice that whether you fancy Thai, Indian, Chinese or seafood you’ll find something you like here. It’s more of an outdoor food court with communal tables in the middle, so everyone can choose what they like from different stands and then eat together in the middle.
Singapore is a fantastic city with so much to see and do. And hopefully, my guide on how to spend 48 hours in Singapore, will help you to plan your own trip there too.
Got more than 48 hours in Singapore? Here are some other places you could visit:
Go to the Singapore Botanical Gardens
Visit Sentosa Island
Go shopping on Orchard Road
Visit Universal Studios Singapore
Ride the Singapore Flyer
Visit Pulau Ubin Island
Explore the Geylang neighbourhood