Coming to Singapore for a quick weekend visit over 48 hours? Here’s our list of all the must-eats, must-visits and must-dos in the Lion City.
Singapore might be a mere red dot on the map, but it’s one of the buzziest cities in Southeast Asia. We’re talking top-notch restaurants and bars, majestic man-made landmarks and an intriguing mix of history and heritage. Plus, we’re a melting pot of cultures, full of fascinating spots waiting to be discovered. If you’re in the Lion City for only a weekend, this well-planned 48-hour guide to Singapore has you covered. Strap in and join us on a whirlwind adventure across the island.
The ultimate 48-hour guide to Singapore
Day 1: It’s breakfast time!
Singapore’s called a foodie paradise for good reason. We have numerous hawker centres, Michelin-starred restaurants and amazing cafes peppered across the island. Start your adventure with a local breakfast at Old Airport Road Food Centre. It might be a challenge for first-timers to navigate around the gastronomical maze as there are over 150 stalls! But trust us, it’s worth the hassle. Choice picks include chee cheong fun and nasi lemak. If you’ve got more room, you need to try our iconic kaya toast: a thick slab of butter and kaya (coconut jam) sandwiched between toasted bread.
Make your way to heritage-rich Joo Chiat to experience a slice of Singapore’s diverse culture. For breakfast round two, pop over to 328 Laksa to slurp up a bowl of curry coconut milk noodle soup. Next, stop by Birds of Paradise around the corner for creamy botanical gelato flavoured with natural ingredients. Walk the food coma off with a self-guided art trail that stretches all the way from East Coast Road to Joo Chiat Terrace. An absolute must-do in the area is to check out the historic Peranakan shophouses along Koon Seng Road. Adorned with ceramic Peranakan florals, geometrical tiles and pastel faces, these houses were a common sight in the early 1900s.
Singapore is home to great beaches and we’re lucky it’s always summer here. Experience the island life in a hot minute by heading to the nearby East Coast Park. This beach is popular amongst cyclists and roller skaters. On weekends, expect to find families with kids playing in the sand until sunset. Soak in the sun, rent a bicycle or treat yourself to a plate of BBQ wings and ice-cold beer at East Coast Lagoon Food Village. If you don’t mind squeezing in with plenty of other tourists on a sunny day, consider making a stop at Sentosa for a quick picnic. Make plans to ride on the SkyHelix Sentosa – a recently launched open-air panoramic ride that takes you 79 metres above sea level – or chill out at beach clubs for a little vitamin D.
Next, hit up Little India for spice shops, jewellery stores, flower vendors, saree specialists and fascinating temples. But before you embark on your mini adventure, fuel up on exquisite Indian food. You’ll be spoilt for choice here! Savour Chettinad cuisine (a region of the Tamil Nadu state in India) at Anjappar Chettinad Restaurant. Or, enjoy a vegetarian feast fit for a king at Madras New Woodlands and take the spicy route with Muthu’s Curry’s fiery fish head curry.
Walk it all off at the Indian Heritage Centre. This is where you can get a quick lesson on the historical links between the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Oh, and don’t miss out on a stroll down the streets and the back alleys where the walls are canvases for beautiful murals by local artists. Squeeze in a quick shopping spree at Mustafa Centre, too. This 24-hour shopping behemoth sells just about anything under the sun at affordable prices.
Cheers to the evening
Seek respite from the heat by making your way to National Gallery Singapore. Housed in two national monuments, City Hall and the former Supreme Court, this sprawling museum boasts the largest collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian art in the world. Follow our guide to Singapore and take your time to explore Singapore’s port city past. Before you leave, head to rooftop bar Smoke & Mirrors for a drink as you soak in the most staggering skyline vistas in the isle. You’ll be clinking glasses while overlooking the majestic sights of The Padang, Esplanade and Marina Bay Sands.
With only 48 hours to explore Singapore, time is of the essence. But don’t fret; our guide is chock full of hot tips. Forget about running from pillar to post to experience the local food scene and just head to the nearby Makansutra Gluttons Bay. This bustling alfresco hawker centre adjacent to Esplanade always sees throngs of hungry folks hovering over others in hopes of securing a table (the shamelessly Singaporean way!). Once you snag a seat, queue up to buy iconic Singapore food like chicken rice, satay, chilli crab and roti prata.
Party the night away
Did you really travel to Singapore if you didn’t make a pitstop at the futuristic Marina Bay Sands? Make your mark on social media by ascending to sky-high bar and lounge, Ce La Vi. You can’t leave without taking a ‘gram-worthy picture with the glittering skyline as your backdrop. While you’re at it, order a cocktail or two as you’ll be gearing up to party the night away.
If you’d like something a little more laidback, pop over to CapitaSpring. The 51-storey CBD skyscraper features a 4,500 square feet rooftop edible garden and urban farm. You can even reserve a seat at its farm-to-table dining concepts Oumi and Kaarla for a memorable fine-dining experience with stunning city views.
We’re almost through with the first 24 hours of our guide to Singapore. Get ready to paint the city red at the party central that is Clarke Quay. The nightlife district brims with stellar clubs and bars, but don’t be intimidated.
Start the revelry at Chupitos and drink your way through the extensive list of shot flavours. It’s categorised according to different drinking palates and tolerance levels. Later, pop over to world-renowned club Zouk for a rave to remember. It’s the destination to see international DJs – think house and techno elites like Sven Vath and John Digweed. Not looking to hit the dance floor? Duck into retro arcade hangout Level Up or natural wine bar Wine Rvlt for some cheeky fun.
If you’ve got a midnight craving, continue the fun at supper spots around town. From dim sum to ramen to mookata, these eateries will satisfy any hunger pangs.
Day 2: Start with brunch
What better way to cure your dreadful hangover than with a hearty brunch? Dempsey is where it’s at. The lush, leafy enclave is filled to the brim with stunning eateries like Siri House, Open Farm Community and Como Cuisine. Alternatively, make a trip downtown to the Telok Ayer area to experience the city’s thriving cafe culture. For sublime sammies, step into Park Bench Deli or Surrey Hills Deli at the nearby Raffles Place. If you’re yearning for something healthy, Shake Farm will save you with its avocado and feta cheese toast.
Don’t miss out on Sarnies’ strong coffee either! A firm favourite amongst caffeine junkies, the salad and sandwich spot roasts all its beans in-house. Next, satisfy your sweet tooth at Plain Vanilla Bakery with its fabulous cupcakes. Trust us, they won’t disappoint.
Another ethnic enclave worth visiting is Chinatown. It’s made up of hip bars, trendy restaurants, old school shophouses and impressive temples. You can’t help but fall in love with the juxtaposition of the old and new Singapore. Only in the Little Red Dot will you find a mosque (Masjid Jamae), a Chinese temple (Buddha Tooth Relic Temple) and a Hindu temple (Sri Mariamman Temple) located just a few steps away from each other. Once you’ve visited the famous trio of religious sites, check out Pagoda Street Market for kitsch souvenirs and wander around the surrounding hip hangouts at Ann Siang Road and Amoy Street.
For a change of pace and scenery, take a cab down to Wessex Estate. Once a British Army base built in the 1930s and 1940s, these black-and-white colonial buildings surrounded by lush greens now house numerous art studios and galleries. Want a blast into the past? Spend the afternoon chatting with various artists who will spin an interesting story or two. Psst: for a quick pick-me-up, stop by the ultra-retro Colbar to crack open a cold one.
Shop your heart out
Singapore’s most iconic shopping belt, Orchard Road, is a must-visit for shopaholics. With only 48 hours in Singapore, you’ll find everything you need at malls like Ion Orchard, Wisma Atria, Paragon, Far East Plaza and Orchard Central. Expect to see the latest beauty products, up-and-coming fashion must-haves and state-of-the-art tech gadgets. If you’re visiting during the festive season, the place is adorned with spectacular Christmas lights and glittering decorations.
Feeling peckish? Some of the best cafes, restaurants and bars can be found right smack along this stretch: We’ve got Violet Oon Singapore for Peranakan nosh, 8 Korean BBQ for flavourful grilled pork belly, and donburi bowls of rice with fresh sashimi toppings at Tanuki Raw. Tip: we recommend history buffs explore Emerald Hill for a peek into Orchard Road’s interesting past.
Dinner is calling!
Once a cultural hotspot for the Muslim community, Kampong Glam is now a hip neighbourhood peppered with hole-in-the-wall boutiques on Haji Lane, quaint restaurants and bars on Arab Street, and charming heritage spots all over.
Find your way to the back alley of Muscat Street and you’ll stumble across Gelam Gallery. This permanent outdoor art space features framed artwork by local artists and is always buzzing with tourists and art enthusiasts posing for the ‘gram. Want to break the internet? Snap a picture of the biggest mosque in Singapore: Sultan Mosque. Reminiscent of Aladdin’s majestic castle from Agrabah, it was built in 1824 by the first sultan of Singapore. Food-wise, you can fuel up at plenty of halal hotspots, including Afterwit for Mexican fare and Middle Eastern grub at Sofra Turkish Cafe & Restaurant.
Before you say goodbye…
With only a few hours left in the Lion City, head back to our award-winning Changi Airport. But the adventure doesn’t stop there – pop over to the 10-storey mall connected to the airport. Yes, we’re talking about the extra AF Jewel Changi. The sleek structure comes with a hefty $1.7 billion price tag!
It boasts the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at 40 metres high (hello, HSBC Rain Vortex) and over 280 unique retail and dining options. Jewel is a retail paradise, an architectural marvel and a sprawling tropical indoor rainforest and waterfall experience all rolled into one. The perfect pit stop before you hop on the plane and bid farewell to our sunny island.
Well done for making it through our 48-hour guide to Singapore. See you again soon!