Have guests coming to town? We’ve rounded up a list of attractions and activities in Singapore for visitors to do in 48 hours – rooftop bars, hip neighbourhoods, shopping, high tea and more
As an ‘old-timer’ expat, as well as someone that runs a digital lifestyle media business (you might know it, Honeycombers), I get asked a lot for my personal list of things you must do as a visitor. So for my convenience, and yours, please save this list to your favourites. Oh, and send it to your cousins, aunties and overseas friends in advance. You can thank me later.
1) Get up high on a roof top bar
Rooftop bars are a big ‘thing’ in Singapore. My personal favourites are CÉ LA VI at Marina Bay Sands or 1-Altitude. Another tip: if you are here for the F1, make sure you get a ride on the Singapore Flyer at night. The city looks amazing, and the track just glows like some kinda out-of-this-world galaxy ring – it’s very pretty, and gives you a great perspective of the city.
2) Try some Chinese foot reflexology (and if you like it, do it daily!)
You can find Chinese foot reflexology centres everywhere in Singapore. It’s hugely popular, but depending on your tolerance for pain, I’ll admit it’s not for everyone! My personal favourites are the old-school ones at the top level of People’s Park Shopping Centre, Chinatown (where you can also find interesting buys like Mahjong sets). Another is My Foot at Great World City; the therapists are visually impaired, and their massage techniques are spot-on. It’s 40 minutes of heaven – ahhhh.
3) Soak up the neighbourhoods of Tiong Bahru, Chinatown, Little India and Haji Lane
Jump in a taxi and ask the driver or ‘uncle’ to take you to these neighbourhoods. Soak up the beautiful architecture, street art, great cheap eats and local shops. You need at least one to two hours in each neighbourhood. See our guide to shopping in each neighbourhood here. Finish off the day with dinner at one of Singapore’s top 50 restaurants, because every outing needs to include food in Singapore. Those are the rules.
4) Stuff yourself with local hawker delights
Come hungry, and work through our guide of what to eat at Lau Pa Sat, one of Singapore’s most iconic hawker centres. I love going in the early evenings as they close Boon Tat Street, and it becomes a ‘satay street’, where stringray, satays (grilled meat skewers) and refreshingly cold Tiger Beers are the order of the day. Want more hawker food? I recommend you go more ‘local’ to Maxwell Food Court, which has less charm and some serious queues at lunchtime, but incredible local food – all for $3.50-$6.50 a dish.
5) Wander along Telok Ayer and Amoy Street
The crossroads of the business district and Chinatown, Telok Ayer and Amoy Street are not to be missed. Whether you are there for coffee at Sarnies, lunch at Park Bench Deli, or a stroll through the Thian Hock Keng Temple and dinner at Meat Smith – this is one little area that is full of gems. (See our street guide for more details).
6) Shop ’til you drop
I love The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and the throng of malls along Orchard Road: Paragon, ION Orchard, Robinsons and Scotts Square. on’t miss Pedder on Scotts – a divine temple for shoe and handbags worshippers.
7) Do a high tea or free-flow brunch
Singapore is famous for its free-flow Champagne Sunday brunches, and we have some pretty special ones on Saturday too. My pick: Mandarin Oriental for Saturday, and The Fullerton for Sunday. If you are not up for midday drinking, maybe opt for a high tea instead. Again, so many to choose from… for old-school charmm Raffles Hotel is a winner. For modern-day opulence, my vote is the St. Regis. Still not sure? See our full list of weekday high teas and take your pick!
8) Get out on the water
If you have time, get on a yacht and cruise out to see Singapore from a distance – it’s pretty spectacular. If you are short on time, do a bumboat river cruise – you get to see the beautiful blend of the traditional shophouses along the water and the shining, modern high-rises gleaming behind them.
9) Pamper yourself at a five-star spa
You probably already know the hotel experience in Singapore is second to none, as too are the Singapore spa experiences. My top three would be the Auriga Spa at Capella (Sentosa), Damai at Grand Hyatt, and Remedi at St. Regis. Most of them include access to the pool, so you can really make an afternoon of it.
10) Get lost amongst the greenery and jungles
I love walking in the lush greenery of Singapore’s tropical gardens. Whether it’s in the Botanic Gardens, Gardens by the Bay or even further afield like MacRitchie Reservoir (which has a 3km walking trail) or Kent Ridge Park, it’s worth an early morning or late afternoon excursion to see the stunning tropical greenery and wildlife. Just be prepared to sweat a little.