Don’t underestimate this island country by its size. Singapore, affectionately known as the “Garden City”, certainly holds its weight when it comes to effortlessly blending the old and the new. Old colonial architecture is juxtaposed with futuristic high-rise buildings, a nod towards sustainable urbanism and the sovereign city-state’s signature luxury.
Your Singapore itinerary needs to begin with a visit to the world famous Gardens by the Bay. The area perfectly encapsulates the concept of a “City in a Garden” where visitors can immerse themselves amongst hundreds of flora and plant species which thrive in Singapore’s tropical climate. And although accommodation may be on the more expensive side for budget or thrifty travellers traversing Asia, the hawker food stalls are where you can eat like royalty without breaking the bank.
Is 3 days enough for Singapore? We would argue “no” but on this visit, it was all the time we could afford. It’s arguably an appropriate length of time if you find yourself planning a layover so pack your cotton and linen apparel and prepare to mop that brow.
Our Itinerary for Singapore in 3 days
Beat the crowds and the heat and make your way to Gardens By the Bay. Singapore’s number one attraction has welcomed over 50 million visitors since its opening in 2012. Walk underneath the iconic Supertree Grove, each towering structure intricately adorned with orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers. For those wanting to experience the sensation of floating in the clouds, purchase a ticket for SGD $8 to stroll the 128-metre long OCBC Skyway which hovers 22 metres above the ground!
If you’re arriving at Gardens By The Bay via Bayfront Avenue, you’re likely to cross through Marina Bay Sands Hotel. If you’ve booked a night here, lucky you!
Walk into the Cloud Forest. The world’s tallest indoor waterfall will greet you gushing down from the tropical highlands.
Admire the biannual orchid display on the lower level before ascending into the clouds. Discover carnivorous plants at the top in the Lost World before beginning your slow descent through the mist along the Cloud Walk, through Crystal Mountain and looping around on the Treetop Walk. Discover plant life on this shrouded mountain usually growing in cloud forests 2,000 metres above sea-level!
The Cloud Forest has a misting display at certain hours. Check the times at the entrance and it’s likely that you’ll be inside when a misting occurs creating an eerie effect inside.
Enter the Flower Dome. A combined ticket to two conservatories costs SGD $28 per person.
Showcasing flora and plant species from five continents across nine different gardens, this is the place where Spring lasts all year round. The centre Flower Field constantly rotates featuring seasonal floral displays and festivals from around the world.
Our visit was in March and coincided with the Sakura Matsuri exhibition, a celebration of the Japanese cherry blossoms during their springtime.
Catch a bus to the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood.
If you want to know how to plan a cheap trip to Singapore, then you need to familiarise yourself with the Michelin Guide hawker stalls in one of Singapore’s food centres. Head upstairs to Tiong Bahru Food Centre for lunch where you will be spoiled for choice.
If you’re still hungry after lunch and looking for something sweet, we highly recommend swinging by the French inspired Tiong Bahru Bakery. The artistic dessert cabinet is decked out with pastries, croissants, tarts and slices. We can vouch for the coconut cheesecake and vanilla flan – but the tiramisu is definitely the decadent treat-yo self option (SGD $22 a pop!)
Start making your way towards Chinatown.
Of course you need to take a break from the heat so step inside Populus Coffee and Food Co. If you’re seeking that caffeine pick-me-up, you’re in safe hands with award winning baristas on hand. The interiors are reminiscent of a New York deli with white and grey hexagonal tiles are the entrance, geometric wooden wall panels and brass pipes with spiral light bulbs overhead.
Wind through the streets of Chinatown taking note of the striking colonial-style architecture that remains. Many of the ground level spaces have been gentrified, taken over by trendy bars and restaurants but these new social playgrounds also seem to blend seamlessly with historic temples and hawker stalls.
It’s time for more Michelin Guide food without the hefty price tag.
Meander over to the Chinatown Complex and walk up to the second floor. Look for stall number 168 CMY Satay.
This family-run hawker stall seasons and grills various meats (their chicken is said to taste best!) and serves its peanut sauce on the side. When we visited, they had already sold out of chicken for the day so we settled for 10 satay pork skewers (SGD $0.60 each, minimum order of 10). Hands down one of the best street food snacks we have eaten on our travels.
Wash it down with a Chinese lemon drink from the drinks stall opposite (SGD $1.30).
Your Singapore itinerary needs to include a return trip to Gardens By the Bay. Find prime position for the twice-nightly Garden Rhapsody Show – it’s the closest you’ll get to being an extra in the Avatar film!
The Supertree Grove exhibits a spectacular 10 minutes light show to ever-changing musical soundtracks. We were treated to a collection of opera masterpieces.
Need a bit of supper? Thankfully there are a select few places that are open all night long including Nunsongyee Korean Dessert Cafe. Order a traditional bingsu to top the night off on a sweet note.
TIP: You will likely need to share – these desserts are HUGE. No joke.
If you need to duck into the air-conditioning after your morning walk, the National Museum of Singapore is conveniently located next to Fort Canning Park. The nation’s oldest museum documents artefacts and stories of Singapore in this classical building which also features a vibrant glass rotunda.
Check the website for special exhibitions.
Return to the bottom of Fort Canning Park and pitch your tripod or friend with your camera opposite Old Hill Street Police Station.
Instagram has made this historical landmark uber famous with the fold-out French window shutters painted all the colours of the rainbow. Aesthetically pleasing both in colour and symmetry. Wait for the red lights and paused vehicular traffic before carefully crossing the road to the middle.
Note: This is roughly the best time of the day to shoot this photo to ensure that the station is in full sunlight. If you visit early in the morning, the building will be partially in shadow.
If you’re looking for more photo spots, check out this blog post for the most Instagrammable places in Singapore.
No doubt your stomach has started to grumble. If you can hold out a little longer, hop onto a bus in front of Old Hill Street Police Station and head east towards the Joo Chiat/Katong district.
Your destination is Mr & Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata, located on the corner of Dunman Road and Joo Chiat Road at the back of Dunman Food Centre.
At first glance, it does seem a tad off to have a lone hawker stall selling Indian cuisine amongst other south-east Asian peers but the reputation of the crispy roti precedes itself! We waited 15 orders worth, almost 45 minutes, for our food to be ready! The cheese roti and banana roti are delicious but small servings.
Cross the street and snap your picture in front of the traditional lolly-pastel Peranakan Houses.
Peranakan is and Indonesian/Malay term that means “local born” and generally refers to Chinese or Indian immigrants who married indigenous people from the Malay archipelago in the 15th century. The houses are known for its unique pre-war architecture, colourful terrace houses with ornate facades and intricate motifs.
Poke your head into the shophouses along Joo Chiat Road offering Peranakan wares, handicrafts and nonya cakes.
The Katong district is also the birthplace of the famous Katong laksa (spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup). The Original 328 Katong Laksa hawker stall is in the food court of Roxy Square 1 on East Coast Road, however, we sat down to sample the famous seafood laksa at the branch across the road.
If the spicy factor is too much for your tastebuds, cool off with a refreshing scoop of gelato a couple doors down at Birds of Paradise Gelato Boutique. The gelateria creates unique flavours inspired by the botanical flavours of nature. There is a second boutique at Jewel Changi Airport.
The eating never stops. Head towards the Kallang neighbourhood and join the queue at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle hawker stall. Order the signature bak chor mee (noodles with minced pork) and a Tiger beer to help with spice that will make your lips tingle the right amount. This stall is closed Mondays.
Walk a few blocks over to the buzzing Haji Lane. The atmosphere down this hip laneway is electric at night featuring bars, restaurants, boutique stalls and live music. A great spot to meet friends, hang out for a few beers and bop to the soulful tunes.
Enjoy one last nightcap at ATLAS. Sink into one of the plush chairs, order a cocktail and take care not to spill it as you crane your neck to admire the glamorous art deco architecture inspired by the skyscrapers of Europe and New York.
Seek the warm nostalgia of old Singaporean coffee shops and swing by YY Kafei Dian for a taste of their renowned kaya toast.
The thickly cut bread looks similar to brioche and is baked fresh in-house every day. It is served with butter and kaya, a sweet-ish condiment that is best likened to a mild Nutella. Kaya is made of sugar, eggs, coconut milk and pandan.
Ask for a cup of their traditionally brewed coffee (kopi = coffee with condensed milk) which is brewed using the calico coffee sack. If you swing by later after breakfast time, the coffee shop also serves traditional Hainanese dishes and nonya desserts.
Your Singapore travel experience will be incomplete until you go shopping along Orchard Road. Multi-level malls feature luxury brands standing next to high-street retailers – it’s your one-stop shopping destination in Singapore.
The newly opened Design Orchard complex is the latest retail and incubation space built to showcase new and emerging Singaporean designers and prepare to take them overseas.
Next, catch a bus towards Little India.
Aromatic spices waft through the air in this Indian hub which is pocketed with colourful temples. The Tan Teng Niah is a Chinese 2-storey villa made popular by photographers and the venerable Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple also draws a crowd. For lunch, consider eating at Lagnaa Bare Foot Dining.
Depending on your flight time, a visit to newly opened Jewel Changi Airport is a must as part of your Singapore travel experience.
Accessible from all three terminals, one could spend hours at the multi-level complex which boasts shopping, restaurants, a cinema and the famous Rain Vortex waterfall. The waterfall is operational from 9.00am – 11.00pm.
Should you be fortunate to be at Jewel around late afternoon, you will be lucky to witness the stunning waterfall during daylight and then watch the beautiful light show illuminate the cascading water as the night sky appears.
You can see the beauty of Jewel from the air if you take a walk on the Canopy Bridge or the Manulife Sky Nets (fees apply). If you prefer to keep your feet on terra firma, you can explore this wondrous world in the Canopy Park.
Should you have time, we would highly recommend eating at one of the restaurants at Jewel. Access to a Michelin guide restaurant has never been easier with several choices at Jewel. We recommend Kam’s Roast Goose Restaurant where the set meal option (a vegetable entree, soup of the day and main meal) will only set you back SGD $13.80! What a bargain!
Note: If you are in-transit at Changi Airport, you will not be able to access Jewel unless your layover is longer than 5 hours.
If you have more than 3 days in Singapore, why not consider adding these activities to your itinerary.
Sentosa Island is located 15 minutes from Central Singapore. Home to silky-sand beaches, themed attractions and resort-style hotels, it’s a popular destination to retreat from the city. Enjoy award-winning spas, learn about the island’s role in military history or visit Universal Studios.
Universal Studios Singapore
Located on Sentosa Island, enjoy a day out releasing the inner kid or thrillseeker across 24 rides, shows and attractions. It’s not the cheapest activity with adult tickets at SGD $79 and child tickets at SGD $59 but Universal Studios is practically guaranteed a whole day of childish escapism.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
A true oasis in the middle of the island, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is five minutes away from Orchard Road. In 2015, the Gardens were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and became the first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The Gardens are open daily and admission is free. Check this website for opening hours of particular gardens, timetables for guided tours and admission prices for special exhibitions.
GETTING AROUND SINGAPORE
Singapore Public Transport
Singapore has a very efficient public transport system with the subway, buses, taxis and rideshares.
If you are buying your public transport tickets with cash, it’s important to know that ticket machines in MTR stations only give change up to SGD $4 so it is wise to have SGD $1 coins or SGD $2 and SGD $5 notes on you. Furthermore, buses do not give change so it is best to have coins.
Singapore Tourist Pass
The Singapore Tourist Pass provides good value to visitors who are visiting Singapore for 1 day, 2 days or 3 days. The ez-link card offers unlimited travel on Singapore’s basic bus services, MRT and LRT trains for the duration that it is valid. The Singapore Tourist Pass does include a refundable SGD $10 deposit and can be purchased and returned at Singapore Changi Airport, select MTR stations and kiosks. The Singapore Tourist Pass is not to be confused with the SG Tourist Pass.
Refundable Deposit: SGD $10
1-Day Pass: SGD $10
2-Day Pass: SGD $16
3-Day Pass: SGD $20
The iconic Raffles Hotel Singapore is one of the oldest hotels in the country and has welcomed famous folk through its doors including Michael Jackson and Queen Elizabeth II. It is said to be the birthplace of the Singapore Sling cocktail. Promising ultra luxury and elegance, a stay here would certainly be one to remember.
Marina Bay Sands
Since its opening in 2011, Marina Bay Sands continues to bring the “wow” factor to Singapore’s hotel industry. With the world’s largest infinity pool atop three twinkling towers, the integrated resort offers unparalleled views of the Supertree Grove of Gardens By The Bay on one side, an atrium casino, shopping mall, theatres and celebrity-chef dining. If you’re going to treat yourself, this is the place to do so.
This is the option we selected during our visit to Singapore. We selected a double room in an apartment with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities and did not cross paths with our room buddies the entire time. It was comfortable, clean and a 5 minute walk from Lavendar station.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO SINGAPORE
Wi-Fi is free in certain MTR stations. If you have a SIM card, you need to enter your mobile number and use the verification code to access the Wi-Fi.
Best Time To Visit Singapore
For the most part, Singapore is a destination to visit all-year round – the heat and humidity are the norm! February – April falls within the dry season with a little less rainfall than other months of the year. January – February will be quite busy with Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations.
Cost of 3 days in Singapore
This will vary between travellers from budget to luxury. We tend to go for basic accommodation over luxury so that we can spend more money on food and drink. Dining choices will also significantly affect spend – we ate most of our meals at hawker food centres.
Accommodation (AirBnb) 3 nights, 2 pax: SGD $175
Transport (2 pax): SGD $60
Tickets/Tours (2 pax): SGD $56
Food & Drink (2 pax): SGD $300
Total excluding flights (2 pax): SGD $591