A Singapore stopover is something I always look forward to when I’m on my way to Europe. It’s always nice to break up the long journey with a couple of days in this tiny country that punches well above its weight for things to do, see and eat. I’ve assembled a group of travel bloggers who feel the same about Singapore and we’re bringing you the ultimate stopover bucket list. Enjoy.
Contributed by Aurelia from Daily Travel Pill
Singapore’s Contemporary Art Scene: National Gallery and SAM
Singapore’s art scene maybe much more vibrant than you imagine. Luckily for you, Singapore is a small country and it’s easy to get around from Changi airport. No matter you are merely staying in the country for a few hours or a day or two, check out Singapore’s modern art museums. You will be pleased to learn that the government has been very supportive to the development of art and there are already a few modern art spaces within walking distance (or a few MRT stations away) of Marina Bay.
In particular, I recommend the National Gallery. The gallery is positioned as the “Southeast Asian Art Museum” and dedicates to the development of contemporary art across the region. The building is a renovation of the former Supreme Court Building and City Hall, and now the museum houses over 8,000 contemporary artworks since the 19th century – the largest public collection of its kind in Southeast Asia.
More, check out Singapore Art Museum (SAM), one of the first art museums in Singapore since 1996. The museum also supports a range of local art foundations, commissions, and awards, bringing young talents’ works to the public eye.
Contributed by Kenny from Knycx Journeying
Free Walking Tours
A walking tour is the perfect way to experience Singapore if you’ve only got a short stopover! Don’t get me wrong, having an aimless wander around a new city can be incredible. You’ll find hidden gems and local favourites. However, sometimes you’ll leave without feeling like you know the history or the context of the place you’ve visited. Singapore’s history and culture are so rich that it would be a shame to merely scratch the surface.
There are a few companies who run free walking tours in Singapore. They cover all the major areas like Chinatown, Little India, and Gardens by the Bay. A company which I can recommend is Monster Day Tours. We did 3 of their tours in 2 days and loved every second. Their guides are super knowledgeable and also took us to places we’d never have thought to go. The thing that really made our walking tour experience was being able to sample local cuisine on every single tour for free!
Contributed by Sam from RTW Blogger
Singapore River Safari
Even if you’ve been to the zoological gardens a thousand times, we can promise you that you will not be bored at Singapore Zoo. It is a place where whole families, as well as single tourists, will feel great. You can explore the park on the guided tour tram ride or do a self-guided stroll. There are plenty of facilities for children, restaurant areas and shops so that you can spend the whole day here. There are numerous zones from different parts of the world where various species of animals live within their spacious areas. There are almost no cages!
You can touch and feed some of the animals, while others can be observed at a close distance. Our favorite is a tropical forest zone with cute, brown lemurs. During the day, there are feeding sessions and various animal shows (although in general, we are not big fans of these kinds of spectacles, we were assured that the animals are treated with the highest care). You can easily get to the Zoo by public transport. There are also dedicated shuttles and direct bus service. Admission fee for adults is 33.30 SGD and for a child (age from 3 to 12) is 22.50 SGD.
Contributed by Marta & Milosz from Backpackers WRO
Take a Tour With A Local
Singapore is a city full of fascinating foodie and cultural adventures. Beyond the tourist hubs of Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay and Sentosa lie a breadth of food markets, artisan producers and unique neighbourhoods. One way to explore all of these is on a private tour of the city, and Tribe Tours Singapore offer one of the best tours in Singapore. Their tours are led by locals allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the city of Singapore and understand some of the challenges it faces. As the tours are private they can be tailored to your interests, whether these be local food, cultural traditions or photography!
Tribe Tours Singapore offer a range of different tours of varying lengths, some by foot, others by car affecting the price of the tour. You can expect to pay SGD $50 to SGD $100 per person dependent on the size of your group and the tour you opt for. Most of Tribe Tours Singapore’s itineraries are designed to take around 3-5 hours. If you were looking to undertake a longer full or multi day tour, the team can design bespoke itineraries as required.
Contributed by Laura from The Travelling Stomach
There is nothing better than a stopover in Singapore, the city is small and compact and you’ll be able to see many attractions in even a short Singapore stopover. One of my favourite activities when in Singapore is to visit Universal Studios on Sentosa Island. Universal Studios Singapore is perfect to get around in just one day, a fun filled, adrenaline packed experience you wont forget in a hurry.
Resorts World Sentosa is about to start renovations and Universal Studios Singaporewill soon include Minion Park and Super Nintendo World which will be unique to this park. The park does get busy on weekends and peak holiday periods so if you are visiting then I suggest you purchase an express pass to ensure you get to ride all the most popular rides. The express pass enables you to skip the queue meaning you wont have to wait in lines that are often up to 90 mins wait time. Definitely worth the extra money if you are short on time.
A ticket to Universal Studios Singapore will cost about $80AUD and the Universal Studios Singapore ticket with express pass is $130AUD.
Contributed by Sally from Our 3 Kids V The World
Singapore is a city famous for its incredible architecture, balancing nature and city life in a beautiful ballet of design. It is a city like none other when it comes to tourism, incredibly popular for stopover,
short stay visits, as well as expats moving to a new life abroad.
When you arrive into Singapore on your stopover, there is one thing that simply cannot be missed. The worlds largest indoor waterfall now sits right beside Singapore airport, appropriately titled the “Jewel”. The shopping centre, situated 10 minutes fromSingapore airport, opened this man-made marvel on the 12th April 2019.
In addition to this spectacular show of nature, the shopping centre also features a variety of other entertainment for children and adults. As well as shopping and fine dining, the centre has recently opened a host of other natural wonders, such as the Canopy Mazes, the Forest Valley and walking trails and the Discovery Slides. At night, the Rain Vortex waterfall lights up in classic Singapore style with a light show after the sun sets.
Getting to the Jewel is also incredibly easy, as it is connected to Terminal 1 of the airport. To get there from Terminals 2 and 3, all you need to do is walk 10 minutes across the connecting bridge to Terminal. From Terminal 4, there is a free shuttle bus that connects to Terminal 2, where you can use the same bridge. The Jewel is open 24hrs a day, however most shops are open from 10am till 10pm.
Contributed by Gemma from Highlands2Hammocks
Adventure Cove Waterpark
If you only have limited time to explore Singapore on your stopover, a great option is to buy a ticket to visit the Adventure Cove Waterpark which is located on Sentosa Island. The Waterpark has a great selection of 16 rides, attractions and experiences to relax and cool off. There are activities for everyone from young children, teenagers through to adults with different thrill levels.
One of our favourite activities was the Riptide Rocket waterslide, which uses hydro-magnets to accelerate you along the water slide – it was the first time we had ever had that experience and we definitely lined up to ride it multiple times! Adventure River by comparison was a very relaxing float riding on inflatable tubes along the lazy river. We really enjoyed doing the full loop around the park and experiencing the 14 different themed areas, including a cave and waterfall!
The other great thing is that the waterpark is relatively small, so you can easily plan to visit for half a day and then have the rest of the day for other activities on Sentosa Island. Other great nearby activities include the S.E.A. Aquarium which is located right beside the waterpark as well as the Merlion and cable cars.
Contributed by Anne from Pretraveller
Enjoy the river breeze as you feel inferior to the towering skyscrapers of Singapore. Only in Singapore for a day? Hop aboard one of the many river cruises to see the city highlights while relaxing on the water.
Water tours last just under one hour and during that time you will sail past landmarks such Merlion, Singapore’s half fish/half-lion mascot which spurts water all day, and Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Tours run from morning ’til night (ever 30 minutes) so you can catch a sunset cruise or even a night trip to see Singapore lit up in all her glory. If you time it right you can watch the Marina Bay Sands light show from the water, although this tour is more expensive.
Contributed by Gemma from Two Scots Abroad
Part of the Kampong Glam heritage trail, Arab Street is Singapore‘s Muslim quarter. In this small but culturally diverse country, the most prominent ethnic communities are the Chinese, Malay and Indian, but there is also a significant Arab population that calls Singapore home. Many of these Arabs are descendants of Yemeni traders, which is probably why they have gained a reputation as being sharp salesmen who drive a hard bargain.
Arab Street is where you will find many of their shops, where they sell Turkish carpets, perfumes, fabrics and much more. Don’t hesitate to haggle if you do any shopping here. But if you don’t want to buy anything, you can also just stroll along the street and admire the brightly colored façades of the buildings on either side. In fact, there’s more to it than just one street. The term “Arab Street” is generally used to refer to Singapore‘s Muslim quarter in general, which also includes nearby streets such as Muscat Street, Bussorah Street and Haji and Bali Lanes.
While you’re there, be sure to visit the Sultan Mosque, which is Singapore‘s largest and is considered to be the country’s national mosque. Grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants serving authentic Middle Eastern cuisine.
Contributed by Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan
Singapore‘s Hawker Food Scene
Future World Art Science Museum
In a city packed with amazing things to do, there’s one incredibly photogenic attraction that has shot to worldwide fame.
Future World is a popular exhibit located in the ArtScience Museum with incredible light projections and artistic installations, as well as some fantastic interactive displays for children. The most popular feature for adults and children alike is easily “the Crystal Universe” – a teamLab creation that is utterly mesmerising to walk through, even if you aren’t a photographer. This corridor is filled with thousands of LEDs and mirrors on the walls, floors and ceilings to give the feeling of infinite space. The lights all work in sync with the music, providing a stunning spectacle. Many people come for the Instagram photo but leave transfixed by the display.
Future World’s increasing popularity means that it is best visited midweek and outside of public holidays. Coming for opening time or towards the end of the day tends to make for smaller crowds. The entrance fee for this single exhibit is SGD $19 (approx. US $14) for adults and SGD $14 (approx. US $10.25) for children. If you plan on visiting several exhibitions in the museum you can buy combined tickets at a reduced rate.
Contributed by Cat from Walk My World
Haw Par Villa
Chinese traditions, along with those of Malay and Indian people, are important parts of Singapore culture. While it is easy to find the Chinese influence everywhere on the island, one of the places worth visiting during a layover in Singapore is Haw Par Villa.
Haw Par Villa was first established in 1937 as an Asian cultural park by the brothers who invented Tiger Balm, Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par (Haw Par!) It depicts Chinese folklore and mythology in thousands of vividly-colored statues and dioramas throughout the park.
The highlight of Haw Par Villa are the “10 Stages in the Court of Hell” dioramas. They are so graphic and detailed that they might even scare younger children. Haw Par Villa is free – a big incentive for budget travelers to go and visit. This park is such an important part of Singaporean history and culture that an MRT station was even built nearby and named after the park.
Contributed by Halef from The Round The World Guys
Palawan Beach, Sentosa Island
What better way to spend your Singapore stopover than by having some R&R on the beach? Palawan beach on Sentosa Island is the perfect place for that! Although man-made, Palawan is still an awesome spot to hang out with its powdery white sand, palm trees and a cool suspension bridge which leads to the southernmost point of Singapore.
Unlike Siloso beach, Palawan beach never feels too crowded but still has enough facilities such as beach bars and restaurants. But keep in mind that prices are higher on the island, so you might want to bring your own food and drinks.
To get to Palawan beach, walk across the boardwalk from Vivo City and once you’re inside, you can take the monorail to the beach station followed by a tram (shuttle bus), all for free! If you’re able to stretch your budget, you can get to Sentosa by taking the cable car (starting from SGD 15) or the Sentosa Express monorail (SGD 4).
Contributed by Stephanie from Lets Venture Out
Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tours
We have found the best way to explore a new city, on limited time, is by using Hop On/Hop Off bus tours. They help you see everything the city has to offer and then some without the worry of planning each stop or arranging transportation to and from each stop. Use the HOHO (Hop On/Hop Off) bus to check out the Singapore attractions that interest you the most and skip the ones that don’t! Explore Asia’s only city-state using one of 3 HOHO bus tours. Below is a breakdown of each tour:
The Funvee Hopper $19.30
· 1 day tickets
· 3 routes
· Includes Sentosa Island
· Audio Commentary in up to 5 languages
City Sightseeing $28.71
· 1 or 2 day tickets
· 2 routes
· Audio Commentary in up to 12 languages
Big Bus Singapore $31.40
· 1 or 2 day tickets
· 6 routes
· Includes Sentosa Island
· Routes include the Zoo and Jurong Parks
· Audio Commentary in up to 12 languages
· Optional walking tours day and night
· Choice of 3 great value ticket packages
Contributed by Christina from Chris and Reg Travel
Everyone associates Singapore with the Singapore Sling and its founding home Raffles Hotel. However, there is much more to the Singapore cocktail scene than this and nowadays it’s all about hitting the rooftop bars. If your Singapore stopover co-incides with happy hour, head to one of Singapore’s amazing rooftop bars to enjoy cocktails with a view.
There are loads of fabulous rooftop bars to choose from in Singapore. One of the most popular is Ce La Vi, which can be found at the top of the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel. This gives you amazing views over the whole of Singapore. Another favourite is 1-Altitude, perched atop one of Singapore’s highest building and the world’s highest alfresco bar. Not recommended for those with vertigo!
For a more refined experience, head to Lantern at the Fullerton Bay Hotel, where you can sip poolside cocktails to chillout tunes and enjoy unparalleled views of Marina Bay.
Singaporeans love to dress up so leave your shorts and flip flops behind. And be warned – these see-and-be-seen bars don’t come cheap!
Contributed by Marianne from Mum on the Move
Singapore Botanic Gardens
If you want to spend part of your Singapore visit in a peaceful and relaxing environment, I recommend heading to the beautiful and large Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Singapore Botanic Gardens are no ordinary gardens – they are the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Singapore. The tropical garden is massive and you can easily spend hours walking around and enjoying the beautiful flowers and plants, relaxing or working out like the locals.
Singapore Botanic Gardens consists of several small gardens and trails including a children’s garden, lakes, tropical rainforest as well as the National Orchid Garden which houses the largest exhibit of orchids in the world. Visitors on a budget will be happy to know the admission is free except for the National Orchid Garden which charges a small entrance fee. Visiting is easy as Singapore Botanic Gardens are open long hours (5:00 AM – 12:00 AM) daily and are located next to a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station.
Contributed by Matilda from The Travel Sisters
Chinatown is an interesting blend of hipster haunts, magnificent temples and a fine display of the best foods in Singapore. You can easily spend several days exploring the area on foot!
The first stop on anyone’s itinerary is the fairly new Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. This iconic red four storey structure houses what is believed to be Buddha’s canine, found in Myanmar in 1980. Other than the tooth, there are beautiful statues of Buddha and a rooftop garden to Zen out.
The second most visited site is also a temple, but this time it’s Hindu. Sri Mariamman which goes all the way back to 1827 has a striking Dravidian style gopura which can be seen from afar. To show Singapore’s cultural diversity, there are even mosques and churches which can and should be visited.
Party goers and hipsters will have a great time at Ann Siang Hill and Club Street where you can find mixologist bars and trendy cafes like Operation Dagger and PS Cafe.
You cannot visit Singapore Chinatown without passing the gigantic People’s Park, a 31-storey residence and mall along Eu Tong Sen Street. And of course, you must visit Chinatown Food Street and Maxwell Hawker Centres for the most delicious and cheap meals. Chinatown Complex Food Centre has a $2 Michelin meal of chicken rice as well at Hawker Chan’s!
Gardens By The Bay
Gardens by the Bay might just be the very crown-jewel when it comes to tourist attractions in Singapore. Since its opening in 2012, this futuristic nature park has certainly become an iconic landmark and a place you shouldn’t miss while doing a stopover in Singapore. About 50 million visitors came here in 2018 to admire the giant steel trees with greenery surrounding them, and of course the Cloud Forest where you can walk around among plants and see the tallest indoor waterfall in the world.
If that wasn’t enough, Gardens by the Bay also offer a flower park that attracts botanist enthusiasts from all over the world. And every night at 7 pm, there is a magnificent light show that you can watch for free on the bottom level of Gardens by the Bay. It’s a popular place to have a picnic, both among locals and tourists.
I suggest buying tickets beforehand in order to avoid queues, but you can also buy upon arrival. The current price is $28 Singapore dollars for adults. The easiest way to get there is to take an Uber or Grab because it’s cheap and convenient, but you can also take the metro.
Contributed by Alexander from Destinavo
Little India and Mustapha Centre
Singapore is like nowhere else in the world. The mix of different cultures makes it so interesting. Even if you’re only in for a short layover, a quick trip to Little India is a must!
As you walk past the restaurants, their amazing spices perfuming the air automatically will make you hungry. If you have the time, stop for a masala dosa or some aloo gobi.
There are also tons of stores selling everything like electronics, clothes, small kitchen appliances, Indian beauty products and so much more. If you’re missing anything for your trip or your flight back home, this is where you’ll find it. And if you don’t have time to scavenge through the maze of shops, head to the Mustafa Centre. This place blew us away. You will find anything you could possibly need from food, clothes, electronics, camping supplies and everything in between.
While you’re in the area, there are a few notable places to check out. The first is the Instafamous House of Tan Teng Niah. This colorful house is a must-see in Singapore. Then, there are tons of street art painted on the walls of the streets in Little India. If you have time, walk around and take it all in! And finally, there are a few temples you can also check out.
Walking around Little India, you will feel transported to a different country. It’s such a fun place for a layover! The best way to get there is by taking the North-East MRT line’s Little India and Farrer Park stations, near Serangoon Road.
Contributed by Carine & Derek from We Did It Our Way
So there you have it. A Singapore stopover can be jam packed with all sorts of fun activities – there’s truly something for everyone on this list. A massive thanks to all the bloggers who contributed their favourite things to do on a Singapore stopover. Now I’m itching to get back!
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