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48 Hours in Singapore

So much to do, so little time? Let us take you through 48 hours in the Lion City

By Megan Sim |
Singapore Botanic Gardens

A mere 48 hours is nowhere near enough time to fully experience a city – even if it’s a humbly-sized metropolis like Singapore – but following our thoughtfully curated itinerary is as close as you can get. We’ve distilled the best that Singapore has to offer into this seamless guide that most assuredly makes up for the brevity of your stay. All you have to do is trust in our local expertise and get ready for the best 48 hours anyone can have on the island. You can thank us later.

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Let your journey begin

328 Katong Laksa
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Friday evening

Since your journey begins in the east of our modern metropolis – when you land in our beloved Changi Airport – we suggest that instead of retiring straight to your hotel, go on an excursion to the delightful districts of Katong and Joo Chiat. Explore the culturally rich precinct as you marvel at the intricate floral motifs and distinctive facades of the pastel duplex terrace houses along Koon Seng Road or simply browse the various eclectic stores that the area boasts. Sporting a surprisingly diverse collection, the shops here house everything from traditional Peranakan handicrafts to quirky Singapore-inspired knick-knacks that make for unique souvenirs. After working up an appetite, head over to 328 Katong Laksa for a comforting bowl of spicy coconut milk-based broth goodness which guarantees to satisfy.

Mustafa Centre
Photo: Morven
Things to do

Friday late night

icon-location-pin Marina Bay

Make your way downtown to the grande dame of hawker centres in Singapore – Lau Pa Sat (meaning "old market"). Sample iconic local delicacies like fried hokkien mee from Seng Kee Local Delights or be spoilt for choice by the abundance of satay (grilled skewered meat) vendors that transform Boon Tat Street into a nocturnal outdoor food street. Still not tired? Head to the 24-Hour Mustafa Centre, which pretty much sells everything, yes everything. It's a surreal late night shopping experience that’ll revive any jetlagged shopaholic.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum

Saturday morning

Wake up early and make a trip to one of Singapore's most vibrant neighbourhoods – Chinatown. History buffs can visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, which displays a series of religious artifacts across six floors, with a tranquil rooftop garden. Further down the road is the Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, with a richly decorated colourful gorapuram (entrance tower) depicting various deities. Turn left onto Pagoda Street from there to browse little market stalls selling clothes, trinkets and souvenirs. Be sure to stop by Chinatown Complex Market to try the iconic chicken rice from Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle - a humble hawker stall that proudly serves up the world's cheapest Michelin-star meal.

Plain Vanilla Bakery, Tiong Bahru

Saturday Midday

Take it easy and chill out at the charming neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru. Head to the famous Tiong Bahru Market for signature local dishes like chwee kueh and fried kway teow or walk over to 40 Hands – one of Singapore’s veteran hipster cafes. Wander around the quaint alleys as you chance upon hidden gems like BooksActually, a cosy indie bookstore selling local and contemporary literature, Grey Projects, a multi-concept arts space that publishes, generates and curates intriguing exchange activities or Plain Vanilla, a pretty cupcake shop where you can pick up a well-deserved treat.

Universal Studios Singapore

Saturday afternoon

Cab down or take the monorail from HarbourFront to Singapore's playground island, Sentosa. Pop into Universal Studios Singapore for a chance to scream your heart out on rides like Battlestar Galatica and Transformer: The Ride 3D. Although queues can get a little ridiculous during weekends and public holidays, it's worth the wait. If theme parks aren’t your speed, Adventure Cove - our grandest water park - and the S.E.A Aquarium, which grants you the opportunity to come face- to-face with over 100,000 marine animals, are right next door.

Marina Bay Sands

Saturday evening

There's plenty to do at Marina Bay, where Gardens by the Bay and the ArtScience Museum are both within walking distance – the former hosts curated international exhibitions throughout the year, while the latter has two large glass conservatories containing thousands of plant species that provide shelter from the equatorial heat. Walk over to The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and loosen your purse strings as you browse through all that Asia’s premier luxury retail destination has to offer. Afterwards, the treat yourself to a meal at one of the many celebrity restaurants including chef David Thompson's casual Thai eatery, Long Chim or The Bird Southern Table & Bar for some fried chicken and waffles. And if you won big at the casino, splash out for a two-Michelin-starred meal at Waku Ghin.

Zouk, Clarke Quay

Saturday late night

For a nightcap, do the touristy thing by heading to Clarke Quay to party at Zouk or skip that in favour of the quirkier cocktail bars near Ann Siang like boundary-pushing Operation Dagger and Asian-inspired Nutmeg and Clove. Cé La Vi and 1-Altitude are also good spots for drinks that also happen to offer unparalleled vistas of the cityscape. If you’re looking for something more family-oriented, head to the Night Safari – the world's first nocturnal wildlife park – where kids can get up close with their favorite animals.

Botanic Gardens

Sunday morning

Start the day right by taking a leisurely stroll at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. This national landmark is not only known for its lush greenery but is also the nation's first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rest and rejuvenate in the tranquil tropical garden before immersing yourself back into the thick of city life at our world-famous Orchard Road. Rows of high-end malls and shops are stocked with everything from international luxury brands to imaginative local labels like In Good Company and Beyond The Vines. If you're a shopaholic, you won't be disappointed by the choices offered by Singapore's undisputed shopping Mecca.

The National Gallery
Photo: Darren Soh and the National Gallery Singapore

Sunday midday

Head east towards Dhoby Ghaut until Orchard Road becomes Bras Basah Road – Singapore's cultural and heritage district home to the city's finest museums and galleries. Experience the world's largest public collection of modern Southeast Asian art in beautifully restored historical buildings emblematic of Singapore's political landscape at the National Gallery Singapore or find out more about Singapore's history at the National Museum of Singapore. Be sure to stop by Raffles Hotel to marvel at the hotel's lavish colonial-inspired architecture while sipping an ice-cold authentic Singapore Sling at the Long Bar.

Changi Airport

Sunday afternoon

Savour your last moments in Singapore by trying the wide range of delectable dining options located at our world-class Changi Airport. Seize your final opportunity to sample local delicacies at one of the food courts or indulge in fine dining – all of which can be found around our aeronautical establishment. And if the food coma doesn't get you first, spoil yourself at one of the 350 duty free retail outlets before hopping on a plane with the knowledge that you've just experienced the best of the Singaporean experience over the span of 48 blissful hours.

Your essential guide to Singapore