Two Days in Singapore Itinerary for First Timers
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Singapore as a city definitely took me by surprise.
A lot of people are very skeptical about including Singapore in their South East Asian itineraries, mainly due to concerns about it being expensive and thinking its small size means there isn’t much to do there. Admittedly, the first time I visited Singapore, I didn’t land there with the highest of hopes – especially after just having spent two months almost entirely in huge Chinese cities. But my doubts were proved wrong, and I can shout from the high heavens that Singapore is definitely a city worth visiting.
I’m not sure whether it was the lush green spaces within the urban area, the city’s melting pot of cultures, or the obvious pride of the nation that captured me. I don’t know whether it was when I was exploring mosques in Kampong Glam, savouring mouth-watering food in Little India or marvelling at the gorgeous Gardens by the Bay when I thought you know what? I really love this place.
The first time I visited the city, I spent just two days in Singapore. I landed pretty hazily after spending a night waiting in Hong Kong airport, but ready to explore the city.
Singapore is a relatively spread out city, but with the right shoes it’s definitely walkable (by ‘right’ I mean definitely not my $4 plimsolls that I traipsed around in – but every mistake’s a lesson learned, right?).
I’ve been back since and have enjoyed many of the best things to do in Singapore, but I really think that most of it can be appreciated with just a short two day trip to the city. So if you’re keen to do just that, here’s a jam-packed Singapore itinerary that’s perfect for first timers to the city, detailing all of the best things to do in Singapore in two days.
Arriving at Singapore Airport
You’ll probably arrive into Singapore Changi Airport – it’s a popular hub with flights arriving from all over the world. It’s also home to two airlines: Singapore Airlines (frequently rated one of the best in the world and great for long-haul, click here for an honest Singapore Airlines review) and Scoot (a budget airline that gets quite a lot of stick, but I’ve personally never had a problem flying with them – you get what you pay for!).
However, you might arrive into the city overland from Malaysia – check out tickets from Kuala Lumpur Sentral to Singapore by clicking here – or take the adventurous crossing from Sumatra in Indonesia to Singapore.
But we’ll write this presuming that you’ve landed in Changi. There are a few different ways to get from Changi airport to the city; I reckon the best ones are Grab taxi and the Metro.
If you’re needing to travel after 11pm and before 5pm, or can’t be bothered with public transport, go with Grab. It’s a free taxi app to download, and once you’ve got it you can either opt to pay with cash or use your card details. The interface is very similar to Uber and it’s cheaper than taking an airport taxi.
If you’re wanting to save some money and are travelling in the daytime or evening, the Metro is a great, budget-friendly option. You’ll need to get a Metro from the airport to Tanah Merah Station and then change. Depending on where your hotel is, this option costs S$2-S$3 – I was actually so surprised at how cheap it was that I had to confirm I bought the right tickets twice!
Where to Stay in Singapore
As you’d expect for a busy, modern city, there are a host of options to stay at in Singapore, from budget hostels (yes, some do exist here!) to world-famous 5* luxury hotels (namely, Marina Bay Sands and the Raffles Hotel). Here’s the best of the best:
Hostels in Singapore
The Little Red Dot Hostel – I stayed at this hostel on my first time in Singapore and really enjoyed it. It’s clean, spacious, friendly and has free breakfast. They also offer a free walking tour! The only drawback is that the hostel isn’t right in the heart of things – you might need to walk a little/ take an MRT to get to the attractions – but it’s not so far it’s a hassle. With prices starting at $20 SGD for a dorm room, it’s one of the cheapest digs you’ll get in the city. Click here for rates, reviews and to book.
The InnCrowd Backpackers Hostel 2 – this hostel is located in the heart of Little India (read: so much amazing food a very short walk away!) and provides budget travellers with free breakfast, free lockers, free internet access, and free guided tours. It’s a busy hostel with lots of people around, perfect for those who want to socialise and party. Click here for rates and book today.
Quarters Capsule Hostel – if you want a little privacy but don’t want to have to fork out for a hotel, this is the place for you. Offering pods with comfy linen, air conditioning, and WiFi, you’ll be able to head off into your own little world after exploring all the places on your Singapore itinerary. It’s a little pricier than other hostels but it’s a great private option, especially if you’re travelling solo. Click here for more information and to book.
Hotels in Singapore
As you can expect, there are so many hotels in Singapore. Some I have used and/ or come highly rated are:
Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong – Located within Katong Mall, this quirky hotel has a luxury pool and fitness suite, as well as beautifully decorated rooms. Its decor was inspired by the artwork of the Joo Chiat Heritage Area, making this one of the most unique places to stay in Singapore. Click here to read more and book today.
YOTEL Singapore Orchard Road – situated in one of the most vibrant and busy areas of Singapore, YOTEL offers comfy, modern rooms with some impressive technological features that you’d expect from Singapore! There is also a swimming pool and fitness centre. Click here for rates and to book.
Iconic Hotels in Singapore
If your two days in Singapore mark a special occasion, or you really want to see the city at its best, then I’d recommend staying in one of its two most famous hotels. Yes, they’re pricey; but they’ll offer you an experience like no other.
Raffles Hotel – Raffles Hotel actually features on this Singapore itinerary, even if you don’t stay there (we’ll get into why later!), but it’s hard to think of a more iconic hotel to reside in in Singapore. The prices are high – double that of even Marina Bay Sands – but you’ll get luxury first-class treatment that can be experienced nowhere else in the city (and probably nowhere else in Asia!).
Of course, it features a pool, a fitness centre and dining and drinking options, and each suite is decorated with gorgeous period decor, harking back to a Singapore long gone. It’s a place to not only enjoy your stay in the city in this present day but also feel like you’ve entered a time warp into its colonial past.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel – famed for its gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the Gardens by the Bay, staying at Marina Bay Sands is an unforgettable experience. As well as the pool, guests can enjoy the Sands SkyPark Observation Deck, the Banyan Tree Spa and a multitude of fine dining restaurants. As you’d expect, the rooms are decorated and facilitated to the highest possible standard.
How to Get Around Singapore
I personally walked everywhere on my first day on my Singapore itinerary – but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this, especially not in the $4 shoes I was wearing. Singapore’s kind of walkable, but it does also have an awesome Metro system. Grab taxis are also popular. I’ll include the MRT stop of each destination on this Singapore itinerary and how to get between them, cos I’m helpful like that ;).
Two Days in Singapore Itinerary – Day One
National Museum of Singapore
Take the MRT to City Hall, which is connected to the East West Line and the North South Line. From there, it’s an 8 minute walk to the National Museum of Singapore (detailed on the map below).
Whenever I go to a new city, I love to visit its main museum. I’d definitely advise a visit to the fascinating and extraordinarily well laid out National Museum of Singapore, which tells the story of how Singapore became a country in its own right, endured invasions from British colonialism and the Japanese occupation of WW2 and rose triumphant – a country that can’t be broken!
There are all sorts of different types of displays, many interactive, and you can really get a sense of Singapore’s national pride by visiting it. It’s a great museum for people who don’t like museums, due to the range of different displays.
Take the MRT to the Botanic Gardens stop to access the parks. From City Hall, you’ll need to take two MRTs: the North South Line and then transfer to the Downtown Line at Newtown.
Most visitors do a loop of the park to take in all the sites. This map will give you an idea of the main attractions and how much walking is involved.
Singapore’s reputation as a ‘Garden City’ is why many people visit. After all, most cities in Asia could use a little more greenery! So make your next stop the Singaporean Botanical Gardens. These are definitely a must-visit in Singapore; they demonstrate gardens from all sorts of habitats including a natural jungle, which once covered the entire area of the city!
Highlights include the lakes, the National Orchid Garden (this is the only part of the Botanical Gardens that costs money at $5) and the Bukit Timah Core.
A whole day could easily be passed in the gardens, but if you only have 2 days in Singapore you will probably want to keep it to 2-3 hours.
The Downtown Line connects the Botanic Gardens MRT and Chinatown MRT (although it’s a long journey at 22 minutes).
Chinatown is a fun area to walk around in and learn about the country’s influence on Singapore. It’s not quite as compelling as Kampong Glam (the Malay/ Muslim area) and Little India, both of which we will cover on day two of this Singapore itinerary, but it’s still well worth a visit.
Chinatown Food Street
If you’re after Chinese food, where else is there to look? Serving many different types of Chinese food, some with Singaporean twists, the food street contains one of the best hawker centres in Singapore. If you’re veggie/ vegan you’ll be able to find dishes with tofu, veggies and rice, as well as some Indian specialties too.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
Named after the Buddha Tooth Relic that calls the temple home, this is a great spot to visit to learn some more about Buddhism. There are exhibits about the Buddhist way of life and a beautiful worship area – where you must dress appropriately (cover your knees and shoulders).
If you didn’t eat at on the Chinese food street, or fancy something different, vegetarian food is served in the basement of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum on a donation basis.
One of the oldest mosques in Singapore, the Masjid Jamae was constructed way back in 1826. There is a 45-minute free tour for visitors to the mosque to teach about its history, Islam, and to answer any questions.
Note: You’ll need to cover up when visiting mosques in Singapore out of respect, but generally robes and headscarves are provided free of charge.
Sri Mariamman Temple
This is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, harking back to 1827. Its main deity is the Sri Mariamman, who is famed for curing illnesses and disease. It is free to enter and explore the temple.
Marina Bay Sands & Gardens By The Bay
Take the Downtown Line from Chinatown MRT to Bayfront MRT and walk from there to the Gardens by the Bay area. You’ll walk past the iconic Marina Bay Sands on the way; if you have the money I’d recommend staying here to check out the famous infinity pool, but it’s out of most price ranges! It’s still pretty spectacular to admire from below.
The Gardens by the Bay are possibly the most iconic attraction in Singapore; a definite focal point to the city. If you time your visit to arrive got there just as dusk is falling, you’ll love wandering around gazing at the beautiful lights above. You can even ascend one of the Supertrees and enjoy the view from there.
Dinner: Suntec City (Saravana Bhavan)
You might be wondering why I’m sending you into a mall’s food court for dinner, but Saravana Bhavan serves quick, cheap and delicious Indian food and is great to grab a quick spot of dinner – that will generally come to under $5.
OR if you’re after something a bit fancier, try one of the many dining options inside Marina Bay Sands. Especially popular is Spago Dining Rooms by Wolfgang Puck.
The Singapore Flyer
If you just haven’t had quite enough on the first day of your 2 days in Singapore itinerary, why not take a trip in the Singapore Flyer? It’s located just over the water from the Gardens By the Bay and from the top you’ll be able to see a pretty unmissable view, with ‘a moving experience at every turn’, and can take in all of the city’s main attractions and more.
There’s even the chance to dine on the Singapore Flyer – definitely a once in a lifetime kind of experience!
Timbre @ The Substation
If you really don’t want the night to end, check out Timbre @ The Substation for some of Singapore’s best live music venues, popular with many locals!
Two Days in Singapore Itinerary Day Two
Kampong Glam is the Islamic area of Singapore. Home to a beautiful mosque and an informative visitors’ centre, as well as gorgeous architecture, it’s a great place to begin to learn about the diversity of Singapore. I’d recommend heading here from your accommodation on the first morning of your two days in Singapore.
You’ll want to first head to the Bugis MRT station, on either the East West Line or the Downtown Line.
Malay Heritage Centre
The Malay Heritage Centre tells the story of the Malay community of Singapore. Due to Singapore’s strong links to Malaysia, this is a history well worth learning about. It’s a good introduction to this area of the city and Singapore as a whole! It costs $6 for adult entrance and doors open at 10:00am (the compound opens at 8:00am).
The Sultan Mosque is one of the most beautiful – and probably the most famous – mosques in the city. Named after Sultan Hussein Shah, the original mosque was built in 1824. The mosque that stands today, however, was rebuilt in 1932. The exterior and interior are fascinating and well worth an explore. Guided tours are offered, and there are some displays with information about Islam and the Muslim community of Singapore.
Could this be Singapore’s hippest street? Haji Lane does seem like a bit of an oasis in a rather regulated city. There’s even legal street art here, as well as shops selling quirky vintage clothing and the chance to purchase a coffee with your selfie on the top.
Lunch: New Green Pasture Cafe
The New Green Pasture Cafe offers South East Asian inspired vegetarian food, including soups and rolls, and is just a short walk from Kampong Glam’s attractions.
Walkable from Kampong Glam is the district of Little India – possibly the most vibrant area of the city and definitely my favourite place in Singapore. I loved walking around the streets and absorbing the colourfulness of the streets!
Little India is just a 13 minute walk from Kampong Glam (or a 3 minute drive!) – but if you want to take the Metro, you can easily take the Downtown Line from Burgis to Little India MRT Station.
If you didn’t fancy lunch at the New Green Pasture Cafe, or anywhere else you have found en route, you’ll most likely find something to tickle your tastebuds at the Tekka Centre. Singapore is full of hawker centres, but this is Little India’s biggest – it’s home to stalls and stalls of delicious budget foods.
Dining at a hawker centre is a must-do experience while you’re in Singapore (and a great way to experience Singapore on a budget!) so here is a great opportunity!
House of Tan Teng Niah
Your next stop in Little India is the instagram-famous House of Tan Teng Niah. While this is firmly in Little India, Tan Teng was actually a Chinese businessman. It harks back to the history of Little India, when it was a Chinese industry hub. It’s a fascinating historic building, but the jazzy colours and decor make it the perfect photo opportunity as well.
Indian Heritage Centre
The Indian Heritage Centre is similar to the Malay Heritage Centre, but personally, I found it a tad more interesting. It was fascinating to learn about how exactly Indians had set up in Singapore, and how Singaporean culture has been and continues to be influenced by India today. It’s a definite must-visit to get to know this part of Singaporean heritage.
It also costs $6 for adult entrance and the exhibitions include photos, text information, artifacts, and a video.
The Mustafa Centre is an absolutely ginormous, 24-hour shopping mall that had humble beginnings as a pushcart. It sells pretty much everything under the sun, and even if you don’t want to purchase anything it’s worth a trip for the experience alone.
Note: if you are prone to shopping you may find that you buy erm.. a lot here, so maybe change the itinerary around a little if you reckon you’ll be walking out with 8 new jumpers, a set of Chinese porcelain and a new kitchen fridge…
Masjid Abdul Gaffoor
Masjid Abdul Gaffoor is one of my FAVOURITE buildings in Singapore. The surroundings have traditionally been the home of Tamil migrants; so the mosque was constructed for them as a place of worship. There is also a Bewanese population in the area who utilise the mosque.
It doesn’t look like a normal mosque – mainly because there is no dome – but there are still some Arabic features around the exterior. It’s an interesting blend of architectural styles that are great to admire from outside and it is open for visitors out of prayer times.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
It’s time to check out another of Singapore’s many religions! The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is an Indian Hindu place of worship. It’s one of the city’s oldest temples and quickly became a focal point for the Indian community.
Larger Hindu temples have chief deities – this one being Sri Veeramakaliamman – who was thought to be selected so to protect the community in their foreign land. It actually did physically protect many people during WW2, as it was a place of refuge for many Indians in Singapore.
Nowadays, it is free to enter and explore the temple at each guest’s own leisure.
Dinner: Genesis Restaurant
You *may* have noticed that all of the restaurants I recommend are vegan or at least vegetarian – that’s because I am vegan, so these are the ones that I know 😉 But seriously, Genesis is well worth the visit no matter what your dietary preference is.
It serves authentic Southern Indian food up on huge banana leaves at rock bottom prices. And it’s only a short walk from the temples, where you will have more than worked up an appetite for your food. Need I say more?
Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling
You can’t access the Raffles Hotel by MRT – either walk (it’s only just over 20 minutes), get a Grab Taxi or take the 960 bus from Little India MRT station to the Raffles Hotel bus stop.
Finish day number two in Singapore with an iconic experience – a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel. It’s not the cheapest thing you’ll do in Singapore by a long shot – but it’s one of those bucket experience that you just have to check off!
The Singapore Sling was created in colonial Singapore at the start of the 20th century, at the Raffles Hotel itself by request from an officer who wanted to impress a beautiful woman sitting at the bar. The barman mixed:
- Cherry Heering
- Dom Benedictine
- Sawawak Pineapple Juice
- Lime Juice
- Angostura Bitters
And garnished with pineapple and cherry, and to his delight, it became the national drink of Singapore. To the officer’s delight, he ended up marrying the woman at the bar. Now that’s a story to tell the grandkids!
Night Out on Clarke Quay
If you really don’t want to end your two days in Singapore, then extending it to a night out on Clarke Quay is always an option. It’s Singapore’s nightlife capital, with dozens of bars, pubs and clubs – many that open into the wee hours! Popular joints include Zouk (Singapore’s only super club), Trace Club, and the Chupitos Bar (which serves shots of all types and sizes).
Where to go from Singapore
Changi Airport flies to around 100 countries all over the globe, so you’ve got a lot of choice! Many travellers stop over in Singapore on their way from Asia or Europe to Australia; the airport also services destinations in the Americas and Africa.
Scoot is Singapore’s budget airline and it services Asian and Australian destinations. It offers a no-frills service and hasn’t got the best reputation, but I’ve used it twice (once from Singapore to Sydney and once to Hanoi) and have never had any problems.
But of course, this is an overland blog, so I’m going to encourage you to take the overland options! The only place to exit Singapore by land is Malaysia. You’re not far from its capital, Kuala Lumpur (check buses by clicking here) but the city of Malacca is many traveller’s first point of call(book transport from Singapore to Malacca here). From there you can journey upwards towards Thailand and eventually into Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Or you could enter Indonesia by taking a boat to Sumatra. I’ll be doing this later in 2019 so I’ll alert back!
The Perfect Singapore Itinerary
I hope that this Singapore itinerary has helped you work out some of the best things to do in Singapore in two days. It’s a fantastic city, with so much interesting culture and history – and it really doesn’t have to be as expensive as everyone thinks it is. After my next visit, I’ll be putting together a Singapore on a budget guide – so stay tuned for that!