In The Best of Singapore in a Day I included just a small selection of the photos I actually took, and visited a couple more places than I could fit into the one day itinerary, so here’s the best of the rest.
Many people drop into Singapore on a quick stopover leaving little time to see all the famous Singapore attractions, but never fear! This handy guide will show you how to see the best of Singapore in just one day. Even better than that – on a tight budget too!
1. Singapore Botanic Gardens [MRT – Botanic Gardens, yellow line] Free entry, SG$5 for National Orchid Garden, spend around 3 hours.
Singapore Botanic Gardens cover a vast area and serve more as a beautifully kept local park than a money-making tourist attraction. In fact, the only part you pay for if you wish to visit is the National Orchid Garden (around $4US) which I highly recommend. Around every corner there’s a different area being enjoyed by t’ai chi learners, yoga fans, mums with prams and even the occasional monkey which always gave me a surprise. There are also special gardens to enjoy for free such as the Fragrance Garden, the Medicinal Garden and the Ginger Garden.
2. Raffles Hotel [MRT – Esplanade, yellow line] No entry to riff-raff but you can admire from outside.
Next, hop on the yellow MRT line to Esplanade, where you’ll find the magnificent Raffles hotel. Named after Stamford Raffles the founder of Singapore, and known as the birthplace of the Singapore Sling, this hotel has become and icon and a must-see. There is a courtyard bar accessible to the public but if like me your budget won’t stretch to an over-priced cocktail you can just walk around and admire the architecture instead.
Time for lunch! You can find a good local or Thai meal for around SG$6 on Seah Street or Purvis Street adjacent to Raffles.
3. The Colonial District
Raffles is in the Colonial District of Singapore, but it’s not the only thing worth seeing. From there you can walk towards the Marina taking in all of the sights along the way. The first thing you’ll see is the Civil War Monument rising high from a small garden amongst busy roads.
Next is St Andrew’s Cathedral in pristine condition along with everything else in central Singapore. The huge, imposing Supreme Court is next door but under major renovations so I couldn’t take a photo.
Follow the main road to the end and bear left to curve around the Padang (large cricket field), and suddenly you’ll arrive at the marina.
4. Esplanade Theatres on the Bay and Marina Bay Sands Hotel
You can’t help but notice the Marina Bay Sands Hotel from anywhere near the marina, and think of it what you will, it makes for a pretty impressive photograph.
But so does the concert hall / theatres rising up from the bay. Other than the theatre, the rest of it is billed as a shopping mall but it felt like a bit of an empty disappointment to me. I did enjoy the roof garden though, which gives a 360 degree view of the skyline.
The Merlion stands proudly on the opposite side of the bay with its lion head and fish body; the national mascot of Singapore. The sheer volume of people vying for photo opportunities makes it quite tricky to get a clear shot but if you persevere your time will come!
6. The Temples of Chinatown
From the Merlion walk south to Raffles Place and then South West towards Chinatown, which is the cleanest, blandest, least Chinese-looking Chinatown I’ve ever visited to be honest. But in amongst the colonial architecture you’ll find three key temples to please the senses.
* Thian Hock Keng Temple *
Photography inside the main hall is prohibited so I rebelled by finding the outside more interesting anyway.
* Sri Mariamman Temple *
A famous Hindu temple where you can watch rituals and admire the colourful adornments to the building. They charge around SG$5 for use of a camera inside the building – don’t bother, the best views are from the outside.
* Buddha’s Tooth Relic Temple *
The sacred tooth of Buddha is supposedly kept here, though when I actually arrived I was so enthralled by the chanting ceremony happening inside that I forgot to look for the tooth, which scientists doubt as to its authenticity anyway.
7. Little India
If you’re not completely exhausted by now there’s still time to take in the sights, sounds and scents of Little India before having a curry in one of the food courts.
Take the MRT (purple line) from Chinatown 3 stops to Little India and explore the streets around this area. When you’re ready to eat stop at the Tekka Centre – one floor of this building is designated to food stands and a food market, with a whole array of Indian curries to feast on, Mutton Biryani being the favourite here for around SG$4.50.
And that’s the end of Singapore in a Day! Finish with a beer in a local bar or just collapse into bed.
Resources: MRT map Each MRT journey is between SG$1 and around SG$2.20, so this itinerary will cost around SG$8 for transport.