The epitome of a melting pot, the island nation brags a blend of culture, diverse multicultural cuisine, customs and traditions not seen elsewhere. A bridge between the East and the West for centuries, Singapore, located in the heart of fascinating Southeast Asia, continues to embrace tradition and modernity today.
I recommend you to read Singapore 101 page to familiarize yourself with the country, transport info, and other cultural things to note about Singapore.
Today we will be exploring ‘a small red dot’ sophisticated metropolitan country and/or city called Singapore! Singapore has been my 3rd home after Indonesia and Australia and in all honesty, I’m having the blast time-of-my-life here. Having lived in both Jakarta and Sydney, I do crave the fusion of Western x Asian culture blends and there is no better unique place other than Singapore, a dynamic city rich in contrast and colour where you’ll find a harmonious blend of culture, cuisine, arts and architecture.
Outbound and inbound flights, accommodation, souvenirs & personal expenses are not included.
Total damage to the Piggy Bank per person: SGD 170-200 (USD$120-150)
SGD20 (USD$14) National Museum entrance fees
SGD10 (USD$7) Lunch at typical hawker
SGD28 (USD$20) Cloud Forest + Flower dome entrance fees
SGD20 (USD$14) Dinner at restaurant
SGD10 (USD$7) Lunch at typical hawker
SGD50 (USD$35) Fancy dinner at Clarke Quay
SGD20 (USD$14) Various transport using MRT
48 HOURS ITINERARY IN A JIZZ!
0700-1200. Breakfast, National Museum
1300-1500. Gardens by the Bay
1500-1700. Cloud Forest & Flower Dome
1700-1900. Supertree Grove
1900-2400. Dinner, Marina Bay Sands
D A Y O N E
06.00-12.00 – Killiney, National Museum
My favourite breakfast of all time, you have to get the famous kaya butter toast accompanied by two runny eggs with local Kopi (coffee) at the oldest Kopitiam in Killiney Road. This branch remains one of the best value breakfast joint, in terms of taste, quality, and price. The kaya jam – a rich spread made from sugar, egg and coconut concoction with a light green colour from fragrant pandan leaves – is freshly produced in house daily by the shop owner. You can choose to dip your toast in the eggs, or have them with some ground pepper and soy sauce, all in the traditional style. The kopi is rather sweet, the beans are roasted using traditional Hainanese recipe, creating an alluring aroma and mesmerising and rich flavour.
I’ve always been a huge fan of museums trip, and in every travel opportunity I will squeeze in a few hours to explore more about the history and culture of the country. I encourage you to spend sometime at National Museum of Singapore, a beautiful white building with stained glass dome and spacious outer lawn not far from the city centre.
The permanent galleries comprises of Singapore History Gallery on Level 1, the Life in Singapore: The Past 100 Years galleries and the Goh Seng Choo Gallery on Level 2. These galleries present Singapore’s history and national collection in more immersive and innovative ways, and also showcase artefacts that have never been displayed before. Other levels will have the temporary exhibitions, at the time I went there was the “Treasures of the World” event, a collaboration event with British National museum where more than 200 infamous artefacts collected from six regions across four continents were brought in to Singapore for displays; it was definitely fascinating. You can check the official website of National Museum to check on current exhibitions and programmes running for the month you are visiting.
National Museum of Singapore
12.00-18.00 – Gardens by the Bay, Cloud Forest, Flower Dome
I’m a huuuuuge fan of nature. Despite being a tiny country with dense high-rise buildings, I’m proud that the government is still mindful to invest on some greeneries for its people. Gardens by the Bay was officially opened to the public in 2012. The attraction consists of three distinctive waterfront gardens – Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. You can basically spend half a day exploring different precincts, note if you are exploring outside I truly recommend you wear hats, sunblock, and sunnies as the heat can get really extreme at times.
The Cloud Forest is an amazing masterpiece of architecture located within Gardens by the Bay precinct. It is a man-made replication of a forest full of diverse vegetation and floral beds. Upon the entrance to the glass conservatory, you would be enticed with one of the world’s tallest indoor waterfall that rains down from over 35metres above. There are scheduled ‘mist-hours’ at 10.00am, 12.00pm, 2.00pm, 4.00pm, 6.00pm, 8.00pm daily whereby the mist would be dispersed to keep the lush plants moist. A gush of moist air greeted us, and I cannot help to admire the view, the smell, and the sound of rushing water as we got a little drenched in the water sprinkled by the waterfall. It is an incredibly refreshing, cooling, and peaceful feeling to be surrounded by nature.
The area has 7 levels to be explored, the recommended route is to take the elevator to the mountaintop where you will find The Lost World, the highest point above 2000m sea level. The section showcases carnivorous plants such as pitcher plants against a carpet of delicate ferns and moss. Descend through the Cloud Walk and Tree Top Walk via the spiraling walkways accompanied by the majestic Marina Bay backdrop. I think winding down the spiral path was quite a therapeutic experience, to be able to blend so close with nature and inhale the fresh chilly air.
Keep on descending as you come across Crystal Mountain Cave area, displaying many interesting shapes of stalactites and stalagmites. You can then learn more about geology, how the continents formed, the age of earth, and the importance of fossils in understanding our planet’s past.
Finally, end your journey by strolling at the Secret Garden located at the foot of the mountain. It is a gentle walk through a narrow gorge where visitors can get close to variety of plants that belong to families that are once abundant on Earth, yet are becoming increasingly rare today.
After you finish the tour in Cloud Forest, upon exiting, you will see the entrance to Flower Dome on the right hand side. This bio-dome is about as big as 75 Olympic swimming pools and features plants from the South America, South Africa, Mediterranean, Australian, and variety display of succulents. The permanent exhibits are complemented by changing displays in the Flower Field to reflect different seasons and festivals.
At the time I was visiting, the Tulipmania exhibits was on; it traces the roots of the alluring tulip and rediscovers its origins in Central Asia and the ancient Ottoman Empire.
Trademark to Gardens by the Bay is the tall Avatar-like Supertree Grove.. and as the night was starting to set you can chill and watch the Supertrees light up. It was mesmerising, watching the colour slowly work it’s way up the trunk. You can walk over to the main garden and join the people sitting around on the stone benches or purchase tickets to OCBC Skywalk to experience the scene from above!
18.00-24.00 – Marina Bay Sands
After enjoying the cosmic lights at SuperTree, you can take a brisk loop from Marina Bay Sands Hotel passage then turn left circling One Fullerton Hotel, the floating platform, Helix bridge, before your final stop to explore Marina Bay Sands shopping mall which features middle to upper brands. If you’re desperately running out of things to do, there is a man-made Gondola ride inside the shopping mall which mimic the Venice experience, I don’t suggest you go on it as it is quite lame… PS: if you decide to make a visit to One Fullerton, refresh your energy by tasting Singapore signature cocktail ‘Singapore Sling’ at its original birth place.
If you feel something fancy and late drinks, you can head to Ku De Ta inside Marina Bay Sands Hotel (fantastic view of city skyline from the upper deck) or Monti near Fullerton Bay with Marina Bay Sands Hotel as the backdrop.
D A Y T W O
06.00-12.00 – Macritchie Reservoir Trekking
Release your inner adventure by taking an off-the-beaten path to MacRitchie Reservoir. The trek passage that I normally undertake is through the forest going up to the Tree Top walk. The entrance is via Mushroom cafe (yes – I can’t believe they use ‘mushroom’ as a naming convention!); then turn right bypassing the lake area where the kayakers are. Ascend up through the forest, the distance is around 4km (approximately 1.5 hours brisk walk) before you reach Tree Top walk.
The Tree Top walk is famous for its bird’s eye panoramic view of nature reserve towering above the Central Catchment area. You walk through the 1-metre all metal semi-suspension bridge which sits roughly 25 metres above the forest floor, which just barely clears the canopies of the thick primary forest. Be wary of monkeys, they
can get are really vicious. So DO NOT bring any edibles with strong fragrant, yes I’ve seen LIVE some monkeys just ran through ransack of tourists’ backpacks and they are scared shitless. (excuse my language). Like literally. Despite the scary experience, you are rewarded with a refreshing view of nature, something that Singapore unusually offer other than skyscrapers.
Exiting the TreeTop walk for another 1km on the wooden boardwalk, you have the option to turn left, which brings you back to the original route – or you can take a right which takes you to the golf course, Jelutong Tower, and the boardwalk to view the reservoir. My recommendation: if the weather is too hot or when it rains, I suggest to take the original route as you will be mostly covered inside the jungle.
12.00-18.00 – Chinatown
Tantalise your tastebud with the recently renovated hawker centre Chinatown Food centre. You can find endless stalls that serve one of most authentic local dishes such as char kway teow (rice noodle), duck rice, steamboat, carrot cake, bak chor mee (minced pork handmade noodles), Indian curries, and any other scrumptious dishes that represent Singapore.
Post your mouth-watering lunch, walk past beautifully conserved shophouses and trace the lives of early Chinese immigrants to discover the world’s most multi-racial Chinatown. Venture into quaint Chinese trades stores, including stalls specialising in traditional Chinese Remedies.
Still within Chinatown complex lies Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple, is a typical Hindu temple that centres itself with variety of Hindu activities and the registry of Hindu marriages. Built in 1827, with an ornate tower called a gopuram, the Hindu temple is dedicated to Sri Mariannan, the great Mother goddess of health and prosperity. The architecture is hard to miss with sculptures of deities, mythological beasts and other beings towering over me. You will be charged a small amount of fees to capture shots of the temple’s interior.
Sri Mariamman Temple
One can’t help but notice this massive, traditionally designed Chinese temple called ‘Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum‘ looming over the southern end of the shopping district. This 5-story structure is easily one of Singapore’s most intriguing and elaborate temples. Every floor is decked out with thousands of glowing lanterns, Buddhist images, gilded decor, elaborate statues and other religious accouterments.
Two entire floors are dedicated to the temple’s museum, which has an impressive collection of Buddhist statues from all the Asian Buddhist nations including Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Sri Lanka and India. It was said that Buddha’s tooth were stored here (believed to be on the 4th floor). The top, fifth, floor is a rooftop garden bursting with gorgeous colorful orchids. In the center of the roof, housed in its own room, rests the world’s largest cloisonne prayer wheel, Tibetan style.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
18.00-24.00 – Boat Quay, Clarke Quay
After an action-packed day, you can stroll nicely from Chinatown to Boat Quay, an expat area filled with waterfront restaurants, bars, coffee shops. If you still have energy left, let your hair loose at a bar or club at Clarke Quay. Abuzz with activity, you’ll find a slew of live music, bars, clubs, and restaurants that cater all age groups willing to sacrifice the night for fun and enthralling moments. Just don’t forget you have a plane to catch afterwards…!
WHAT TO EAT?
There would be a separate section on this as Singapore is truly a foodie heaven. So watch this space as I will be reviewing all the must-eat food and places within Singapore.
WHERE TO STAY?
You may opt for Airbnb, budget hotel, and/or hostel. Singapore is a modern, well-established, and absolutely safe areas, so you will definitely have lots of options depending on your budget.