The Best Singapore Itinerary for First-Time Visitors
I'm so happy to be sharing this Singapore itinerary with you today. Singapore is a place I keep on returning to. Mostly it's out of convenience as whenever we fly to Southeast Asia or on to Australia, we like to fly with Singapore Airlines, but also because it's just a really great place to visit. I've already shared the many great things to do in Singapore with young kids, but maybe it's time I share with you just how much there is to do in Singapore for first-time visitors of any age. That is what this post is going to do.
We're very lucky that Delilah from Our Travel Mix is the guest author writing this Singapore itinerary as Delilah is not only half-Singaporean but hailing from New Zealand she too has made many many trips to Singapore so she knows this small but busy country very, very well. We decided together to build a 3-day Singapore itinerary as that's arguably just the right amount of time to really get to know Singapore well and get your bearings, but it's also possible to do most of these things if you're here for a shorter or much longer time as you can pick and choose what to do, or take a bit more time instead of rushing through this Singapore itinerary. As you plan your trip to Singapore, you may also want to know the best places to stay in Singapore.
Now, over to you Delilah!
DISCLOSURE:This post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission off any purchases made but they don't cost you anything extra, and often I do a lot of research to find you the best possible deal in the link - yay!
3-Day Singapore Itinerary for First-Time Visitors
Most people view Singapore as a stopover destination, but it is so much more. Singapore is quickly becoming a hub for food, shopping and culture. With so much to do and see, it can be hard to plan a really good Singapore itinerary that covers the key things for just a short stay. However, having travelled to Singapore five times, I’ve got Singapore itinerary planning down to a fine art so I'm really happy to share with you the best things to do in Singapore in three days (or shorter!) no matter where you stay in Singapore.
Read on for my three-day Singapore itinerary that will suit every type of traveller - families, couples, solo travellers, budget travellers and also those wanting a bit of luxury.
Day 1 in Singapore: Clarke Quay and Marina Bay
This first of your three days in Singapore will help you get your bearings a bit and find out more about Singapore's history, culture and food! You're not travelling far in terms of miles today but you will be seeing and doing a lot so stand by for a brilliant first day in Singapore.
Breakfast at a Singapore Hawker Centre
(Photo by CK Travels)
Singapore is famous for its hawker centres, so where better to start your day off than at one for a taste of the many cuisines the country is famous for as it's without a doubt the best place to get a taste of Singapore. These open-air food courts can be found everywhere, usually at the bottom of an apartment complex or in the centre of a town. Food is incredibly inexpensive - you can get a full dish for $2! - and always delicious and a very authentic experience with dishes from most corners of Asia widely available.
If you would like a recommendation of a Singaporean dish that many locals eat for breakfast, try some roti prata. This flaky, buttery flatbread is paired with curry and is to die for. During my last trip, I ate roti every day and did not get sick of it! Other great dishes to try include Hainanese chicken rice, wantan mee, char kuay teow and laksa to name a few.
If you can’t find a hawker centre near to your accommodation, I’d recommend Newton Food Centre and Lorong 8 Toa Payoh Food Centre. Singapore even has some Michelin Star hawker centres, one of which you can explore and taste on a guided tour.
Asian Civilisations Museum or National Gallery
Once your belly is full, you are ready to find out more about the unique country that is Singapore. There are a number of great place to immerse yourself in Singapore’s culture but my favourites are the Asian Civilisations Museum or the National Gallery. If you have time, you can also easily do both as they are quite close together!
The Asian Civilisations Museum, as its name suggests, explores Asian civilisations, culture and heritage, with a focus on the rich multi-cultural history of Singapore. If this interests you, you should also consider the Peranakan Museum at the foot of Fort Canning Park.
The National Gallery showcases art at its finest and in doing so tells many stories of Singapore and the region's history. There is a lot to see here; in fact, the gallery is the largest public display of modern, Southeast Asian art.
To get to either of these locations, take the MRT to Clarke Quay or Raffles Place, and it’s a short walk to both places from there. The Singapore Tourist Pass might be worth your while during a short stay in Singapore.
To explore the area more, you could also do a guided walking tour.
Wander around Clarke Quay
Clarke Quay is known for its waterside eateries and nightlife so why not head down to Clarke or Boat Quays for some lunch. Find a spot by the water and you can enjoy your food as you watch the boats pass by on the riverfront. It's worth knowing that meals and drinks here aren’t cheap, but look out for the many restaurants with happy hour around midday and mid-afternoon to take advantage of some deals. Before you leave, visit Merlion Park and snap a pic with the iconic Merlion Statue.
Following this, to give your legs a little rest, why not take a boat tour down to Singapore River. These charming, old-style boats stop along both Clarke and Boat Quays and you can also take a tour down to Marina Bay area to be in the right place start the afternoon of your day one Singapore itinerary.
Visit the Art Science Museum
By mid-afternoon, it's possible that the heat and humidity might be getting to you. This is a great time to visit the Art Science Museum (and enjoy the air conditioning inside!).
A magnificent building inside and out, the Art Science Museum perfectly combines interactive art exhibits of lights and colours with exhibits on science and technology. The building is an iconic part of the Singapore skyline featuring a lotus-inspired design and the museum is great for all ages so is definitely a must-see in Singapore.
The Singapore Flyer is also nearby if you’re up for an epic Ferris wheel ride offering you great views of the bustling urban sprawl of Singapore.
A Late Afternoon Stroll around Gardens by the Bay
Now that you've cooled down a little, it's time to escape the inside of a building and surround yourself with nature in the lush greenery and colourful, metal trees which combine to create Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. The whole park is filled with water features, statues and every type of tropical foliage you could hope for. Make your visit easier by buying your ticket in advance so you can avoid the queues at the ticket booth. This also gets you an eticket so you don't need to worry about printing anything out.
In my opinion, Cloud Forest steals the show as this greenhouse features a huge indoor waterfall. Start at the top of the waterfall and work your way down to enjoy it all. I would also recommend visiting the Flower Dome, which is completely filled with colour. It’s fair to skip this one if you’re running out of time for the sunset.
All being well, you’ll have ended up at Gardens by the Bay by the late afternoon/early evening. This is the perfect time to go. After checking out the structures, take the OCBC Skyway over sunset. Lines can get long, so give yourself time so you don’t miss it. This isn’t for the faint-hearted - the skyway is over 20 metres above ground.
Be sure to finish your exploring by 8 o'clock and get comfy on the grassy patches underneath the Supertrees as the light show is about to start. It is spectacular, to say the least, I was completely blown away with their creativity and musicality.
Spend the Evening at Marina Bay Sands
End the day with a bit of luxury. Not many will be able to afford to stay at the hotel, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit. Stop by the huge food court and grab some dinner and look around the designer shops. (If you are interested in staying at Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Frankie reviews it in this list of best hotels in Singapore.)
Then, head up to the observation deck. There is a charge for the observation deck, but if you aren’t picky with getting the view from the highest point, bypass the charge by going straight to the bar. A drink at Marina Bay Sands is a great way to end your first day in Singapore.
Day 2 in Singapore: Bugis, Little India, Chinatown, and Orchard Road
Day two of this Singapore itinerary calls for some shopping! Singapore has a huge range of things to buy that suit from budget through to luxury prices ranges so stand by for some insider shopping tips as well as recommendations of some really fun and different neighbourhoods to explore.
Eat More Hawker Centre Food at Bugis Junction
Start the day in Bugis. Have breakfast at Albert Hawker Centre. Try out their nasi lemak, mee goreng and bakery foods. For a more up-market scene, eat at Food Junction, a large food court in Bugis Junction shopping centre.
Once you’ve fueled up, it’s time to shop! Bugis St is filled with markets. Weave your way through stalls filled with all the clothing, accessories and souvenirs you could ever want! Bugis+ and Bugis Junction shopping centres are within a few minutes’ walk as well.
Do a Little Shopping on Arab St and Haji Lane
From there, it’s a short walk to Arab St. This is a cultural hub for the Islamic community and a great place to go for shopping and grabbing some lunch.
Head over to Haji Lane next. This is the perfect spot for your Instagram fix. Colourful buildings line this walking street. Check out the boutique shops here. Since Haji Lane is a popular tourist destination, you’ll find the prices to be quite inflated. Regardless, Haji Lane is a must-see.
Before you leave the area, head over to Masjid Sultan at Muscat St. This grand mosque is adorned with gold accents.
Visit Singapore's World Famous Chinatown
Next up, Chinatown. No trip to Singapore is complete without it! Chinatown is the best place to find souvenirs and little trinkets. If you’re feeling peckish, the Maxwell Food Centre is one of the most popular food courts in Singapore. I highly recommend you try the Hainanese rice, pork buns and dumplings there, if you do go.
Be sure to visit the temples. Sri Mariamman Temple is a Hindu temple in the heart of Chinatown. The detail of both the interior and exterior is exquisite, and the colours are such a sight. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is another must-see. Being a five-story temple, you know it’s going to be grand. You can enjoy browsing the historic artifacts and admiring the striking looking architecture.
If you want to get to know more about Chinatown and its history, there are some great walking tours of the area available.
Wander along Orchard Road and in Little India
Spend the late afternoon shopping at Orchard Road. This is the city centre and main shopping district. Many of the hotels are located in or around here, so it’ll likely be a short walk away. The street is chock-a-block of high-rise shopping centres like Ion Paragon and Takashimaya to name a few. You won’t be short of luxury brands at Orchard Road if you have the budget to spend on them, or if you enjoy very upmarket window shopping!.
But don’t worry bargain hunters, I’ve got you covered. Lucky Plaza is a great place for budget shoppers so head there to snap up a baragin or two!
You’ll likely have worked up a big appetite shopping so be sure to do a little research into the many restaurants, bars and eateries you can find on Orchard Road. If you’re a fan of barbequed seafood and meats, pay a visit to Newton Food Centre. If you’re not already shopped out, stop by Little India. It’s a great place for tailored clothing and jewellery. Dine at the bustling hawker centre, Tekka Centre, or choose one of the many colourful and delicious Indian restaurants. To find out more about Little India, you could also do a private guided walking tour.
Day 3 in Singapore: Sentosa Island and The Night Safari
It's time to change the pace of your visit to Singapore and also escape the cityscape. But this doesn't mean you're going to be lacking in things to do... in fact, we're about to share more things to do than you can squeeze into this your last day in Singapore.
Spend the Day on Sentosa Island
And you're on your last day of your three days in Singapore, which means it's time for something a bit different. Most of this Singapore itinerary has kept you in the most central part of the city, but now we're going to head away from the urban sprawl and seek out some fun, no matter what age you are as you're going to Sentosa Island just off the coast of Singapore.
To get to Sentosa using public transport, you can take the MRT to Harbourfront and for a more unique experience, you could take the cable car from Mt Faber to enjoy some fantastic views. Either way, the journey will take you around ten minutes (and you'll make it even quicker if you buy your e-ticket for the cable car in advance). With the number of activities available at Sentosa, it’s quite tricky picking what you should do, but this actually means you'll find something for everyone and it also means you can easily spend a full day here. Below I give you some of my favourite things to do on Sentosa Island.
If the last two days of your Singapore itinerary have left you a little tired, then spend some time relaxing on the beach ad sip on a cocktail at a beachfront bar. One thing I highly recommend is to take the monorail to the furthest beach on the island, Tanjong as this beach is by far the least busy of the three.
Adventure junkies are spoilt for choice on what to do to get their adrenaline rush of the day; ride the luge, bungee jump, zipline or fly through a wind tunnel.
And if you fall somewhere in the middle, you may want to try visiting Universal Studios, Madame Tussauds or the S.E.A. Aquarium to keep you entertained. This ticket gets you day access to S.E.A. Aquarium and includes a free pick-up from your hotel to.
TOP TIP: Be sure to check GetYourGuide for advance ticket sales for any Singapore attraction as this will save you time on the day, and possibly money too as there are a number of deals on there.
After you head back to the mainland, check out Vivo City shopping centre attached to the Harbourfront station. Here you can do some more shopping - I hope your bag is big enough! - and you can also grab a bite to eat.
Brave the TreeTop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir
On the way to the special Night Safari in northern Singapore, stop off at MacRitchie Reservoir for the trail or the TreeTop Walk. Those afraid of heights should definitely choose the former. Look out for wildlife and marine life along the way and appreciate the contrast from the hustle and bustle of the city. Stop at the cafe for a chilled lime juice, iced Milo (chocolate milk!) or sugar cane juice - all great, refreshing choices that are popular with the locals in Singapore.
The TreeTop Walk features a suspension bridge over a rainforest canopy and is not for the faint-hearted as the whole bridge spans a tremendous 250m long! Time your visit in the late afternoon to catch golden hour so you can experience the views at their very best.
Go on a Night Safari
The zoo in Singapore is great, but the night safari is one-of-a-kind. A great job to Singapore for being the first country to come up with this concept and having a nocturnal zoo. The highlights are definitely the tram tour and the Creatures of the Night show. You can combine your Night Safari visit with a day visit with this ticket just so you don't feel like you miss out on anything because it's dark! Alternatively, get your ticket just for the Night Safari here to save yourself some time on the day.
If you’ve got more than three days in Singapore, I’d recommend you also check out Singapore Zoo by day or going to Jurong Bird Park.
So there you are! Three jam-packed days in Singapore. It’s very full-on, I know, but there’s just so much to see and do I wanted to make this Singapore Itinerary really comprehensive. You can of course pick and choose what you do or don't want to do depending on how long your visit to Singapore is. Either way I hope you enjoy these tips and recommendations on your next trip to Singapore!
About the Author
Delilah is a writer and traveller from New Zealand. She’s working her way around the world, but her favourite place is still Queenstown in her home country. You can follow her adventures at her blog, Our Travel Mix, or on Instagram & Pinterest.
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Frances M. Thompson
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