Singapore: a country made famous to the western world due to the success of a Hollywood film. Yep, you know the one – “Crazy, Rich, Asians.” Admittedly most of what I knew about Singapore (previous to traveling there) I learned from that film, but it has been a popular country for tourism within Asia for quite a while. I was excited to see the glam of this “country-of-millionaires,” but the problem was: I had just two days to visit. So, this is my Singapore layover itinerary! Get ready, because it’s jammed packed.
Singapore Itinerary for 2 Day Layover
For the record, two days is not enough time to see any city, let alone an entire country. If you really want to see all that Singapore has to offer, I suggest staying for an entire week. For the purpose of this short layover itinerary, we are staying in the city, and focusing on the top attractions. Whether you have two days or a week, you can build off of this itinerary to hit all of the top attractions.
Where to Stay
Like Dubai, Singapore is a sprawling city. We stayed in Chinatown, which was affordable and walkable to several sights. If I had the money, I would totally splurge on a night at the famous Marina Bay Sands to get the full Singapore experience, including the rooftop infinity pool.
Budget Saving Activities
You’ll see from the list below that I’m suggesting mostly cheap or free activities. This is primarily because I was on a tight budget for my trip, but also because I think it’s important to showcase that you CAN visit Singapore without being “crazy rich.”
Day 1 – Singapore Itinerary
Marina Bay Sands Hotel
After settling into our hotel, the first thing we did was walk over to the Marina Bay district. This area is by far the most visited area of Singapore for tourists, and it’s easy to see why. First, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel smacks you right in the face as you approach the Gardens of the Bay. We took a few photos from underneath the architectural giant and then walked over to the gardens.
Gardens by the Bay
You can easily spend all day at the Gardens by the Bay, but be sure to stay until at least 8 pm to see everything illuminated at night.
There are several indoor and outdoor gardens to explore at the Gardens by the bay. My favorite was the Cloudforest, which featured an enormous indoor waterfall! After gaping at that, we quickly walked through the Flower Dome, which wasn’t as impressive as the Miracle Garden in Dubai, but still charming.
Be sure to stick around for the Garden Rhapsody show, in the Supertree Grove nightly, at 7:45 and 8:45 pm. My husband and I laid on the sidewalk, watching as the alien-like trees lit up and pulsed to pop music. It was better than I had imagined and impossible to describe. You just have to see it!
I suggest watching from underneath the trees – for free – but you can also pay extra to view the show from the skyway bridge. If you’re hoping to do this, be sure to get in line early as they only allow a certain amount of people on the bridge at one time.
Dinner & Live Music at Haji Lane
After the Garden Rhapsody show, we were ready for dinner. We hopped in a taxi/Uber and made our way to Haji Lane. Singapore is a cultural melting pot, and that becomes very apparent when you enter Haji lane. The narrow alley features dozens of restaurants and bars, all with live music. It’s a blast!
Day 2 – Singapore Itinerary
Singapore’s Chinatown features several notable tourist sights and mouth-watering restaurants, but I was most impressed by the variation of religions represented in the area. Within a few blocks, I saw a Hindu temple, Islamic Mosque, Toaist temple, and a Buddhist temple, each more beautiful than the last. Is Singapore truly a place where cultures can co-exist?!
Buddha’s Tooth Relic Temple
Speaking of religious temples, be sure to take a tour of Buddha’s Tooth Relic Temple while exploring Chinatown. It’s free and worth a look; you might even catch a ceremony.
Lunch at Maxwell Hawker Center
Ready to try something so uniquely Singapore that it’s the first activity they showcase in the film Crazy Rich Asians? Eat at a Hawker stall for lunch! These “hawker centers” are essentially food courts scattered around the city. But the most amazing part about these cheap-eats is that several stands have actually received a Michelin-star!
I tried the most popular stall at the Maxwell Hawker Center – Tian Tian chicken and rice, famous for its Michelin-star signature dish that even Anthony Bourdain raved about. I waited in a 15-minute line, which was short compared to normal wait times I’m told. I’ll be honest, even if it’s an unpopular opinion, I wasn’t impressed with the chicken. But I loved the experience! We ordered from several other stands as well, including a tiny taproom with local beers.
Or Lunch at Chinatown Food Street
With only two days to explore, you’ll have to make some hard decisions when it comes to food! We were able to dip our toes in both a hawker center and Chinatown’s famous food street simply because we were staying nearby, but either one is a fun experience with award-winning food options.
Although, I prefer the night markets in Taiwan to either of these foodie experiences
Chinatown Street Art
The last Chinatown activity that I’ll recommend is simply to walk around and enjoy the fantastic street art. I grabbed a durian milk tea (durian is local favorite fruit) from a vendor for my walk, and oh boy did I regret it! Apparently not everything transfers over to my western pallet. Yuck! How can they love this fruit; it smells like farts! But to each their own.
Sunset at Marina Bay Sands Rooftop
Yes, I’m telling you to go back to Marina Bay Sands hotel, but this time you need to go up to the roof. It’s one of the best views of the city! You can either pay to just go to the observation deck or you can buy a drink ticket and take the elevator to the rooftop bar. I suggest doing to the later, as you get the same view but with a cocktail in your hand. Feel free to order some appetizers as well, if you don’t mind spending twice the amount you would at ground level.
Note: you cannot use the infinity pool or even access that area unless you are a hotel guest.
Watch the Fountain Light Show
After watching to sunset, head down and across the street to the event plaza. Nightly at 8, 9, and 10 pm the water lights up for Spectra, an impressive fountain show. Grab dinner at one of the more expensive restaurants surrounding the plaza, or head back to Haji Lane for some cheap eats and live music.
Last But Not Least: Make Time for the Airport!
It’s been two full days on this Singapore itinerary and it’s time to fly out, but there’s one last activity: the airport! Yep, I’m serious. The airport in Singapore is enormous, award-winning, and features a shopping mall, dozens of restaurants, and a jaw-dropping waterfall that seems to falls from the heavens. I suggest arriving a few hours before your flight to take it all in.
I was in Singapore 3 years ago, such a fantastic place where the traditional and futuristic are hand by hand 🙂 you’ve been in so many places, so cool 🙂 have a great year and cheers from Portugal, PedroL