The Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble means that the Lion City is preparing to reopen to Hong Kong travellers (click here for updates on the 2021 launch). If you’re eager to take advantage of flying again, our itinerary for Singapore highlights how much there is to enjoy, whether you’re packing these recommendations into three days or a full week or more.
Remember to book ahead for popular restaurants and attractions – and that offerings may change to reflect COVID-19 measures. Singapore bars are currently required to close at 11pm, with no alcohol consumption after 10.30pm.
Day 1: Get a Taste of Art and Nature
1pm: Welcome to the Lion City
Wheels down in Singapore. You can take the MRT subway to the city centre with a single change, or hop in a taxi – the 30-minute ride costs around HK$170 (S$30). Check in to your hotel, drop off your bags and get ready for an afternoon of museum- and nature-hopping.
3pm: Brush Up on South East Asian Art
Head straight to the National Gallery Singapore – the largest art museum in the city. This impressive colonial-era building houses an equally impressive collection of classic and modern South East Asian art. Don’t miss the Siapa Nama Kamu? exhibition – an introduction to Singapore via art spanning the last 200 years.
4.30pm: Say Hello to the Future
6pm: Refuel With Noodles
You’ll be hungry after that intensely arty afternoon. Do Rae Mee at Makansutra Gluttons Bay is the best place nearby to grab a quick plate of Hokkien mee (fried noodles). Afterwards, swing by the Merlion to snap a quick photo of this symbol of Singapore: frame it so that the equally iconic Marina Bay Sands sits in the background.
7pm: Have a Flower Power Evening
There’s no better place to walk off those noodles than the Gardens by the Bay, a futuristic nature park with three waterfront gardens. Attractions include the Flower Dome – the world’s largest glass greenhouse – and the enormous 50-metre-high Supertrees, which glow at night in neon hues.
8.30pm: Check Out the Cocktail Classics
Round out the day with a nightcap at Jigger & Pony, which currently tops the list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars. This sophisticated space celebrates the cocktail classics – with a modern twist. Head bartender Giovanni Graziadei collects concoctions from around the world – like the tiki-style Jungle Bird (rum, Campari, lemongrass, clarified apple juice and lime), first created as a welcome drink at the Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur in 1973.
Day 2: Hit the Multicultural Hipster Trail
10am: Have a Breakfast of Champions
Start the day with a traditional kopitiam breakfast – kopi being the Malay term for coffee and tiam the Hokkien word for shop – where you’ll find classic Singaporean breakfast staples such as egg, toast, kaya (coconut jam), Horlicks and Milo. Tong Ah Eating House, located in a traditional shophouse on Keong Saik road, has been drawing a bustling breakfast crowd since 1939.
10.30am: Explore Chinatown
After eating your fill of crispy kaya toast, spend some time exploring Chinatown’s Keong Saik Road. The street was once part of the red-light district, but cleaned up its act in the 90s with a wave of cool eateries, cute boutiques and modern establishments moving into the colourful shophouses.
12pm: Tuck into a Meat Feast
Next stop on our itinerary for Singapore: treat yourself to lunch at Burnt Ends. The modern barbecue and grill features an open-kitchen, gorgeous rustic interiors – and serious hunks of perfectly charred meat alongside elegant sides and lighter bites.
1.30pm: Take a Trip to Little India
After lunch, it’s time to treat your other senses with a visit to the vibrant cultural pocket of Little India. You can’t miss the elaborately decorated Sri Veeramakaliamman temple, while the 24-hour Mustafa Centre offers bargains for everything from electronics to designer goods. Take a deeper dive into the area’s history at the Indian Heritage Centre.
3.30pm: Meander Through the Muslim Quarter
To explore yet another distinctive cultural pocket, head to the Kampong Glam Muslim quarter. Wander down Haji Lane and Arab Street to find handcrafted Persian rugs and fragrant Arabic teas, or admire the grand Masjid Sultan mosque on Muscat Street. The area is also a creative hub, with modern galleries, chic cafes and fashion boutiques. Make time for the Gelam Gallery, a strip of shophouse back walls turned into an outdoor street art gallery.
5pm: Hang Out in Hipsterville
Continue your shopping spree in the hip Tiong Bahru neighbourhood, packed with trendy cafes, vinyl shops, independent book stores and boutique art galleries. It’s the perfect place to find quirky souvenirs and one-of-a-kind keepsakes. Head to Degiosart Gallery to browse antique furniture and artworks, or sister fashion store DGA Threads for cool vintage outfits.
6.30pm: Dine in a Hawkers’ Paradise
No itinerary for Singapore would be complete without a meal at a hawker centre – and the nearby Tiong Bahru Market is one of the best. This lively food court boasts numerous stalls serving up all the classics, from char kway teow noodles to Hainanese chicken rice and chwee kueh (steamed rice cake).
8pm: Knock Back Local Craft Cocktails
End your day with a cocktail (or two) at Native on Amoy Street. It’s famed for its dedicated approach to locally foraged ingredients and flavours. Try the zesty gin-based Chasing The Dragon, blended with Thai basil from the bar’s rooftop garden, dragonfruit kombucha and fragrant calamansi.
Day 3: Indulge in Retail Therapy and Fine Dining
9am: Have a Leisurely Start
Stroll over to Dempsey Hill for a light breakfast and your morning caffeine fix at SPRMRKT. Housed in a converted army barracks, this all-day dining venue offers a range of smoothie and grain bowls as well as heartier plates of breakfast and brunch staples.
10:30am: Get Some Retail Therapy
Now make your way to Orchard Road, Singapore’s answer to Canton Road. This buzzing strip is lined with high-end shops, malls, hotels and restaurants. Weave your way down the main drag and do a little window – or real – shopping along the way, from Tangs (the city’s oldest retailer) to Paragon, a shopping complex stuffed with big brands and concept stores alike.
12pm: Go Crabbing
After a light breakfast and a heavy dose of retail therapy, you’re likely to have worked up an appetite. Luckily, there’s no need to detour. Orchard Road is home to one of the city’s most popular chilli crab restaurants: JUMBO Seafood, housed within the ION Orchard shopping centre. Order a plate and tuck in – fingers are recommended.
2pm: See the Architecture that’s Making Waves
With your appetite well and truly satisfied, fight the afternoon slump with a stroll along Henderson Waves in the south of the city – an undulating 274-metre bridge within the Southern Ridges park complex. There’s an entire afternoon’s worth of exploring here, but if you start at Telok Blangah and make your way east towards Mount Faber, you’ll be able to whittle this down to a leisurely two-hour stroll.
4.30pm: Get a Caffeine Boost
Make a pit stop at old-school kopi (coffee) joint Heap Seng Leong. A regular kopi will come black with a splash of condensed milk: a sweet, sugary treat to perk you up before dinner. Order your coffee peng (iced) for a heat-beating pick-me-up.
6.30pm: Dine on a Michelin Meal
Make your way to Dempsey Hill and find yourself a table at the world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant, Candlenut. Chinese, Malay and Indonesian heritage combine in this unique cuisine, with chef Malcolm Lee plating contemporary approaches to traditional dishes using locally sourced produce, including banana flowers and winged beans.
8.30pm: Have a 1920s Nightcap
The perfect itinerary for Singapore has to end on a high note, so head to Atlas for a nightcap worthy of Jay Gatsby. The art-deco-inspired bar harks back to the heyday of jazz, its opulent decor mirroring the classic cocktails on offer. You’ll feel like the toast of the town as you clink your glasses to three days well spent.