• Andy Caley

Ultimate 48-hour stopover in Singapore


Due to Singapore’s rise in popularity and modern transport system it is an ideal location for a short stop over whilst on your way to another destination. To get the most out of your stop over make sure that the location of your accommodation has easy access to transport links to save you time and money on expensive cab rides. Most hotels within the city centre will be a couple of blocks from an MRT and bus station but it’s worth checking before you book. The majority of visitors will be arriving through Changi airport to the east of the city centre, so that’s where we’ll begin….

Day 1 - Morning

After collecting your bags either head straight for the taxi ranks where a short 15-20 minute drive (depending on traffic of course) will take you right into the city centre and to your hotel. Taxis and Ubers are widely available in Singapore but can become costly if you rely on them as your main source of transportation. A more economical alternative is to follow the signs to the MRT tube system that covers the majority of the city and all the major sights. Grab yourself a 2-day tourist card for 30 Singapore Dollars (SD) (10SD is a security deposit which you’ll get back when you return the card) from any of the ticket machines or ticket office and jump on the first train on the East West line which will take you straight into the city centre. There is only one train line that runs to and from the airport so it’s very simple to navigate. The tube ride will take about 45 minutes to get you into the city centre depending on your accommodation location. Drop off your luggage at your hotel and make your way down to the main marina, which is a short walk from either Raffles Place or Down Town MRT stations.

Day 1 – Lunch

As you approach the main marina you’ll be given your first glimpse of one of the most iconic city skylines in the world that stretches from the Marina Bay Hotel and financial district to the ultra-modern Esplande Theatre. Grab a selfie by the Merlion fountain before heading for a drink at one of the many bay front cafés and restaurants that line the water front. Take this time to get your bearings in the daylight as you’ll be back here at night for the impressive light show at the Marina Bay Hotel. Take your time as you wander around the marina to grab a boat trip up the river to enjoy a relaxing cruise around the bay and up the Singapore river where there will be plenty of places to grab some lunch at the colourful Clark Quay. After lunch take a stroll around Fort Canning Park which has a selection of historic landmarks and grassy areas to relax in.

Day 1 – Afternoon

A short walk or one MRT south of Clark Quay is China town which has a dense concentration of shops, restaurants and temples that shouldn’t be missed on your visit. You can easily waste away a couple of hours taking in this impressive market neighbourhood where you’ll undoubtedly get your first smell of the local durian fruit, trust me you’ll know it when you smell it!! Make sure to head over to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple or grab some street food on the Chinatown Food Street whilst you’re there. You can always hunt down the Michelin starred Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle if you’re prepared to queue for your dinner!

Day 1 – Evening

Jump onto the MRT and head back to the main marina but make sure you aim for the Bayfront station as this will bring you up on the other side of the bay underneath The Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Have a wander around taking in some of the high end retail outlets that dominate this impressive building, as well as some well earnt air conditioning. Alternatively, you can pay to head up to the top desk to see the unique roof top infinity pool that overlooks the city. At 8pm there is a nightly laser show called Wonder Full in front of the complex that shouldn’t be missed, you can view it from the edge of the marina outside the hotel or alternatively you can view it from the Merlion Quay for a more panoramic view. After the first laser show walk across the Helix bridge and take a left heading towards the street food area opposite the Espande outdoor theatre for some satay, noodles and a jug of Tiger beer. After dinner head back to your hotel for a well-earned break.

Day 2 – Morning

Get up early and jump onto the Downtown line and head north to the UNESCO Botanical Gardens in Tanglin. Entrance to the main gardens is free so take a slow walk from the MRT station to the north of the Gardens, making sure to take in the main landmarks including Eco Lake, Rainforest Walk and Symphony Lake. Make sure you pay the small fee of 5SD to enter the National Orchid Gardens which are well worth a visit. Once you’re done head back to the MRT station and take the Central line south down to Harbour Front station for the afternoon on Sentosa island.

Day 2 – Lunch

Make your way up through Vivo City from the MRT station, where there are plenty of options for lunch by the harbour or continue over the walk way to the main Sentosa island which has a range of budget to high end restaurants to choose from. Take your pick on what activities you want to do on the island with attractions ranging from Universal Studios, Adventure Cove Waterpark, Aquarium, Mega Adventure, indoor skydiving or just relax on the beach.

Day 2 – Afternoon

Head back into town to find your way up to one of the many modern roof top bars for a panoramic view over the city during sunset, ones to consider are Altitude, Ce La Vi and LeVel 33. If you don’t have a head for heights why not drop into Raffles Hotel to experience a little bit of history and sample the Singapore Sling in its birth place at The Long Bar, but be warned this can get very popular (and expensive) so be prepared for a queue if you’re travelling during the peak season.

Day 2 – Evening

Head back into town on the North-East line head for Little India. Take some time to orientate yourself on this busy network of streets that are home to many of the half a million Indians work force that call Singapore their home. There’s so much choice of food it would be wise to have narrowed down what restaurant you’re aiming for, otherwise you could find yourself wandering around all night! Bear in mind that you shouldn’t fall into the trap of going for the larger restaurants on the main street, instead be brave and explore some of the side streets to try the smaller vendors that have the plastic tables and chairs but full of locals. That will be where you’ll find the best authentic food.

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Alternative day 2 – Morning

Jump on the MRT on the East West line and go all the way to Pasir Ris where you can grab a cab or take bus route 109 to the Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Take the rickety boat over to Pulau Ubin for 3SD to get away from the busy city and see what Singapore island used to look like. Hiring a bike is advised so you can see the most of the island without suffering too much from the heat and humidity. Feel free to explore the island making sure you head east to the Chek Jawa Wetlands and up the Jejawi Tower or west to the more strenuous Ketam Mountain Bike Park. Make sure you take plenty of water with you as supplies are limited in the more remote areas of the island. Don’t be surprised when you have to go through a security check to enter back onto the main land as this is a potential access point for smugglers.

Alternative day 2 – Lunch

A short walk from the ferry terminal is the Hawker Centre which is a bustling open air food hall with a wide range of local and exotic food. Some westerners might be put off by the “basic” facilities but this is one of the best places to experience local people, eating local food, the local way. Alternatively, you can head next door to the Little Island Brewing Co. for some air conditioning and in house brewed beer.

Alternative day 2 – Afternoon

After some lunch jump back onto the MRT and head back to Marina Bay for a sunset walk around the Gardens by the Bay. This impressive outdoor park is well worth a visit to explore the towering trees. If you’re after a break from the heat and humidity pop into the Flower and Cloud Dome which houses an impressive botanical collection, as well as some excellent cocktails at the in house café/restaurant, Pollen.

Alternative day 2 - Evening

Head back into the city for a well-earned rest and a change of clothes before heading back out for your final dinner at Chijmes dining complex. This converted school plays host to a range of different cuisines where you’ll find food to suit every taste and budget. After you’ve had a good feed in preparation for the next leg of your journey, head back to your hotel grab your gear and take an easy cab or MRT back to the airport to continue your adventure!

#singapore #asia #travel #48hoursin

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© 2020 by Andrew Caley Photography, Bourton on the Water based photographer