Singapore is my kind of place to go on holiday. The weather is always the same–hot, humid (just like my beloved hometown of Houston). It’s a cosmopolitan city of many cultures–Indian, Chinese, Arabic, Western–that live harmoniously side by side. The food is fantastic and every day (so long as there’s no torrential rains) can be a pool day! Here’s how I spent my holiday in Singapore, and what I think would make the most fantastic 24 hours.
Singapore weather is hot, hot, HOT. While I was there I was training for a half marathon, so I made a point to go for a run around Marina Bay, which has a lovely (slightly shaded) running trail that ended at near Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Flyer ferris wheel. Even at 7am though, the humidity was suffocating and I was sweating profusely by mile 2. The public transportation is legit in Singapore, so take advantage of it and get yourself a metro pass. It’s quick, direct and keeps you out of the heat when you’re exploring the city–or trying to get to a running path directly.
Before the heat of the day really kicks in, explore the Singapore Botanical Garden. It’s free and open to the public. The Botanical Gardens were surprisingly delightful and I enjoyed wandering around there a lot. There was a reflexology stone foot path that I was obsessed with. I also enjoyed seeing the National Orchid Garden–it cost $5 to get in, but totally worth it, the flowers were gorgeous! There’s over 600 orchid species on display!
Also, a short walking distance away is Red Dot Brew House, a local brewery with a great in-house beer selection–including green beer!
If you’re into beaches
don’t got to Sinapore you can visit Sentoasa Island. Palawan Beach is there and it’s totally manmade. It felt a little like Disneyworld to me with amusement park rides, a special tram, and themed restaurants. For me, the most interesting claim to fame for the island is that it’s the most southern part of continental Asia. We walked across a rope bridge to get to this tiny island where there’s a commemorative stone marker.
For the afternoon, explore as many of Singapore’s ethnic neighborhoods as possible. Here’s a breakdown of some of my favorites and what I did in each…
Visiting the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Singapore’s Chinatown was definitely one of the highlights from my trip. It was five stories high with incredible art and imagery as well as an exhibit detailing the story of the Buddha. There was even a rooftop garden! It was an exceptionally holy place. The neighborhood is filled with plenty of small shops and kiosks selling trinkets, souvenirs and clothing. The Thian Hoek Kang Temple and the Sri Miriamman Temple are also nearby.
I think Kampong Glam was my favorite neighborhood to visit. Kampong Glam has a strong Malay-Arab influence with ornate architecture, colorful shops selling bright rugs and fabrics, a mosque and plenty of restaurants. We ended up eating at a tiny café, Juice Clinic, which was particularly delightful because it offered light, healthy food which was a welcome change-up from the heavy meals we’d been sampling.
Central Business District
If you need a break from the heat take the elevator to the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel for a relaxing drink at the Spago bar. You’ll have some great views of the city, the gardens, and the infamous hotel’s infinity pool that seems to fall off! While you’re in the downtown district, walk (or tbh subway) across the bay to Merlion Park. Not much to see here, but it’s the symbol of the city, and if you get creative there’s some fun photo ops. Nearby is the Lau Pa Sat Hawker Center. We grabbed lunch here and pretended like we were one of the locals. It’s basically this giant food court with every food imaginable and packed with business people who work downtown. The food is so cheap and the servings are so huge. It was quite the experience!
Nearby is the Raffles Hotel, which is colonial era, luxury hotel who’s known for inventing the infamous Singapore Sling cocktail. The cocktail was originally invented because women weren’t allowed to drink at parties back in the day so they resourcefully disguised their gin as non-alcoholic punch!
Another colorful neighborhood, Little India, looks (and smells) tbh like an Indian city. We enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant and my mom fell in love with the mango lassi drink. We also had dinner at the infamous Banana Leaf Apolo restaurant where our dinner was served in little bowls with a banana leaf as a plate. No utensils. You eat everything–curry, rice, meats–with your hands like in India. I was obsessed with the umbrella art installation that we discovered in the street. I also enjoyed visiting the Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu temple.
Gardens by the Bay is the infamous Singapore landmark that you’ll see on all the postcards with these massive living plant structures. While I didn’t buy tickets to walk along the sky bridges, it was fun exploring the free winding trails in the park during the day time. At night, you must go for the light show that happens daily at 7:45pm and 8:45pm. We watched from a distance away near the Marina Bay Sands Hotel–great view, but slightly hard to hear the music.
Afterwards, head over to Clarke Quay for some late night drinks. Clarke Quay is a busy bar/restaurant district on the Singapore River (you may recognize it as the city’s snapchat filter). It’s filled with lots of western chains like Chili’s and Hooters as well as ex-pat hubs for beer pubs and clubs.
- When you come into the country, you’ll get a passport stamp!
- You need to be dressed appropriately to enter temples. So if you’re planning on wearing shorts, bring a scarf to wrap around your legs when you enter. They typically have some burlap wraps as well for visitors to use. In Hindu temples, you also need to remove your shoes.
- Plan your itinerary according to the weather. When it rains, it POURS in Singapore. Bring an umbrella if rain is on the radar. Also, it’s crazy hottt year round.
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