Traditionally explored as part of a whistle-stop visit, we think Singapore deserves a little more of your time. Delve a little deeper into the Lion City and you’ll be rewarded with unique cultural experiences, culinary wonders and adrenaline-inducing activities.
It’s important to start your day off right so do as the locals do and grab some Ya Kun kaya toast for breakfast. This dish consists of soft boiled eggs, thin and crispy bread and jam made with coconut milk, egg and pandan. Wash this down with some kopi (local Singaporean coffee) and you’ll be ready to set off for your first day of exploration.
Stop off at the City Gallery to get an overview of how Singapore has physically transformed over the past 50 years before heading to Chinatown. Wander around the narrow streets and visit the Chinatown Heritage Centre before an enriching Tea Appreciation session at Tea Chapter, one of the city’s premier tea shops. You’ll be guided by an expert Tea Master who will impart their knowledge about a selection of flavoursome tea varieties.
This afternoon, seek out a little culture and history at the National Museum of Singapore before crossing the narrow Rochor River into one of the city’s most evocative and vibrant districts, Little India. Stroll through the narrow streets, shop in the lively markets and sample tasty dishes.
Spending an evening at the famous Gardens by the Bay is a highlight of any visit to Singapore, and what better way is there to end your first day? Sitting right at the heart of Marina Bay, this futuristic nature park is hard to miss with its striking biodomes and towering Supertrees which have become something of a Singapore icon. And once the sun has set, the incredible Garden Rhapsody sound and light show begins.
Another day, another mouth-watering breakfast. This morning we recommend heading to the Tiong Bahru food market where you can enjoy a great-value – and delicious – hawker breakfast. The variety of cuisine on offer here is astonishing, and it is likely that the most popular stalls will have the longest queues so be sure to get here early or be prepared to wait. Spend the rest of the morning exploring the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood – one of the coolest corners of town.
The neighbouring communities of Joo Chiat and Katong are also well worth exploring. Immerse yourself in Peranakan culture in these charming residential areas, discovering colourful shop houses, intimate museums and coffee shops. This is a favourite destination for foodies too – treat yourself to some Katong laksa or bak chang for lunch.
Following a day and a half of cultural pursuits, it’s time to experience the city’s thrills and spills, so it’s next stop, Sentosa. This resort island is home to the high profile attractions of Universal Studios Singapore and AJ Hackett Sentosa as well as beaches, water parks, gardens, golf courses and spas.
Finish the day with a cocktail or two at the Tanjong Beach Club and dinner at the award-winning restaurant L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Created by the French chef Joël Robuchon (the guy who holds the most Michelin stars), this Sentosa favourite serves French and Mediterranean dishes with an oriental twist.
In the midst of the city’s skyscrapers and busy streets, it might seem hard to envisage how it once looked. However, if you take a 10-minute bumboat ride across to Pulau Ubin you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the Singapore of old. This largely undeveloped island is home to what is considered the region’s last real kampung (village) and you can explore its trails on foot, by bike or via hired vehicle.
Following lunch at Coastal Settlement, a casual venue not far from the bumboat terminal on the ‘mainland’, you should head inland to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. This UNESCO-World Heritage Site has been welcoming visitors to its beautiful gardens for over 150 years and is arguably the city’s most famous attraction. Don’t miss The National Orchid Garden, the unique Bonsai Garden or the ornamental Swan Lake.
Another Michelin-starred evening awaits at the Candlenut, a bastion of traditional Peranakan cuisine. Tucked away in one of the hippest corners of Singapore, this restaurant is the creation of local chef Malcolm Lee and an evening here is a true Singaporean experience.
Following your visit to Pulau Ubin, you may have acquired a new-found taste for island exploration. Luckily there’s a ferry that takes you to two of Singapore’s beautiful Southern Islands – St John’s and Kusu. Both are just a short journey from Marina Sentosa Cove or Keppel Bay but these islands seem far away from the hubbub of central Singapore. Swim in the lagoons, snorkel in the clear waters and enjoy a picnic lunch on one of the gold-sand beaches, all with the city skyline as your backdrop.
Back on the mainland why not explore the stylish area of Kampong Glam in a very special way – from the sidecar of a vintage Vespa. Experience local history and culture at the Sultan’s Mosque and at the Malay heritage Centre, once the sultan’s palace. Later, if you’re a fan of live music you should make your way to Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, an iconic waterfront landmark and popular venue for free outdoor performances.
There are few better places to raise a glass to your Singapore adventure than at 1-Altitude, the world’s highest al fresco bar. With a cocktail in hand, you can enjoy 360-degree views from 63 floors above the city streets, revel in the casual atmosphere and reminisce about your time spent getting to know this surprising city!