Singapore is one of those countries that is completely fascinating and intriguing. My sister has been living in Singapore for the past few years so I had the amazing opportunity to visit and explore it with a local. I had an idea of what it would be like from hearing my sister’s stories, but visiting Singapore in person truly blew me away. The diversity of residents that live in Singapore makes it a wonderful hot spot of different cultures and everything from architecture to cuisine reflects just that. Whether you are traveling to Singapore for work or fun, here are some amazing places to see in this unique country in just 48 hours.
Singapore is a small city and country located just south of Malaysia, with an area of only 278 square miles (about half of Los Angeles in comparison) and a population of 5.5 million people. Because it’s the major financial hub in the region, Singapore attracts many foreigners for work, who make up almost half of all residents. As such, English is the main language spoken which makes it extremely easy to get around and explore.
Being a financial powerhouse in such a small, concentrated country does come at a price…literally. According to The Economist, Singapore is the most expensive city in the world to live. Luckily, it’s not as expensive to visit as it is to live there and it does cater to every crowd. Are you looking to try one of the most expensive cocktails in the world at $26,000 made of gold flakes and garnished with a diamond? Sure, in Singapore you can try just that! Or are you on the budget of a mere mortal but still want to try out some local foods? It offers plenty of that as well.
DAY 1: TROPICAL LANDSCAPES
Gardens By The Bay
The number one attraction that anyone should see when visiting Singapore is the Gardens by the Bay. This area is filled with futuristic architectural wonders like the Super Trees, 18 huge manmade purple trees that are overgrown with plants and flowers. At night these Super Trees light up in various bright colors ranging from turquoise, to pink and green along with a music show that makes you feel like you are part of a fairytale.
For $8 you can take an elevator 72 feet up and walk around on the Skywalk, a long open air walkway connecting from one Super Tree to another. From this bridge, you can also observe all the amazing buildings nearby and the uniqueness of this country.
After visiting the Super Trees continue on to another jaw-dropping wonder – the Cloud Forest indoor planetarium. Located in the heart of downtown the indoor planetarium is a way for the locals to enjoy a bit of greenery in the midst of concrete and skyscrapers. As you enter the planetarium you immediately feel like you just stepped into another world. At the center of this indoor glass planetarium is a multiple story high green mountain covered in a variety of green plants with waterfalls rushing down along its sides. The giant green mountain is surrounded by a cloud of mist giving it a mysterious look. As you make your way up the different stories you can observe the plants and vegetation up close with a panoramic view of Singapore in the background through the planetarium’s glass windows.
The entrance fee for non-residents is $28 and includes entrance to Cloud Forest and the neighboring Flower Dome.
After spending a couple of hours at the Cloud Forest, enjoy a nice stroll around the Marina Bay Park and the Dragonfly Lake, a long lake that runs along the Marina Bay Park. At the park, you can observe the Cloud Forest and Super Trees from the distance and also come across some unique art sculptures like the “Planet”, a large 14,000-pound metal baby sculpture that balances itself on the baby’s right hand.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel
For the next stop head over to the Marina Bay Sands hotel for the best roof-top view in town. The Marina Bay Sands is a hotel like you have never seen before, shaped like a boat floating in the sky atop three 57-story towers. The hotel guests can also relax at the largest rooftop infinity pool in the world with breathtaking views of the city all around. Even if you’re not a guest, the perfect spot for an afternoon cocktail is at the hotel’s CÉ LA VI Skybar with a 360 view of Singapore. The drinks can be pricey, but totally worth the view!
DAY 2: CITY TOUR
Singapore Downtown & River
The Singapore River runs right through the middle of downtown and is a perfect place to admire all the unique architecture of the city. One of the things that make Singapore so out-of-this-world is the futuristic architecture. Instead of the square, symmetric buildings we’re used to seeing in other major cities, the buildings in Singapore’s downtown are often designed with many openings all over to allow the light in and expose all the plants that are incorporated within the façade, platforms, or roofs.
One of the most recognized buildings, nicknamed “The Big Durian”, is built in the shape of a beloved local fruit that is round with spikes all around. In front of the Durian building is the Cavenagh Bridge, the oldest bridge in Singapore, as a reminder that old and new can go hand in hand in this diverse country.
Along the river bay, you can find a variety of waterfront restaurants and bars, including some of the best seafood you can find in town. This area is also a popular party spot for locals at night.
Because Singapore is such a mecca of diversity, you can come across many different sub-areas all within a short walk. Start at the Chinatown where you can submerge into the old and new mix of Chinese culture. Walk around and shop for some souvenirs or try out some of their amazing food and dessert.
What makes Singapore’s Chinatown so unique is that you might see a Chinese temple right next to a Hindu temple on the same street corner. Singapore is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world with many religions co-existing along each other.
One of the best things about Singapore is that its rich history has left a footprint to this day. As you walk around Singapore you will come across many interesting British colonial style buildings that have been painted in a variety of bright colors. It surely adds extra character to the county when most modern buildings are constructed in sleek metal and steel.
The most significant of the colonial buildings in Singapore is the grand Raffles Hotel about a 15-minute walk from the Cavenagh Bridge. Built in 1887 this iconic building still serves as an active hotel and a Singapore Landmark. With a white exterior and lavish antique interior, it’s no surprise that rooms at this hotel start at $560 USD per night. Don’t let the high price discourage you from visiting this unique historic hotel, you can always stop by the Long Bar for a drink and a relaxing vibe. At the Long Bar, you can even toss peanuts on the floor, the only place in Singapore where you won’t get a fat fine for littering.
A trip to Singapore is not complete without trying some Durian fruit. Although this fruit is loved by most locals, it’s not for everyone. The fruit is the size of a small melon and has spikes all around the outside. The texture of the edible part on in the inside reminds that of mango but with garlic aftertaste (yes, you read that right). The fruit has a lingering smell so strong that it has been banned from public transportation and many public places. Yet the locals absolutely love this fruit and to them, it tastes sweet! Each person has a different reaction to the fruit taste so make sure to stop by a market and try some out. Who knows, you might be a durian lover at heart!
- Singapore is one of the top 5 safest cities in world, according to The Economist
- The currency is the Singapore Dollar
- Uber is a very popular way to get around the city
- Singapore offers Tourist Passes for unlimited access to public transportation like the underground subways or double decker buses starting at $6.70/day.
- In order to keep Singapore clean, the country has some very strict rules that everyone is expected to follow. Here are some laws that you can get a pretty hefty fine for:
- Chewing gum
- Drinking liquids in public transportation
- Not flushing the toilet (that should be a universal law)
As a leading player in the world of finance, trade and commerce Singapore shows no signs of slowing down. The country might be small but it sure is mighty. Rich with history, diversity and innovation Singapore is nothing short of spectacular. It is often listed as one of the best places to live in the world, but it belongs on the best places to visit list as well.