Glimpse a different Singapore. The personal connections made on this itinerary promise that no two travellers will bring home the same experience.
Singapore is a city of diverse wonders and many names. History buffs may know of it as the Lion City for its rich heritage and diverse cultures, evident in colonial buildings, museums and art galleries.
Nature lovers may think of our metropolis as a city in a garden, home to nature sanctuaries, beautiful parks and thriving habitats.
Regardless of the name you know it by, this four-day guide will have you exploring various facets of our city, from bustling street culture and heartland haunts to tranquil nature and age-old history.
Day 1: Architecture and greenery
Wake up bright and early to birdwatch at Telok Blangah Hill Park. On the 1.3-kilometre-long elevated platform of the Forest Walk, tread lightly and you may get a sight of regional birds like the Pink-necked Green Pigeon and Yellow-vented Bulbul.
Between September to March, your patience may also be rewarded by sights of migratory birds like the Black Baza or the Asian Brown Flycatcher. Many of these birds are quite small, so take advantage of the monkey’s-eye view of the canopies on the Forest Walk to seek them out.
Henderson Waves—the highest pedestrian walk in Singapore—is another potential birdwatching spot. The bridge’s organic, undulating form is a feat of contemporary architecture, and you’ll find many hidden nooks where you can breathe in the fresh air, 36 metres above the forest floor.
From the bridge, take a short walk to HarbourFront Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station. Take the train to Bayfront MRT station and you'll arrived at Gardens by the Bay. Located in the heart of our city, this 101-hectare park is home to flora from all over the world.
Break for lunch at Maguerite, helmed by Michelin-starred chef Michael Wilson. The menu here is inspired by contemporary European cuisine, and include beautifully plated dishes like foie gras and king salmon with radish, lime and pepper.
Spend the afternoon exploring this beautiful garden, as you stroll through Cloud Forest, get lost amid the metallic, tree-like structures of the Super-Tree Grove and admire the complex ecosystems of the Dragon and Kingfisher Lakes.
After spending the day in the Gardens, sniff out an irresistible attraction at Satay by the Bay, where you can sample the skewered meats that give this outdoor food court its name.
As you dine along the tree-lined waterfront, you’ll be treated to a stellar view of the sun setting, with hues of red, orange and blue dancing across the bay’s waters and the soaring skyscrapers of the Civic District.
Day 2: History
First opened in 1970, People’s Park Complex is your first stop for the day, with its history, heritage and colourful sights.
As you join the crowd, look out for buskers on traditional Chinese instruments like the erhu (Chinese violin) and guzheng (16-string plucked instrument). Their musical expertise has been the life of this site for decades.
Just a stone’s throw away, you’ll find Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, which houses heritage trades and hawker food galore. The stalls here sell a charming mix of fashion accessories, traditional threads and cosmetics, so be sure to spend some time treasure hunting.
For lunch, stop by the Chinatown Complex’s 2nd floor, where you’ll find the largest hawker centre in Singapore. With more than 260 stalls, this food paradise is a prime example of why Singapore is considered one of the world’s culinary capitals. We recommend sampling the dishes from Liao Fan Hawker Chan, Old Amoy Chendol and Lian He Ben Ji Claypot.
Work off your lunch by walking through the Civic District, where you’ll find an eclectic mix of buildings range from the historical to the consummately modern.
The highlight of your stroll is the National Gallery Singapore, a striking art institution housed within the neoclassical buildings of or former City Hall and Supreme Court. The gallery boasts the world’s largest collection of modern Southeast Asian artwork, as well as pieces by feted local artists like Liu Kang and Georgette Chen.
Heed the rumbling of your tummy when dinnertime rolls along and head to National Kitchen by Violet Oon. The restaurant is proudly Peranakan (Straits-born people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage), serving up fiery dishes for which the community is renowned. Like the food, the restaurant’s décor of antique furniture and black-and-white photos from Oon’s personal collection comes straight from the heart.
Day 3: Nature & Wildlife
Spend your third day in Singapore exploring nature off the coast, with a trip to the Chek Jawa wetlands, on the island sanctuary of Pulau Ubin. Food options are a little scarce, so you may want to pack a picnic basket for your visit.
Comprising over 100 hectares, this beautiful locale is home to six distinct habitats, from seagrass lagoons to sandy and rocky beaches.
You’ll be able to best explore the latter with an intertidal walk, where the water recedes at low tide to reveal a trove of diverse marine wildlife. You can book a tour with NParks, or time your visit to coincide with the low tide (check out this page for a handy tide table).
Back ashore in mainland Singapore, hop on a bus or taxi to the Singapore Zoo which adopts a unique open zoo setting for an unforgettable experience.
Get up-close with free-roaming animals such as the two-toed sloth and mousedeer at Fragile Forest, and spot the adorable orangutan family right above your heads at the world’s first free-ranging orangutan habitat.
When twilight falls, check out the world’s first nocturnal wildlife park, the Night Safari, located just next door. Enjoy a sumptuous Asian Buffet dinner at Ulu Ulu Safari Restaurant before starting your adventure into the wild.
Home to almost 900 nocturnal animals, catch a glimpse of Malayan Tapirs, Spotted Hyenas and the park icon - Chawang the Asian Elephant onboard the Tram Safari.
Day 4: Neighbourhoods
Dedicate your fourth day in Singapore to a foray into local haunts and culture.
Your first stop—the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple—was built in the 1850s and is one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temples. Take in the gorgeous architecture, and admire the intricate temple interiors, but be sure to check out the guidelines on temple etiquette before visiting.
Take a short walk to Jothi Store & Flower Shop. The store began life, in the 1960s, as a modest flower shop, but has since grown into a full-blown enterprise, supplying garlands to almost all Hindu temples and Indian weddings in Singapore. Have a chat with the owner Rajakumar Chandra—he’s also the chairman of the Little India Shopkeepers & Heritage Association—and you might just learn a few secrets about the historical precinct.
While you’re there, breathe in the sweet aroma of jasmine flowers, incense, camphor and other spices as he regales you with tales of this storied neighbourhood. As you leave the store, you’ll be looking at the narrow back lanes and streets of Little India around you with new eyes.
Just across the road from the shop is Ananda Bhavan Restaurant. At almost a century old, this local chain of vegetarian Indian restaurants claims to be the oldest of its kind in the city. Go for the full experience and devour a plate of thosai (savoury pancake), washed down with a mug of sweet masala chai (spiced tea). Although cutlery is available, this is the best place to learn how to eat with your hands.
Next, pay a visit to Kampong Gelam, the historical seat of the local Malay aristocracy. While we no longer have a Sultan (Muslim sovereign), this area has retained most of its historical architecture.
If you’re looking for unique souvenirs, take a walk down Haji Lane, which is brimming with hip boutiques. Cap off your day with dinner and drinks at Blu Jaz Café, a popular haunt of local performers and musicians.
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