Day 1—Experience rich tradition
Begin your exploration of Little India with an authentic breakfast at Komala Vilas. This vegetarian eatery boasts a selection of North and South Indian cuisine, like thosai (Indian pancake made from fermented rice and lentil batter) and vadai (fried savoury Indian doughnut).
After breakfast, you have several options when it comes this colourful heritage district. If you’re planning a free and easy day, do remember to drop by Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and Little India Arcade. The former is one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temples—dedicated to the goddess Kali—while the latter is home to vendors selling everything from traditional textiles to delectable sweets.
If you’re looking for a guide to show you around in the morning, consider Dhobis, Saris & A Spot of Curry by Journeys (Tuesdays), or the Gems of Little India tour by Ruby Dot Trails (Thursdays). The insights provided by the seasoned tour guides will deepen your understanding of both Indian culture and Hindu religion.
Break for lunch at The Malayan Council—a halal eatery specialising in Malay cuisine with a Western twist—before taking a stroll to the Indian Heritage Centre. Here, you’ll find an enchanting range of art exhibits hailing from South Asia, as well as the opportunity to enrich yourself by learning a traditional craft such as pottery and calligraphy, under the guidance of a master craftsman.
Round off your day with dinner at The Banana Leaf Apollo—a beloved restaurant that serves up traditional Indian staples like tandoori chicken and mutton curry. If a bout of late-night shopping tickles your fancy, consider dropping by Mustafa Centre. This 24-hour shopping mall is famous for its varied stock of wares, which range from jewellery to electronics and groceries and electronic appliances.
Day 2—Uncover vibrant heritage
Fuel up for your foray into Chinatown at Maxwell Food Centre. There’s a ton of variety to choose from, ranging from traditional noodle dishes to Cantonese pastries.
Despite its name, Chinatown’s lantern-decked streets are home to places of worship for Singaporeans from all walks of life. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum, Sri Mariamman Temple and Masjid Jamae are testaments to Singapore’s multicultural tapestry, and can be found along the same street. When you’re done, drop by the Chinatown Heritage Centre to gain insight into the district, and how its past is interwoven with our nation’s history.
If you fancy taking a tour of the district instead, Red Clogs Down the Five Foot Way by Journeys (Wednesday) and A Melting Pot of Tea: Singapore Tea Experience Tour by Lion Heartlanders will introduce you to both district and its denizens.
Think ‘Michelin-starred meal’ and you may well imagine a hefty price tag—Liao Fan Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle will certainly alter that perspective. Its signature dish—soya sauce chicken rice—is widely known as the world’s cheapest Michelin meal.
After lunch, take a walk to the wet market at Chinatown Complex, and hunt for Anthony The Spice Maker. The store’s tantalising selection of spices hail from Indian, Malay, Chinese and Peranakan* cultures, aptly reflecting our island’s multicultural heritage.
Travellers who’re fascinated by the nuances of Chinese culture should next pay a visit to Tea Chapter, where they’ll be able to learn about the history and philosophy of Chinese tea from masters of the craft.
*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
In the evening, take a stroll down Chinatown Food Street, and peruse the mouth-watering dishes sold in this bustling space. You’ll have 24 hawker stalls, six restaurants and a countless array of vendors to choose from.
When you’re done with dinner, round off your adventure with a drink at NATIVE. The bar’s founder, Vijay Mudaliar, is famous for incorporating local produce, exotic ingredients and regionally-sourced alcohol into his inspired cocktail creations.
Day 3—Savour sunsets and open sea
Begin your day bright and early at Harborfront Centre. If you’re peckish, we recommend visiting Ya Kun for an authentic Singaporean breakfast of kopi (traditional local coffee) and kaya (a traditional jam made from coconut and eggs) toast.
From the cruise centre, you shall embark on the Singapore Southern Islands Yacht Tour by Le Tara Yacht, a 2.5-hour journey that’ll introduce you to the charming offshore islands that dot our waters. You’ll get to admire the scenic beauty of Sisters Island and Lazarus Island, and get to disembark for a jaunt through the temples and green spaces of Kusu Island. ‘Kusu’ stands for turtle in the Chinese dialect of Hokkien, and visitors will get to learn about the folk story that gave this island its name.
After you’ve disembarked from the tour, make a beeline for Keng Eng Kee Seafood, where you’ll get to feast on zi char (traditional dishes influenced by home-cooked Chinese food) like the iconic Singaporean chilli crab.
The rest of your afternoon can be spent on a leisurely expedition to The Southern Ridges, a 10-kilometre stretch of verdant greenery that’s popular with nature lovers and local birdwatchers. Keep your eyes peeled for red-whiskered bulbuls and crested goshawks while exploring.
You’ll be in for both hearty feast and an unforgettable view at dinner time. Located atop Mount Faber, Arbora offers visitors the opportunity to feast on Western cuisine, while enjoying the breath-taking view of Singapore’s southern coast.
Day 4—Indulge in feasts for all senses
Spend the morning taking a stroll through the scenic green space of MacRitchie Reservoir. This park and nature reserve is a popular hangout for locals looking to get a dose of the great outdoors, and makes for a great way to people-watch.
If you’re looking to work up a sweat, you can embark on a couple of trails at MacRitchie, located within the tropical rainforest of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
The Chempari Trail is an hour-long walk that makes for a relaxing stroll around the outskirts of the Catchment Nature Reservoir. Keep your eyes peeled for the teeming wildlife, which include flying lemurs, macaque monkeys and monitor lizards.
Kampong Gelam was once the seat of Malay sultans in Singapore, and is a tantalising blend of new and old, with its mix of hip bars, cool cafes and traditional artisans.
Before beginning your exploration of this charming district, have a hearty lunch at one of our island’s oldest eateries. Zam Zam has been whipping up classic Indian-Muslim dishes for hungry locals since 1908—be sure to try the murtabak (pan-fried bread stuffed with meat and eggs), arguably the restaurant’s most famous dish.
Alternatively, you’ll be feasting on a kampong (traditional village)-style spread of delicacies hailing from both Singapore and the region. Hjh Maimunah’s signature dishes include Sudanese-style grilled chicken, a diverse range of barbequed fish and their famous lemak siput (sea snails in coconut gravy).
From the realm of food, you’ll be making a foray into a world of fragrance at Sifr Aromatics. Local perfumer Johairi Kazura is a master of scent, and you’ll be able to deepen your appreciation for the craft of perfume-making with a 30-minute workshop at this establishment.
Spend the rest of the afternoon learning more about this traditional Malay enclave while zipping through its winding streets with Art and Artisans of Kampung Gelam by Singapore Sidecars. We suggest opting for the two or three hour tour, which will introduce you to the neighbourhood’s most iconic sites and have you befriending the textile makers, spice traders and other craftsmen who call this district home.
As the sun begins to set on Kampong Gelam, take a quick detour to Haji Lane, and browse the wares at the many boutiques that line this narrow street. You’ll find a trove of local fashion, traditional textiles and quirky stores selling everything from elephant statuettes to New Age knick-knacks.
Next, have an unforgettable dinner at NOX – Dine in the Dark. This establishment serves up meals in a pitch-dark setting, allowing visitors to better savour the flavours served up by head chef Mohammad Shahrom.
Day 5—Immerse in the Peranakan culture
Historically an enclave for Singapore’s Peranakan community, the colourful neighbourhood of Joo Chiat/Katong boasts hip modern boutiques, old-world craftsmen and fascinating cultural insight.
Begin your day in this beautiful neighbourhood with breakfast at Haig Road Food Centre, where you can feast on mee rebus (yellow noodles in potato-based gravy) and putu piring (steamed rice cakes).
Your next stop—The Intan— is a private museum that showcases Peranakan artefacts hailing from all across the globe. Alvin Yapp is a consummate storyteller, who’ll regale you with tales from his three decades of collecting these artefacts.
For lunch, drop by Baba Chews for dishes that fuses Peranakan fare with a Western twist—signature dishes here include har cheong gai (deep fried prawn paste chicken) with waffles and coffee-flavoured ribs.
Travellers craving for deeper insights into Singapore’s foodie paradise can embark on The Artisan Experience Tour by Singabites, which will get you acquainted with our local hawkers and teach you some tricks of the trade.
Alternatively, learn about the rich heritage of Singapore’s Peranakans at Rumah Bebe. The establishment’s in-house tour is conducted by Bebe Seet, and will certainly deepen your understanding of this unique culture.
To experience the rich diversity of Peranakan cuisine, we recommend the Peranakan Supper Tour by Wok n’ Stroll. This food-themed jaunt through the district will let you sample some of Peranakan culture’s most beloved dishes, such as laksa (spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup), popiah (fresh spring rolls) and nonya dumplings .
Day 6—Luxuriate in lush greenery
More than just a global metropolis, Singapore is a city where greenery and modernity intertwine. Deepen your love for mother nature with a visit to Pulau Ubin.
The island sanctuary is accessible via bumboat from Changi Ferry Terminal, and peckish visitors can grab breakfast at Changi Village Hawker Centre before heading off.
Home to diverse landscapes, thriving wildlife and verdant greenery, the island is great for visitors looking to venture off the beaten path.
We recommend taking the eastern route to Kampong Durian and exploring the Ubin Fruit Orchard before heading to Chek Jawa. This pristine wetland is home to six distinct habitats from coastal forests to thriving mangroves and an abundance of wildlife. The walk will take approximately 40 minutes, so be sure to warm up before you begin your stroll.
Guided tours are also available for those looking for expert insights into the ecosystems, flora and fauna of this unforgettable space.
If you’re hungry for a more food-centric experience, we suggest signing up for the Pulau Ubin Kampong Cooking Escapade. Headed by veteran cook Ruqxana Vasanwala, this magical experience takes place in a century-old abode, and will have you learning how to cook nasi kerabu (a traditional Malay rice dish).
Spend the rest of the day unwinding amidst the natural splendour of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. This UNESCO Heritage Site is both botanical marvel and living showcase of the region’s biodiversity. Keep an eye out for Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim—Singapore’s national flower.
As the sun sets over the Botanic Gardens, make your way to Corner House. This one-Michelin-starred restaurant housed in a charming colonial bungalow has won industry-wide acclaim for globally-inspired dishes.
Day 7—Be inspired by past and present
Spend your last morning in Singapore admiring the modernity and futuristic architecture of Marina Bay.
For breakfast, we recommend paying a visit to SweetSpot café at Marina Bay Sands. You’ll be able to enjoy a view of the scenic waterfront, while chowing down on a selection of wraps, rice bowls and Western breakfast staples.
After your meal, be sure to head upstairs to the ArtScience Museum™. The space’s Exhibitions like Future World: Where Art Meets Science and 2219: Futures Imagined fuse aesthetics and technological wonders into a mesmerising blend.
Alternatively, head to Gardens by the Bay, just a stone’s throw away from the café. This sanctuary for nature lovers is filled with awe-inspiring green spaces and spectacular sights, from the mist-filled vistas of the Cloud Forest to the countless flora of the Flower Dome.
In the afternoon, take a trip down memory lane while exploring the Civic District.
For lunch, you’ll want to fuel up with the classic Peranakan dishes at National Kitchen by Violet Oon. The restaurant is housed within the National Gallery Singapore, a must-visit destination for art lovers looking to admire works from all across the globe.
If you’re keen to learn more about Singapore’s colonial history, sign up for the Footsteps of our Colonial Past tour by Tour East Singapore, or learn about Singapore’s wartime history with the Battlebox Tour at Fort Canning.
To keep your last day breezy, we suggest taking your time to visit either the Asian Civilisations Museum—which houses a collection of artefacts from China, India and Southeast Asia—or the National Museum of Singapore. The latter is a great way to learn about how Singapore evolved from fishing port to global city state.
As the sun sets over Singapore, make your way to Esplanade – Theatres on The Bay. You’ll be able to linger over your dinner at Labyrinth—a one-star Michelin restaurant that showcases local flavours with a modern twist.
If you’re a lover of the performing arts, check out their calendar for a list of performances, plays and concerts. Esplanade—Theatres on The Bay is a world-class destination for the arts, and previous acts that have graced its stages include Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, postmodern ballet spectacle Impressing the Tsar and live performances by jazz greats like Sonny Rollins and Herbie Hancock.