Singapore makes an ideal stopover if you’re flying from the UK to Bali. Though the airport is well set-up for those making a quick pit-stop, with an outdoor pool, flower-filled gardens (the rooftop sunflower field is quite a sight) and a cinema, it’s really worth sticking around for a couple of days. There’s stacks to see and do – if you’re on a tight schedule, here’s how we’d suggest spending 48 hours in Singapore.
9am Start your two days in Singapore off with a bird’s-eye view of the city. The Singapore Flyer is the city’s version of the London Eye – at 165 metres high, you’ll get fantastic views of the skyscrapers and snaking river. Look out for the Merlion, a statue of a half-fish, half-lion creature, which stands on the south bank of the river.
10am From the Flyer, stroll across the river to Gardens by the Bay, a series of waterfront gardens dotted with sculptures and rare flora. The star attractions here are the Supertrees – giant ‘vertical gardens’ which range 25 to 50 metres tall and are covered with orchids, ferns and flowering climbers. Entry to the gardens is free, but if you want to head inside one of the conservatories (which we’d definitely recommend), it’ll cost S$28 (about £15).
1pm Lunchtime! Grab a taxi for the 10-minute journey to the Maxwell Food Centre, one of Singapore’s famous hawker centres. You’ll find dozens of stalls serving up delicious local and regional dishes, so have a wander to see what takes your fancy.
2pm You’re right next to Chinatown, one of the city’s most colourful districts, Stroll around the narrow streets and perhaps pick up a few souvenirs.
3pm A 15-minute taxi ride will take you to Singapore Botanical Gardens, a cool, leafy escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it features everything from lakes and waterfalls, to bonsai gardens and tropical rainforest. Don’t miss the National Orchid Garden (entry S$5), which has thousands of species on display.
6.30pm After heading back to your hotel to freshen up, head out into the balmy evening air. Sunset in Singapore tends to be around 7pm, so hop on one of the boats that cruise up and down the river and watch as the sights glide past and the lights of the city begin to twinkle.
8pm For dinner, why not try out one of Singapore’s Michelin-starred restaurants – there are 38 of them for 2017, including seven two-star venues and one three-star.
10am This morning, hit the shops of Singapore’s famous Orchard Road. This huge boulevard is lined with designer emporiums and sleek shopping centres, with names like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors and Saint Laurent. Even if you’re leaving the credit card at home, it’s still a great place to wander. Most of the malls have food courts, so grab an early (and light) lunch before you move on to the next stop.
Midday At the bottom of Orchard Road is Singapore’s Civic District, where you’ll find a number of fantastic museums. Learn about the country’s history and culture in the National Museum of Singapore, or admire the art in the National Gallery or Singapore Art Museum.
3pm Afternoon tea is as popular in Singapore as it is in Britain – and historic Raffles Singapore is one of the best places to enjoy it. Their English Afternoon Tea is served in the elegant Tiffin Room, and includes classics (cucumber sandwiches, strawberry tarts) as well as exotic options like mango pudding. Once you’ve polished off your tea, move into the refined surroundings of the Long Bar, where the Singapore Sling cocktail was invented back in 1915. Enjoy one here, or buy a pocket-sized bottle to mix up at home.
Note: The tea room and Long Bar at Raffles are currently closed as the hotel carries out renovations. They are expected to reopen in mid-2018 – if you’re heading to Singapore before then, try the Fairmont Singapore (next door to Raffles), where mini lobster rolls, passion chocolate cake and honey-oat scones are served up in quirky jewellery chests.
7pm Make your way back to Gardens by the Bay for the 7.45pm light show, then head over to Marina Bay Sands for your final dinner in Singapore. There are more than 60 restaurants here, including eateries from celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck, Gordon Ramsey and Tetsuya Wakuda. Post-dinner, toast your trip with a cocktail at the rooftop SkyBar.