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More than a stopover holiday, spending 3 days in Singapore will soon show there’s more to this city-state than you first thought. Plan your Singapore itinerary from this pick of the best sights and activities, showing how you can fill your days in this multicultural and modern city, built upon centuries of history.
You’ll likely pass through the sovereign island city-state of Singapore on a long-haul flight from the US to Asia or between Europe and Australasia, and that’s just it. Many people view Singapore as a layover country where they can stop at Changi Airport on the way to a more prominent destination, and rarely get to dig deeper.
The founding of modern-day, independent Singapore puts it at a mere 55 years old – one of the world’s only legitimate city-states, one of the wealthiest countries in Asia and one of the greenest countries in the world.
Yet having spent most of its existence before its independence under the occupation of other countries such as Britain and Japan before it finally gained independence from Malaysia in 1965, it’s far more historically and culturally woven than you think. Found in its co-existence of faiths and cultures, and historical monuments that stand side-by-side with the glossy modernity and immaculate urban cleanliness for which Singapore is known.
I visited Singapore after travelling in neighbouring Malaysia, with there being excellent infrastructure between them both, whether via bus, private car or a short 1-hour and 15-minute flight from Kuala Lumpur. It granted me time to visit with ease and not rush through it on the way to somewhere else.
Are you interested in digging deeper? There’s a lot to Singapore which makes pulling together a multi-day itinerary a form of mix and match according to the main interest points that span this island nation city-state. So let’s take a look at some of the things to do and how you could spend 3 days in Singapore uncovering it all.
- 1 Is it Safe to Travel to Singapore Now?
- 2 Viewpoints and Nature in Singapore
- 3 Understand Singapore Culture in Historical Neighborhoods
- 4 What to Do in Singapore at Night
- 5 Singapore Day Trips
- 6 Singapore Museums and Heritage Centres
- 7 Sample 3-Days in Singapore Itinerary
- 8 Getting to Singapore
- 9 Getting Around Singapore
Is it Safe to Travel to Singapore Now?
Singapore is taking proactive tourism measures to manage on-going health risks with its ‘SG Clean’ initiative – continuing its already renowned clean-city status with rigorous standards of safety and hygiene via an accreditation scheme for tourism and lifestyle outlets, eateries, hotels and venues. Over 800 SG Clean certificates have been issued for tourism establishments, making Singapore one of the first countries I’d return to in Asia once worldwide COVID restrictions ease.
For now, you can virtually visit some of the city’s museums and galleries.
Viewpoints and Nature in Singapore
For a small island, Singapore packs a lot of nature that covers around one-third of its landmass, expressed through the pride in grand gardens of magnificent proportion and elevated viewpoints that encourage you to get outside and see the island from all heights and angles.
Gardens by the Bay
One of Singapore’s most popular tourist attractions, Gardens by the Bay is a 250-acre nature park overlooking the Singapore Strait. It contains a plethora of plant life in a themed park formation, with floral and art sculptures in a palette of brilliant colour and design.
The main draw is the misty Cloud Forest conservatory indoor forest featuring a huge waterfall and a 138-foot mountain covered in plant life. Ride an elevator to the top and watch how the vegetation changes as you take the spiral walkway down.
Other highlights include the famed outdoor Supertree Grove observatory with an elevated 22-meter high Skyway and the Flower Dome – the world’s largest glass greenhouse of “perpetual spring”.
The Singapore Flyer
What is a city without a giant observation wheel? Standing at 541 feet, the Singapore Flyer is the tallest Ferris wheel in Asia and one of the best ways to view Marina Bay, Raffles Place, Merlion Park, and many other Singapore attractions. It contains 28 air-conditioned capsules, and the entire ride takes about 30 minutes.
Not one for the skies? You can also take a segway tour along Marina Bay with a chance to see 10 of Singapore’s attractions on a two-hour active trip, or for deeper local insights there’s a Secrets of Marina Bay Singapore walking tour. This three-hour tour discusses the growth of the island nation and its approach to city planning.
Singapore Cable Car and Fort Siloso Skywalk
If you have extra time beyond riding the Singapore Cable car to Sentosa Island for the view, consider wandering The Fort Siloso Skywalk. It is an 11-story high, 181 metre-long trek through a treetop canopy with a panoramic view that takes in the best of Sentosa Island and out to the fringes of the city’s southern coastline. You can also take a guided tour to learn more about the island’s history.
Singapore Botanic Gardens UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Singapore Botanic Gardens are a core historic site, founded in 1859. The 161-year-old spectacular garden contains over 10,000 different species of flora spread over 82 hectares site is also the only tropical garden to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Understand Singapore Culture in Historical Neighborhoods
A symbol of Singapore’s multicultural society, you’ll find a Buddhist Temple, Hindu Temple and Mosque within a short distance from one another, crisscrossing different areas but close enough to be in unison. Taking time to visit Singapore’s neighbourhoods in one of the best ways of understanding its history of immigration and how it grew to be the modern city it is today, interlaced with its old architecture and narrow alleyways of the past.
Narrow streets and iconic architecture, street food and sites of worship, visiting Singapore’s Chinatown is an immersion into Chinese culture and the enclave built by Chinese immigrants to the island.
Chinatown is a heady mix of historical sites and buzzing hangouts and is a place that especially comes alive at night. You can visit the four-story Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the Chinese shophouses from the 1920s on Craig and Blair Roads, while in-between sampling authentic Chinese food on Chinatown Food Street or checking out the many watering holes and cocktail bars. This area comes alive at night, so consider joining a Singapore Chinatown Night Tour for further neighbourhood immersion.
Kampong Gelam (often referenced as Kampong Glam) is the place to go to experience Muslim and Malay culture. One of the main sites here is the 200-year-old landmark of the Sultan Mosque (Masjid Jamae), one of the first mosques in Singapore built for Chinatown’s Tamil Muslim population.
The oldest urban area in Singapore, this area started life as a boat-making port town and later became the seat of Malay royalty in Singapore. Today, Kampong Gelam is a trendy neighbourhood for shopping on Arab Street and hanging out in quirky and colourful Haji Lane with its unique stores and live music bars.
Little India is a historical enclave known for its traditional Indian shops and restaurants that showcase the island’s Indian community.
You can try some fresh Indian food at the Tekka Centre or visit the colourful House of Tan Teng Niah. It’s also known for its massive Hindu temples such as Sri Mariamman Temple and Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple.
Singapore’s Civic District is home to many of its cultural museums and historical attractions and known as the area where modern Singapore began in 1822. Modern construction lines the Singapore River, commercial life thrives in the Quays, and it is here you’ll find the half-fish half-lion Merlion statue at the Merlion Waterfront.
The founding of modern Singapore is associated with Sir Stamford Raffles – a divisive historical figure as a British colonialist, to which history writes the country’s growth as a Malay fishing village and port town to thriving, commercial trading post because of him. A white marble statue of him stands not far from the landmark world-famous luxury Raffles Hotel. However, during the 2019 bicentennial ‘commemoration’ of Raffles’ arrival, the figure disappeared in an optical illusion as a marker to rethink Singapore’s history, decolonise it and recognise the centuries of pre-colonial development and settlement.
You can also admire the City Hall building with its long flight of stairs and Corinthian columns, Fort Canning Park, the National Gallery and Esplanade Park. Or embark on a Singapore River Cruise for a scenic introduction to the area.
What to Do in Singapore at Night
Despite being a thriving commercial core, the city doesn’t slow at sundown. Singapore’s nightlife and entertainment spots are found bundled and bustling in its central neighbourhoods, from live gig venues to swanky rooftop bars. Plus, with the proximity of locales, you’ll be able to sample a lot in a single evening.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel
You don’t have to stay at the enormous boat in the sky-designed Marina Bay Sands Hotel to enjoy a night there. This hotel has everything from nightclubs, celebrity chef restaurants, a theatre, an art museum, and the largest atrium casino in the world. I did what most visitors to the city do – head to the KU DÉ TA bar and enjoy the view from the rooftop infinity pool.
Singapore puts on mesmerising light shows if you were not already maxed out by the sites during the day. One of these is the Garden Rhapsody at Gardens by the Bay in which the trees light up in a spectacular display of light and sound. You can also witness the lights, symphonies, and dancing fountains of Spectra over by Marina Bay.
It’s a rite of traveller passage to visit the Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling cocktail – a gin-based cocktail that’s famous all around the world. The Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel is the place to try it.
You’ll find Clarke Quay next to Singapore River, and while it is a fun place to visit in the daytime, it’s primarily a nightlife epicentre. It contains some of Singapore’s most famous nightclubs, including Zouk, Attica, and the F. Club. These are all great spots to dance and party until the early hours of the morning, with other nightlife hotspots in Singapore including Club Street in Chinatown and Orchard Row.
Singapore Day Trips
The former site of a British military fortress, Sentosa Island grew into a place for adventure and tranquillity, so catch the monorail or scenic cable car to the island and escape the city bustle and modern highrise, and feel like you are far away. Spend a day at one of the three idyllic coastlines of the renowned Siloso Beach, family-friendly Palawan Beach and the more secluded Tanjong Beach or fly at the zipline park or the indoor skydiving centre.
Also on Sentosa Island, this is the only Universal Studios in Southeast Asia. With 28 different rides and attractions, this is certainly worth a day trip, and I factored in a day here when a friend came to visit. Some of the attractions you can expect are the Puss in Boots’ Giant Journey, Transformers the Ride, and the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure.
Singapore Museums and Heritage Centres
With two or three days in Singapore, you can add some of the city’s extensive cultural museums to your list if you want to dig deeper on the multicultural makeup of the town and the history of the early settlers who arrived over the centuries and made their enclaves on the island.
National Museum of Singapore
The National Museum of Singapore is both the oldest and largest museum in Singapore. Visiting this museum is a great way to learn about the country’s history, and the building itself is also a work of art in its neoclassical style architecture.
Malay Heritage Centre
The Malay Heritage Centre in Kampong Gelam is in dedication to the culture of the Malay Singaporeans, an indigenous group of Singapore. It’s a must-see to learn more about this particular neighbourhood’s cultural significance.
Indian Heritage Centre
While you’re in Little India, you can check out the Indian Heritage Centre. This four-story museum details the history of contact between India and Singapore. There are five permanent galleries, and the building is a unique blend of modern and traditional Indian architecture.
Sample 3-Days in Singapore Itinerary
Now that you’ve seen what Singapore has to offer, let’s take a look at a sample itinerary and how you can mix and match the various things to do in this compact yet elaborate country.
- Start the day by taking a guided tour of the Fort Siloso Skywalk.
- In the afternoon, spend some time exploring Kampong Gelam.
- In the evening, catch the light shows at Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
- The next morning, enjoy a nature walk at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
- After that, you can tackle both Chinatown and Little India in the afternoon.
- End the day with a famed Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel.
- You can spend your last day in Singapore on the beach by taking a day trip to Sentosa Island.
- Finally, finish your trip to Singapore with a night on the town in Clarke Quay.
Getting to Singapore
Flying to Singapore
The award-winning Changi Airport is a tourist destination that lives up to its “more than just an airport” tagline. Not only is it a transit hub for 100 airlines that connect Singapore to 135 destinations around the world, but Changi Airport is packed full of activities and sights, including an extension of Singapore’s nature highlights, as well as dining and entertainment venues.
Visitors to Singapore factor in more hours before a departure flight to enjoy this unique place.
Singapore by Land
I travelled to Singapore from Malaysia, overland (which you can access via private car or bus), and which required a simple border crossing check. Singapore has two land checkpoints:
- Tuas in the west (601 Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim, Singapore 018956)
- Woodlands in the north (21 Woodlands Crossing, Singapore 018956)
Both checkpoints are in operation 24 hours a day since they also serve those working in Singapore, but living in Malaysia.
Getting Around Singapore
Singapore is connected by it’s extensive, city-wide Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) subway system, as well as a vast bus network and taxi services.
Singapore Train and Metro Network
If you are staying in Singapore for a few days, you can purchase a Singapore Tourist Pass (STP) that gives you unlimited travel for:
- One day (Singapore Dollar $10)
- Two days (Singapore Dollar $16)
- Three days (Singapore Dollar $20)
Singapore Bus Service
A cheaper way to travel, you can use Singapore’s bus network to get around, which you can quickly pay for via for visa or credit card via the contactless system.
Singapore Taxi Service
Singapore has metered taxis, but be sure to make sure the meter is on before you get in and that no extra surcharge will be added (unless its a part of a particular journey). Look out for official taxi stands outside of the malls and hotels if you are unable to flag one down on the street (which isn’t usually a problem).
Singapore Transport Timetables
The following transport operator websites list information and timetables: