Planning to spend 3 days in Singapore? See the best of my city with this ultimate Singapore itinerary!
Of the 140 countries I’ve been, Singapore is probably the country I know best as I was born there. Even though I’ve lived abroad for the past 17 years, I go home every year and I still have a special connection with my hometown.
What makes Singapore unique is that it is a city, an island and a country all at once. For a country, it’s tiny and it only takes 1 hour to drive from one end to another. But it sure packs a punch when it comes to cultural sights and attractions.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve seen Singapore shed its sterile concrete jungle image to become an exciting destination. These days, it’s studded with plenty of green spaces (of which you’ve probably heard the famous Gardens by the Bay) as well as entertainment complexes and nature trails.
Interesting Facts about Singapore
Singapore is a very young country, having gained independence only in 1965. We are a multi-racial nation: our ancestors came from neighboring Malaysia, India and China and brought with them their food and cultural traditions. That’s what I love about growing up in Singapore.
If you’re coming from other parts of Southeast Asia, you’ll also notice that Singapore is very easy to travel. We are relatively developed, with an efficient public transport system, quality hotels and restaurants, and great infrastructure. At the same time, it’s a lot more expensive than other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand or Indonesia.
Singapore is also a very safe city: that’s partly due to the notoriously strict laws that govern the country (it’s illegal to spit or chew gum). English is one of its four languages and is widely spoken. Plus, Singapore’s reputation for orderliness and cleanliness is not a myth.
My 3-Day Singapore Itinerary
Most people spend 3 days in Singapore and that’s enough to get a good feel for it. But if you have the time, I recommend 1 week in Singapore. I also suggest combining a weekend in Singapore with a trip to Malaysia (just a causeway away).
For those with 3 days in Singapore, this itinerary will help you make the most of your time there and see as much as possible. I’ve included the best of the city, as well as the best places to eat and stay in Singapore. If you’re looking to see Singapore like a local, this Singapore itinerary will definitely bring you to local spots and not tourist traps (like Boat Quay)!
Summary of my Singapore Itinerary:
- Day 1: Explore Downtown Singapore
- Day 2: Discover the Ethnic Enclaves
- Day 3: Day Trip to Sentosa/Pulau Ubin
- >How to Get to Singapore
- Best Time to Visit Singapore
- How Many Days in Singapore?
- How to Get Around Singapore
- Where to Stay in Singapore
- Best Places to Eat in Singapore
- Internet in Singapore
- Cost of Travel in Singapore
Singapore Itinerary Day 1: Arrival in Singapore
Hang Out at Singapore Jewel
If you’re not too tired from your flight to Singapore, kick start your trip right at the airport! Jewel Changi Airport has just opened to the public, and it’s a seriously impressive indoor entertainment area. The complex includes gardens, museums, retail, F&B dining, a hotel, and more.
Its iconic centerpiece, known as Rain Vortex, is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall surrounded by terraced forest settings. Admire the doughnut-shaped exterior framed in steel and glass from the top level, where you’ll find the lush gardens and fun kids-oriented park.
Almost all of Jewel is free to enjoy, except for the Canopy Park on the top level. With an admission ticket, you’ll gain access to all 4 different areas: Play around on the Discovery Slides and mess about in the mist of the Foggy Bowls; Appreciate the artistic skill on the Topiary Walk and enjoy flowers from the world over in the Petal Garden.
Explore Gardens by the Bay
Catch the MRT (subway) or book an airport transfer to your hotel. We recommend staying at the landmark hotel and Singapore’s crown jewel, Marina Bay Sands, as it’s got a great location and most places are within walking distances. Cross the overhead bridge and find yourself at the iconic Gardens by the Bay, home to over 16,000 plant species and floral displays, all tastefully assembled in a natural way.
Walking around the park won’t cost you a cent but there is a fee if you want to step inside the climate-controlled conservatories. The iconic Supertree Grove is the first stop for most people. You can also pay to walk on the Skyway, a network of walkway that hangs over the gardens. The Flower Dome is one of the two world’s largest columnless greenhouses, while the Cloud Forest houses the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
Enjoy Local Food at Satay by the Bay
Have dinner at Satay by the Bay, a big open-air food court within the gardens itself. It might seem touristy, but the food here is just as good as any Singaporean hawker centre and you’ll find all the best Singaporean dishes here. Get some satay (bbq meat skewers drenched in peanut sauce), grilled stingray and hokkien mee, for the quintessential Singaporean experience.
Watch the Rhapsody Light and Sound Show
After dinner, head back to the Supertree Groves for the light show. Every evening, the Supertrees are lit up in technicolor rays, with music in the backdrop. My daughter was especially impressed by the Rhapsody Light Show — it felt like Mother Nature was putting on a musical.
The show takes place everyday at 7.45pm and 8.45pm. Best of all, the 15-minute show is absolutely FREE. Drop by early to grab a good spot to enjoy the performance!
Watch the Marina Bay Sands Light Show
After that, walk back to Marina Bay Sands for another spectacular light and water show at its waterfront. Known as Spectra, the light show is a FREE nightly event that you can catch from the boardwalk. There are lots of seating space on the boardwalk and steps. The 15-minute show takes place every night at 8pm and 9pm (and 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays).
Drink in to a View the Rooftop of Marina Bay Sands
To end your first evening in Singapore with a bang, head up to the top level, 57th floor, of Marina Bay Sands. Here is where you’ll find the iconic infinity pool (only open to guests) and 3 rooftop bars that will give you a 360-degree view of Singapore’s skyline.
Feast on views of the pool and skyline at Spago Bar & Lounge, helmed by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, before moving on to more potent cocktails at CÉ LA VI, which transforms into a pumping nightclub after midnight. Reserve a table here.
Day 2: Explore Singapore’s Ethnic Enclaves
Visit the ArtScience Museum
Start your day at the museum right in front of Marina Bay Sands. Housed in one of Singapore’s most impressive architectural structures is the ArtScience Museum with its equally impressive range of exhibits. Located next to Marina Bay Sands is a unique building that resembles a water lily rising from the Singapore River.
The name ArtScience is certainly apt here as the different galleries highlight the relationship between the arts and the sciences. It has the same exhibition as Tokyo’s MORI Digital Museum, with fascinating digital artwork and interactive displays for both kids and adults. Different exhibitions have different prices but I recommend getting a discounted All-Access ticket.
Visit the National Gallery Singapore
A 10-minute walk away, the newly opened National Gallery Singapore is housed in two impressive colonial buildings overlooking the green open Padang field. They gallery has the world’s largest public collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian art, consisting of over 8,000 artworks. There’s a cool rooftop area here that’s free to visit, and even a sexy rooftop bar named Smoke and Mirrors that has a gorgeous view.
Hang out at the Hipster Haji Lane
About a 15-minute walk away is Haji Lane, which has recently transformed from a traditional Malay quarter to a trendy hipster neighborhood. It’s tons of fun thanks to the colorful cafes and museums, perfect for Instagram-addicted teens.
First, learn about Singapore’s Malay culture at the Malay Heritage Centre and visit the beautiful golden Sultan Mosque or Masjid Sultan. Then check out the authentically Singaporean ‘Children Little Museum‘, a place that showcases Singaporean retro collectibles, antique toys and old-school gramophones. Stepping into the store is almost equivalent to you stepping into a time machine that travelled back in time.
Get Cultured in Little India
Take an Uber to Little India (which won’t cost more than US$10 or S$15). Of all the ethnic enclaves in Singapore, Little India is probably my favorite. Introduce your kids to Hindu temples steep in history, soak up authentic Singaporean Indian food and visit the famous stores for Indian knick knacks.
The best temple to visit in the area is Sri Veeramakakaliamman Temple, dedicated to goddess Kali. Tekka Market is a senses-assaulting place with spice stalls and shops selling saris and jewelry. Don’t miss Mustafa Centre, a 24-hour mall that sells everything from Indian ingredients to electronics and home appliances.
Also be sure to stop by for an Instagram shot at the rainbow-colored Tan Teng Niah’s former house, the only surviving Chinese villa in the area.
Catch the MRT (subway) just a few stops to Chinatown and give your kids a crash course in Singapore’s Chinese culture. You’ll not only find the best Singaporean food here, but also a vibrant market, antique shops and impressive Buddhist temples. Chinese New Year is the best time to visit Chinatown as several of the streets here are closed off to make way for a big outdoor festive market.
Head straight to the Chinatown Heritage Centre, an interactive museum that showcases the Chinese history of Singapore. Continue your walk along the open-air market on Pagoda Street, where you’ll find colorful cheongsams (traditional dress), lion dance puppets and Singaporean souvenirs. Don’t miss the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple for a spiritual experience.
Have Dinner at Maxwell Food Centre
After a long day of exploring, enjoy some wholesome, authentic local food at the Maxwell Food Centre, just across the street from Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Maxwell is known among locals as one of the best places in Singapore for food. It’s renown for having the best Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore, rice congee and rickshaw noodles. Check out my Singapore food guide for the best dishes to try in Singapore.
Have Drinks at Club Street
Just a few blocks away from Maxwell is Club Street and Ann Siang Hill. The area is lined with bars and clubs and they get pretty busy on weekends. Gem Bar is one of the best bars for people watching, but be sure to book a table if you’re coming on a weekend. You won’t miss it as hordes of people usually spill out onto the streets right outside the bar.
Then head to The Screening Room for a unique combination of movies and booze. Catch classic flicks on the big screen on the third level before moving up to the fourth floor for drinks (and stunning views of the city) at the La Terraza Rooftop Bar.
Day 3: Venture Beyond the City Centre
Day Trip to Sentosa Island
On your last day in Singapore, we recommend heading out of the city boundaries to Singapore’s own tropical playground, Sentosa Island. Those traveling Singapore with kids would be happy to know this is the place is jam-packed with theme parks and beaches.
To get there, just take the MRT (subway) to Harbourfront station and transfer to the Sentosa Express tram, cable car or bus 123. There is seriously A LOT to do here, as well as family resorts where you stay for the night. If you want to visit a few attractions, I recommend booking combo tickets that’ll you save a few bucks.
Here’s a list of the kid-friendly attractions on Sentosa:
- Tanjong Beach Club — cool beach bar with lots of cabanas and an infinity pool overlooking the sea
- Mega Adventure Park — ziplining, rock-climbing and outdoor trampolines
- S.E.A. Aquarium — one of the biggest aquariums in the world
- Universal Studio Singapore — giant theme park perfect for the young at heart
- Adventure Cove Waterpark — a water play with massive slides and a Rainbow Reef where you can snorkel with fish
- Skyline Luge and Chairlift — an exciting ride up the hill on a chairlift and whizz down on a cart
- iFly Singapore — experience ‘skydiving’ indoors
OR Day Trip to Pulau Ubin
Alternatively, if Sentosa is abit too commercialised for your liking, go off the beaten path and explore nature on the relatively-untouched islet of Pulau Ubin. Getting there is half the fun: take the MRT to Tanah Merah MRT Station, then board Bus No. 2 to Changi Village bus interchange. Changi Point jetty is not far from the bus interchange. From the jetty, take a bumboat ride (S$2 per adult one way) to Ubin. The island itself is bucolic bliss – rent bikes and go exploring.
This small, relatively flat island is the perfect place to spend a day cycling and exploring. Bike the Sensory Trail and Chek Jawa Wetlands, both filled with plenty of flora and fauna.
Treat Yourself to a Singaporean Feast
To end your 3 days in Singapore with your bang, treat yourselves to a big Singaporean feast at No Signboard Seafood Restaurant located in the Esplanade (concert hall at Marina Bay featuring a distinctive architecture).
There are quite a few famous seafood restaurants in Singapore – including Jumbo and Palm Beach – but No Signboard is my favorite. It’s got a few restaurants in Singapore, but this one at the Esplanade has the most central location and great views of the water.
Be sure to try their signature Chili Crabs (cooked in a rich, thick lava of chili gravy) or the Black Pepper Crabs which are equally popular with locals. Other Singaporean dishes worth trying are the cereal prawns, salted fish fried rice and coffee ribs.
Enjoy the Nightlife at Clarke Quay
If you’re not too tired, walk along the Singapore River to get to the colonial quarter of Boat Quay and Clarke Quay. The walk takes about 20 minutes, but you can also take a Singapore River Cruise on a bumboat (40 minutes, S$25). You get to see the city from new perspectives and it’s particularly pleasant at night. Book your river cruise in advance to save money.
Boat Quay and Clarke Quay have been the center of trade since the founding of Singapore. This area has a lot of history: you’ll see rows of restored, colonial shophouses, as well as the statue of founder Sir Stamford Raffles.
By night, Clarke Quay transforms into Singapore’s busiest nightlife hub, with endless restaurants, bars and nightclubs. One of my favorite places to go to for a drink here is Highlander, a whisky bar right in the heart of Clarke Quay. Other great spots are the Japanese style bar La Terre and live music bar The Crazy Elephant.
How to Get to Singapore
Singapore’s airport is a big hub in Southeast Asia, and serves many major cities around the world. Singapore Airlines is one of the best in the world, with excellent carriers and customer service.
You can get flights from New York to Singapore for around US$800 return (with transits in Tokyo or HongKong). Flights from Los Angeles to Singapore are slightly shorter (around 20 hours) and cost $700 return.
Flying London to Singapore is quite affordable and usually takes no more than 16 hours. I always fly Qatar Airways or British Airways as both have great track record and good prices.
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Best Time to Travel Singapore
Thanks to its location close to the equator, it’s HOT all year round in Singapore. The average temperature ranges from 26 to 30°C (or 78 to 86°F) throughout the year. Check out these wet activities to cool off with your kids!
The best time to visit is probably during the dry season (June to August). It is typically when the country has the least amount of rain, the lowest humidity, and the most sunshine. Another great time to visit Singapore is during the festivities, such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Deepavali. There are lots of celebrations, cultural performances and parades during these periods.
Be warned: Singapore gets a lot of thundershowers. The monsoon season (November to January) is when Singapore receives the most rain. Fortunately, they usually don’t last long, and the sun returns to raise humidity.
How to Get Around Singapore
By Public Transport
The efficient MRT train system is an easy and cheap way to get around Singapore with kids. It usually costs around US$1.50 to 2 per ride. Almost every part of the city is connected by the MRT. It’s air-conditioned and comfortable, although it gets crowded at rush hours (try to avoid it around 7-9am and 6-8pm).
I definitely recommend buying an EZ-Link card, a prepaid smart card that allows you to use the public transport (subway and buses) in Singapore. You can get this at any MRT station. Children below 90cm tall travel free on trains and buses.
Taxis are reasonably priced in Singapore, especially if you’re just traveling around the city centre area. Uber is also an easy and convenient way to get around the city island. But if you’re taking the taxi from the airport to the centre, it can cost more than S$30.
The airport has an MRT station and it takes around 45 minutes to reach the city centre. You can also book an airport shuttle that will bring you to any downtown hotels for less than $10.
If you’re traveling with a baby or toddler, consider renting a car as that might be the most convenient way to get around. You can book a 3-day car rental in Singapore for US$250 or S$350. I always use DiscoverCars.com as they have consistently given the best rates and customer service.
Driving is easy in Singapore as roads are wide and well signposted. Also Singapore is a small island, and driving from one end to the other takes no more than 1 hour.
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Where to Stay in Singapore
Hotels in Singapore aren’t the cheapest, as estate prices are high. That said, there are many upscale 5-star hotels and family resorts that can make your 3 days in Singapore special. Those with limited budget can also opt for hostels in Chinatown or Haji Lane area.
The Best Areas to Stay in Singapore
Choosing the right area to stay will help you make the most out of your 3 days in Singapore. For this Singapore itinerary, I recommend staying in the Marina Bay area if budget permits. Otherwise, here are the following areas you can consider:
- Marina Bay – The heart of the city with a beautiful riverfront area, close to Gardens by the Bay.
- Bugis – Walking distance from Marina Bay, with more affordable hotels.
- Haji Lane – A trendy hipster area walking distance from centre, with nice hostels.
- Chinatown – A more cultural area with bustling markets, good food, and budget hotels.
Marina Bay Sands
Dominating the city’s skyline, Marina Bay Sands is an iconic landmark of the city now and definitely one of the best hotels in Singapore. We’ve stayed here 3 times and it’s never disappointed. The rooftop pool is only open to guests, so you’ll have to stay here if swimming at the infinity pool is on your bucket list. Check rates here.