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There is a lot of things to do in Singapore, being both a modern metropolitan city and a tropical island country. Singapore is very different compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, and it is by far the easiest country we have ever traveled to in Southeast Asia. It is a modern, well organized, and spotless city where everyone speaks perfect English. In some ways, it is more comparable to cities in the USA and western Europan towns than to other Asian cities.
Singapore is probably best known as “the country that banned gum and spitting” as it is illegal to spit on the street, sell or own chewing gum, and gum can only be bought with a prescription from a doctor.
First THings First: Old-school Singapore Breakfast
If you don´t have breakfast included at your hotel, start your first day in Singapore like a real old-school Singaporean and visit a “Kopitiam” (cafe) and have kopi (coffee) or tea, Kaya toast (toast with coconut jam), and a soft-boiled egg. The right way to eat it is to crack open the egg, add some soy sauce and pepper, and dip your toast with Kaya in the egg, and eat it with your fingers. Delicious!
Morning Walking Tour
After this filling traditional Singapore breakfast, it is time to explore the heart of Singapore; the Colonial District. The Colonial District area is packed with stunning grand colonial buildings, a relaxing park, and several awesome museums. It is the perfect area to explore by foot as everything is within a rather small geographical area.
Fort Canning Park & Colonial District
Start your sightseeing walk of the Colonial District in Killiney Road (A on the map above), and walk east to Fort Canning Park (B) for a morning stroll in the shade of the gigantic green trees.
Walk east and out of the park and into the Colonial District of Singapore. See the National Museum (C), Peranakan Museum (D), St Andrew´s Cathedral (E), built in 1862, National Gallery (F), Asian Civilisations Museum (G), and the old grand Raffles Hotel (H), which is under construction at the time of writing. End your morning walk with lunch in Purvis Street (I).
Duration: 2-3 hours
Visit a Museum and The National Gallery
Visit the National Gallery and one of the many brilliant museums of Singapore, which are all within walking distance of each other (my favorite is the National Museum so I would pick that one if I were you):
- National Museum of Singapore (C) – Shows six centuries of Singapore history, also the recent history of the city. We loved the digital 3D artwork presented in the Glass Rotunda, Story of the Forest.
- Peranakan Museum (D) – Tells the story of the rich heritage of the Peranakans which are the Chinese descendants in Singapore, their culture, arts and crafts, spirituality, and food.
- National Gallery Singapore (F) – This is the most stunning national gallery we have ever visited. The building in itself is impressive (the old City Hall and Old Supreme Court buildings), housing more than 8000 pieces of 19th-century and modern Southeast Asian art pieces. Make sure to head up to the rooftop bar/ restaurant for a fantastic Singapore skyline view.
- Asian Civilisations Museum (G) – Located in a beautiful yellow and white colonial building, its galleries give you a great insight into Singapore´s heritage as a port city of trade between Southeast Asia, China, India, and Europe. One of the highlights is the Tang shipwreck that sunk more than 1000 years ago, where lots of the ceramics (the ship had over 60 0000 ceramics) is on display. We joined a free guided tour of the museum which was awesome! Highly recommended!
The museums have opening hours: 10:00 – 19:00, although some of them close later on Fridays and Saturdays (21:00 or 22:00, check their web pages).
Duration: 2-3 hours
Lunch in Purvis Street
Purvis Street, next to the Raffles Hotel, is filled with excellent restaurants and cafes. You will find something for every taste and budget, like Garibaldi serving Italian food (a bit expensive), Jai Thai that has mouth-watering and cheap Thai food, Killiney Kopitiam where you can get old Malaysian inspired food, Mexican food (we had some delicious tacos here), and French food at Saveur. Plenty to choose from and I promise that you will not leave Purvis Street hungry!
Duration: 1 hour
Merlion, a half lion and half fish, the mascot of Singapore
From Purvis Street where you had lunch (A on the map above), walk south to the river and the Quays district. Cross the Esplanade Bridge to the Merlion Park where you find the famous Merlion statue (B) – the official mascot of Singapore.
Merlion is a statue of a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. It was created as a PR-stunt by the tourism board back in the 1980s, and it soon became the icon of Singapore.
Enjoy the view of Marina Bay with the iconic Marya Bay Sands and the glittering The Esplanade Theatres on The Bay.
Gardens by the Bay
Head north along the Esplanade Bridge towards Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, and continue to walk east along Marina Promenade to the Helix Bridge (C). Take in the stunning view of the Singapore skyline while you cross the Helix Bridge. Have an ice cream at the ice cream vendor (an old man) standing at the end of Helix Bridge.
From Gardens by the Bay, walk over to the nearby Marina Bay Sands (E) along the bay promenade. Marina Bay Sands looks like a gigantic stranded ship, but it´s an architectural masterpiece by an Israeli-born architect housing a hotel, casino, theatre, exhibition, museum, and a huge shopping mall. The price for building this glittering architectural star was S$5,7 billion!
The “ship” on top of the three 55-story towers is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel´s infinity pool. Yep, the view from the rooftop swimming pool is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Sadly, only guest staying at the hotel are allowed to use the infinity pool, but you can head up for a drink in the Cé La Vi Skybar and enjoy the same view just not with the same Instagram-wow-factor.
You can either pay the S$30 entrance fee to the Sands SkyPark Observation Deck, but instead, you should just come to bar and order something to drink and enjoy the same kind of view, and you get a drink included. Supersmart if you ask me You enter the bar via the lobby of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.