Singapore is a melting pot of Asian and Western cultures with its vibrant Chinese heritage, Indian influences, Malay roots and British past. This thriving uber-modern city state is glitzy with the trendiest bars, clubs and restaurants but yet rich in beautiful heritage and traditions that many Singaporeans still hold dear. We have put together a 3 day itinerary that is comprehensive and fun. It encapsulates the multiple facets of Singapore, the past and the present, the East and the West, to ensure you get the full experience.
As Singapore is a food haven, we will be stretching your tummy while you are there. For the next 3 days, you will be having breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and a late night supper. We also advise switching your body clock to a couple of hours later. Lunch at 2 pm, dinner at 9 pm and supper at 1 am. This is fine as most dining places in Singapore open round the clock.
Disclaimer: For your convenience, we have included affiliate links to items which we have found useful. We will receive a commissions from the sellers if you purchase through these links.
Best time to go
The month running up Chinese New Year is the best time to visit Singapore as the city dresses up for the occasion. But do avoid the actual two days of Chinese New Year as most bars/ restaurants/ cafes will be closed.
Other festivals like Eid, Diwali (Deepavali) and Christmas are also good times to visit. You can check the date of these festivals here.
The weather is fairly consistent all year round with a little bit more rainfall in November to January. Hence, not really a factor to think too much about.
Day 1: Chinese heritage and the fascinating garden
Our itinerary begins where modern Singapore arguably started. Many of the forefathers of Singaporeans today would have started life there after migrating from China in the mid-1800s. The time when the British transformed this little island into one of the most important ports in their East to West trading routes. Today’s Chinatown stretches from Pagoda Street to Sago Street and topped and tailed by Eu Tong Sen Street and South Bridge Road. It is filled with colourfully restored old shophouses and street market stalls, and has retained much of its warm community spirit.
Learn about bird’s nest at Yue Hwa
Start your exploration at Yue Hwa (yuehwa.com.sg, map), a six-storey department store famous for their traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. In addition to medicinal herbs, it is also a great place to buy snacks and bites. You will also find Chinese traditional clothing (e.g. cheongsam), tea leaves & tea sets, paintings, porcelain vases, buddha statues as well as furniture. Don’t just think about this place as a retail shop, it is a great place to learn about the Singapore Chinese culture. The attentive staff will gladly explain to you what each herb does – probably better than most museum tour guides. Do not leave this place without learning a bit about bird’s nest, ginseng, and tortoise/turtle jelly.
Taste sweet barbecued pork at Lim Chee Guan
From there, cross the road to New Bridge Road and head for Lim Chee Guan (limcheeguan.com.sg, map) on the junction into Pagoda Street. The air will be filled with sweet aroma of barbecue as you approach. Lim Chee Guan is one of the stalwart of “bahkwa” – sweet barbecued minced pork slices. It is a food snack unique to Singapore & Malaysia and is a huge local favourite. Try the free samples that they will be handing out. We recommend getting the signature sliced pork, crispy seaweed floss and the naughty BBQ bacon.
Be humbled at Chinatown Heritage Centre
Continue down Pagoda Street and stop off at Chinatown Heritage Centre (chinatownheritagecentre.com.sg, map), a time capsule offering an insight to the humbling way of life in the bygone days. Be awed by the earnestly recreated rooms, with all its details, and how the stories and sounds from the audio guide masterfully brings them to life. (Entry fee: S$18 pp)
Visit an Indian temple
At the end of Pagoda Street, you will find the colourful Sri Mariamman Temple (map). Not quite what you expect to come across in a Chinatown, but this is why Singapore is a melting pot of cultures. Built in 1827, it is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. The entrance is a colourful, eye-catching six tier tower packed with sculptures of Hindu mythical figures. The vibrant colours and intricate sculptures continues inside.
Pay homage to Chinese egg tarts
From the temple, cross the road and head towards Tong Heng Delicacies (tongheng.com.sg, map). You are here to pay homage to the irresistible diamond shaped egg custard tarts. The crust is a shortcrust pastry and it is filled to the brim with delicious silky soft egg custard. Grab a little rest and enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee.
Salivate at local favourites
With the tummy warmed-up, cross back to Smith Street, officially christened to Chinatown Food Street (chinatownfoodstreet.sg, map). This pedestrianised, sheltered street is lined with hawker food stalls offering the local favourites. Your taste buds will be salivating with the smell of stir fried noodles, barbecued chicken wings and satay (meat skewers). You can choose to have lunch here but we would recommend holding off. Worth grabbing some of the goodies to snack along the way though.
Scour the street market
Make a left when you get to the junction with Trengganu St and you are at the Street Market. With stalls lined up on both sides of the street and goods creatively packed to maximise the limited real estate, it is a spectacular sight. If you are in the market for chopsticks, lanterns, Chinese calligraphy paintbrushes, bracelets, fridge magnets, keychains, scarves, paper fan and soft toys, you have found your shopping haven.
Be awed at the Chinese temple
The final stop of the morning itinerary is the stunning 5 storey Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (btrts.org.sg, map), at the end of Sago Street. It is an imposing lacquered red, white and green symmetrical building with a beautiful multi-level roof structure. The grandeur extends inside with a jaw-dropping grand double height hall in bright red and gold. The wall is filled with thousands of little Buddha statues marking donations from devotees. The place is mellowed with the soothing smell of incense burnt as offering as well as chanting of prayers in the background.
Step up to the first, second and third floor to explore the museum. You will find tributes to prominent monks in recent history as well as artefacts of Buddha’s teachings throughout history. The star of the show is on the fourth floor. Behind glass windows, is a golden room with a 3.5 metre tall, 3.5 tonne stupa made from 320 kg of gold at the centre. Within it is where the namesake Buddha’s tooth relic is kept.
Before leaving, take a short break on the tranquil roof garden. It is one of our favourites spot in the temple.
Please remember to cover your shoulders and knees when visiting the temple, though scarves are available to borrow by the entrance if forget.
First lunch – chicken or beef?
With a fruitful morning, it is now time for some lunch. You will soon find that you will be spoilt for choice for every meal in Singapore and in between them. Below are three options we recommend while in Chinatown.
One and only Michelin star street food at Hawker Chan
An opportunity to try “The world’s first hawker Michelin-starred Meal” sounds like something that no one should miss out on. The soya chicken from food stall owner Chef Chan Hon Meng was awarded this title in 2016 and it instantly received global recognition. Choose from the original stall in Chinatown Complex Food Centre (map) or the restaurant on No. 78 Smith St (liaofanhawkerchan.com, map). No reservation available unfortunately.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Centre
If Michelin star does not tickle your fancy, head over to Maxwell Food Centre and patiently join the long queue for a plate of succulent Hainanese Chicken Rice from Bib Gourmand decorated Tian Tian (map). No reservation available unfortunately. It is a simple cut portion of poached chicken served with fragrant rice cooked in the poaching broth. Dip the chicken in the combination of spicy chilli sauce, dark soy sauce and minced ginger for the full experience.
Burnt Ends on Keong Saik Road
This Michelin-starred restaurant (burntends.com.sg, map) is one of the best steakhouse in Singapore (or Asia). It is another 5 mins walk from Maxwell Food Centre, just off trendy Keong Saik Road. They are famed for the juiciest grilled beef. But unlike most Michelin-starred restaurants, the seats are counter top facing the kitchen for a vibrant dining experience. There is one dining table available for a dinner party of 6/8. Two to three months advance booking required.
Enjoy Gardens by the Bay
After lunch, it is time for a walk in the park. In the tropical heat of Singapore, this can only be achieved in the two temperature controlled shell-shaped domes at Gardens by the Bay (gardensbythebay.com.sg, map). The design and landscape of these two gardens are truly unique and mesmerising. It uses height, technology and theatrics that you won’t have experienced in any other gardens. (Entry fee: S$28 pp)
Get there for about 4 pm and start at the Flower Dome. The Flower Dome replicates the cool and dry Mediterranean climate in peak flowering season spring. But it won’t be just olives, figs and palms that you will see here. The path will bring you to see the prickly cactus from the desert, odd-shaped giant African baobabs trees, Bird of Paradise flowers from the South African Garden and Kangaroo’s Paw from the Australian Garden. It is fascinating to see all these plants under one roof.
Next is the Cloud Dome. The climate here mimics the tropical highlands where orchids, pitcher plants and ferns flourish. Admire the spectacular 30 metre waterfall. Appreciate plants you will only see at 2,000 metres above sea level on the Cloud Walk. Marvel at the bird’s eye view of the forest canopy from the Tree Top Walk.
At about five or six in the evening, the weather will be a little bit cooler and you should now make your way to the Supertrees. They are impressive in daylight, but it is truly magic at night. The artistically designed multi coloured lights dance in time to to a soundtrack and transport you to an Avatar-like garden – one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Stay for the 7.45pm Garden Rhapsody light and sound show.
There is a fantastic kids water play area at the Children’s Garden with changing facilities. A great way to cool off from the tropical heat. Do bring along a change of clothes for the little ones if you want to make use of it.
Apart from the 3 areas mentioned, Gardens by the Bay also has another indoor flower garden, a few more outdoor gardens and lakes with many more flowers, plants, trees as well as art sculptures. You can easily spend the whole day if you want to cover the whole garden.
There are special events throughout the year like Tulipmania, Orchid Extravaganza as well as festivals and music concerts at the garden. Do check out their calendar on their website for your travel dates.
After the show, walk about 15 mins to the exit/entrance and take a 5 min taxi ride from the taxi stand to dinner. Below are three options for dinner in the vicinity:
Local delights at Lau Pa Sat
For a full local experience, head to Lau Pa Sat (map), an octagonal-shaped building hosting many food stalls in the heart of the financial district. The building, built in 1894, is reminiscent of a Victorian food market with its slender cast iron columns topped with filigree roof supports. You will find all the local favourites there from bak chor mee & wanton mee (dry noodles), char kway teow & hokkien mee (stir fried noodles) to chicken rice and oyster omelette. There is also a stretch of street stalls filling the air with delicious smell of sizzling barbecue meat skewers next to it.
Chilli and pepper crab at Palm Beach Seafood
You cannot leave Singapore without trying the famed Chilli Crab or Black Pepper Crab. Palm Beach Seafood (palmbeachseafood.com, map) is one of the best places to try this and that’s without taking into account the amazing view of the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) hotel that comes with it. Hence, make sure you ask for one of the prime alfresco tables. Be prepared to get your hands and fingers dirty. The sweet spiciness of the chilli magnifies the sweetness of the fresh crab meat. Equally amazing is the hot peppery version. You should be in time to catch the 9.30 pm light show from MBS and admire the Merlion as you dine.
Gastronomy at Waku Ghin by Tetsuya Wakuda
For a truly gastronomic experience, make yourself a reservation at the 25-seat astronomical Waku Ghin (tetsuyas.com, map). Be prepared to shell out top dollar for the masterfully prepared tasting menu, as it is worth it for all the taste buds that it has tantalised. Enjoy the mouth-watering wagyu beef with wasabi and yuzu soy, sweet Botan (a Hokkaido specialty) red shrimps with sea urchin and Beluga caviar and gorgeous pan-seared tachiuo (silver beltfish). This restaurant is a 15 min walk from the Supertrees through Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Alfresco beer or cocktail
If you are looking to carry on after dinner, there are plenty of options for things do in this amazing city, which truly comes alive after dark.
Enjoy the amazing view from the world’s highest urban microbrewery
A 7 min walk from Lau Pa Sat is LeVel 33 (level33.com.sg, map), a micro-brewery with arguably the best rooftop view of Singapore’s financial district. Try their in-house craft beers on the open-to-the-sky terrace and soak in the unobstructed panoramic view.
Ce La Vi
If you are in Marina Bay Sands hotel, head up to level 57 for the classy and trendy bar lounge of Ce La Vi (celavi.com, map). As with LeVel 33, you will find a prime view of the Singapore skyline. Be prepared for a great atmosphere, beautiful crowd and amazing music.
Clarke Quay or Boat Quay
Or if you are up for a proper night out, jump into a taxi with your dancing shoes and head over to Clarke Quay or Boat Quay. Clarke Quay (map) is the nightlife destination of Singapore. There are bars, pubs, restaurants, clubs, superclubs and amazing riverside view. Boat Quay (map) is a little more low key, but not any less hedonistic with its rows of pubs and riverside restaurants.
A Singapore style nightcap?
Before calling it a night, rather than a chilli cheese dog or a kebab, head over to Hai Di Lao (haidilao.com/sg, map) for a Chinese hotpot. Cook your own meat balls, prawns, noodles on your very own dining table. A truly unique and fun experience. This place closes at 6 am!
Day 2: Discover Sentosa and shop Orchard Road
A morning in another island
Being a small island country, Singaporeans did not have many options for a staycation. In order to overcome that, they drew up plans to transform a little island on the southern tip into a world-class holiday destination. And they have outdone themselves on it with the only Universal Studios in Southeast Asia, a maritime museum, a trick eye museum, one of the largest aquariums in the world, a 47m bungy jump, a 450m zip-line, cable cars, a 37m tall Merlion statue, an 18-hole golf course, top-rated hotels, beaches, beach clubs and abundance of food and drinks outlets.
Many will have an amazing weekend here. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of time. Hence, our itinerary recommends that you spend about 3 hours at the Adventure Cove Waterpark to take full advantage of the warm weather or at Kidzania (if you are travelling with kids between 6-12 years old).
Adventure Cove Waterpark
As the name suggests, Adventure Cove Waterpark (rwsentosa.com, map) is a big playground for adults and kids alike. Get the adrenalin rush bombing down the high-speed slides, jump around at the wave pool, bob around in the lazy river, jump the wave pool…Sea Trek Adventure allows you to . Our favourite is the sea water Rainbow Reef where you get to do a snorkelling lap with little Nemo and his many friends. If that’s not enough, you can also sign-up for some of the extra experiences where you can get up-close-and-personal with stingrays, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins or even hammerhead and silvertip sharks. (Entry fee: S$38 pp)
There are variable sized lockers that you can rent for a small fee while you are there at the changing/shower facility. Remember to pack towels and some shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.
It gets busy on the weekend and hence longer queues for the rides. If possible, try to go on a weekday.
If you are travelling with kids between 6-12 years of age, and you have not been to a Kidzania (kidzania.com.sg, map), head straight to it in Sentosa. It is one of the best recreational parks for kids where they have magically combined learning, fun and inspiration through role-play. Step into a scaled indoor city where your kids can try their hands at becoming a radio DJ, a pilot, a paperboy/girl, a dancer, assemble a burger and of course as a firefighter.
Each role play job is designed to last 20 – 30 minutes and is thoroughly explained by enthusiastic staff. They will then be guided by them as they perform the role together with 8 – 10 other kids. At the end of the job, they will be paid, in Kidzania dollars, which they can spend to reward themselves. The only downside is that there isn’t much for the parents, hence you should come armed with a good book. (Entry fee: S$58.90 per kid, S$33.25 per adult online)
It is impossible to complete all the activities available. We recommend doing some homework before you go and plan which jobs might be interesting for your little ones. With 3 hours, do not expect to be able to do more than 5 jobs. We would recommend trying out being a paperboy/girl, a firefighter, a dancer and assembling a burger as a chef as well as making a milk drink as a junior scientist.
They issue out Secure Queue Cards at a few of the most popular jobs like pilot and pizza shop. This will allow you to pre-book a space for the job at the allocated session. Find out the time of issuance from the notice outside the shops/offices. Make sure you return to queue 5 -10 mins before it starts.
Refuel at 3 Michelin star French restaurant
From Sentosa, take a 20 min taxi ride to Les Amis (lesamis.com.sg, map) in Shaw Centre, just off Orchard Road. This restaurant introduced fine dining to Singapore in 1994 and has set the standards since then. Perfectionist Chef Sebastien Lepinoy, joined in 2013 and has consistently brought out the best flavours from prized seasonal produce from France under this roof. The lunch menu is one work of art to another. The beautiful cold angel hair pasta with kombu (seaweed), caviar and black truffle starter is divine. The roast duck is made from ducks from Challans. A commune 50 km from Nantes, allegedly is the best breeding and rearing ground for poultry in France. Don’t forget to pick a nice bottle of wine from their selection of 3,000 choices to accompany the delightful lunch.
Shop till you drop at Orchard Road
No visit to Singapore will be complete without walking down Orchard Road, the Champs-Elysees, Oxford Street or Fifth Avenue equivalent in this city state. The main shopping area starts from the junction with Scotts Road (where Les Amis is) to the junction with Killiney Road. Along the stretch, you will find high-end luxury boutiques from all the global brands in Ion Orchard, Ngee Ann City, Paragon, Mandarin Gallery, as well as outlets from up and coming local designers as well as aspiring students trying to make their mark in Far East Plaza. You will also find specialist areas like camera equipment in Lucky Plaza, electronics in Far East Plaza and hip youngster brands in Cineleisure Orchard & 313@Somerset.
We would recommend picking two or three of the main shopping complexes and make your way through them at your desired pace.
If you need a little escape from the shopping, head to level 11 & 12 of Orchard Central. There is a charming roof garden overlooking the city waiting for you there.
Dinner & Drinks
Soothe by an extensive retail therapy, it is time to continue on our itinerary to explore the culinary offering in Singapore. We have lined up another three options close to Orchard Road below:
Fun & playful at Tippling Club in Tanjong Pagar
Tippling Club (tipplingclub.com, map) is a well-known entity in Singapore’s dining scene, established since 2008 by British chef Ryan Clift from Wiltshire. It is not just a restaurant but an establishment for a fun and playful night out. Known for constantly pushing the envelope and experimentation on tastes, flavours, scents, textures and colours to create the most incredible cocktails as well as dishes. Each item on the menu in this modern European restaurant is backed by hours of scientific testing and is meticulously prepared and assembled to ensure you enjoyed them. Do fall in love with the peranakan floor tiles. After dinner, walk over to Duxton Hill and enjoy a couple of drinks at one of the many bars lining up the street.
Finest Peking duck and heavenly chicken wings
Singapore has some of the finest Chinese restaurants and Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck (imperialtreasure.com, map) in Paragon is definitely on that list. They are dedicated to ensuring that each Peking Duck that comes out from their kitchen is roasted to crisp perfection and they are doing to great job at it. The pursuit of perfection extends to the elegant setting of the restaurant as well as the impeccable service. Please remember to pre-order for the Peking Duck when you make your reservation.
Take a 8 min walk to Ice Cold Beer Bar (ice-cold-beer.com, map) on Emerald Hill after dinner. It is a lively pub with classic rock music and live sports. But the real reason for being there is for the Prawn Paste Chicken Wings. It is a succulent deep fried chicken wing marinated with a local dried shrimp paste. This is the best you will find in Singapore, or anywhere for that matter. Heavenly.
Rich flavours at Michelin Star peranakan restaurant Candlenut
How about the world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant? Peranakan, or Baba & Nyonya, is an ethnic race descended from Chinese migrants in the 15th century who settled in Singapore as well as Penang, Melaka and Indonesia, inter-marrying with local Malays. This intertwined their cultures and has created a unique cuisine blending Chinese and local Malay ingredients, spices and techniques. The flavours are normally tangy from use of lime/lemon, rich from coconut milk or pandan leaves, spicy from generous helpings of chillies and fragrant from the use of lemongrass, tamarind sauce and kaffir lime leaves. Chef Malcolm Lee has taken this flavoursome cuisine to new heights in Candlenut (comodempsey.sg, map) and you will be in for a treat. After dinner, hop over to one of the bars or restaurants in Dempsey to carry on the night.
Supper of deep fried chicken wings with sweet spicy dip
If you fancy another Singapore styled night cap, hop into a taxi and head for Ponggol Nasi Lemak (ponggolnasilemak.com.sg, map). Nasi Lemak is simply coconut rice served with a deep fried chicken, crispy anchovies with peanuts, a fried egg, sweet spicy chill dip and a few sliced of cucumber. It is a very popular dish and this is the place to have it. The restaurant is a no-frills place with basic plastic tables and chairs. But it makes up for the simplicity with the punches it unleashes from the rich flavours and flawlessly executed dishes. Those chicken wings deserve a spot in the culinary hall of fame. There is no rush to get to this place as it closes at 2.30 am.
Breakfast at Tiong Bahru Market
The final day of the itinerary starts with a visit to a fresh produce market followed by breakfast in Tiong Bahru. Tiong Bahru is an increasingly trendy hipster area with artisan cafe and bakeries like the Tiong Bahru Bakery, 40 Hands, Plain Vanilla Bakery, quirky boutiques (Nana & Bird, BooksActually, Woods in the Books) and art galleries drawen to the area by the 1930s Streamline Moderne architecture of the area. But at the heart of it is the Tiong Bahru Market (map).
Fresh food market
On the ground floor of this two storey building is over 250 stalls selling fresh meat, seafood, vegetables, eggs, fruit, local herbs and spices as well as plants and flowers. Check out the bright red dragon fruits and try to find some ingredients used at the Peranakan/Nyonya restaurant last night. If you have a self catering place, it is definitely a good idea to pick up some of the fresh produce available and try your hand at making a local dish with all the spices available there.
Cooked food market
There is a mind-boggling 83 food stalls on the 1st floor of the Tiong Bahru Market (tiongbahru.market), above the fresh food market. It is generally regarded as one of the best hawker food markets in Singapore and we do agree as it is spacious, well ventilated and clean. Take a walk to check out what is on offer. Following the crowd and joining the longer queues is a tested and proven approach in a foreign land. Below are three we picked that you must try.
Jian Bo Chwee Kueh – stall #02-05 – Chwee Kueh 水粿 is a soft savoury rice flour pudding topped with flavoursome preserved radish. It is a traditional Teochew Chinese breakfast. The magic is in the topping which is made of preserved radish, dried shrimps, shallots and garlic and this stall has got it spot on it. Go for 8 pieces rather than 4 as you will kick yourself if you don’t. Add a teaspoon of the complimentary chilli oil on the side to give it a little punch.
HarriAnn’s Delights – stall #02-25 – This stall is all about snacks and goodies. Try the pandan coconut kueh salat, the rainbow colour jelly and their signature glutinuous rice with braised peanuts. A must have is the onde-onde, the green pandan flavoured glutinous rice balls filled with caramel-like palm sugar (gula melaka) and sprinkled with desiccated coconut. The filling will explode in your mouth as you bite into it, love them.
Tiong Bahru Fried Kway Teow – stall #02-11 – This is one of the stalwart of the market who has been around for over 40 years. Masterfully stir fried plate of flat rice noodles with fish cakes, Chinese sausage and cockles.
The cooked food hawker stalls close on random days of the week, generally Wednesdays and Sundays. Do check out their opening times here if there is a specific stall you really want to try.
As with other cooked food hawker centres in Singapore, all the stall owners are conversant in English.
A Malay community and the centre of Singapore’s creativity drive
Our itinerary then brings you to the big daddy of hipster area in Singapore, a short 12 min taxi ride away. Haji Lane, or Kampong Glam as it is also referred, is an eclectic mix of local Malay Muslim community with Middle Eastern Arabic culture peppered with a good dose of Western and other Asian flavours. Apart from the visual beauty, Haji Lane is also a facet of Singapore to experience to understand its development. The government has allowed positive youth culture/creativity to be self-cultivated and thrive there. This is Singapore response to critics of its development challenges as it seeks to let creativity blossom among the next generation of Singaporeans. Experience it yourself and tell us what you think.
Colourful mural and hipster boutiques/cafes/bars
Start your exploration at the junction of Beach Road and Haji Lane (map). As the name suggest, this is the heart of the operation. It is a vibrant street lined with cafes/bars/boutiques, artistically decorated with bold colourful wall murals. Pop in and out to scrutinise the many unique boutiques selling handmade fashion accessories, the latest party games or board games, locally designed home decor and many more. Update your insta feed with a selfie together with the colourful street art. While you are at it, tuck into a frozen margarita at Piedra Negra, or an infused coconut water at Limaa.
Beyond Haji Lane in Kampong Glam
Loop back onto Arab St at the end of Haji Lane. There are a number of Middle Eastern shops selling Persian carpets and Moroccan lamps as well as fabric shops that have been there since the days when the area was filled with pilgrims on the way or just returned from Mecca. Today, the booming young entrepreneurs and designers inspired by Haji Lane are taking over and transforming the area creating an eclectic interesting street. Continue to wonder down Baghdad St as well as Bussorah St for the full experience. Don’t forget to marvel at the golden onion-shaped Sultan Mosque (map) before you leave.
Mrs Pho (mrspho.com, map)
For authentic Vietnamese fare, walk over to Mrs Pho for some wholesome soup noodles with tasty rare beef slices and tender beef balls. The restaurant playfully recreates the excitement of street dining in the 1970s in Vietnam with its bare walls, metal topped tables and plastic chairs but in the clean cool air-conditioned restaurant. Tuck into the crispy deep fried pork spring rolls, off the chart sliced beef and brisket noodle soup, grilled pork chop rice and don’t miss out on the stir fried cockles with garlic.
Hjh Maimunah Restaurant (hjmaimunah.com, map)
This is the place to come to if you want to try Nasi Padang and this will be clear from the long queue outside the restaurant. Nasi Padang is a traditional Malay cuisine, commonly found in Malaysia, Singapore & Indonesia, which is made up of a plate of plain rice with a selection of dishes of your choice. This no-frills restaurant runs a Subway-like system where you join the queue and pick the dishes you want for your meal from a selection of 40 options. It is common to pick three or four with a mix of meat and vegetable dishes. The popular dishes are beef rendang (dry beef curry), lemak siput (coconut escargot curry), tahu telur (bean curd omelette) and the signature juicy Sundanese grilled chicken (from West Java, Indonesia).
Try the best Swiss roll?
One more final stop on the itinerary before leaving Kampong Glam. Rich & Good Cakes (@richandgoodcakeshop, map), is the best Swiss Roll maker on the island. They have been churning out these perfectly soft and moist cakes since 1997. It comes in all variety of flavours from the classics like chocolate, strawberry to the local favourites like kaya, green tea and durian. It will not be right not to allow your taste buds to try them.
Sights, sounds and scents of India
After learning about how the Chinese community started life in Singapore in Chinatown and walking the streets of the Malay community in Kampong Glam, our itinerary will bring you to Little India to learn about the South Indian community, the smallest ethic race in Singapore. Little India is centred around Serangoon Rd, loosely bordered by Racecourse Road, Sungei Road, Jalan Besar and arguably goes as far as Lavender Street.
Start your tour of Little India at the junction of Serangoon Road and Sungei Road. It will be unmistakably obvious that you are there. You will feel that you have been instantly transported to Mumbai in India. The usually organised traffic has suddenly turned chaotic with cars criss-crossing roads. There are crowds overflowing onto the streets. Serangoon Road is lined with busy goldsmiths, money changers, restaurants, coffee shops, mobile phone shops, clothing and saree shops. Just enjoy the lively sights, sounds and scents that are so characteristic of this place.
Little India Arcade
From Serangoon Road, turn into Campbell Lane and enter the arcade on your right. Meander through the many stalls selling all sorts of colourful products, from yellow, orange and red flower garlands for prayers to traditional sarees, scarves, pillow cases, cloth bags and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Indian Heritage Centre (indianheritage.org.sg, map)
At the end of Campbell Street is the India Heritage Centre. Spend about an hour and be taken on a chronological journey of the Indian community in Singapore & Southeast Asia. Learn about the migration, the British influence, the cattle trade and how this community has help shaped the Singapore today. (Entry fee: S$8 pp)
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (srivkt.org, map)
From the museum, continue to explore the many streets in the area working your way northeast towards the colourful Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Religion plays a big part of life for Indians and this temple has been the focal point for the community since the 1st wave of migration. Find out why this goddess wears a garland made of human skulls and a belt with beheaded faces and limbs. The temple was allegedly unscathed from the bombing in WWII and is taunted by many as a miracle from the goddess. Rejoice in the beautiful scent from the flowers and incense and admire the colourful sculptures of the deities adorning its towering entrance and the intricacies of the thousands of ornaments.
Please remember to cover your shoulders when visiting the temple, although scarves are provided for those who forget.
Best time to visit the temple is during one of their four daily worships (pooja). Check out the times on their website above.
An early dinner
Before heading out to the Night Safari at 6.30 pm, grab an early dinner at about 5.30 pm. There are many splendid options at hand, but it will not be right to miss out on the below restaurant in Little India.
Expanded from Bengaluru in India, Mavalli Tiffin Rooms, or MTR for short, is one of our favourite restaurants in Singapore, and we are sure it will be one of yours too. This vegetarian restaurant is a no-frills place, basic but clean, organised and professional. The food is of the highest quality. But the star of the show is their Dosa, a humble pancake made from rice flour and black lentils. They are churned out flawlessly, crunchy on the outside and spongy on the inside. You can either enjoy it plain or stuffed with spiced potatoes. It opens at 5.30pm, and will likely to be busy and a little bit chaotic there, but like the rest of Little India, just make sure you let the staff at the reception know that you have arrived and you will be seated when it is your turn. Closed on Mondays.
Peep into animal’s nocturnal life
It will take about 25 mins to get from Little India to the Night Safari (wrs.com.sg, map). We would recommend getting there for the 1st admission at 7.15 pm to the make the most of it. Night Safari is a journey into the tropical jungle after sunset in the comfort of a 40-minute tram ride. Queue for the ride by the entrance and through it you will see Asian elephants, lions, tigers, tapirs, rhinos and many more. Each of them stepping onto their “stage” as the tram passes for your admiration. Do tell us when you figure out how they do that.
After the ride, head to the amphitheatre for a mesmerising 25 min “Creatures of the Night Show”. It runs at 7.15 pm, 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm, hence you can also catch it as soon as you get in. Lastly, you are free to do the walking trail covering the Fishing Cat Trail, Leopard Trail, the Walkways and the Forest Giants Trail. This will take about 60 – 90 mins on a normal pace. (Entry fee: S$40.80 pp online)
A Singapore Sling
From the Night Safari, take a taxi back to the city centre and head for the iconic Raffles Hotel. This is the perfect place to wrap up this whirlwind tour of this amazing little dot on Earth. Named after the “founder” of Singapore, this hotel has retained its historic charm. You easily imagine what it would have been like to be there in Singapore when this hotel opened its doors in 1887. Wonder about and make your way to the historic Long Bar, where the famous Singapore Sling was invented. Enjoy the plantation-inspired interior, tuck into some monkey nuts (it is apparently a tradition) and recount the memories that have been made in the last three days. Last order at 1 am on Friday and Saturday night, midnight on other days.
Supper of frog leg porridge or Vietnamese noodles
If you are not ready to pack it up yet after a few Slings, we hope you are not, jump into a taxi and head to Singapore’s red-light district, Geylang, for some supper.
If you are French or have been to France, you will know that frog legs are also consumed there. We would say that it is a cross between chicken and fish. In Singapore, frog legs are normally cooked in a clay pot over charcoal flame with ginger, spring onions, chilli and soy sauce. It is mixed in with rice porridge for a wholesome supper. Eminent Frog Porridge is one of the most popular places to have this dish and it is very popular with the locals. Come on, you have to try it.
If frog leg porridge is a tad too adventurous for you, head over to Joo Chiat instead and tuck into some traditional Vietnamese soup noodles in the no-frills Long Phung – Singapore’s best Vietnamese street food. This is also a hot favourite with the locals, hence be prepared to queue even at 1 am. Enjoy the “Special Noodle” with it warm savoury beef broth with a hint of salt, pepper and sweetness. The pho noodle melts in your mouth and the beef slices and balls are delicious. Do help yourself to some of the amazing crispy spring rolls and fresh cockles.
We hope that you have found our 3 day itinerary & travel tips to Singapore useful if you are planning your first trip there. Please pardon us, if your favourites are not in the itinerary. We could only fit so much into 3 days. As always would love to hear from you on this.
Additional Travel Tips:
Travelling by cab/taxi within Singapore is very good value and vital to maximise the time you have. There isn’t Uber in Singapore but there is a trusty regional player by the name of Grab (grab.com). Just download the app and it works exactly the same as Uber. The underground train is one of the most efficient in the world, but given how good value cab/taxi/Grab is, we would recommend sticking to them.
Sun protection and mosquito repellent – Make sure you pack your sunglasses, a hat/cap, sun lotion and mosquito spray and maybe even a parasol/umbrella. The sun is unforgiving there and it is a hardworking fella.
Travel power adapter – Singapore uses type G power outlets and plugs (three rectangular pin plugs) – the same as the UK. Standard voltage is 220/240 V with a frequency of 50 Hz. Hence, don’t forget to pack a travel power adaptor. Here is a link to one we have tried and tested.
For additional reading on this amazing city, you may want to check out our selection of top books on a perfect holiday in Singapore from our Amazon Associates links below.