One Quick Singaporean Stopover
Whether you’re making the long-haul journey to Europe, exploring Asia in-depth or looking for a quick cosmopolitan getaway – Singapore is well-worthy of a spot in your itinerary. Even if only for 48 hours to relax and rejuvenate before your onward travels. While other Asian cities wear their culture on their sleeves, Singapore’s incredibly diverse multiculturalism is not immediately obvious. However, if you scratch the surface, you will see what I mean.
Singapore completely took me by surprise. I have said it many times before on this blog (I almost sound like a broken record) – I don’t like cities. They’re loud, smelly, dirty, full of people, and sometimes just downright full on. There are a few cities, however, which have caught me by surprise in my travels and I am starting to wonder if I should revise my ‘hating cities’ statement. Singapore is none of those things. It’s clean, safe, and not smelly at all. To me, it felt more like a compilation of multi-cultural suburbs thrown into a melting pot called ‘Singapore’.
Alright, alright… so, want to know how to kill 48 hours in Singapore? You better keep reading then…
Who Fly’s There?
The main two airlines you have to choose from, exiting Australia are Singapore Airlines and Scoot (Singapore’s low-cost carrier). Singapore Airlines fly from Sydney to Singapore direct at least three times daily! You can pick up their fares for as little as $600 return if you get in early. Scoot also fly at least once daily, and while their fares are cheaper, they are the ‘no-frills’ airline and literally just include your seat – but hey, if the budget fits, why not?
If you’re looking at making the stop en-route to Europe, you will need to fly with Singapore, British Airways or Qantas to be able to go via Singapore. Look for a fare that enables a stop-over, as not all will allow it.
When to Go?
Anytime! Singapore’s weather remains the same year-round – hot and muggy – every damn day. If you have hair prone to frizziness – leave you’re hair straightener at home (hellooo frizz fest).
As for busy-ness – Singapore is always thriving, so if you’re planning to go, make sure you book well in advance as accommodation can get really pricey.
Where to Stay?
Pretty much anywhere near an MRT station! The metro is extremely well-developed and cost effective over there – just about anywhere you’ll stay will be within 5 minutes walk of the closest metro. We stayed in Little India which was a good location for budget friendly accommodation (and also to find a great curry!).
Other popular areas to stay include: Clark Quay, Lavender Street and Bugis.
You can expect to pay around $80 per night for a bed in a hostel dorm, $100 for a private room, and anywhere from $200 upwards for a small, window-less hotel room. Get in early folks, we sure didn’t!
Hot tip: be careful to check the room type at your selected hotel! Many properties have rooms without windows which are often the cheapest. If you get claustrophobic like me, pay the little bit extra to at least have some natural light!
Now the logistics are out of the way – it’s time for the fun part…
What to Do with Yourself for 48 Hours!
Gardens by the Bay
This was my favourite part of our Singapore stopover – hands down! It is crazy to think that this 101 hectares of natural oasis exists within a concrete jungle. You can easily spend hours wandering around the Garden’s and all its different sections, cleverly clustered together to represent different climates and natures.
Holy Greenery – Spend the afternoon wandering among this beautiful natural oasis!
The outside gardens are freeeeee, and they are more than enough for those on a budget (me). My favourite area was the Supertree Grove. The Supertree’s range from 25 to 50 metres tall and some of them have solar energy harvesting powers! The flowers and plant life that are growing vertically up these trees are stunning. Not to mention, by nightfall, these trees come alive with amazing light and sound shows. The theme when we were there was Star Wars for May 4th! We spent a solid 3 hours relaxing on the grass, wandering to different areas of the park, and taking photo’s from 1 million different angles of these Supertree’s – and I did not get bored of it.
The Supertree’s come to life at dusk feat. Marina Bay Sands.
If/when I return to Singapore, I would 100% spend the money to enter the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. How they’ve managed to replicate plant-life, and atmosphere of 2000 metres above sea level is beyond me. To enter these exhibitions, you’re looking at $28 each. Just a
lot little out of our backpacker budget.
Hot tip: My honest opinion is not to bother with Satay by the Bay – we found the food pricey (for street style food) and really underwhelming. I left feeling hungry and out of pocket.
Marina Bay Sands
A trip to Singapore would not be complete without a visit to the famous Marina Bay Sands – you know the one –
the tall, elegant hotel with the infamous infinity pool shaped like a boat sitting on top (pictured above, der). I’m not normally one for man-made architecture – but I’ve got to say I was quite impressed by this building. If you’re wanting to swim in the infinity pool, you will have to spend the night at the Marina Bay Sands – at about $500 a pop (ouch!). You can still admire the view from the top by purchasing tickets to the Sky Park, or heading up to the bar for a drink.
Hot tip: Make sure you wear appropriate clothing (especially long pants for males) and footwear – and take your I.D.! I would also recommend calling ahead to the hotel to check the bar is not booked out for a private event. We were epically disappointed when we fronted up, on the only night possible, in our best, backpacker clothing, to be turned away.
You can also spend hours wandering through the Marina Bay Sands shopping complex. In the centre, you will find gondola rides, speciality cafes, designer brand shops and shops to buy anything from super hero paraphernalia or a brand new Ferrari – whatever your little heart desires!
Haji Lane, Arab Street & China Town
You could easily spend the whole of your second day venturing around Singapore’s multicultural hot spots. It is incredible how people of such different cultures, religions and walks of life, can exist so peacefully so close to one another in Singapore – when this unfortunately does not happen elsewhere.
In Arab Street, you’ll find the Sultan Mosque, so beautiful and welcoming. Prepare to pull a robe over your clothing to enter the mosque, if you’re not covered up, but definitely take the time to wander around. Not knowing much about the Muslim religion, I found it interesting to read about the history of their religion and culture and the basis of their beliefs. The whole Kampong Glam area was really quite trendy and fun to meander through.
Two streets over, and you’ll find yourself in gorgeous Haji Lane. Filled with murals, street art, cute cafes and niche clothing stores – Haji Lane is every budding travel photographers dream playground. We were there on a Sunday, so many things were closed, but I would’ve loved to have sat and drank a coffee in this area to really adsorb the incredible alternative vibe.
Would a city, even be a city, without a China Town? The answer is no! (obviously). Singapore’s China Town bares similar resembles to those of other major cities, however, it is home to two of Singapore’s most famous temples – the Buddha’s Tooth Relic and Sri Mariamman Temple. You can enter them both for free, however you will need to cover your shoulders and have at least up to your knees covered. You can also wander through the markets, which sell classic Asian souvenirs for you to probably never look at again.
LeVel 33 Brewery
Whether your unlucky with getting to the top of Marina Bay Sands (like us) or not, a trip to LeVel 33 Brewery is well worth it. Hidden in Marina Bay’s financial district – LeVel 33 Brewery has nailed casual elegance, with a jaw-dropping view of the entire bay (eat your heart out Marina Bay Sands) including Marina Bay Sands, the Merlion and Gardens by the Bay. To me, this was almost better than the view we could have had atop the famous hotel.
The beautiful Marina Bay & business district
The craft beer was cold, and delicious, and the food was a welcome luxury after 4 weeks of street food – this one is not for the backpacker budget (thank god for credit cards hey). It was the perfect way to round up our 4 week adventure around South East Asia.
If you did have an extra day in Singapore, why not pop over to Sentosa Island – I have heard that the Universal Studios there is amazing! Definitely consider purchasing a skip the queue pass to make the most out of your day!
What are your Singapore must-see’s and do’s? Is there anything else you would squeeze into a 48 hour stop over?