12 Hours in the Lion City: 10 Best Things To Do in Singapore
Singapore is one of the most expensive cities to live in, but it isn’t necessarily the costliest city for tourists.
One of the best things to do in Singapore during a long layover is to get out of the airport and see the major sights nearby. Singapore Airlines offers a stopover holiday package that includes 15 must-see tourist attractions. Meanwhile, Changi Airport has two kinds of enticing tours, the City Sights Tour and the Heritage Tour, both available to transit passengers who have a layover period of at least 5.5 hours.
All it takes is planning and experience to master the art of a Singapore Airport layover. While it may be comfortable to stay at upscale airport lounges, it is a regret not to explore Asia’s favorite playground. If you’re the adventurous type, you’ll find there’s more in Singapore than meets the eye. Check out some of our suggestions:
Singapore: Where to go, shop, and eat in 12 Hours
1. Merlion Park
The name Singapore comes from the Malay word ‘Singapura.’ The terms are a derivative from the Sanskrit language, where ‘singa’ means ‘lion’ and ‘pura’ means ‘town.’ The Merlion Park, a national icon located in the central business district, symbolizes Singapore’s power. A photograph with this monument as your background is essential.
2. Singapore Botanic Gardens
Enter the 150-year-old Singapore Botanic Gardens for free as early as 8:30 AM, and soak up the serenity of being surrounded with native and exotic plants and trees. This urban haven, voted a top favorite among Singapore visitors, truly lives up to the hype. It’s so easy to drift into relaxation mode just by sitting back and gazing out at the gardens’ lush surroundings.
3. Singapore Flyer
Spinning clockwise with a capacity of 28 passengers per car, the Singapore Flyer is one of the best ways to view the spectacular cityscape, Marina Bay, and the islands beyond the city-state. This 541-feet-tall Ferris wheel with 28 capsules takes 30 minutes to make a complete trip. The numbers are not random – they strictly follow the principles of feng shui. To fight your fright of height, take a sip of the signature Singapore Sling during flight, which is considered the best cocktail in town.
4. Sands SkyPark Observation Deck
Soaring high above the skyline of Singapore is a 360-degree viewing platform known as Skypark Observation Deck. Guests at Marina Bay Sands Hotel can swim in its massive rooftop infinity pool. Not staying on the property? You may not have access to the pool, but you can still enter and enjoy the view from the observation deck on the 57th floor. Just pay an entrance ticket of S$23. Skip this tourist stop if the weather news predicts cloudy skies.
5. Supertree Grove
Everyone should see the Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay at least once in their lifetime. These giant Avatar-like trees that looked like they popped out of the movie are a marvel to behold. Lucky you if you can drop by this tourist spot around 7pm as there is a fantastic light and sound show you can watch for free.
6. Singapore’s Safari Night
Inventive Singaporeans defied their lack of natural resources and set up the first-ever nocturnal wildlife park in the world. There are 2500 animals that live here! Meet and greet interesting creatures of the night at Mandai Lake Road in a 20-minute exhilarating immersion into kingdom animalia. This rainforest-like setting is a perfect nightspot to take children and kids-at-heart for a tour. On board an observation tram, discover the wilderness and wildlife from six different regions, starting from animals living in the Himalayan foothills to those from Africa. It’s a one-of-a-kind date night you won’t soon forget.
Foodies and history buffs can enjoy a tour along Singapore’s Chinatown. Mouth-watering street food of world-class quality, lovely Chinese architecture, and Mandarin-speaking merchants welcome visitors to this tiny slice of Singapore’s past. Allow some time to explore the beautiful, air-conditioned, and peaceful Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. Looking for cool nightlife? Walk along Ann Siang Hill and you’ll find a club or bar that suits your preference (e.g. B28, Manor Bar, Operation Dagger, etc.). It’s also a famous stop for cheap eats in Singapore.
8. Maxwell Road Hawker Center
As to where to eat in Singapore, famous American TV chef Anthony Bourdain recommends Maxwell Road Hawker Center. Dining here might inspire you to start a food hall in your city featuring scrumptious Singaporean street delicacies (like Bourdain did in New York). Taste the saucy chili crab and appetizing laksa. Unmissable dining spots include Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, Lao Pa Sat, and Chinatown Complex Food Centre.
9. Malay Heritage Centre
Capture the history of Malays in Singapore before the city-state was forced into independence. Find out where former sultans used to live within the walls of this 160-year-old building. Watch cultural shows at either indoor or outdoor theaters, and relish other worthwhile activities within the center. It’s a heritage and culture trip curious travelers can’t miss. Hungry from the tour? Pop by Mamanda, or check out eateries at Kampong Glam.
10. Haji Lane for Boutique Shopping
Condé Nast names Haji Lane the best boutique shopping street in Singapore. Along this avenue, travelers looking for unique souvenirs will discover gems from lifestyle shops to vintage stores. Even shoppers looking for candles, housewares, and quirky stationeries can spot unique items here. Some buildings are hidden from view, so keep your eyes peeled if you don’t want to miss them. Stop by Shop Wonderland if you need warm beverages and freshly baked pastries to refuel after shopping for hours.
Hope this post has given you some awesome ideas on what to do in Singapore when you visit. If your time is limited, choose places that pique your interest. Staying in Singapore for more than 12 hours? Here’s a comprehensive travel guide you can use to plan your trip.