Your itinerary in Singapore starts the moment you arrive. I know what you think about airports: you can’t wait to leave and see the real city. But Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport designed by Safdie Architects was created as a space to revel in. With a movie theatre, a rain vortex, a forest trail and hanging nets so you can literally “hang out,” you’ll find plenty to see here in the glass domed forested oasis.
In recent years, Tiong Bahru has earned itself a name as Singapore’s hippest neighborhood. In the morning, get a local favorite: kaya (coconut egg jam) toast and kopi (coffee), at Tiong Bahru Food Centre for breakfast. If you’re looking for something more Western, you could also try the famous French bakery, Tiong Bahru Bakery.
In the afternoon, head to Singapore’s most famous street: Orchard Road. This downtown strip with blocks of luxury shopping malls such as Ion Orchard is a favorite shopping destination for locals and tourists alike, who come to purchase from the likes of Nike, Muji, Uniqlo, and Gucci.
But if you’re looking for smaller establishments, the shopping districts of Little India, Chinatown, and Haji Lane are only half an hour from Orchard Road and are populated with local stores and boutique establishments, with goods that are often unique to their respective local communities and culture.
Supermama, a design and crafts store based in Singapore, has stores in Haji Lane in Kampong Glam, as well as on Beach Road nearby. The Supermama brand is famous for their own line of porcelain plates under Supermama Porcelain, which was designed in Singapore and made with Kihara, a porcelain label in Arita, Japan. They were awarded the President’s Design Award in 2013, Singapore’s highest design accolade.
Between Orchard Road and Little India, Chinatown, and Haji Lane, you’ll likely come across a distinct landmark – The National Museum of Singapore – which makes a great midday stopping point away from the busier shopping roads. The National Museum has a beautiful concourse area with a cafe and a design store if you’re looking for an afternoon break to read, shop, and relax.
If you’re in the mood for some sunshine, check out Fort Canning Park, which can be accessed by a series of stairs leading from the National Museum of Singapore. The park hosts many concerts throughout the year and is also a popular date spot.
In the evening, wind down at Marina Barrage. There’s an exhibit downstairs to show how the water treatment process works in Singapore, but more importantly are all the water features around the building and the landscaped roof on top of Marina Barrage, from which you can see the stunning Marina skyline shaped by Marina Bay Sands, Gardens By The Bay, and the ArtScience Museum.
At nightfall, walk (or cycle using one of Singapore’s bike-sharing services) to the Supertrees Grove at Gardens By the Bay. There’s a light show—Garden Rhapsody—every evening at 7:45pm and 8:45pm that you shouldn’t miss!
From there, if you’d like to soak up Singapore’s skyline, take a ride on the Singapore Flyer, a large ferris wheel inspired by the London Eye. Otherwise, head to Ku De Ta, a bar on the top floor of the Marina Bay Sands, and end the night on top of Singapore’s most iconic building. There is, perhaps unsurprising by now, a free-to-public outdoor light show that Marina Bay Sands puts up over the water at the Event Plaza. (Check the calendar for showtimes.) Surrounding Marina Bay Sands, the ArtScience Museum, Flower Dome, Marina Promenade, and the Helix Bridge are also sights to check out.
If you’d like to spend the day in Singapore, I’d recommend The Warehouse Hotel in the upscale district of Clarke Quay. An illegal distillery in the 1980s, it was transformed into an industrial-chic boutique hotel; it also happens to serve the best Ba Kut Teh I’ve ever had!