Is 24 hours long enough to see everything you want to in Singapore? My recent experience is no. This tiny country packs a punch and I’d recommend spending a couple of days to really soak up its charm.
That isn’t to say Singapore isn’t one of the absolute best places to stop over for a night. I was flying to Australia for the first time and it was about to be the longest flight I’d ever taken. And previous readers will know how I feel about long flights. So flying into Brisbane, I had to change planes somewhere. And what a shame it would be to not to step out of the airport and see a new country! Even if, in Singapore’s case, the airport (Changi) is a tourist attraction in itself!
Singapore may have left me wanting to come back and see more, but it was also the perfect place to stretch my legs after that 13-hour flight from London. I’ve always been fascinated by it. Plus, it’s very safe, perfect for the solo traveller, and full of incredible things to do.
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Here’s how I spent 24 hours in Singapore
My 24 hours in Singapore mainly centred around the marina and Orchard Road (where my hotel was). And I did have to skip a few places on my must-sees in Singapore list due to time constraints and pure exhaustion. A morning flight in followed by an evening flight the next day would have been preferable. However, I only had limited time for the main leg of my trip, Australia, and was reluctant to give away any more of that time. Below you’ll find my itinerary for the day and some advice on other things to do if you have longer in Singapore. In other words, the things that will make up my itinerary next time!
Morning in Singapore
I arrived into Changi Airport at about 5:45 am. Too groggy to even think about the trains, I got a Grab (South Asia’s Uber) to my amazing hotel, Hotel Jen Orchardgateway. After dropping off my bags, I had a quick freshen up and swam in their incredible rooftop pool. As a result, I had to drag myself away from the gorgeous view and the comfy bean bag chairs to get the most out of my day.
Brunch on Orchard Road
One of the best parts about staying near Orchard Road was that there are tonnes of brunch places nearby. I went to Oriole Coffee + Bar and grabbed one of their cold brew coffee and some granola and yoghurt to perk me back up after that long flight.
After brunch, spend some time shopping on Orchard Road. Shoppers are spoilt for choice here. Every luxury/designer brand you can think of has set up shop on Orchard Road, along with some high street favourites from around the globe.
Gardens by the Bay
If you only do one thing during a layover in Singapore, make it Gardens by the Bay You may have seen pictures of this area before. Often described as a true urban oasis, the Gardens feel like stepping into a different, and somewhat surreal world.
Gardens by the Bay is a large, waterfront park on reclaimed land in the marina area. The outdoor gardens are free to visit, including the modernist, eye-catching Supertree Grove.
The Supertree Grove
The Supertrees are fast becoming synonymous with Singapore. Unveiled in 2015, the ‘trees’ are towering tree-shaped structures made up of a vertical garden. The Supertrees help clean Singapore’s air and collect rainwater all while generating solar power. Pretty cool, right?
The gardens also feature two climate-controlled giant conservatories – the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome.
Cloud Forest Dome
If you only pick one, visit the Cloud Forest. It was so incredible. Have you ever seen an entire cloud forest mountain complete with a towering waterfall in the middle of a city? That’s exactly what this dome is.
I stepped inside the cool conservatory, through the mist of one of the world’s tallest indoors waterfalls and took the lift up to the top of the mountain. From there, a walkway takes you all the way around and back down the mountain. Along the way, you’ll come across gorgeous flowers and plants and sweeping views across the marina.
That’s not to say the Flower Dome isn’t impressive as well. The vast conservatory is divided into regions of the world, from the rainforests of South America to the Mediterranean. Like the Cloud Forest, I welcomed the cooled climate of the dome compared to Singapore’s intense humidity.
When I visited, the Flower Dome had a few special displays on. The European region displayed an Alice in Wonderland theme, with Cheshire Cats and Caterpillars hiding among the plants.
Gardens by the Bay also feature a number of other attractions including the newly opened and Instagram-ready Floral Fantasy. Visitors can also experience the Children’s Garden and the Outdoor Gardens for free.
Lunch at a Hawker’s Market
Unlike many other areas of South East Asia, such as Vietnam, Singapore is known for having strict hygiene standards. This means I’d highly recommend the street food and hawker’s markets for lunch.
Maxwell Food Centre, located in the business district, proved a good spot for lunch. After some browsing, I chose Singapore’s ‘national dish’ Hainanese chicken rice from one of its many stalls. The popular dish consists of poached chicken and seasoned rice served with chilli and ginger sauces.
Explore Singapore’s ethnic quarters
If you manage to look around all of these in your 24 hours, I will be very impressed. I managed just to make it to Chinatown. Chinatown Food Street is another great place to get food, as well as exploring:
- Kampong Glam – Singapore’s Muslim Quarter, popular for Middle Eastern cuisine and the cafes and shopping on Arab Street
- Little India – known for its colourful temples, food options, and budget-friendly shopping.
Shopping in Singapore
Between exploring all of the above, I spent some time exploring Singapore’s vast, modern shopping centres. You’ll find everything luxury in these huge hubs. I took a shortcut through the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands when I went back to Gardens by the Bay at night. As I navigated past shining storefronts, I stumbled across an indoor canal and gondolas, like a mini shopping mall version of Venice!
As I mentioned earlier, Orchard Road is also a shopping lover’s mecca.
What to do at night in Singapore
See the marina by night
Singapore’s marina comes alive at night. Marina Bay Sands puts on a light and water show (Spectra). The show is free to watch at 8 and 9 pm Sunday through Thursday with an extra showing at 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
I watched the show and then briefly walked past the Supergrove to see the trees lit up by night. After, I walked past the famous Merlion, the official mascot of Singapore. Then, I stopped by one of the many restaurants on the marina for a beer and dinner. The view was incredible, but as you might expect, the restaurants in this area can be pricey. Although I did enjoy my chilli crab linguine, a twist on another Singaporean favourite.
You could the night with a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel’s long bar, a legendary hotel in Singapore. It will cost you to grab a cocktail here, but it was where the drink was invented. Travelling solo and on a budget, I skipped it. Although relatives that often travel to Singapore have claimed it is an essential experience.
The city is just as lively at night and if jet-lag is keeping you up, you won’t be bored. As a confession, I went to bed at about 11:30pm. I didn’t have much choice, having to be awake at 3:30 to get ready to head back to the airport! But for those with later flights or more energy, you can find lively nightlife and unique experiences.
Clarke Quay and Orchard Road are lively after dark to grab a drink. Meanwhile activities such as night safaris at the zoo and reliving popular daytime activities while the city is lit up, such as the Singapore Flyer or a boat ride around the marina, will mean you get the most out of your 24 hours in Singapore.
Ending your 24 hours in Singapore
In most places, once you’ve arrived at the airport, you’re done sightseeing. Nothing awaits you but a few duty-free shops, cafes, bars. Not in Singapore. Aside from all the luxury shopping, Changi Airport features a spa, swimming pool, showers, hotels, a movie theatre and more.
Recently, the Jewel opened. Located between terminals, this new airport hub features luxury shopping, restaurants, and the world’s largest indoor waterfall. Visitors can experience walking through the canopies of the indoor rain forest, a hedge maze, and canopy garden.
Warning for early flights – I was so disappointed by the Jewel. Not because it isn’t amazing. I arrived just after 5am and they were carrying out maintenance work on it so they had switched off most of the lights and the Rain Vortex. It is supposedly open 24 hours so I think I just got incredibly unlucky!
More information on The Jewel can be found here.
Got longer than 24 hours in Singapore?
It might be a tiny country (19th smallest in the world), but that doesn’t mean you’ll easily get bored in Singapore. There are so many things to do here that it would be very difficult to cross everything off your list during a layover. If you spend longer in Singapore than the 24 hours I had, here are some things other visitors recommended to me: