The Singapore Stopover

A melting pot of culture, a futuristic metropolis, a city in a garden and a foodies heaven on earth – it’s no surprise Singapore is quickly working it’s way to the top of Asia’s most popular destinations. This tiny but bustling country is right in the middle of South East Asia and has one of the busiest airports in the world, so it’s no wonder so many people find their long haul flights are sliced in two with a stopover in Singapore popped in the middle. I spent a lot of time in Singapore back in my air hostess days, as well as visiting several times as an extra stop on my holidays or backpacking trips and I completely fell in love with the place. I strongly recommend making the most of a stopover here by extending your stay and soaking up all that this diverse place has to offer. 

Here are my top things to do to make the most of a detour in Singapore:

  • Chinatown & Little India

An assault on all your senses in the best possible way, Chinatown and Little India are two incredible pockets of culture in the heart of Singapore. Both of them feature huge markets packed with stalls of food, crafts, medicines, trinkets and souvenirs. Surrounding the markets are further shops, buildings and temples all designed in keeping with beautiful Chinese and Indian architecture respectively. You can find the most delish of snacks in both of these spots, just follow your nose to whichever stall takes your fancy the most. If your feet are feeling a little tired after all your exploring, there are plenty of places to get a quick massage or a fish-tootsie-nibble in the area.

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  • Singapore Zoo

The idea of zoos is often a strange one for me. Yes it’s great watching animals but no one really likes seeing them in tiny cages, until Singapore Zoo came along and blew that concept out of the water by letting most of their animals roam free! Tree huggers rejoice. The orangutans will literally be swinging over your head and lemurs will be running across the paths in front of you while you wander through the rainforest grounds. Sure, there are often moats of water in between you and the bigger animals but let’s be honest did you really want to come nose to nose with a rhino? Probably not.

The zoo is a good half an hour drive out of the city so it’s best to get a taxi there rather than buses or the MRT. As it’s so huge and there’s so much to explore, I’d recommend getting there as early as possible to make the most of the day and the $30 (USD) entry fee. Top tip: bring cash or pre-bought snacks because no where inside takes card. Also worth remembering, when it rains in Singapore it really does pour, bring a raincoat just in case because it’s a LONG walk from one end of the wet zoo to the other.

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  • Gardens by the Bay

A huge nature park along the waterfront, Gardens by the bay is part of the government’s strategy to increase the green space in Singapore to improve the quality of life. These gardens are amazingly beautiful and combine modern avatar-esque architecture that lights up at night with hundreds and thousands of natural trees and flowers. Entry is free and sunset is definitely the best time to go, as you get to see the gardens transform from daylight to darkness.

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  • Marina Bay Sands

Right next to Gardens by the bay you probably will have noticed the giant boat suspended 57 stories high across three towers – this is Marina Bay Sands. It will cost you $20 just to take the lift up to the top of this incredible building but the view is pretty spectacular. Most of the roof-top/boat-top is closed off to guests of the hotel who have access to the dreamy infinity pool, but the sky bar is still worth a visit for a few sundowners. I’d also recommend visiting the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands, they are currently hosting the ever-insta-popular Future World exhibition.

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  • Sentosa Island

Just a hop, skip and a jump across a few different MRT lines and monorails and you will find yourself on the manmade island of Sentosa, just south of the city and mainland. Self proclaimed ‘State of Fun’, Sentosa is a fairly bizarre place and extremely touristy, but if loud and fast activities are your thing this is worth checking out. To name a few attractions to keep you busy here: Universal Studios, Adventure Cove Waterpark, Butterfly & Insect Kingdom, Dolphin Park, Fort Siloso Skywalk, KidZania, Madam Tussauds, Tiger Sky Tower… you get the idea. If a beach is what you’re after, there’s actually a nice selection in this area (try Tanjong Beach if you want to escape the crowds) as well as heaps of places to eat and drink.

  • Food markets

One of my favourite things about Singapore is the incredible food (shock). As it’s situated right in the middle of South East Asia, the cuisine on offer here is an amazing fusion of all of Singapore’s close neighbours – Thai, Malaysian, Indonesia, Indian, Japanese and Chinese. Yum. The best way to experience all that’s on offer is to head to a food market or hawker centre with an empty belly and make your way from stall to stall trying whatever takes your fancy. I like to try a few small dishes from a selection of stalls to get a good variety. There’s always tables and chairs about plus vendors with fridges stocked with ice cold beers. You can head to these places at any time of day, but dinner time definitely has the best atmosphere and the most stalls open. My top recommendations: Newton Food Centre and Lau Pa Sat Food Centre.

If fine dining is more your thing, check out the hundreds of bars and restaurants located in the snazzy areas of Clarke Quay or Orchard Road, or head to the beautiful Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling.

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A few more tips…

  • Singapore is quite expensive, save money by eating at food hawker centres, taking public transport and doing your shopping at the markets
  • The best and cheapest way to travel around the city is the MRT (a much slicker version of the tube), once you get the hang of it it’s super easy and beats sitting in traffic in the back of a taxi
  • If you’re not sure how long to go for, I’d recommend 3-4 days. Enjoy!

 

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24 thoughts on “The Singapore Stopover

  1. What a fabulous guide! I am visiting Singapore in October and I cant wait! I really love this Zoo idea! I definitely have to visit that place! I also booked myself one night in Marina Sand Bay so I can enjoyed this fabulous pool! And I am glad there is many markets as I love those!

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    1. I’m so glad this was useful for you! You will LOVE staying at marina bay sands too, I hope you have a wonderful trip 🙂 if you have any questions while you’re there please feel free to get in touch by messaging me on Instagram! @katyclapham

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  2. Three things I loved the most about Singapore from your post- The lovely decor of little India ( with the peacock and lotus banners), the drool-worthy food and the concept of the open zoo. The animals look so happy to be able to roam free. I hope enough care is taken so that the visitors in the zoo are not harmed by the animals.

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    1. The zoo is soooo fantastic I really recommend it if you like animals. Definitely try and go again! They also have a night time river safari that now has pandas in it too 🙂

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  3. Singapore is indeed a lovely place, futuristic in many ways, yet rooted in heritage. We had a great time when we were there. My favourite was Sentosa island. Also loved walking around China town and Little India and of course Orchard Road.

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    1. Yeh I have to agree, the accommodation is pretty expensive. Luckily I have a few friends that live there so often have places to stay. I’d recommend trying air bnb for some cheaper options next time 🙂

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  4. Awesome post and a great wrap up of Singapore. Sadly my stay over wasn’t long enough to leave the airport, but happily, Singapore airport is also freakin’ amazing! And that roof top pool . . .

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  5. Loved the zoo in Singapore! 🙂 It’s amazing how fast the city is changing. Went few years ago and that Marina Bay Sands wasn’t even there back then. Have to go again just to check that out, hehehe. 😀

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  6. Singapore has always been on my list of must visits and I think you just moved it up a few spots. Marina Bay Sands is a must visit for me. The view alone will be worth it. I like the stance that the country is taking on green space. The picture with Marina Bay Sands in the background is awesome. I think I may be most excited for food stalls. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. I haven’t been to Singapore yet! I’m still somehow not inspired enough to head to the country! I’m more of a nature / heritage person and Singapore feels too cosmopolitan for me! I do have my friends and relatives there who keep inviting me… That infinity pool is very tempting though!!!

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  8. Wow, that pool at the Marina Bay Sands looks spectacular! I think I would stay there just for the pool…I imagine it’s pricey!!

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  9. You have clicked some really gorgeous pictures. I especially liked your Marina Bay Sands picture. It’s a very different angle. And I love love Singapore. Used to be my favourite stopover on that route.

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  10. An infinity pool on top edge of a building! Just wow….and scary at the same time. Hehehehe! Singapore is a great city for of ultramodern wonders. I once worked with a general sales agent of Silkair and Singapore Airlines; and the attractions, hotels, skylines, etc. fascinated me. We would definitely visit Singapore sometime next year.

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