22 December 2021

A 48-Hour Guide for Fun Activities to Do in Singapore

From hidden gems to iconic attractions, here is the ultimate bucket list for fun things to do in Singapore:

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by Joel Conceicao A long-suffering Arsenal fan who will most likely reincarnate as a Himalayan goat.

Bigger is not always better. Look at Singapore. As far as countries go, it is hard to get tinier than this bustling city-state that is 170 times smaller than New York. Crazy, right? But despite its size, there are many things to do in this densely-populated urban jungle. If you are only in town for a few days, here is a list of must-do activities to check off in under 48-hours:

Day 1 – Morning

No initiation to Singapore is complete without getting a taste of local flavours. Go on a tour of wet markets (best visited early in the morning), where you can catch the elderly applying their pro bargaining skills to get the freshest produce. All that exploring will probably leave you hungry, so fill your belly with delicious street food from hawker centres. At these open-air food complexes, you will find stalls selling a variety of Chinese, Indian, and Malay dishes, from barbecued meat skewers to spicy coconut milk noodles.

Another fab way to start your morning is to hop on a cable car ride for superb views. We suggest going for this early in the day when the weather tends to be a bit more comfortable for being outdoors. Your journey will take you from scenic Mount Faber to the island of Sentosa, an ideal place to spend the rest of your day.

If you are looking to connect with nature, head to Pulau Ubin. Rustic, rural, and a throwback to old Singapore, explore this charming island and embrace its diverse array of ecological beauty. Here you can walk through mangroves, see abandoned plantations, go on off-road hikes, and even visit a kampong (Malay for village) – worth a morning stopover, for sure.

Afternoon

One attraction that you don’t want to miss is the Singapore Zoo. Visit the world’s first free-ranging orangutan exhibit. Or catch the clever antics of sea lions at the high-energy Splash Safari Show.

For those of you who want to take a deep dive into local history, hop on a time machine to revisit the lives of the Samsui women. Go on an afternoon tour to visit a hidden temple and explore Chinatown to learn how these brave women flew in the face of tradition. And understand why they were both rebels and victims in changing times.

Finally, there’s always Universal Studios Singapore as a safe but fun choice. There’s no need for much introduction to this world-famous theme park. We recommend ramping up your adrenaline levels on the rapid Battlestar Galactica: Human v.s Cyclone, the world’s tallest duelling rollercoasters, and a ride that will surely get your pulses racing.

Night

Start your evening right with a Marina Bay night cycling tour. Pedal past glitzy, ultra-futuristic buildings. And lap up the sights and sounds of Singapore’s most affluent neighbourhood. Beyond the postcard-perfect Marina Bay Sands hotel, you can navigate around a Formula One race track, explore the hyper-modern dam Marina Barrage, and cycle through Gardens by the Bay.

For something a little more underground, drop by Say Tiang Hng (translated to Heaven’s Garden in Hokkien). From floor-to-ceiling, find wooden statues of Taoist deities at this old school shop – some as small as an iPhone, others the size of a chair. Here, discover Taoist deities, from boys to beasts and warlords to maidens. Learn about effigy-making and how this heritage business has survived in a modern city.

Snooze, and you lose. So why not get your fill of booze at Manhattan, one of Asia’s best cocktail bars. Besides having the world’s first in-hotel rickhouse, filled with over 100 American oak barrels used for ageing, this slick establishment is also an ideal place to soak up some Great Gatsby vibes. Sample limited-release barrel-aged cocktails for the perfect way to end your night.

Day 2 – Morning

So, you’ve acquainted yourself with the city and are now ready to up the ante a little. Our suggestion? Get up early and spend your morning visiting a kelong (a floating fish farm), a pretty rare sight in Singapore these days, thanks to rapid urbanisation. Go on a tour that lets you check out massive ships docking at a shipyard and keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife like seabirds and wild boars if you are lucky.

Another great way to start your day right is to embark on a journey across the heartlands. The heartlands in Singapore refer to the suburbs, where the elderly drink beer in the mornings at coffee shops, and wet markets and hawker centres are aplenty. You won’t get a better glimpse of regular Singaporean life than with this expedition, which will take you specifically to two bustling neighbourhoods – Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh.

Gardens by the Bay is also an excellent place to kickstart your morning. Sure, you can visit this iconic attraction at night. But there’s just something magical about walking in this horticultural paradise early during the day before the crowd streams in. Plus, that early morning sun is great for you to OOTD away when it comes to snapping pictures for the gram. Besides the spectacular cooled conservatories, check out Floral Fantasy, a wonderland of floral artistry and whimsical landscapes.

Afternoon

Who doesn’t like to feel like a VIP? And getting the red-carpet service at one of Singapore’s most popular attractions? Now that’s an appealing proposition. To see what we’re talking about, go for the S.E.A. Aquarium VIP experience. You will get access to exclusive back-of-house areas and attentive facetime with an expert guide who will enrich your mind with fascinating facts about the marine world. Not to mention, you will also get to meet adorable Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins backstage at Dolphin Island, Sentosa.

Head to the ArtScience Museum to get yourself entertained in no time. More than just a super cool, futuristic building with a funky lotus-shaped exterior, this is a place where the realms of art and science collide. Think eye-catching installations and cutting-edge digital displays. Our recommendation? Check out the scintillating Crystal Universe with 170,000 mesmerising LED lights.

A true classic that you won’t want to miss on your trip to Singapore, do keep some time free in your schedule for the National Gallery Singapore. Made out of two national monuments – the former City Hall and former Supreme Court, the Gallery is a beautifully restored architectural masterpiece housing the world’s largest collection of Southeast Asian modern art. Not only that, but you can also dine at one of Asia’s best restaurants here – the French culinary institution that is Odette.

Night

One of Singapore’s best traits is its sweeping views from open rooftops. Catch stunning panoramic views from the Marina Bay SkyPark Observation Deck, situated 57 levels high in the sky. Feast your eyes on breath-taking vistas of the Marina Bay area, Gardens by the Bay, and some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Stay for the nightly Spectra light and water show – you won’t regret it.

Feeling adventurous? Discover a different side to Singapore when you go on a nighttime walk to Geylang, notorious for being the city’s only legalised red-light district. But sex is not the only thing that sells in this neighbourhood. Look beyond the area’s shady and sleazy reputation to experience it in a different light. Learn about the various social stigmas that plague the area. And if you start feeling famished, you will be spoilt for choice with the amount of good food you can find here.

To venture off-the-beaten-track, why not go for a ghost hunting adventure? Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, a nightly walk at the world’s largest Chinese cemetery outside of China is sure to send shivers down one’s spine. Deck yourself with ghost hunting equipment and go on a creepy tour. Other hair-raising activities on this tour include visiting spooky sites like a secluded bridge in the dead of night and a notorious coastal gun battery.

These are just some of the fascinating ways you can experience Singapore to weave yourself into the fabric of the city’s soul, be it through iconic attractions or hidden gems.

If you are in town and want to sample local food, we recommend checking out the best local food tours to try. Or if you are all about the views, here are some ways you can soak in awesome sights in town.

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