Our visit to Singapore in two days, the smallest country in Southeast Asia, was our first stop in Asia. It was impossible not to love it even though it was just 2 days. They welcomed us with open arms and gave us food in their sacred temples. It is, undoubtedly, the most modern city we had ever seen; and the best thing is that it is very well connected to remote places where you can get lost from the city.
Singapore is the nerve center of commerce throughout Asia, making it one of the richest cities in the world. However, despite being expensive, it is ideal for backpackers. If you don’t believe us check our travel budget. Asia is very cheap and the dream of every backpacker. And probably, to reach Asia, you will have to make a stopover in Singapore. So we created this guide to things to do in Singapore in two days.
THINGS TO DO IN SINGAPORE IN TWO DAYS
Our routine over the two days we spent in Singapore was visiting a traditional neighborhood in the morning and finishing the afternoon at Marina Bay and Clarke Quay.
Things to do in Little India Singapore
Race Course Street
Our hostel was not far from Little India, so we walked to the first temples we wanted to visit, the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple and the Leong San See Temple (both are Buddhist but very different styles), which are located in the number 366 and 371 of the Race Course Street. In these temples, as in most of the ones we visited that day, you need to take off our shoes to get in.
After seeing these temples we went to Serangoon Street. This is the most important avenue and where the most part of the temples are located. There, at 555th we found the Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple.
Then, while we were downing the street to the Little India subway, we found the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple at number 397th. This Hindu temple was the first one we saw with gopuram. That is the name of the typical colorful pyramid filled with figures of animals and deities that adorn the doors of some Hindu temples.
We went down the Serangoon Street to number 141st, where the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple was. Inside, we could enjoy the ritual that was being celebrated.
Also, the giant mall Mustafa Center is on the same street, at the junction with Syed Alwi Road. The building is composed by 8 floors. If you have time don’t miss the latest floors, where there is a supermarket with all kinds of Indian food to take away.
Finally, we visited the colorful facade of the House of Tan Teng Niah.
little india singapore map
Things to do in Chinatown Singapore
Just at the exit of the Chinatown subway, we were in the middle of a street market filled with a variety of Asian objects. Most of them sold souvenirs for those of us passing through. This is Padoge Street, where we strolled looking around the small stalls.
sri mariamman temple
At the end of the street, we found the cows that guard the perimeter of the Sri Mariamman Temple and its impressive entrance tower.
I don’t know how objective I am when talking about this temple. It enchanted us. Until then, in all temples that we had visited in Singapore, we felt like just visitors. In the Sri Mariamman temple, we beamed down. From the splendid doorway, we could hear songs that gave us goosebumps. It was easy to imagine yourself in any place of worship of India since there were no tourists, or at least they were not the majority. However, it is probably part of my selective memory because the Sri Mariamman Temple is the most visited Hindu temple in Singapore and it does not surprise me.
Seeing the colorful figures of the gopuram with the voices of worship in the background is something you have to experience.
Once we took off our shoes we entered the temple and a man told me to take a cloth to cover my shoulders. I recommend the girls to wear long and loose pants. They are cool and unlike short or miniskirts you will not have a problem to enter the temples.
Once inside we were able to enjoy all the color and mysticism that we saw from outside, as well as to see the ritual that was being celebrated.
WHAT TO DO TO EAT FREE at Sri Mariamman Temple
While the majority participated in the songs or accompanied them with percussion instruments in the central part, to the left a queue began to form, ending in three tables with huge trays full of aromatic Indian food. It was about 1:00 pm on a Sunday and if you have the opportunity to go to Singapore and visit the Sri Mariamman Temple I recommend you to go there on that time and that day of the week. If you are lucky, they will invite you to eat with them.
After waiting to reach the end of the queue, they gave us a tasty dish with a nice smile. Of course, it was a vegetarian dish, although we only were able to distinguish the rice, the beans and a paste that I bet that was made with pumpkin. To drink they offered us coffee with milk. And nothing else, no napkins, no silverware, not even a glass of water to soften the spicy dish.
I had never tasted anything so spicy in my life. Also, the hot coffee only made the situation worse. However we could not be more excited.
Eating seated on the floor, using only our hands, accompanied by Hindu families who smiled friendly and curious, with the drums and chants in the background is something we will never forget.
The next thing that we went to see was the Jamae Mosque and its blue facade.
Going in the opposite direction we went to the intersection of the Temple Street and the Smith Street, where there were many Asian food stalls. Especially in a pedestrian street parallel to these two. We planned to eat here before the indian people invited us to have lunch at the Sri Mariamman Temple.
BUDDHA TOOH RELIC TEMPLE
Our next destination was the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. This Buddhist temple is a must on your trip to Singapore in two days. We liked it a lot. However, I did not have too much time to take photos inside. They literally threw me out for not wearing my shoulders covered.
OTHER THINGS TO SEE IN CHINATOWN
Two other temples a little further away are the Thian Hock Keng Temple and the Singapore Yu Huang Gong. If you go to Singapore two days, you will have enough time to visit them although they are not the most impressive Buddhist temples we saw.
To end the tour through Chinatown we passed by the Maxwell Food Center. In this market, there are plenty of food stalls. We took some fruit juices, watermelon and dragon fruit, which we loved.
Chinatown Singapore map
Things to do in Marina Bay
If you have to choose an area so that you can see all the wealth of Singapore, I’d tell you to go to Marina Bay; the main center. In contrast to the more traditional and oriental neighborhoods, the Marina Bay area shows you all the Singapore’s development. Skyscrapers, works of unique architecture and shows of lights that will take away your speech.
If you travel to Singapore in two days I assure you that in the end, you will pass by this area both days. In fact, it is a place that catches you. Our perfect place to end the day.
Marina Bay Sand
To have one of the best views of the city it is essential to go up to the majestic Marina Bay Sands. This hotel is made up of 3 towers with a height of 200 m. At the roof, the towers are connected by a platform with the shape of a boat. Here, you will find one of the most impressive infinity pools in the world. If you travel with a low budget you can go up totally free. We tell you how in the next section.
CE LA VI RESTAURANT
In the tower three of Marina Bay Sand, which is located to the left if you turn your back to the bay, you will find access to a rooftop restaurant called CÉ LA VI. Just entering on the right-hand side is the elevator, guarded so that tourists do not get away from paying the 23$ ticket they charge to go up to the Sands Skypark (which, by the way, is one level below CÉ LA VI).
The trick is to say you have a reservation for dinner. I don’t know if it is always like this but with us, they didn’t check if it was true. The meal is at least 40$ per person. When we went up no waiter checked anything.
I recommend you to arrive before the sunset so you can see the bay during the day, evening and night. From there you can also see the impressive pool, separated by a glass that can’t be flanked. We have not found a way to slip into the pool yet. So, if anyone knows how to sneak into the pool please let us know. Only people staying at the hotel can enjoy it. Although 400$ per person and night is totally unaffordable for backpacker budgets.
Gardens by the Bay
The most characteristic of these gardens is the gigantic artificial and ecological trees that create the grove called SuperTree Grove. These trees collect the water from the rain that is used for the maintenance of the gardens. They also generate energy by photovoltaic panels that is used in lighting them during the show we could enjoy at night, as we will tell you below.
The entrance to the gardens is free. However, you have to pay to access to the top of the supertrees and walk the walkway. In addition, there are two gigantic glass and steel greenhouses. In its interiors recreates Mediterranean climate (Flower Dome) and tropical climate (Cloud Forest). To enter them you will also have to buy a payment ticket.
Within the free zone, there are different gardens: one of the palm trees, the Indian, the Chinese, etc. We did not have time to explore them all, but what we saw seemed an overly cautious place. There were lots of Buddhist sculptures and rocks laid out with care. I have no doubt that everything was designed with great care. I had the feeling that nothing that was there was by chance. The most insignificant flower or small stone was there because someone decided it was. It is a strange feeling to be surrounded by nature and to feel it so artificial. In addition, the imposing shadow of the Marina Bay Sands can be seen at any moment.
Returning to the terrace CÉ LA VI, crossing it you will findthe views of the Gardens by the Bay. They give a light and sound show in the Supertree Grove area at 7:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
We watched the show from the hotel terrace. However, I think it would have been more impressive to see it from inside the Gardens. Since from that height, we hardly heard the music of the show.
The same thing happened to us with the show called “Wonder Full” that they give in the bay. We saw it from above rather than from the bleachers of the Event Plaza prepared for it, which is right in front of the hotel. This show is repeated every day at 20:30 and 21:30. Besides, Friday and Saturday, there is another one scheduled at 23:00.
For that reason, I recommend that you go up at sunset to the terrace of the Marina. However go down to both Supertree Grove and Event Plaza to see the two shows.
Once we went down, we went across the bay to see Merlion, the symbol of Singapore. From here you have breathtaking views of the bay.
To finish the day we recommend you to cross the right bank of the river until arriving at Clarke Quay. It is a congregation of bars and restaurants with outdoor terraces. These bars serve food from all over the world. Clarke Quay has a lot of life during the evening. What we liked most about this area was the flashy lighting and the colorful tents that covered the sidewalks. Singapore is not cheap. Clarke Quay, although it is a place to eat street food, the price level is comparable to any place in Madrid. In our case, we went just to take a look (it’s worth it). But we dined in a less touristy area. For higher budgets, it is a very good option as there are countless food stalls from all over the world.
Marina Bay and Clarke Quay Map
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN SINGAPORE IN TWO DAYS
NEW BUGIS STREET
The New Bugis Street market is an ideal place to buy souvenirs in Singapore. And even if you do not intend to buy anything, it is imperative to get lost in their countless stalls. They sell everything: exotic fruits, clothing, souvenirs, electronics …
Although it is a tourist site, most of the visitors are local young people hanging out. It is open every day at 11:00 to 23:00.
VISIT THE ARAB QUARTER
Arab Quarter, also known as Kampong Glam, is the quintessential Muslim neighborhood of Singapore. In this neighborhood, which is less size than Little India and Chinatown, we were staying. That’s why we did not do a particular tour but we saw it in parts.
The main attraction of the neighborhood is the Sultan Mosque, which is considered the national mosque of Singapore.
Our hostel was on Arab Street, a street full of Arabian shops and bazaars where we could buy carpets, perfumes and Arabic food. I also recommend walking on the pedestrian street Bussorah Street. At night it is quite lively as the restaurants take the tables outside to entice the passers-by to dine on their terraces.
As well as Clarke Quay, Boat Quay is an ideal place to dine and have a drink. In addition, different boats sail from here and they take you to cross the river admiring the city. The price is around 20 $ per person.
If you want another view from the heights I recommend you to get onto the highest Ferris wheel in the world, the Singapore Flyer; with 165 meters of height. The price is 33 $ per person. You can book your ticket from here.
SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENs
The Singapore Botanic Garden covers an area of 55 hectares. As well as the Gardens by the Bay, it is an ideal place to disconnect from the city. Inside highlights the National Orchid Garden with more than 1,000 species. Although the entrance is free, to enter to see the orchids it is necessary to pay an entrance of 5 $. Here you can find more information.
And although we are not into shopping, if you don’t consider a holiday without buying I recommend visiting Orchard Road. In this avenue, you will find all the international and many local shops.
Sentosa is a small artificial island connected to Singapore. They have created a majestic resort, attractions, and museums to attract both foreign and domestic tourists in this island. If you spend more than two days in Singapore and you feel like going to the beach, Sentosa has paradisiac beaches of fine sand.
PROHIBITED THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO IN SINGAPORE
Singapore is also known as a country with rare and strict laws that if we are not careful we could flirt at any time.
Therefore, to help future travelers, I have included this section with prohibited things that you should not do if you travel to Singapore.
EAT AND DRINK IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT
We have all done it, so I would not be surprised if you do it by carelessness in Singapore. Be careful because it is prohibited and the fines are quite high for violators.
Singapore cares about the cleanliness of its streets more than any city I have visited. The nightmare of street sweepers in any city is the chew gums so Singapore has cut drastically with this problem. Chewing gum is forbidden! In fact, it is forbidden to sell, own or smack it. There are some exceptions, for example, if the doctor prescribes some type of medical gum.
Continuing with this line, littering instead of using bins is also punished. Needless to say spitting. It is also considered trash. The fines are $ 1,000.
SMOKING IN PUBLIC SPACES
This is practically the same as in any developed country. No smoking in bars, restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals … In the street, you can smoke as long as you don’t throw on the floors the butts.
CROSSING THE STREET WITHOUT LOOKING
The responsibility in the streets is as much of conductors as of pedestrians. Reckless pedestrians who cross without looking or putting their lives at risk are fined $ 500.
SLEEPING IN PUBLIC
Forget about partying until very late and falling sleep on a bench. Sleeping in public is prosecuted by law. Not even a little nap in the park after having lunch.
SHOWING AFFECTION IN PUBLIC
Following the standards of decency in Singapore. Neither kissing nor hugging, let alone touching. Lovers to give love at home.
PORNOGRAPHY AND PROSTITUTION
Of course, pornography and prostitution are punishable by imprisonment. A few years ago was very known the case of a young man who had managed to store a lot of porn videos and sold them online. Of course, he was imprisoned.
BE NAKED AT HOME WITH OPEN WINDOWS
Not even in your own house, the laws leave you alone. If you are naked in your house and by chance the neighbors see you, they can report this and being punished even with jail time. Watch carefully that there is no open window through which a voyeur could sneak.
I know that in most countries they pursued drug trafficking. But in Singapore, it is punishable with death. They are totally strict in this regard.
TRANSPORT IN SINGAPORE
The best way to travel in Singapore is by metro. It is fast, efficient and punctual and connects practically all the places of the city. There are lines of two types MRT, Mass Rapid Transit and LRT, Light Rail Transit. It goes indistinctly in underground sections and by the surface. Here you can find the map of the connections.
If you are going to visit Singapore in two days, the best is buying a tourist ticket for two days called Singapore Turist Pass, which allows you to use the subway as many times as you need. The price of one day is 10 $ and two days is 16 $. You can buy this ticket only at the following stations: Orchard, City Hall, Raffles Place, Bayfront, Tanjong Pagar, Harbourfront, Chinatown, Farrer Park, Changi Airport, Bugis, Lavender, Jurong East, Kranji, Woodlands and Ang Mo Kio. The pass is valid until the 00:30 hours after the day that expires since the subway schedule is 5:30 am to 00:30 in the evening.
To get from the airport to Singapore we will also use the metro as the airport has its own stop. When doing this route, you will have to do transshipment in the stop Tanah Merah.
WHERE TO STAY IN SINGAPORE IF you travel as backpacker
In Singapore, there are different accommodation options with shared rooms where meeting other backpackers and stay cheaply.
We stayed at The Shophouse in the Arab Quarter. Of course, it was not a place that we would love but it’s true it was quite cheap considering Singapore is expensive.
The next time I go back if I have the chance I will try another hostel, although I think in Little India or Arab Quarter you can find the cheapest.
The two days we spent in Singapore were amazing. Of all the destinations visited in Southeast Asia is certainly where I would be living. In Singapore, you have all Asia just around the corner but with the standard of living in a western capital.
OTHER INTERESTING INFORMATION FOR TRAVELERS VISITING SINGAPORE
BEST TIME TO VISIT SINGAPORE
Singapore is a country that you can visit during all the year. The driest months are from February to October, so I suggest the visit around those months. The temperature is warm all year round regardless of the season.
From most of the countries, no visa is required to travel to Singapore as a tourist. If you have a Spanish passport you only have to meet these requirements to enter the country:
- Have a passport that does not expire for the next 6 months.
- Airline ticket showing your subsequent departure from the country.
- Certificate of vaccination of yellow fever in the cases I mention below.
If you have doubts or want to verify that they have not changed these requirements you can visit the official website of immigration in Singapore.
If you have been in a country with a yellow fever epidemic in the last 15 days prior to your entry into Singapore you will be required to have a certificate showing that you have been vaccinated.
Here is a list of countries where there is yellow fever.
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Can you imagine having unexplored paradisiac beaches, unique coral reefs, orangutans in freedom, dreamy sunsets and ancient temples one hour from your city?