One day in Singapore is really not enough to experience all this cosmopolitan city has to offer, but what do you do when that's all you have? I was boarding the Holland America Maasdam for a 20-day Southeast Asia cruise the day after I arrived, so I needed to see as much as I could in that first 24 hours.
Whether you have a packed vacation itinerary or you're hopping on a cruise as I did, you can do a lot in one day in Singapore. This is my list of things you shouldn't miss.
Singapore in One Day
An island city-state just off the southern coast of Malaysia, Singapore jumped from an undeveloped country to a fully developed one in just one generation. As it grew, this island became a top tourist destination.
Home to impressive architecture, beautiful gardens, and lots of history, Singapore has something for everyone. While the entire island is full of interesting things to see, there are some that should be higher on your list.
Holland America has a great tour on the last day of their Southeast Asia cruise that finishes by dropping you at the airport. I loved that it was so convenient and by the end of the cruise I was with a group of new friends.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
History lovers will want to see the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum located in the Chinatown district of Singapore.
Explore in-depth exhibits focusing on Buddhist art and history, telling the story of thousands of years.
While there, be sure to visit the third floor which has a wide variety of sacred artifacts of Buddha. Other highlights include a giant stupa made of gold.
The architecture of the temple is from the Tang Dynasty period. This is a huge temple so take some time to explore. I visited the temple on my own the first day I arrived in Singapore.
By the way, did you know Singapore is the safest country in the world? Don't worry for a second about exploring if you're on your own as I was.
Hours at this temple are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. but may change during holidays, so check before visiting.
Note: If you're wearing something that is sleeveless or you're in shorts, you can grab a scarf at one of the entrances. I had asked someone before going if I would need a scarf and was told I didn't. However, one of the attendants at the Temple came up to me and asked me to get a scarf to cover my shoulders, so I think it's better to be safe and not disrespectful. Pack your own scarf and take it with you as you never know when you'll need it.
Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is a spectacular showcase of a myriad of plants, flowers, and artistic pieces celebrating nature and life. You'll finally get to see those Supertrees you see in all the photos!
The displays change all the time, but visitors have their favorites, like Tulipmania and Orchid Extravaganza. The sculptures made from vines were spectacular!
My daughter would have loved seeing Gardens by the Bay as she has always loved plants, especially those that are carnivorous. I had to text her this photo!
The timing for my visit was so perfect as the Gardens Lunar New Year program was going on until February 24.
It's easy to see why Gardens by the Bay earned the Best Attraction Experience from the Singapore Tourism Board.
I was thrilled to see the tallest indoor waterfall in the world in the Cloud Forest.
If you're in Singapore in the evening, head to Gardens by the Bay for the light show, Garden Rhapsody. This show of lights and fireworks is free twice per night, at 7:45 and 8:45 p.m. I wasn't there in the evening so have to go back to see this for myself. I've heard it's incredible!
The hours at Gardens by the Bay are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. There are different admission prices depending on what you want to see, so visit the Gardens by the Bay website for details.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
For nature and flower lovers, one day in Singapore might consist entirely of exploring the massive Singapore Botanic Gardens. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015, the Gardens is the first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Divided into four sections - Tanglin Entrance, Tyersall Gallop Entrance, Nassim Entrance, and Bukit Timah Entrance - the Gardens features a wide variety of plant life, as well as educational and entertainment areas.
This complex is huge, so it's really important to make a note of where you entered so you can leave the same way. Each entrance does offer different displays. It's tough to see it all!
The National Orchid Garden is a must. This garden has over 1,000 species and over 2,000 hybrids on display.
You can also visit the Ethnobotany Gardens to see over 300 species of plants from this region of the world, as well as the Ginger Garden and the Rain Forest. Kids will delight in the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden, which is the first garden in all of Asia dedicated to children.
The Gift Shop has so many unique items, I ended up going through the line twice with purchases for my daughters. The Botanical Gardens was one of the stops on the tour Holland America set up for our last day in Singapore.
Malay Heritage Centre
This is a great stop to learn about the culture of the Malay community in Singapore. You'll find six permanent galleries where you can observe stories and artifacts - some from Sinagpore's collection, and others from the community.
For more information, download the free Kampong Gelam Heritage Trail, available in English.
Head to Arab Street to see one of the most impressive mosques in the world, the Sultan Mosque. The focal point of Singapore's Muslim community, the mosque was built in 1824 for Sultan Hussein Shah, the first sultan of Singapore.
See the impressive onion-shaped domes, each with a base decorated with glass bottle ends donated by lower-income Muslims during its construction. For a complete experience, take advantage of the guided tours that are offered.
This area is vibrant and has fantastic shopping. If you're on a Holland America cruise, this may be an option at the end of your cruise.
Marina Bay Sands
One spot I'm sorry I didn't see is Marina Bay Sands. Offering the best of dining, entertainment, nightlife, and more, staying at this resort would probably be the ultimate experience in Singapore if you have time.
Featuring an exotic, ultra-modern design and such amenities as a 1,300,000 square foot convention center, Marina Bay Sands hosts some of the biggest conventions in the world.
But you definitely don't have to be staying at Marina Bay Sands to enjoy it. For some of the best shopping on the planet, visit The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, an 800,000 square foot mall of high-end stores.
You'll also find a museum, two large theaters, celebrity chef restaurants, two floating Crystal Pavilions, art and science exhibits, and the world's largest atrium casino. This complex is one of the most unique in the world.
Visitors can enjoy all the amenities listed above as well as amazing views of the water and city line. You'll also have quick access to the city itself for easy exploration. With a design that looks almost like a spaceship sitting atop three towers, there's really nothing that compares to Marina Bay Sands.
Food in Singapore
No foodie will be able to resist the amazing food Singapore has to offer. In fact, one day in Singapore can and should be absolutely filled with sampling some of the best food in the city, including bites from the best food stalls.
Chinatown Food Centre Complex
This complex has 700 stalls, with over 226 of them offering cooked food. It truly is an experience you don't want to miss. The complex will be filled with a mixture of tourists taking photos of their food and regulars just sitting around drinking tea. The atmosphere is busy and fun.
If you visit one food stall in Singapore, it should be Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle Stall. This food stall has everything a foodie could want, including a Michelin star!
By the way, according to an article in Business Insider, Liao Fan Hong Kong, Singapore, is the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world - coming in at $2 and change for a meal!
Unless you are a very early riser and eat breakfast at 7 am, I'd suggest something small in the morning. In order to eat at Liao Fan Hong Kong, Singapore, you're going to have to get in line early for lunch. I'd suggest arriving no later than 11 a.m.
I searched for this stall for a while as the area is huge. When I finally found it, they were out of food! They did kindly send me a few stalls down where I had a huge plate of delicious chicken and rice for 3 US dollars. but I was so disappointed I wasn't able to try their very famous food.
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle is another Singapore food stall with one Michelin Star. Located at Blk 466, #01-12, Crawford Lane, I read that the noodles with minced pork is a local favorite.
Bukit Merah View Market
If you like the market scene, you'll want to visit Bukit Merah View Market. Located at 115 Bukit Merah View, this is another food center with a Michelin favorite, Chai Chuan Tou Yang Rou Tang. The mutton soup is the dish that earned this stall its Bib Gourmand distinction. Again, get there early as they only serve until they run out!
Sample Tiger Beer
For beer lovers, one day in Singapore must include sampling their world-famous Tiger Beer. Launched in 1932, Tiger Beer is world-renowned for its tastes and quality. While it is currently brewed in 11 countries and available in over 75 - including Europe and the USA - no foodie should miss the chance to enjoy the original where it was created.
This beer has over 40 international accolades and awards to its name and is said to be some of the best beer in the entire world.
I know I missed the opportunity to experience so many great places to eat, but one day in Singapore is just not enough. I'm not sure if a week in Singapore is enough! Tell me where you went if you visited this city so I can add it to my list for next time.
Where to Stay in Singapore
You'll probably be spending at least one night in Singapore, and at the end of that day, it's important to stay somewhere nice. After all, part of the travel experience is being able to chill and get a good night's rest.
I stayed at the Sofitel Singapore City Centre Hotel, and it was perfect. Located right downtown, I walked to a lot of the sights I wanted to visit.
The Sofitel Singapore City Centre towers above Tanjong Pagar MRT station, making it an excellent location for exploring the city's many attractions. Perfect for both business and family trips, the hotel offers luxurious and spacious rooms.
Enjoy a relaxing night of sleep is easy with the Sofitel sleep amenities. Choose from sleep masks and earplugs to help you stay asleep, a reading selection to help you fall asleep, an indulgent bath experience, and 8 pillow options - all part of their My Bed Experience.
Honestly, they had me at the bathtub! This is the way to relax at the end of a long day sightseeing!
With fine dining featuring French and Chinese cuisine at Racines and family-friendly options with a more relaxed atmosphere at 1864, the hotel has everyone covered for dining. I had an appetizer and a glass of wine before turning in for the evening, and it was the perfect end to my day.
In addition, the hotel offers state of the art facilities and wellness programs to help make any trip a relaxing one. The hotel offers pool facilities and their 24-hour SoFit gym to work off all the calories from all that food you'll be enjoying. I even had a yoga mat in my room!
This was my second stay with a Sofitel Hotel, and I'm looking forward to when I can stay with them again.
Make One Day in Singapore Your Most Memorable Day!
Whether taking in the beauty of the Singapore Botanic Gardens or enjoying a walking tour of some of the city's most famous sights, there's something to do for everyone in Singapore. The options listed above are just the tip of the iceberg when exploring the city, but try to spend at least one day in Singapore exploring all there is to see.
With so many things to do, you might find that you'll need a return trip to this beautiful island city. I know I do!