It was love at first sight. Somehow I always knew I would like this city and thus have always wanted to visit it. When I first got to do it during our round-the-world journey in May 2017, I fell head over heels with it! The same happened to me with New York City couple of years ago. And pretty much with Sydney almost two months prior to visiting Singapore. It’s just one of those clicks or matches you feel, just like in relationships. You know it in your heart when you see the person (or place in this case) for the first time.
So what was it about Singapore that got me falling for it? First of all, after having spent three weeks in Indonesia, Singapore felt very clean, systematic, functional and relaxed. There was no chaotic traffic, no push selling on the streets, not as expensive as anticipated plus you could walk everywhere and felt safe doing so. But had I come directly let’s say from my home country Finland, I would have felt the same. Plus of course, would have loved even more the hot and sunny weather as well as the international ambiance. Had I know how much I would fall for the city, I would have reserved more time for it! This time we only spent three nights and two whole days in it. We did see a lot, but surely far from enough. We’ll be definitely coming back!
Singapore in 48 hours
What to do if you only have two days to spend in a city like Singapore? If you are a first timer, you most likely will want to see all the main symbolic attractions such as the Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay as well as Merlion park and riverfront. All these and much more are possible in two days. Still leaves you time to do for example shopping in some of the numerous shopping malls or just wonder around on the streets.
I have included our two day activities below. We had a little slow start to the city due to an unfortunate incident. We had arrived to the city the night before. After breakfast we were heading out to town, but it was raining (prepare for rain as it rains pretty much every day at some point, then clears up again. It’s the location at the Equator…). So we decided instead to go to our hotel gym & pool for a while. After gym I had showered and was walking to the pool using hotel slippers when I slipped in wet stone stairs and hit my head! Oh dear how it scared us then, though I felt quite ok right after. But always a hit in your head is something you need to monitor. If anything good about this is that if you have to hit your head in Asia, do it in Singapore! They have the best hospitals in Asia right there so you get treated immediately if necessary. Luckily I did not need hospital, but the hit slowed us down a bit. After resting and waiting to see if I had a concussion or not (you usually start vomiting or feel nausea if you do), we headed to town and wondered around for nearly ten hours!
Singapore has apparently a very good public transportation system, metro lines and buses, and taxis are not that too expensive either. However, we like to explore on foot whenever possible. So, we ended up walking the two days everywhere except got a taxi back to our hotel the second night.
Our hotel was located in downtown area very close to the national museum as well as Fort Canning. We decided to skip the museum but headed to Fort Canning to walk thru it towards the Singapore river. This was funny as in so many times we have found ourselves in a park the first thing we get to a new city.
Fort Canning is a hill that has a long history. It used to be a “Forbidden hill” as it for centuries was a hill for the Malay kings and their tombs. Later on under British regime it was the central place of governance and defence. There are cannons, memorials, the Ruffle house and an underground souldier box as a little museum nowadays as well as signs posted around to tell the history. Nowadays it is a a place for water reserve, art school as well as a public park or garden with trails and art pieces for people to enjoy.
Lunching at food courts. After Fort Canning it was time for us to find lunch. We had heard about the lively food markets and wanted to try them so we headed to Market Street food center. On the way we admired the river front and cute little streets filled with restaurants. This food market is within the business city district in a building filled with food kiosks in several floors. All kind of Asian food is represented here! Just pick one from one kiosk and something feom another. And for cheap prices!
Chinatown. Next we wondered thru the streets admiring the clean city feeling and being able to walk on the sidewalks and ended up in Chinatown for ice cream and some souvenir shopping (can’t really do much since no room in our backpacks!). Then completely unplanned we stombled across to a beautiful Buddha temple and peeked in. We were invited to go have a look (after Merja had covered her legs & shoulders properly first), and oh my how pretty the temple was! It was the temple of the Buddha Tooth Relic with a 100 Buddhas Hall downstairs and the actual relic hall upstairs. Some museum floors in between. The tooth relic was placed in a golden shrine in a hall covered with real gold. Even the floor tiles were covered in gold! Photography was forbidden upstairs so no pics from the golden hall, sorry! But plenty from the beautiful buddha hall. There was a large Hindu temple almost next to it too, but only peeked in a little.
Shopping. Singapore is a convenient city for shopping. There are several shopping malls for every taste and every budget. We had one particular task to complete: find a certain Lego Nexo Nights package for our junior as a present for him doing so well on his roadschool exams. We walked back amd crossed the river, walked by the parliament house and churches to Raffles City mall. Did not find one there so walked to another mall near our hotel. No Legos there either so had to leave for the next day. Instead we had little night snack on one of the terraces nearby. Malls have foodcourts and restaurants for dining as well. Without this mission we would have liked to dine in one of the restaurants that looked so nice by the riverfront.
On our second full day we continued shopping at Plaza mall near our hotel. We ended up spending a few hourse there getting hair cuts and having lunch too. A few hours is easily spent in an airconditioned mall with all kinds of activities available. And we did find the Lego piece we were looking for. (No cooperation here!)
In the afternoon we hit the town on foot again. We strolled on the streets looking at an interesting mix of older and newer buildings, though really not that old exists in Singapore. We admired buildings near the parliament house, churces and walked thru a few malls (eg Marina Square) again to cool down. And ate pancakes at the mall since the Fountain of wealth was such a disappointment. We often seek for water fountains as our junior is quite fond of them.
Afterwards we headed to the bay area, walked along the Formula One pit lane on Raffles Avenue and admired the spitting lion at Merlion park. Singapore is a lion city, so Merlion is the city symbol. We also wanted to eat at the Makansutra Gluttons Bay, however, we had just had the pancakes ans lunch earlier, so no need for food yet. Will go there next time.
Finally, we walked across the Helix bridge to Marina Bay Sands mall. Wow, the Singaporeans really know how to build malls! Our target was to go see the Supertrees at Gardens byt the Bay so did not stay in this mall for long. Instead, we walked thru Marina Bay Sands hotel lobby to the gardens. Apparently you can sneak into the elevator and go to the 55th floor for some of the best views of the city. We die not do that, but instead climbed up to the Supertree rooftop bar for a drink to watch the sun set behind this “boat looking” building.
Gardens By The Bay is a large area with different theme gardens and several areas for activities and spending time. The Supertreesn the middle are iconic and fun to watch. They look like mushrooms according to Leevi. And be sure to stay after sunset since they have an excellent light and sound show twice each night! It truly was great! You can watch Leevi’s vlog here in Finnish. After the light show we had some evening snacks by the food court at the Gardens and took a taxi by the Marina Bay Sands mall back to our hotel to call it a day.
What did we miss?
A lot. This city jumped right to the top five or even three in our list of favorites. So we’ll be surely going back. We promised our junior that next time we go we will stay at Marina Bay Sands. (Ok, maybe we work a little while after ths rtw trip before going back to stay there…) Leevi even said he will want to work and live there some day! That would be totally fine by us.
With or without a child we will definitely visit Sentosa island too. If not for all the theme and activity parks and zoo, we’ll go for gardens and beaches. And who knows, maybe we’ll add a visit to some other paradise islands in the neighbouring countries too, since flying in Asia is ridiculously cheap. If not, Singapore by itself will be a cool city to stay in and just enjoy what the city has to offer for more than the two days we only had now. It is big and impressive, quite newly build but still has some character and vibes that we liked a lot.