24 hours in SINGAPORE

24 hours in Singapore: Obviously, I couldn’t miss out on adding Singapore to my series on 24 hours in the world’s most frequented hubs. After all, Singapore’s Changi Airport is one of the busiest airports in Asia.

The Merlion, the most important landmark in the powerful city-state of Singapore
Iconic view of Singapore: The Merlion and the Marina Sands Bay in the backdrop. But this is not half of it!

As always, I put together a comprehensive itinerary for a sunny day as well as another one in case it rains. This way, you’ll know exactly how to spend a short city break or layover at Asia’s glittering mega-city whether rain or shine.

Singapore’s population of 5.75 million makes it the second most densely populated sovereign state in the world – after Monaco.

The city’s economic motor is the service industry such as international banks, insurance, and the like. A relatively high percentage of Singapore’s population are ex-pats. Therefore, basically everybody is fluent in English although the official national language is Bahasa Malay. However, with a population of 76 percent ethnic Chinese and 7 percent ethnic Indians, Mandarin and Tamil are official languages, too.

Just like the population presents a colorful variety, the city itself does so, too. You’ll find modernism next to traditions, financial districts and shopping malls beside ancient jungles.

I first got to Singapore during a trip to Malaysia and thought that it would be a good opportunity to visit the city for a day or two. Turns out, I fell in instant love with the vibrant city.

So if you have the chance to spend a day on a layover in Singapore, do it. But be warned: You might immediately fall under its spell!

icon bag of money Local Currency

Singapore Dollar (SGD) / 1 SGD = 0.74 US$ as of November 2022 / current rate

icon police car Emergency Contacts

Police 999

National Airline

Singapore Airlines

If you are flying Singapore Airlines and have a stopover at Changi Airport, they make you an incredible offer: a one-night hotel stay, airport shuttle, and access to 15 attractions – and all this from SGD 40!

image airport board Airports

Changi Airport / IATA-Code: SIN

If you have a stopover of at least 5.5 hours, you can join a complimentary city- or heritage tour offered by Changi Airport!

Tourist Info Online and Onsite

Singapore Visitors Centres at Changi Terminal 1, 2, and 3.
Opening hours: 6 a.m. to 2.00 a.m. daily

mean of transportation Getting Downtown and Back

I wish every city had such an extensive, well-maintained, and reliable system of public transportation like Singapore.

Subway Singapore
You can get everywhere in Singapore by public transport.
It’s fast, comfortable, and cheap.

And it’s cheap, too. I recommend buying the tourist pass, which gives you an unlimited amount of rides, right at Changi Airport. There are passes for one, two, or three days for SGD 22, SGD 29, and SGD 34. Even if you follow the sunny day itinerary, the pass should pay out since you will hardly be able to avoid using public transportation.

With your brand new pass, you then travel from the airport downtown to your hotel. To get to the Robertson Quay Hotel, you can take bus No. 36 going to the Dhoby Ghaut station from where you have to walk about one kilometer. Get alternative connections on SBS Transit.

Morning Activities

Singapore is a tropical country, so the chance that you will model your cute summer dress is quite high. But you better take also a light cardigan or a large scarf with you since the buses, malls, and many restaurants are air-conditioned. Although they are not as cold as in the US, they are still chilly enough to catch the flu.

The fastest way to get there is walking – within 20 minutes you’ll be at South Bridge Road where especially the blocs between Cross Street and Sago Lane are just amazing.

Street of Harmony

There is the mint green building of the Islamic Masjid Jamae on 218 South Bridge Road – just a stone’s throw away from the Sri Mariamman Temple at No. 244.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
At the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.

Eventually, a short walk takes you to the iconic Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Singapore’s most important Buddhist building on 288 South Bridge Road.

The vast majority of Singapore’s ethnic population is Chinese, so you definitely should also visit Chinatown.

Take your time to explore all the little alleys stuffed with shops and restaurants and all sorts of mambo jambo behind the temple.

The Sri Mariamman Temple in Singapore
The Sri Mariamman Temple against the backdrop of the skyscrapers.

If you’d like to learn more about the first Chinese contract workers in Singapore, a visit to the Chinatown Heritage Center on 48 Pagoda Street is highly recommendable.

The fact that I planned lunch in the so-called Little India district gives you a great opportunity to experience the city’s stark cultural contrasts within just a couple of minutes. The MRT North-East Line takes you there from the stop Chinatown to Little India in 15 minutes.

Little India’s arterial road is the Serangoon Road with colorful stores with blaring Indian music and exotic scents. Bollywood at its best.

Colorful House of Tan Teng Niah in Little India

Once you’re done awing, turn into Kerbau Road. Behind the first crossing, you will notice a very colorful building to your left, the ‘Tan Teng Niah’. Built in 1900, it is the last Chinese villa in this neighborhood, stemming from the era when Chinese businesses used to operate next to Indians.

From here it’s just a short walk to the wonderful Indian restaurant where you’ll have lunch.

Morning Activities

Since Singapore is a tropical country, you won’t be freezing. However, as it is also a tropical monsoon region, you might experience heavy rains, especially from October to February. Never mind, grab an umbrella, and let’s go.

Tooth Relic Temple in Singapore
This is where you’ll find the Tooth Relic.

To see at least the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, walk right along the Singapore River and cross at Alkaff Bridge. There you hop on bus No. 51 which takes you to Opp Hong Lim Park. From here, unfortunately, you have to walk. Or you take a cab to the Temple, which will cost you very little.

To make up for not seeing that much of the city itself, get informed about it at the Singapore City Gallery.

Statues in Front of the Singapore City Gallery
Chinese ethnic statues in front of the Singapore City Gallery

Here all your questions regarding geology, the concept, the challenges, and everyday life will be answered in an educational yet fun way.

Singapore City Gallery 
The URA Centre
45 Maxwell Road
Singapore 069118
Phone: + 65 63 21 83 21
Email: ura_gallery@ura.gov.sg

The Genesis of Singapore

While the City Gallery covers mostly the geological and ecological side, the National Museum of Singapore deals with the settlement, immigration, ethnicities, and all related aspects – hence, with the people. It is absolutely fascinating and not to be missed.

To get there from the City Gallery, take bus No. 190 at Pearl’s Ctr and get off after only seven minutes at SMU.

National Museum of Singapore 
93 Stamford Road
Singapore 178897
Phone: +65 63 32 36 59
Email: nhb_nm_hospitality@nhb.gov.sg

Now that you’ve learned so much about Singapore’s history and its different ethnicities, let’s sample some of their delicacies: Let’s go to Little India for lunch!

Walk back to SMU station and take bus No. 147 to Tekka Ctr. From there you walk down Serangoon Road, turn left into Kerbau Road, get a glimpse at the Tan Teng Niah building (for all this, see the sunny day description), and hurry to the Banana Leaf Apolo.


Hungry? Walk down one block to the Race Course Road, and at No. 54, the gates to culinary heaven will open.

Indian Food
The Banana Leaf definitely deserves its name.

There is the ‘Banana Leaf Apolo’ serving the best in Indian cuisine, sorted by the very diverse Indian regions.

Banana Leaf Apolo
54 Race Course Rd
Singapore 218564
Phone: +65 62 93 86 82
Email: enquiry@thebananaleafapolo.com

They are open daily from 10.30 a.m. to 10.30 p.m.

Afternoon Activities

An attraction not to be missed is definitely the Gardens by the Bay, an award-winning park of a size of over 100 hectares, introducing and preserving flowers, bushes, and other plants from all over the world, presented in a very educational yet beautifully arranged way. Sustainability at its best.

Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
The Gardens by the Bay from above – including the noticeable domes.

There are several attractions like the Skyway, the Supertree Grove, and of course the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest Conservatories. Every night at 7.45 and 8.45 p.m. there is a – yes, beautifully kitschy – light and sound show.

Gardens by the Bay 
18 Marina Gardens Drive
Singapore 018953
Phone: + 65 – 64 20 68 48
Email: feedback@gardensbythebay.com.sg

Afternoon Activities

Is it still pouring so that you cannot continue by any chance with the sunny part itinerary? Never mind, your afternoon will be great just the same.
You are going to see some fine art exhibited in stunning buildings.

Walk back the Race Course Road to Little India station. Get on bus No. 131 and get off at Manulife Ctr.

Cupola over the cupola – at the Art Museum even the ancient-modern fusion building is artsy.
Cupola over the cupola – at the Art Museum even the ancient-modern fusion building is artsy.

The Singapore Art Museum’s building used to be a Catholic boys’ school. After the school moved out and gave way to make it a gallery,  the building was transformed accordingly. The enormous glass hall, where sometimes special events take place, is particularly impressive. The huge venue owns and presents an important collection of Southeast Asian contemporary art and organizes exciting special exhibitions such as the Singapore Biennal.

Singapore Art Museum 
71 Bras Basah Road
Singapore 189555
Phone: +65 – 65 89 95 80
Email: enquiries@singaporeartmuseum.sg

Up for more art? The next venue is by far not as ample as the Art Museum, but it hosts some fine Asian antiques and art – no wonder, it’s the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Exhibit at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore
I could use this abundance of hands quite often.

While the permanent collection – although absolutely exquisite – is fairly small, their special exhibitions are totally worth seeing since they often combine art with some strong environmental or sociological aspect.
To get there, just walk back to the Manulife Ctr stop and keep going by bus No. 131 to Opp Singapore’s Cricket Club.

Asian Civilisations Museum
1 Empress Place
Singapore 179555
Phone: +65 – 63 32 77 98
Email: nhb_acm_vs@nhb.gov.sg


As a matter of fact, everybody has to experience Marina Sands Bay – the gigantic surfboard on three pillars.

Marina Bay complex in Singapore
The Marina Bay Sands flanked by the helix bridge to the left and the ArtScience Museum to the right.

It contains the world-famous luxury hotel Marina Bay Sands* with an infinity pool on the 57th floor, a first-class shopping mall, and an artscience museum – in short: This place is just amazing.

If you follow the sunny day itinerary, you then just have to cross the bridge connecting the Gardens by the Bay with the Marina Sands and you’re there.

On a rainy day, coming from the Asian Civilisation Museum, it’s a five minutes walk. You have to cross the Singapore River at the Cavenagh bridge and you’re practically there.

Inside the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Mall
Inside the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Mall

Since next to the hotel is their fancy shopping mall, you might want to do some (window-)shopping and get dinner at one of the varied eateries here. The least expensive option is the food court in the basement.

Of course, you can also have dinner at one of the restaurants at the hotel complex and eventually stay for a nightcap or two.

Renata Green enjoying a cocktail at the CÉ LA VI Bar at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Enjoying a cocktail at the CÉ LA VI Roof Top Bar.

Actually, the small but satisfying menu at the CÉ LA VI Club Lounge with a choice of burgers, pizzas, and other snacks might just do the trick at a reasonable price. This is the cheapest option. On the same floor is the CÉ LA VI Restaurant and Sky Bar with a more complete menu, higher prices, and a consumption minimum of SGD 80 per person.

They open on weekdays at noon and weekends at 11 a.m. and remain open till late – the so-called day lounge closes at 10 p.m., though.


Sorry, but since you are already in the greatest place in all of Singapore – where else could I send you?
Just order another drink, lean back, and let the view take away not only your breath but all your worries.

Singapore Xtra

Since the night safari is supposed to be the big thing to do in Singapore, I add some extra info. The fact is, I was not impressed.

Bat at the Night Safari in Singapore
I bat this creature will impress you.

Although it’s very organized, it’s still packed, and there are long waits. Yes, the animals in the dark do give this zoo a special atmosphere – but I’ve found it really exhausting to wait so late. Also, the zoo is quite far away from the center so it takes a while to get back.
I just wasn’t impressed. But for me, it’s easy to say since I’ve already seen it. So decide for yourself – after all, it is a unique thing.
However, they have a really good website with lots of useful information like how to get there by public transport or by special shuttle and much more.

Night Safari 
80 Mandai Lake Road
Singapore 729826
Phone: +65 6269 3411
Email: enquiry@wrs.com.sg

illustration of a bed Accommodation

If you can afford to splurge, spending the night at the Marina Bay Sands* is, obviously, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To take it down a notch and still enjoy a prime location, you might want to opt for the Robertson Quay Hotel*

Map – sunny day itinerary

Map – rainy day itinerary

If you’re not flying into Singapore but taking the bus from Malaysia, you might enjoy this little story about my adventure.

Pinnable Pictures

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Note: I’m completing, editing, and updating this post regularly – last in April 2024.

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5 Replies to “24 hours in SINGAPORE”

  1. I love Singapore! Its transport facilities and infrastructure is simply excellent. Changi airport itself is a pleasure to be transiting through. I love your itinerary for 24 hours in this city covering temples and art galleries and its eclectic food options!.:-)

  2. My fiance and I always try to spend some time in Singapore whenever we are in South East Asia. He was an ex-pat there for some 10 years and knows it very well, while I was spending some time living in Japan. The stand out places for me from this post would be Gardens by the Bay and Night Safari. The food in Singapore is just amazing and extremely accessible via the MRT. You have raised so many great options here and it makes me want to go back again once it’s safe to travel again.

  3. I loved Singapore, it has a real small-town vibe even though it’s a vibrant and busy city. My favourite area was Little India, and I had some amazing vegetarian Indian food, and spent an afternoon just nosing around the little markets. Even though it’s considered an expensive city, it’s still possible to travel and explore Singapore on a budget.

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