When you’re out and about in Southeast Asia, there’s hardly a better use of time than spending one day in Singapore. I’ve had the fortunate “accident” of scoring two amazing flight deals to Asia via Singapore in less than a year that’s thrice thrown me deep into the “Lion City.”
For me, Singapore was love at first sight. (Okay, perhaps first bite.)
While it’s got a reputation for being staler and soberer than other high-flyin’, buzzin’ Asian cities, crafting a solid Singapore trip plan will be far from boring. There’s a metric ton to do and see, and even if you can only carve out 24 hours in Singapore, you’ll find plenty to love here in the Lion City.
Ready to forge the perfect Singapore travel plan? Saddle up with this complete 1-day Singapore itinerary!
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What to do in Singapore in 24 hours: A complete 1-day itinerary
As I always caution before the one-day itineraries at Treksplorer, Singapore isn’t a destination you should rush through. Like all cities of its size and diversity, there’s plenty to do & see here.
Although I’ll bet that it’ll be love at first sight (at least it was for me!), spending more than 24 hours in Singapore would allow you to savour the city at a more languid, enjoyable pace.
Even so, you can experience quite a lot of the city on a time crunch. Learning how to get around Singapore is an absolute cinch, thanks to the fast & efficient MRT.
You’ll still spend much of your first day in Singapore on foot, but quick metro rides on central routes will allow you to see more than would otherwise be possible.
Grab an early morning snack in Chinatown
Rise and shine, wayfarer!
If you ask me, one of the main reasons to visit Singapore is to eat. And I mean to seriously chow down. So, what better way to launch your day than with a hearty breakfast in Chinatown?
Chinatown is undoubtedly one of the most interesting corners of Singapore. Compared to the glitz of the central business district to its east, the low-rise Peranakan heritage buildings of Chinatown offer quite the contrast. And mad Instagrammability.
Besides visiting all the handsome shophouses and temples (including the impressive Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the colourful Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple), among the best things to do in Chinatown is, without question, eating to your heart’s content.
Slink behind the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple to find one of the best places to eat in Singapore Chinatown, the Chinatown Food Centre Complex. This sprawling food court is one of the top hawker centres in Singapore and unleashes the perfect introduction to the city’s culinary scene.
The vendors at the Chinatown Food Centre Complex start opening up at around 7 am. Before you commit to anything, wander around all the stalls to see what tickles your fancy.
My own suggestion would be to ditch your usual idea of what constitutes breakfast and go with a heaping plate of wonton noodles topped with succulent BBQ pork slices. (You won’t regret it. Trust me.)
Or, for a more traditional Singaporean breakfast, try out kaya toast, a Hainanese dish consisting of coconut jam slathered on toast with a serving of soft-boiled eggs.
If nothing at the Chinatown Food Centre strikes your tastebuds, the nearby Maxwell Food Centre—sitting on the southern edge of Chinatown—is another great option to try out some of the best Singaporean food.
Another classic Singapore morning food here is nasi lemak, a popular Malay dish featuring coconut rice topped with anchovies, sambal paste, and fried chicken.
Before leaving the neighborhood, history buffs might want to squeeze in a visit to the Chinatown Heritage Centre. Located on Pagoda Street, this museum occupies a series of restored shophouses and walks through the daily lives and living conditions of Singapore’s early Chinese settlers.
Wander around Little India
Once you’ve filled up your belly and explored all the delights of Chinatown, hop onto the MRT for the short ride to Little India. Like Chinatown, Little India is one of the city’s most colourful areas and a must-see during your first 24 hours in Singapore.
Exiting onto Serangoon Road, the main avenue of Little India, you’ll be immediately transported into the neighbourhood’s bright & vibrant core. Along the road lies everything from tandoori joints to shops selling saris & Bollywood DVDs.
While exploring, keep on the lookout for some of these top things to see & do in Little India:
- Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple: A stunning temple that’s one of the oldest in Singapore. The eye-popping façade is impossible to miss.
- Tan Teng Niah: A brightly-coloured landmark Chinese villa in the heart of Little India.
- Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple: A Buddhist monastery featuring a massive 15-foot-fall Buddha.
- Tekka Centre: One of the top hawker centres in Singapore and among the best places in the city to grab a tasty Indian snack.
Explore Singapore’s Malay culture at Kampong Glam
From Little India, it’s about 20 minutes by foot to Kampong Glam. Thanks to its strong Islamic influences & presence, Kampong Glam has long been an important area for Singapore’s Arab and Malay communities.
At the heart of Kampong Glam is Masjid Sultan, a 19th-century mosque that sits among the most stunning buildings in Singapore. The mosque’s massive golden dome is an unmissable landmark in the area, helping you navigate through the lovely streets of Kampong Glam.
Besides the mosque, here are a few things to check out in Kampong Glam:
- Haji Lane: A narrow pedestrian street lined with small boutiques, hip cafés, and some eye-popping street art.
- Arab Street: One of the main shopping streets of Kampong Glam, full of handsome shophouses that hide everything from boutiques to carpet shops to Halal restaurants.
- Malay Heritage Centre: A museum occupying a lovely colonial building that lays out the history & culture of the Malay community in Singapore spread over ten galleries.
Eat & splurge on Orchard Road
With the sun now high in the sky and the temperatures starting to crank up, drop back onto the MRT for a ride to Orchard Road, the shopping mecca of Singapore.
Although spending time shopping when you’ve only got one day in Singapore might seem a little wasteful, rest assured that, by now, you’ll be craving a little break from the oppressive mid-day heat & humidity of Singapore. (Plus, other surprises that’ll be worth your while await.)
The stretch between the Orchard Road and Somerset MRT stations is an absolute paradise for shopaholics. You could spend hours perusing the malls & boutiques—and, undoubtedly, go broke in the process (if you so wish).
Even if shopping doesn’t turn your crank, there’s one thing here that might: the food. Along with being the retail heaven of Singapore, Orchard Road doles out some superb eating options that don’t involve rushing for tables as in the hawker centres. Here are a few options:
- ION Orchard Food Opera: A large food court in the ION Orchard mall that serves up nearly any Asian favourite you could muster up. Try out the famous Scotts Hwa Heng Beef Ball Noodles or the more adventurous Ikan Assam Pedas from Padang Padang.
- Tonkin Vietnamese Noodles Bar: A Vietnamese favourite delivering some of Singapore’s most authentic pho for under S$10.
- Roost: A Singaporean restaurant in The Centrepoint dishing out a chicken laksa that breaks barriers.
Enjoy a drink at Clarke Quay
After you’ve had your fill of highfalutin shopping at Orchard Road, pop back onto the MRT towards Clarke Quay. Although most famous for its nightlife, the historical Clarke Quay is also a fantastic place to stop in for an afternoon drink among lovely riverside views.
For a quiet afternoon drink or snack, I’d recommend a visit to the lovely riverside terrace at Little Saigon. This Vietnamese joint opens earlier in the afternoon than other bars in the area and serves up budget-friendly (at least for Singapore) happy hour beers & great Southeast Asia-inspired cocktails.
The bar menu, consisting of Vietnamese favourites like spring rolls, is quite tasty, too.
Soak in the views at Marina Bay
From Clarke Quay, spring east along the Singapore River, past the historic Boat Quay, towards lovely Marina Bay. On the way, don’t forget to pull out your camera and snap the necessary selfie at the iconic Merlion statue with the skyscrapers of the business district as the backdrop. It’s one of the classic views of Singapore that shouldn’t be missed!
Walk around the bay en route to the distinctive Marina Bay Sands, one of the top-rated luxury hotels in Singapore. Built in 2010, this unique building has become one of the most notable features of the Singapore skyline, and is one of Singapore’s top attractions on its own.
Relax among legions of Singaporeans and expats running & chilling out along the promenade in front of Marina Bay as the sun begins to set on the city. The skyline views across the bay to the central business district are absolutely jaw-dropping and deserve a moment of quiet contemplation.
Transport yourself to another planet at the Gardens by the Bay
As the evening starts to close into the night, trot through The Shoppes at Marina Bay (stop in for a drink at one of the resto-bars along the way if you’d like!) towards the escalators that’ll lead you through Marina Bay Sands to the Gardens by the Bay.
While most visitors simply walk through Marina Bay Sands on their way to the gardens, high-altitude seekers might wish to stop by the luxury hotel’s 57th-floor observation deck. The sweeping vistas of Singapore are unmatched.
The real treat here, though, is Gardens by the Bay. Under the cloak of night, the gardens are at their best. Even from afar, the park’s brightly lit supertrees look mystical and otherworldly, like something pulled from a high-budget sci-fi flick.
If you can, try to time your visit to Gardens by the Bay with the daily evening light show. Every night at 7 pm and 8 pm, the Gardens by the Bay puts on a dazzling spectacle. Join hundreds of others in the Supertree Grove and watch as each is lit up with fanciful colours, changing their hues along with a medley of music.
PRO TIP: Save time and skip the line by reserving your Gardens by the Bay Admission Ticket online. The e-ticket includes options for entrance to the gardens’ main attractions, including the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome.
Savour a meal at one of Singapore’s top dining hotspots
Just from walking around the city, I’m sure you’ve recognized that Singapore takes its eating quite seriously.
With the evening coming to a close, why not take one last rush at digging into some of Singapore’s tastiest food? Here are a couple of last-minute ideas for excellent places to eat in Singapore:
- Satay by the Bay: The perfect place to end your visit to the Gardens by the Bay. Follow the signs to the northeastern edge of the park to grab barbecued Malay favourites with a side of that oh-so-delicious rich peanut sauce.
- Lau Pa Sat Food Court: A busy hawker centre in the CBD with just about everything you’re craving, from Malay to Indian to Korean.
- Market Street Interim Hawker Centre: A hawker centre on Cross Street that’s got a huge variety at budget-friendly prices.
- Old Airport Road Food Centre: Another hawker centre that’s a little out of the downtown area. It’s got some of the best selection and quality among food courts in Singapore.
- Chinatown Food Street: A string of restaurants and food stalls in the heart of Chinatown that’s one of the top choices for Chinese food in the city.
Where to stay with 24 hours in Singapore
Like any city of its size, it’s not always easy to choose where to stay in Singapore. Not only is the selection of accommodations in Singapore massive, but the quality and prices also don’t always match up.
For travellers on a time crunch, I’d recommend settling into an area in the downtown area. It’s a little more expensive than outlying districts like Novena, Newton, or Geylang but far more convenient for sightseeing. Here are a few ideas:
- Champion Hotel City: A budget-friendly alternative in the heart of downtown. Rooms are clean & pleasant, but the location, within quick walking distance to Chinatown & Clarke Quay, is the real draw here.
- Park Royal on Pickering: An incredible luxury hotel featuring some of the most unique architecture in Singapore, including an infinity pool overlooking its garden-like terraces and the city. It’s located just a few minutes’ walk from both Chinatown and Clarke Quay.
- The Fullerton Bay Hotel: The ultimate in Singapore luxury, this 5-star hotel occupies a prime location in Marina Bay. Rooms shine with rich wood finishes and floor-to-ceiling windows that dish out fantastic views of the city. The vistas from the rooftop pool & bar are even more beguiling.
More 1-day Singapore itinerary ideas
- Got a few extra days? Leave yourself time to check out some of the best day trips from Singapore, including Sentosa Island and Melaka.
- Looking for a classic Singaporean indulgence? Swing by the historic Raffles Hotel for a taste of the original Singapore Sling, the city’s world-famous cocktail.
- Visiting Singapore with the kids? Squeeze in a trip to the Singapore Zoo, the world’s top rainforest zoo. Other family-friendly options include the Singapore Night Safari, SEA Aquarium, and Universal Studios.
- Need more high-flyin’ hijinks for your Singapore travel plan? Take a spin on the Singapore Flyer, a 165-metre-high Ferris wheel unleashing some of the most spectacular views of Singapore from above.
- Looking to explore the city-state’s beautiful nature? Set aside time to go hiking in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, explore the tropical birdlife of Jurong Bird Park, or check out the native and exotic plant species of Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Getting to Singapore
Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN) is one of the major airports in Southeast Asia and has arrivals & departures from all over the region and the world. Major airlines flying into SIN include Singapore Airlines, AirAsia, Qantas, United, and Scoot.
Things to know before you go to Singapore
When to go to Singapore
For the most part, Singapore is a year-round destination. In typical Southeast Asian fashion, the weather in Singapore is hot & humid all year round, lacking the seasonality you’d find elsewhere in Asia.
Most would separate the year in Singapore into wet & dry seasons, although it’s a little less distinctive than one might think. Two monsoons—the Southwest & the Northeast—affect Singapore at different times of the year.
Overall, the best time to go to Singapore is between February and April. February and March are particularly good for travellers as the weather in Singapore is at its driest, with more days of sun and fewer days of rain than average.
Nonetheless, even during these times, you’ll want to make sure that your packing list for Singapore includes a lightweight rain jacket and a sturdy travel umbrella. Rain is never far around the corner here!
Do I need travel insurance in Singapore?
The short answer is: Yes.
Travel insurance is ALWAYS a good idea whenever you travel. In fact, I would put it as one of the most important things in any trip planning preparation.
A good travel insurance policy will protect you from a number of things, including emergency medical costs, trip cancellation, lost/stolen baggage, and so on.
With any Singapore travel itinerary, it’s especially important to have good medical coverage on your travel insurance plan.
The standard of medical care in Singapore is quite high for the region, but that also comes at a much higher cost. A medical emergency without adequate coverage could prove to be quite costly here!
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Getting connected in Singapore
Like much of Asia, Singapore is a broadband nirvana. Getting connected here is rarely a problem with free WiFi available in restaurants, cafés, and other points throughout the city.
Even better than relying on public WiFi, however, is to get Singapore eSIM data plan to use with an unlocked phone. Compared to data roaming, it’s relatively cheap and is far more convenient for travelling in Singapore than always searching for open WiFi networks.
However you decide to connect to the Internet in Singapore, it’s far safer to do it through a virtual private network (VPN). Connecting through a VPN encrypts your data to shield it from prying eyes.
For travellers, I’d highly recommend NordVPN.
NordVPN allows you to connect through their over 5,000 servers worldwide. Even if you’re in Singapore, you can connect through a server in your home country to disguise your location. (Yep, your Netflix binge-watching can continue on your vacation.)
On top of that, NordVPN uses military-grade double encryption technology to keep your data safe. Their servers also don’t keep log files, meaning your browsing and download history can’t be tracked by authorities.
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