Planning a trip to Singapore? Get some inspiration on what to do while you’re there with our idea of a perfect three-day itinerary. History, culture, entertainment, restaurants… Pack it all in at a comfortable pace and don’t miss a thing!
In reality, Singapura, which means “the lion city” in Sanskrit, was home not to lions but to tigers, a symbol of strength and ferocity. And to carve out a place in the global jungle, Singapore has had to get its claws out and prove its determination, despite difficult initial conditions during its proclamation of independence in 1965. Alone among giant neighbours, made fragile by social tensions, in under 40 years this city-state has become one of the most prosperous countries in the world, and is now one of Asia’s most powerful dragons.
Plunge directly into the melee: start by visiting Orchard Road, the island’s main shopping street. Its name recalls the area’s agricultural history, as this road was once lined with orchards. However, it is now fertile ground for skyscrapers which grow like weeds here, alongside gigantic shopping malls where you can find anything you could possibly want. In these temples of commerce, you can also discover a good deal of the local cuisine, especially at Tanglin Mall and at Paragon market.
Go down towards the Marina and then turn south, you will come out in Chinatown, an area that is particularly incongruous since around 75% of Singapore’s population is Chinese. This was actually the first area allocated to Chinese immigrants. This district is characterised by architecture that is much lower to the ground, with a mixture of traditional and more modern buildings. In the same area, visit the Chinatown Heritage Center which will help you understand what life for these early migrants was like, as well as allowing you to get a better idea of Singapore’s history, as its current brilliance tends to obscure the vicissitudes of the past.
Not far from here, cross the Singapore River via New Bridge Road and you will come out on Raffles Avenue. Here you will find Raffles, a legendary hotel which recalls the island’s colonial past. At the bar you can enjoy the original Singapore Sling, a cocktail made with gin, Cointreau and Benedictine.
Returning to the city centre, right next to Fort Canning Park, you can visit the National Museum, the oldest museum in the city. The museum traces the country’s history since the fourteenth century, in a chronological, but educational and playful way.
On your way out, enjoy a walk in Fort Canning Park, a charming though relatively small park, where Singaporeans often meet up for live music concerts or to participate in artistic activities.
In the evening, it is time to go north, towards Little India, crossing Orchard Road again. The Indian neighbourhood contrasts sharply with the bustling city centre; its layout is much more traditional. Stay in the neighbourhood for dinner at a restaurant near Serangoon Road, you will discover a part of the city that awakens while the rest goes to sleep: here there is a permanent party atmosphere.
The next day, head back towards the Marina to explore a complex of three particularly impressive parks, known as the Gardens by The Bay. These three quite recently built parks, now an emblem of Singapore, show the government’s desire to emphasise green spaces as a trademark of Singapore. The result is an amazing complex of landscaping and urban planning. The parks host events every week, and they already rank as some of the most interesting parks in the world.
Nearby, at the edge of the Marina, the Singapore Flyer is the largest Ferris wheel in the world. Take a short trip up in it; you will have a beautiful view of the city centre and its skyscrapers, as well as the bay.
Heading back towards Orchard Road, right next to the National Museum, you can visit the Singapore Art Museum, which has one of the most comprehensive collections of contemporary Asian art in the world. You will discover the works of Liu Kang, Chen Chong Swee and Georgette Chen, who demonstrate the artistic vitality of the region.
For the evening, one of the major attractions of Singapore is its famous zoo, which is also open at night, and is one of the most interesting zoos in the world. The animals enjoy great freedom and a night visit allows visitors to see many of the nocturnal species in action, such as leopards and tigers.
For your third day in Singapore, you'll leave the main island to get to Sentosa, an artificial island whose inordinate ambition expresses the spirit of the country rather well. This huge amusement park that continues to reinvent itself is a temple dedicated to entertainment and tourism. There is a casino, a two-kilometre-long sandy beach, two golf courses, several hotels and spas as well as numerous attractions. One day is barely enough to experience everything it has to offer.
For your last night in Singapore, you could either stay a little longer at Sentosa, or visit the botanical garden, which is open until midnight and features many beautiful species of orchid.
With its urban planning, it almost obsessive cleanliness and its multicultural aspect, Singapore is one of the most unique cities in the world. Three days will allow you to discover the city’s most emblematic sites: if you have the opportunity to spend more time in Singapore, you could visit some of the museums that you have not had time to see, such as the Asian Civilisation Museum, or the Peranakan Museum, and take the time to enjoy a long walk in the beautiful East Coast Park.