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What to do in Singapore with 5 hours or less

Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore - Bawah Reserve guide on what to do in Singapore in 5 hours or less.

Singapore may be a small, diamond shaped island, spanning 50 kilometres from east to west and 27 kilometres from north to south but don’t let its size fool you. This city-state is jam-packed with things to do and with just five hours, you’ll be able to get a literal taste of some of the great things Singapore has to offer.

Here are two action-filled itineraries with some of the most popular sights on this South-East Asian Malay peninsula known as the  "Little Red Dot". 

Do remember to bring along a hat, sunscreen and water – Singapore is hot, hot, hot!

 

What to do with 5 hours

Estimated time: 2 hours; 3 if exploring the domes: 
Gardens by the Bay & Marina Bay Sands

Gardens by the bay, Singapore

Take a taxi to Gardens by the Bay. We suggest being dropped off at Satay by the Bay where you can grab a cold drink and a snack at the hawker food centre before walking along the water to the gardens. You’ll stroll through seven different gardens to SuperTree Grove, large metal structures that function as air vents and solar stands. Whilst the light show and music make this a great evening experience, it’s equally spectacular by day. The OCBC Skyway is also worth trying for a bird’s eye view of the park.


There are two biodomes, Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, that are filled with amazing plants from all over the world. A wander through the domes is a great way to cool off, but the excursion will eat into your limited time. You may want to select just one – Cloud Forest has a spectacular waterfall and Flower Dome is the largest glass greenhouse in the world.

From there, walk to the Marina Bay Sands hotel (MBS) and go through the lobby to gaze up at the 2,561 rooms. Head to the Sands Skypark Observation Deck for spectacular views of the city and the sea.

 

Estimated time: 1 hour: Food Break

Marina Bay Sands and the Helix Bridge, Singapore
Time for a bite to eat. For a high-end option, try Spago or Ce La Vi at the top of MBS. For a mid-range meal, try dumplings at Din Tai Fung or burgers and crazy shakes at  Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer.

To us, the best option is to go local and sample Singaporean cuisine from Rasapura Masters, a mall hawker centre with over 20 local food stalls. Hawker centres are an important pillar of Singaporean culture and home to delicious local eats, such as chicken rice, satay, Hokkien mee and popiah. They are quick, cheap, and a must-visit activity. Here is a great guide to hawker centre etiquette.



Estimated time: 1.5 hours: Sightseeing bus to Raffles

Raffles Hotel, Singapore

On Bayfront Avenue outside of MBS, jump on a Big Bus tour and enjoy a riding tour of the
city. Get off at Raffles Singapore. Have a wander around this iconic colonial hotel.

Stop into the Long Bar for a Singapore Sling and throw some peanut shells on the floor. The gift shop is also well worth a trip for a souvenir.


What to do with 3 hours

Estimated time: 1 hour: Fort Canning Park

Fort Canning Park, Singapore

Image:  Visit Singapore

Take a taxi or the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) to Fort Canning Park. This park in the middle of the city is older than Singapore itself. It housed the home of Sir Stamford Raffles in the early 19th century and was previously a fort for the British. It was also the site of the island’s very first botanic gardens. We recommend this map to explore the park and all of its interesting locations, including the spice garden and archeological area.



Estimated time 1 hour: River Boat tour

River cruise Singapore

A quick and fun way to see the sites and learn more about Singapore’s history is by boat. Cross the southern end of the park to Clarke Quay and board a river bumboat cruise to explore Singapore River and Marina Bay. We recommend taking “The tale of 2 Quays” Singapore River Experience, which lasts 40 minutes. Disembark at the Merlion Park Jetty.


Estimated time 15 minutes: Merlion Park

merlion Singapore

Image: Visit Singapore

From the boat, it’s an easy stroll to Merlion Park for a picturesque photo with Singapore’s
most famous statute. The Merlion is the national symbol of Singapore, with the body referring to Singapore’s history as a fishing village and the head representing Singapore's original name, Singapura, or “lion city” in Malay.


Estimated time 45 minutes: Lau Pa Sat hawker centre

Lau pa Sat, Singapore

Take a short 10-minute walk (or grab a taxi at The Fullerton Bay Hotel) to Lau Pa Sat, the largest food centre in Singapore. The Victorian architecture sets this hawker centre apart from others around town. Believe it or not, this building used to be a fish market on the waterfront.

 

Have a little time leftover? Consider one of these options.

 

Estimated time: 1-1.5 hours each
1) Botanic Gardens:

Botanic Gardens Singapore

This is one of the best places to realise Singapore’s vision of becoming “a city in a garden.” The Singapore Botanic Gardens  are 161 years old and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a lush, tropical paradise and a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.  While you’re there try and spot the otter family that calls the gardens home.

 

2) Cultural enclaves

Singapore prides itself on being a culturally diverse city, and there are three hubs around the island where the nation’s major ethnic groups are represented: Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street.

Chinatown: you will find historical sites such as the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple along with interesting side streets and shops. Chinatown is the best place to buy souvenirs and other trinkets.


Little India: the food is the star of the show here. You will have no trouble finding delicious, traditional Indian food on any budget at any time of day. Mustafa Centre is also a draw; it’s a sprawling department store that is open 24 hours where you can find everything from designer goods to cheap groceries. It is a very unique shopping experience!


Arab Street or Kampong Glam: this area has a much more tranquil vibe than Chinatown and Little India. It’s home to Sultan Mosque, Singapore’s largest mosque, as well as many Middle Eastern restaurants. Take a walk down Haji Lane and get lost in the independent shops, bars and cafes.

 

3) Museums

Singapore Art museum

Singapore is home to many amazing museums, including the Asian Civilisations Museum  and the futuristic  ArtScience Museum. They are a great way to beat the heat too!

 

Whatever you choose, we hope you enjoy your time in Singapore and get a taste for all that
Singapore has to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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