I only had a short time in Singapore before departing for my South East Asia cruise with Azamara, however, we definitely made the most of our time! There is so much to see and do in this beautiful city; here are the highlights if you only have 48 hours…
Gardens by the Bay:
Luckily, we were staying at the iconic Marina Bay Sands, a luxury resort which was recently featured in the 2018 hit movie Crazy Rich Asians. My room overlooked the famous Gardens by the Bay, so our first order of business was a visit to this expansive and unique nature park.
This park is almost 250 acres, consisting of 3 waterfront gardens. Gardens by the Bay opened in 2012, and Singapore’s aim was to raise the quality of life in the city by enhancing greenery and flora. A famous area is the Flower Dome which is actually the largest greenhouse in the world. Once inside, you’ll experience a Mediterranean climate with rotating exhibits, a flower field, and 8 other gardens. You can enjoy exotic flowers and plants from not only around the Mediterranean, but from five different continents!
I particularly love the Supertree Grove which consists of 18 tree-like structures that absolutely dominate the landscape; some are as tall as 160 feet. While I recommend visiting Gardens by the Bay at any time of the day, a highlight for me was visiting just as the sun was about to set. With everything lit up at night, I felt like I was in the movie Avatar while walking through the Supertree Grove. Plus, if you’re there in the evening, you get to experience their fantastic light show called Garden Rhapsody. It is offered on a daily basis at 7:45 pm and again at 8:45 pm.
A beautifully ethnic neighborhood to explore is Kampong Glam, located around the bustling Arab Street. This is Singapore’s Muslim Quarter, with colorful 19th-century buildings to admire. Although we didn’t visit in the evening, we were told is has a very lively night scene.
I recommend visiting Haji Lane where you will find magnificent street art, along with very hip stores and restaurants to enjoy. The most prominent building in this neighborhood is the Sultan Mosque. This towering structure with a shiny gold dome was built in 1924 and designated as a national monument in 1975. It is free for visitors to enter, just be sure to check the visiting times on their website before you go.
Singapore River Cruise:
An amazing way to admire Singapore cityscape is by boat. We loved taking a river cruise from Clarke Quay, along the Singapore River. It was the perfect way to admire Singapore’s skyline, as well as seeing our magnificent hotel, Marina Bay Sands, from the water.
Most boats depart from Clarke Quay, a historical riverside quay in the city. The river cruise will take you about 40 minutes.
You cannot fully experience Singapore without enjoying all of the amazing cuisines they have to offer!
The first place on your list should be their famous food courts. These aren’t your typical food courts, however, they consist of award-winning food stalls. Don’t leave without visiting the Newton Food Centre, made even more famous in the film Crazy Rich Asians. I recommend going in the evenings, as most of the stalls are closed during the day.
Maxwell Food Centre is the other famous food court that we visited. This is as close to street food as you can get in Singapore. Maxwell’s is a bustling hawker centre smack in the middle of the business district. Overall, it’s a genuine reflection of Singapore’s unique hawker culture, with a mix of local hidden gems and the flashier “famous” stalls. A great experience! Beware of the lunch crowds though.
However, if you’re looking for fine dining, I would definitely recommend Shang Palace. This traditional Cantonese restaurant is located in the Shangri-La Hotel and has been honored in the 2019 Michelin Guide! You’re in great hands thanks to Chef Mok Kit Keung, an acclaimed chef for more than 40 years.
Their most famous dish is the Imperial Beggar’s Chicken. Be sure to order this ahead of time, as it takes 24 hours to prepare. The presentation is very impressive and the flavors are outstanding.
If you’re not wanting the night to end and eager to enjoy a cocktail, be sure to visit the famous Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel. This historic place was the birthplace of the Singapore Sling cocktail in 1915! In fact, a Singapore Sling is considered the National Drink of Singapore so it’s a must-have when you’re visiting.
Singapore is one of the most incredibly modern cities I’ve ever visited. Staying so close to Gardens by the Bay was a real treat, and I do recommend doing that so you can visit both during the day and night. Be sure to explore the charming neighborhoods as well, and eat your way through several different types of cuisines. Both the street food and fine dining options are excellent. I hope to return for a longer visit in the future!