MAKE THE MOST OF 1 DAY IN SINGAPORE

The Supertrees are one of the most popular attractions to see in Singapore in a 1-day itinerary
The Supertree Grove … the best free attraction at Gardens by the Bay

By LINDA JAMES | Updated MARCH 6, 2022 | ITINERARIES

This itinerary shows you how to see all of Singapore’s top attractions in 1 day:

  1. Singapore Flyer
  2. Gardens by the Bay
  3. SkyPark Observation Deck
  4. Chinatown
  5. Orchard Road
  6. Emerald Hill Road
  7. Newton Food Centre/Jewel at Changi

With one day, I suggest you stay in the Changi area near the airport. If you want 5-star luxury then the Crowne Plaza Changi in Terminal 3 is for you. One of my favourites is YotelAir, which is in the Jewel shopping complex. For more information, check out my detailed hotel list. As both are in the airport and close to Changi Airport MRT Station, you will save a lot of time, giving you more to spend seeing the sights!

This itinerary is focused on getting around Singapore using the fabulous, clean and green Singapore MRT subway system because it’s so easy to use and will get you to just about anywhere with a minimum of fuss.

The best way to use the MRT system is to buy an EZ-Link card or one-day Singapore Tourist Pass at the airport otherwise you’ll have to pay for each ticket at the vending machines in the stations.

There are 2 options to get a bird’s eye view of Singapore in this itinerary: the Singapore Flyer or the Skypark Observation deck. They both have a cost so it really just comes down to what you prefer. You can choose!

Keep in mind that if you make a booking at the Marina Bay Sands’ LAVO Italian Restaurant & Rooftop Bar or CE LA VI Sky Bar and Lounge, you can get the views for free but there’s a cost in terms of food and drinks.

Remember that Singapore is humid and hot so don’t forget to pack a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and a water bottle. Riding the MRT is also great because it will give your feet a rest in between sights – and it’s air-conditioned!

If you’re planning on staying for longer, my 3-day Singapore itinerary will give you some extra ideas about how to spend your time.

Get in to the CBD

You’ve checked in to your Changi Airport hotel and dropped off your bags. Now it’s time to jump on the MRT from Changi Airport (CG2) to Tanah Merah MRT station and transfer to the East West line. Get off at Paya Lebar and take the Circle Line (CC) to Promenade station (EW). From there it’s just a 10-minute walk to the Singapore Flyer. However, before you leave Suntec City, you might like to check out the Fountain of Wealth, one of the world’s largest fountains, and some of the other artworks in the area.

Singapore Flyer

This is one of the world’s largest ferris/observation wheels and it’s the perfect start to your trip. Use the 30-minute ride to get orientated to this amazing island state. Look out for key points such as Merlion Park, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the Supertrees in Gardens by the Bay, Mt Faber and Sentosa Island.

With this bird’s-eye view, you can see clear out to Malaysia and Indonesia – if the sun is shining and the sky is blue, that is.

Now you can either catch a bus (97, 106 or 133) from the stop across the road from the Ritz Carlton Millenia or meander across the Helix Bridge to Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Gardens by the Bay.

This is one of the prettiest walks: the famous Merlion is on your right and you get a fantastic view of the ArtScience Museum, reminiscent of a lotus flower.

Merlion in Singapore
The Merlion … Singapore’s iconic symbol of the half fish-half lion

Gardens by the Bay

This will be a very quick whiz around Gardens by the Bay but you’ll get to see all of the free sights. There are a number of outdoor gardens, such as the Sun Pavilion, which focus on different types of plants. These also contain some of the more than 40 sculptures featured in the Gardens, one of the most popular is The Planet, also known as the Floating Baby, a giant seven-tonne baby that balances on just one hand.

Also free is Supertree Grove, the most iconic representation of the gardens. There are 18 supertrees, which are 16-storeys tall and play a key role in the function of the gardens. You can pay to use the OCBC Skyway, which connects some of the supertrees and gives you a great view of the gardens. There’s also a spectacular light and sound show, called Garden Rhapsody, each night, which you may decide to return for at 8.15pm – it’s definitely worth seeing.

Or you can wait for your next trip when you can also book tickets for the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, which are well worth the price of admission.

The 1.2ha Flower Dome is stunning and the perfect place to escape Singapore’s heat and humidity. It’s the world’s largest glass greenhouse and has an amazing selection of more than 1 million exotic plants from around the world such as 1000-year-old olive trees and a baobab tree from Madagascar.

In fact, the dome features flowers and plants from five continents in its nine gardens. There are gardens focused on succulents, California, Australia and South Africa.

Entering the Cloud Forest is a bit like visiting the land that time forgot! It’s got a 30m indoor waterfall and an entire mountain shrouded in mist. Visitors literally get to walk among the treetops and the clouds. It’s a very surreal experience.

Cloud Forrest Gardens by the Bay Singapore
The Cloud Forrest … a good place to escape the noon-day heat

SkyPark Observation Deck

If you did the Singapore Flyer, you may decide to skip this. If you didn’t, then while you’re in the area, this gives you the chance to check out this very well-known hotel as well as catch the views from the 57th floor. The hotel is a 10-minute walk to the hotel’s Front Tower 3, from where the elevators will zip you up to the skypark. Tickets cost $S26 for adults, less for residents and members.

You could also book a table at LAVO Italian Restaurant & Rooftop Bar or CE LA VI Sky Bar and Lounge. This will get you to the 57th floor for free but you’ll have to pay for your food and drink.

Head down to Bayfront MRT station and take a 16-minute ride to Chinatown MRT. They’re both on the Downtown Line so you won’t have to make any changes. This will also give your feet a rest before you tackle the amazing sights, sounds and smells of Chinatown!

Chinatown

About 76 per cent of the population in Singapore is Chinese so it’s no wonder this culture plays such a big role. And one of the best ways to learn all about it is by visiting the Chinatown Heritage Centre, which is a short walk from the MRT station.

The centre features photos, mementoes and artefacts that tell the story of Singapore’s Chinese immigrants and the lives they lived centuries ago. The staff here are very knowledgeable and helpful.

Next it’s on to Chinatown Complex, which is home to one of the city’s best hawker centres. Depending on how you’re going for time, you could choose to eat here at one of the more than 200 food stalls featuring all of the popular dishes such as chilli crab, BBQ stingray, satay, carrot cake, char kway teow and chicken rice.

This centre was made famous in 2016 when Michelin awarded Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (now known as Hawker Chan) a star. Be warned, though, Maxwell Food Centre is coming up and it’s home to the Michelin-star Tian Tian chicken rice stall.

Pic of Hawker Chan menu
Hawker Chan menu … it’s common for menus to have pictures of the dishes and be in Chinese and English

Now head to the 4-storey Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, which has an impressive bell and drum tower and a 2m solid gold stupa that houses the sacred Buddha canine tooth. Built in the Tang Dynasty style, it seems as though it’s been on this site for centuries, however, it was actually only built in 2007. There’s also a teahouse, theatre and museum as well as a rooftop garden.

Just across the road from the temple is Maxwell Food Centre, which, though smaller than the one at Chinatown Complex, still has a large range of tasty options. I would choose one over the other simply on the basis of where I am when I’m hungry!

And if you’re not hungry by now, I’ve included Newtown Food Centre as a final stop so you can always decide to eat there before heading back out to the airport.

The next stop is Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. Built in the Dravidian style in 1827, it pays homage to the goddess Mariamman, known for her power to cure illnesses and diseases.

Both the interior and exterior of the temple are elaborate and the six tiers of the gopuram (grand tower entrance) are covered with sculptures of mythological figures and deities.

Head back to Chinatown MRT station and get on the North East (NE) line and ride two stops to Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. There’s a 3-minute walk to connect to the North South (NS) line, which will take you to Orchard MRT station, conveniently located right below the stunning ION Orchard shopping mall.

You could also take a taxi or Grab – it’s only a 10-minute drive away.

Orchard Road

Orchard Road is the place to shop for luxury brands in Singapore, however, it caters for all styles, tastes and budgets. It’s 2.5km of megastores and department stores as well as a whole lot of dining options for hungry shoppers.

Your first stop ION Orchard is a 66,000sqm of heaven! It houses a stack of upmarket brands such as Bvlgari, Calvin Klein and Gucci as well as the more down-to-earth H&M and Cotton On.

There’s more luxury shopping at The Paragon while 313@Somerset Mall is the place to go for the younger, hip crowd. Contrast these modern malls with department stores such as Tangs, one of the oldest in Orchard Rd and the Japanese Takashimaya.

Almost across the road from 313@Somerset is Peranakan Place on the corner of Orchard Rd and Emerald Hill Rd. Singapore has a rich history and there are great examples of historical architecture in places such as Joo Chiat. However, Emerald Hill Rd gives you a chance to experience some of that without having to travel too far.

Emerald Hill Road

The term “peranakan” means “local born” in Malay. In Singapore, the Peranakan community has Chinese-Malay ancestry and has played an integral part in the city’s history and culture.

Peranakan Place is the site of six beautifully restored two-storey shophouses built in the early 1900s that now house a variety of bars and cafes. The shophouses – so-called because the shop is on the ground floor while the owners lived above – gives you a fantastic glimpse of Peranakan architecture: the bright colours, shutters and intricate glazed tiles. 

As you walk further up Emerald Hill Rd, you’ll find terrace houses in different architectural styles that have ornate pintu-pagars (wrought-iron gates) and are decorated with elaborate ceramic tiles. Many of the houses are in the Chinese Baroque style, which features detailed plaster work and wood carvings.

This area was once plantation land before being subdivided in the early 1900s and becoming the homes of wealthy Chinese and Straits-Chinese merchants and their families.

Emerald Hill was the first site in Singapore to be declared a conservation area in 1985.

Newton Food Centre/Jewel at Changi

Peranakan Place to Newtown Food Centre is about a direct 20-minute walk. If you’ve had your fill of Singaporean cuisine, you might choose to walk back to Orchard Rd and continue shopping or you perhaps return to Marina Bay Sands if you’d like to catch the sunset from there.

Another option is to return to Changi Airport and visit the Jewel shopping centre if you haven’t already done so. You can continue walking down Orchard Rd and either take the 36 bus from outside Dhoby Ghaut MRT station or walk a little further to Bencoolen MRT and take the Downtown Line back out to Expo MRT station before changing to the Changi Line.

Both the bus and the train take about 50 minutes. Taking the bus will give you a chance to see a little more of Singapore as it winds its way along East Coast Park through Katong to Changi.

I often spend my last night at one of the airport hotels just so I can wander around Jewel checking out its gardens and activities and watching the light and sound show at the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, the Rain Vortex. Everyone should see this at least once!

There are also more than 200 retail and dining outlets over 135,700sqm and 10 storeys – five above-ground and five basement levels. There is so much to do here, you could spend days. In fact, the locals go out to the airport just to spend time at Jewel.

Conclusion

While the city has so much more to offer, this 1-day itinerary for Singapore will give you the opportunity to see the top sights – the iconic Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, the Helix Bridge and the ArtScience Museum – as well as immerse yourself in Singapore’s culture, food and history in Chinatown and Emerald Hill Rd. And you also get to do a little shopping along the way!

Check out my area guides if you’d like to plan your trip around particular places.

Want more of Singapore?

Learn how to plan your Singapore trip
Link to where to eat and drink in Singapore
Link to Singapore area guides