Lisa Owen

You might have transited through Singapore many times on your way to Europe or Asia – but have you ever taken the time to explore the city? Continue reading to find out how you can fill your time while stopping over in this spectacular place! 

I transited through Singapore at least three times before I actually left the airport and had a look around - and now I wish I had stopped by sooner! Next time you have a stopover in Singapore, get out of the airport and follow this guide to discover the best of the city in less than 48 hours.

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Singapore skyline

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#1. Join a free guided bus tour

Did you know there is a FREE 2.5-hour guided bus tour of the city available to transiting passengers of Singapore's Changi Airport? The tour is for travellers who have a layover period of at least 5.5 hours but less than 24-hours to spare in Singapore. 

The tour operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. You'll be able to find the tour registration booths located within the airport transit area - but be sure not to clear immigration first otherwise you'll miss it! There are two tour options available: the Heritage tour or the City Sights tour.

If you decide to join the City Sights tour, you can expect to see the modern side of Singapore by checking out the skyline and marvelling at the magical Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay. If the Heritage tour takes your interest more, you'll discover Singapore's colonial past by visiting cultural districts such as Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam and the iconic Merlion Park. 

For more information about the free bus tour, visit the Changi Airport website.

singapore city merlion

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#2.Visit Gardens by the Bay

This one is a no-brainer, but the first stop on your Singapore stopover should be to the beautiful Gardens by the Bay – one of Singapore’s most popular sights. Take the lift up to the 22-metre high Skyway and get a great view of the manicured gardens and lakes below as you walk through the Supertree Grove. It’s also worth visiting the Supertree Grove at night when the trees are sparkling with coloured lights, so you can catch the special sound and light show held at 7.45pm and 8.45pm daily. This should not be missed! 

If you’re planning to walk the Skyway at night, remember that ticket sales close at 8pm – sometimes the ticket sales can be closed off earlier if there’s already long queues to enter the Skyway. Only a limited number of people can walk its length at one time so plan ahead. The Skyway opens at 9am daily. Ticket sales are right next to the Skyway and are around $8 Singapore Dollars each.

Near the Skyway at Gardens by the Bay is the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome conservatoriums. The Cloud Forest is the perfect place to escape the Singapore humidity with a constant temperature of 23 to 25 degrees.

The Cloud Forest is a magical mist strewn landscape made up of walkways cascading through the dome. There’s even a 35 metre man-made waterfall (the world’s tallest indoor waterfall) backlit with purple lights. Head up to the top of the dome for a bird’s eye view of the forest canopy below.

The Flower Dome is in stark contrast to the Cloud Forest, and features plants and flowers from Mediterranean regions, South Africa, and parts of Spain and Italy. Tickets cost $28 Singapore Dollars to enter both conservatoriums - and are well worth doing.

supertree grove singapore

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#3. Eat at Hawker Centres

Be warned that Singapore is super expensive – especially the food. If you’re a budget traveller, head to one of the many Hawker Centres across Singapore for a bite to eat. Hawker Centres offer delicious tasting food at affordable prices, so take your pick! There are plenty of Hawker Centres around the city so a quick google search will help you find nearby ones. Don't be afraid to ask your hotel for recommendations too!

When in Singapore, eat all the food. Singapore is a melting pot of cultures which means there’s delicious food to try everywhere you go.

You have to eat at one of the many ramen places at least once, and grab a meal at Chinatown or Little India. One of my favourite dishes was marinated duck – so tasty.

food in singapore

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#4. Stop by Marina Bay

While in Singapore, make sure you take the time to roam the Marina area for a great view of the city’s skyline and the impressive Marina Bay Sands hotel. This area is particularly nice at dusk with the sun setting behind the skyscrapers. A trip to the top of Marina Bay Sands is well worth it - head to one of the bars at the top of the hotel to take in the glorious city view and sneak a peak of the famous infinity pool!

If you're happy to part ways with some cash, staying at least one night at this luxury hotel is an experience itself (plus, it's worth it just to gain access to the infinity pool). The Marina Bay Sands hotel comes highly recommended.

Singapore skyline at night

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#5. Go shopping in Singapore

You can easily sneak in some retail therapy in Singapore with huge shopping complexes every couple of blocks. All the major chains you’re familiar with such as H&M, Zara and Uniqlo are represented, and there’s also a broad choice of high end stores. If you’re looking for electronics such as cameras, head to Sim Lim Square.

Orchard Road in Singapore is a famous shopping street and is home to many stores selling luxury brands. If you're more interested in affordable finds or mid-range shopping, there's something for you there, too!

shopping in singapore

Things you should know about Singapore:

  • You can drink the tap water in Singapore. In fact, it's some of the cleanest in the world! Remember to stay hydrated because Singapore is very hot and very humid. 
  • It’s easy to get around Singapore with their very clean, modern and efficient metro system. Tickets can easily be bought on the machines at every station. You can also buy a 10 pass ticket.
  • Singapore is expensive! If you’re looking to cut down your costs, Singapore is a very walkable city and you can eat at the hawker centres instead of the pricey restaurants and cafes.
  • Surprisingly, the cost of taxis are quite affordable. Just be aware of surcharges during late hours (usually from midnight to 6am).
  • You won’t have any issues getting around Singapore with English. English is a primary language in the city and I didn’t encounter anyone who couldn’t speak perfect English during my trip there.
  • The Marina Bay Sands hotel is iconic in Singapore - but only hotel guests can use the famous infinity pool. You can catch a glimpse of it if you take a lift to the top and visit one of the bars or restaurants above the city.  
  • The Singapore dollar is the currency used in Singapore. The exchange rate with the New Zealand dollar is quite similar.

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Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 80 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer. Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.