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Singapore might be one of the world’s smallest countries but don’t let its diminutive size fool you. If you only have one day in Singapore there’s still plenty of things to see and do here.
A popular layover destination for long-haul flights, and one of the more expensive days for backpackers crossing South East Asia, Singapore is used to short term visitors.
Our one day Singapore itinerary packs in the very best of the city in 24 hours, giving a wonderful overview of this fascinating destination.
Before moving to Japan we lived in Singapore for three years. We’ve designed this one day Singapore itinerary to be a cohesive full day of the very best things to see and do in this fascinating city-state.
Jam packed with history, culture and some of the best food in Asia, there’s no way that you’ll be able to fit everything the city has to offer into just one day in Singapore.
That said, thanks to Singapore’s compact size and a phenomenally efficient and affordable transport system, you can still see a lot of what the Lion City has to offer.
Here are the must-see sights for the perfect one day Singapore itinerary.
Unique Art Deco architecture and playful murals in Tiong Bahru
Start the day with a light breakfast in trendy Tiong Bahru located just on the edge of the centre of the city.
One of the most distinctive neighbourhoods in Singapore, Tiong Bahru is made up of a beautiful blend of unique Art Deco architecture.
This laid back neighbourhood is a healthy mix of young and not-so-young Singaporeans as well as international ex-pats. Long-standing traditional curry and porridge shops now stand side by side with yoga studios, hipster cafes and fashionable restaurants.
Grab breakfast at one of Tiong Bahru’s many cafes while you wait for the neighbourhood to wake up. Tiong Bahru Bakery and 40 Hands are two of the best in the area. After breakfast have a wander around Tiong Bahru’s pretty streets.
From Tiong Bahru take the East West line two stops to Tanjong Pagar, where historic Chinatown and the modern Central Business District meet.
Walk along Telok Ayer Street to Thian Hock Keng Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Singapore, and arguably the most spectacular.
When it was built in 1840 Thian Hock Keng Temple stood right on the seafront. Over a century of land reclamation projects means that the temple is now almost buried beneath the skyscrapers of downtown Singapore.
Dedicated to Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea, new arrivals from China would come to Thian Hock Keng Temple as soon as they made land to offer thanks for surviving the arduous journey.
A riot of gold leaf paint and traditional red lanterns, Thian Hock Keng is an architectural masterpiece.
A lattice of golden dragons and deities are expertly hand-carved into the exposed wooden beams, while dancing dragons dot the temple’s grand sweeping roofs.
The entrance to Thian Hock Keng Temple and a section of Yip Yew Chong’s mural on Amoy Street
Behind Thian Hock Keng temple on Amoy Street is another of Yip Yew Chong’s murals, one of the most impressive of the many that brighten Singapore’s streets. Amoy Street’s mural gives a wonderful potted history of Singapore.
The mural charts the journeys and customs of the early settlers and ends with old Clarke Quay surrounded by new tower blocks with Marina Bay Sands in the distance.
From Amoy Street cut through to the entrance to Ann Siang Park and follow the lane through to Ann Siang Road until you arrive at South Bridge Road. Here you’ll find Chinatown’s two most famous temples.
In the heart of Chinatown is Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. The first Hindu temple was built on this site for migrants from southern India in 1827, and most of the temple’s current buildings date from the 1860s.
Sri Mariamman’s phenomenal entrance gate is a local landmark, adorned with hundreds of elaborately carved sculptures of Hindu deities. The temple’s outer walls are similarly lined with snarling lions and sacred cows.
Inside, the ceiling of Sri Mariamman’s central hall is decorated with a number of beautifully painted mandalas and portraits of Hindu gods and hundreds of colourful sculptures of Hindu deities.
If you’re in Singapore in October or November then you might get to see the fire-walking festival that takes place at Sri Mariamman each year.
The entrance tower at the Sri Mariamman Temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown, Singapore
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is one of the most famous landmarks in Singapore. Though built in the traditional architectural style of Buddhist temples, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple opened in 2007.
On the Ground floor is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple’s breathtaking main prayer hall, also known as the Hundred Dragons Hall. One hundred statues of Buddha line the walls of the prayer hall.
On the second and third floors are museums dedicated to the history of Buddhism and Buddhist relics from across Asia.
On the fourth floor is the spectacular Sacred Light Hall, adorned with gold statues of Buddha, colourful gemstones and beautifully detailed wall paintings.
It’s here that a solid gold stupa is said to contain a sacred fragment of Buddha’s tooth is on display. The tooth was discovered in modern day Myanmar in 1980, and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple was specifically built to accommodate it.
Don’t miss the temple’s often overlooked roof terrace up a flight of stairs opposite the Sacred Light Hall. At the centre of the roof terrace is a towering pagoda with a huge prayer wheel.
» If you’d prefer a guided tour of the neighbourhood, you can book a walking tour of Chinatown here.
For lunch, head to one of the two excellent hawker centres in Chinatown. Hawker centres are a way of life in Singapore and proof that not everything here costs a fortune.
The Chinatown Complex Food Centre and nearby Maxwell Food Centre are two of the best hawker markets in the city. In fact, both food centres feature stalls that have been recognised by the bigwigs at the Michelin Guide.
The Chinatown Complex Food Centre is located on the second floor of the mall just behind the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
With over 250 stalls the Chinatown Complex Food Centre is the largest hawker market in Singapore. It’s also one of the busiest.
A mural explains how to use chopsticks and roasted chicken and duck at a hawker stall at Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Of the hundreds of stalls in the Chinatown Complex, the longest queue is likely to be at Liao Fan Hawker Chan, the first hawker stall in the world to be awarded a Michelin star in 2016.
Since then the owners have opened larger branches in Singapore and overseas, yet the original stall is still the best place to try the world’s cheapest Michelin starred meal. A plate of the famous soya sauce chicken rice will set you back a princely SGD$2.
On the opposite side of the road from the Buddha Tooth Relic Centre is the Maxwell Food Centre. A little more relaxed than the Chinatown Complex, Maxwell Food Centre has its own Michelin approved stall.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice has been awarded with a Gourmand Bib, Michelin’s honour for restaurants that produce incredible food that doesn’t break the bank.
» True foodies can discover more of the neighbourhoods gastronomical delights on a food tasting walking tour of Chinatown.
After lunch head to Little India. Just three stops along the East West Line from Chinatown, bustling Little India is one of the most vibrant corners of Singapore.
Though small in size, Little India is packed with ornate temples, streets lined with kaleidoscopic shophouses and the constant smell of mouth-watering food.
Tan Teng Niah and street art in Singapore’s Little India
One of Little India’s most famous spots is Tan Teng Niah, a short walk from Little India station.
Tan Teng Niah is the last surviving Chinese villa in Little India, built in 1900. In the age of Instagram Tan Teng Niah’s has found a new lease of life, painted in a rainbow of colours to become one of the area’s most photographed landmarks.
Dotted around Little India are a collection of spectacular temples of a variety of faiths.
The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is the most famous, being one of the oldest Hindu temples in Singapore, originally built in 1855.
Dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, the entrance to Sri Veeramakaliamman features a staggering entrance tower covered in hugely elaborate statues of Hindu deities.
Further along Serangoon Road is the equally lavish Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple. Also dating from the mid-19th century, the temple has its own dazzling entrance tower and ornate interior filled with spectacular depictions of Hindu deities.
The giant Buddha statue at Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple and a deity at Leong San See Temple
There are two spectacular Buddhist temples just behind Sri Srinivasa Perumal on Race Course Road that also shouldn’t be missed.
Commonly known as the Temple of 1000 Lights, Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple is a fascinating mix of Thai, Chinese and Indian architecture. Built in 1927, the centrepiece of the temple’s main hall is a 300 ton and 15 metre tall statue of the seated Buddha.
Directly opposite is Leong San See Temple, which translates as Dragon Mountain Temple. Built in 1926, Leong San See is one of the most visually stunning Buddhist temples in Singapore.
Afterwards, take a wander around the network of multi-coloured narrow streets that make up Little India that criss-cross between Serangoon Road and Jalan Basar.
Keep an eye out for the many huge murals that can be found throughout the streets of Little India. The artworks celebrate the people, cultures and traditions of Singapore’s Indian community.
To learn more about the history and contribution of the Indian community across Asia and in Singapore visit the excellent Indian Heritage Centre on Campbell Lane.
Colourful models of elephants on Hindoo Road and elaborate old shophouses on Jalan Basar
If you’re after some retail therapy, head to the Mustafa Centre, Singapore’s only 24 hour department store and a Little India institution.
Housed across two connected buildings over several floors, the Mustafa Centre appears to sell absolutely everything. It’s worth calling in just to see the entire floor of gold jewellery.
If you get peckish, check out the hawker market at the Tekka Centre for some of the finest Indian food this side of the Bay of Bengal.
» If you’d like to see more of Little India, you can book a walking tour of the neighbourhood here.
From Little India, head south towards Kampong Glam.
Another small but historic neighbourhood bursting with colour, Kampong Glam is a blend of history, culture, independent stores, trendy bars and a wide variety of restaurants.
At the centre of Kampong Glam is the Sultan Mosque, the largest mosque in Singapore. At the top of the Sultan Mosque sits a huge golden dome which towers over the surrounding streets.
Nearby there’s a chance to learn all about the area’s Malay history at the Malay Heritage Centre.
The Sultan Mosque and Haji Lane in Kampong Glam
The streets around Sultan Mosque are lined with some of the finest Middle Eastern, Turkish and international restaurants in Singapore. Meanwhile on nearby Arab Street are a host of tailors and shops stacked to the ceilings with colourful textiles.
Haji Lane on the edge of Kampong Glam provides the youthful buzz in Kampong Glam.
Lined along this tiny road you’ll find chic clothes shops and homewares stores alongside tattoo parlours, stylish restaurants and vibrant bars flamboyantly covered in street art.
In the late afternoon make your way to see Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay.
Dwarfed by the iconic towers (and infinity pool) of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Gardens by the Bay is a huge site, comprised of a sprawling collection of flowers and flora from all over the world.
At the centre of the gardens is the iconic Supertree Grove, a cluster of twelve man-made trees covered with a thick layer of growing plants. Take a walk along the OCBC Skyway, the arching walkway that connects two of the tallest supertrees.
Alternatively, visit the new Supertree Observatory at the very top of the tallest supertree for clear unobstructed views of Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay and downtown Singapore.
For the very best views, head up to the Sands Skypark at the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
From here the there are eye-popping views across central Singapore, Gardens by the Bay and the hundreds of boats out at sea.
» You can buy discounted tickets for the Marina Bay Sands Skypark in advance here.
Afterwards, make your way to Gardens by the Bay’s biggest attractions, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest.
The Flower Dome is officially the world’s largest greenhouse, home to a colourful cast of exotic flowers and trees. The floral collections in the Flower Dome are changed regularly to mark the seasons of the year or annual holidays such as Christmas.
Just next door is the Cloud Forest, a huge reconstruction of a section of tropical rainforest, complete with a 30 metre indoor waterfall.
Head up to the view over the waterfall at the top of the dome, and then descend along the walkways that hang over the lush green rainforest.
Return to the Supertree Grove once night falls in time to see the spectacular Garden Rhapsody music and light show that takes place twice a night.
When you get hungry, stroll along Marina Bay and pick up some mouth-watering skewers of freshly grilled prawns, chicken and lamb at Satay by the Bay.
Alternatively, if you still have the energy (and the bank balance) why not end your day with a Singapore Sling at another Singaporean icon, at the world famous Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel.
Singapore has a fantastically efficient and affordable public transport system that covers almost every inch of the island.
Six MRT train lines serving over 130 stations criss-cross Singapore, making it a doddle to get around.
Trains run from 5.30am to around midnight daily. Trains are punctual and fares are surprisingly cheap. Singapore’s buses are also a great option for short journeys across town.
If you only have one day in Singapore, then the best option is to pick up a Singapore Tourist Pass. These are available as 1 day, 2 day and 3 day passes, and for a set fee cover all journeys on MRT trains as well as all public buses.
You can buy a Singapore Tourist Pass at various MRT stations in the city, as well as at Changi Airport. A full list of stations where the Singapore Tourist Pass can be bought is available here.
Taxis are also a surprisingly affordable way of getting around Singapore. Fares for journeys are cheap, especially as distances between most places are pretty short.
The easiest way to hail a taxi in Singapore is by using Grab – an app in which you can book a cab based on your currently location (exactly like Uber).
Once you’ve downloaded the app, open it to find a taxi near you. You can either load credit card details into the app for automatic payment or pay in cash on arrival. Be aware that taxi fares do go up quite sharply during very heavy thunderstorms.
If your day in Singapore includes an overnight stay then you’ll need some accommodation.
Accommodation in Singapore is not as affordable as in nearby countries. Be prepared to spend a little more on somewhere to stay if your trip is part of a tour of the region.
» You can search for accommodation in Singapore here.
When looking for somewhere to stay, try and find somewhere that’s close to an MRT station, ideally just a few minutes’ walk away.
If you need to get back to to Changi Airport on the morning after your day in Singapore, then look for a hotel that’s close to the East West MRT line, which is best connected to the airport.
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