Planning a Singapore itinerary can feel overwhelming – there is SO much to do. However, as the city boasts some of the world’s most expensive hotel rooms, you probably won’t be staying for weeks but instead have a handful of days to pack as much fun in as possible.
Lucky for you we created this first timer’s guide on how to spend 4 days in Singapore, covering the highlights such as Sentosa, Chinatown and Little India as well as the world famous Gardens by the bay with the best food and drink stops along the way.
Whether you’re backpacking Singapore or honeymooning, this guide covers fun activities in Singapore for all budgets and travel styles – we even share the costs to make planning your Singapore itinerary as straight forward as possible.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SINGAPORE
The first step in planning your Singapore itinerary is obviously deciding when your trip will be. In all honesty, the “best” time to visit Singapore depends completely on your budget and travel style.
Singapore experiences warm temperatures and showers all year round so it’s unlikely you will spend 4 days in Singapore without rain at some point. For less rain however, visit between February and April as this is considered the “dry season” with a little less rainfall than the rest of the year.
We can actually vouch for this, as we spent 4 days in Singapore during March. The weather was very humid and temperatures were around 30 degrees.
At this time of year we found it only rained very early morning or late evening – which worked in well with our jam packed Singapore itinerary as this was usually when we were tucked up in bed!
September until February is the wet season, however as this is off season for visitors, it can mean your accommodation and flights are cheaper – perfect if your Singapore itinerary is on a budget!
WHERE TO STAY IN SINGAPORE
It’s no secret that the accommodation in Singapore is some of the most expensive in the world. After reading this detailed guide about each neighbourhood, we felt Chinatown was the best base for our 4 days in Singapore.
Not only is it one of the cheapest neighbourhoods for those visiting on a budget, but also one of the most culturally diverse and within walking distance to every activity in our Singapore itinerary (saving you money on public transport!)
We stayed in Cube Boutique Capsule Hotel and paid £37 per night which is a bargain by Singapore standards.
It was also our first opportunity to stay in a “pod hotel” which was not nearly as claustrophobic as it sounds. The “Room” even had storage lockers for our huge backpacks, a small desk/dressing table, plenty plug sockets, air con, fresh towels and bottled water. Our stay also included an excellent breakfast which fuelled us each morning for our super busy 4 days in Singapore.
The Cube Boutique Capsule Hotel also had free laundry facilities, refillable water stations, great Wi-Fi and social area/bar which was ideal if you’re backpacking Singapore. The guests were a mix of ages and nationalities and once in the “pods” our room was silent which we were not expecting.
We highly recommend our stay here and would return again and again as we found it the perfect base for our Singapore itinerary.
4 DAYS IN SINGAPORE ITINERARY
Now you know when to visit and where to stay, it is time to get planning your 4 days in Singapore. As mentioned, Singapore is made up of many vibrant neighbourhoods, so we planned our itinerary to focus on one area per day to minimise time in the sweltering heat trekking from one area to the next. Our itinerary includes highlights as well as hidden gems which are not on the usual tourist track.
SINGAPORE ITINERARY: DAY ONE
A Morning in Chinatown
Day one of our Singapore itinerary began with exploring our new neighbourhood – Chinatown. We recommend getting up early and having a HUGE hotel breakfast like we did to fuel your first day of Singapore sightseeing.
There are so many things to do in Chinatown and if you’re backpacking Singapore you’ll be delighted to know that most of the things to do are FREE! Here are the highlights of our first morning in Chinatown:
- Photograph the colourful shop houses of Keong Saik Road (Singapore’s former Red Light District)
- Visit People’s Park – the unmissable yellow building which is both a housing block & shopping mall
- Wander round the BEAUTIFUL Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
- Visit the oldest temple in Singapore, Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple on South Bridge Road
- Shop for souvenirs at Chinatown Street Market
Lunch at Singapore’s Largest Hawker Centre
No Singapore itinerary would be complete without a visit to a Hawker Centre. These are essentially street food markets which sell local delicacies as well as Thai, Indian, Chinese and Malay dishes.
If you are visiting Singapore on a budget, you will LOVE the Hawker stalls as the majority of meals are under SG$5.00. The largest in Singapore can be found in Chinatown. Known as the Chinatown Complex there are over 260 stalls to choose from!
We also recommend Maxwell Food Centre in Chinatown which is world famous thanks to Anthony Bourdain’s rave reviews. Hawker Centres are usually open until 10pm, with some open almost 24 hours at weekends so you will have plenty opportunity in your Singapore itinerary to try one!
Afternoon at The ArtScience Museum
From Chinatown to the ArtScience Museum is a half hour walk however with the towering architecture and wide, welcoming streets it’s such a pleasant experience walking through Singapore and far more interesting than talking the MRT (not to mention free!)
During this walk you will also have your first glimpse of the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel but don’t spend too much time photographing the bay – you’ve a whole day of that later in this itinerary.
The ArtScience Museum is the first of its kind in the world – combining the realm of science with interactive art exhibits within an epic lotus shaped flower. The geniuses behind TeamLab have created an exciting, permanent exhibition called Future World which covers themes in sustainability, nature and space. We found the museum one of the most fun activities in Singapore and suitable for adults as well as kids.
We were trying to keep our Singapore Itinerary to a budget, and we recommend Klook and you can get up to 25% of RRP.
Sunset Walk Over Helix Bridge
From a morning of historical Chinatown to an afternoon of contemporary art, I’d say it’s time for a drink. After a busy first day, you’ve earned your first taste of the signature, Singapore Sling. No 4 days in Singapore would be complete without trying this world-famous cocktail in the bar that invented it – Raffles.
First however, you gotta earn that booze via a brief 20 minute walk. Although the walk from the ArtScience Museum to Raffles takes just 20 minutes, the route will take you over the spectacular Helix Bridge.
Considered to be the World’s first curved bridge it is a 280-metre long pedestrian walkway that links Marina Centre with Marina South in the Marina Bay.
From one of the bridge’s five viewing platforms you can capture stunning views of the city’s skyline as it’s reflected on the bay. Depending how long you played in the ArtScience Museum (or how quickly you march for that cocktail) you may even capture your first Singapore sunset from the bridge.
End Your Day With A Singapore Sling
As we headed back to Chinatown, passing Raffles was a convenient half way point. It proved the perfect way to end day one of our Singapore itinerary as Raffles is home to the signature, Singapore Sling.
Bartender Ngiam Tong Boon invented the gin-based cocktail in 1915. During this time women were forbidden to drink alcohol so he kindly added Grenadine and a cherry liqueur to give the cocktail a pop of pink. This “feminine” colour tricked people into thinking the drink was fruit juice so it became socially accepted.
After a huge renovation, the original Long Bar at Raffles Hotel has reopened but we will warn expect a queue and an eye-watering price tag of SG$31.00 per drink. Although they do come with a complimentary sack of peanuts, where the shells are famously thrown on the floor.
Although it’s expensive, it is a once in a lifetime experience and we promise to make up for it with our endless suggestions of free things to do in Singapore. After the cocktail drinking (and spending) you’ll be looking for somewhere cheap & cheerful for dinner. We know just the place.
Dinner at the World’s Cheapest Michelin Star Restaurant
From Raffles, it’s a 25 minute walk back to Chinatown to end day one of your Singapore itinerary. We chose to go in a complete loop because we were staying in Chinatown so it made sense, however you may want to wiggle around your Singapore sightseeing, so you end your day closer to home.
Following your Singapore sling, one of the best things to do in Singapore at night is visit Clarke Quay – a hub of restaurants, bars and nightclubs on the river front. You will pass the rainbow lights of Clarke Quay as you walk from Raffles to Chinatown so it’s the perfect spot for a half-way beer if you’d like another fuel stop. As a tip, on Wednesdays its ladies’ night in Singapore so expect epic drink deals in Clarke Quay (if you’re a lady ofcourse!)
Once back in Chinatown, it’s time for dinner. We recommend any of the earlier mentioned Hawker Centres or trying the world’s cheapest Michelin Star restaurant – Hawker Chan. Hawker Chan started out as a humble hawker stall until 2016 when its signature dish Soya Sauce Chicken & Rice was awarded a Michelin Star.
Since then, it’s popularity has flourished (as has the prices, it was previously SG$2.00 but we paid SG$5.00 per meal during our visit) yet it still remains the world’s cheapest Michelin restaurant and an unmissable stop during your 4 days in Singapore. Conveniently, our hotel was above Hawker Chan so this meant we could pop down for a visit when there was no queues!
SINGAPORE ITINERARY: DAY TWO
You’ll be relieved to hear, day two of your Singapore itinerary will be a little more relaxed and not as much walking – or spending! From our 4 days in Singapore, this day was my favourite as it felt like we’d escaped the city and entered a whole new colourful country as we explored the vibrant streets of Little India and Kampong Glam.
Street Art & Selfie Coffees on Haji Lane
We walked from Chinatown to Haji Lane which was 35 minutes but is a completely straight line with so much to see and photograph along the way. The vibrant boutiques and colourful bars of Haji Lane are incredible and no 4 days in Singapore would be complete without a photo-filled morning here.
The area is renowned for its street art with epic murals on every corner. A popular stop here is also the selfie-coffee shop where baristas will literally print a selfie on top of your cappuccino.
However, it was SG$8.00 a coffee – which for those visiting Singapore on a budget isn’t ideal. Instead we recommend saving those pennies for a coffee stop at ATLAS, the most beautiful bar we’ve ever been to (more on that later.)
Wander Round Kampong Glam & Visit Masjid Sultan Mosque
As you drag yourself away from Haji Lane and wander the streets of the Kampong Glam neighbourhood you will feel as if you’ve stepped into a movie set. From rows of Middle Eastern restaurants to the iconic Masjid Sultan Mosque, we could not believe we were still in Singapore.
If searching for free things to do in Singapore, the stunning Masjid Sultan Mosque is a definite must see. It’s epic golden dome towers over the vibrant streets of Kampong Glam and a visit here is the perfect introduction to Singapore’s Muslim community.
Admire The World’s Largest Gin Collection
Note the word “admire” here, as at this point in our Singapore itinerary it wasn’t even midday so gin drinking wasn’t ideal. However, the walk from Masjid Sultan Mosque to ATLAS is only 5 minutes with this bar being a highlight from our entire Singapore itinerary.
ATLAS featured on Time Magazine’s 100 Greatest Places in the World and as soon as you step inside you’ll realise why. Not only is it home to the World’s largest gin collection with over 1000 varieties on offer but the décor is incredible – the Art Deco interiors are like a set from the Great Gatsby Movie.
Unfortunately, as mentioned by this point in day 2 of our Singapore itinerary it wasn’t even midday so we gave the gin a miss and opted for coffee and tea. We realised this was a very smart move, as the cocktails here start at SG$24.00 with a simple G & T from SG$19.00.
We recommended boycotting the selfie coffee earlier because we’re all about the champagne lifestyle on a Cava budget and a pot of tea here is also SG$8.00 (but lasts 3 cups) plus the insane surroundings make you feel like you’re James Bond.
Better yet, as we visited around 11:30am the place was empty so we were free to roam and photograph which we doubt would be possible later in the day.
If searching for free things to do in Singapore, above ATLAS is a quaint museum and art gallery. If you don’t want to stop for coffee simply enter ATLAS, snap a few photos then take the most beautiful elevator you’ve ever seen up to the first floor to Park View Museum.
Lunch at Bugis Market
After an hour or two of feeling like a movie star at ATLAS, it’s back to reality at Bugis Street Market. Situated just an 8 minute walk round the corner, this market is an overwhelming hub of souvenirs, clothing, food and treats favoured by locals and tourists alike.
Bugis Market has over 800 stalls which to be honest, we found so overwhelming we didn’t buy a single thing but it is still an unmissable place to visit during your 4 days in Singapore.
Next to the main market is a street food market which is the ideal place to stop for lunch. Serving everything from satay to stingray you will dine like a king for around SG$3.00. Who said Singapore on a budget was hard!?
Afternoon in Little India
Our afternoon in Little India was a further highlight of our Singapore itinerary. There are so many things to do in Little India that an afternoon here won’t feel like enough however, these were our highlights:
- Visit the beautiful temples of Sri Veeramakaliamman & Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya temple)
- Admire the unique architecture of Masjid Abdul Gaffoor
- If it’s raining, watch a Bollywood Movie or Hollywood Blockbuster at Golden Village, City Square
- Photograph the famous House of Tan Teng Niah
- Shop for souvenirs at the epic Mustafa Centre or Little India Arcade
Dinner at Komalas Vilas, Little India
If we’d to choose our favourite meal from our entire Singapore itinerary, our dinner in Little India would win hands down. It’s no secret, if you like Indian food then Little India is a dream dining experience from the cheap and cheerful Tekka Centre to the budget-blowing Banana Leaf Apolo there is a dining option for all budgets.
Our favourite however, was Komalas Vilas a family-run vegetarian restaurant which is a Singapore institution. We had the best paneer curry and cauliflower Gobi Manchurian we have ever had and best of all, each main course was around SG$7.00 so its perfect for those who’s Singapore itinerary is on a budget (or who have spent all their money on “designer” goods at Bugis Market.)
In an ideal world, I’d have spent breakfast, lunch and dinner of my entire Singapore itinerary here the food was THAT good. In case you’re tempted to do that too, Komalas Vilas is open 7:30am to 10pm.
SINGAPORE ITINERARY: DAY THREE
Now you have photographed, dined and drank your way round the eclectic cultural neighbourhoods, day 3 of your Singapore itinerary will be spent in downtown, exploring the world famous Marina Bay Sands Complex.
We recommend having a lazy morning on day 3 of your Singapore itinerary in order to stay out later and watch the epic Garden Rhapsody light show (more on that later.) We enjoyed a well deserved lie-in and a quick walk around Chinatown Street Market souvenir shopping before walking to The Gardens By The Bay.
Brunch/Lunch at Lau Pa Sat
The walk from Chinatown to Gardens by the Bay is around 30 minutes, however we recommend stopping halfway at Lau Pa Sat – the oldest Hawker Centre in Singapore. No 4 days in Singapore would be complete without squeezing in a visit here at some point and fuelling up on the traditional treats as well as Thai, Malaysian, Chinese or Indian street food.
Also known as Telok Ayer Market, Lau Pa Sat is situated in the heart of the financial district which can mean it gets incredibly busy between 12pm and 2pm as office workers visit for lunch. To us, we loved the busy atmosphere and feel the crowds are part of the Lau Pa Sat charm.
As a tip, Lau Pa Sat is open 24 hours so you can also visit here on the way home after the Garden Rhapsody for a cheeky beer or two if you want to avoid the lunch time rush.
Marina Bay Link Mall for Picnic Supplies
After dining at Lau Pa Sat it’s a 20 minute walk to Gardens By The Bay. As a money saving tip, you will pass the Marina Bay Link Mall on the way. This underground mall has a myriad of restaurants and bakeries which are perfect for picking up a picnic for later in the day.
If you are visiting Singapore on a budget you will LOVE BreadTalk which reminded us of Greggs Bakery but an Asian version with traditional treats such as pork floss buns and ice cream sandwiches at SUPER cheap prices. They also do fab coffee!
We purchased a picnic here and took it with us to save buying dinner at the Marina Bay complex, although there are LOTS of restaurants to choose from here if you fancy returning later in the day.
Sky Park Observation Deck at Marina Bay Sands
Situated on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the Skypark Observation Deck is one of the best things to do in Singapore at night for incredible views of the city all lit up.
However, we visited just after lunch and still found the views amazing and far less busy than later in the day. It’s the perfect way to see the epic Gardens By The Bay from above before you see them up close and enjoy the panoramic views of Singapore.
Tickets for the Sands Skypark Observation Deck are SG$20.00 for adults so although it’s not one of the cheap things to in Singapore there are many way to find discounted tickets. We recommend using Klook or Get Your Guide to avoid paying full price. We found the views from the Observation deck are spectacular and later discovered if you are visiting the bar and have a cocktail at the top, we believe you don’t need to pay the entrance fee
Gardens By The Bay
Now you’ve seen the world famous gardens from above, it’s time to explore from below. Although you can wander the gardens for free, we recommend purchasing a ticket to enter the Flower Dome & Cloud Forest as they are not only the world’s largest conservatories but also home to the second largest indoor waterfall (the first is at Changi Airport, Singapore.)
It’s a tad terrifying although insanely fun to wander the suspended walkway through the Cloud Forest, admiring the lush plant life and ant-sized people below. Despite being greenhouses, they are a refreshing escape from the humidity of the city and an experience not to be missed from your 4 days in Singapore.
It costs SG$28.00 per person to enter BOTH the Flower Dome & Cloud Forest.
We found a tranquil spot to enjoy our bargain picnic before the OCBC Skyway. As the sun begins to set on day 3 of your Singapore itinerary this is the BEST place for views over the city and the Gardens By The Bay.
At only SG$8.00 a ticket, the OCBC Skyway is not only one the best cheap things to do in Singapore, but one of the most memorable. This 128m long aerial walkway links the world famous Super Trees which tower 25-50metres high above the Gardens.
One of the best things to do in Singapore at night, is visit the OCBC Skyway around 7:30pm, that way you’ll have the best views for the acclaimed Garden Rhapsody which takes place at 7:45pm each night.
Garden Rhapsody Light Show
Probably one of the most famous free things to do in Singapore and definitely a highlight from our entire trip is the Garden Rhapsody Light Show. It takes place at Super Tree Grove (where the OCBC Skyway is) and is a 15 minute show of lights, lasers and loud music.
There are over 50 speakers hidden around the park so regardless of where you sit you will be able to hear and see the mesmerising show. There are two shows each night – one at 7:45pm and one at 8:45pm, if we had time in our Singapore itinerary we would’ve gone back again and again!
We actually arrived a little late (we’d stop to take too many photos on route) but found there is so much space you can admire the view from wherever you find a spot. There is no need to arrive way before the start time as you can see and hear the show from all over the park.
Spectra Light Show & The Shoppes
As you walk back from the Garden Rhapsody to the city you will enjoy the stunning reflections of the Singapore Skyline over the Bay. If you felt like one light show wasn’t enough, a second popular thing to do in Singapore at night is the Spectra Light Show which takes place in front of the renowned Shoppes Mall at Marina Bay Sands.
Expect a performance involving water, music, lights and lasers and best of all you can watch it after the Garden Rhapsody as the shows take place Sunday to Thursday at 8pm and 9pm and Friday and Saturday at 8pm, 9pm and 11pm.
If you’ve had enough lasers and lights for one day, instead of watching the show, head inside to the famous Shoppes Mall – one of the largest shopping malls in Singapore. Once inside you can admire the rows of designer shops and the spectacular 22m wide water sculpture which gathers rainwater then on the hour, 22,000 litres of water per minute cascade into the canal – yes, CANAL inside the shopping Mall.
If you have the cash to splash (sorry not sorry) then for SG$10.00 per person you can take a Sampan boat ride through the canal in the mall. What an unforgettable way to end day 3 of your Singapore itinerary!
SINGAPORE ITINERARY: DAY FOUR
The final day of your Singapore itinerary is a day trip to Sentosa – a man-made island resort which is home to some EPIC attractions. There is SO much to do on Sentosa that one day is not enough. If you only have 4 days in Singapore then your final day has two options.
Option 1: Adventure Cove & S.E.A Aquarium
At Adventure Cove Waterpark, you can expect high-speed water slides, as well as a lazy river and even the opportunity to snorkel with over 20,000 tropical fish, we loved every minute but it was SUPER busy so prepare for crowds. It’s the main reason we recommend spending the morning here, as the lines for the rides get super long later in the day.
When we’re travelling, Hard Rock Café is our guilty pleasure – we’ve visited quite a few on our travels including Krakow, Oahu and Venice so if you’re also a fan, then Sentosa is where you’ll find Singapore’s Hard Rock Café. We will warn, it was the most expensive meal of our entire Singapore itinerary but after the money we’d saved dining in Hawker Centres it was a fab treat.
Option 2: Universal Studios
A second way to spend the final day of your 4 days in Singapore is a day at Universal Studios. Universal Studios is one of the most fun activities in Singapore (especially if you love theme parks like us) and with so much to see and do, you’d definitely need a full day to make the most.
We arrived bang on opening time (10am), which was perfect as it was SO quiet – we were the only people on some of the rides in the morning! We LOVE theme parks so our highlights were the world’s tallest duelling roller coasters Battlestar Galactica & The Mummy ride.
How to Get To Sentosa
One of the best things about Sentosa is the journey there as you can take a cable car. Soaring over 60 metres above sea level, the gondola links from Mount Faber on the main island of Singapore to Sentosa whilst providing insane views of Keppel Harbour.
Although it usually costs SG$35.00 for a roundtrip, you can purchase a cable car ticket for a discounted fee using the Get Your Guide or Klook. We paid $24.50 for the cable car, but admittedly we hated every minute as it was the first (and thus last) time we’d ever been on a cable car and the heights were a little too much for us! I only opened my eyes once or twice to snap a photo so imagine anyone else would be far more brave than us.
If you’re searching for a memorable thing to do in Singapore at night, you can also upgrade and have dinner IN the cable car as you sail through the skies – four courses cost just SG$69.00 per person if you book via Klook (usual fee is SG$76.50).
Although the cable car views are stunning and it does only last 15 minutes for us, once was enough so we used the Sentosa Express Monorail to return which is only SG$4.00. If you don’t fancy the cable car as well as the monorail to Sentosa, you can also take a Grab taxi (we took one from Universal Studios to Chinatown and it costs SG$10.00)
We hope our Singapore itinerary for first timers has helped you plan an epic few days (and save some dollars in the process!) Whether you have 4 days in Singapore or two, hopefully we’ve inspired a huge bucket list of things to do to make sure your time is as epic as possible. Let us know in the comments how your trip goes or if we’re missing your favourites from our Singapore itinerary!