Hidden Gems & Classics in One Day in Singapore

Singapore Travel Guide

Singapore is a fantastic and vibrant city with so much on offer. It more than merits a vacation of its own but it is also a very popular layover. When I only have one day in a location that I haven’t visited before I like to mix up its most iconic sights with some more off the beaten track spots – particularly when it comes to food.

So if you have a 1 day layover in Singapore and are looking for the best places to visit in Singapore in 1 day look no farther! My one day in Singapore travel guide covers both hidden gems and the classics and tells you what not to miss. Here is my one day in Singapore itinerary!

Tan House Little India - a great thing to do if you have one day in singapore
House of Tan Teng Niah Little India, a great addition to a one day itinerary Singapore

When you’re short on time, an Singapore day tour can be a fantastic option. I recommend taking a half-day tour – ideally in the morning. This will allow you to get a feel for the best places to visit in Singapore and which Singapore sightseeing attractions are of greatest interest to you – and then to plan a free afternoon accordingly.

Organised tours are perfect when you only have 24 hours in Singapore as all you have to do is show up and follow the guide. The tour company has already done the hard work of figuring out which tourist attractions to visit at which times and the best ways to get between them. An organised tour can be both relaxing and efficient!

One Day in Singapore: Getting there and getting around

Book a flight to Singapore

Singapore Airport is 21km from the city centre. In a taxi, it will take just over 20 minutes to get from Singapore airport to Singapore city centre. The second option is to take the train – the Singapore MRT. This is a fantastic subway system and super good value. From the arrivals hall at Singapore Changi Airport walk to Changi Airport Station. Take the MRT two stops to Tanah Merah Station and hop on the EW4 line. Here’s an MRT Singapore Map.

Option three is to use the official Singapore Shuttle which offers a one-way transfer to hotels. This is much cheaper than a taxi but won’t be quite as fast – and do check that you meet their luggage allowance (1 check-in and 1 carry on bag per person).

⇒ Changi is possibly the best airport in the world! Check out this guide to surviving a layover at Changi Airport if you have some time there.

Check out my reviews of business class on Qatar, Thai Airways and Malaysia Airways and premium economy on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Uber no longer runs in Singapore. My most recent search showed that Grab is now the app of choice for ridesharing. This can be a great option if you have just 1 day in Singapore so want to move fast.

⇒ For a more detailed Singapore Travel Guide check out this great post from Adventure In You.

red poppies in the flower dome at singapore gardens by the bay
Some of the many stunning sights in the Flower Dome

What to do in Singapore in 1 Day

So you may notice there are several tourist attractions listed here and you may think hey I could never do all of that in Singapore in a day. That is true. However, when I research going somewhere I find the things I want to do and then trade off which ones I can and can’t get done in the time that I have.

So I will list all the best options and then give you a couple of different best one day itinerary Singapore options. I will also include in the itineraries what I consider to be the things you really must do in Singapore as well as explaining factors which may affect your choices of what to see in Singapore eg if you have been to Singapore before, how much you are into food etc. The best Singapore one day itinerary will depend on these factors. I hope that makes sense!

1. Things to do in Singapore in a day – Explore Little India

I went solo to explore Little India Singapore and followed a neighborhood Walk in Lonely Planet Singapore (love their neighborhood walks)! This kicked off at the Farrer Park MRT. There were some very photogenic temples along the way – the Taoist Leong San See Temple was one of my favourite attractions followed by the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. I stumbled across a pop-up art display in one of the small parks. Several trees were without leaves it being summer and all so colorful umbrellas had been installed for shade.

The House of Tan Teng Niah was my other photographic attraction highlight. This is a very colorful house that now seems to house some type of tourist agency and a few small vendors. It would be preferable if the vendors were not there as they can make getting a nice shot of the House of Tan Teng Niah Singpoare tricky but I guess they are making a living whereas I am visiting for about five minutes!

Leong San See Temple
Leong San See Temple

2. What to do in Singapore in one day – Walk the streets and snack in Tiong Bahru

I enjoyed my first Lonely Planet walk so much I decided to include a second one in my Singapore travel guide and went with their guide to Tiong Bahru. Tiong Bahru is a more hip area in Singapore vs the more cultural Little India walk. It is filled with white buildings which were apparently Singapore’s first public housing. Tiong Bahru Singapore has cute coffee shops and cafes galore around here.

I visited the Tiong Bahru Bakery which was excellent (I also discovered later there is a Tiong Bahru Bakery on the ground floor of the Tang Centre on Orchard road – a good place to get decent coffee on Orchard Rd). Tiong Bahru Singapore is a gorgeous café filled with many tempting treats.

I ordered their specialty savory croissants. These are sort of mini croissants – well actually more like a mini sandwich with croissant style bread. They then provide a choice of four fillings – I went with a sausage version and a pork version. It was 2 for $10 so silly not to try two of them. Delicious! And the coffee at the Tiong Bahru Bakery was fab.

Mini croissants at Tiong Bahru Bakery
Mini croissants at Tiong Bahru Bakery

I also visited the Tiong Bahru market and food centre. Downstairs at Tiong Bahru market Singapore was a traditional style market with lots of flower stalls. Upstairs this Singapore market is a busy hawker centre. The choice on hand at this food market is almost overwhelming!

Interestingly there were about three stalls at Tiong Bahru market that had long queues vs the balance of stalls that were waiting for customers. I did find this food market a bit intimidating in terms of food choices thus my croissant consumption at Tiong Bahru Bakery.

Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre
Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre

Tiong Bahru is a lovely little neighborhood for wandering. There are many cute little shops – particularly gorgeous book shops. A highlight here was Nana & Bird – this store has a bit of everything with women’s fashion as well as some baby clothes. It has interesting and fresh designs and whilst not cheap it is not overly expensive.

⇒If you’re interested in Singapore you may like Korea. Check out my Korea Itinerary and posts on Daegu and Jeju Island to find out more about this fascinating country.

3. Visit Singapore in a day -explore Chinatown

Chinatown most definitely deserved more than the fairly quick tour that I took. I would highly recommend having a leisurely couple of hours to wander around and explore the back streets. This is my quick overview.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

I started off at Chinatown MRT and did the Lonely Planet walk backward as I was coming from Tiong Bahru. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a major Singapore tourism attraction. I didn’t go in as a church or temple has to be pretty special these days to get me to take my shoes off and head inside. From a photography point of view, I enjoyed being able to capture its traditional architecture against the modern buildings of Singapore. There were ourist buses galore here.

the streets of Chinatown Singapore
Chinatown

There is then a lovely road to follow called Ann Siang Rd which is to the side of the temple. The beginning of this road is a full-on tourist tat market. However, if you continue to follow the road it becomes far more atmospheric with beautiful buildings and delicious-looking restaurants. This road then takes many turns and requires some stairs to take you on to Amoy Street. This was also a great street for wandering – very photogenic and interesting and different shops and restaurants.

Ann Siang Road cafes and colonial buildings in singapore
Ann Siang Road

4. Enjoy a Singapore Brunch

Wild Honey is a great brunch/lunch place on the 3rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental mall. This is a funky western-style brunch place with a wonderfully long and interesting menu. It was full the Sunday that I visited. I had the Greek breakfast which was a small pan with baked eggs, lamb moussaka, béchamel sauce and Japanese eggplant on the top and Turkish bread on the side – very tasty. They also had excellent coffee.

orange juice and a flat white at wild honey singapore
Beverages at Wild Honey

5. Singapore in One Day – Mount Faber Park

wooden stairs surrounded by bells at mount faber with a view of singapore
The many bells at Mount Faber

The highest point of this Singapore travel guide sits at the top of Mount Faber Park. You can take a cable car up here or you can drive. We headed up for dinner at Spuds and Aprons which is the restaurant at the top. The food was okay – I did keep noticing that portion sizes are not particularly large in Singapore. I had the mustard chicken and mashed potato at Spuds and Aprons Singapore which was very tasty but I could have used more food.

The Koi Pool at Spuds & Aprons
The Koi Pool at Spuds & Aprons

There is a fantastic view out over the southern end of Singapore from Mount Faber Park Singapore. Around Spuds and Aprons, there is a wooden verandah/stairs etc that you can walk to take pics of the view. The banisters are covered in golden bells which add a nice touch to photos. There is also a large happiness bell up near the children’s play area at Spuds and Aprons which was rung rather frequently while we visited – mostly by my 8-year-old niece. The kids were thrilled with the fish pond which contained rather a large koi fish. Fish food was available for purchase and distribution at Spuds and Aprons.

Love sieats and statues and lights at Mount Faber Singapore
Heading for the Happiness Bell

6. One Day stay in Singapore – Go shopping on Orchard Road

Orchard Road is all about shopping and no Singapore Travel Guide would be complete without shopping! There is an insane number of malls along Orchard Road Singapore. They are literally everywhere and it is not easy to tell the difference

The buildings of Orchard Road
The buildings of Orchard Road

ION mall was quite near our hotel and had an absolutely gigantic H&M (there is an even bigger free-standing one further down Orchard road). It is also quite photogenic at night – got that futuristic feel that Singapore is so good at.

ION Shopping Centre
ION Shopping Centre

My favourite was the mall at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (333 Orchard Road). This was a three-story mall but it contained quite a few cute boutique stores by what appeared to be local designers. Surprisingly these stores at the Mandarian Oriental Singapore were not that expensive – about SD$150 for a frock.

The best part of the malls in Singapore are the food courts. There is a broad choice, quality is high and the costs very reasonable. I do suggest you take your own tissues though – it was very difficult to find napkins at any of the food courts we visited. Some did have handwashing stations which were great for post-meal but not really effective when you have just shelled a prawn.

⇒ Spending quite a bit of time in Singapore? Check out this brilliant post on the 100 Best Things to do in Singapore

7. One day Trip Singapore – Visit Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay was my Singapore highlight! Sure it is a massive tourist attraction but it is fantastic. I particularly loved the sci-fi trees. Gardens by the Bay is such a mix of garden meets futuristic design. Most importantly it provides many photo opportunities!

red poppies in the flower dome at singapore gardens by the bay
Some of the many stunning sights in the Flower Dome

The closest MRT to Gardens by the Bay is Bayfront. On arrival, there are many signs helping to guide you to the entrance. There is a free entrance option but if you want to visit the Conservancies (the best bit) you need to pay. The Conservancies are the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest Dome – two of the best things to see. It was super-hot the day we visited so we decided the Sky Gardens shuttle bus $3 trip was a requirement.

First up at Gardens by the Bay was the Flower Dome. The domes are the same type of thing you find at the Eden Project in Cornwall. The Flower Dome Singapore is focused of course on flowers and plant life. It is pretty but this one is definitely more of a thrill if you have a green thumb.

One thing I didn’t do which would have been great was to visit Pollen. This is a Jason Atherton restaurant in the middle of the Flower Dome. I love his restaurants and it would have been great to have a meal in the middle of the Flower Dome – next time. Singapore does a great job of putting fab restaurants in its major tourist sights (see the National Orchid Park).

The world's largest indoor waterfall in singapore gardens by the bay
The world’s largest indoor waterfall

I far preferred the Cloud Forest Dome at Gardens by the Bay. The Cloud Forest houses a mountain of sorts and features the highest indoor waterfall in the world. The path essentially takes you to the top of the mountain and you then head down some fantastic stairways to “climb” down the mountain (not a good one if you have a fear of heights as it is very open).

We then walked down to Satays by the Bay. This is a touristy hawker bar set up that is outside and as the name implies situated on the Bay. Having said that it is very easy to figure out what each stall is offering and the quality was good. We went with a serving of 10 chicken satays which were very tasty.

The OCBC Walkway at singapore gardens by the bay
The OCBC Walkway

Next up was a walk down to the Supertrees. The Gardens by the Bay Supertrees were my favourites in terms of photography. The key was trying to get the right angle and as always the right light. The Supertrees look best with a very blue sky behind them. I paid the $8 to do the OCBC Skyway and this was well worth it. This is basically an outdoor bridge between the supertrees and was the best way to get some great shots.

Gardens by the Bay is one site that you definitely want to book ahead as the queues can be massive! This skip the queue ticket covers entry to the Sky Garden, the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest Dome, and the OCBC Skyway.

Skip the Queue tickets for Gardens by the Bay

8. Visit Singapore in One Day – Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Singapore Botanic Gardens are huge and very beautiful! There are also loads going on throughout the Botanic Gardens in Singapore so you may want to put aside a few hours to explore. It was a very hot steamy day when we visited which took away the enjoyment a little bit – I would have definitely stayed at these Singapore gardens longer if the weather was cooler.

We started off with the kid’s section of the Singapore Botanic Gardens which was a bit of a dud even if you were a kid. Well, I am being a bit unfair – I think it is more suited to kids under 5. Once we were done with that I headed for the National Orchid Garden. It was a lovely walk with everything from bonsai trees to gazebos in-between. Near the entrance to the Orchid Garden is Halia. I stopped in here for a coffee and it has a lovely atmosphere – again it would be a great place for a proper lunch.

yellow and red orchid in the singapore botanic gardens
A rare and stunning orchid

Post caffeine it was into the Orchid Garden. This is a big place!!! The Singapore Botanic Gardens Orchid Garden is very beautiful – they have made the most of every step with lots of benches surrounded by gorgeous orchids all designed as Photo stops! It is selfie stick central in here especially as I went on a Sunday – helper’s day off.

There is every type of orchid experience you could imagine – orchid strands developed for VIPs from Margaret Thatcher to Kate and Wills. There is a mist room as well as a cool room for the rarer strands. It is almost easy to get lost in here!

A gazebo in the Botanic Gardens of Singapore
A gazebo in the Botanic Gardens

Last up was a stroll down to Swan Lake. I had read there were mute swans on the lake and for some reason, this intrigued me. Alas by the time I got to Swan Lake in the Singapore Botanic Gardens I was exhausted from heat and walking and only took a cursory look around – no swans! It was rather steamy and overcast by this time so dreadful light thus no photos. It would be worth coming back here in different weather conditions.

⇒ If you’re looking for some more activity during your visit check out this great post on The Best Hikes in Singapore

9. 24 Hours in Singapore – Marina Bay Sands

Wow, Marina Bay Sands is over the top! We started at possibly the largest hotel lobby I have ever seen! We headed past the Casino into the giant shopping centre at Marina Bay Sands Singapore. A map is a requirement for this place! The ground floor of the shopping centre is a lake and you can hop on a boat a la Venice and be gondoliered (not sure that’s a word but it possibly should be) throughout the centre. It is rather surreal to be shopping and look down and see water and a boat!

Canal in Marina Bay Sands hotel Singapore
Venice meets shopping

There are almost too many bars and restaurants at Marina Bay Sands Singapore. Again we hit the food court to keep all stomachs happy and I did have a delicious laksa (again too small). Then it was upstairs and onto the bay for the Marina Bay Spectra sounds and lights show. This free show is run twice a night usually and we went to the first show which was at 8 pm.

The night show at Marina Bay Sands
The night show at Marina Bay Sands

The Marina Bay Sands light show is worth seeing as the Singapore city skyline view is fantastic. There are then loads of sprouting fountains in the bay that explode and have different light colours projected onto them. All to 13 minutes of very Disney style music. My favourite bit of the Marina Bay Sands light show in Singapore was the many many bubbles that exploded on the land side – always very cute to see small children determinedly chasing bubbles!

Singapore One Day Itinerary Options

In my opinion, the one don’t miss it attraction for any one day in Singapore travel guide is Gardens by the Bay. Whilst there are other places in the world like the Eden Project who offer domes etc I’ve never seen such a combination of interesting experiences in one place – for me the amazing Supertrees on their own would make this a must-visit. It is also very photogenic.

If it is your first visit to Singapore and you are more interested in seeing its most famous attractions I would then add in a visit to Orchard Road, Marina Bay Sands hotel and potentially the light show in the evening then whichever of the following three options appeal to you the most: Mount Faber Park, National Orchid Garden or more shopping.

If you have visited Singapore before or would prefer to take in some hidden gems, on top of Gardens by the Bay I would do a self-guided walking tour of Chinatown taking in Ann Siang Road and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Then choose from either Little India or Tiong Bahru for a second walk – or do both if you’re feeling particularly energetic!

⇒ Keen to explore Japan? Check out my posts on Tokyo, Kanazawa and the Nakasendo Trail.

The lobby at the Marina Bay Sands looking up

No matter which option you choose to take I would highly recommend taking a food-based night tour for dinner. This allows you to try some fantastic Malaysian food as well as to maximise your time exploring this wonderful city.

Guided Tour Options

Trying to fit in all the key sights and some great local food of Singapore in 1 day is not easy! Sometimes taking a guided one day tour Singapore can be a great option. Get your own private guide for a Singapore city tour, take a 10 tastings food tour to enjoy some of the great tastes of Singapore, book a half-day tour with a local or take a Singapore Chinatown night tour with dinner, a rickshaw and a boat ride.

⇒Working out where to go in Asia? Check out my posts on Hong Kong, Hoi An in Vietnam, Bali, Kamalaya in Thailand and Kuala Lumpur for some travel planning inspiration.

Super Trees in the Singapore Gardens by the Bay
The Super Trees at Gardens by the Bay – my don’t miss it tip in this one day in Singapore guide

Where to stay in Singapore

I stayed at the Treetops Executive Residences in Singapore. It has a fantastic location literally a 30-second walk to Orchard road and about a further 5 minutes to walk to the Orchard MTR and ION shopping centre. It is a big place! At Treetops I took the most basic one bedroom and it was massive! I had a separate living room including a kitchen.

A nice touch at Treetops Singapore is that check-in takes place in your apartment rather than the lobby. There was also a welcome basket with milk, tea, coffee, biscuits etc – all you need for your first couple of days. There were nice toiletries in the bathroom but they are not replaced. The Wifi in the room at Treetops Executive Residences was excellent but could be patchy in the general areas.

Treetops Residence Lobby in Singapore
Treetops Lobby

My bedroom at Treetops was large with a very big king-sized bed made up with good quality sheets. Treetops has a big and very busy breakfast buffet. I stayed for four nights and changes were made to the Treetops breakfast buffet each day eg waffles one day, pancakes the next which was good for variety. The coffee did come out of a rather basic machine but considering it wasn’t too bad.

A highlight of Treetops for me was the very large pool. The pool also had two spa areas – great jets to put on your sore feet after a big day walking in Singapore!

⇒ Read more reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

Entrance to Treetops in Singapore
Treetops Executive Residences
Go Crazy Rich Asians style luxury with a stay at the Marina Bay Sands
 
Read reviews on TripAdvisor Book Now
 
For great value with fantastic atmosphere plus heritage buildings check out The Scarlet
 
Read reviews on TripAdvisor Book Now

⇒ Or for Singapore Unique Luxury Hotels under $300 click here

Key Things to Know Before You Go to Singapore

⇒ When you only have one day you don’t want to spend it standing in queues or finding out that the key things you wanted to see are now sold out. If you’re flying into Singapore pre-book your airport transfer so you spend maximum time exploring not waiting.

[email protected] is free public wifi which is available across many locations in Singapore. Many of Singapore’s shopping malls also offer free wifi. Changi Airport has free wifi in the public and transit areas #[email protected]

⇒ If you only have one day in Kuala Lumpur don’t waste any of it standing in lines. Check out the top 10 Singapore attractions where you can skip the line by booking tickets in advance. There is one that I would recommend DEFINITELY buying ahead of time which is the Skip the Queue tickets for Gardens by the Bay

⇒ One of the best ways to maximise limited time in a city is to get on board a Hop On Hop Off Bus. This is a great way to get an overview of the key attractions in Singapore. I recommend starting your day on the bus. That way you can figure out which Singapore attractions are of most interest to you and then return in the afternoon.

⇒ It is illegal to spit in public in Singapore. I didn’t assume you would do this my lovely reader but just in case you have a cold!

Money

The currency in Singapore is the Singapore dollar which is divided into 100 cents. The standard dollar sign is used. There are ATMs everywhere and most stores take cards. However, many stores and restaurants require a minimum purchase of $20 Singapore dollars for use of a card. Also, if you are visiting a food market or any other type of local market it is most likely cash will be needed. For one day I would take out $40 Singapore, preferably in lower denominations, just to cover you.

Singapore Weather

Singapore has a typical equatorial climate: hot, humid, lots of rain and very little variation across the year. The temperature is typically between 72 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit. The good news is most places have air conditioning.

What to Pack

Light and loose clothing. Get ready to perspire! Also, bring more items than you normally would as it is most likely that you will need to get changed into fresh clothes in the evening and it will be difficult to wear items a second time.

Singapore isn’t overly conservative in terms of dress style so shorts, t-shirts and flip flops are fine in most places. However, the more up market restaurants will require something more dressed up. And air conditioning can get cold so a scarf or light cardigan can be useful in the winter.

⇒ Interested in Nepal? Check out my posts on the tea houses of Everest Base Camp, a full packing list for Nepal trekking, an Everest Base Camp itinerary and a day by day guide to the Everest Base Camp trek. And for post-trek the fantastic boutique hotel Dwarika’s in Kathmandu, the Dhulikhel Spa resort and places to visit in Kathmandu.

National Orchid Garden in the Singapore Botanic Gardens

Singapore: Tours for those Travelling Solo

Check out these organised tour companies for solo travellers:

Just You Singapore

Exodus Holidays Asia

Explore Holidays Singapore

G Adventures Singapore

Travelling solo? Check out my posts on 30 Top Solo Travel Groups, how to have a great time travelling on your own if you’re over 40 and the best Solo Spa Breaks.

Who Paid for What in this Post

I covered all of the costs involved with writing this post. However, this post does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on some of the links and make a purchase I will receive a small commission – this won’t affect the price that you pay. I just wanted to make sure you knew this.

READ NEXT: ONE DAY IN KUALA LUMPUR

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Here is what not to miss, hidden gems plus the top Singapore classic tourist sights and how to fit them in to one day in Singapore #singapore


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One thought on “Hidden Gems & Classics in One Day in Singapore

  1. flightradar says:

    Great Post and Stunning Pictures. I love to visit it over and over. Singapore is one of my fantasy goals and it was incredible to see such a large number of things. Pictures are magnificent. Thank you.

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