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5 Days in Singapore

Singapore is packed full of great things to do, from spectacular gardens and high-octane adventures to shopping high-end boutiques and stuffing your face with zingy chili crab in huge open-air hawker centers. No surprise then that, alongside stalwarts of the world stage including Paris, London and New York, it’s one of the most-visited cities on the planet, welcoming just shy of 15 million tourists in 2022.

Five days in Singapore is just about enough time to scratch the surface of this magnificent garden city, ticking off its bucket-list attractions and getting a flavor of its hip neighborhoods and world-class foodie culture, a glorious mish-mash of Malay, Indonesian, Indian and Chinese influences. The sheer number of things to see and do around the island can be a little daunting for newbies though, so check out our suggested 5-day Singapore itinerary below for inspiration. And remember: far better to spend time appreciating a little of the city rather than rushing around trying to see everything at once and ultimately experiencing very little.

Day 1: Bucket List Adventure

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Start your 5-Day Singapore itinerary as you mean to go on: by immersing yourself in over 200 years of Singaporean art and culture at the National Gallery. The collection here is huge. So huge in fact that it requires two national monuments to house it, namely the former Supreme Court and City Hall. Step inside these stately buildings to admire pieces that range from 19th-century woodcuts and oil paintings to 21st-century sound and video installations.

Feeling suitably cultured, exit the gallery and cross the bridge to where a stroll past the iconic Merlion statue (part mermaid, part lion) and around Marina Bay conjures up some of the city’s finest views of the Central Business District’s soaring skyscrapers and the three towers of the Marina Bay Sands Resort. Head up for a cocktail in its SkyPark, accompanied by 57th-floor views across the city and beyond, or stay on terra firma to experience all the delights of the resort’s cavernous Shoppes mall, an ultra-luxe shoppers’ paradise complete with sampan boat rides along Venetian-style canals.

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As night falls, get yourself down to the Gardens by the Bay, a vast acreage of parkland that incorporates towering futuristic supertree structures, tranquil gardens and two massive durian-shaped glass hothouses. It’s the Supertree Grove light show you’ve come here for though; a free event that runs twice every evening and sees the trees burst into spectacular life with a dazzling display of light and color accompanied by a rousing symphonic soundtrack. In a word, wow.

Day 2: Sentosa Island

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Located just off the southern tip of Singapore, the island resort of Sentosa is a mini adventure playground that’s chock-full of cool attractions, sandy beaches and high-octane thrill rides for adrenaline junkies. Start your day two adventure with an exhilarating cable car ride across the bay, then take your pick from the myriad entertainments on offer here in this tropical paradise. Families with kids might fancy the epic Universal Studios SIngapore with its white-knuckle rollercoasters and larger than life Sesame Street characters; or perhaps the vast aquarium or waterpark.

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Bone-white sand, turquoise lagoons and swaying coconut palms await on the resort’s sandy Palawan, Tanjong and Siloso beaches, with a handy free shuttle serving all three. Siloso keeps things exciting with its fearsome Skybridge, which includes opportunities to bungee jump or test your nerve on a giant swing high above the sands. End your day with a sunset ascent on board the SkyHelix Sentosa at Imbaiah Lookout, where a gently rotating gondola takes you 80 meters above sea level for 360-degree views of Singapore’s skyline, the Southern Islands and beyond.

Day 3: A Feast for the Senses

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One of the great things about Singapore is that many of its attractions are open more or less around the clock, making planning your sightseeing itineraries relatively straightforward. The sprawling 200-acre tropical oasis that is Singapore’s urban Botanical Gardens is open from 5AM ‘til midnight almost every day, so you really have no excuse not to pop by. Visit in the morning to maximize your experience. There’s plenty to explore here after all, from tranquil Swan Lake to the aromatic Ginger Garden, iconic bandstand and miles of tree-lined walkways. Don’t miss its undisputed highlight, the National Orchid Garden, with thousands of eye-popping aromatic blooms.

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Mosey over to the nearby Adam Road hawker center where dozens of bustling street food stalls ply their trade, serving up authentic south Asian cuisine to hungry punters. Try rich, spicy laksa with prawns or gorge on chicken satay skewers drenched in sticky peanut sauce. Then there’s pungent fish head curry and the ubiquitous national dish of sweet-and-savory chili crab – all good enough to make a grown man weep. Your only difficulty will be deciding what to have for lunch. Wash it down with a traditional Singapore Sling at the iconic colonial-style Raffles Hotel back in the Civic District. The classic gin-infused tropical cocktail was actually invented here way back in 1915.

Day 4: Back to Nature

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Singapore is one of the greenest cities on the planet, with an absolute multitude of outdoor activities on offer, from elevated walkways through jungle canopy along the island’s Southern Ridges to kayaking through the mangroves at Pulau Ubin. Pick of the bunch though is Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, a sprawling green space that’s slap-bang in the middle of the island and contains 400 (count ‘em) acres of untamed tropical rainforest.

Don your hiking boots and pith helmet (optional) for a day in this absolute treasure trove of biodiversity, where you might be lucky enough to spot critters including reticulated pythons, flying lemurs and crab-eating macaques on a ramble through dense forests of trailing vines and towering trees that teem with colorful birdlife. If you’re feeling game, a hike to the top of the hill (the highest in the country at over 500 feet, fact fans) rewards the intrepid explorer with glorious 360-degree views across Singapore and – on clear days at least – far beyond.

Day 5: Souvenir Shopping in Kampong Glam

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Singapore’s Muslim district is also one of its hippest neighborhoods; an Instagrammer’s dream-come-true crammed with heritage charm, colorful shophouses and super-snappable street art. It also happens to be an ultra-cool shopping hotspot where ultra-hip indie boutiques rub shoulders with ancient antique emporia, textile shops and modern ceramics specialists. A wide selection of cute cafés and some of the best restaurants in town make it a fine destination for a day’s sightseeing, snapping and souvenir-hunting.

Impossibly narrow Haji Lane is your destination for chic boutiques hawking the latest batik fashions as well as one-off jewelry pieces handmade by local designers. Meanwhile, the cavernous antique stores on Bussorah and Arab Street are like something from a long bygone era, but there are great treasures waiting to be unearthed here by the keen-eyed browser. Think ornate Turkish lanterns, great ceramic pots, jugs and vases, old paintings and baroque carved wood furniture that could have come straight from a sultan’s palace.

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If ceramics are your vibe, hit up Supermama’s on Beach Road for something from their stylish Singapore Blue Range. Or pick up a perfume customized to your specifications from one of the multiple atmospheric perfumeries in Kampong Glam, where your intoxicating creations are decanted into fine little decorative bottles, ready for you to take home.

Finally, grab a decadent cookie from Guilt or a life-changing almond croissant from Mother Dough to fortify you for the metro ride back to your hotel.

Save on attractions and activities in Singapore

Save on admission to Singapore attractions with Go City. Check out @GoCity on Instagram for the latest top tips and attraction info.

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