Looking for things to do on a weekend to Singapore? While 48 hours is never going to be enough time to soak up everything this space-age metropolis has to offer, it’s plenty to get a flavor of the Garden City and its many intoxicating sights, sounds and smells. From sightseeing strolls through Chinatown and Kampong Glam to lazing on tropical beaches and sampling Singaporean specialities in the lively hawker markets, here’s our pick of some of the finest ways to while away a weekend in Singapore, including:
- Gardens by the Bay
- Epic bike rides and city sightseeing strolls
- Amazing nature reserves
- Foodie fave hawker centers
- Sentosa’s top beaches
- Cinemas and cocktails
- Fabulous free light shows
Gardens by the Bay
Instantly recognizable thanks to its iconic supertree structures that dominate the bay, Gardens by the Bay is one of Singapore’s top attractions – and with good reason! But did you know you can visit many parts of this iconic 250-acre park for free? That’s right, a stroll between the trunks of the majestic Supertree Grove is absolutely gratis, though you’ll have to cough up a few dollars if you want to explore the elevated walkway. There are certainly worse ways to spend a Saturday morning than by grabbing a coffee and breakfast roti and finding a quiet spot to relax with a good book in the tranquil Bay East Garden, with its manicured lawns, pretty flower gardens and sweeping views of the Singapore skyline.
Get on Your Bike
Singapore has a world-class cycling infrastructure, with dedicated bike lanes downtown and dozens of routes for escaping the bustle of the city and exploring the rest of the island. There are plenty of cycling tours around the city’s main attractions but we recommend renting some bikes and going it alone. The Central Urban Loop provides a (literal) breath of fresh air as you pedal your way out from beneath the skyscrapers and into a network of paths that traverse the city’s many excellent parks, gardens, waterways and woodlands. Or, if you’re feeling particularly sprightly one Sunday morning, you could even consider taking on a section of the epic Round Island Route, a 150-kilometer coastal trail that takes in some of the best ocean and bay views in the country.
Take a Sightseeing Stroll
A weekend wander from Chinatown to Little India (or vice versa) rewards even the most jaded traveler. Chinatown’s labyrinth of narrow streets is an Instagrammer’s dream, packed with ornate temples, bustling markets and, of course, steaming grills and pots heady with the aromas of Peking duck and kung pao chicken. Wander east to Kampong Glam, Singapore’s vibrant Muslim district, where the mosque’s huge golden dome and countless colorful Peranakan shopfronts in cactus greens, turmeric yellows and chili reds make for more great photo opportunities. Then make for Little India where a well-earned lunch of spicy fish-head curry awaits.
Get Back to Nature
Weekends are made for communing with nature, right? And where better to do so than on an island that’s made up of more than 50 per cent green space. Head over to the MacRitchie Reservoir nature reserve where you can spot abundant native wildlife including monitor lizards and macaques, and get a birds’ eye view from the dizzying 250-meter suspension bridge that forms the Treetop Walks. You can easily while away a lazy Sunday here, whether kayaking on the reservoir, or lacing up your running shoes for a gentle jog along one of the scenic cross-country trails.
Enter a Foodie Fantasy World
Bodyswerve the ubiquitous international pizza and burger chains and go straight to the heart of the action in Singapore’s bustling hawker centers, where the sensational scents of sizzling satay and spicy coconut soups are enough to make a grown man weep. There are over 100 of these open-air food courts around the city, meaning delicious, cheap, freshly cooked Indian, Chinese and Malay cuisine is yours to enjoy on demand, day or night. Try local favorite satay bee hoon, in which spicy hot sauce is smothered liberally over rice vermicelli, and served with meat, fish or vegetables of your choice. The national dish of zingy chili crab is another absolute must-try. And, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not give turtle soup, live octopus or century egg a spin? Hey, don’t knock them 'til you’ve tried them!
Be a Beach Bum
Reachable from the main island via monorail and cable car, Sentosa Island is one great big playground with thrill rides, an aquarium, Singapore’s Universal Studios outpost and, of course, several fantastic beaches. Think bone-white sands, turquoise lagoons and swaying coconut palms and you’ll be halfway there already. A free shuttle operates between the resort’s sandy Palawan, Tanjong and Siloso beaches, so all you need to remember is your bathing costume, a bottle of sunscreen and a giant pair of Jackie O sunglasses. Have a go on the adrenaline-pumping giant swing that soars high above Siloso Beach if you dare!
Swig a Singapore Sling
A Singapore institution of some 135 years standing, the colonial-style Raffles Hotel has hosted a who’s who of glamorous household names through the decades: Elizabeth Taylor, Christian Louboutin, Ernest Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin and Queen Elizabeth II, to name-drop just a few. So you’ll be in good company when you pop by this Garden City icon for an equally iconic Singapore Sling, the tropical cocktail for which the hotel, in spite of its many celebrity guests, is best-known. This boozy blend of gin, cherry brandy, pineapple, grenadine, lime juice and bitters is the perfect start to your Saturday night.
Weekend activities don’t get much better than sinking into a comfy seat in a hushed cinema theater with the smell of freshly popped corn hanging in the air. Singapore has plenty of cinemas to choose from. Head for the huge GVMax screen at the Golden Village VivoCity multiplex for the latest Hollywood blockbusters, or mosey over to Projector X: Riverside or the ArtScience Museum if under-the-radar indie flicks and documentaries paired with trendy cocktail lists are more your thing. But remember: no-one is too old or too cool to enjoy a bucket of sweet and salty popcorn with their movie.
See the City Lights
There’s a duo of splendiferous light shows in the bay every evening. The light and music spectacular at the Gardens by the Bay kicks off every evening around 7:45PM and sees the iconic supertree structures burst into colorful life. Over at the Marina Bay Sands resort, the Spectra light and water show features dancing fountains as well as dazzling visual projections, lasers and mist effects, all backed by a rousing orchestral soundtrack. There are shows at 8, 9 and 10PM on Friday and Saturday nights, making this a great weekend activity when visiting Singapore. Best of all, both shows are completely free!