We’ve planned the perfect weekend in Singapore for you, mama, whether you’re a foodie, a nature lover or a culture vulture
As summer vacation stretches on, are you finding yourself strapped for ways to keep the kiddos busy, mama? Or perhaps you’ve got family or friends passing through town, and you’ve been too busy to plan out an itinerary to keep your guests entertained. Not to worry! We’ve put together three itineraries for the perfect weekend in Singapore, no matter your tastes.
Whether you’re a foodie, a nature lover, or a culture vulture, our Little Red Dot has heaps of fab spots to keep you occupied. Feel free to mix-and-match, or follow these itineraries to a tee, mama. We’ve even included a few of our top hotel picks for a family-friendly staycation.
First of all, if you’ve just got one day, or are looking for Singapore’s absolute must-visits, check out our guide to 12 Hours with Kids in Singapore, which has you covered with a checklist of Singapore’s most iconic (and delicious) hotspots, including MBS, Chinatown, Little India and of course chilli crab. When you’re ready to dig a little deeper (or stray a bit further from the airport), read on…
As with any meal in Singapore, you could take this is any number of directions. No matter where you are on the island, you’ll be able to get a classic Singapore breakfast of kaya toast, soft boiled eggs and kopi – for under $5, no less! – at one of Singapore’s cheerful homegrown toast chains like Toast Box, Killiney Kopitiam or Ya Kun Kaya Toast. If you’re on the East Coast, or are keen to explore Katong (more on that below!), it’s totally worth making the trip to Chin Mee Chin Confectionary, an old-school bakery on East Coast Road that serves up heavenly buttered kaya on pillowy soft, freshly baked buns. If you really love your breakfasts, or prefer things on the savoury side, zip up Joo Chiat Road to Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata, which is run by a lovely couple that makes their dough daily fresh on the premises of their little stall by Dunman Food Centre. Just look for the long, snaking line(it’s consistently rated the best prata in Singapore), and get there early, mama: they close by 1pm!
If it’s a Sunday, or if you’re really looking to celebrate or wow your guests, why not splash out on one of Singapore’s fab Champagne brunch buffets? The bonus is that many are located centrally, so you can walk off the calories (or hangover) afterwards while strolling around Marina Bay or along the river.
If you prefer more food, less booze, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Dim Sum in Singapore. From classic push-cart setups in the heart of Chinatown, to overflowing buffets, you will not want for dumplings, soups or delicious roast meats.
For the quintessential Singapore lunch experience, follow the crowds and head to one of the island’s amazing hawker centres. We’d suggest checking out Amoy Street Food Centre, which is home to no less than six Michelin Guide-recommended stalls (you can check out the full list here). Depending on your location, other high hit-rate hawker centres to check out include Old Airport Road on the East Coast (handily right next to Dakota MRT) or Newton Food Centre (which makes a cameo in Crazy Rich Asians). If you’ve got a hankering for a particular dish, or are looking for something in a particular neighborhood, be sure to check out I Eat I Shoot I Post from hawker guru Dr. Leslie Tay – he’s never steered us wrong (and his Instagram is totally drool-worthy).
If you’re strolling down Orchard Road, how could you resist picking up the Singapore version of an ice cream sandwich: a huge chunk of ice cream stacked between a slice of colourful pandan bread? It’s the perfect sugary pick-me-up and deliciously cooling! Of course, you could also go for actual afternoon tea; check out our comprehensive Guide to the Best Afternoon Teas in Singapore for our top picks, with everything from traditional English scones to spicy Singapore-flavored renditions.
The sky’s quite literally the limit, mama: if you’re after rad views, you could head to Marina Bay Sands for a rooftop cocktail and a meal from one of their many celebrity chefs (including Justin Quek, Daniel Boulud, Tetsuya Wakuda, Gordon Ramsay, and more).
For fine dining with a bit more local flavour, check out One-Michelin-Starred restos like Bacchanalia, Candlenut (the world’s first Michelin-Starred Peranakan restaurant!), or Song of India, which features in our roundup of Singapore’s Top 10 Indian Restaurants.
More in the mood for Malay? Our Ultimate Guide to Halal Dining will have you sorted. And of course there’s always old reliable, Din Tai Fung, whose delectable dumplings have never steered us wrong with visiting guests!
One of the things we love most about Singapore is how kid-friendly its restaurants are pretty much across the board. But definitely check out our guide to Kids Eat Free Deals if you’ve got a hungry brood in tow!
Feeling full yet, mamas?
As one of the greenest cities on Earth, Singapore has no shortage of gorgeous parks, big and small, all over the island.
The can’t-miss locations, in our opinion, are the classic Singapore Botanic Gardens just around the corner from Orchard Road (the National Orchid Garden is a must-visit, as is Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden if you’ve got kiddos in tow), and then either MacRitchie Nature Reserve or Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
MacRitchie has a treetop walk and is fabulous for runners with both a 5km and 12km loop, while Bukit Timah lets you easily summit Singapore’s highest “peak” (a whopping 164 metres!). Both give you a good shot at spotting monkeys and various other wildlife.
Speaking of wildlife, the Singapore Zoo, River Safari and Jurong Bird Park are all part of the same outstanding network, and are a delight for children and adults alike. As a bonus, both the Zoo and Bird Park have wonderful splash pad playgrounds where kids can cool off, while the River Safari is where you can visit two of Singapore’s most famous residents, the giant pandas Jia Jia and Kai Kai.
For wildlife that’s a bit…wilder, head to Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve (where you seriously have to keep your wits about you to look out for crocodiles!) or catch the ferry to St. John’s and Lazarus Islands for dolphin spotting and a chilled out beach vibe. Check out our ultimate guide to wild animal spotting in Singapore to find out where you’re most (or least!) likely to spot snakes, otters, and all other sorts of cool critters.
And if all that sounds great but just a bit too…hectic (or if you have guests visiting from cold weather climates), you can always just pack up the sunscreen and head for the beach. With fun bars and restaurants and a tangibly tropical vibe, Palawan, Tanjong and Siloso Beaches on Sentosa are probably your best bet, though you can always go for a quick dip at East Coast Park, Punggol Beach or Changi Beach. Just don’t mind the oil tankers, mama.
And that’s how you can spend an entire day outside in Singapore. Just don’t forget your sunscreen and bug spray!
For a teeny tiny island, Singapore packs a real cultural punch with its world-class museums!
Among our faves: Asian Civilisations Museum, which offers a stellar location and a truly in-depth exploration of Asia’s rich cultural heritage along with fab kids’ programs like Saturdays @ ACM and free lunchtime concerts; National Museum of Singapore, which has heaps of cool activities for kiddos young and old; and the Peranakan Museum, housed in a colourful birthday cake of a building with a brilliant look at the unique Peranakan culture of the Malay Peninsula (and some really fun activities for little ones. NB This is closed for renovations until 2021!).
There’s also the Singapore Philatelic Museum, a sweet and accessible little museum that’s all about colourful, hands-on exhibits (recent ones have included Harry Potter and “All About Dogs!”). Note that this museum is also closed for renovations, but slated to re-open in 2021. Stroll down the river from the ACM and you’ll eventually come to the colourful Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth Building, which is featured at the top of this article!
For art lovers, there’s the spectacular National Gallery Singapore, an architectural marvel unto itself that opened in 2015 and is home to the largest public collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian art in the region (along with lots of kid-friendly initiatives); contemporary art haven Singapore Art Museum (and its ongoing Imaginarium exhibition for children); and, further afield on Sentosa, the fun Trick Eye Museum.
If you’re more of a music maven, check out the slate of wonderful free concerts on throughout the year at the Botanic Gardens. Singapore Chinese Orchestra also puts on wonderful shows featuring many compositions and and arrangements from local musicians. We’re particularly big fans of their Young Children’s Concert Series.
Got a budding scientist or techie? Head to ArtScience Museum (see more in our 12-hour guide!) or the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Southeast Asia’s first natural history museum, which traces its impressive collection all the way back to the original Raffles Museum in 1878!
If you prefer your culture with a bit of fresh air, we love strolling both Bukit Brown and Jalan Kubor/Old Malay cemeteries, each of which offers a fascinating glimpse of Singapore’s rich, multi-cultural history (along with some truly stunning grave sites). Bukit Brown even has a self-guided walk that points out historical luminaries along the way.
Few neighbourhoods in Singapore are as walkable (or IG-worthy) as Joo Chiat on the East Coast, which is where you’ll find the famous pastel Peranakan shophouses on Koon Seng Road, along with a number of beautiful temples and all manner of delicious food options.
Who doesn’t love showing off the gorgeous Raffles Hotel to out-of-town guests? It’s set to re-open in the coming months, mama, at which time their fabulous tours will hopefully start up again. In the meantime, the gift shop – one of our fave spots for Singapore souvenirs – remains open!
Though we wouldn’t recommend it for small children (some of those statues are scary!), open air Haw Par Villa has got to be among the most unique tourist attractions in the world, let alone Singapore! Built in 1937 by the Tiger Balm founders as a kind of religious theme park, Haw Par Villa’s more than 1,000 vivid statues and tableaux are at turns terrifying, enchanting, and hilarious. It’s well worth a stroll, and admission is FREE!
Still want more, mama? Cap off the evening with a stroll down Orchard Road. Between window shopping, people watching, and the enchanting light displays, it doesn’t get much more Singapore!
Where to Stay
Whether you’ve got friends in town or want to take a staycation to explore and unfamiliar neighbourhood, here are our top hotel picks.
In the East, the recently-opened Hotel Indigo Katong and Holiday Inn Express Katong have outstanding locations right along East Coast Road, putting you right in the centre of the action and within walking distance of Joo Chiat.
There’s no shortage of great hotels in the CBD, but for our money (which we’re assuming is no object in this fun hypothetical), you can’t go wrong with the aforementioned Raffles, the Fullerton Hotel or the Fullerton Bay Hotel, all of which offer up oodles of architectural charm and outstanding service.
Shopaholics will naturally want to be close to Orchard Road. Try the Grand Hyatt Singapore (which – bonus! – is also home to the fab Straits Kitchen buffet) or the slightly quieter and oh-so-charming Goodwood Park Hotel.
For more of a resort feel, just about any hotel on Sentosa should do the trick, although we also give two thumbs up to the fabulous Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, which is ace for families with its huge pool, outdoor pirate ship, spacious Family Suites and amazing indoor play space, Buds. Click here for our full roundup of favorite staycation spots!
Have fun, mamas!