singapore gardens by the bay

The perfect 5 days itinerary for Singapore

For me Singapore is an absolutely perfect destination for first time travellers to South East Asia. It’s a melting pot of many different cultures where you can experience as many cultural experiences or western attractions as you like. It feels at the same time homely and exciting. Plus the city is sparklingly clean, friendly and full of wow moments to tick off your bucket list. If you’re unsure where to start, this is my perfect 5 days itinerary for Singapore to make the most of your visit.

Looking for more Singapore travel inspiration. Check out my other posts from my Singapore travel series:

Our stay at the Carlton Hotel

Singapore with kids

Universal Studios Singapore

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father with daughter wearing blue dress and cap walking under an orange archway with a monkey statue on top in singapore

Is 5 days in Singapore long enough? Or even too long?

I think 5 days is pretty much the perfect length of time to stay in Singapore. It gives you plenty of time to get to know the city, to take it slow and not feel rushed. But not so long that you’ll be desperate to throw in some day trips to escape the city.

I think people often tag a night or two in Singapore on to another South East Asia destination or even Australia. You’ll never see it all in such a short space of time so will have to focus on just one activity to avoid rushing so hard you miss it!

singapore skyline by night

As a heads up my travel style is slightly more relaxed than it used to be. I used to try to cram as many sights into my adventures as possible and often ended up feeling completely wiped out by the end of my holiday. As I know travel with my 5 year old daughter this doesn’t suit her either so I’ve slowed down bit. This Singapore itinerary should cover off all you want to see whilst still giving you time to enjoy a lazy lunch, pop in somewhere for a cocktail or just enjoy some pool time at your hotel. 

I’ve made the first couple of days fairly relaxed to give you a chance to recover from any jet lag and just get used to the area you are staying. Check out my post on long haul travel for some great tips on how to recover from jet lag and plan a far flung adventure.

view of singapore super trees from across the forest at gardens by the bay

How expensive is 5 days in Singapore?

Compared to neighbouring Malaysia and other South East Asian Countries it’s very expensive! Expect to pay Western prices plus for quality hotels, attractions and restaurants. It’s all super well maintained and clean so I guess I would expect to pay a bit of a premium. If you are looking to save some money then the various hawker centres are brilliant places to eat for very little money and there are plenty of free to enter parks to soak in the atmosphere.

You can expect to pay:

  • £130 for a mid range hotel
  • £50 for a three course dinner
  • £1.50 for a return ticket on the MRT
  • £18 for a bottle of wine

plate of chicken skewers next to a bowl of satay sauce and a white bowl of chips

How to get around Singapore

Singapore has an absolutely brilliant public transport system. It will take you to all parts of the city and is great value and incredibly efficient. You’ll mainly be using the MRT which is like a train or metro and will take you pretty much everywhere. You’ll need to pick up an EZ pass before your first trip. Lines are colour coded and simple to follow, have a look at the Singapore MRT map online before you visit.

supertree forest at gardens by the bay singapore

5 Days itinerary for Singapore

Day 1

Arrive Changi Airport

Changi is one of my favourite airports in the world. It’s modern, spotless and works super efficiently. You wont see much of the airport on arrival so make sure you give yourselves plenty of time to explore when you leave the city.

To get to your hotel you can jump in a taxi outside arrivals. It should take around half an hour and cost about 30 SGD. I recommend getting the MRT train all the way into the city centre. It’s easy, cheap (about 2 SGD) and fast (half an hour). Trains run every 10 minutes all day until around 11.30pm. You’ll need to change trains at Tanah Merah Station and then catch another depending on where your hotel is.

Relax at hotel

Singapore boasts all types of accommodation from cheap and cheerful bunkhouses to 5 star luxury you wont want to leave. Where ever  you choose, aim for one close to an MRT station and preferably with a pool so you can cool off out of the Singapore heat.

rooftop pool at the Carlton Hotel Singapore

Depending on what time you arrive in Singapore and how you are feeling, feel free to skip the next two activities if you’re too tired and just hang out at the hotel pool. They are both outdoors and walkable from most central hotels so it will help with the jet lag if you can manage them.

Orchard Road

Orchard Road is a great place to get a feel for the city. It dates back to the early 1830’s and combines a bit of old world charm with modern shopping centres and restaurants. Here you’ll find Singapores oldest department store, futuristic indoor malls and market style fast, cheap fashion outlets.

Singapore Botanical Gardens

This UNESCO world heritage site is a beautiful place for a stroll with tropical plants a towering trees. If the kids need to burn off some excess energy there’s also a fabulous adventure playground at the Botanical Gardens that you’ll struggle to drag them away from!

Raffles long bar for Singapore Sling and monkey nuts

This is an absolute must do for any Singapore itinerary. Head to the iconic Raffles Hotel and pop into the Long Bar, home of the Singapore Sling Cocktail. The hotel itself is beautiful whilst the Long Bar feels warm and authentic. You’ll find a bag of monkey nuts on each table, when we visited people were throwing empty shells on the floor as used to be tradition. This is also a good place to grab some satays for dinner.

singapore sling sign at raffles hotel

Day 2

Little India Singapore

Little India is was of the smallest districts in Singapore but it’s definitely one of the most vibrant. Here you’ll find several religious buildings and colourful shops lovingly looked after by the local community. The walkways are busy and narrow and the atmosphere buzzing, it’s quite unlike anywhere else in Singapore. Spend your morning wandering the pavements and head to the Tekka Centre for a great value flavourful Indian lunch.

colourful houses in little india singapore

Do not miss the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple which is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. If budget shopping is your thing, pop into the Mustufa Centre for low end goods.

Singapore Zoo

Singapore Zoo is one of the best we’ve visited in the world. It’s set in a natural rainforest environment and based on the idea of an “open zoo”. You wont find tiny, old fashioned cages, clever landscaping and glass separates visitors from the inhabitants. You could easily spend a full afternoon exploring the 28 hectare site then heading back to your hotel for an early night.

orangutan sat next to a sign saying singapore zoo

However I recommend spending a few hours relaxing at your hotel before getting a taxi to the zoo for the Singapore night safari. This is the worlds first nocturnal wildlife park and opens at 6.30pm Thursday – Sunday. You are able to walk around the zoo after dark watching the many nocturnal creatures explore their habitat by night. It really is a once in a lifetime experience. If you don’t fancy following the trails in the dark you can hop on the tram which will take you around the park.

Day 3

Sentosa Island

Sentosa island is the perfect destination for tourists to Singapore, especially if you’re traveling with kids. It’s home to Universal Studios, sandy beaches, the Singapore Aquarium and heaps of fun restaurants. You can easily get to Sentosa Island for the city centre by train. Arrive as early as possible as the queues can get pretty long on a nice day.

piper quinn with arms in the air at the madagascar ride at universal studios in singapore

Universal Studios

If there is just one activity I could choose on Sentosa Island it would be Universal Studios. It has so many great rides, plenty for thrill seekers, movie lovers and little kids. Check out what you’ll find at Universal Studios on their website.

Cable Car up mountain for dinner

Once you’ve had your fill of whatever attractions you’ve opted for on Sentosa hop in the cable car at up to Fount Faber Park. The views on the ride over the lush foliage of the Sentosa coastline up to Faber Peak are stunning. Once you reach the top grab a table at Arbora Hilltop Garden & Bistro for dinner with amazing views back down to the city.

view from the cable car going up to faber peak. you can see the attractions of sentosa island

Bell of Happiness

Before you leave Mount Faber Park it’s worth stopping by the Bell of Polish Friendship, otherwise known as the Bell of Happiness. This was the bell from a Polish ship gifted to the city in 1992. It is believed that if two people ring the bell together they will be gifted everlasting happiness. Worth a try!

piper quinn ringing the bell of happiness in singapore

Day 4

The whole of the forth day of this 5 day Singapore itinerary is given to the Marina Bay area of the city. Home to glittering skyscrapers, luxurious hotels and high end shopping centres. There’s a lot to pack in here.

gardens by the bay in singapore

Gardens by the Bay

Another absolute must visit in Singapore is Gardens by the Bay. You’ll recognise the Supertrees and Cloud Forest bubbles from all the main shots of Singapore. You can walk around a lot of the Gardens for free but to enter the beautiful, cooled cloud domes you’ll need to buy tickets. Get these off the Gardens by the Bay website. It is absolutely worth it to wander around the stunning floral displays, towering waterfalls and walk along the supertree observatory.

huge waterfall at gardens by the bay

Mer Lion

The mythical Merlion is iconic to the city of Singapore, it has the head of a lion and the body of a fish and apparently is a nod to Singapores origins as a fishing village. There are actually three located around the city, this is a good time to slot a Merlion selfie into your itinerary. You’ll find this one close to Esplanade Bridge.

Singapore Flyer

The über impressive Singapore Flyer is one of the largest observation wheels in the world. I love its curves next to the sleek towering skyscrapers surrounding it. The Wheel is 165m tall and offers some amazing views of the city. It will take around an hour to complete the trip.

view across the water to the singapore flyer

Art Science Museum

If you still have time then pop into the Art Science museum for a quick dose of culture. You can’t miss the lotus shaped building, it even has a lotus garden at its doorway.

Hawker Centre for dinner

Singapore is Home to many excellent Hawker Centres and they’re my favourite places for dinner in the city. Hawker Centres are always excellent value with food freshly cooked in front of you and the atmosphere is electric as local families enjoy a meal together. For you day two dinner you’ll be heading to Satay by the Bay which is next to Gardens by the Bay.

piper quinn in a bright blue dress that matches the table cloth at a hawker sentre in singapore

Marina Bay Hotel for cocktails

UK readers will recognise the top of the famous Marina Bay Sands as the end point for Race Around the World. It’s another fabulous spot for an early evening cocktail offering 360 views of the city. If you can make it work in your schedule, head to CÉ LA VI Restaurant on a Tuesday night for 50% off a signature cocktail.

father and daughter walking down a path with marina bay sands hotel in the background

Day 5

Depending on when your flight leaves Singapore you may be able to include anything you missed from day one of this 5 day itinerary into this your last day.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

China Town is a great place to spend your last day in Singapore. Start your visit at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and museum. Built in 2007 it gets its name from a sacred relic believed to be the left canine of Buddha. The architecture is inspired by ancient temples in China and is decorated with many statues of buddha, lanterns and flowers.

buddha tooth relic temple singapore

Chinatown

Once you’ve had your fill of the temple, explore the rest of Chinatown at your leisure. It’s a fascinating combination of the old and new with markets, trendy bars and independent shops all ready to explore. Grab a bowl of noodles to fill you up before packing for home.

Remember to give yourselves plenty of time to wander around Changi Airport, it’s the perfect way to say goodbye to Singapore.

piper quinn walking through a hawker centre in singapore

When is the best time of year to spend 5 days in Singapore

Singapore is a year round destination so in all honesty any time is good to go. The summer months can be really hot which makes wandering the city a little unbearable. The spring months of February to April are the most popular but that’s also when room rates will be at their highest. December and January see the most rain. If you want to avoid the crowds then steer clear of Chinese New Year and Singapore National Day in August although these are always have a great atmosphere.

young girl sat on floor learning about climate change at gardens by the bay

Final thoughts on this 5 days itinerary for Singapore

Singapore is a wonderful city and I could easily extend this itinerary to a week by adding in visits to the beach, parks and other districts. If you don’t have a full five days in Singapore then I recommend focussing on day 3 and 4 of this itinerary, they include the absolute must visits to the city.

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