Singapore is a place that interested both me and Matthew, but we weren’t sure if it was in the budget, given how expensive it is. However, as I researched flights to get from Vietnam to Bali, I found that Tiger Air had very affordable options with free stopovers in Singapore. At that point, we were sold. Accommodation costs were steep. (The tiny apartment we found on Airbnb was $98 per night, which felt jarring after a month in Vietnam where our average accommodation cost was about $18 per night.) We decided to stay for just one night and see how much we could cram in to our 19-hours in the country.
We got off to a bad start before we had even entered the country when our flight out of Ho Chi Minh City was delayed. We sat on the tarmac for several hours, bemoaning the fact that we were losing so much of our precious-little time in Singapore. We were originally supposed to land at 8:20 p.m., but with the delay it was more like 10:30. Then, by the time we went through immigration, purchased a SIM card and got that set up in Matthew’s phone, put our big bags in storage at the airport, and took an Uber ride into the city, it was after 11:00 p.m. when we arrived at our Airbnb rental.
To be honest, we considered turning in for the night and starting our time in Singapore bright and early in the morning. We are not late-night people, plus we had been traveling all day, which is exhausting. Ultimately, though, we decided that we didn’t want to waste the minimal amount of time we had in Singapore.
So here’s how we spent our sixteen hours in Singapore:
12:00 A.M. – Midnight dinner at a hawker centre
First we decided to hit up an outdoor food court called Mankasutra Gluttons Bay. I couldn’t believe how many people were at the food court having a midnight dinner alongside us! I don’t remember exactly what we ate, but I think it was a Malaysian dish.
This particular hawker centre is right on the bay with an awesome view of the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel.
1:00 A.M. – Stroll along the bay
Singapore is beautiful at night, so I definitely recommend taking a stroll around the bay. To get across the bay to where the Marina Bay Sands hotel is located, you get to cross a cool-looking bridge called the Helix Bridge.
As you cross the bridge, you can take in the fantastic views of the Singapore skyline and its reflection in the water.
On the other side of the Helix Bridge is a huge shopping mall that was, surprisingly, full of people at 1 in the morning.
1:30 A.M. – Check out Gardens by the Bay
We walked through the Marina Bay Sands hotel to the other side to get a glimpse of Gardens by the Bay. It looks really cool at night with the “trees” all colorful and lit up.
2:30 A.M. – 8:00 A.M. – Sleep
Around 2:00, we finally headed back to our apartment (via Uber) to get some rest. We didn’t allow ourselves to sleep too late in the morning, though, because there was still more to see!
8:30 A.M – Breakfast at a bakery that reminds you of home
A cute little bakery called Tiong Bahru Bakery was just around the corner from our apartment so we went there for breakfast.
My post about the bakery on Instagram perfectly captures my feelings at the time: “I may or may not have had tears in my eyes when we walked into this bakery. Singapore feels more like home than anywhere else we’ve been on this trip. We absolutely love going places that are new and different, but after 4 months of different, it’s hard for your heart not to feel a little swell of gratitude for some familiarity.”
9:30 A.M. – Wander around colorful Little India
11:00 A.M. – Head back to Marina Bay to see it in daylight
Turns out, Marina Bay is just as beautiful during the daytime as it is at night.
12:00 P.M – Lunch at another hawker centre
This time, we chose one in Chinatown so we could get some authentic Chinese food. It was a little overwhelming trying to decide which stall to choose among the many, many options. But our choice turned out to be delicious!
1:00 P.M. – Hit up the markets in Chinatown
After we ate lunch, we wandered through some markets in Chinatown. Chinatown is equally as colorful and vibrant as Little India. We’ve heard Singapore described by some travelers as sterile and boring, but I don’t know how you could spend time in neighborhoods like this and feel that way.
1:30 P.M. – Off to the airport
Far too soon, it was time for us to head to the airport to catch our flight to Bali. There are so many sights and experiences that we had to miss due to our time constraints, but I definitely think we made the most of our time there. We had considered visiting more “attraction”-type places like the National Museum and the Botanical Gardens. Ultimately, though, we decided that we wanted to use our limited time to try and get a feel for different parts of the city rather than spending it inside museums. We don’t have any regrets about that decision. We left Singapore with an appreciation for the cleanliness and safety for which it is well-known, but also a love of its vibrant neighborhoods and interesting mix of cultures.