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5-Day Singapore Itinerary — Best Things to Do For First Timers

Experience the best of the country with this five-day Singapore itinerary — our favourite things to eat, see and do on this island!

Singapore is often said to be rojak — a little bit of everything. It’s a small country but you can find a bit of the whole world here.

In this five day Singapore itinerary, we’ve included a bit of everything we love most about Singapore. From the iconic to lesser-known things to do in Singapore — these include adrenaline pumping activities, places to enjoy nature and of course, recommendations on where to eat some of the best Singaporean food along the way.

Pre-Trip Essentials

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

Photo credit: LTA

Public transport:
The MRT and buses connect to most major tourist attractions. Plan your trip with Google Maps, which has public transport routes and timings. Ride-hailing services like Grab and Gojek are available too.

*Pro-tip: Pre-order a NETS flashpay card before your trip. The card will be delivered to your Indonesian address before the trip and you can use it to pay for public transport, food courts, convenience stores, and selected hawker centres.

Portable WiFi:
Stay connected on your trip to Singapore with a portable WiFi device. You can pick up at several major airports in Indonesia, such as Jakarta and Bali. Alternatively, you can collect this prepaid SIM card when you arrive at Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Currency: S$1 = ~10,000Rp

Day 1: Take in Singapore’s History and Skyline

If you were inspired to visit Singapore by watching the F1 Grand Prix or watching Crazy Rich Asians, this is the day to snap those wanderlust-worthy shots of Singapore’s iconic attractions that you’ve been seeing all over social media. Prepare to walk a lot!

Start from the beginning: National Museum of Singapore

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

The National Museum of Singapore may be Singapore’s oldest museum but its immersive and interactive high-tech exhibits bring the Singapore story to life in a fun way. A visit here will help you understand more of the historical sights that you will see later in this Singapore itinerary.

Entrance Fee: S$15 for Permanent Galleries, S$26 for Permanent and Special GalleriesOpening Hours: 10AM – 7PM, closed from 2PM – 3PM on Mon – Thu
How to get there: From Bencoolen MRT Station (blue line) Exit C or Bras Basah MRT station (yellow line) Exit C, walk 5mins through the Singapore Management University campus

Where to Eat: Lau Pa Sat

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

Located right in the middle of the financial district, Lau Pa Sat is popular for Singapore’s street fare in one of its most historic food centres. We recommend Seng Kee Local Delights for fried Hokkien prawn mee or Chicky Fun’s halal version of Hainanese Chicken Rice.

Cost: About S$4–10 per paxOpening Hours: 24hr
How to get there: From Downtown MRT Station (blue line), walk about 5mins from exit F to get to Lau Pa Sat

Escape the Afternoon Heat: Gardens by the Bay

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

The air-conditioned conservatories located in the glass domes of Gardens by the Bay are what Singaporeans wish the local weather could be! They are the perfect way to enjoy the garden city without sweating it out in the afternoon heat. Pose with colourful seas of flowers in the Flower Dome, or feel like you’ve walked into Jurassic Park in the Cloud Forest Dome.

Stay until it gets dark to enjoy the futuristic lights of the alien-looking trees in the Supertree Grove. Walk along the 22m-high OCBC Skywalk to take in the night skyline or enjoy the 15-minute Garden Rhapsody light and music show that happens twice every evening (7:45PM and 8:45PM).

Entrance Fee: Free for the outdoor gardens, S$23 for the Flower Dome and Cloud ForestOpening Hours: 5AM – 2AM for the outdoor gardens, 9AM – 9PM for the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest
How to get there: From Bayfront MRT station (blue line), take exit B and follow the underground linkway, crossing the Dragonfly Bridge or Meadow Bridge into Gardens by the Bay

See Singapore’s Spectacular Skyline: Marina Bay

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

Evening is the best time to experience Singapore’s iconic skyline around Marina Bay when the buildings are all lit up. Marina Bay Sands has its own light and water show called Spectra at 8PM and 9PM (additional show at 10PM on Fri and Sat).

You can walk all around the bay if you want, but for the best views, cross the Helix Bridge from Marina Bay Sands to The Float @ Marina Bay. You’ll pass the spiky domes of the Esplanade Theatres where there may be free public performances if you are lucky. Keep going towards Merlion Park where all the tourists are trying to selfie with the half-lion half-fish fountain that is Singapore’s tourism symbol.

*Pro-tip: Some of the buildings start to switch off their lights from about 9PM onwards, so don’t leave your night shots of Marina Bay till too late.

Cruise Through History: Singapore River

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

If you’re not tired yet, walk from One Fullerton towards Anderson Bridge and follow the path along the Singapore River, which used to be the centre of trade and life in Singapore’s early days. Boat Quay has lots of bars and restaurants with a touristy vibe. Further down the river, Clarke Quay has even more popular nightspots including the grand stalwart club Zouk.

If you want a guided tour of Marina Bay and the Singapore River, take a 40-minute Singapore River Cruise on a traditional bumboat with a guide who will tell you more about the history of Marina Bay, Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.

Cost: S$25 for 40min boat ride with commentary
Opening Hours: 9AM – 11PM departing every half hour (Last departure 10:30PM)

Day 2: Live the High Life in Singapore

Enjoy the high life in Singapore with some of the best aerial coastal views and the thrills and spills of theme parks. We suggest planning this for a weekday which tends to be less busy, or a day with good weather as a lot of it is outdoors.

Ride the Cable Car to Sentosa

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

There are a few ways to get to Sentosa island — take the bus, take the monorail, drive or even walk through the boardwalk — but taking the cable car is the most fun and scenic way to get there. This takes you across the green hillside, across the waters of Harbourfront Bay and finally to the theme park island of Sentosa.

The cable car ticket is a round-trip ticket that lets you get on and off at each station once. We recommend starting and ending your journey at Harbourfront Station as it is much easier to access by public transport compared to Mount Faber.

Cost: S$24.50 for the Cable Car Sky PassOpening Hours: 8:45AM–10PM (Last ride at 9:30PM)
How to get there: From Harbourfront MRT Station (yellow/purple line), take exit B and walk towards Harbourfront Centre. The Harbourfront Cable Car Station is located on the 15th floor of Harbourfront Tower 2

Turn Up the Adrenaline at Universal Studios

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

Inject some fun into your Singapore itinerary with a day at Sentosa, which houses Southeast Asia’s only Universal Studios. There are shows to watch and characters to meet, but the twisty Battlestar Galactica rollercoaster in the middle of the park is the highlight. Adrenaline junkies, go for the blue Cylon track over the tamer red Human track.

Cost: S$77 (1-day ticket)Opening Hours: Varies
How to get there: From Harbourfront MRT Station (yellow/purple line), take the Sentosa Express (S$4/ride) from VivoCity mall to Resorts World Station. The front entrance of Universal Studios is a short walk away

*Pro-tip: You can enter Sentosa for free by taking the sheltered boardwalk just outside VivoCity

For something a little calmer, the Adventure Cove Waterpark (S$30) has fun water slides and the chance to snorkel with tropical fish, while the S.E.A. Aquarium (S$37) immerses you in the wonderful world of marine life without having to get wet.

Hike to the Henderson Waves

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

Ride the cable car from Sentosa up to the peak of Mount Faber in the late evening. From the cable car station, it’s a short 10-minute walk to get to the photogenic Henderson Waves. At 36m high, it is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore. The bridge offers great views of the Southern straits and is a favourite for bird watchers. Late evening is a popular time to view the sunset and get shots of the bridge when it’s illuminated after 7PM.

If you love hiking, the Henderson Waves is just one part of the longer Southern Ridges Trek. This takes you through 10km of trails through Telok Blangah Hill Park, Hort Park and Labrador Nature Reserve for more bridges and views, and even a canopy walk to get closer to the forest foliage.

Entrance Fee: FreeOpening hours: 24hr
How to get there: From Telok Blangah MRT station (orange line), take bus no. 176 to Henderson Waves; from Harbourfront MRT station (purple line), take bus no. 131 to Mount Faber where the trail begins

Day 3: Explore Singapore’s Major Ethnic Neighbourhoods

Visit Singapore’s popular ethnic neighbourhoods, designated by the British during their rule. While each district has its own distinct character and history, they also reflect the unique multicultural nature of life in Singapore.

Explore Singapore’s Multiculturalism in Chinatown

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

Chinatown is the designated Chinese ethnic district in Singapore and is home to some of Singapore’s most iconic religious architecture. These include the oldest Hindu temple Sri Mariamman and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple along South Bridge Road.

Also worth checking out nearby is Telok Ayer Street — what used to be the shoreline of Singapore before land reclamation is now a part of the central business district. There are several of the oldest surviving temples in Singapore including Thian Hock Keng Temple dedicated to sea Goddess Mazu, the Indian Muslim Nagore Durgha Shrine and the Al Abrar Mosque.

*Pro-tip: Bring a scarf or sarong as you’d need to cover your shoulders and legs when visiting religious monuments.

Where to Eat: Maxwell Food Centre

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

Chinatown has several excellent hawker centres in the area worth visiting, such as Chinatown Point Food Centre and Amoy Street Food Centre. But one of our favourites to bring overseas guests is Maxwell Food Centre, made famous by chef Gordon Ramsay’s adoration of Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice. It isn’t the only good food here though — complete your meal with some savoury Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cakes or coconutty ondeh-ondeh and tapioca cake at Xing Xing.

Cost: Estimate about S$4–10 per paxOpening Hours: 8AM – 2AM
How to get there: From Chinatown MRT Station (purple/blue line) Exit F, head down Pagoda Street to South Bridge Road. It is about a 10min walk

Soak in the sights and sounds of Little India

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

Bustling Little India is a favourite among Singapore’s South Asian community. Walk along narrow alleyways and take in the traditional shophouses and fashion accessories of Little India Arcade. Then visit the modern Indian Heritage Centre where you can learn more about the Indian community in Singapore.

*Pro-tip: The best time to visit Little India is during major Indian festivals like Pongal, Thaipusam and Deepavali (dates vary according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar). During these festivals, Serangoon Road is decked out with colourful decorations and lights, and you might catch a colourful procession or two along the streets.

Where to Eat: Tekka Centre

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

There are lots of cheap and good Indian food around this area, but we enjoy Tekka Centre for its wide variety of options all in one place. Must-eats include the Nasi Briyani at Allaudin’s Briyani and the fried battered goodness of Temasek Indian Rojak.

Cost: About S$4–10 per paxOpening Hours: 6:30AM – 9PM
How to get there: From Little India MRT station (blue/purple line), take Exit C. The hawker centre is just outside the exit

Murals and Mosques in Kampong Glam

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

The historical Arab and Malay district of Kampong Glam is lined with cloth merchants and Middle Eastern eateries. But Haji Lane stands out with its mix of quirky shops, cafes and Instagram-worthy Aztec-inspired murals near the Piedra Negra and Bluz Jaz restaurants.

Kampong Glam’s centrepiece is the almost 200-year-old Sultan Mosque on Bussorah Street and perhaps the most majestic mosque in Singapore. On either side of the entrance to the mosque, look out for some surprisingly colourful back alleys. These are known collectively as the Gelam Gallery, lined with colourful murals by a mix of local art school students and artists.

How to get there: From Bugis MRT station (blue/green line), take Exit F and walk towards to Victoria Street. Turn right and walk about 10mins to reach Kampong Glam and Haji Lane

*Pro-tip: Bring a wide-angle lens to capture mural shots as the alleyways are quite narrow.

Where to Eat: Hajah Maimunah at Jalan Pisang

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

If you want to see how Singapore’s nasi padang matches up to what you know back home, visit Hajah Maimunah along Jalan Pisang for a meal. This long-time halal restaurant and caterer was awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2019 and specialises in home-style kampung fare with a wide variety of dishes to choose from — try their Sudanese grilled chicken, lemak siput or their oxtail soup.

Cost: About S$10-20 per paxOpening Hours: 7AM – 8PM, closed on Sun
Address: 11 Jln Pisang, Singapore 199078. It’s a 5mins walk from Sultan Mosque

Day 4: Uniquely Singaporean Attractions

You can’t say you’ve visited Singapore until you’ve visited these 😉 These iconic tourist attractions are probably what helped put Singapore on the global map.

The Garden City: Singapore Botanic Gardens

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

Singapore is often called the Garden City, so it’s not surprising that Singapore’s first UNESCO Heritage site is the Singapore Botanic Gardens. These tropical gardens are over 160 years old and covers 60 acres of land, a rare sight in land-scarce Singapore.

We like the National Orchid Garden which has the world’s largest orchid display of over 60,000 plants and orchids. The Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is a nice green space for kids to run aroun as well as learn about plant life.

Entrance Fee: Free for Botanic Gardens, S$5 for National Orchid GardenOpening hours: 5AM – 12AM for Botanic Gardens (Attractions vary)
How to get there: From Botanic Gardens MRT station (orange/blue lines), the entrance is right outside Exit B. The National Orchid Garden is in the centre of the park, about a 10-min walk away

Shop Till You Drop: Orchard Road

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

No Singapore itinerary would be complete without the national past time of shopping along the famous stretch, Orchard Road. Air-conditioned shopping malls stretching from Tanglin to Dhoby Ghaut are the perfect way to escape the midday heat. Whether you’re looking at high street brands or luxury items, there’s a pretty good chance you can find it here.

How to get there: From Orchard MRT station (red line), take Exit E to emerge in front of ION Orchard mall

*Pro-tip: Bring along your passport to get Goods and Services tax refunds for purchases over S$100 from stalls participating in the e-Tourism Refund Scheme (eTRS), and check for tourist discounts at the concierge of each mall.

Stories About Singapore: Tiong Bahru

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

Tiong Bahru is Singapore’s oldest residential neighbourhood. While you can see blocks of public housing all around Singapore, the ones at Tiong Bahru are unique because they are art deco-inspired. These flats are decorated with geometric shapes and lines from the pre-war period, a far cry from the towering uniform blocks that have emerged since.

In recent years, the aging district has found a new lease of life and become cool again. We particularly like the local indie book stores along Yong Siak Street. Visit the charming BooksActually to get recommendations on Singapore literature (known as Singlit), or head to Woods in the Books to pick up some picture books that the young and young-at-heart can both enjoy.

How to get there: From Tiong Bahru MRT station (green line) Exit A, walk about 10mins to Yong Siak Street. BooksActually and Woods in the Books are close to each other at No. 9 and No. 3 respectively

Where to Eat: Tiong Bahru Market

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

There is a lot of good food in the Tiong Bahru area, but the long-standing Tiong Bahru Food Centre is the best place to start if you want to taste a little bit of everything. Must-eats include Jian Bo Shui Kueh which makes chwee kueh, a type of steamed rice cake with preserved radish on top. Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee and the gooey gravy-soaked noodles at 178 Lor Mee are good too.

Cost: About S$4-10 per paxOpening hours: Varies among stalls, but we recommend going from 8AM – 2PM as most stalls are open in the first half of the day
How to get there: From Tiong Bahru MRT station (green line) Exit B, walk 10mins down Tiong Bahru Road until you reach Seng Poh Road. Turn right to see the distinctly rounded architecture of the market and food centre

Day 5: Mixing Food and Culture in Singapore

Spend your last day eating your way through Singapore’s historic and cultural neighbourhoods.

Peranakan Culture in Joo Chiat

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

The Peranakan culture came about from mixed marriages between indigenous Malays and Chinese and Indian immigrants in Singapore. Many Peranakans lived in the Joo Chiat and Katong area in the east, where buildings are decorated with colourful majolica Peranakan style tiles. Look out for the rainbow-hued heritage homes at Koon Seng Road and the beaded shoes and kebaya outfits at Rumah Bebe.

There is also plenty of delicious food in the area. The spicy 328 Katong Laksa is a must-try, as is the traditional Kim Choo Kueh Chang with its rice dumplings filled with pork.

How to get there: From Eunos MRT station (green line), take Exit B and walk along Sims Avenue until you reach Geylang Serai. Turn left and keep walking down until the road becomes Joo Chiat Road. This road cuts right through the heart of Joo Chiat district and a good place to start exploring this area

*Pro-tip: On the weekends, take a free shuttle bus that runs between Katong V Mall (Village Hotel Katong) and Paya Lebar/Bedok MRT stations.

Tea in a Peranakan Museum: The Intan

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

Instead of a traditional museum, The Intan is the private home of collector Alvin Yapp who has amassed thousands of antique Peranakan items in a traditional shophouse. His collection includes beaded slippers, furniture, kebayas and even spittoons. It’s a rare chance to have a closer look at these items in an intimate setting, ask all the questions you want and enjoy some typical Peranakan snacks at the same time.

Cost: 1hr Intan Tea Tour at S$60Opening Hours: By appointment only, email to enquire.
Address: 69 Joo Chiat Terrace, Singapore 427231

Unwind Along the Coast: East Coast Park

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

Take it slow at this long stretch of greenery along Singapore’s eastern coastline where you can join the locals in a little cycling, strolling and even some more exciting activities like skating at the Xtreme Skatepark or cable skiing at Singapore Wake Park.

*Pro-tip: East Coast Park is over 15km long — we suggest exploring the area around East Coast Carpark E2, which is near Bedok Jetty, Aloha Sea Sports Centre, Xtreme SkatePark and Singapore Wake Park.

How to get there: From Bedok MRT Station (green line), head to the connecting bus interchange and take Bus No. 401. Alight at the stop opposite the Cable Ski Park

 Where to Eat: East Coast Seafood Centre

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

One of Singapore’s most well-known food you have to try is the famous Chilli Crab (~S$50-70 per kilo), large Sri Lankan crabs soaked in a delicious chilli sauce that you mop up with fried buns (man tous). Try it at East Coast Seafood Centre, a stretch in East Coast Park lined with several of the best seafood restaurant brands in Singapore.

If seafood is not your jam or you are on a budget, head over to East Coast Lagoon Food Centre which has more hawker food options and cheaper prices. Tuck into local fare such as chicken wings, satay and barbecued sambal stingray at the East Coast Lagoon Food Village, washed down with a cool glass of sugarcane juice.
How to get there: East Coast Seafood Centre is closest to Carpark E1 in East Coast Park, a short walk west past Singapore Wake Park from the places mentioned above.

Hang Out at Jewel Changi Airport

singapore, 5-day singapore itinerary — best things to do for first timers

It’s time to head home, but your Singapore journey isn’t over yet. Singapore’s Changi Airport is one of the world’s top-rated airports and considered a tourist attraction in itself. It is home to many amenities including a sunflower garden and Singapore’s tallest indoor slide.

But the reason you’ll want to head to the airport early these days is to spend some time at its latest extension known as Jewel Changi Airport. Admire the majestic rain vortex waterfall with water cascading down from the glass ceiling, or bounce around in the Manulife Sky Nets (S$15/pax) suspended from the ceiling five storeys high. This large retail mall is also the perfect place to pick up last-minute souvenirs.

Cost: From S$4.50 for various attractionsOpening Hours: 10AM – 10PM
How to get there: Follow the signs from Changi Airport MRT station (green line) to Jewel Changi Airport, which is closest to Terminal 1. You can also walk from Terminals 2 and 3, or take a shuttle bus from Terminal 4

With so much to eat, see and do, Singapore is worth much more than just an overnight stopover. It’s under three hours by air from most Indonesian cities, and whether you’re a shopaholic, foodie, thrill-seeker or nature lover, we promise there’s something for everyone. But don’t take our word for it — plan a trip here on your next vacation and see for yourself!


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