Answers from Our Experts (1)
If you only have two days to see Singapore, start off your whirlwind tour with a meal at Maxwell Road Hawker Centre. A strong cup of sock-brewed kopi (coffee) and some banana and yam fritters should tide you over until you come across your next food stall. If you’re adventurous enough, try the savory sliced raw fish congee.
Spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon experiencing Singapore’s three major cultural groups’ way of life. Starting at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum across the street in Chinatown, this Tang Dynasty-style building is said to house the left canine tooth of the Lord Buddha. It was found in 1980 in a collapsed stupa in Myanmar. Afterward, leave this gold and red building to peruse the shophouse-lined streets for snacks and souvenirs.
At the beginning of Temple Street sits the oldest Hindu temple in the country — the Sri Mariamman Temple. Founded in 1827 by government clerk Nariana Pillai, the entrance to this house of worship was initially made of wood and attap. Take your shoes off, step in and observe a lunch prayer session. On the next street is Masjid Jamae (Jamae Mosque), one of the earliest mosques to be constructed in Singapore. Non-Muslims are discouraged from entering this sanctuary, but feel free to take pictures beneath the onion-topped octagonal minarets.
When through exploring, have lunch at Spring Court, Singapore’s oldest family-run Chinese restaurant. Now housed in a four-story banquet space, it has retained its traditional wooden chairs and elegant carpeted rooms with fabric-covered furniture and vaulted ceilings. Open since 1929, this Chinatown restaurant is best known for its crisp-skinned Peking duck.
After your meal, make your way to Clarke Quay. Wander through the shops along the river as you walk down toward Boat Quay and the Fullerton Hotel, a former post office. Do a tour at the Asian Civilisations Museum or go through the free art exhibits and mini museum in the lobby of the Fullerton Hotel.
Before the sun sets, head up to the Marina Bay Sands’ observation deck to watch the star dip under the horizon. Have dinner at regional celebrity chef Justin Quek’s restaurant Sky on 57. At Quek’s panoramic restaurant, hawker food — the street eats you had at breakfast — is prepared with luxury ingredients, plated in European style and paired with wines from all over the world.
On the second day, have breakfast at Ah Teng’s Bakery at Raffles Singapore. Biscuits, cakes and dim sum go well with the Chinese-style morning cuppa. The hotel is strict with its dress code, so leave the sandals at home.
Now that you’re all fueled up, explore the Peranakan Museum on Armenian Street for the rest of the morning. Learn about the vibrant Nusantara Chinese-immigrant Nyonya-Baba culture, including the importance of the sarong kebaya, the beautiful traditional garb of Peranakan women.
When you’re done looking at the exhibits, savor lunch at True Blue Cuisine, the Peranakan Museum’s restaurant. The artifact-laden, two-shophouse restaurant is run by Benjamin “Baba Ben” Seck and decorated with hand-me-down baskets, beaded shoes and a life-sized drawing of Seck’s great-grandmother. Food — recipes handed down from Seck’s mother — is served on real vintage wares, which gives the meal an authentic feel.
After lunch, cab it to the Singapore Zoo to finish out your last day in Singapore. Get there just in time to watch the elephants work and play at 3.30 p.m. The staged show transports you to a Burmese elephant logging camp, and it ends with a feeding session. After the sun sets, scurry on over to the Night Safari to observe more than 900 nocturnal animals in the lauded open-concept evening zoo. The tram ride will take you through the Nepalese River Valley to see the pelicans and golden jackals, Asian Riverine Forest for Malayan tapirs and red dholes (wild dogs), and Equatorial Africa for the caped giraffe. Make sure to get off and walk the trails if you want to catch the mousedeer and leopard.