HOW TO SPEND 48 HOURS IN SINGAPORE
Singapore is one of those perfectly positioned places that sees a lot of visitors pass through while on their journeys around the globe. Thankfully, the size of the island makes it possible to see, do and eat a lot of things, even if you've only got a few days in which to do it. Here are the amazing tips from our travelling contributor Phoebe Lee from Little Grey Box on how to spend 48 hours in Singapore. DAY ONE
Breakfast - After a long flight, you're going to need two things; food and coffee. Get yourself over to Tiong Bahru, the heart of Singapore's hipster cafe scene. You're spoilt for choice with great places to eat in the area, but for a hearty, fresh breakfast and divine coffee, the pick of the bunch is 40 Hands.
Explore the area - Tiong Bahru Estate was built in the 1930s and the buildings here are unlike any other you'll see on the island, so take the time to explore on foot, photographing the British-Colonial style houses and spotting installation art pieces from local artists. You can also check-in at the famous Tiong Bahru Bakery or wander the Tiong Bahru Food Centre, perusing the wet market and trying local treats at the food court, for a true locals experience.
Lunch - Hop a cab and make your way toward Chinatown, where you'll find the Chinatown Food Complex. Every local Singaporean knows the very best food isn't found in restaurants, it's found in Hawker Centres and Food Courts all over the island. Not only is the food here delicious and authentic, it's also dirt cheap! I suggest trying a few local favourites, like Hainanese Chicken Rice, Popiah and Carrot Cake (which is not a cake and contains no carrots).
Wander on foot - Now you've refuelled, it's time to explore the local area. Just outside the Food Complex you'll find the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, an impressive temple which is free to enter and well-worth exploring. If you're lucky, you'll find Monks, adorned in red and gold robes, chanting among the huge statues and ornately decorated walls and ceilings. Afterward, step outside onto the street and explore the surrounding market stall. It's a great place to pick up souvenirs and you'll spot the retired men, or 'Uncles,' playing some pretty intense games of checkers.
Drinks with a view - Let's get real, you've earned yourself a drink! Thankfully, Singapore has a few amazing rooftop bars you can visit, to soak it all in (the booze and the views). Head up to the top of Marina Bay Sands and visit rooftop hotspot, Ce La Vi. For the best views and photographs, go just before the sunset. The drinks here are on the pricey side, but it's a treat that's well worth it.
Gardens by the Bay - A trip to Singapore isn't complete without a visit to the insanely gorgeous Gardens by the Bay. Now the sun has set, you'll be able to explore the amazing Sky Trees, all lit up. It's free to wander through this part of the gardens, which come alive with bright and beautiful lights, illuminating the 25 - 50 metre tall trees. If you have time, I'd recommend coming back to explore the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and Sun Pavilion, too. These gardens are really, really amazing and unlike anything else I've seen.
Dinner - It's time to test out Singapore's trendy eateries and bar scene, by taking a visit to Potato Head Folk. The space has a fun, whimsical theme to it, with large murals on the walls and an open rooftop adorned with glowing festival lights. The place is split over three different levels, serving up some pretty spectacular cocktails and really delicious burgers. If you're keen to stay out late for more drinks, take the short walk to Club Street, where you'll find loads of cool bars to drink the night away.
Breakfast - Start your day off right at delightful cafe, LoKal, located on the edge of Chinatown. This place is a favourite with the locals, serving up fresh, delicious food using homemade ingredients. A must-try item is the Kaya Toast, the traditional local breakfast of Singaporeans. Beautiful, crunchy toast is served with homemade Kaya (a delectably sweet coconut jam), butter and slow cooked egg. Wash it all down with a fantastic coffee.
Soak in the best rooftop views - It's time to visit one of Singapore's best kept secrets, the insanely good rooftop of Pinnacle @ Duxton. For some reason, tourists don't know about this place, which is perfect for people like us. The 50th story skybridge opens at 9am and only allows 200 people up per day, at a cost of $5 per person. You’ll need an EZ-Link card to pay, which you can get from the MRT station. If you only put one rooftop on your list, make it this one, it's a photographers dream come true.
Discover Little India - Make your way over to Little India and wander around on foot. You'll find yourself on the main street, Serangoon Road, but the hot tip is to find one of the smaller backstreets, just one street back. This is where you'll find colourful buildings, small stores and photo opportunities galore. Visit the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, get your hands expertly Henna'd and shop for gorgeous textiles.
Lunch - It's time to dig a little deeper into Singapore's famous food scene. Visit the inconspicuous Komala Villas Restaurant, located on Buffalo Road. This place is my favourite spot to eat at in Singapore as it serves up the most delicious, authentic vegetarian Indian food that'll make your tummy and your wallet very happy. Try the Masala Dosai meal, a large chickpea-flour flat bread that's insanely light and crisp, stuffed with perfectly curried potato, served with vegetables and dips. (Note: there are two locations for this restaurant, but my favourite is on Buffalo Road).
Time to shop - Singapore is known for its amazing shopping scene, so it's time to let it rip! Make your way to Orchard Road and explore the myriad of shopping centres that line either side of the road. If it's all too overwhelming, good places to start are Ion Orchard and Takashimaya. For a bit of on-the-cheap shopping, take a stroll through Lucky Plaza. If you find yourself at Orchard Central, take the elevator to the top floor and then catch the escalator to the very top, for a hidden rooftop spot.
Dinner - End your shopping spree at Plaza Singapura, on Orchard Road, and make your way to Tim Ho Wan for a dumpling feast. Originating in Hong Kong, you'll find the dumplings here are mouth-wateringly good. Stuff yourself with their famous Baked BBQ Pork Buns, Dim Sum and Vermicelli Rolls and finish it all off with their signature Steamed Egg Cake.
WHERE TO STAY
You're going to need a sweet place to base yourself for your Singapore adventures! I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Orchard Road, located a few metres off Orchard Road, but tucked away from all the hustle and bustle. The hotel offers a fantastic location, with buses and the MRT (train) station a short walk away, for budget travellers. It's centrally located, making it easy to explore then retreat back, and it's super easy to hail a cab, if needed.
The rooms are small but mighty, with the space being used really cleverly, without compromising on style or comfort. You'll find plenty of space to spread out, with a big comfy bed, great bathroom, desk for working and an armchair for relaxing. The focus at Holiday Inn Express is on keeping things simple, by sticking to the basics. You'll find great quality free wi-fi, a simple and delicious complimentary breakfast buffet and a room that serves as the perfect oasis during your stay. I really loved it and would definitely look to stay at this and other Holiday Inn Express locations again.
The team at Holiday Inn Express are set to open their first Aussie location shortly at Macquarie Park, Sydney. Just like its Singaporean cousin, this spot will offer classy, comfortable and effortless accommodation at cost-friendly prices. The team also signed me up to their IHG Rewards Club, which earns you points each time you book a stay at one of their 4,600 hotels world-wide. Each booking earns you points, which you can redeem for things like meals, late check-outs or even a free stay!
This post is in collaboration with Holiday Inn Express. Big thank you to our global contributor Phoebe Lee from Little Grey Box for sharing her adventures in Singapore and this blog post with us!