Exploring Singapore in Less than 24 Hours
Spending merely a day in Singapore is not unusual.
Some business travellers merely have a day to spend for leisure; while some have a layover of less than 24 hours and would rather go exploring the city-state than get cooped up at the airport (not that the airport does not have much to offer).
In this article, we will try to explore the best of Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD). That is, if you have less than a day to roam around the city-state before hopping on your next flight.
Upon exiting the Changi Airport immigration booths, head straight to the taxi stand. There are large signages everywhere, so you’ll know where to queue.
You can take the train, but we suggest you take a taxi to save on precious time. It will take approximately 16 minutes to reach the city centre by taxi (or Grab/Gojek), compared to 45 minutes by train.
If you do decide to take the train, note that it will take about 45 minutes to reach Bayfront MRT Station. Deterred? If not, then:
1. Head to the Changi Airport MRT Station [CG2] (don’t worry, there are large signages that will lead you to the station).
2. Purchase an EZ-Link card from the counter
3. Alight at Expo Station [CG1 / DT35]. This is just one stop away from Changi MRT Station.
4. Transfer to Downtown Line / Blue Line. It will take approximately 19 stops to reach Bayfront Station [DT16 / CE1]
5. Alight at Bayfront Station [DT16 / CE1]
1st Stop: Gardens By the Bay
Head straight to the world-famous Gardens by the Bay. While there, check out the Supertrees, which are vertical soilless canopies installed with green features. For S$8/adult, you can go up the OCBC Skyway and take Instagram-worthy photos of the Garden.
Then head to the Flower Dome and enjoy the cool, dry climate of certain desert regions and enjoy the colourful display at the Flower Field. Right across it is the Cloud Forest, also fully-air conditioned, to see what plants grow at altitudes of up to 2,000m above sea level.
Ticket prices are as follows:
Flower Dome + Cloud Forest (1 Day) = S$20.00 / ADULT and S$12/ CHILD
Flower Dome or Cloud Forest only = S$12 / ADULT and S$8 / CHILD
Flower Dome and Cloud Forest = Daily: 9.00am – 9.00pm (Last admission at 8.30pm)
Floral Garden = Mon - Fri: 10.00am – 7.00pm (Last admission at 6.30pm); Sat, Sun & PH: 10.00am – 8.00pm (Last admission at 7.30pm)
If you have the munchies, there are several restaurants and cafes within the vicinity.
Tip #1: The sun starts to get really hot at around 10AM, so do apply sunscreen, purchase an umbrella, or wear a cap.
Tip #2: Take the shuttle to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest to save time. Ticket is S$3/adult and includes 2-way rides on the Shuttle Service which plies this route: Bayfront Plaza ←→ Active Garden ←→ Flower Dome. Note that visitors on wheelchairs and children under 3 years old ride for free.
2nd Stop: Marina Bay Sands Skypark Observation Deck
Head to the SkyPark Observation Deck for a full view of the Central Business District. Trust us, it is worth the visit. The breathtaking views of the Singapore skyline as well as the vast expanse of the Gardens By the Bay is worth it.
The SkyPark Observation Deck is located L57, Hotel Tower 3 and is open daily from 11AM to 9PM. From any point in The Shoppes > Proceed to MRT control station at Basement 2 > Lift/Escalator towards Level 1, Hotel Towers > Continue on the pathway outside Hotel Tower 1 – Walk towards SkyPark Observation Deck Entrance, Level 1 (near Hotel Tower 3).
Ticket prices are as follows:
S$23 (Senior Citizen > 65 years old)
S$20 (Child, 2 – 12 years old)
3rd Stop: The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
If you have time (and money) to spare, you can do a little shopping at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. It has rows and rows of designer and luxury brands, so you surely will be spoilt for choice.
You can also take a 30-minute (so their website says) gondola ride for S$13/person. The Sampan Ride includes 4 digital photo files, so you don't have to worry about capturing the moment. You can just sit back and enjoy. The Sampan Ride is located at B2 at The Shoppes, near the Bayfront MRT Station. The Sampan Ride is open from 11AM to 9PM daily.
If you’d like to take a quick lunch break, there are tons of restaurants at Marina Bay Sands. There is a large hawker centre near the Ice Skating Rink, too, with lots of local food to choose from. Do try the world-famous chicken rice!
4th Stop: ArtScience Museum
Now that you’ve had your fill of local food, head to the ArtScience Museum. There are quite a few exhibits that are absolutely worth your time. Among these are:
1. Future World to “Immerse yourself in a world of art, science, magic and metaphor through a collection of digital interactive installation.” (S$16/adult)
2. Virtual Realms: Videogames Transformed and “Step into the realm of the videogame in a series of playful and immersive installations that will take you on a journey through new sonic landscapes and exciting kaleidoscopic worlds.” (S$16/adult)
3. VR Gallery: Hyperrealities allows you to “Embark on a thrilling Virtual Reality journey as you make the quantum leap into your own body, live the life of rainbows and save an artist’s life.” (S$12/adult)
These exhibits could easily take up 2 hours, so manage your time wisely.
5th Stop: Take a Cruise Along the Singapore River
Make the most out of your brief Singapore trip by taking a cruise along the Singapore River. It gives you a completely different perspective of Singapore. The Singapore River Cruise is basically a bumboat ride that takes you along:
1. The Raffles Landing Site near Boat Quay. This was where Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826), an agent of the British East India Company, first set foot on Singapore soil in 1819.
2. The Merlion. The most well-known symbol of Singapore is 8.6 metres high and weighs 70 tonnes. It was built by the late Singapore craftsman, Mr Lim Nang Seng.
3. The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. This is Singapore’s leading cultural and performing arts centre; and more!
A ticket costs S$20/adult.
Tip: They accept USD (and will give you the change in SGD)
There is a river cruise terminal just outside Marina Bay Sands.
Head Back to Changi Airport
Remember to be very mindful of the time. Allocate an hour of travel time from the CBD to Changi Airport (who knows, there might be a jam or some other unforeseen circumstances). And note that you have to be at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight.
It is cheaper to head back to the airport by train. However, time is of the essence, so it is recommended that you take a taxi back to Changi Airport. Remember to tell the cab driver which terminal your flight is going to be in, so he/she can drop you off at the most convenient drop-off point.
Prepare your passport and boarding pass and head straight to the boarding gates.
We hope you enjoyed your brief Singapore visit!