With just two days in the garden city on the way to Vietnam, I asked myself: "what can I do in Singapore to make the most of my time?" With such a great reputation as a stopover destination, it came as no surprise that there was a large number of fun things to do and see in Singapore.
The city defies its reputation as a sterile and clinical place of business, with fantastic architecture, a buzzing nightlife and fabulous shopping. The city's skyline is an attraction in itself and, with English being spoken by practically everybody in Singapore and an efficient metro public transport system that puts London's Tube to shame, it really is a fun place to visit.
Your first day should be spent getting your bearings and enjoying some of the highlights of the city. The serene botanic gardens, complete with a lake full of turtles and yoga enthusiasts should be your first stop to avoid the heat of the day. A traditional Singaporean breakfast consists of kaya (a coconut, milk and egg spread) toast and strong coffee, which can be found at most cafes around town. The Ya Kun Kaya chain of restaurants is well-known for this Singaporean specialty.
In the afternoon, head for the seemingly endless strip of mega malls along Orchard Road to enjoy the air conditioned shopaholic palaces. Underground walkways lead between many of the centers, past hundreds of fantastic shops. Enjoy lunch at one of the many food courts, that offer modern, tasty and great value, international dishes.
After taking time out to rest your feet with a coffee or ice kacheng, a Malaysia specialty dessert. Then make your way to Merlion Park on the waterfront to catch a glimpse of the city's iconic Merlion statue, a mythical creature that also happens to be Singapore's mascot.
Spend the evening crossing the river back and forth on foot and by boat amongst the multitude of restaurants, bars and vistas to truly appreciate the skyline. We stumbled along some free live music at the Esplanade after our evening river cruise and gazed happily at the light spectacular put on by the Marina Bay Sands resort and impressive collection of other skyscrapers.
On your second day, a visit to Chinatown or Little India is recommended for a bit of culture, history, retail therapy and something delicious to eat. In either district you will find great markets, shops, temples and historic centers as well as thousands of delightful and cheap Indian curries or traditional Chinese dishes.
In the afternoon, stop by VivoCity Shopping Mall for a snack and a coffee before grabbing the monorail, cable car or footbridge from mainland Singapore to Sentosa, Singapore's answer to Disneyland.
Sentosa is an island resort full of attractions, boasting a host of hotels, Universal Studios, beaches, amazing views of the city, Merlion statues, restaurants, shops, shows and bars. For fun on a budget, enjoy a swim in one of the artificial beaches, take in the view from the top of the island (accessible by escalator!) and head to the waterfront to catch a glimpse of the mechanical crane dance.
Finally, there is no better way to end a short trip to Singapore than by enjoying an evening meal in one of the hawker markets. Hundreds of food stalls offer local and international dishes at these bustling markets. Frequented by both locals and tourists alike, the food is fresh, served quick and is very affordable. Among the best hawker markets in Singapore are Lau Pa Sat in the central city, near the Merlion, which is famous for its open-air style satay section, and the Old Airport Road Food Centre.
What can I do in Singapore? Well, as I've shown here there is clearly no shortage of options. Two days in the city will leave you wanting more but if you follow these guidelines you will be able to maximise your time without having to back-track across the city.