Travel Tuesdays With Quilt: A 36-Hour Virtual Visit to Singapore
Much of the Quilt AI team is based out of Singapore, but for this week’s #TravelTuesdayswithQuilt series, we turned to our Culture AI to tell us how to best experience Singapore beyond the trodden path.
For a long time, Singapore was known as a layover destination, much like Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Travelers didn’t plan to visit Singapore (except to meet family or friends residing there) but made the most of their stopover en route other destinations. Much of that has changed over the years. In addition to the Changi International Airport establishing itself as one of the world’s best airports (from the world’s tallest indoor waterfall to giant slides and a rooftop pool, it has it all!), Singapore has made a mark with both business and leisure travelers by consistently reimagining the experiences it has to offer. From art and culture to nature and architecture, the island city has plenty of unique and offbeat activities and places to see.
Interestingly, the most popular theme detected from Instagram posts of Singapore by our AI is ‘foodie adventure’, reiterating Singapore’s standing as the gourmet capital of the East! Featuring everything from street eats to fancy Michelin star meals and even homemade delicacies, the Insta-photos speak for themselves.
In addition to food, we found that a majority of the images uploaded on the ‘gram showcased cloudy skies, spectacular sunsets, sky-rise and heritage buildings, and trees.
Our Culture AI also has the capability of detecting the different facets of positive emotions on social media, and we found documentation of everyday life through photography to be the most popular way of expressing the Singapore way of life! Instagram also features uploads of events — both cultural and sports — that celebrate friendships and bonds through group photos and wide smiles.
Drawing from travel blogs, YouTube videos, and Instagram posts from Singapore, we curated a 36-hour itinerary inspired by the New York Times’ ’36 Hours’ column. With a mix of offbeat and conventional experiences, here’s how we suggest spending 36 hours in Singapore:
36 Hours in Singapore
10 AM: Museum Hopping
The National Museum of Singapore and the National Gallery of Singapore are both excellent spots to learn about Singapore’s history and culture, while also getting a glimpse of contemporary art. However, the museum that is not to be missed at any cost is the ArtScience museum with its captivating display of what the future might look like when science meets art! Don’t forget to check out the Crystal Universe.
1.00 PM: Hawker Lunch
Taste the famous soya sauce chicken rice at Hawker Chan — the world’s cheapest Michelin star meal! Although there are many such stalls at hawker centers around the city, this one remains the most popular among tourists — so be prepared to stand in line, or else hop over to one of the other hawker stalls — they’re all really good with their own unique variations!
2 PM: Ice Cream Overload
Visit the Museum of Ice Cream for a multi-sensorial experience of ice cream! With 14 themed exhibits, sweet treats, and fun activities, it’s a great way to beat the heat in the afternoon!
3.30 PM: Public Art
Explore the artistic streets of Singapore for enviable Instagram photos featuring stellar public art. Chinatown, Little India, Tiong Bahru, Haji Lane, Macpherson, and Everton are some of the neighborhoods that feature beautiful murals. Tiong Bahru is also home to Singapore’s oldest housing estates, vinyl shops, and boutique art galleries, perfectly merging the old and the new — making it a pleasure to explore by foot.
4.30 PM: Haji Lane and Kampong Glam
Visit this bustling street with diners, cafés, and shophouses. At the end of the street resides the golden-domed Sultan Mosque — a breathtaking landmark, especially during golden hour and also later at night when it is lit up. Pick up quirky artifacts and souvenirs from the shops or get a drink at one of the colorful streetside pubs to set the mood for the evening.
6 PM: Sunset at Marina Bay
Catch the sunset at Marina Bay or Merlion Park to check off the tourist must-dos. You can also enjoy a sundowner and a dip in the pool at the rooftop lounge of Marina Bay Sands if you fancy. In addition to panoramic views of the city, you also get a bird’s eye view of the Supertree Grove and the Gardens by the Bay.
7.45 PM: Sound and Light Show
Experiencing the sound and light show at the Gardens by the Bay is like being a child all over again. Grab a spot under the trees, sit back, and be ready to be enthralled by the magical audio-visual show like none other!
9 PM: Dinner at Iggy’s
After a long and exhausting day of making the most of limited time in the Lion City, grab a well-earned bite at Iggy’s, one of Singapore’s prestigious Michelin star restaurants. They serve contemporary Filipino and European cuisine and their crunchy sakura prawns and roti john come highly rated!
7 AM: Sunrise at East Coast Park
Start your day bright and early at the East Coast Park. You can jog, rent a bike, or simply walk the stretch as you hear the waves crash onto the beach shore and watch the breathtaking sunrise above the horizon.
9 AM: Kaya Toast and Kopi
Eat like a local! Get some hot Kopi (coffee) and Kaya toast to kickstart your morning. Visit the quaint Chin Mee Chin Confectionery — a Hainanese coffee shop dating back to the 1920s (!) — for a scrumptious meal in a vintage shophouse.
10 AM: Heritage Home
Stop by the NUS Baba House to explore a heritage Peranakan home of a prominent Straits Chinese family. The house dates back to the early 20th century and has over 2000 fascinating antique items on display. Visits are by appointment only and guided tours are organized by the National University of Singapore. The Katong Antique House is another such place that offers an excellent cultural immersion into the Peranakan way of life of yesteryears.
12 PM: Floatation Therapy
Cool-off with a session of floatation therapy in a sensory deprivation tank! Being devoid of all sensations might sound disconcerting at first, but in reality, it is very relaxing and the Epsom salt water is likely to dissolve away all your stress and fatigue!
1.30 PM: Katong Laksa
Head to 328 Katong Laksa for Singapore’s traditional noodle soup cooked with coconut milk and full of flavor. Believed to serve the best laksa in town made from an heirloom recipe passed down for generations, don’t miss this!
2.30: Religion Meets Heritage
Singapore is a multicultural city and a glimpse of this can be felt at the many religious sites located here. Visit the serene Armenian Church — the oldest church in Singapore and an architectural marvel, or the Malay Home, the Sri Mariamman Temple for a taste of South India, or the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple which is located up the same street in Chinatown. You can also check out Haw Par Villa, a theme park with over 1000 statues and scenes from Chinese mythology and folklore! While we recommend visiting all the above places, given limited time on a 36-hour whirlwind tour, take your pick!
4.30 PM: Nature Beckons
Singapore may have a formidable concrete skyline, but it is also the greenest city in Asia and has some lovely nature reserves and wetlands. Enjoy the cool evening breeze at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, or the MacRitchie Reservoir. With convenient walking trails and a rich variety of flora and fauna, you will not be disappointed.
8 PM: Bar Crawl
Singapore has so many exceptional pubs and bars, we don’t know where to start! Why pick one when you can try at least 2–3 in a night? Hop over to Atlas bar for art-deco vibes paired with the best collection of gin or MO Bar for stellar cocktails (the best in Asia!). The Elephant Room combines the magic of Singapore and Little India, while Manhattan will transport you to 19th-century New York City!
What did we miss? Tell us about your favorite offbeat experience in Singapore or what you’re looking forward to the most from this list!
How to get there
The Changi International Airport is one of the best-connected airports in the world with direct flights to most major cities worldwide. Singapore is also accessible by cruise and by road from Malaysia.
Places to stay
Singapore is home to some of the best luxury and business hotels. JW Marriott South Beach, Ascott Orchard, Andaz, and Tree Top Lofts are just some of them. Budget travelers can opt for Hote NuVe Bugis or an Airbnb.
When to go
While December to June is considered the best time to visit to experience local festivities and events, Singapore is a year-round destination. February to April has the least rainfall and humidity but also tends to be hot during the day.
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