your ticket to everywhere
December 2013

24 hours in Singapore
By: Jessica Padykula

The mind-boggling array of things to see and do in Singapore means that you could come back again and again and not experience it all. But even a small taste of the fascinating city-state is worth it – and if you fell as hard for Singapore as I did, you’ll want to come back.

To really maximize a 24 hour visit to Singapore, base yourself somewhere close to an MRT stop and some walkable attractions. For me, that was the chic and modern PARKROYAL on Pickering, a friendly, eco-conscious hotel close to two MRT stations. If you can squeeze in a swim, I highly recommend taking a dip in the hotel’s gorgeous infinity pool, complete with stunning views of the Singapore skyline.

After a buffet breakfast at LIME, the PARKROYAL’s main floor restaurant, take a walk to nearby Fort Canning Park before it gets too hot. One of the things I like best about Singapore is the abundance of green space tucked around and within the gleaming city. Fort Canning Park offers a few interesting things to see, including a sculpture garden, butterfly garden, a spice garden complete with educational signs explaining the history and uses for what you see and good views of the Singapore River. I find starting the day with a walk – no matter where I am – is a great way to wake up.

After a walk through the park, I would suggest taking some time to get to know vibrant Chinatown. Here you’ll find unique and quirky shops, cafes, restaurants and food stalls. It’s a great area to explore on foot and offers a glimpse into Singapore’s Chinese history and culture.

Head back towards the hotel and grab lunch at Hong Lim Market and Food Centre, a popular sport among locals. If this is your first taste of eating at a hawker centre in Singapore you’re in for a treat. A hawker centre is a covered food court consisting of food stalls selling everything from fried noodle dishes to baked goods to drinks and snacks. Find an empty table and put a jacket on a chair or a packet of tissues on the table (a local trick for claiming space). Then find a stall that interests you and order a meal. The longest lineups usually indicate the best dishes.

After lunch head to Little India, three stops from the Chinatown MRT station. A visit to little India is a colorful experience and a great opportunity to explore another side of Singapore, a louder, less organized but equally enthralling side of the multicultural city-state. The vibrant neighborhood is filled with the sights and sounds of India and wandering around is something of a sensory overload (in a good way). Spend some time browsing amongst the many incense shops, food stalls, stores selling fabric in every color imaginable, temples and Indian restaurants.

Since shopping is something of a national spot in Singapore, get yourself to Orchard Road for some serious retail therapy. From Little India MRT switch to the New South Line and get off at Orchard Road MRT. Here you’ll find a street lined with designer shops and glitzy multi-tier malls. Anything you might want to buy (and things you didn’t even know you needed) will be found here and every store will be busy. Singaporeans take their shopping very seriously. If you need a snack, food courts in malls here are nothing like the dank fast-food emporiums you might be used to in malls at home. These are sleek, clean and inviting and there are often line-ups to get a table.

When all that shopping works up a real appetite (one that requires more than a snack), hop back on the MRT and take the New South Line down to Raffles Place MRT where a five minute walk will get you to popular hawker centre Lau Pa Sat. The expansive maze of food and drink stalls offers anything you might be craving from local specialties like Hainanese chicken rice and popiah, to pizza, Indian and Japanese cuisine. While some complain that Lau Pa Sat is too touristy, I loved the animated, festive atmosphere and had a couple of good meals here.

End your day at one of Singapore’s newest and most interesting attractions, Gardens by the Bay. Head one stop south on the New South Line to take in the gardens by night. Bay South Outdoor Gardens are open to 2a.m. and it’s where you’ll get to check out the impressive Supertrees. The 16-storey tree-shaped vertical gardens are a strange, surreal and oddly beautiful site. A suspended 420-foot walkway between two Supertrees, the OCBC Skyway, is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the Gardens and the Marina Bay area below. Access to the Skyway costs $5 (it’s worth it) and closes at 8p.m.

Spend you flight home figuring out how to get back to Singapore.<

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