How to spend 10 Hours in Singapore

Posted on 8 April 2013

While planning our vacation to Australia to visit family, my wife and I decided to break the long flight by flying via Singapore. We booked our flights with a 10-hour layover before heading on to Melbourne. This gave us just enough time to get in to the city to see some of Singapore’s highlights.

We flew with Singapore Airlines as they offered the cheapest return airfares and the best connection times. The service and hospitality offered by the Singapore Airlines staff was world class and I will certainly fly with them next time we head off to Australia.

This is what we did with our 10 hours in Singapore, and a few of tips if you planning to do the same:

Tip 1: Use the MRT or Singapore Air Hop on Bus 

 The public transport system in Singapore works like a charm. We caught the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) train from the airport to the city centre. From there you can access most of the attractions using the MRT bus service.

 If you fly with Singapore Air you can use their hop on bus service. We paid S$6.00 (approx. ZAR 45.00) a person for a full day pass. The hop on bus runs all day and moves between the cities main attractions. The bus also offers running commentary so you can learn a little about the city while you drive from one point to the next.

First Stop: National Botanical Gardens and National Orchid Garden

Once we got into the city we jumped on the Singapore Air bus and headed straight to the National Botanical Gardens. We are outdoor enthusiasts and had heard from many sources that the Singapore Gardens is an impressive site. We were also eager to spend time walking around the National Orchid Garden which is the largest orchid garden in the world.

The National Botanical Gardens has been running an orchid breeding program since 1928 which has resulted in 1 000 species and 2 000 hybrids in their collection. In the gardens, you can expect to see around 600 various species and hybrids on display.

Singapore Botanical Gardens

Orchid at the Singapore Orchid Gardens

Tip 2: Take your time in the gardens

If you are interested in botanical garden,  you will want to get to the Gardens as soon as possible and give yourself plenty of time to explore. The gardens are massive with plenty to see. There are also park benches all over so order a takeaway meal at the restaurant as you come in and go enjoy it somewhere in the gardens.

Second stop: city centre

 After enjoying the gardens, we headed in to the city centre.  Singapore is famous for its many shopping complexes and small local restaurants. We jumped off the bus and decided to walk through the main streets of the city to get a feel for the city.

If you a shopaholic and think Eastgate Shopping Centre or the Gateway in Durban are large, then you’re in for a shock if you visit Singapore. The city streets are lined with shops selling  everything from the worlds biggest brands to small local products.

Once we had satisfied our shopping needs we headed to a local restaurant to enjoy the local cuisine. We found a small restaurant tucked away in one of the massive food courts that was full of locals enjoying their daily lunch break.

Singapore Art Museum

Enjoying the local cuisine

Tip 3: Eat at a local restaurant

There are plenty of restaurants to choose from but if you want to get a real feel for the local cuisine, eat at one of the small local stores rather than a large chain restaurant. These small restaurants are popular amongst local business men and woman who take time off to enjoy their lunch, offering a genuine Singapore culinary experience.

Third stop: Singapore Flyer

By late afternoon, we arrived at the Singapore Flyer. The Singapore Flyer is the largest fly wheel in the world. Standing at an impressive 165 metres high, the Singapore Flyer is an engineering feat  to behold. The large capsules gently rotate on their own axis as the massive wheel turns full circle. Reaching the top of the wheel we enjoyed 360° panoramic views of the impressive city.

A capsule on the Singapore Flyer

View from the Singapore Flyer

 Tip 4: Plan the flying in the early morning or late afternoon

If you want to get good pictures of the city from the flyer, plan your trip for the early morning or late afternoon so you can take advantage of the good light.  We were unfortunate to have cloudy conditions, but on a clear day you’ll see forever. If you in the city at night, try get down to the flyer or the Marine Bay Sands Hotel so you can photograph the flyer at night with the city lights as the backdrop.

Even though we had 10 hours in the city, by the time we finished on the flyer we had run out of time and headed back to the airport for our flight to Melbourne.

We spent most of our time at the Botanical Gardens so were not able to see some of the other attractions on offer.

Some of the attractions we didn’t manage to see

Singapore Zoo and night safari: We purposefully left this out as we planned to do the Singapore night zoo on our way back from Australia to South Africa.

Chinatown: We did drive through Chinatown on the Singapore Air Hop-on bus but didn’t have a chance to get out and walk around. With the Chinese New Year round the corner the streets were littered with stunning decorations.

Jurong Bird Park: This is one attraction we were sorry to miss. Unfortunately, its located a little out of town so we couldn’t find the time to include it. If we spent a night in Singapore this would have been on top of our list. Jurong is the worlds largest (yes another worlds largest for Singapore) bird park with birds from all over the world.

Sentosa Island: Known as Asia’s playground, Sentosa is an Island resort with a host of attractions including Universal Studios and Marine Life Park. We were forced to leave Sentosa out of our itinerary due to time constraints but its another area we would have added to the list should we have overnighted.

Although we arrived in Australia a little bug eyed and heavily sleep-deprived, it was well worth the experience. Next time we will definitely spend a night in Singapore to give ourselves more time to enjoy the rest of the city.

Related: Singapore stopover

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