If you don’t have a day, much less a week, to spend in Singapore, fret not. Singapore is one of those places where you can visit any day of the year, and you’ll still have the best experience. Thanks to its tropical weather, you don’t have to be too picky with the time of the year to visit. The climate is generally fine in the country, even during the rainy season. But more than the weather, although there is a lot to uncover about Singapore, it is also a place that you can enjoy and get to know in just 12 hours.
Make sure to leave your bags on the package counter and come back for them later. Changi Airport itself is amazing with boutiques, gardens, giant slides, and what-not. But don’t be tempted just yet to explore it. You can do that later when you gather your bags and wait for the plane to arrive at the boarding area. For now, you’ve got to get yourself to the city center.
To get to the city, you can take either the MRT or the taxi. Don’t waste precious time taking the train, though, and just take a cab that will take you there in 15 minutes. Once you’re in the city, that’s when you use the train (or not, depending on your budget). Taxis are still the cost-efficient way to get around the city in just 12 hours.
Marina Bay Sands
The first stop is the Marina Bay Sands. Visit the top deck, also known as the Sands SkyPark Observation Deck, from where you can see the great cityscape. You may want to buy the ticket online, so you don’t have to waste time in line. There’s a café on the deck so you can sip on a latte while enjoying the view.
Since you’re already at this top-tier hotel, you can also grab lunch. They have some of the best places to eat in Singapore. Five-star restaurants will take you on a culinary tour of Asian, Western, and Mediterranean cuisines. Make sure to get your fill because you need all the energy for the next hours.
Gardens by the Bay
This is probably the most popular place in Singapore so expect heavy tourist traffic there. It’s connected by an indoor bridge from the Marina Bay Sands. Ask for directions if you don’t know where to go. Don’t waste time trying to find the right door. If you are visiting the country with kids, this is definitely the right place for them. There is no entrance free. Walk toward the Supergrove Tree, the most recognizable “tree” in the garden.
After the heat in the Gardens, you may want to cool down a bit and visit the ArtScience Museum. There are different exhibitions in the museum, but each one is just as great as the other. There aren’t too many people in the museum, so you’ll have time to enjoy the art and science exhibits if that’s something that interests you.
Chinatown and Little India
What’s a visit to Singapore without seeing these two? Little India is famous for its colorful temples and houses. A short visit will already immerse you into the wonderful world of at least three temples: Sri Veeramakaliamman, Sri Srinivasa Perumal, and the Temple of a Thousand Lights. You should also stop to take in the most colorful house in Singapore, the Tan Teng Niah.
You can walk from Little India to Chinatown and grab some snacks. The narrow streets of Chinatown have fantastic food stalls, indie boutiques, and souvenir shops. You can also grab a beer if you want. If you’re visiting Chinatown at night, you can join a rickshaw tour since that’ll be a different experience.
Clarke Quay and Esplanade Bridge
Bars, pubs, and restaurants run the side of Clarke Quay, a historical riverside quay that’s the hangout of most Singaporeans and tourists at night. Even if you’re going during the daytime, Clarke Quay is a must-visit. There are a lot of cool spots to eat a sandwich or sip a cold juice. From there, you can walk toward the Esplanade Bridge until you reach the Merlion statue from where you can see the view of the Marina Bay Sands. It’s like coming full circle.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy most of what this city-state has to offer with only 12 hours of available time. You can do so much more as long as you plan ahead. The effort is well worth it since you can get a good glimpse of this modern city.