As one of the world’s most important centers of commerce, Singapore is a city often visited by business travelers. For those with a little spare time between meetings, there are many excellent ways to experience this dynamic city in under two hours.
Singapore is a city that encompasses many ways of life. Turn any city corner and you are just as likely to spot a collection of suavely dressed professionals as you are to see a pair of elders gossiping over a steaming cup of ‘Kopi’, and its this contrast that makes Singapore truly special. Aside from Singapore’s mega attractions, Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa Island and Marina Bay Sands, we’ve curated a selection of activities that will allow you to experience Singapore’s soul in a timely fashion. Perfect for time-poor business travelers or those with a few hours to explore during a layover at Changi Airport. Book a chauffeur in Singapore by the hour so you can make as many stops as you want without having to figure out new transportation every time.
Eat at Old Airport Road Hawker Center
Ask any local what is central to Singaporean culture, and they will tell you the same – food. Considered a gastro-tourists heaven, and coined by the late Anthony Bourdain as ‘the city that never stops eating’, a visit to Singapore’s Old Airport Road Hawker Center is a great way to sample many of the cities famed dishes in a limited amount of time. From smoky Char Kway Teow to Hokkien Mee, Claypot Rice and fiery Chili Crab, there are dozens of food vendors to choose from. The best tactic is to go in a group, sharing a dozen or so dishes between you, washing it all down with copious amounts of freshly squeezed fruit juice or ice cold tea.
Let off steam at Tanjong Beach Club
Located upon a sun-soaked strip of sand within Singapore’s famed Sentosa Island, Tanjong Beach Club is an excellent place to relax and let off a little steam after a day in the city. The club is beautifully designed, a tropical take on mid-century modern with nostalgic maritime influences. Tanjong Beach Club describes itself as ‘a slice of paradise mere minutes away from the heart of the city’, and it couldn’t be truer. It has become a popular spot for Singaporean young professionals and expats, ‘beaching out’ over a cocktail and a casual game of volleyball after a long week at work. Weekdays the vibe is laid-back and relaxed, while the weekend is a more lively affair as the club hosts a string of parties that attract a cool and sophisticated crowd. The club has a number of different zones and rooms depending on your preference, including bar-style seating, full restaurant dining, poolside loungers, as well as a number of prized beach beds (available for a minimum $200 spend).
Visit the Center for Contemporary Art Singapore
Relatively new on the art scene (opened in 2013), the CCA is home to a number of small public and independent galleries, housed within a former colonial army barracks. Compared to the much larger and more traditional Singapore Art Museum, the CCA schedule is edgy and modern, and its small size and historical setting make it perfect for visitors with limited time.
The CCA rotation is interesting as it is diverse, whether they are showcasing Singaporean breakthrough talent or a collection of works from a little-known Norwegian sculptor.
Work up a sweat at Macritchie Reservoir
If body and mind crave exercise, then Macritchie Reservoir is the perfect place to burn a few calories while soaking in Singapore’s rich biodiversity. Located just 15 minutes by car from the CDB, the reserve is popular with nature lovers and hikers, offering a number of loop tracks and nature trails, leading you through the lush and well-preserved rainforest. The Singapore parks center offers daily guided walks, as well as a guided birdwatch – for those who would prefer to learn more about Singapore’s flora and fauna from a local guide. The Macritchie Macaque (monkey) is a mainstay within the park, and almost all visitors are bound to spot a family or two grooming each other lazily along the park’s many trails.
Shop on Orchard Road
Shopping in Singapore is an unreal experience, considered by many to be a national pastime. Spending an entire day inside the city’s network of glitzy, air-conditioned malls is commonplace, and it’s easy to lose track of time as you flit between a seemingly never-ending string of retailers. If you only have a few hours aside for shopping, then Orchard Road is the place to go, a 2.2km high-end shopping belt located right in the heart of the city. Hot tip: As a tourist in Singapore, you are eligible for a refund on the 7% GST charged on purchases over $100. Just make sure you ask retailers for your full receipt, and then apply for your refund via the Tourist Refund kiosks, located at Changi Airport departure hall or online via the Tourego app.
Sip gin cocktails ATLAS Bar
Located in the historic Bugis neighborhood, ATLAS is an uber-glamorous art deco inspired bar with one of the cities most extensive gin selections. While most Singapore travel guides will send you to the touristy Raffles Hotel for a quintessential bar experience, newly opened ATLAS is where trend-setting Singaporeans head to socialize, drink, eat and network. A particular thrill is gained from the ordering top-shelf liquor, for which the nimble waitstaff don a harness to wheel themselves up the 15-meter high bar to collect your bottle of choice. Dinner reservations require booking well in advance, however securing a walk-in spot at the bar during the week is normally fine. Just be sure to dress sharp, as a strict dress code is enforced.
Wander the streets of Kampong Glam
Once an enclave for Singapore’s Muslim community, the Kampong Glam district is now home to a collection of curious boutiques, hip coffee shops, quaint restaurants and bars. It’s a charming place to spend a few hours, it’s streets lined with original colonial shophouses painted lively colors. This kooky little neighborhood is a great place to get a feel for old Singapore, while still having access to a world-class latte en route. Be sure to wander the narrow streets of Haji Lane, pop into the artisanal shops lining Arab street, and visit the district’s glittering icon – the Sultan Mosque.