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Day 1: Explore the city

1 Kampong Glam

Morning

Start your day with breakfast in Kampong Glam. This colourful conserved area is where Malay royalty once resided, and is steeped in rich culture and history.

Endless rows of eateries offering Indian-Muslim creations abound here, but for a classic Singapore-style breakfast, hit up Singapore Zam Zam Restaurant for prata (South Indian flatbread) and a side of fish curry.

Then explore Haji Lane which is littered with indie outlets that stock vintage clothing and knick-knacks, such as multi-label boutique Mondays Off and two-storey outlet Shop Wonderland.

2 Civic District

Afternoon

Come midday, you'll want to make your way to the Civic District to have lunch at Raffles Hotel on Beach Road. Pop by The Halia for European plates with Asian touches (try the signature chilli crab spaghettini for a taste of Singapore) and take a post-lunch stroll around the hotel to admire its awe-inspiring colonial-era architecture.

Then, pay a visit to the newly opened National Gallery Singapore to marvel at the world's largest public display of modern Southeast Asian art.

3 Singapore River

Evening

Just before dinner, hop on a traditional bumboat (operated by Singapore River Cruise) and get to know the historic Singapore River and key areas like Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, and Robertson Quay. After that, hop off and head to Clarke Quay to check out its the colourful array of dining options and nightlife offerings.

Afterwards, head to Highlander Bar & Restaurant for single malt whiskies and live music.

Day 2: Visit neighbourhoods

4 Joo Chiat/Katong

Morning

For breakfast, pop by the Joo Chiat ‘hood in the east forkaya (coconut jam) toast – a breakfast staple in Singapore – at Chin Mee Chin Confectionery.

You can spend the rest of the morning exploring the area which is known as the 'home of the Peranakans (Straits Chinese)'. Visit Katong Antique House to see valuable antiques collected by curator and owner Peter Wee, a fourth-generation Baba Peranakan.

5 Chinatown

Afternoon

Make your way to Chinatown and head straight to Maxwell Food Centre for not-to-be-missed local creations like chicken rice from the well-loved Tian Tian stall, as well as and an ice cold glass of sugarcane juice from any of the countless drink stalls to quench your thirst.

For the rest of the afternoon, discover Chinatown on-foot. Must-sees include its rich culture and history – visit the majestic Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. Then, indulge in traditional Chinese desserts like bird's nest soup at Mei Heong Yuen Dessert – these treats make for a great afternoon snack (plus it’s an excellent way to beat the heat).

6 Tiong Bahru

Evening

Next, hop into a cab and go to Tiong Bahru in the evening for dinner and drinks.

This may be one of Singapore’s oldest neighbourhoods, but it’s worth visiting to see how old meets new in this hip area. Get a table at Bincho, a mee pok (flat yellow egg noodles) stall by day and yakitori joint and bar by night and have a meal (and a drink or two) there before checking out outlets like indie bookstore BooksActually and Curated Records for cool vinyl records.

Day 3: Be in nature (plus a spot of shopping)

7 Singapore Botanic Gardens

Morning

Begin your day with a visit to the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Enjoy lush gardens, peace and tranquility at this 150-year-old green destination – which happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site (a first for the nation) – and don’t miss highlights like the National Orchid Garden which is home to the largest orchid display in the world, this attraction boasts over 60,000 plants and orchids.

8 Orchard Road

Afternoon

After spending the morning amidst the gardens, switch the pace up a little and head to one of Singapore’s major shopping districts, like Orchard Road. Here you’ll find a mix of high-end international brands, local labels, and everything in between.

Drop by places like Paragon for luxury brands like Gucci and – if you like thrift shopping – *SCAPE and shop to your heart’s content before picking a spot for lunch. The Marmalade Pantry at ION Orchard serves up excellent Western creations like truffled field mushroom risotto and equally good desserts such as a sticky date and toffee pudding.

9 Bugis Street

Evening

Next up is the Bugis and Little India neighbourhoods. There’s no where else quite like Bugis. What was a thriving district with a colourful past is now famed for its trendy Korean-themed stores and is a great place to score some shopping bargains. 

10 Little India

When night falls, make a beeline for the ethnic enclave Little India that is peppered with spice shops, jewellery stores, flower vendors and lots more.

For dinner, tuck into mouth-watering South Indian food such as popular local delicacy fish head curry at Banana Leaf Apolo. If you’re looking for more shopping options, check out Mustafa Centre – a shopping complex that sells just about everything you can think of. Best of all, it’s open 24/7.

Three days may seem like a short time, but with this guide, that’s certainly not the case. Now that you’re in the know, go forth and explore the city with ease!

Here for a little while longer? Check out this 7-day guide to Singapore for an exciting week in the Lion City.