6 things to do in Singapore just within 12 hours

By Eytan Uliel

Have a long-layover in Singapore? Want to do something a bit more interesting than the airport’s free Singapore bus tour. Here’s the inside scoop on what to do if you have 12 hours in Singapore.

Cab it to Robertson Quay area (1.5 hours; approx $30) and have a light meal at one of Singapore’s hipper cafes: Kith Cafe - hands down best coffee in town, or Epicurious - green eggs and ham, oddly delicious (both on Robertson Quay); or Baker & Cook (nearby on Martin Road) - canelles to die for.

Stroll the Singapore River (1.5 hours; Free; alternative is a river boat). Walk the riverfront from Robertson Quay to the city (about 3km). Along the way you’ll pass Clarke Quay, the Singapore parliament and civic district, and Boat Quay, with spectacular views of Singapore’s skyline.

Criss-cross the river at various bridges and make sure to see the bronze sculptures that dot the riverfront along the way.

Visit the Asian Civilisation Museum (1.5 hour, $10). At Empress Place you’ll find a stunning museum in an equally stunning setting, where you can learn much about Asian culture and civilisation. The museum often has excellent temporary exhibitions. (Note: the ACM opens at 9am all days except Monday it opens at 1pm).

Be a Mall Rat (45 minutes; Free). Singapore is a land of shopping malls, so why wouldn’t you have a quick wander through the best one? Cab to the Ion on Orchard Mall (10 minutes, approx $10).

Top floors are wall-to-wall designer brand-names; you’ll find cooler, funkier stores in the basement levels. Remember most stores don’t open until 11am. If you are up for it, stroll along Orchard Road and check out some of the other malls – the section from Ion to Paragon Mall is best.

Eat like a Local (45 minutes, about $15). Singaporeans get most of their daily sustenance from hawker stalls in countless food-courts island wide. The Opera Food Court at Ion (Basement level 4) is a bustling yet gentle introduction to eating, Singapore style. Try local favourites like Hainan Chicken Rice, Laksa (spicy curry noodle and seafood soup) or Singapore Chilli Crab.

For real local flavour try Coffee Si – strong brewed coffee with condensed milk, and a serve of Kaya Toast (a green jam, made of pandan leaf, egg yolk and sugar – sinfully delicious). Finish with a deep-fried dough-ball “Butterfly”, and your local dining credentials are assured.

Ride the Wheel (1 hour, $30). A short cab ride from Orchard Road is the Singapore Flyer, the world’s largest observation wheel. A full cycle takes thirty minutes. Yes, it is cheesy and touristy, but it’s world-class, and the views along the way give a real sense of the modern miracle that is Singapore.

Be Eaten by Fish (1 hour, $75). In the mall beneath the Flyer is the Kenko Fish Spa. Plunge your feet and lower-legs into tubs of water and watch small fish nibble the dead skin away.

It might sound gross, but is a completely unique sensory sensation (a cross between massage, static-shock and tickling), and your feet will be smoother than a baby’s bottom when you are done. You can also get an excellent reflexology foot-massage or shoulder rub as well.

Commune with Nature at Gardens By The Bay (2 hours, $30 admission). Singapore’s latest attraction is a short cab ride from the Flyer, and is absolutely worth the hype.

Flowers and plants galore, spectacularly on show in giant green-houses complete with indoor mountains and waterfalls. Don’t miss the Supertrees, a grove of massive treelike structures covered in flora of the world.

Goggle in Awe on the rooftop of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (1 hour, $40 including entry and a drink). The tri-towers of the Marina Bay Sands complex are an architectural marvel. Buy a ticket and ride the elevator up to the Skypark.

Views are sublime, and the world’s most spectacular infinity edge swimming pool, 58 floors up, is something to behold. A cocktail up in the sky is the perfect way to end your day.

Taxi back to the airport (30 minutes; approx $20), and your 12 Hours in Singapore are done.

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