Updated 17 September 2020. Singapore's Changi Airport is one of the best in the world, but if you have a long layover, get out of the airport to explore. With just 24 hours to explore this little island state, we narrowed it down to these key sites to give you a taste of Singapore's culture and history in a nutshell.
The Singapore River
A good way to see Singapore's rise from quiet fishing village to modern metropolis is by taking the Singapore River Cruise that starts from Clarke Quay Jetty. Learn about the history and importance of the Singapore River in Singapore's growth as you ride in a traditional bumboat, passing by heritage landmarks like bridges, sculptures and shophouses till you end up in the ultra-modern Marina bay.
Marina Bay is home to the quintessential modern day Singapore skyline - take a walk around the bay area and admire the magnificent view around you, with iconic architecture like the Helix Bridge, Art Science Museum, Esplanade and the Merlion all in one place. This place is beautiful during the day but stunning at night when all the lights twinkle as dusk falls.
Gardens By The Bay
Gardens By The Bay and its domed greenhouses are the perfect place to enjoy Singapore's reputation as a clean, green, garden city while escaping the stifling humidity. When night falls, venture to the outdoor Supertree Grove, alien-like tree towers that are lit up against the night sky and city skyline with a mesmerising light show.
On the opposite side of the bay, you can't miss the spiky domed durian-like Esplanade, an arts centre where you may chance upon free local performances in the evenings and on weekends. Walk over the Jubilee Bridge to the famous Merlion statue and take in the view of the Marina Bay area, especially when the Marina Bay Sands puts on its laser light show at night.
Singapore has several ethnic districts that reflect its population - Kampong Glam is the Arab and Malay quarter and where old and new comes together in one hip district. A whole hodgepodge of things can be found here - traditional fabric shops sit next to colourful graffiti walls, Middle eastern restaurants are found alongside cheap local coffeeshops. In particular, Haji Lane is the street to see and be seen on.
Thian Hock Keng Temple
For a sense of Singapore's multicultural living, head instead to Chinatown and take a stroll along Telok Ayer Street, unique for its collection of various religious buildings all along one stretch of road - Buddhist temples sit next to Muslim mosques against a backdrop of skyscrapers from the surrounding Central Business District - a true reflection of Singapore's diversity.
And of course the most quintessentially Singaporean thing to do whether you have 24 hours or 24 days is to eat at our local hawker centres. Lots of good food can be found everywhere on the island, but a good place to try is Tekka Food Centre in Little India. It serves up some of the best Indian dishes like Chicken Briyani and Roti Prata, but also a whole host of Singaporean favourites, all for relatively cheap prices. You can also visit the wet market in the same building.
Where To Stay
Need a base to explore the old and new sides of Singapore in just 24 hours?