48 Hours in Singapore: The (Almost Missed) Visa Run

Day 58. I was cutting it close. After missing my first flight to Singapore…

Wait, quick side note. So I had my first visa run flight booked before I even got to Indonesia (since I had to have proof of departure for the type of visa I was applying for). Fast forward two months, and I was sitting on the beach with friends on my little island when my phone dinged. I looked down at it to a reminder for “Flight to Singapore in 10 minutes.” I laughed, took another sip of my Bintang, and sat back. I didn’t want to leave yet anyway. Ok ok, back to the story…

I knew I couldn’t miss this one. I had two more days until my Indonesian visa ran out, and it was either pay a ton of money and sit in Denpasar for a week or take a little weekend trip and just get a new visa when I flew back. Obviously, I was way more intrigued by a good adventure.

Plus, how can you beat the equivalent of a $20USD flight to Singapore? You can’t.

I always wanted to see Singapore, but it never truly was an option until I was on this side of the world. Forget the expensive flights there from the States; the country itself is pretty damn expensive. But with some good options for hostels and neighborhoods like Little India to save me some money, it was the perfect fit for my visa run.

And even better, Singapore is a city/country that you can totally see a good portion of within 48 hours. So if you find yourself on that side of the world with a long layover, here’s how you can extend it and see some of the best of what Singapore has to offer.

Friday

I landed around noon. If you get in earlier and you have time, explore the Changi airport. It’s one of the coolest airports I’ve ever been to (I mean, there’s a badass spiral slide in the airport. Take a moment and be a kid again). Once I got settled in my hostel and unpacked a little, I knew I needed a late lunch. First thing I did was head to Clarke Quay to check out the river and grab a beer.

This may be the most American (or Irish-American) thing I’ve ever done, so for what comes next, try not to judge.

In Indonesia, we have Bintang for our beer of choice. I love it. But it’s a light lager, nothing special. After a few months, I really started to miss a good dark beer. Along with that, I was living on rice and noodles every day, and there was nothing I was craving more than melty stringy cheese.

The second I stepped in Clarke Quay, I forgot all about trying local food, spotted an Irish pub, and beelined it. You better believe I got the cheesiest mac and cheese and the best pint of Guinness I’ve ever had in my life. So if you’re looking for that, or if you’re just looking for a good meal, head here and walk around to explore a little. Clarke Quay is pretty mellow during the day, so be sure to go back at night for a good time, especially on the weekends.

After Clarke Quay, I took a walk down the river down to the Marina Bay Sands area. It’s a bit of a walk but the views are absolutely stunning (and there are a ton of bars along the way to stop and hang at). Famous for its architecture, be sure to take time to just be in awe of some of the buildings here, both old and new. It was time for dinner and a show so I grabbed a quick bite and waited for the Marina Bay Light Show.

There’s two ways to do this show so I recommend saving time to do it two nights you’re there. Here’s why. I personally like the view on the west side of the bay the best. It’s the side that you can see the brightest view of the laser light show, and it’s spectacular. The second night, head to the east side, right in front of the Marina Bay Sands for the fountain and music show. Both views are amazing, but they are truly two totally different experiences, so I wouldn’t miss either.

Saturday

I knew this was my only full day in Singapore so I wanted to make the most of it. And damn, did my legs feel it. I woke up as soon as the sun did and headed straight to the Gardens by the Bay. If you don’t know what this is, or haven’t seen the famous trees in Singapore, here’s a few photos to entice you to visit. This was by far my favorite place in Singapore. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say I spent the better half of an entire day here. I’ll let the pictures do it justice (or not, because nothing except seeing this in real life will do it justice).

Get here first thing in the morning if you want to do the suspension bridge with as little people as possible. I was the third person on the bridge for that day, and it couldn’t have been more peaceful and beautiful.

Take time to explore the two conservatories, one dedicated to saving the forests and animal conservation and the other dedicated to almost every type of flower in Asia. Neither conservatory is better than the other; just make it easy on yourself and don’t force yourself to choose; do both.

After I explored the Gardens by the Bay a bit, I headed to Kampong Glam to get a taste of the famous Muslim Quarter and was more than pleasantly surprised. After taking a few shots of one of the most picturesque mosque you’ll ever see (all the Aladdin vibes seriously), be sure to walk around, shop and eat. Anything and everything is good here. And don’t forget to check out the incredible street art. But if you do want a good spot for both beer and food, head to FOMO (seriously, or else you’ll totally have the fear of missing out).

After I stuffed myself full of falafel and hummus and margaritas (don’t judge the combo here), I headed back to Gardens by the Bay to see the trees at night. And let me tell you, this is absolutely something YOU CANNOT MISS (I know I know, I keep saying that, but everything in Singapore is pretty incredible). Once the sun goes down, the trees sparkle along to music for a one-of-a-kind light show. Get there early, grab a seat on the floor by the center tree, lay down, and enjoy! Best part, you can do this AND the Marina Bay fountain and light show the same night; just head over to the Bay right after the trees. One of the best nights of my life!

Sunday

My flight was leaving at 12pm out of Singapore so I had time to squeeze one more thing in and that was Little India. This is a neighborhood you’ll just want to explore, grab amazing Indian food for cheap, and see brightly colored buildings all around.

Singapore is a city/country that turned from a visa run spot to one of my favorite places I have ever been. It’s a city so filled with culture, so advanced in technology and architecture, so environmentally conscious, that there truly is something for everyone there. So be sure to extend that layover and step into the future!

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