Singapore days 1-2: Gardens by the Bay + Chinatown + neighborhood exploring + hawker meals

Hi friends! I am currently blogging from Singapore where I’m spending the first leg of my big Asia trip. Even though I’ve only been here for 48 hours, I have a million-and-a-half things to share (what else is new?), so let’s dive right in.

Day 1: Marina Bay + Gardens by the Bay + stellar subways + hawker stands

I flew into Singapore the previous evening. The airport was super organized and well-staffed, and I got through immigration + COVID testing quickly. I just needed to quarantine in my hotel until I got my test results which luckily came in while I was sleeping, so the next day I could hit the ground running!

I was super jet-lagged and woke up pretty early. I spent the first few hours doing research for my time in Singapore. After mapping out the key sights I wanted to see and running my usual errands for any new country (ATM, SIM card, etc.), I got my day started.

I first got breakfast at a nearby cafe – I tried the kaya toast, which is a popular breakfast in Singapore (toast with coconut jam, soft boiled eggs, and a strong dose of coffee).

After breakfast, I took a stroll along the Marina Bay Promenade and was accompanied by locals running/biking along the water. It was a beautiful part of the city, filled with luxury buildings / modern architecture lining the river. A huge contrast to the budget hotel I’m staying at. 😛 I loved looking at the unique architecture as well as the greenery/nature layered throughout the city.

Next, I made my way to Gardens By the Bay, which was the #1 attraction I was most excited to see in Singapore. Gardens by the Bay is a nature park consisting of several gardens and the famous Supertree Grove that is an icon of Singapore.

The park was HUGE – I spent a few hours strolling around and I still didn’t see it all. I loved that there were still decorations for Chinese New Year all around the city. I can only imagine how festive the actual holiday was.

The Supertree Grove was everything I thought it would be. These massive structures are vertical gardens and Singapore’s creative approach bringing plant life in an urban space.

Close up of the actual plants on the structures.

There were several more attractions in the park that required an entrance fee. As much as I wanted to see all of them, I decided to pick the skyway (which was also the cheapest…I’m trying to be disciplined about my spending this year!). The skyway was a long walkway at the top of the supertrees. The views at the top were stunning, and I got a little shaky from the height. It was really cool to see an aerial view of the forest that was right next to the bustling city – I love how Singapore integrates nature and the city.

After a full morning, I headed back to my hotel via subway. The subways in Singapore are on another level…incredibly clean, air conditioned, and filled with bathrooms/shops/restaurants.

After resting at my hotel, I got a late lunch at a hawker center. Singapore is filled with these food courts with stalls that sell full meals, snacks, and drinks – all for very affordable prices. This was heaven for me as a solo traveler (I don’t like dining at sit-down restaurants alone) – I think I’ll be eating at hawker stands every meal. 🙂

The rest of the day was filled with chill time at my hotel and recovering from my major jet-lag. 🙂

Day 2: Strolling through museums and Clarke Quay + Michelin start meal + Chinatown

After a full night of sleep, I felt myself again and was ready to party! I decided to spend the day walking around different neighborhoods. First, I headed to the area of town with all the museums and city hall. I loved the vibe here as all the buildings had a colonial look and there was plenty of open space to relax.

I stumbled on Fort Canning Park along the way – it was very peaceful and huge as well. I walked along the border and realized I could easily spend a whole day here. The public bathrooms literally felt like a spa. I love that there are so many of these parks throughout the city to get an escape.

My walk brought me to the riverside again where I explored Clarke Quay (a historic and upscale part of the city). The architecture along the quay was unique, and I just loved taking my time marveling at the modern buildings/bridges.

Then I had a brief appointment to get a mandatory COVID test for the next leg of my trip. Funny that on day 2 I’m already preparing for my next country, but that’s pandemic travel for ya!

After a full morning, I was ready for lunch, and so I made my way to Chinatown for food and exploring. I headed to Liao Fan Hawker Chan, a popular spot known for being the first hawker to receive one Michelin star. Their signature dish is the chicken rice for $4 USD – not to be “that” person, but I thought it was just ok! I felt like it was a bit overhyped as they now have several storefront locations (so this definitely wasn’t the original chef cooking). I’m still glad I tried it though.

Side note – I am trying to make more effort around food on this trip. Food usually ends up being lower on my priority list when traveling which results in not trying new things. I don’t want to miss out on exploring new dishes in Asia, so I’m trying to memorize a few local dishes so they’re on my radar.

After lunch, I explored Chinatown more. Singapore’s Chinatown is probably my favorite of any city. It was bustling but not too crowded, very clean, authentic, and there was a charming vibe from the pastel-colored buildings.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and eating a hawker dinner.

All things considered, I feel like I’m adjusting well so far. I am definitely spending a lot of time alone on this leg, but that was expected. Singapore had a limited list of hotels you can book for COVID safety, which meant no hostels were allowed. I don’t mind being alone for these next few days as I viewed Singapore as more of a practical stop to adjust to traveling. A lot of life changes happened at once, so I’m just telling myself it’s a process and letting myself feel every emotion while I’m processing my new life. It’s felt surreal the last few days…it feels like dream because I’ve quite literally been dreaming of this for years! I think it will take a few days for this to fully set in. 🙂

10 thoughts on “Singapore days 1-2: Gardens by the Bay + Chinatown + neighborhood exploring + hawker meals

  1. Welcome to Singapore! You’re never alone when you’re blogging..?! 😊I loved Singapore but tooooo hot for me and the only place in the world we booked a restaurant table outside and then begged to go inside in the A/C😂. Loved those artificial trees. We stayed in a posh green hotel with a garden growing all over it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “You’re never alone when you’re blogging”…that made my morning ♥️! The green hotel sounds lovely. I told joe if he comes here we’ll book a nicer place like that 😄

      Liked by 2 people

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