We have been making our way down through Southeast Asia this summer holiday. Even though I’ve loved each country I’ve been to, I’ve especially enjoyed visiting Singapore. It is a country I could see myself living in, it reminded me of London but a little more well kept. Below is a list of what we enjoyed doing whilst there.
Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck
Can you go to Singapore and not go up to the Marina Bay Sands observation deck? Probably not.This is the deck that features as the end point in the BBC programme ‘Race Across the World’, one of my favourite programmes to watch this year! The deck costs around £20 pp – with a ‘sands card’ discount, see below– Once you are at the top there is no time limit on how long you can stay. There is a refreshment counter where you can get small snacks and beverages but if you want more of a dining experience you can que separately for the restaurants to dine with a view at the top. We saw quite a long que for the restaurant ce la vie, but we opted for the observation deck and got ourself a drink at the top from the snack bar. We decided, like we often to with observation towers, to go just before sunset. That way we got to see the view by day and night and the sunset itself was rather nice on the day we went. If you really want to splash the cash here you can book in to stay a night or two in the Marina Sands Hotel which has the world famous infinity pool, this will set you back at least £300 Per night but I’ve been told its an amazing experience if you are into luxury travel. From the observation deck you can see views of the marina and the city, you also get a birds eye view of the ‘Gardens by the Bay’ which holds a light show at 7:45pm and 8:45pm, this can be seen from the deck.
The marina itself is a beautiful walk. Its a great space to snap some pictures of the three towers of marina bay sands and a peaceful place to sit, chill and people and boat watch. There are a few open aired restaurants and bars around too, one in particular, The Fullerton, became very lively at night.
The Artscience museum was definitely one of my highlights, most probably because one of the exhibitions was ‘Wonderland’ themed around Alice in Wonderland, which was a great emersive exhibition featuring various Alice memorabilia and art work as well as emersive rooms with many doors and the mad hatters teaparty. The science museum itself has many fun features for kids and big kids alike and on Fridays kids go free with a paying adult! Another great offer that we were advised about was to get signed up with a ‘Sands card’ which can be claimed for free from the shopping center next door to the science museum (you will need your passport to sign up for this). The card gives you deals on attractions and restaurants in the proximity, the deal at the science museum included 1 for 1- buy one ticket and get another free for all three exhibitions – meaning we paid $40 for 2 tickets as opposed to $80. $20 each for the 3 exhibitions is worth it, we spent around 3 hrs here but you could easily spend half or even a whole day here, especially with kids. Ernie particularly enjoyed the inflatable exhibition, mostly because it had a moon inflatable! It would be worth checking out what the exhibitions are before going here too, I feel we were very lucky with the ones we had at that time.
Shopping and Restaurants
I’m not myself a massive fan of shopping but if you are then Singapore is a place to go! From the high street shopping center Vivo City, to the up market Marina Bay Sands shopping center you will find something to purchase. They both have many restaurants and food courts within them, the restaurants and bars along the boardwalk outside Vivo City had a nice atmosphere in the evening. Inside the more upmarket Marina Sands, you could even choose to take a gondola tour around the centers indoor lake if you really wanted to treat yourself! We decided to save this for Venice!
I feel Sentosa could be a blog post in itself, there is so much to do here, you could easily spend a whole week, especially if you like beaches and pools. Sentosa is the small island that is right at the bottom of Singapore. If you like Florida with its major tourist attractions, big style restaurants and adrenaline junkie rides then you will love Sentosa for this. I’ve actually always found these places a little too commercial or consumerist but I’m happy to go once to see the extravaganza of it all and experience the rides and attractions. The difference with Sentosa Island is you can go over and experience much of, what I consider the best parts, without spending big money. The ticket offices sell passes for the theme parks which includes Universal Singapore and Adventure Cove Waterpark aswell as other attractions like bundgy jumps, zip wires and luges. If you are more like me you could take in the beauty of the island through the free island walks along the beaches, there is also a free lookout at Fort Siloso, if you are lucky you might see some monkeys . You can hop on the shuttle services that take you around the main beaches of the island. What’s great is they have many convenient facilities like relatively clean showers and changing rooms, sunscreen despensers, cold water bottle refill points, plenty of snack bars and restaurants to choose along each beach. Two that we enjoyed were Coastes and Wave House which had a surf machine you could choose to have a go at. We also enjoyed a drink at FOC which has a pool you can go in as long as you purchase a drink. Once you are over on the island you can choose then to enter any of the attractions, often to the same price at the ticket office so I would hold off on buying tickets until getting there and seeing how you feel on the day (unless it’s high season and tickets might sell out). They also hire out paddle boards and kayaks at many of the beaches which are over looked by lifeguards. You can swim in the water until 7pm, in August the water was warm enough to just walk into and we spotted some small fish so I wished we had taken goggles and a snorkel!
One major thing we found out about Singapore is that they love a light show! Whether it’s the lightshow lighting the merlion over at Sentosa or a water light show on the marina, all of them are worth a watch. Most of them are free apart from the ‘wings of time’ which is a 15 minute light, water and firework show alongside a child friendly story. This was approximelty £10 each and I am glad I saw it as I have never seen a light show made from using the spray of water before. The free show by the bay uses the same features but is shown to music with less of a story line and no fireworks, still it is impressive and has an amazing city backdrop!
Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is a beautiful attraction to visit and one of the best things about it is the light attraction in the evening is free! This starts at 7:45pm and 8:45pm each evening and it gets really busy so get there early to secure a spot. You can choose to pay for the sky walk which is a walk way between the light up trees, you can see this in the photos below. The gardens host the cloud forest and flower garden domes which you can pay separately for once you get there. We chose to visit the cloud forest which has a waterfall and creates its own cloud mist inside! It reminded me much of the Eden project in the UK, if you’ve ever been here.
Southernmost Point in Continental Asia
To get to this point you need to walk through Sentosa and to the end of the island. It is well worth the walk, with a quirky rope bridge where you can cross the water over to the end mini island. It’s obviously worth encorporating this into a Sentosa day, it took us about 1 hr to walk over to the island and then towards the southernmost point. We did have a few pit stops along the way for photos and on the way back we chilled on the beach and had a dip in the sea. When you get to the southernmost point there is a viewpoint that you can climb up to take some photos of the sea. The sea is full of tankers and ships because Singapore is one of the largest shipping ports in the world being a top transhipment hub. Interesting and a little different to the beaches we had become used to over the summer in Phuket and Croatia.
We stayed in Chinatown and found this area a great area to stay, it has lots of restaurants and bars for evening food and drinks. It also appeared to be the cheapest area to stay in Singapore, which is a relatively expensive city to be in. Be prepared to pay the same for hotels and attractions as you would in cities like London or New York. Considering this, there are things you can choose that are a little cheaper and if you are traveling on a budget you just need a be a little savvy about the attractions you see and how you choose to get around the city. We had a negative experience with city Backpackers hostel and checked ourselves out and into a more expensive hotel room. We have both stayed in hostels before and this was by far the worst and most misleading one we had been to.
I was impressed with the variety of transport Systems in Singapore, from cable cars to monorails there are many ways you can choose to get around. Much of the city is also walkable, if you are happy to take an hrs stroll to places, which I find is the best way to explore. Nethertheless, for convenience you can jump on the bus systems or use the underground which are both relatively easy to navigate. Be aware that the buses use cash so carry change on you and to buy a single or return ticket for the underground you also can only use cash. There system is not yet contactless, which actually surprised me considering the other technological advancements around the city.
To get to Sentosa Island there is a monorail, cable cars (which are a little pricey) or you can walk by using the boardwalk.