7 Places to Enhance your Singapore Experience

7-places-to-enhance-your-singapore-experience

Singapore. One of the most culturally diverse cities on earth and the final stop on my journey home to the UK after travelling through South East Asia.

I didn’t really know what to expect from Singapore. Was it going to be similar to Bangkok? More modern, like Hong Kong? or maybe it would be completely unique. After all, its home to lots of different nationalities, religions and cuisines. I may not have known what to expect but I blooming well knew I was excited.

Discovering U.S.May…laysia

After just 12 hours in Singapore I had the answer to my question. The city wasn’t anything like South East Asia. What it felt like was an American version of an Asian city. It’s very westernised and reminded me of one of the mini ‘countries’ you’d pass through at Disney’s Epcot in Florida.

Don’t get me wrong. Although I felt Singapore (as a whole) lacked an authentic Asian feel, it is still a great city full of variety and offers plenty to keep you amused.

 

1. Sands Sky Park at Marina Bay Sands

You’ll soon discover why I’ve popped Marina Bay right at the top of the list.

I may not be a great lover of all things modern, large scale and busy but this place is seriously impressive.

Sands Sky Park

Marina Bay is located right next to the Olympic Park. The resort offers (deep breath); a shopping mall, museum, 2 theatres, exhibition hall, 2 floating pavilions, an ice rink, 7 celebrity chef-owned restaurants, over 2,500 hotel rooms and the worlds largest atrium casino which holds over 500 tables, 1,600 slot machines and is lit by over 7 tonnes of Swarovski crystal chandeliers. If that wasn’t enough, the piece de resistance is the 340 meter long Sky Park which looks like a boat resting on top of three massive towers. This is the World’s largest public cantilevered platform with one end overhanging the north tower by 67 meters. It’s complete with public gardens and the world’s largest elevated infinity pool. (Swimming in that is seriously bucket-list worthy!)

It’s no wonder this is the worlds most expensive casino, costing a whopping S$8 billion to complete.

Fun Fact: The pool holds 376,000 gallons of water. That’s almost one and half million litres! If you drink one gallon a day (twice the “required” 64 ounces daily) from birth and lived to the ripe old age of 100, it would take you ten lifetimes to finish the entire pool. How crazy is that?!

On first sight of the resort, I thought a freak wave had dropped a boat on top of a row of skyscrapers. You can’t not be seriously impressed with this incredible feet of architecture and construction. Oh and the view from the top is pretty impressive too with the Olympic Park, Singapore Flyer, Formula 1 Pit Building and the rest of city 200 meters below you. Don’t forget your camera!

Sands Sky Park

Singapore Flyer & Formula 1 Pit Building

Top Tip: Aim to reach the the Sky Park (on top of the towers) just before sunset. This way, you get to see Singapore by day, sunset and night. The view goes from great to beautiful and then magnificent.

When I visited, a member of staff shared a little information with me. They said that if the Sky Park was at maximum capacity and all visitors did a dance in unison, it would offer enough force to bring the roof down. Now that could be utter rubbish. It could also have been a wind up as there was a massive pool party taking place at the time. Either way, I’d be gone faster than a Mars Bar at a Weight Watchers meeting if the Hokey Cokey came on.

There’s plenty to do here at Marina Bay Sands both by day and by night. Just make sure you have a spare camera battery with you. If you’re anything like me, this place will leave you with a snap happy trigger finger.

 

2. Universal Studios

I was in Singapore just as Universal Studios was about to open. In fact, I was lucky enough to visit one of the parks for a preview day. This was great as not only was it dead quiet but everything was brand spanking new.

Universal Studios(source)

The park is very similar to its sister parks across the world and features all the Universal favourites: Escape from The Mummy, Shrek 4D and Jurassic Park – The Ride. They also have a huge rollercoaster called Battlestar Galactica. My friend and I were the only two people on the ride… We couldn’t sit together however, as I had to be seated in the back row. This is Asia after all and I was taller than the average local. The back row was for the ‘giants’ and ‘cyborgs’.

If you choose to visit Universal then make sure to see the Waterworld Stunt Spectacular and Lights, Camera, Action. I’ve previously written about these experiences in my post, 11 Thrill Rides Guaranteed to make your Heart Race. They were easily the highlights of my visit.

 

3. Night Safari at Singapore Zoo

At first, I was worried about the Night Safari at Singapore Zoo. I’m a real animal lover and get very jittery when I see animals in cramped conditions. For me (in the UK), London Zoo is no no no and Whipsnade Zoo is yes yes yes. Back in Bangkok (just months before I arrived in Singapore) I had the misfortune of visiting a snake farm which housed exotic animals in horrific conditions. If you fancy seeing my rant about this then check out The Do’s & Don’ts of Bangkok. 

I am very pleased to announce that Singapore Zoo is great and couldn’t be more of a contrast to my experience in Bangkok. The Night Safari is a fab night’s entertainment and a fascinating journey through nocturnal zoo life.

Night Safari(source)

The zoo is home to over 2,500 animals with 38% of the zoo’s wildlife being endangered species.

Most zoos around the world reverse the animals day-to-night cycle to make sure they are active by day for all of the visitors to see. Naturally the animals would be more active at night so here, at Singapore Zoo, you get the sense that greater consideration has been taken to offer the animals a more natural routine.

You can explore the zoo by foot, following paths through seven different ‘geographical’ zones. Alternatively, if you’ve already walked your feet off round the city, then you can opt for the zoo’s Safari Tram. I did both so that I could feedback to you wonderful people.

I love a good trek (to Gabby’s dismay most the time) but here, I’d recommend the tram. You see the same, if not more of the animals and you’re given a few fun facts along the way. And who doesn’t love a fun fact?! Plus, every now and then the train passes through cool mist which is a very welcome refresher down on the humid forest floor.

Night Safari(source)

If you choose to visit the zoo then you must try and catch the Creatures of the Night show in the amphitheatre. I won’t give too much away but with a lone wolf on top of a rocky backdrop, howling at the moon, followed by animals arriving in to the arena from all directions (flying in, slivering in from beneath your seats and running down the aisles), you’ll be surrounded by the zoo’s inhabitants and love every second of this awesome 20 minute show.

Another performance to keep an eye out for is the fire dancers. The tricks and stunts they pull off are truly thrilling. They even got my mate up to participate. Pretty safe to say he wasn’t a natural but the audience seemed to find a white fella giving it go, quite an amusing sight.

 

4. Chinatown

Chinatowns can be found in cities all over the world so why visit this one?

The Chinese are the largest ethnic group in Singapore so this place is full of authentic flavours, both of the edible variety and the architecture.

Chinatown

It’s a very busy district, full to the brim with tourists and locals alike but it’s definitely worth competing with the crowds to get your hands on some of the great street food here. You could eat yourself silly in this place! Trust me, I gave it a good go.

It’s not only the Chinese that have made their mark here in Chinatown. Hindu’s and Buddhist temples can be found too, adding another dimension to the district.

Above all, this is a great place to pick up souvenirs. You’re always going to have to wade through the cheap and cheerful bits but there are some great hidden gems to be found if you look hard enough. I found a beautiful shop that specialised in chopsticks. They must have had thousands of them, from basics to handmade, personalised sets. Even I couldn’t resist making a small purchase here.

Chinatown(source)

 

5. Sentosa

Sentosa is a massive resort just off the coast of Singapore. Simply hop on board the Sentosa Express monorail and you’re there within minutes, but make a day of it. There is a loads to see and do.

Sentosa(source)

Sentosa has the lot; 3 beaches, 2 golf courses, 14 hotels, Universal Studios, dozens of shops and restaurants, Underwater World, a dolphin lagoon and show, a water park, the world’s largest aquarium, a museum and a 37 meter high Merlion (a mythical creature). In fact, you may wish to sideline 2 days to really take in everything.

I only had a day to visit Sentosa and most of that was taken up by my visit to Universal Studios. I had a little time to explore some of the shops and dine at one of the many restaurants but I certainly need to return to make sure I visit the rest.

 

6. Little India

Across from Chinatown, you have another district called Little India.

Little India(source)

There may be less to do here than in Chinatown, however it’s still worth a couple of hours exploration. It’s full of colour and the aromatic smell of spices. There are some blinding little restaurants serving all different types of Indian delicacies. I think I may have OD’ed on curry and roti.

 

7. Raffles Long Bar

Finally, a Singapore tradition.

Raffles is an historic colonial hotel, restaurant and bar. One century after opening, Raffles was declared a National Monument and has been visited by millions since opening in 1887, including countless celebrities, royalty and…. me!

Raffles is famous for many reasons but mainly the luxurious hotel suites. Sadly I wasn’t here to stay – it was lightyears out of my budget! I also hadn’t come to shop in its famous arcade. No, I was here to visit the Long Bar and have me a world renowned Singapore Sling.

Just this year the Singapore Sling marks its centennial anniversary and has been a rite of passage for many travellers from around the world.

At first, I thought it was a right dive as I trampled across a floor riddled with broken peanut shells. I wasn’t impressed – they could have cleaned up for goodness sake.

I hid my disappointment and took my seat at the Long Bar, ordering a couple of Singapore’s iconic cocktails. The mix of Gin and Cointreau make for a sweet thirst quencher. Shame about the dirty floor but I could see why the drink is so loved.

 

It wasn’t until helping myself to some nuts that I discovered why it’s called a Singapore Sling. The ‘sling’ part comes from the peanut accompaniment. I broke the nut from its shell and placed the bits on a napkin. The barman came along, took my empty glass and brushed the nut shells onto the floor.

My OCD was about to bring on a cold sweet until the barman explained. It turns out the tradition is to break open the nuts and ‘sling’ the shells onto the floor.

Suddenly it all made sense. My OCD calmed and I joined in. There I was, sat at the bar, merrily tossing away…. so to speak.

The perfect way to end my time in Singapore and all whilst knocking back a couple of gin cocktails and ticking another ‘must do’ of my life list.

 

Of course these are just my 7 highlights of Singapore. Have you been? Did you have a different experience?

  • Joe Ankenbauer

    I love Singapore! I lived here for 3 years! Great write up and thanks for the memories!

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Thank you, Joe. Pleased it brought back some memories 🙂
      Do you miss the city?

      • Joe Ankenbauer

        I do. I still have a house there, so I visit periodically. It’s the food the most haha!

  • Karla

    I enjoyed the Luge in sentosa park. I loved the food in singapore! We also went to some wave bridge it was interesting. Its been a dream of mine to see marina bay sands pool but haven’t ( maybe someday )

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Cheers, Karla. Hopefully you make it back and get to explore Marina Bay and the infinity pool.
      The wave bridge sounds cool. Don’t think I saw that one.

  • Chris Nash

    I found Singapore a pretty dull and sterile affair… sadly, probably one of my least favourite cities in the world!

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Hey Chris.
      Thanks for reading. Yeah, I can see how you could feel that way. I was secretly hoping it would be more like Bangkok with a little more craziness but it was far more westernised. Still, at least you visited and know what its all about 🙂

  • http://www.loveandroad.com Love and Road

    I never being in Singapore, but the last months my husband and I keep talking about visiting the city, maybe going there for a weekend. I have no idea how I would feel when I arrive there. It is weird travelling inside Asia, but to a place that don´t look like Asia. Specially when you are living in Bangkok for more than a month and get used with all the mass…Well, we must try it!
    Thanks for the tips!!
    😀
    Nat

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Thank you, Nat.
      Hopefully you make it there to see all the best bits and gage your feelings for it.
      I loved Bangkok but can safely say Singapore is completely different. Personally I’d choose Bangkok any day but did enjoy these 7 places whilst I was there.
      Cheers for reading! 🙂

  • Valerie Perry

    Singapore looks great. I keep trying to get on a work trip out there. Thanks for adding to my To Do List when I’m there.

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Pleased I could make some additions to your ‘to do list’, Valerie. Thanks for checking the post out 🙂

  • http://pintsizepilot.com Tara Wilson Cannon

    You learn something new every day. Thank you for educating me on the origins of the “Singapore Sling”. 🙂

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Hi Tara.
      There you go. Hope if you haven’t tried one before, you get to do so soon! Have a dozen! 😉

  • Kimberly Erin

    Singapore is a place on my list within the near future, night safari tho.

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Thanks, Kimberly.
      The Night Safari was very cool. Hope you make it to Singapore soon.

  • Natalie Tanner

    Wow! it looks so BIG!! I love the little India section – what a surprise. I so want to visit. Thanks for adding to my list of things I need to see. Great tips and information.
    Natalie, The Educational Tourist

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Thanks for reading, Natalie.
      It is a pretty big place, at least it feels massive when you’re there. Its easy to get where you need to go though.
      Little India and Chinatown definitely offer Singapore an authentic asian feel.
      Hope you get to cross it off your ‘things i need to see’ list soon 🙂

  • Abbi from Life in a rucksack ✈

    Great post James, and amazing photos!
    I’ve been to Singapore twice now, and felt it wasn’t really for me. It didn’t feel like the real Asia.

    Your description of it as An American version of Asia, I reckon is pretty accurate!
    That said, I did enjoy my two days there, and managed to do it on a reasonable budget. The food markets were great for a cheap eat.
    My family regularly stop over in Singapore, on their way to and from New Zealand, and rave about the night safari.
    I think I’d like to give it a go again, as a not so broke backpacker – swimming on in the pool of Marina Bay Sands is on the top of my list!

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Hey Abbi.
      Thank you very much 🙂 Pleased you like it.
      Nice to see others feel similar to me about Singapore. It has a few authentic feeling areas but they’re limited for sure.
      The food markets are definitely a bonus, quite right!
      I agree with your family. The Night Safari is very cool.
      Sure you’ll be taking a dip in the Marina Bay pool soon 🙂 What a cool photo it would make.
      Cheers again.

  • http://travellousworld.com Maaike – travellousworld.com

    I’m still a bit in doubt whether I would like to go to Singapore or not. It will definitely be different from what I’m used to, that’s for sure. The closest I got to Singapore was during a stopover at the airport 😉 Seeing the lights at night outside of the airplane windows was breathtaking. Unfortunately I got really sick on the plane, so I spent most of the time on the airport’s floor… We also didn’t have enough time to discover the city.

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Maaike! Thanks for having a read 🙂
      Haha, does the airport really count? 😉 I’d recommend a visit just to see but a weekend will be enough time to get a general idea and opinion on the place.
      If you do go and don’t want a repeat of being sick then stay clear of the spicy stingray at the evening food markets…. Urgh!

  • Gemma

    Yup, nailed off these bar the night zoo. Craig’s uncle and aunt live in Singy so we stopped over for four nights before heading to Vietnam. It is mighty expensive but I’m glad we experienced it. Love the tip about seeing day turn to night, it is a magical experience. We did this at Altitude (entrance fee but a drink is included and live music.)

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Oh cool. Altitude looks good (just googled it).
      Always handy having family live in interesting spots around the world. Got to take advantage of it. Be rude not too right? 🙂
      Thanks for reading, Gemma

  • DeafWanderlust

    I first misread thinking that you did all of these in just 12 hours and I was like…how is that possible?! haha, I had a layover in Singapore for about 14 hours….After reading your post, I’m deeply regretting not visiting Chinatown and Sentosa!! Hopefully I’ll get to do this next time 🙂

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Hmm, it may be possible but a slight push. I may give it a go next time mind you. If so then thanks for the blog post idea 😉
      Hopefully you get to visit next time.
      PS. Love your blog! 🙂

  • Lauren @ atipsygypsylife.com

    Chinatown was so LOVELY! We stayed at a luxury hostel called The Adler Hostel and had a grand ole time. I couldn’t believe Singapore was so gorgeously designed!

    L

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Thanks, Lauren.
      Ooo, I like the look of the hostel. Funky looking bunk-bed dorms. May have to add it to my list if I return someday. Would you recommend it?
      Chinatown was very cool. Best chinatown I have visited so far.

      • Lauren @ atipsygypsylife.com

        Most definitely! Not only was the place amazing but right in the middle of Chinatown, which I agree is superb.

  • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

    Thanks for stopping by. Pleased you enjoyed it 🙂