In Wonderland, Singapore!
Singapore is currently the only island-city-country in the world. Despite its size, Singapore is a highly developed country and boasts one of the highest per-capita GDPs in the world. Ironically, Singapore's nearest neighbors, Sumatra and Borneo, are two of the world's wildest islands. Indigenous people still carve a life out of the rainforests.
Once a colonial backwater, Singapore has much to offer with its diverse cuisine, world-class attractions, copious shopping, and vibrant nightlife. One of the world’s most prosperous countries will offer you perhaps not many historical landmarks but all the features of an ultramodern society with its impressive skyline, contemporary architecture, high-end shopping malls, and highly efficient subway system. “The melting pot of Asia” impressively balances modernity and ethnic & cultural diversity. When over 50% of Singapore’s area is covered by greenery, it’s hard to believe that it’s in fact the second most densely populated country in the world.
Hot and humid (>80%) all year-round, you may not avoid heat here but yet you can avoid the monsoon season which id from November to January.
Don’t let its high standard of living keep you from visiting because as a visitor, it isn’t as expensive as you’d think (cannot beat Norway, no way 🙂 ).
Let’s take a look at the top attractions:
Home to the iconic Marina Bay Sands, Marina Bay is home to simply luxury. Upscale hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and attractions welcome you in the area.
Singapore's national icon, the Merlion has in fact an interesting symbolization behind. The body (fish) symbolises Singapore's humble beginnings as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, meaning 'sea town' in Old Javanese. The head (lion) represents Singapore’s original name, Singapura, or ‘lion city’ in Malay.
Marina Bay Sands
The rooftop bar of Marina Bay Sands Hotel is right above the SkyPark Observation Deck. While the price to go up to the observation deck is S$23 and there’s no shade or anywhere to sit & chill, why not sip a glass of coctail at the bar instead? You can also check the infinity pool from here. Do come back at night for a free-to-public outdoor light and water show displayed over the water at the Event Plaza along the promenade.
Some other popular attractions in the area are Art Science Museum, The Esplanade, Theaters by the Bay, Singapore Flyer and Singapore Skyline.
Gardens by the Bay
Set onto 101 hectares in the heart of the city, Gardens by the Bay is an attempt at making Singapore a ‘city in a garden’. It comprises of a national garden and premier horticultural attraction that displays the plant kingdom in a jaw-dropping & entertaining way.
You can’t possibly miss The SuperTree Grove consisting of futuristic looking trees and mushrooms. And don’t forget, the gardens turn even more magical along with a light & sound show called The Garden Rhapsody at night. Free of charge, remember!
The Singaporeans have created a surreal world with planted walls, artificial waterfall (world’s tallest indoor in fact), and even a 35-metre mountain at The Cloud Forest. Enjoy enchanting views of the canopy while getting tucked away by the floral gems. Make sure to have at least 1,5 hours of your spare time, and bring a jacket, as it is quite chilly and moist inside.
Your alternative attraction Flower Dome, world’s largest glass greenhouse in the world, I’m sure is just as stunning but I’m super happy with my choice.
Singapore River & the Colonical District
Named after the last governor of the Straits Settlements, Cavenagh Bridge is Singapore’s oldest and only suspension bridge. It was built in 1869 and is now a popular walkway across the Singapore River. On the bridge's left side, you'll see the most famous and my favourite of People of the River statue series; “First Generation”, a frozen-motion sculpture of kids playing and jumping in the river. The series depict early Singapore from perspectives of the people who might have lived, played and worked along the river.
Further up the Singapore River is Clarke Quay, named after Singapore’s second governor. It is a dining and party destination which houses some of the city’s most-loved nightlife institutions.
Sentosa is Singapore’s resort island. It’s home to manmade beaches and theme parks like Universal Studios, Tricky Eye Museum, 4D Adventureland, Aquarium and Madame Tussauds. Sentosa Merlion was perhaps the best attraction around 😀 I should have picked Universal Studios over the Tricky Eye Museum!
Once an enclave for Singapore’s Chinese immigrant population, the Chinatown of today is much-beloved for its blend of old and new. Whether you’re visiting century-old temples or sipping a pineapple at a bar, there’s always something new to discover in Chinatown.
Chinatown Heritage Center houses showcases of its history and culture of the first Chinese settlers in Singapore. The Sri Mariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu Temple in Singapore whereas the opulent Buddha Tooth Relic Temple houses what is believed to be the tooth of Buddha found inside a collapsed stupa at a Buddhist Monastery. Thian Hock Keng also known as the Tianfu Temple, is a temple built for the worship of Mazu ("Ma Cho Po"), a Chinese sea goddess.
Little India is home to Singapore’s Indian community. I can recommend it if you haven’t yet been to India but wanna have a taste of it in a sanitized version J It’s a lively area with lots of Indian restaurants, colorful shophouses, and a good range of budget to mid-range hotels. Take a stroll around the colorful district of Little India and you’ll be welcomed by blaring Indian music, jasmine garland and the smell of incense.
Head to Serangoon Road, one of the oldest streets in the country clad with shops selling everything Indian. Impressive with its hundreds of tiny colourful statues blanketing the exterior temple structure, you can’t miss the prettiest and busiest Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, on the other hand, is dedicated to Krishna, one of the incarnations of Vishnu, and therefore the statues and relics vary in fact than those of Sri Veeramakaliamman’s. You can’t help but take pictures in front of Singapore’s most colourful building, The House of Tan Teng Niah. To your surprise, it’s the only survivor of its type from Chinese colonialisation but the Indians can take credit for the rainbow of colours and renovation.
Avoid a visit on a Saturday to this buzzing neighbourhood for a nice stroll around, away from crowds.
Orchard Road is Singapore’s premier shopping district. It stretches for two kilometers and is home to just more shopping malls.
Emerald Hill is one of the most colourful streets in Singapore and makes an easy detour from the shopping belt of Orchard Road. Walk around for the beautiful Peranakan architecture, a bit of antiquing, or maybe a drink at one of the trendy bars.
Yes, Singapore does have a a Unesco World Heritage Site; The Singapore Botanical Garden! This 158 year old garden near Orchard Road is such a huge and beautiful park. You can wander on its alleys and even get to listen to a classical music concert at its iconic venue, Symphony Stage, nestled at the Palm valley!
The entrance to the Botanic garden is free of charge, but I also do recommend visiting National Orchid Garden. It’s worth discovering a gazillion new types of orchids which offer a sweet synthesis of visual beauty and matching fragrance.
Before it became a shopping hub, Bugist Street was once known for its nightlife where transvestites gather to entertain military men. Sometime in 1980, this place underwent a major facelift, transforming the area into one of the hottest and cheapest shopping mecca in Singapore.
Ready to find out more?
Check my photo gallery for the treasure of photos!