What you need to know
Traveling to Singapore? Follow this expert guide to making the absolute most out of a short time in the island city-state.
When I was in eighth grade, we learned about unique cultures and customs in history class one day. I vividly remember my teacher saying that in Singapore you couldn’t chew gum on the streets; I remember thinking that she was joking. For some reason, that fact always stayed with me. Fast-forward 13 years, and I found myself spending 48 hours in Singapore – and yes, I did remember to spit out my gum before exiting the airport.
En route home from Cambodia, I made the last-minute decision to break up my flight time by resting in Singapore for two days. I quickly learned that it’s the absolute perfect stopover spot, as there’s just enough to see and do that you’ll never be bored, but you certainly won’t be rushed either. These seven sites and activities are bound to give you both beautiful views, and a bit of a thrill too!
1. Cé La Vi atop Marina Bay Sands
So I’m guilty of not having done any research on Singapore prior to my arrival. Needless to say, it came as an absolute surprise when a friend told me that you didn’t need to stay at Marina Bay Sands in order to take in the iconic view! Cé La Vi is a rooftop bar in Marina Bay Sands located directly next to their infamous infinity pool. While only guests of the hotel can access the pool, you can easily get the same views – with much fewer people and for a fraction of the price – from Cé La Vi.
There’s an entrance fee of about US$15 (S$20, NT$450). However, it not only gives you access to arguably the best view in Singapore, but includes an alcoholic beverage as well.
2. Gardens by the Bay: Flower Dome and Cloud Forest
While Gardens of the Bay itself offers free entry, it’s so much more than just walking through the public park. Within Gardens by the Bay, you will find two conservatories: the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. Entrance to both Conservatories is about US$20 (NT$610), and it's definitely worth the sticker price.
Spend some time wandering the unique flower dome, consisting of the Flower Field, Australian Garden, South American Garden, South African Garden, Californian Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Succulent Garden, the Olive Grove, and the Baobabs. It’s fascinating how flowers from all of the world have found life within this one dome. The dome itself is as big as 75 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Personally, I preferred the Cloud Forest as it offers breathtaking mountain-like views, lush vegetation, and waterfalls! In fact, the Cloud Forest touts the world’s largest indoor waterfall.
I could have spent hours wandering around the Cloud Forest dome; I recommend going in the late afternoon and watching the sun set from within the dome itself.
3. Gardens by the Bay Light Show
The daily Gardens by the Bay Light Show is completely free for residents and tourists alike. Just make your way to the Supertree Grove and find a spot to sit and enjoy. The first shows is at 7:45 p.m. (just after sunset when I visited) and the second show is at 8:45 p.m. Each month, the light show changes. While I was there, it was the beautiful Waltz. Next month, it’s Broadway. The following, disco... I think you get the idea by now. Locals told me that even they enjoy coming for the light show whenever possible because it’s always something new and exciting.
4. Marina Bay Sands Light Show
Spectra – the light and water show in front of Marina Bay Sands – is not to be missed. Like Gardens by the Bay, Spectra is a free-to-the-public event that is best viewed at the Event Plaza along the promenade. With lasers, fountains, and visual projections, you will watch Singapore simply come alive. You can catch this everyday (or stumble upon it, as I did) at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., and even at 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
5. Haji and Bali Lanes
Haji Lane and Bali Lane are potentially the most vivid and unique streets in all of Singapore. Plastered with murals and filled with both traditional shops juxtaposed with trendy boutiques, spend some time simply walking through this area. Bring your camera, as it’s totally Insta-fabulous.
6. Katong Residences on Joo Chiat
Joo Chiat, located in the Katong area of Singapore, is the perfect step back into time. You’ll find pre-war architecture lining the streets; colorful two story houses, elaborate gates, beautiful terraces. Despite it only being a block or two long, this was one of my favorite hidden gems in all of Singapore, tucked away from the tourist trail.
7. AJ Hackett’s Bungy Jump
I certainly hadn’t planned on finishing up my Southeast Asia trip by doing Singapore's first bungy jump! Located on Sentosa Island, you can find AJ Hackett’s Bungy Jump and Giant Swing. As soon as I discovered that AJ Hackett set up shop in Sentosa, I simply knew that I had to check it out.
I’ve jumped at AJ Hackett’s Original Bungy in New Zealand, and completed the World’s Highest Bungy Jump with AJ Hackett in Macau. Needless to say, I’m hooked. From their giant swing to swan diving off their bungy, AJ Hackett’s Sentosa is bound to give you a thrill. I cannot wait to make my way to all of the AJ Hackett jump sites around the world!
Sarah Gallo authors The Five Foot Traveler, a blog detailing her trips to 100 countries and counting.The News Lens has adapted and republished this article with permission.
Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)
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