- Say “Singapore” and the images that come to mind are usually towering skyscrapers, the mega structure of Marina Bay Sands, and clean streets. Those in the know, however, will also say how lush this modern, 21st century metropolis is, with more than 300 parks, including recently-minted UNESCO World Heritage site, Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Think Singapore has no nature, then try taking a day trip to Pulau Ubin, which is a rustic reminder of old Singapore accessed by boat, covered in trees (the remnants of rubber plantations) and is a favourite haunt for cyclists. Other offshore offerings which recently opened to the public like Coney Island and Kranji Marshes house rich ecosystems of endangered bird species and mangrove habitats.
- Spanning 101 hectares, Gardens by the Bay is a huge green space showcasing horticulture and garden artistry. Boasting 16 vertical garden “Supertrees” – towering manmade “trees”, up to 16-storeys high, connected in part by a suspended walkway. Don’t miss the free nightly light and sound show in the Supertree Grove at 7.45pm and 8.45pm! There are also two temperature-controlled conservatories – the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome – housing an array of temperate and tropical plants.
- Not only is Singapore home to a mix of diverse cultures, our architectural landscape is also a blend of old and new that offers visitors rich and unique experiences. Singapore’s former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings – two important heritage buildings of Singapore’s nationhood – was just restored and transformed into the National Gallery Singapore. Situated in the heart of the Civic District, this visual arts institution also houses restaurants and bars and is Singapore’s latest cultural destination.
- If there is time just for a stopover in Singapore, be sure to register at Changi Airport for the Free Singapore Tour, which allows travellers to make the most of their time and get a brief taste of Singapore’s attractions from Gardens by the Bay or the Singapore Flyer, to cultural precincts of Chinatown or Kampong Glam. Nine tours operate daily and are available to passengers with more than 5.5 hours transit time travelling on all airlines that fly to / from Changi Airport.
- Food is a crucial part of the Singaporean identity. They are known for their love of food, the distances they’ll go for the best hawker stall and the long queues they are willing to endure to get a taste of their favourite dish. The entire city-state is dotted with street food, international offerings from Korean to Greek and celebrity chef restaurants, including Australia’s own Sam Aisbett (Quay) who just launched Whitegrass in Singapore.
- Hawker centres may not take official reservations but there is a local secret to getting yourself a seat. Learn from the locals and “chope” (reserve) an empty seat using just about anything you have on hand. The most commonly used choping device is a packet of tissues but it would be common to see umbrellas and keys on tables along local favourites, Chinatown Food Street and Boon Tat Street.
- Singapore is known for its world-class public transport. Skip the taxi for a day and try our public transport system. Whether you travel by bus or the MRT (the mass rapid transit rail system), it’s fast, efficient and will take you to most places with no fuss. To be a real local, buy a EZ-link stored value card and swipe your way on, or buy the Singapore Tourist Pass that allows you unlimited travel for one, two or three days.
- Singapore roars into action when the sun sets; the street lights flicker on, music wafts out of bars and eating / shopping options which stay open past midnight while events and activities keep the city-state abuzz; from the world’s first night street race, Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix to the Singapore Night Festival. And don’t worry about wandering about at night, as one of the safest cities in the world; it’s always easy to get around Singapore any time of the night (or day).
Travel Counsellors Claire Phillips
A must while you stay in Singapore is of course a visit to the world famous ‘Raffles Hotel’ for a Singapore Sling Cocktail. When you step into this magnificent hotel dating back to 1887 you really are stepping into a bygone era of elegance and grace. And the saying does go ‘When staying at Raffles, visit Singapore’.