Singapore: the destination with a surprise around every corner
If you haven’t been to Singapore yet, put it on your list. Right now. Singapore is the perfect city (plus island/country) to spend a couple of days in transit or even a week as it’s own holiday. With British Airways, Emirates, QANTAS and Singapore Airlines and Scoot all flying direct between Australia and Singapore, there’s plenty of ways to get there for Aussies to get there. Aussies aren’t alone either, Singapore is a major hub for plenty of trans-Atlantic flights.
The international airport is a holiday in itself. No, really, people actually book holidays to Singapore and never leave the airport. Crazy maybe but it’s easy to see why once you’re there. Changi Airport is massive and has so much to offer. From a butterfly garden, to a cinema and even a rooftop pool, so you can have a dip while watching the planes take off and land. Then there’s the Jewel, a monumental structure that really showcases the spirit of Singapore. The renewable building houses a hotel, rainforest, maze, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and so much more. If you ever see a long 7 hour + stopover in Singapore on your flight itinerary, treat yourself. It is easily the best airport to layover in.
If you manage to venture out of the airport, the city of Singapore is sure to impress. From hawker markets to world-class architecture, rooftop bars to endless shopping, Singapore has it all. If you are looking for a bite to eat, Singapore food will blow your mind. Head down to Clarke Quay where you’ll be spoiled for choice with over 20 restaurants and bars offering local and international cuisine in brightly coloured buildings on the rivers edge. If you’re after a more authentic experience, check out Maxwell Food Market near China Town or Telok Ayer Market where local shop owners prepare traditional foods such as Hainanese chicken with rice or vege dumpling soup. At night, the side street next to Telok Ayer Market is shut down and becomes a bustling food street with local businesses selling satay sticks and seafood. As you walk down the busy, open-air strip and take a breath in, you get lost in the smell of satay and you can quickly see why it is named Satay Street. If you have time, there are so many other places such as Bugis Markets or Little India to check out, you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to food in Singapore.
If you want a couple of drinks, you’re in luck. Singapore has a great variety of bars, and they are everywhere. The restaurants and cafes of Clarke Quay turn into a vibrant mix of bars and clubs at night, and down the road, a restored former convent, Chijmes houses a great variety of bars. You can’t go to Singapore without having a Singapore Sling, and Raffles Hotel is the birthplace of what is essentially Singapore’s most famous drink.
Whilst I love the food in Singapore, there is so much more to this vibrant metropolis. Potentially my favourite place in Singapore is Gardens by the Bay. I recommend visiting in the mid-afternoon. Head straight down towards the back of the Gardens to the Flower Dome. This is one of 2 impressive domes in the gardens and doing it at around 2:30/ 3 o’clock means you are indoors for the hottest part of the day. The Flower Dome is essentially a mini botanical garden and houses a wide range of flowers and plants, with hidden statues and a seasonal feature-peace. My favourite so far was the dinosaur display. From here, walk underground to the Cloud Garden. When you enter this second dome, you are met with breathtaking walls of water cascading down the 7-storey tower of greenery in the centre of the dome. Follow the paths around and make your way to the top of the dome and walk along the suspended walkways as you make your way back down to the ground level again. After you are done, explore the gardens and as the sun sets, head towards the Sky Trees for a truly magnificent display of sound and light. The thing that makes this so much better is that the entirety of the gardens is renewable. The Domes catch rainwater which filters back into the gardens and is used in the bathrooms, gardening systems and other facilities; the sky trees are also giant solar panels and all the electricity that is used in the evening light shows comes from these solar panels. They hope that the designs from Gardens by the Bay can be used throughout Singapore, and as you walk through the city, you can already see green buildings popping up all over the place.
Image source:Ketchup Wannan
So, Singapore has great food and a lot of greenery and parks, but “I want a beach holiday” I hear you say. Singapore’s got you covered. Head over to Sentosa Island for some time on the beach. Pearl white sand and warm, sapphire waters await you on the island, relax on the public beaches or at one of the many Beach Clubs. Sentosa isn’t just beaches though, there’s also a number of hotels, the casino, Universal Studios, zip-lining, luge riding, indoor skydiving, a cable car and so much more. Head out to Palawan Beach and step on to a small island, considered the most South-Eastern point of continental Asia or go for a few rounds on the island’s golf course, there is something for everyone including a kid’s centre. Local transport on the island will help get you around, or you can walk and take in the artwork along the pathways.
Image source:Ketchup Wannan
From the airport to the city and across to Sentosa, each area is a potential holiday in itself and even after visiting Singapore eight times, I am still discovering more every holiday. There is a vibrant tapestry of culture here and everything flows. There is easy access to all areas, public transport in abundance and the city is doing everything it can to lead the way in renewable energy and maintain a sustainable urban environment. So really the only question is, who are you taking to Singapore with you?