We’ve been fortunate to have lots of visitors this year. It’s been such a pleasure showing people around the town we’re lucky enough to call home, Singapore. What’s been really interesting is watch each of these visitors carve out their own experience and view of Singapore.
Each one has had a different experience, my brother was interested in rock climbing, coming to Bounce trampoline park and wake boarding with us. Yet my in laws and parents were really keen to try all the local food and friends have wanted us to show them the local sights away from all the tourists. But there are a few locations which they all loved. So I wanted to share them with you here so you could add them to your list for your visit to Singapore.
1. Walk around China Town
One of the first places I always take visitors is for a walk around China Town, I love soaking up the culture and the buzz of this unique area. From wandering the streets, to visiting the Buddha Tooth Temple, the Sri Mariamman Temple and even popping in to see the man I buy my camera lenses from, I like to give our guests the whole experience. You can also get some tasty dim sum for lunch.
Tip: on the top floor of the Buddha Tooth Temple is a roof top garden with one of the largest Buddha prayer wheels. I also like to visit the mezzanine level to look at the wax monk figures.
2. Go to the Top of Marina Bay Sands
This 57-story high icon of Singapore, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, has a stunning 1 hectare roof garden on the top floor with some of the best views over the Singapore Straits and Downtown core. Now you will have to have some extremely good connections or be staying at the hotel to get into the legendary rooftop pool but you can visit the sky bars.
You’ll look to part with $23 SGD for adults or $17 SGD for children (aged 2 – 12 years) to get onto the observation deck alone but I prefer this option… at tower three I suggest you buy a $20 voucher per adult which gets you up to C’est La Vie Skybar and you can then use the credit at the bar. Same views, same price but includes cocktails, I can highly recommend the Frozen Singapore Sling.
Tip: at C’est La Vie they’ll bring you a short cocktail list with just 5 cocktails on, ask for the menu to see the full range, it’s vast.
3. Take in the Smells at Gardens by the Bay
In the shadows of Marina Bay Sands are The Gardens by the Bay. It’s mind blowing to think that when we first visited Singapore this was all sea, now it’s a sprawling beautiful city garden.
You don’t have to go into the domes, but if you do decide to, you can save yourself time queuing and order your tickets online in advance. I like the Cloud Garden with the large waterfall best, it’s worth going in to cool down and escape the humidity alone. The flower dome will give you an English summer time climate with the best of British flowers from that time of year.
If you have kids in tow remember to pack their swim gear and they can cool down in the children’s garden splash park, we like to take scooters along too as it eases the walk.
Tip: Singapore residents get a discount when booking in advance online.
4. Take your Bottom on a Bumboat Ride
Down at Clarke Quay you can hop on a Bum Boat tour. Bumboat’s aren’t as rude as they sound, they’re small boats which were originally used to ferry supplies to ships moored away from the shore. They’ve been refurbished to take tourists on trips up and down the river now, giving great views on all the Singapore top spots; Fullerton Hotel, Marina Bay Sands and the Merlion to name a few.
You’ll love the video and audio that play whilst your floating along, its a really good concise history lesson on Singapore. A sensible spot to sit is inside next to a window as it can get really hot out on the deck, I’ve made that mistake.
Tip: you can also ask for a one-way ticket to Marina Bay Sands which makes it easier if you’re headed up there too.
5. Nightly Light Show at Marina Bay Shoppes
Just outside the Marina Bay Shoppes in the bay is a nightly light and water show. They start at 8pm and 9.30pm (On Friday and Saturday nights, there is another show at 11pm). Think Las Vegas but better, in my opinion. It took us nearly 11 months before we saw this and the kids loved it.
Plus if you work out your timings you can walk through the hotel and get to see the light show at Gardens by the Bay too, which starts at 7.45 pm and the second show comes on at 8.45 pm. (work out your route in advance as it’s a little tricky to get through the hotel, there is a bridge on the 6th floor which you’ll need to use).
Tip: for the Marina Bay show stand towards the centre, or with a good view of the centre, if you sit on the sides you’ll miss the light show which is projected onto the jets of water, like we did the first time, haha. Sitting outside the Louis Vitton shop is not as good an idea as it might first seem.
6. Breakfast at Coastes
If you’re staying on mainland Singapore, you need to hop over to experience Sentosa, brunch at Coastes is the perfect excuse. Just a short walk from Beach Front Station you’ll find this laid back beach bar sat right on the beach. Don’t expect a secluded beach but if you hit it for brunch it should be pretty quiet. If you’re after a relaxing day you can hang around and hire their beach beds for $20/day too. You can also walk along to Palawan Beach and venture over a rope bridge to the most Southern Point of South-East Asia.
Tip: download the Coastes app and order from your phone to beat the queue.
7. Eat at a Hawker Centre
Singapore is renowned for its amazing food and its Hawker Centres are some of the only outdoor food places in the world to get Michelin stars. It took me a while to figure it out but a Hawker Centre is essentially an outdoor food market with lots of individual stalls which all specialise in different dishes. Each of these dishes will have been refined and improved through generations and thus taste amazing. La Pau Sat is one of my favourites, it’s right in the centre of the CBD (central business district) and is in an amazing beautiful building. Head there for lunch or dinner, and the best bit is you’ll get your meal for under $10. The pictures above are from Tiong Barhu Hawker Centre which is the one all the taxi drivers recommend.
Tip: go for the long queues, it’s often for the best food. Also take a packet of tissues with you and you can use them to save a spot at a table whilst you go and get your food. The locals call it… to ‘chope’ a table.
8. Night Safari at The Singapore Zoo
You may already know that the Singapore Day Zoo and the Night Zoo are two separate zoos which are next door to each other, but both have very different animals in them. If you only have time for one, you must do the night safari. You simply book online in advance and get a time slot. If you pop along early for 6.30 you’ll get to see a fire eater display as you wait to get inside.
Food isn’t great here, especially bad for kids (apart from the ice cream) so suggest you eat before you go. Upon entry you’ll be ushered onto an electric train which takes you round the whole park… you’ll be amazed how close you get to all the animals, look out for the tapirs they’re one of my favourites. There’s also a night show and I really recommend walking around the zoo too, the Australasia area is a favourite with the black wallabies and fruit bats.
Tip: avoid on a Friday evening as the traffic travelling there can be horrendous. Also make sure you’re covered in bug spray.
9. Orchid Garden in National Botanical Gardens
In the middle of the National Botanical Gardens lies a beautiful Orchid paradise. It’s one of the cheapest attractions in Singapore at $5.00 for adults and all kids under 12 are free. Filled with 100s of the most exotic orchids which seem to thrive in this humid climate. Look out for the orchids named after celebrities, still waiting for them to name one after me.
Tips: it gets hot here but the gift shop is a welcome break from the heat with its aircon. Seniors get a discount on garden entrance too.
Have you been to Singapore? What were your favourite things to do? Would you like me to write about other things to do in Singapore, let me know…