Last month thepickytraveller spent 2 days in Singapore. What a special place!
The experience begins with Singapore Airlines and its high quality service (see my post). When you arrive at Changi airport, one can feel somehow disappointed (it’s not as modern as you can imagine and they really have to remove that old-fashioned and not-trolley-luggage-friendly mustard yellow carpet…). That’s until you reach the city.
In Singapore it’s hot and humid, so prepare to sweat (a lot!). Due to its close proximity to the equator, the temperature almost never drops below 20°C (the all-time record low is 19°C…!) and usually ranges between 25°C and 32°C, day and night, all year round. The city core is relatively small and dense, making it easy to discover by foot (plus a few air-conditioned subway and cab rides). Taxis are reliable and easy to catch. The metro network (MRT) is efficient, at the cutting edge of technology (EZ-Link card recommended).
To begin, a walk around the central Marina Bay gives a nice glimpse of the city’s modern side (the one we all have in mind when we think about Singapore). It’s big, it’s clean, it’s impressive. On one side the skyscrapers, on the other Marina Bay Sands (Singapore’s emblematic and protruding hotel/shopping mall complex). Unfortunately, if you want to enjoy the famous Infinity pool and the breathtaking 360° views from the top you will need to book a room at it (you can pay to access a crowded viewing terrace but being that close to the amazing hotel-guests-reserved pool may get you even more frustrated)… It’s impersonal and expensive (see my post). So stay there for one night if you want to live the one-of-a-kind experience, then go stay somewhere more tasteful. Marina Bay Sands also consists of a big shopping mall on many floors under the hotel towers (The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands).
At the east side of the bay (on the right from Marina Bay Sands, on the left from downtown), pay attention to those 2 oval-shaped buildings representing durians. The durian is a local spiky fruit the size of a rugby ball that stinks and tastes bad… But it’s worth trying it as the locals (apparently) love it. The edible part inside the hard spiky shell looks like an oblong yellow kidney and tastes quite like an onion starting to rot.
On the other side of the Marina Bay Sands complex, take a walk to the Gardens by the Bay (closest metro station is Bayfront) and ensure to be there at dusk when the sound and light show Garden Rhapsody takes place (starting at 19:45). Not the most impressive thing to do in Singapore, but it’s beautiful and photogenic. And the greenhouses here are to keep the air cooler than outside (!).
To get very nice views of the city and its massive harbour, thepickytraveller recommends the [email protected] (metro station Outram Park). For only a few dollars take the elevator to the top of this low-income housing complex (in fact, it’s the biggest one earth), walk from tower to tower via the skybridges and enjoy the view, without the usual tourist crowds.
If one likes temples and the feeling of being far from home (that applying to Westerners), Chinatown and Little India are very interesting places to visit in Singapore. But if you don’t have time to visit both, prefer Little India (especially if you are just arriving from China or Hong Kong). Little India (metro station Little India) is noisy and vibrant, at the complete opposite of ultra-modern and aseptic Singapore we usually first think of.
Another must-go for all those who like nature and/or are keen to get a sneak peek of the humid tropical forest is the Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (take a cab to the south entrance and walk north through the park to reach the metro station Botanic Gardens, or do the opposite). Inside the gardens, don’t miss the Orchid Garden and the giant water lilies.
Anyone planning a visit to Singapore has probably heard of Orchard Road, the pretended shopper’s paradise. Unless you don’t want to get soaking wet because it happens to be raining heavily outside or you really want to shop for international brands found basically everywhere else on the planet, it could be one of the last places to experience while in Singapore… BUT there is a hidden gem just around the corner: Emerald Hill Road (metro station Somerset). Yes, it’s posh but those beautiful and colourful houses with their private palm tree-planted courtyards are just astonishing.
Needless to say, you won’t get bored in Singapore. 2 days is a short time to enjoy this amazing city and you can easily spend a lot more time around here. That being said, in 2 days you can cover the main sights of the city core. If you have an extra day (or some extra hours before catching your flight from Changi airport), don’t miss the Pulau Ubin island which is quite close to the airport (see my post). And no trip to Singapore would be complete without a cocktail at the famous Raffles hotel (metro station City Hall). Which cocktail? A Singapore Sling, of course. One drink costs as much as a multiple-course meal in an average restaurant and isn’t even that good (not much better than the free one served in a plastic cup onboard Singapore Airlines)…but it’s a classic. Cheers!