Singapore is a world away from where I live in Boise, Idaho. Was is it worth the 20+ hours to fly there? You betcha! I’ve travelled all over the world and there is no place like Singapore. From the towering garden sculptures to the night zoo tour, it was an epic journey.
After spending a few days working in Singapore at my company’s offices, I was joined by my friend Patti who flew in all the way from Indiana to enjoy this exotic locale with me. Together, on my days off, we explored all over Singapore taking a hop on, hop off bus first to get the lay of the land and absorb some history from the audio tour which is typically available on these types of buses.
I love a big bustling city and Singapore is all that and more with the third highest population density in the world. Even with all those folks, it is the safest and cleanest city I’ve ever seen with a strict culture of picking up after yourself. As a major business hub in Asia, numerous languages are spoken and English is one of the four official languages that also include Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. So signs, menus, etc. are found in English making it an easy visit for a traveler from the US.
What to see and do
Marina Bay is a neighborhood that you could spend a whole day walking around but the “must do” is going up 56 levels to see the panoramic view from the Sands Skypark Observation Deck at the Marina Bay Sands hotel. Plan a trip around sunset and then walk over to the Gardens by the Bay for a cooler nighttime walk through the gardens or watch the light show set to music from across the bay at one of the restaurants on the water. Sands Skypark Observation Deck
Gardens by the Bay is filled with flora and fauna but it’s famous for the towering sculptures that light up at night. Spanning 250 acres in the Central Region of Singapore, it has three waterfront gardens filled with over 1.5 million plants from around the world. It is free to just walk around the gardens but costs to enter the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest (indoor waterfall) or skywalk. Patti and I went at night after going to Sands Skypark and enjoyed the nightly lights show set to music. Gardens by the Bay
Raffles is the historic hotel/bar established in 1819 as Singapore was just becoming a major trading post of the British Empire. At Long Bar, it is an energetic production by the bartenders to create their iconic drink, the Singapore Sling. First created in 1915 and widely known as the official cocktail of Singapore, this gin-based cocktail contains pineapple juice, lime juice, curaçao and Bénédictine. Grenadine and cherry liqueur give it a pink hue. Patti and I both loved it and it went down way too fast especially given the price which was not low. But, when in Singapore, drink at least one Sling. Cheers! Long Bar – Raffles Singapore – Home of the Singapore Sling
Singapore Zoo, set in a rainforest environment, is home to over 2,800 animals from over 300 species of mammals, birds and reptiles. Patti picked the guided open sided tram ride through the zoo at night as a “must do” adventure. Oh my-lions and tigers and bears roaming around in the dark. Truly a unique experience you would not get in the US. I kept watch for any aggressive animals that might hop onto the tram and eat us, but we survived and had a blast! Night Safari | Mandai Wildlife Reserve
Botanic Gardens admission is free (fee for Orchid Gardens) so go early when it is cooler and enjoy a beautiful walk in nature. Take the SMRT to the Botanical Gardens and be prepared to walk a lot! Singapore Botanic Gardens | Homepage (nparks.gov.sg)
Chinatown Get a walking tour to learn all about the history of this area and then enjoy the food and shopping. Patti and I love foot massages so we decided to find the best authentic massages in Singapore and compare them to the ones we enjoyed in China. It was amazing and we laughed at the zest and vigor the masseuses had for inflicting torture upon our feet. We left refreshed and ready to walk the streets of Singapore. Chinatown Singapore: Rediscover Food, Heritage and Traditional Crafts.
Food aka hawker stalls in Singapore are famous for their variety of cuisines under one roof. For someone like me who has a weak stomach and can’t eat a lot of foods, it’s not an essential visit but for most people, this is the highlight of their trip to Singapore. Hawker Centres in Singapore – Visit Singapore Official Site
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Westin Hotel in Marina Bay Area of Singapore | The Westin Singapore (marriott.com). The water views from our room and the rooftop infinity pool were amazing. This is a luxury property from the hotel lobby bar to the business center to the lavish breakfast buffet. It is very centrally located and you can walk many places. The doorman will get you a taxi if you want to venture farther away. I highly recommend!
The taxis are government backed and very inexpensive. In addition to taxis, there is SMRT Singapore Mass Rapid Transit to get around town. About Transitlink