This was my sixth visit to Singapore a country which can, by all means, be titled as a ‘Sunshine country’. Each time I visit this country, I am excited for I know it will have something new to offer and I will have something new to explore. An island country, Singapore is located in Southeast Asia and is Located at one degree north of the equator. It has Indonesian island Riau on its south and Peninsular Malaysia on its North. With a population of just over 5.61 million, Malay is the National language of the country. A multicultural country it is the Chinese that primarily dominate the population in numbers followed by Malay, Indian and Others (others would include Eurasians as a majority).
I clearly remember my first trip to Singapore and how I felt the moment I landed at the Singapore Airport. This feeling I could summarize in one word – ‘Grand’. I can confidently say that in every visit that followed my first one- the grandeur of the airport only got bigger and better. After stepping out of the airport it was very easy to find a taxi to the hotel. The drive to the hotel helps you get a flavor of the country- a flavor very unique to this prosperous, highly cosmopolitan and progressive country. Singapore has a great choice on the hotel front and it suits people with all budgets. From heritage to luxury to super luxury to basic hotels there are great options to choose from, so I had practically no problem.
The hotel, I checked in was welcoming and I was all set to explore Singapore with my walking shoes on. I knew I had six nights and seven days in the country to soak in its culture and understand what makes it such a sought-after destination in the world and here I was ready with my itinerary of the must-visit places when in Singapore.
Must-Visit Places in Singapore
In the lines of the London Eye in London, we have the ‘Singapore Eye’ in Singapore which is a giant ferris wheel in Singapore. It has a height of 165 meters with 28 air-conditioned capsules. Once you enter the air-conditioned capsule it slowly moves and you will never realize when the circle gets completed. It moves with a speed of 0.24 m/ second. Before you board the flyer you will be given a headphone to listen to the pre-recorded audio guide to Singapore and its important aspects and structures each of which can be seen during the total circle of 30 minutes. It helps one take a total panoramic view of Singapore. A different experience altogether, this is an important must visit attraction when in Singapore.
Normally recommended in most itineraries as day 1 activity, I would go by the same. A little away from the heart of Singapore, this place is definitely very exciting. It offers an exciting gateway to the nocturnal world. My Safari started with a tram ride that took me to the open air zoo set amidst a tropical forest with a running commentary on all that I saw all through. Spread over 85 acres of land, this is one of the major attractions of Singapore. The zoo is spread across seven geographical areas. I had the option of Covering it on foot also but I chose to cover it on the tram. The animals are not caged rather they are separated from visitors with some natural barriers. The rhinoceros, hippopotamus; lion are some major animals to watch out during the safari.
The Night safari also organizes shows like ‘Creatures of the Night’ which is hosted in an amphitheater styled place. This is a highlight of this unique safari which shows little creatures demonstrating their pre-rehearsed act with perfection. A photo of the creatures, in the end, can’t be missed. Another interesting cultural show is the tribal dance which also has a component of the fire dance. This is perfect for the first evening activity and offers some decent dining options.
A complete destination in itself ‘Sentosa’ truly lives up to its name that means ‘peace and tranquility’. It is a must visit when in Singapore. A lot of people recommend clubbing Sentosa island with Universal studios (with Universal Studio being a part of the Sentosa island) but I would recommend it to be covered on two different days or even more to enjoy each to its fullest. It houses a lot of attractions. The major ones being Fort Siloso (which was built in the year 1880 by the British and today it is a military-themed attraction and preserves guns, ammunition bunkers, barracks, and tunnels) , a beautiful serene 2 km beach stretch, Sentosa Merlion (37 meter tall statue), Madame Tussauds Museum ( that reflects the rich cultural heritage of Singapore) and even houses the grand theme park ‘Universal Studio’.
The three main beaches of the island are Palawan, Siloso (the most popular beach where there are facilities of beach volleyball and a few other outdoor activities) and Tanjong beach (which is the most secluded one). Siloso Beach also has Singapore’s first Barrelling wave called Wave House Sentosa.
On a height in the Sentosa Island, there is a Tiger Sky Tower which is a free-standing observation tower. For the people who have an interest in understanding butterflies and insects, there is a Butterfly Park and the Insect Kingdom which is informative. There is also a Sentosa 4D Adventure land (Southeast Asia’s first four-dimensional theatre). There is so much to do in Sentosa but the momentum keeps you going and the cheer of the island never stops you from exploring more. Even when not indulging in any of these activities, it is a great idea to just sit on one of the beach sides and observe the water waves. There are a few hotels and many eating options available on the island.
In the evening, every day there is a show called the ‘Wings of Time’ which runs two times each day. It is a multimedia performance in the open air viewing theatre. This is one show that should never be missed when in Sentosa. It features pyrotechnics displays, water screens, laser projections and even a flame burst all on a series of triangular projection screen (120 m long). This show has a live cast that adds to the overall fun of the show.
It is a fun place which is a major attraction for people of all age groups. It is a unique theme park that adds thrill and adventure to the trip. Located in the Resorts World part of the Sentosa Island, this theme park has seven themed zones featuring 24 rides, shows, and attractions. Once you pay for the entry to the park you can experience the rides and attraction.
Transformers, Battlestar Galactica (a dueling coaster), Revenge of the Mummy (set amidst the ancient Egyptian setting- a tomb), Jurrasic Park rapid adventure and the Waterworld, Madagascar, Dino-Sorian, Canopy Flyer are some of the must-try rides. Some of the popular shows in Universal Studio are Shrek 4-D Adventure, Lights, Camera, Action, Donkey Live, Lake Hollywood Spectacular and the Sesame Street Show. All through the theme park one can experience entertainment. You could meet human beings playing and dressed up like characters from Hollywood, Jurrasic Park, and the TV world.A photo with these characters on the street cannot be missed for some lifetime memories. All around the Universal studio one can find vintage cars stationed and positioned for a perfect photograph. This theme park has good options for food and souvenir shops to carry souvenirs home for self and loved ones.For all those thrill loving people this is the place to be in
Jurong Bird Park
For a perfect experience with the birds, one must visit the Jurong Bird Park, an aviary and tourist attraction spread on almost 49 acres of land. This park houses over 5000 birds of over 400 species. Being the largest bird park in Asia, this park is a testimony of the sustainable conservation and educational efforts of Singapore. The first time I visited this park, I could not believe that I could ever offer a meal to the birds and the birds would sit on my arm to enjoy their meal but this is true. You can actually offer a meal (purchased in-house in the park) to the birds in a zone defined for the purpose. Apart from this, there are two shows to witness the unbelievable talent of the birds. Each show lasts for around 20 minutes. The show ‘Kings of the Skies’ can be enjoyed at the Hawk Arena and the show ‘High Fliers’ can be enjoyed at the Pools Amphitheatre. The birds are seen interacting with the audience which makes them truly engaging shows. There is a lake area inside the park, where one can find the beautiful Carribean Flamingos. There are many attractive exhibits like the African Waterfall Aviary, which is the second largest aviary in the world and includes over 600 free-flying birds of over 50 species, Penguin coast (that houses five species of penguins within 17000 square feet of area), Wings of Asia another large walk area in aviary housing over 200 species of birds. Apart from this Lorry Loft, World of Darkness, Dinosaur Descendents, and Pelican Cove are the other major attractions of this bird park. It is a must visit park for all bird lovers.
A 64-acre zoo in a rainforest setting and spread across 69 acres of land, this zoo is a home to 315 species of animals some of them are even endangered. Animals are kept in spacious enclosures and are separated from the visitors by dry and wet moats. A round of the zoo makes you fall in love with these innocent creations of God, the animals. Popular shows in the zoo are Breakfast with an Orangutan (where one can very closely interact with the orangutan), Elephants at work and play (where elephant are seen transporting logs or kneel in perfect harmony with each other), Rainforest fights back show (where animals and human actors together put up a spectacular show), the ‘Animal Friends’ show aimed at exciting children by showing domesticated animals performing tricks and the splash safari are a few take away shows from the zoo.
Gardens by the Bay
Located in the heart of the city this is a green iconic horticulture structure spanning across 101 hectares of reclaimed land. It is a house with three waterfront gardens. These are Bay South (the largest one- spread across 54 hectares), Bay East and Bay Central Garden (this being the link between the other two). The Supertree Grove at the Gardens by the Bay is a treat to watch. Being the world’s largest glass greenhouse- The flower Dome it is a truly impressive structure. Strolling around the garden are the Dragonfly Lake and Kingfisher Lake. The structure talks about the rich variety of flora in Singapore and is a showcase of sustainable efforts of Singapore in preserving ecosystems.
A landmark of Singapore and must visit when in Singapore because this park houses the Merlion ( a mythical character with a lion’s head and body of a fish) statue and a photograph with the Merlion in the background that truly certifies your Singapore tour. This 8.6 meters tall structure spouts water from its mouth and it will not be wrong to say that Singapore is identified with the Merlion. A merlion cub is also visible at the bottom right. The park has a row of sit out restaurants each offering different cuisines. From a distance (though) one can also clearly see Singapore’s iconic building –The Marina Bay Sands Hotel from this park.
Singapore Botanical Gardens
Founded in the year 1859 this is a tropical garden and the only tropical garden to be honored as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The National Orchid Garden is the main attraction within this Botanical garden which houses more than 1000 species and 2000 hybrids of orchids. This also houses a small tropical rainforest of around six hectares in size. One would needs days to explore and enjoy every aspect of this botanical garden and allow it to soak in. This is a very popular place and a must visit by all who wish to have ‘a date with nature’
Singapore Points of Interest and Activities
There is so much one can indulge in when in Singapore. A few Must Do activities (which is not an exhaustive list) would include the following:
Shopping at the Orchard Street
When in Singapore one can’t miss out on coming to its retail heart the Orchard Street that is always buzzing. From luxury brands to affordable brands this street has a room for everyone though the tilt will be more towards luxurious brands.
Cable Car Ride to Sentosa
This cable car – a gondola lift takes you from the Harbourfront to Sentosa island in just about 15 minutes. This offers a breathtaking view of the island.
Night Life at Clarke Quay
For all those nocturnal human beings- this is the place to be in. Pubs, restaurants, music, and buzz so peculiar to this place all next to the Singapore River.
Singapore River Cruise
A cruise around Singapore river is truly delightful. If one takes it in the day one gets to admire and appreciate the monuments and structures in Singapore along with appreciating the beauty of the Singapore River
Walk and Shop at the Bugis Village
Once an infamous place-today Bugis village stands for affordable shopping. Bugis street market offers reasonable shopping options for budget conscious people.
Mustafa Shopping Centre in Little India
Located in Little India part of Singapore, this 24-hour open shopping center offers everything under one roof from gold jewelry to clothes to shoes to groceries to gadgets to almost everything of home and personal utility
Chinese Temple in China Town
Chinese temple in China Town is a must visit place and a prayer in silence in the temple is truly divine.
Marina Bay Sands
A visit to this iconic luxury Hotel building is much recommended for stay (if one can afford) else a visit to the top.
Food in Singapore
The food in Singapore has a touch of multiculturism and it offers rich options for all palates. Still, a typical vegetarian person could find it difficult to find enough choices. There are plenty of options for non-vegetarians to choose from. Hainanese Chicken Rice also known as Chicken rice (it is a delicacy and a simple dish where boiled rice and chicken is served with a garlic chilli sauce) , Bak Kuh Teh (Literally translated as pork bone tea, is a popular dish throughout the region though it doesn’t have any tea component in it), Roast duck (a simple roasted duck popularly available in food courts and food stalls), Fish Bee Hoon (noodles in fish broth with fish bones and vegetables) and Chai Tow Kway (a Carrot Cake without carrot it is made of rice flour and shreds of daikon fried in lots of pork lard, and eggs) is a popular snack.
The Final Word on Singapore
Singapore is a country which has so much to offer that one needs a lifetime to soak it in. Everytime you visit this country you realize there is so much to be experienced and explored and then there is something for which it calls you back. It is a country that evolves and innovates so fast that it offers best in terms of experience for both a first time or an n(th) time visitor.
I had read in books about the great transformational leadership style of the first Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew whose vision transformed Singapore to one of the most progressive countries in the world and all my expectations that I had from the country were only exceeded in all my visits to this spectacular country.