- It is hard to cover any country in a span of few days, and heartbreaking to decide what to drop from your itinerary. I’ve listed some of the must-visit destinations that may help you plan your holiday. These are the places i covered over 4 days in Singapore.
- Merlion Tower in Sentosa
The Singapore merlion is the country’s symbol, the origin of which dates back to its past when a Malay prince saw a lion when he first stepped foot on a new undiscovered land. The merlion has a lion head signifying bravery and strength and “mer” refers to the sea tracing back its past as a modest fishing village. The statue at Sentosa measuring 8.6 metres is the most prominent one but the city has 6 more statues, the other popular one being at the Merlion park near the Fullerton sometimes included in the skyline of the city.
A day in Sentosa Island
Spoiled for choice, I was overwhelmed having to choose what to do and what to skip in a day on this island. The universal studio consumed most of my day but it also had one of the world’s largest S.E.A aquariums which I could not miss. You can plan your pass from the list here depending on your preferences.
Sentosa 80 token pass & Universal studio: S140$ adult
You can purchase a pass with varying tokens and I thought 55 tokens was too less and the 80 token pass got me exhausted.
National Orchid Garden
Visiting the Singapore Botanic gardens is worth the experience even if it is just for the orchid garden. There are magnificent hybrid orchids that are unique to this garden and named after several political and other local and international artists.
Cost: S5$ adult
Marina Bay Sands SkyPark Observation Deck
This is the best vantage point to see the world famous sky line of Singapore. I opted to go here at night for the well-lit city scape.
Cost: S28$ adult, S23$ child
Singapore River Cruise
The Singapore River is located within the island’s Central Region and is home to a diverse range of bars, eateries and nightclubs. You could opt for a day cruise or a night one depending on your preference.
Cost: S25$ adult, S15 $ child
Gardens by the Bay
A horticultural show piece and Asia’s first garden destination with several 50 mtrs tall tree-like structures called ‘super trees’ where one could walk across them via an inter connecting skywalk. A flower dome exhibits blooming flowers from different parts of the worlds. Other attractions like the cloud forest and art sculptures are also a part of this garden if you have the time to explore.
Cost: S36$ adult, S20$ child
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
It is a 5 storey must-visit cultural site located in China Town that also houses an active monastery. There are rich and elaborate exhibits telling stories from thousands of years ago. The name is derived from a relic exhibit, what is believed to be Buddha’s left canine tooth recovered from his funeral in India. Multitude of Buddha statues, artifacts and the shiny and comprehensive interior designs won’t disappoint any traveler.
Dressing etiquette: Wear appropriate attire: no bare backs, off-shoulders, shorts or mini-skirts. Sarongs and shawls are placed at the entrance.
Cost: Free entry
Little India and China town
This is a lively and colorful part of the city with some of the oldest temples and Indian restaurants brimming with ethnicity. You won’t miss the back to back gold and jewelry shops if you are on a walking tour, which reminded me of some of the south Indian streets. Some of the shopping centers and arcades with narrow aisles and loaded shop houses sell Indian and religious artefacts with a stench of strong camphor or a spice mix, taking you back in time to the old traditional markets of India.
Take a walk in China Town to see several Hindu temples, Buddha temples, shopping complexes, street food centers and traditional 2 storied shop houses built with the unique architecture.
The country’s cuisine is an amalgamation of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian influences.
One traditional Singaporean breakfast that I tried was Kaya Toast with Soft-Boiled Eggs. It is prepared with kaya, a topping of sugar, coconut milk and eggs, and butter. It was served with coffee with a coconutty flavor. I had it at the Ya Kun Kaya Toast outlet near Esplanade.
Try dimsum at any local outlet. There are several such outlets spread across the city that you can’t miss. They usually don’t have any spoons or forks and just have chop sticks so get your chopstick game ready before you jump in.
You must try the traditional Singaporean Pandan Chiffon cake- that took me half a day looking for an outlet that sold one (most of the cake shops haven’t even heard of it)- although it was worth the trouble. It was green in color, with a silky soft fluffy texture that melts in your mouth. Nothing like I have ever tasted before and a bit too eggy (if you are fan of eggy cakes, you’re in for a treat; I don’t happen to be one of them).
I finally was able to find it in Bengawan Solo outlet at the Bugis junction Mall.
The award winning Satays available at the Lau Pa Sat street are worth a try and the Chilli Crab at Jumbo seafood is a very popular tourist meal.
If you haven’t already done so, tasting the local fruit Durian is something you must try! May i warn you that you either love it or you hate it as it is a very strong smelling fruit. The consistency and appearance looked a lot like Jackfruit to me. You could try the Durian desserts available at local bakeries to start with if you’re wary of tasting the fruit.
Tips for travelers:
Commute: I didn’t opt for the hop-on hop-off bus tour as I wanted to choose my itinerary and the MRT pass worked out fine for me. The buses/MRT although convenient, can be time consuming, having to get to a bus stop and waiting for few minutes (although I rarely had to wait for more than 5-10 minutes). If you have a higher budget I’d suggest you to take a Taxi/cab pass. All passes were available for sale at the airport. I bought the 3 day tourist pass for $38 that included MRT (rail) and buses. I did have a lot of trouble recharging a top up on the 4th day as none of the shopkeepers were aware of how it worked. Also, for some unknown reason none of them accepted a card payment and insisted on cash. I tried the EZ Link app for the top up but it did not work for me.
Phone and connectivity: Tourist prepaid sim cards with varying validity based on your duration of stay is easily available at the airport. I paid 30$ for a 12 day validity but there were options available outside the airport.
There is a 10 minute light and sound show at Gardens by the Bay every evening (check timing online) which is a rush hour for the skywalk. The wait time in the queue can vary between 2-3 hours around this time. If you want to miss the crowd, you’d have to do the skywalk during the day or early in the evening before the lights come on.
Do not miss the light and water show at the Marina Bay sands- Spectra that is free of charge for public and one of the most impressive fountain shows I’ve seen.