Singapore - The Best City Break
Updated: Jan 4
Singapore is an island city state located of the coast of Malaysia. It was founded in 1965 and is one of the most clean and non-polluted countries in the world. The nation is famous for Sentosa, its sprawling zoos, the Jewel Changi Airport and the Merlion. My family and I visited it earlier this year and had a blast. In my opinion it is one of the best places for photographers and food-lovers to visit, and is packed with fun things to do. I especially liked it because of strict laws against smoking and littering but no chewing gum was no good. Anyways, enough rambling, let me begin my tale.
We planned a 3-day trip which we thought would be enough to cover some of the main highlights of Singapore. We stayed at the V Hotel Bencoolen which was right next to the Bencoolen Underground station and we took advantage of the metro as much as we could. Since we had taken an overnight flight we checked-in early and rested for a while. Late morning we set of on our first adventure of the trip. The Singapore metro requires metro cards which are very difficult to buy from the metro stations and also quite expensive for three days. My father fortunately had brought along a few of his credit and debit cards from home and they substituted nicely. For longer trips getting a metro card makes more sense but for a mere three days this worked. I used a map I had gotten at the airport to plot our route.
We walked from our hotel to ‘Dhoby Ghaut’ from there we took the purple line to Harbour Front and from there a cable car to Sentosa Island., Our destination was the aquarium and it was absolutely amazing.
After standing the queue we used our Singapore Pass (see more below) to get in and proceeded through the aquarium. It is set up like a long winding hallway lined with fish tanks along the sides. The lighting was rather dark and blue casting an ocean-like ambience, the tanks were all fitted with different lighting depending on the species of fish within. There were small tanks with but a few fish in them and there was large floor to ceiling cylindrical ones featuring schools of fish. Some tanks had schools of small fish darting about in breath-taking formations and some tanks had large ancient crabs who moved slowly across the rocks placed at the bottom of the tank. There were also brilliant coral displays. Later in Malaysia while snorkeling I realized they were as good as the real thing.
My favourite tanks were the ones containing jellyfish. There were three kinds in total and they all looked really cool. The moon jellyfish were fit for a rave and the fried egg jellyfish were easily the most photogenic. The hallway led to a large room with a wall to wall, floor to ceiling tank containing all kinds of fish including stingrays. I went to great lengths to get a picture of those magnificent fish who are actually related to sharks. While we were exiting to head to the next attraction a group of divers swam into the pool to unfurl a Singapore flag for Singapore Day. On our way out we passed through the corridor to the last but really not the least attraction…the shark tunnel! The tunnel basically was walled with a tank full of sharks who did not at all stay still and pose. I did get some cool pictures and also learnt that Hammerhead sharks are incredibly fast.
After that we exited S.E.A aquarium and had delicious satays from a nearby restaurant while catching up with some dear friends who were visiting Sentosa that same day.
From Sentosa we used the metro to get to Raffle’s Place, changing lines at Outram Park. We walked from the station to the Merlion statue. Here we sat enjoying ice-cream and clicked pictures galore while admiring the skyline. It was absolutely amazing though the great Merlion seems a little smaller in person even though it is a towering 8.6 meters tall and weighs 70 tonnes. I think we got very lucky with the timing because it was late enough for the lights on the building of the Singapore Skyline to light up but not late enough that everything was doused in black, we were there a couple of hours before sunset while the sky was still blue. You can find the best time for your trip by doing some research.
From Raffle’s Place we wanted to go to Newton, we were asking for directions and a lady who was walking in the same direction was kind enough to lead us to the nearby metro station from where we caught a direct train to Newton. I have been to a few Michelin-Starred Restaurants but never a street food place with multiple Michelins. The food was mostly amazing, I loved the Chicken Satay and the Chicken Rice, I have also decided that prawns are the single best food ever. A delicacy we just discovered was the steamed pandan leaves and they are amazing. I was disappointed by the Calamari as it was my first time trying it and I found it a bit tough and chewy. Stuffed to the brim we set of back to Bencoolen on the metro to end the first day.
The next day we planned to visit the famed Gardens of the Bay, unfortunately the second day looked as though rain was coming. We grabbed breakfast from Toast-Box which was delicious and then took a Grab taxi to the Gardens of the Bay. We had to borrow some umbrellas from the hotel as it did rain later that day. We were able to use our Singapore Pass to get tickets which got us entry to the Cloud Forest, Flower Dome and Floral Fantasy.
We entered the Cloud Forest first and immediately felt the temperature drop. We found ourselves standing in front of a 35-metre-high waterfall and a wall of exquisite flowers. We took the elevator up to the ‘Lost World’ from which we took walkways down. The lost world section featured a small pool with man-made gigantic water-lilies. Then we went down the open walkways that crisscrossed down the dome. We reached the level from where the waterfall began and did some fun pictures with the falling water in the background. We met a tourist who seemed to be a professional photographer who clicked us some stunning pictures. Then we headed down to the base again through a path that is very difficult to remember and looked at the last few things in the cloud forest.
After a lunch of hot-dogs, burger and fries from Shake Shack we visited the Flower Dome. The flower dome was not as awe-inspiring as the Cloud Forest but still had some beautiful displays. There were flowers from all over the world reaching every shade of the colour spectrum which all looked really cool but after the Cloud Forest our expectations were kind of high so it wasn’t quite good enough for our new lenses. After that we stopped of at the gift shop to get Ice Cream, we tried the locally popular brand Udders. They offer standard ice cream and liquor ice cream. We ate our ice cream at the SuperTree forest where we would return later for the Light and Sound show.
We walked to the Floral Fantasy passing a brilliant statue called Planet which depicts a boy somehow balanced only on his right arm. Then we entered Floral Fantasy and I loved it! Set up with glowing flowers interesting models and breath-taking effects it was wonderful! I really recommend going to this place. I was blown away by the model and flowers and special effects that had been set up. There was an Ent straight out of JRR Tolkien and a Merlion figure that was very different from the ones you see. There are backdrops that show glorious sunsets and supersized birds. There are waterfalls you can see through and plants from the world over. The place deserves the name Floral Fantasy, it's fantastical and fascinating.
After that we took a break for coffee and light dinner at Satay by the Bay. We spotted some monitor lizards on our way back from Satay by the Bay to the SuperTree forest for the daily light and sound show.
That day they featured Sounds of Singapore because of Singapore day but it was still amazing even if I didn’t understand a word from the songs. The show is completely free though you may want to go early to find a good spot to sit and enjoy it. Also find a spot you can rest at angle else you'll break your neck look up at the dazzling colours flashing and spinning through the treetops. hat was the last major thing we did in Singapore before we went to Malaysia.
My final words on Singapore are very simple. Go! It is really worth the trip and though I didn’t visit the zoo my friends who did gave rave reviews. There are lots of other things to do and we will probably go back to Singapore for another trip. It is a really nice place.
Some quick tips –
1. Check out VFTF if you’re in Singapore for less the 96 hours, there are some oddly specific rules but citizens of India or the People Republic of China can go if they have visa for one of eight countries. Look up “VFTF”
2. Get a Singapore Pass. By flying inbound using Singapore Airlines you can receive a Singapore Pass for SGD25 which is valid for 24 hours from the first use. You can read up more by searching “Singapore Pass Singapore Airlines”
Thank you for reading and bye. Hope to see you in Singapore soon.