We leave Melaka and Malaysia in a super bus with massage seats, to go to Singapore. We don’t know what to expect. Too much technology? Smart city with last generation buildings? Pollution over the city? Wait and see… because for now, we are stuck at the border, our bus not being able to enter the City-State, because its regulation is outdated! 3 hours later, we finally find ourselves in the middle of huge illuminated towers, like two children. There we are for 7 days of adventure in this amazing city!
The must do of Singapore
Walk on the Bay of Singapore and photo in front of the Merlion
It is probably the first place where your feet will take you when you arrive in the City-State. Once out of the subway to City Hall station, you pass in front of the huge St Andrews Anglican cathedral, then the Parliament, before arriving on the riverside. Along the river, you enjoy a nice view on the towers of the financial district and on all the boats filled with tourists.
Once you have passed the Fullerton, a super luxury hotel, you finally arrive on the promenade. Take the time to make your photo of the splendid Marina Bay Sands, across the Bay, if possible the Merlion, this small statue which also serves as mega fountain. If you can have it without tourist, you are very lucky!
Continue the walk across the bridge from Esplanade to get on the side of the outdoor theatre, where you may have the opportunity to listen to a band playing. Anyway, we appreciate the concert. 😉
After crossing the outdoor concert venue “The Float”, just walk on the Helix Bridge, preferably at night for a psychedelic effect. It will bring you directly to the shopping mall of the well known resort of tourists. We recommend you the great foodcourt at the ground floor, probably the most affordable place in the mall, still twice more expensive than other foodcourts of the city.
Show lights in front of the Marina Bay Sands
Once you have made your walk at the top of the hotel and enjoyed the panoramic view of the Bay, the skyline and the harbour, take the time to have a drink on the sunny terrace, envying the residents of the hotel who have access to the pool on the roof, with a view of the city below. And take the time to enjoy your coke because like Gad Elmaleh said, “honey, you have 50 cents that flow on your cheek!” 😉
It is now night. So you can enjoy one of the 3 sound and light shows given in front of the Mall, facing the skyline, right next to Louis Vuitton (and a free ad placement!). Performances take place at 7, 8 and 9 p.m. every night. There may be one more on Fridays and Saturdays but check to confirm.
You sit comfortably and wait for the fateful hour. 8 p.m. sharp, the fountains set off and the show starts. You take full eyes level light, that is certain. Visual effects parade on the curtains of water and cast flowers, butterflies and other animals and fantastic figures. It’s very beautiful, although we do not always distinguish the forms. You should be seated in the middle to enjoy the best view. The show lasts 15 minutes and we’d like it to keep on going, but no, it’s over! You can leave, there is nothing to see, the illuminated red beating heart goes out gradually to restart an hour later.
Go for nature…
… with technology in the Gardens by the Bay
We could also include this visit in the must do. Plan your day wandering through these beautiful gardens, full of technology. Start with the Supertree grove, a walk in the (fake) trees connected by a footbridge. Admission is charged, but you have the chance to enjoy a wonderful view on the business district. And you’ll also get a lot information about these fascinating trees, both aesthetic and ecological since rain water they harvest is used to water the rest of the garden. Trees light up at night and it is possible to eat or have a drink in the restaurant at the top of the “forest”.
The tour then continues in the two main attractions of the Garden: the cloud forest and the flower dome. We prefer the cloud forest, which is really impressive and beautiful to discover. You enter a tropical garden under an original and yet very clever dome of glass. Here again, everything has been thought to use rain water, winds, and the sunlight to maintain this moist forest. You face a huge waterfall. The tour begins at the top as you overlook the waterfall. You go down gradually, discovering information about the cycle of water, the importance of the preservation of biodiversity, etc. Many bridges and walkways will give you the sensation of floating above the giant ferns and other plants.
We love a little less the flower dome but this one is not less interesting. It is a huge garden, in which various spaces were created to represent the different vegetations by regions in the world. As we are a little bit chauvinistic, we walk a little while in the Mediterranean garden filled with… daisies!
… in the middle of orchids at the Botanical Garden
Here again, you can spend the day strolling in the different spaces of the Botanical Garden in Singapore. It is huge and easy to get lost. We started in the bamboo garden, then continued in the garden of evolution then medicinal and toxic plants. After a small break at the foodcourt of the corner (Yes these eating places are really convenient), we continue to the Symphony Lake, reminding a romantic comedy. A small dome even hosts concerts in the open air.
After being amazed in front of the different species of waterlilies in bloom, you head to the centerpiece of the Garden: the national Orchid Garden! Colours, scents, it’s really very beautiful, especially the tropical part where the most fragile orchid species are preserved. There are for everyone, yellows, violets, white, etc. To sum up, you could spend the day strolling through the aisles.
You have no more legs, but yet your steps lead you to the last corner, recently opened in the Garden: the learning forest. Here you cross a small lake, walk in the canopy and ropes in the middle of century-old trees. Beware, there are plenty of varanus nebulosus, who, even though they have absolutely nothing to do with you, remain on their guard! Bravo, you have achieved your goal of the day, you can now go home and rest! 😉
… on the Henderson waves and the mount Faber
There are plenty interventions by international designers and architects a little everywhere in Singapore. The Henderson Waves walk is part of these and we enjoy the walk. It takes a little walk to get to the starting point of the walk, but it is greatly worth. One, because you walk on a huge wooden boardwalk above the vegetation and housing. This walk in the form of waves invites you to relax. On the other hand, because this tour allows you to discover the port of Singapore. And you understand the importance of international maritime trade as you can see some 600 cargo ships and other large daily boats that anchor to the port. It is quite paradoxical compared to everything we have seen until now: sustainable buildings which can create their own eco-systems, etc. And the harbor welcomes more and more ships. We understand better why Melaka did not kept its maritime activity (see last article on the Malaysia).
After the ride on the “wooden waves”, we keep on going in the forest, being careful not to fall on a large lace monitor or a snake. You never know here! The highest point of Mount Faber is located at the level of the cable car, which will lead you, if you wish, on the island of Selegu, very popular for recreations available on-site (Museum of wax, Universal Studios, beaches, etc) and its luxury hotels. We let Chinese tourists here and go back down the hill passing in the middle of the forest.
Historic and cultural discoveries
Walk to Fort Canning
For those interested in the history of the island, this park is part of the highlights. First because the original inhabitants of the island called these Hill, the prohibited mount, since it was the place where Kings were buried. The place was said to be haunted. And then later, with colonization, this “mountain” became the Hill of Governors who have established their home, then fort Canning Hill when a fort was built in the 1860s.
Why a fort here? Well it is the highest point of the island, which did not have until then any defense in case of an enemy invasion. The place is even more symbolic that, during the second world war, the British had to go and “give” Singapore to the Japanese, then at war in the Pacific. It is possible to visit the bunker where soldiers hid, today restored and opened under the name of “Battle Box”. Be careful to book your visit in advance, because we came in front of a closed door as all visits were already booked.
Discover the history of the island and the city at the City Gallery
This is probably the Museum to visit in Singapore if you have just one to visit. A huge wooden map of the city is displayed in the middle of the Museum. You will understand the history of the city, from its first steps until today, and even its future development in the years to come. It also explains why Singapore is a “smart city”, able to use natural elements and reuse them to maintain its public spaces, its buildings, its drinking water system, etc. It’s amazing to see and understand why the city has for years, implemented a policy focused on innovation and sustainable development. We are surprised, in a good way! They are really good in city branding… 😉
The streets of Little India
Singapore remains as the Malaysian peninsula, a true international melting pot. Eldorado for many Westerners, it is first and foremost a mix of Indian, Chinese and Malaysian cultures. The Little India district perfectly represents the Hindu religion and many temples are hidden at the corner of the streets. You will find also many stores selling tissues, very colorful, or spices. It’s a real pleasure to stroll in this district where the smells and colors let you dive into Indian culture.
Shopping in Chinatown
Chinatown is not reduced only to its shopping street and yet… It is probably the most crowded place after the Merlion Park. You’ll be tempted to buy all kinds of trinkets from Chinese calligraphy pads to “porcelain” tea cups. But we invite you to get out of this market Street to see the Buddhist temple which houses a relic of Buddha, his tooth! Yes, we saw it!
This is a beautiful temple, on several floors. Take the time to go around as many rooms are hidden. The top floor houses an alcove in gold, where rests the relic of Buddha. The set is beautifully decorated. Take the stairs to admire the photos selected as part of a photo contest. They are all very beautiful. And climb onto the roof terrace to enjoy a breath of fresh air in the garden. A little cocoon in this urban landscape.
Other temples are hidden in the middle of the towers. We stop in the Thian Hock Keng, where many books on the principles of Buddhism are offered. It rains during our visit, but this does not detract from the charm of the place, full of spirituality… and incense!
Our stay in Singapore is now coming to an end. Let’s go to our next stop: Jakarta, capital city of Indonesia. We heard so much about this country that we can’t wait to go and discover some of its islands and volcanos! See you soon for an article about the Java island.