I have to say, that this is one of my best summer ever for I was able to travel and visit one of the most interesting country in Asia, Singapore. For a small country in terms of land area, I must say that Singapore has it all. Every space is maximized and not a single space is wasted. Smack right in the middle of the city you will find parks, mountains, rivers and forest reservations. It is urban planning at its finest. I love Singapore because it is very tourist friendly. I also like the no fuss, no frills, straight forward style of living. Everything is well thought out and organized. You just have to read and follow instructions well. We stayed for about a week and during this time we visited quite a number of interesting places…
This is an events place where plays, concerts and large functions are held. When we were there, the stage play, CATS, was showing. It is also known for its Durian-like structure which makes it one of the most popular architectural structures in Singapore. We had fun taking pictures around the place because the view is just great.
CHARGE: Free of charge (unless you would want to watch a concert or play)
Of course, trip to Singapore will not be complete without paying tribute to the famous Merlion (don’t ask me about the legend because I’ve simply forgotten all about it, pardon my anesthesia induced short term memory). It is a good 5-10 minutes walk from the Esplanade. We passed by this wonderful bridge with the great view of Singapore skyline at night. Better go there night time because the view at night is just perfect. We had to make lots of stops along the bridge to take pictures. From here you can see the flyer, the largest Ferris wheel in the world. The statue of the Merlion in this park is better looking than the one in Sentosa and this one is also a fountain, thus making it picture perfect. From here we rode the really nice tugboat that took us on a wonderful river cruise. We got a good view of the posh Fullerton Hotel and the strips of restos lining up Clarke Quay, which is the endpoint of the river cruise. You will love the gentle breeze and all that romantic feeling that a river cruise always brings on so better have your hubby along if you plan to do this. I didn’t, so I was just imagining him beside me.:)
CHARGE: Free of charge for the park and $ 6.00 per pax for the river cruise
Clarke Quay is the place to be if you’re looking for that perfect night out with friends. It has loads of restaurants and bars. There’s the Clinic Bar with an interesting set-up. Hospital beds as lounges and wheel chairs as guests chairs. You will be served in dextrose and get intoxicated by the alchohol shot! Nah, just kidding. Of course famous Hooters and Fashion bar are there together with the other popular restos and bars. There are about a hundred or so restaurants to choose from with delectable food and yummy cocktail drinks.
CHARGE: Free of charge when you step into Clarke Quay but full of charge if you take on one or two drinks and eat some yummy food there.
Since this is a Chinese country of course there’s a Chinatown, where you can get the best bargains for your pasalubongs. If you’re going to SG, I recommend you buy most of your pasalubongs here because the signature SG shirt is really cheap here compared to the ones in the mall. You can get them for like 3 for $10. See, such a bargain. You can also buy lots of cute trinkets and other Chinese goodluck charms for cheap. We bought some really cute jade bracelets and cellphone charmers as giveaways. Plus, picture taking is great here because of the bursts of colors. There are also temples around such as the Burmese and Indian temples that you can visit.
CHARGE: bring lots of money because you won’t be able to resists the good buys here
This is the place where Indians abound and I must say this is a shopper’s heaven. Everything in Mustafa is cheap, cheap, cheap. From branded perfumes, watches, shades, bags and homewares down to the candies, chocolates. The goods are cheap in this place because it has something to do with the tariff cuts/agreement. Anyway, basta cheap that’s all that matters. You can get a very good bargain there. Another place where you can indulge yourself and where you can buy your pasalubongs.
CHARGE: No charge except for the ones you’ll buy
If you love hitting the malls, this one’s for you because here you can find rows and rows of malls which at the time we went there were mostly on sale. In Takashimaya mall, there was an on going shoes and bags sale. 50% -70% off on branded items like Lacoste, Guess, Nine West, Aldo, Calvin Klein etc. etc. All your favorite shops you can find here, just wear your most comfortable shoes and be prepared to do a lot of walking.
CHARGE: Free of charge except for the ones you’ll buy
SINGAPORE ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS
This is one of the best place I have been to in Singapore. It is home to one of the world’s vast primates collection. You will encounter here animals that are not present in most zoos such as the white polar bear, endangered species like walrus, penguins and sea lions, pumas, Leopard, cheetah, wolf and jaenas. One of the interesting species in the world, the white tigers, can also be found here. They also have a huge reptile collection as well as the animals that we come to love as we grow up like the giraffes, zebras, hippopotamus, elephant, kangaroos, white rhinoceros, flamingos etc. What is good about this zoo also is that it is a conservation and research center as well as a breeding site for most endangered animals. The zoo was able to recreate a place that is so close to the natural habitat of these animals that is why most animals are not in cages (well, except for the wild ones), they roam around their personal spaces. You will really get to be up close and personal with them. As you enter you will be given a map, you can either walk on foot and explore the whole zoo or ride on trams and just get off at certain points if you like. My sister, daughter and I decided to explore the zoo on foot and so we were leisurely walking around when we noticed at the side of the road a lizard/iguana looking reptile that is about one meter long cautiously walking along the road. When it spotted us rooted on the ground with our mouths hanging open, we quickly turned our backs and rode on the next tram that passed by. I’m sure it is harmless or else it wouldn’t be allowed to roam around but my sister remembered this tiny bit of information that those kinds like to chase people around so, just imagine us at that moment and you will get the picture. There are also scheduled animals shows such as Elephant Show, Dolphin Show, Bird Show, Penguin/Sea Lion Show everyday where you can pop in and watch. My daughter absolutely loved this. This is truly a great place to bring kids and kids at heart.
CHARGE: Entrance – Adult $16.87 and Child $8.41 ; Tram ride – Adult and $5 Child 2.50
This is also one of the must see places in Singapore. As the Singapore Zoo closes at 6, Night Safari opens at 7 in the same place. Of course here, you will get to view their vast collection of nocturnal animals. You can either go and explore on foot by yourselves or ride the tram. I suggest you ride a tram because you never really know what animals are lurking in the dark out there because like I said some are free to roam around (awoooo…hehehe). Flash photography is strictly prohibited for this will definitely render these nocturnal animals blind. There is an excellent tour guide in the tram who will get everyone familiarize with all the animals that you can see there. There is also a scheduled Animal show every night at 7:30 and 8:30. It was an entertaining show, the animals are very well-trained to show-off.:)
CHARGE: Adult $30 and child $27 : Tram ride $11
And now we come to my favorite place in Singapore, Sentosa Island. You have two options if you plan to go there. You can take the monorail from Harbour Front to Sentosa and back, or you can take the cable car (which we did) from Harbour Front to Sentosa and back. It was my first cable car ride and I must say, I felt a different kind of high when we were up there seeing the whole Singapore from a hundred feet high and seeing Sentosa island slowly coming into view. My daughter and I were all giddy and excited. I totally enjoyed this whole island very much. For me it is better than Disney. They have so much to offer, it’s like having a great birthday treat. There’s the Animal Encounters, Underwater World, Sky Tower, 4D Magix, Images of Singapore, Butterfly Park and Insect kingdom, Luge and Sky ride, Merlion Walk, Flying Trapeze and Songs of the Sea. There are also lots of beach bars, restaurants and cafes/ bistros in the island so food and comfort are not a problem. My daughter and I particularly like the 4D magix where you can feel the crabs pinch, the bees sting, birds flying and water splashes and oh what the heck, that whole kiddie feeling . During that time Pirates was showing. We were also surely captivated by the Songs of the Sea, a 30 minute show featuring pyrotechnics, water jets, brilliant lasers, captivating music and other dramatic effects. It was just simply amazing, that’s the only word that can describe it. You can also go visit and explore the three beaches in Sentosa, the Siloso beach, Tanjong beach and Palawan beach, which is considered as the southernmost point of Continental Asia. I suggest you allot two days if you plan to explore this island because the one whole day that we were there was just not enough.
CHARGES: Cable car two-way A $19/ C $9.50, Entrance $ 2, Animal and Bird encounters (free), Butterfly park and insect kingdom A $16/ C $10, Desperados $ 12, Dolphin Lagoon A $22.90/ C 14.60, Images of Singapore A $10/ C $7, Sentosa 4D Magix A $18/ C $ 11, Cine Blast A $18/ C $ 11, Songs of the Sea $10 per person, Underwater world A $22.90/ C 14.60, Tiger Sky Tower A $ 12/ C $8
Of course not to forget, before you head home, the city tour. Singapore downtown has a lot to offer. There are great structures that truly are an architect’s delight in this city. When we were there we visited Vivo City, which was cited as one of the best mall in the world. We also dined at Suntec City mall where IT Fairs are held. We checked out the Fountain of Wealth and passed by Rendevouz Hotel and Raffles Hotel, two oldest hotels to date. We also visited this quaint place Chijmes, which was actually a convent before but is now a fabulous place that is home to some nice restaurants. We also visited Singapore Art Museum, National Library , Singapore Management University and City Hall. The city is definitely as engaging as the other tourist spots.
CHARGE: free of charge (just a leisure walk around)
There are lots of different restaurants around–Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Thai to name a few, with great food. If you like food adventure, I highly recommend Glutton’s Bay near Esplanade, which serves all the local dishes. McDonald’s, KFC and other fastfood restos don’t serve rice plus the chicken that they serve is a little spicy. The food rates are relatively high if you will convert, so do not convert anymore if you want to really enjoy your meal.:)
Some travel tips: Although there are lots of taxis around with honest taxi drivers better ride the MRTand the bus to save money that you can just use for shopping and sight seeing. Buy a store value card in one of the stations to avoid having to get a ticket for every ride. You can also use this store value card when riding the bus. If you plan to ride the bus, check which bus no. will pass by your destination at the bus stations/stop because not all buses go there, the places are bus coded. When in an elevator or stairs, always keep left, because the right side is always for the ones who are in a hurry. When crossing the street, wait for the walk signal to light up, you can’t just cross the street just like what we do here. Always bring along hand tissue and wipes although most public toilets in restaurants, stations and malls are very very clean with tissue and all, some foodcourts do not provide tissue. And lastly, do not forget to smile and say please, thank you and excuse me all the time, Singaporeans are known to be very polite.
We had a great, great time in Singapore. The one week that we were there was simply not enough. There are lots to see and to appreciate there. It is not true that you can tour Singapore in one day, those who claim to have toured this city in just one day is simply stupid because who in his right mind would just go around driving in this beautiful city. It takes 4 or more days to actually unearth the beauty, get immersed in the rich culture and be totally captivated by this beautiful Tiger city which has so much to offer. T’was love at first, second and third and fourth and….sight for me.:)