September unexpectedly turned out pretty exciting as mum and I decided to take a trip to Singapore – a place most people had already been to and were wondering what took us this long to make it happen. LOL.
I have a simple funda… Visit places that are further away first and then plan trips to near by places once you’re getting older. This of course, applies for people who are older than me. I personally love long flights (yes, I can be weird like that) but I know most people have low tolerance levels towards long journeys. So when we wanted to do a short and sweet trip that didn’t involve taking too many leaves, Singapore was certainly worth a thought. The weather being pretty much like India, it made me randomly realise (just as a passing thought) a foreign country isn’t about the extreme weather conditions (most of us want to get away from our respective hometowns for the very same reason, right?) but about the various cultures, experiences and everyday life that makes a place more than just another piece of land on earth. We were in Singapore for about 6 days and it gave me a chance to explore and experience quite a few things… Here are 9 of them that you can totally include in your itinerary whenever you decide to head there. 🙂
Whether you’re an animal lover or not, this experience is one of a kind as you can witness night animals in the world’s first nocturnal zoo. We took the tram safari which was quite enjoyable. For those who enjoy going on walking trails, they have quite a few to experience. Live shows like ‘Creatures of the Night’ (they happen every 30-45 minutes if I’m not mistaken) are attractions that people of all ages can enjoy. Here at the night safari, you can watch out for all sorts of animals and although they strictly don’t allow flash photography, you come across tourists who break rules. Please don’t be one of them? It’s really not fair to cause discomfort to these creatures. It was also very nice to see the concerned people emphasise on conservation of endangered species and are in the process of doing their best to sustain the environment. Being a wildlife enthusiast, I respect and support the initiative, wholeheartedly!
It’s a good idea to pre-book all your passes/tickets to avoid waiting in long queues. You may also come across sweet discounts if you look it up online. For more information, log on to: http://www.nightsafari.com.sg/
Now no holiday is ever really complete until you get onto a tourist-friendly bus and go about the city as a part of your sightseeing. If you think it’s too clichéd, believe you me, it’s not. Every city may seem similar, but there are obviously cultural differences that are worth learning about. From exploring Chinatown (we visited a stunning Chinese temple here) to witnessing the Merlion by the bay (I may have had higher expectations since this one isn’t as overwhelming… but when I saw the Merlion at Sentosa Island, I knew what the hype was all about), it’s one of those few things you can’t skip just because it may seem too done and dusted. We also got a stunning bird’s eye view via the Singapore Flyer. It not only adds some wonderful character to the overall skyline, but also gives every tourist a chance to look at Singapore in a whole new way.Fun fact: The Singapore Flyer has 28 air-conditioned capsules that can hold up to 28 people each, which takes 28 minutes to complete a full circle and was inaugurated in the year 2008. If you’re into museums and art galleries, then they have enough of those as well. It’s all about what catches your fancy and is worth the time you spend in this lovely city.
Gardens by the Bay
For the flora and fauna lovers out there, this place is nothing short of heaven. With an array of plants and flowers that make this world a beautiful place, you can find them all under 2 roofs (conservatories) – ‘Cloud Forest’ and ‘Flower Dome’. They’re vast indoor spaces and one can take a tour that can end up with you having a million wonderful pictures of all sorts of flowers.
If you prefer walking, then a leisure tour of the unique art sculptures and outdoor heritage gardens inspired by the various parts of the world and their respective cultures is in store for you. They also have a mini bus tour that works perfectly well for tourists who aren’t comfortable walking it out. Make this an evening visit and then make sure you stay back till about 7:30pm for the light and sound show that happens at Supertree Grove. It’s an exhilarating visual + audio treat!
For more information, log on to: http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/
Jurong Bird Park
In habitats that mirror their naturalistic environments, Jurong Bird Park is home to the colours of the world, as Asia’s largest bird park with a collection of more than 5,000 birds across 400 species. A leisure tour around this vast space, it’s a chance to see birds that you haven’t even heard of. There’s also a wonderful opportunity feeding these beauties with their ‘Lory Feeding’ experience. If not that, you could also get a chance to ‘Lunch with the Parrots’ and other recreational offerings. We managed to catch the ‘High Flyers Show’ featuring some superbly trained and well-treated birds… It happens in the open amphitheatre and is definitely one of the highlights of this bird park.
For more information, log on to: http://www.birdpark.com.sg/
So I realised this after getting there that it’s actually a lot more fun-filled and attraction-worthy if you stay at the resort within Sentosa Island. Ours was a full day visit and we covered as many things as we were interested in. Having been to the original Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, I skipped this one, but it’s definitely something you shouldn’t miss.
A couple of cable car rides that give you stunning ariel views of this island (including the much sought after Sentosa Merlion) is again something that you could check out. From enjoying beach parties at Siloso Beach to indulging in spa therapies if you’re staying at one of the hotels within, there’s enough and more to do. But since we were just there for a day, we managed to cover a lot of other adventure activities.
They also have the Trick Eye Museum that was part of our itinerary but sadly we couldn’t make it. But personally, the grand and oh-so-majestic light and sound live show by the beach – ‘Wings of Time’ was the highlight of our Sentosa visit. Don’t miss it you guys… it’s beyond beautiful!
For more information, log on to: http://www.sentosa.com.sg/
Southeast Asia’s first Hollywood movie theme park, Universal Studios Singapore features a variety of fascinating attractions, rides and entertainment for families and thrill-seekers. Apparently 18 out of the 24 movie-themed rides here were designed exclusively for the Singapore park. Although a lot smaller than the original Universal Studios in the US, this one can easily be covered in a day. I would personally recommend that one invests in an express pass only so you can avoid the excessively long and exhausting queues. From the renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame to entering spaces dedicated to various movie themes, this is my kinda happy place. I’m the sort of person who enjoys the scariest of rides. So if that’s your calling too, don’t miss the 2 crazy rollercoasters, Battlestar Galactica rides – Human vs Cylon. You guys should totally check out the Transformers ride… The Ultimate 3D Battle that leaves you feeling exhilarated and wanting more.
For more information, log on to: http://www.rwsentosa.com/language/en-US/Homepage/Attractions/UniversalStudiosSingapore
Initially we didn’t have Singapore Zoo on our itinerary but since we had an extra day here, we decided to make full use of it by spending it at the zoo – in the company of some wild and amazing animals. From watching the polar bear laze around in the pool to not being able to move away from the white tiger enclosure because they’re so mesmerising, it was a day well spent. I could watch these beauties for hours and yet it’ll never be enough. Mind you, none of these animals are in cages or stuffy enclosures and that’s what makes it totally worth a visit. They have multiple activities and shows that involve these wonderful animals. Singapore Zoo is considered as the world’s best rainforest zoo so I would only hope they are well taken care of as they all gave out such happy vibes and since the concern towards a sustainable environment is so high, I’d like to believe they’re doing their fair bit.
I don’t know if I have to mention this again, but you got to really be a true animal enthusiast to enjoy the trip I experienced. I actually prioritized these activities over shopping and that’s not something everyone would be up for. So go ahead and plan an itinerary that suits your whims and fancies just so that your trip is worth the money you’ll be spending on it.
For more information, log on to: http://www.zoo.com.sg/
Experience the Singapore Nightlife
Thanks to a friend being in town on my last night in Singapore, I had the golden opportunity to experience the nightlife here. It’s no doubt a bustling city, but places like Clarke Quay are so full of energy even on a week night that you’d think the weekend never really ends here. As we walked around, I was soaking in every bit of Singapore by night. From chilling by the river (what a beautiful view it is) to downing a local beer (Tiger), I’m glad this night happened the way it did. We then decided to check out Asia’s tallest alfresco bar – 1 Altitude. Situated on the 63rd floor of One Raffles Place, it boasts of a 360 degree view with only a thin shoulder height glass panel to keep you from falling off the edge. If you ever want to feel like you’re on top of the world, this is the place to be! They have both, live bands as well as DJs that take charge to liven up this fantastic place! Sundowners are indeed very popular here… after all, the view is to die for! I sipped on Singapore’s signature cocktail – the Singapore Sling as we partied, danced a little, spoke a lot and generally had a great time! There really was no better way to spend my last night in this magnificent city.
Get a Taste of the Local Food
If you were wondering why I haven’t mentioned anything about the meals I’ve eaten or the food culture in general, then it’s because I usually like to keep the best for the last. Being a world food enthusiast, I am open to eating pretty much everything that’s considered a delicacy anywhere around the world. Singaporean cuisine is diverse and contains various elements derived from several ethnic groups, as a result of its history as a seaport with a large immigrant population. Influences include the cuisines of the native Malays and the largest ethnic group, the Chinese, as well as Indonesian, Indian, Peranakan and Western traditions. Influences from other regions such as Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Middle East are also present in their food and that’s what makes it so fascinating.
Every meal was an experiment in itself and although I can’t remember the names correctly (the language can sometimes be a barrier), most of the food is pretty much an acquired taste… it may or may not grown on you and that’s something only you as the consumer would know best.
There aren’t too many vegetarian options unless you’re totally up for a South Indian fest. With a hardcore Tamilian influence, a walk into Little India will make you question whether you’re in a foreign country or not. Ananda Bhavan, Sarvana Bhavan (both are open 24×7 if I am not mistaken), Komala’s and more are some of the places where you can savour a wholesome vegetarian south Indian meal (that’s what my pure vegetarian mother did) and it feels so much like home for those who can relate with it.
I on the other hand dabbled into pretty much everything that felt alien to my knowledge about gobal cuisines. From savouring the popular dimsums at Din Tai Fung (thanks Roxanne and Anu for recommending this place!), some soupy noodle preparation called Mee Siam (the one I had was at Toast Box – a local food and coffee franchise) and of course, wholesome seafood laksa… they all may seem like the same thing, but they aren’t, ok? I also got a taste of some Mee Goreng with Roasted Chicken, Hainese Chicken with Sticky rice and the unforgettable Thai buttery garlic prawns with sticky rice I had at this randomly gem of a street food stall within Bugis Street (PS. It’s a great place to shop too – cheap and totally bargain-friendly).
If you’re seeking most local delicacies all under one roof, then Newton Food Centre is your place to be. I met a friend for lunch here and we both were hungry enough to gorge of some classic Singaporean Chilli Crab and BBQ Stingray – both being exceptionally delicious local preparations. I believe there’s more to explore so here’s hoping I can go back! fingers crossed
For more information about Newton Food Centre, log on to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton_Food_Centre