IT IS my tradition to go away on my birthday, and the past two years have been exciting trips of “Seoul Searching” in South Korea. This year, my birthday trip came early and I have the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to thank for it.
When people ask me how my trip to the City-State was, I always say, it was like seeing Singapore for the first time. My first few visits to Singapore in the past two decades were always either hectic or just overnight. Sure, I got to eat well in those trips but it was always never enough. I got to party in Neil Road and, always, the following day was a blur (that’s when you know you had a bit too much fun, haha!).
Indeed, there is so much to see, eat, and experience in Singapore.
Here’s what we got to squeeze in (minus all the eating of course) during our memorable five-day trip:
1. National Gallery Singapore
The National Gallery Singapore is an artwork on its own. It houses a wide collection of Singaporean and South East Asian visual arts in two national monuments – City Hall and the former Supreme Court – that have been beautifully restored and creatively linked together.
2. Gardens By the Bay
Truly a popular point of interest in Singapore of late… But you must go inside to be completely wowed by its magnificence. It’s not your ordinary garden, I tell you. In Sakura season, they usually have a special exhibition that features this most beautiful phenomenon that, once upon a time, can only be enjoyed in cooler Asian climates like Japan and South Korea.
Don’t miss Garden Rhapsody, a light and music show by the “Supertrees” of the Gardens. It’s a nightly show that happens at 7:45 p.m., free for all to enjoy.
3. Tiong Bahru
What used to be one of the oldest neighborhoods in Singapore, Tiong Bahru has since emerged as a hip, young area where the new generation has started opening ambient cafés and interesting shops.
Coffee culture aficionados will truly enjoy visiting 40 Hands, a popular coffee shop that believes it takes 40 hands to produce a single cup of coffee from bean to cup. There are so many extraordinary coffee shops around Singapore, search for them if you please.
Books Actually is an indie bookstore that features work by lesser-known authors and local writers.
4. Kampong Glam’s Haji Lane and Arab Street
Haji Lane is the narrowest and prettiest walking street in Singapore that has become a favorite hangout of Singapore’s cool kids and has since become a famous tourist destination. You’ll fall in love with this graffiti-tagged lane that features so many quirky boutique shops, market stalls, and odd, hip cafés in a quaint, little-village atmosphere.
Arab Street located near the Sultan Mosque is where you go for real good halal food and high quality exotic fabric in a laidback and charming atmosphere. The place is so picturesque you’d want to spend the entire day there!
5. Resorts World Sentosa
You can only imagine the actual fun you’ll have at the Trick Eye Museum if you haven’t tried it yet. We got to spend only an hour there and it felt like we were given only 10 minutes! Make sure to have full batteries on your phones and cameras and allot more time to spend there.
Universal Studios Singapore at Resorts World Sentosa is Southeast Asia’s first Hollywood movie-themed entertainment park for families and thrill seekers! You won’t want to miss going on Revenge of The Mummy and Transformers The Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle. Oh, and there’s Battlestar Galactica in Sci-fi City. I dare you to do both rides: Human and Cylon. Warning! Not for the faint of heart…
There are so many fun activities and attractions at Resorts World Sentosa. Here you will also find some of the best hotels and the finest restaurants. Just take your pick.
6. Shopping at Bugis and the famous Orchard Road
For some bargain shopping, go to Bugis. It is Singapore’s largest street shopping experience venue where everything is all under one roof (well, now there are several buildings)! And believe me, one afternoon will be never be quite enough.
Lest you forget, the row of shopping centers along Orchard road beckons! I suggest discussing shopping limits and boundaries with your partner or your parents before going crazy on your credit card because I tell you, there’s no going back from there. And for the record, I’m not actually speaking from personal experience. Wink!
Our comfortable stay at the beautiful M Social Singapore whose interiors were designed by world-renowned visionary genius Philip Starck was icing on the cake. The designer hotel is situated overlooking the vibrant Robertson Quay, along the gorgeous Singapore River.
I actually spent a couple more days in Singapore after STB’s curated tour. This time, I picked a hotel at the Chinatown area where great places to eat are always within reach. I also wanted to spend some time to see friends and experience the city on my own free time.
I feel safe in the city. No tourist traps, and the people are generally honest and sincere. You can eat anywhere worry-free knowing that sanitation and food safety is of utmost importance to them. Water on their tap is potable. Public restrooms are clean and well maintained.
Public transport is safe and convenient. Plus, almost everywhere you look is nice. International events, concerts, and shows are held there, and everyone gets to actually breathe music, arts, and culture all in one city.
Indeed, there’s so much more to do, eat, and experience in Singapore. Planning your trip won’t be easy. Decide on what you want out of the beautiful city-state and curate your own trip to make it “Your Singapore”. Surely there’s always something for everyone: for families, for couples, groups, and for the solo travelers.