The Top 6 Things You Must See in Singapore

After our relaxing time in the Maldives, we headed to Singapore with our friends. Since we only had three days, we did what I call guerrilla tourism. That is how you travel when you have limited time and have to get back to work. We don’t do it much these days and we found the pace a little demanding. But there were so many “must do” things in Singapore that we crammed in a lot of site seeing.

While you can find lots of lists of the top things to do, I’m going to tell you what resonated with me and why. These attractions are listed in the order I enjoyed them most.

Gardens By the Bay

One of the things I really wanted to see up close was the metal Supertree Grove you can see riding into town from the airport. These trees are located in Gardens By the Bay, which also has a Cloud Forest and a Flower Dome. Tickets were super expensive and each attraction was priced separately. We thought we bought tickets that included climbing the metal trees but we didn’t, so we could only walk around the base of the trees.

That said, I loved the Cloud Forest dome. The hanging gardens were beautiful and unusual. In addition, the Cloud Forest had special Avatar attractions in advance of James Cameron’s coming Avatar movie. We waited in line for the Avatar attractions. Some were worth the wait, others weren’t. The best part for me was making an avatar of myself. Of course, they only overlay stuff on top of your picture but I liked it anyway.

Then we walked quickly through the Flower Dome. We knew there was a light show on the trees at 8:30 pm, but we really needed dinner so we left the park with the intention of trying to get back or find someplace else to see the light show.

Nighttime Light Show

After we finished dinner, it was near the time for the second light show. We didn’t think we had time to get back to the park, so we decided to go to the highest microbrewery in Asia to view the light show from the 33rd floor. It worked out pretty well and the light show on the Supertrees was really fun. We also got a nice view of the lights of Marina Bay Sands Hotel (the famous surfboard-looking one) and the Esplanade.

Esplanade, Merlion Park, and the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Mall

In my opinion, every visitor to Singapore must walk along the Esplanade and Merlion park to admire the lake and the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

By the time we got all the way around the lake to the shopping mall at the bottom of the hotel, we were ready for some refreshments. Said refreshments were surprisingly hard to find because we wanted to sit inside and every place was full. We finally stopped at Daniel Boulud’s restaurant for a refreshing cocktail.

The mall itself is interesting because there are at least two stores pushed out into the lake. One was the Apple store and the other was Louis Vuitton. The interesting architecture of the mall goes with the equally interesting “surfboard” above.

Tour of Kampong Glam

Kampong Glam is an old area of town that still has colorful shophouses built at the beginning of the 20th century. Houses have a shop or restaurant on the ground floor and living quarters above. The Kampong Glam neighborhood has some well-restored examples of colorful buildings.

As part of our tour, our guide took us to a beautiful Art Deco building that contained the Atlas Bar, a famous bar. The building and the bar are magnificent. I was disappointed that we didn’t have time to stop for a drink so I could enjoy the building longer.

The National Gallery has really good exhibits about the history of Singapore. The museum is housed in the former City Hall and Supreme Court complex. In addition to the historical timelines, the building is magnificent. Some of the building façades that were originally on the outside are now enclosed. It is worth going to the museum for the building alone. We didn’t even see the main part of the museum. We were told to go visit the upper floors for free and then decide if we wanted to buy a ticket. After seeing the building, historical exhibits, and some interesting art exhibits, we opted to finish our museum visit at that. I think it was definitely worth a stop.

Hawker Market

We had heard so much about street food in Singapore, especially chicken rice. When Singapore decided to create a great city, the government relocated all of the street food vendors, called hawkers, into markets. There are many of these markets scattered around the city.

When we went to one of the hawker markets, we ordered chicken rice from the same place as Anthony Bourdain. That said, none of us were that thrilled with the flavor and the cold chicken with its skin still on. We did get some Hong Kong noodles that were good.

Singapore Changi Airport

The Changi Airport is listed in the top 10 tourist attractions in Singapore. Inside one of the airport terminals, they have created a tropical garden. You can stroll around near the top of the dome, for a fee. Attractions include a small hedge maze and a cool topiary walk.

They also have an incredible vortex waterfall in the middle of the shopping mall and garden part of Terminal 1. The water fell from the roof of the dome all the way down to the lower levels of the terminal. It was truly spectacular.

Other Things to Do in Singapore

In our three days in Singapore, we did a few other recommended things but I wouldn’t say you should include them if you have limited time.

Night Safari

The night safari at the zoo is actually a visit to the zoo at night. They light a portion of each enclosure and put food out so the animals will come to the lighted area so you can see them. After the 30-minute tram ride around the zoo, we were allowed to walk all of the regular trails. It was an interesting way to visit the zoo and it was quite dark. The tiger was especially active and fun to watch. While a night safari is a novel idea and it certainly attracts a lot of people, it wasn’t any great shakes. Don’t get me wrong, I love zoos but this one wasn’t especially big or unusual.

Tour of the Raffles Hotel

Raffles is a famous old hotel in a beautiful colonial building. We chose not to spend an hour in line to get into the Long Bar for a $36 Singapore sling that was created there. In fact, I never had a Singapore sling in Singapore so I guess I’ll have to go back. We only toured the buildings because we were walking right by. In my opinion a visit there is definitely optional.

Final Thoughts on Singapore

Overall, we really liked Singapore and we will have to fly through in the future. It is quite hot and humid there so there are many inside attractions, including the airport. Here is my list of the top 6 must-do activities in Singapore.

  1. Gardens By the Bay
  2. Esplanade, Merlion Park, and the Marina Sands Shopping Mall
  3. Tour of Kampong Glam or Chinatown
  4. Singapore National Museum
  5. Hawker Market
  6. Waterfall at Changi Airport

What sounds the most interesting to you?

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