Ask anyone who has visited Singapore and they’re sure to describe Southeast Asia’s hi-tech city-state in superlatives – greenest metropolis, busiest port, shoppers’ paradise. It’s all true! It is one of my most memorable holidays, mostly because we were part of history – the first Formula One night race, in September 2008.
Of course, the must-see-must-do list for Singapore is unbelievably long, even if you aren’t going there for a specific event. From museums, heritage centres, religious sanctuaries, to wildlife and spa retreats, theme parks, and the finest of wine and dine destinations, the bustling cosmopolitan promises to keep you busy. You can get around Singapore with great ease considering the highways and expressways form the arteries of the island. You can reach most places by simply hailing a taxi or taking a ride in the hop-on-hop-off buses. The latter is most ideal if you want to take in Singapore’s splendour, driving past Padang and the colonial edifices like the Parliament House, and the City Hall. You must visit the famous Thian Hock Keng Temple, and steer into sprightly Chinatown.
If you want to spend time amidst Singapore buds and blossoms, the Botanic Gardens are a sight to behold, especially the National Orchid Garden. Or take a stroll through Little India’s streets that are packed with stalls selling a variety of Indian goods. Most specialty restaurants here (located near Race Course Road) serve rich and spicy Indian food. This is one place in Singapore that gives ample choice for the veggies. For meat-eaters, fish head curry is a hot-seller.
Little India is the proud owner of the Mustafa shopping centre. Make sure you’ve had your tummies’ full before entering Singapore’s chief discount store. Because once in, chances are you’ll lose track of time and your meal. Top-end electronic gadgets, branded garments and accessories, FMCGs and fresh fruits and veggies; Mustafa has it all, and at unbelievably cheap prices. When done shopping, and night falls, you can catch a bus round the corner and head to one of Singapore’s favourite wildlife retreats – the night safari just outside Singapore Zoo. A ride in the world’s first wildlife night park is a journey you will never forget.
Dinner time is also the best time to get a great view of the Marina Bay and the Helix Bridge, overlooking the Central Business District and home to the 8.6-metre-tall original statue of the Merlion, Singapore’s mythological creature that is part lion, part fish. The Bay area is Singapore’s entertainment centre, lined up with some of the finest pubs, discotheques and restaurants.
The other huge attraction in Singapore is Sentosa. This island resort is a world in itself and can be reached from any point in Singapore via rail, road and sea, and then the cable car to take you to the main land. Once there, you are handed a map that tells you how to reach key corners like the beaches, underwater world, dolphin lagoon, butterfly and insect kingdom, the Sentosa Sky Tower, and another giant Merlion, to name only a few. The musical fire and water (the world renowned Songs of the Sea) show in the evening is one you cannot miss. Resto-bars are aplenty on Sentosa, so you can get off the island having satisfied all your “leisure-tainment” needs. In Singapore, you can attend a business meeting, grab a scrumptious meal, take a leisurely boat ride/ swim, go on a night safari, shop and chances are you’ll still have the whole evening left to indulge yourselves.
Sitting in the return flight and browsing through a tourist guide, you may realize you’ve covered only 2-3 things mentioned in the catalogue. Fret not, two more days in Singapore and you would have still felt the same.