Singapore is much more than the sum of its numerous attractions. It’s been at least a dozen years since our last visit and the city seems to be constantly evolving, reinventing, and reimagining itself, with people who are passionate about creating new possibilities. It’s where foodies, explorers, collectors, action seekers, culture shapers, and socialisers meet―and new experiences seem to be created all the time.
Now, whizzing around Singapore can take a matter of minutes, thanks to one of the world’s most efficient and widespread public transport systems…the MRT. We purchased a 2-day unlimited use pass for $26 each but if you return the card you get $10 each back. Not only is it inexpensive but so very easy to use.
For our first stop we head out of town a little to the Unesco World Heritage–listed Singapore Botanic Gardens: these are described as the lungs of Singapore. They are a 74-hectare botanic park. Established in 1860, it’s a tropical area peppered with glassy lakes, rolling lawns and themed gardens.
The site is home to the National Orchid Garden, in our opinion, the best part of the entire gardens. The National Orchid Garden itself is the legacy of an orchid-breeding program that began in 1928, and its 3 hectares house over 1000 species and 2000 hybrids. Of these, around 600 are on display – the largest showcase of tropical orchids on Earth.
Located next to the National Orchid Garden is the 1-hectare Ginger Garden, with over 250 members of the Zingiberaceae family. Unfortunately, it was not the right season for these plants to flower.
From these gardens, we hop on the MRT for a quick stop in Chinatown. We got caught up in a mall attached to the MRT station so actually didn’t get out into Chinatown before we decided it was time for lunch and off we went to Clarke Quay.
This delightful riverside development is packed full of bustling bars and restaurants, boutique shops and pumping nightclubs, attracting a steady stream of tourists alongside Singapore’s party animals. Clarke Quay’s location takes full advantage of the picturesque body of water that emerges from the city’s main river, with alfresco-style dining to be had in an endless number of eateries set around the water’s edge. Head under the futuristic, jelly-like roof and you’ll find some great shopping options as well as a plentiful supply of bars, making this a real bar-hoppers’ heaven!
Next stop, Little India! Again, a short MRT ride and we are there to see the decorations and activities for Diwali, a Hindu festival of lights – spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”. They were creating all types of flower “leis” and the streets were decorated with lights. It was very interesting to walk along the streets among all the hawkers and many, many gold stores!
But the call of a cold beer and some snacks lured us back to Clarke Quay before heading back to the ship.
Our entire focus on our second day in Singapore is the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore’s 21st-century botanic garden which is a S$1 billion, 101-hectare fantasy land of space-age bio-domes, high-tech Supertrees and whimsical sculptures. The Flower Dome replicates the dry Mediterranean climates found across the world, while the even more astounding Cloud Forest is a tropical montane affair, complete with waterfall.
The cost to visit the 2 domes was $26 each but well worth the price of admission. We started with the Cloud Forest. Surprisingly it was quite chilly inside the dome and a very large area. Starting on the ground floor you wind your way around to the elevators which take you to the top and then wind your way back down. Those with a fear of heights may find the walkway a bit daunting.
The Flower Dome is comprised of several sections including flowers from Australia, Africa, Mediterranean, USA and many others. Being this close to Christmas, Disney had a magnificent display for the season too.
Outside of the domes are several “Supertrees”, large steel structures sculpted to look like huge trees. Connecting two of the Supertrees is the OCBC Skyway, with knockout views of the gardens, city and South China Sea. At 7.45pm and 8.45pm, the Supertrees twinkle and glow for the spectacular Garden Rhapsody show. Unfortunately, we had to be back at the ship by 5:30 so we missed the light show. However, I did brave the Skywalk ($8) and was thrilled by the views of the park. Fantastic…see pictures below.
South of the Supertree Grove is British artist Marc Quinn’s extraordinary sculpture, Planet, a 7-tonne infant seemingly floating above the lawn.
Singapore is a wonderful city and many aboard the ship have declared it their favourite city in the world. We can see why. Our next stop will be Indonesia! Thanks for following along!