There are so many places to visit when sightseeing in Singapore – the only challenge is fitting them all into your itinerary. While most visiting plan on spending a great deal of time on two of Singapore’s most well-known activities – shopping and eating – there are also countless adventures to undertake, cultures to experience, and captivating sightseeing attractions to explore.
Have a Singapore Sling at the elegant Raffles Hotel
Every visit to Singapore should begin with the world-famous Singapore Sling at the place where it was created, the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel. Operating since 1887, the Raffles Hotel is a display of elegance and grandeur and has been declared a National Monument by the Singapore Government.
While the hotel is refined, the Long Bar is casual and absolutely the spot to sample Singapore’s most famous beverage. Making its debut in 1915, the Singapore Sling is considered the national drink of Singapore and was created by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon.
The tasty gin cocktail is a combination of pineapple juice, grenadine, lime juice, Dom Benedictine, cherry brandy, and Cointreau. The two-story watering hole is also the only place in Singapore where littering is allowed, with patrons tossing peanut shells on the floor in the stylish establishment.
Experience an abundance of nature in the center of Singapore at the 101 hectares/250 acres of the Gardens by the Bay. While open throughout the day and evening, the best time for a visit is a couple of hours before sunset, providing enough time to explore the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, and other areas of the gardens before the nightly Supertrees light show.
Showcasing a vast array of flowers, plants, and trees from the Mediterranean and semi-arid subtropical regions of the world, The Flower Dome is the largest glass greenhouse in the world. Not to be missed are the thousand-year-old olive trees, the African Baobab trees, the intricate wood carvings, and the extensive collection of succulent plants and flower displays.
Next, a visit to the Cloud Forest unveils plant life ranging from tropical highlands up to 2,000 meters above sea level and features the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
To best experience the Cloud Forest, take the elevator to the top of the plant-covered, 35-meter indoor mountain, climb one flight of stairs and then casually stroll the elevated walkway to the bottom. Orchids, pitcher plants, and the Venus Flycatcher are highlights amidst the lush landscape of ferns and mosses thriving in the misty, rainforest-like environment.
As the evening approaches, find a seat in the Supertree Grove and prepare to be dazzled as they come to life nightly at 7:45 pm and 8:45 pm.
Constructed with nearly 163,000 plants, the 18 Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay contain over 200 species of orchids, ferns, bromeliads, and other tropical flowering plants and reach heights of up to 16 stories or approximately 160 feet/49 meters. Twelve of the SuperTrees can be found in the Supertree Grove and the other six are located at various points around the Gardens of the Bay.
Watch the sun set at the top of Marina Bay Sands
One of the most spectacular spots to take in a sunset in Singapore is at the top of the Marina Bay Sands.
Built in 2010, the Marina Bay Sands is a destination unto itself, with a hotel, shopping mall, 80 dining options, a museum, a casino, and a convention center. The hotel is comprised of 2,561 rooms and suites located in three towers capped by the Sands SkyPark, which gives the structure its unique design. The SkyPark is home to restaurants, gardens, an observation deck, and the famous 57th-floor infinity pool.
While the pool overlooking the Singapore skyline is only accessible to guests of the hotel, the SkyPark and the restaurants are open to the public and provide a perfect spot for gazing at the twinkling Singapore skyline bathed in the warm light as the sun sets.
Take a stroll along the Singapore River
A walk along the Singapore River, which winds its way through the center of the city, is an excellent way to get to know Singapore.
Approximately 3.2 kilometers in length, the Singapore River is divided into three areas: Robertson Quay, bustling Clarke Quay, and the historic Boat Quay. Singapore’s first quay, Boat Quay was the location of Singapore’s first trading houses and warehouses and the spot where Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles first stepped ashore in what is now the Lion City. Today, vibrant Boat Quay is home to numerous cafes, restaurants, and entertainment spots.
Formerly a center of commerce, Clarke Quay is a bustling area of restaurants, retail shops, and entertainment venues. Further up-river, quieter Robertson Quay is also home to restaurants, alfresco dining, condominiums, and hotels.
While the Singapore River is now a lovely area with a beautiful promenade, the river was once polluted with sewage and waste. In 1977, Singapore launched a campaign to clean up the river. During the nearly 10-year-long project, the river and surrounding areas were cleaned and restored, revitalizing the area and attracting the numerous hotels, restaurants, and businesses now located along the popular destination.
The long promenade that was constructed along both banks of the waterfront during the project is a perfect spot for a stroll in Singapore.
Cruise the Singapore River on a Bumboat
While walking along the river, you can’t help but notice the colorful boats traversing its waters.
Dating back to the 1600s in Europe, bumboats, which were also called twakows and tongkangs, were originally used in Singapore for transporting goods and cargo. In present-day Singapore, bumboats are small water taxis or tourist tour boats.
A pleasant and relaxing way to view Singapore via the Singapore River, 24 bumboats are operated by Singapore River Cruises, passing landmarks such as the Fullerton Hotel, Merlion Park, Esplanade Singapore, and the Marina Bay Sands along the leisurely ride.
With the head of lion and the body of a fish, Singapore’s national icon, the mythical Merlion at the mouth of the Singapore River has welcomed visitors to the city-state since 1972. A combination of “mer” for sea and “lion,” the symbol represents Singapore’s heritage as a fishing village and the city’s original name, Singapura, or “lion city” in the Malay language.
Standing at a height of 8.2 meters/28 feet, the Merlion statue in Merlion Park weighs 70 tons, spouts water from its mouth, and is located near the Fullerton Hotel.
Visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens
The first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Singapore Botanic Gardens are a lush oasis in the heart of Singapore that dates back over 150 years.
The current site of the gardens opened in 1859 and since has played an important role in Singapore’s agricultural history through collecting, growing, experimenting, and distributing potentially useful plants. With over 10,000 species of plants located across three sections of the 82 hectacre gardens, the attraction draws both local botany enthusiasts as well as nature lovers from around the world.
A highlight of the gardens is the highly-acclaimed National Orchid Garden. Home to more than 1000 orchid species and 2000 hybrids, the National Orchid Garden provides an opportunity to meander through a floral paradise.
Located throughout the Orchid Gardens are the popular VIP Orchids, named after visiting dignitaries and other VIPs. Since it began the naming program in 1957, the garden has over 200 VIP named orchids, including the Dendrobium Margaret Thatcher, the Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana, and the Dendrobium Joe and Jill Biden. Open from 5 am to midnight, the best time of day to visit the Botanic Gardens is early morning or in the evening to avoid the intense heat of the day.
Sentosa is a popular resort island just off the main island of Singapore with hotels, beaches, golf courses, a theme park, and… ziplining!
Accessible by car, cable car, or a monorail from VivoCity, our method of transport, Sentosa is 500-hectares of fun. Immediately upon disembarking from the monorail, I spotted a man with a couple of baskets that apparently contained snakes. Hmmm. Of course, I did.
Meet Rocky and Tony, a boa constrictor and an albino Burmese python. Both of the boys are only three years old and are very friendly. What a photo opp – plus I got to wear the uber-cool hat and Tony even tried to come home with me.
First up, we tried the ParaJump, which essentially is jumping from a platform 15 meters/49 feet in the air. Think of it as a free-fall parachute jump without the chute – okay, the line slows you down near the ground.
Next up – time to zipline. From 75 meters/246 feet up, we stepped from the platform for an exhilarating 450 meter/492 yard long (the equivalent of nearly 5 American football fields) ride down to the beach.
Check out the National Gallery Singapore
If you wake up to a forecast for rain or simply would like an air-conditioned event for the day, head over to the National Gallery Singapore. Located in two of Singapore’s national monuments, the buildings housing the artwork are attractions unto themselves.
The former Supreme Court Building and City Hall are bridged by a unique design that incorporates elements that harmoniously bridge the old and new architectural styles.
With over 8,000 works of art, the museum has amassed the world’s largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian art. One could roam the National Gallery for hours, as the museum has something for every interest. If hunger strikes, several restaurants are located in the museum, including the phenomenal Violet Oon. A beautiful, stylish restaurant that delivers authentic Peranakan cuisine, it is a delightful spot to linger over lunch, savoring the flavors and ambiance.
Catch a ride on the Singapore Flyer
Soaring to over 165 meters/541 feet, the world’s largest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer, provides breathtaking, panoramic views of Singapore. Visitors to the Flyer board a 28-person capsule and then sit back and enjoy the ride, which takes 30 minutes for each revolution. Since its opening in 2008, the Singapore Flyer has become one of Asia’s biggest tourist attractions.
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