A 5-day stay in Singapore marked an incredible start to my Asia trip and boy, am I glad I went! Aside from the ridiculously low airfare on offer by Norwegian Air (under £150 and far too tempting to turn down), I had always been intrigued by this city; particularly those alien like tree structures by the bay, which dominated Accenture’s advertising a few years back. A friend of mine also moved over there for a taste of the ex-pat life and I was raring to experience the city for myself.
We stayed at Marina Bay Sands, a resort complex dominating the waterfront and home to the largest rooftop infinity pool in the world (I was already sold at pool!). The pool really is as cool as it sounds and it’s also super popular, with day visitors queuing in the hotel atrium for a chance to spend the day up on the 57th floor or one of the bars looking out over the city.
The views from our room were spectacular; we could watch the marina light show from our bedroom window every evening and the flashing colours of the SuperTrees on the other side from the bathtub!
With 5 days to explore the city, we had to be fairly selective and opted for a mixture of activities. The city being fairly compact was perfect for a wanderer like myself, who prefers exploring on foot; but I was also introduced to cycling (something I would never consider back in London with all the tiny bike lanes and crazy traffic). But cycling soon became the highlight for me!
We walked to the Gardens by the Bay to explore the Super Trees and the three incredible eco greenhouse domes containing huge amounts of plant life…
We explored China Town and Little India, stopping at the famous hipster neighbourhood and Haji Lane for a bit of shopping and a drink in one of the funky bars…
The cheapest and arguably yummiest meal (in its own right) we found at a restaurant around the corner called Zam Zam. I scoffed down a chicken Murtabak, a delightful doughy packet of meat flavoured with all sorts of seasoning – definitely salivating as I write this!
We also spent the day at Singapore Zoo (a MUST see if you like animals), the complex is HUGE and definitely the coolest Zoo I’ve ever seen, with monkeys freely wandering around the park, swinging on ropes above your head (be sure to be on vigilant poop watch throughout!) and all the exotic animals you can think of.
A visit to The Botanic Gardens is a nice relaxing activity for those who like greenery and open spaces. It complements a day spent exploring the cultural districts of the city rather well.
We went to the National Orchid Garden and walked along countless numbers of beautiful blooms, as well as ventured to nearby Dempsey Hill for the evening, a former Army Barracks now turned food and drink destination. Slightly out of the centre but worth going to soak in some chilled pop-up type vibes.
Long Beach is the go-to chilli crab destination, recommended by many of my friends and so verrrry tasty (nice and messy too! But you do get a bib so it’d be rude not to). But my favourite day was the day we hired bicycles and took a long ride up the beach-lined East Coast Park, stopping at various points throughout the morning for drinks and a Hawker Market for some delicious fresh seafood.
In 30+ degree heat and humidity it was heavenly to feel the breeze as well as sneak in a good booty and leg workout to balance out all those Murtabak calories…
Throughout the 5-day trip we would also grab Ofo bikes as and when we fancied (all you need to do is scan the bike barcode with the Ofo app and voila, there’s your ride!) This was a great cheap and healthy way to get around, but also SO much more bearable and breezy in the heat of the day. I soon became a pro at cycling around in short floaty dresses; but shorts probably wiser!
My advice for anyone headed to Singapore for a short trip would be to grab a map, plan your routes around the various Hawker Markets, the SuperTrees are a must see and if you can, grab a bike and explore the water front on wheels!
If not for the food, fabulous outdoor drinking spots, climate or activities, Singapore is such an eco-friendly city; so clean, so many green spaces, trees and eco-initiatives, that this really could be reason enough to pay a visit!