We only had about 6 whole days in Singapore, so we had to choose how to spend our time carefully. There is a lot to choose from. In the end, we opted for the
- Botanic Gardens
- Gardens by the Bay
- Marina Bay Sands Skypark
and a whole lot of time tromping around various neighborhoods like Little India, Chinatown, Orchard Rd, and Raffles City, just taking it all in visually. More on that later.
We took the East-West line from Bugis to the Circle Line junction at Paya Lebar and continued to the west to the Botanic Gardens station. The day we were there, we risked the overcast skies and got caught in a downpour. It was quite refreshing while it was happening, but the steaminess after the rainclouds rolled out was a force to be reckoned with.
The gardens are laid out along a web of easy paths. They are well-marked, allowing the visitor to head directly to the points of interest or meander through. After the initial onslaught of sights and sounds and smells from the airport to our neighborhood and out to the Botanic Gardens, this made for a very peaceful late-morning activity.
Gardens by the Bay
There are several gardens that are free admission and two conservatories for which you must purchase a ticket. They are the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. The Super Trees Grove is free to walk around in, but you might want to purchase a golf cart shuttle ride in from the Bayfront MRT station and/or cough up the admission to the OCBC Skyway to get those great views.
The idea in the Cloud Forest conservatory is to educate visitors about the diversity and fragility of the ecosystems at various strata in an elevated forest. Beyond that, it’s quite beautiful and on a typically hot, muggy Singaporean day, a welcome respite from the local weather at 1°N of the equator. Read more about them at the official site.
Perhaps the name is a bit misleading. This dome does not contain just flowers. There are succulents and whole trees on display in here. Whereas the Cloud Forest dome needs to have the height of a section of mountain to show the layers, the Flower Dome is much more sprawling. We found the cacti and baobabs particularly interesting. Here’s the official site.
These structures symbolize the contradictions that define Singapore for us. Simulated nature, with modern and high-tech sci-fi serving ecological and practical concerns. More on those at their official homepage.
Marina Bay Sands Skypark
Take a stroll through this fancy hotel from the Bayfront MRT stop and walk all the way down to its third tower and head outside around the corner. That’s where the queueing for the elevator ride up to the 56th floor starts. At S$28 per adult, it’s not cheap, and you don’t get access to the whole top level, but on a clear day (which we didn’t really have), it’s the best view you’re going to get in the city. While you’re up there with the rest of the non-hotel-guests (they get pool access; how cool is that?), you’re walking around the bow area of that giant snaky ship.
What else could we have done?
- the Zoo
- the River Safari
- the Singapore Flyer
- the Science Center Singapore
- visit a temple or a mosque
Those are some things we’d try if we get another chance at a visit to Singapore. There are plenty more activities that didn’t interest us much (a Universal Studios theme park, laying out big bucks for shopping in the Orchard Road area, stuff like that), but maybe they’re more your style. Singapore is definitely not lacking stimulation.