Singapore has a great reputation for being a world city – and I can see why. The food, the gardens, and of course the shopping… after just two days, I don’t want to leave.
- Fort Canning
- Singapore Botanic Gardens
- Marina Bay
- Gardens by the Bay
Stay: Elizabeth Hotel – about a five minute walk from Orchard Rd, and a lot cheaper than most!
Heng Ji Chicken Rice, Chinatown Complex Food Centre (hawker markets), Chinatown
Makansutra Gluttons Bay, Marina Bay – just be prepared to wait for a table
My Awesome Cafe, Chinatown
Raffles for a Singapore Sling
- Fort Canning
- Singapore Botanic Gardens
- Raffles for a Singapore Sling
- Marina Bay (including Merlion)
- Gardens by the Bay
Taxis are cheap to/from the airport (we paid $30 from the airport, and only $18 on the way back), but other than that public transport is awesome. We mostly used buses with the help of Google Maps, but our one train ride was great. Like the rest of Singapore, the public transport is immaculate.
Our flight into Singapore arrived at five in the morning, so even with our early check-in, we couldn’t get to our room until 10am. We dropped off our bags, and headed out for a walk.
Fort Canning was a decent hike from our hotel. Add to that the fact we were wearing aeroplane clothes – I was complete with track pants, long aeroplane socks, singlet and t-shirt (thank God, I thought to ditch the long-sleeved shirt I was wearing at least…). We did stop into a Starbucks along the way, but to say it was a little warm would be an understatement.
I must say, Orchard Road at seven in the morning is beautiful. There wasn’t a soul in site – and it gave us a great chance to take it all in.
Running on less than two hours sleep, I merrily followed the husband on his way – I didn’t realise until later that he actually had a plan, and we didn’t just stumble across Fort Canning!
The gardens of Fort Canning are perfectly kept, and made for a lovely walk. We did the loop around the reservoir, and kept meeting with the same old gentleman in what can only be described as a giant motorised lawn mower turned vacuum cleaner.
When we left, I realised we’d walked over 12,000 steps and it was still only 9.30am! We were back at the hotel just after ten, and ready for a well-deserved nap.
We’d heard good things, and we weren’t disappointed. We went in the afternoon, and wandered the markets, before heading to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. The temple, which is said to contain a tooth of Buddha, contains One Hundred Buddhas placed along either side of the temple. It’s beautiful.
We were lucky enough to see a dance group in the square outside on our way out. My favourite was the Shania Twain routine.
Next stop was the hawker markets in the Chinatown Complex Food Centre. There are hundreds of individual food stalls to choose from. They’re rated A, B and C for food hygiene standards, so we decided we would stick with A or B – only give C a go if you’re brave! After a quick loop around, we decided on chicken and rice at Heng Ji Chicken Rice – it was the best $2.50 meal we’ve ever had! Give it a go if you’re in Chinatown (just don’t be put off by the whole boiled chickens hanging up…), it really was delicious.
We headed to Noodle Man for round two (yes, that’s the name of the restaurant). It’s on the main strip (Smith Street) and came highly recommended on TripAdvisor. The noodles are handmade and stretched in front of you which was cool. The food was good, but it probably wasn’t as authentic an experience as the hawker markets – and had a higher price tag to go with it.
On our way out of Chinatown, we stopped off at My Awesome Café for a drink. This cute bar is almost something out of Melbourne (think rustic tables, and polished concrete floors), but with a definite Singaporean twist. We ordered two cocktails – recommendations of the staff – one Mojito, and one Pina Colada with a twist. They were divine.
Wear comfy shoes, you’re in for a hike (I didn’t heed this advice myself which was a mistake…). The gardens are a little out of the Orchard Rd/Marina Bay area – but easy to get to by bus or train. We headed straight for the National Orchid Garden, and walked via the Rainforest path. We saw a Paradise Tree Snake, a heap of squirrels, birds, and a monitor along the path – the little snake was probably the highlight of our visit for me.
The Orchid Garden is beautiful, but as we were there on a Sunday it was totally packed and we had to be careful not to be hit with a selfie stick!
The Evolution Walk is also a good one – we walked the wrong way so had a bit of a backwards journey through time, but it was cool all the same.
We jumped on the train to get home (the train station is directly in front of the entrance). This was our one and only train journey (we used the buses most of the time), but WOW it was clean and tidy.
You can’t go past the obligatory Singapore Sling at Raffles – just don’t look at the price tag that comes with it… It’s one of those things that you’ve just got to do.
The original bar where the drink was invented, the Long Bar, was under renovation so we had our drinks in the Billiard Bar, the temporary home for the Singapore Sling. We were seated with a sack of peanuts on the table, and proceeded to make the most of it. It’s tradition to throw the peanut shells on the floor – so don’t be alarmed at the state of the place (like the two couples seated near us were).
We walked from Raffles to Gardens by the Bay – which makes for a decent, but great walk. We went via the Merlion fountain which I loved (what’s not to love – it’s the head of a lion with the tail of a fish…!).
We were greeted with awesome views all the way around the bay and made our way through the mall to the Marina Bay Sands bridge, which takes you directly into the gardens.
Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is a sprawling garden set right at the edge of Marina Bay. It opened in 2012, so they’re still relatively new. Though the gardens themselves are very pretty, the main attractions are the two enclosed conservatories – The Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest – and the huge Supertrees which are 25-50 metres tall.
I’d seen pictures of the Cloud Forest, and the towering Supertrees, but I never really understood the scale of this place.
All the reviews said to visit first thing in the morning when it opens to avoid the crowds, and I can see why. We were there on a Sunday, which wouldn’t have helped. The grounds are big, so you don’t notice the crowds outside – but the domes were pretty packed.
Visit the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest first, and save the Supertree Grove until last.
The Flower Dome was cool, but a tiny bit contrived for my liking. The husband loved that there was an Australian section though, even though he didn’t like the artificial colour of one of the plants (welcome to my #ecologywife life).
My favourite part was the Supertree Grove. We visited just on dusk, and waited for the 7.45pm light show. The trees themselves are impressive during the day – but when they’re lit up at night, they’re something else. The show last 15 minutes, and was set to a show tunes theme, which some people around us sang along to which was cute.
We didn’t make it to the Skywalk, it’s on the list for next time, but the view walking over from Marina Bay Sands is amazing on its own – so I’m guessing it’s spectacular.
Marina Bay Part II
We walked from the gardens, over the Helix Bridge to Marina Bay. We stopped at Makansutra Gluttons Bay for dinner, which is kind of like an upscale hawkers market. There are about 10 individual stalls to choose from, and a drinks stall. Try and grab a table as soon as you can, as it can be a bit tricky!
After just two days, I am a little sad to leave – I feel like we’ve just skimmed the surface… Until next time, Singapore!