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Exploring Singapore: 25 Experiences, Areas and More that You Don't Want to Miss!
Posted On 09/09/2019 16:52:28
Trip Date 03/17/2011
Destinations | Cruises | Malaysia | Singapore | Diamond Princess | SMRT | Mount Faber | Marina Bay | Sentosa | Singapore River | Singapore Flyer | DIY Touring in Singapore
The disembarkation port for our 16 night Southeast Asia and China cruise aboard Diamond
Princess was Singapore, Malaysia. We found Singapore to be a charming Asian city,
however the influence from its days as a British colony is also quite apparent. Being so different from
the western world, experiencing the culture and seeing the sites made for an excellent cruise ending
point. We added several additional nights in a hotel before heading home and were truly glad that we
With nearly all signage in English, navigating around is very easy for those planning on DIY traveling in
Singapore. The city is extremely clean and safe, and its wide variety of attractions ranging from
historical sites to an abundant nightlife will interest just about any tourist.
If a visit to Singapore is on your radar, take a look at this post for help with planning your time
exploring all that the city has to offer. From Mount Faber up high to the Singapore
River and everything in between, you'll probably find more to do than can fit into the time that
you have available. Will you choose to spend most of your time in one of the resorts such as
Sentosa Island or Marina Bay Sands? Or will you travel all around the city via
SMRT so that you can experience the Singapore Flyer and so much more?
Introduction to Singapore
The name "Singapore" is a combination of the words 'singhha' (meaning stopover) and 'pura' (which
means city). It is likely that the name was chosen because of its location between the northern and
Today Singapore is widely known as the "Lion City". The city's symbol is a mythical creature with a
lion's head and the tail of a fish. The Merlion was designed as the emblem of the Singapore
Tourist Board in 1964 and has been used ever since.
Singapore is located near the equator and it is therefore very warm all year long. You'll find that it
rains somewhere on the island every single day - it's the tropics! The wettest time of the year is
during the monsoon season which runs from November to March.
Singapore is one of the wealthiest cities in Asia and major credit cards are widely accepted. Travelers
will also have no difficulty accessing local currency through automated teller machines. ATMs can
easily be found in the airport and at the cruise centers as well as around the city.
Ports in Singapore
Cruises beginning or ending in either Australia or the northern hemisphere Asian countries often
embark or disembark in Singapore. In addition to the container ports serving the city, Singapore now
has two cruise centers devoted to passengers arriving via cruise ship.
With plenty of public transit options including bus, metro, taxi and even cable car all within walking
distance, the Singapore Cruise Center is located at the Sentosa Harbourfront. We
found that reaching Singapore's city center, the Singapore Changi International Airport and
just about any other attraction within the city was easy and relatively quick for the DIY traveler.
The newer Marina Bay Cruise Center Singapore makes getting to the Marina Bay
District even faster by city or shuttle bus. Walking to the metro takes about 10 minutes from this
cruise port which is located in south central Singapore and is even closer to the airport and city center.
4 Ways to Explore Singapore
The city of Singapore was made for the do-it-yourself traveler. As the city is flat, exploring many
areas of the city can easily be done on foot. Singapore, however, is also quite spread out. In addition
to reaching the places that you choose to see by walking, you'll want to rely on either a car service or
the city's public transportation system which is second to none.
We also found that coupling some of the tourist transit options with the city's public transit made for a
perfect few days. The combination helped us to learn more about the city, provided discounted
entrance to some attractions and gave us a needed break from walking every now and then. Here's
our favorite four that worked perfectly together during our Singapore visit:
1. Ride the SMRT
The Singapore Mass Rapid Transit system, most often
referred to as SMRT or MRT is a tourist attraction in its own right. It is also the
fastest and most efficient way to travel around the city. The three lines within the SMRT network will
take you within walking distance of almost every experience, area and more included in our list.
All SMRT signage is in English and the stations and trains are air-conditioned, safe and accessible.
With absolutely no trash and no graffiti, the system is the cleanest you'll ever see. Tickets can be
purchased at ticket offices or from automated machines. Options range from single trip tickets or
stored value cards to unlimited travel for 1, 2 or 3 days which can be perfect for travelers.
2. Use the Hop-on Hop-off Bus
In addition to the four routes each including narration in 11 languages, the Hop-on Hop-off Bus also offers shuttle service to the city's zoo, safari
and bird park. It's a great way to get close to and also learn about many of Singapore's popular
attractions. With a choice of 1 or 2 day passes, tourists can also opt to include walking tours and/or a
guided night tour for an additional cost.
Hop-on Hop-off Bus
Depending on the length of your stay, you may also want to consider a Singapore All Day Pass. There are a
variety of pass options covering 2, 3 or 5 day periods each with different benefits including "skip the
line" in many places.
3. Take a Duck Tour
An hour long Duck Tour, provides a relaxing and unique way to see the city by both land and
sea. Riding aboard one of the refurbished WWII amphibious vehicles, the journey around and into
Marina Bay includes views of the Marina Bay District as well as the Singapore skyline.
Splashing in Marina Bay on a Duck Tour
If you are lucky, you may even see an event such as a canoe race while in the bay. Before the tour
ends, there's also an opportunity to get an introduction to the city's Civic District.
Canoe Races in Marina Bay
4. Enjoy a Singapore River Cruise
Cruising along the Singapore River in an iconic bumboat is another great way to see
the city. Today's electric bumboats have replaced both the sail and diesel powered cargo carrying
bumboats in operation for over 100 years combined.
Bumboat Cruising along the Singapore River
What hasn't changed from years gone by is the opportunity to travel the more than four kilometer long
river. From Singapore's historic riverside buildings like the Opera House to more modern
skyscrapers, you can get a taste of the city's architecture. As you pass under the many unique
bridges crossing over the river, you'll surely find a shop or trendy quayside dining or entertainment
venue to visit after you return to the dock.
Singapore Opera House
9 Areas within Singapore to Explore
With so many distinct areas, discovering all that Singapore has to offer takes some time. In order to
get a reasonably good introduction to the city, we recommend spending some of your time in each of
the following nine areas:
5. Boat Quay
Often considered the ground breaker of Singapore's entertainment scene, Boat Quay has a
venue for anyone hoping to do some partying. With its many high end restaurants, outdoor cafes and
bars, Boat Quay is a favorite among professionals for relaxing - sometimes with an awesome view.
For those in search of something a little more lively, you'll also find sports bars, live music, dancing
6. Clarke Quay
Not to be confused with Boat Quay, just a few blocks up river is Clarke Quay. Offering a
quirky alternative to mainstream attractions, second-hand shops, antique shops, flea markets and
even restaurants can be found in restored warehouses. Pubs and dance clubs in Clarke Quay come
alive with music each evening.
7. Civic District
The city's administrative center dates back to 1822 when Sir Stamford Raffles first implemented his
master plan for Singapore's Civic District. In addition to finding many colonial buildings,
visitors can see places like the original Raffles Landing Site.
After undergoing restoration, many of the city's historic buildings are now popular tourist attractions.
The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, built in 1862, reopened in 2014 following four years of
refurbishment. Others such as the former Parliament House, now known as The Arts
House, have been repurposed.
For a great view of the city while sipping on an adult beverage, you might want to head to the Bar Rouge located
on the 70th floor of the Fairmont Singapore. An even more famous spot for libations, the
most touristy spot in town is located literally right across the street. The Long Bar, found inside
Raffles Singapore is still famous for serving the Singapore Sling which originated
there years ago.
Singapore's Civic District is not just home to historic buildings. If you are in search of a place to relax
(and maybe see some historic landmarks too), Esplanade Park may be just the ticket. You
might even catch a cricket game in action during your time in the park!
Watching a Game of Cricket in Esplanade Park
Singapore's Chinatown today is a must-see for visitors to the city. Cultural attractions
including the historic Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the Thian Hock Keng Temple
(Singapore's oldest Hokkien temple) can both be found on the streets of Chinatown.
The Chinatown Heritage Centre is also located within this "city within the city" which uniquely
blends present day popular restaurants, bars and retail shopping among traditional relics from
yesteryear. Our stop at one of the many open-air restaurants on Chinatown Food Street was
the perfect way to escape a downpour while enjoying a delicious meal.
Strolling through Chinatown
9. Kampong Glam
Enter the Kampong Glam Islamic Neighborhood by way of Sultan Gate, the main
road which leads to the Sultan Mosque (also referred to as the Golden Dome
Mosque). Once a seat of Singapore's Malaysian royalty, the area originally dedicated to the Arab,
Bugis and Malay communities dates back to 1822.
Kampong Glam's Sultan Mosque
In addition to both historic and cultural attractions, visitors exploring this area today will find a wide
variety of drinking, dining and shopping options.
10. Little India
Standing within the heart of the ethnic neighborhood known as Little India is the landmark
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Wander along Serangoon Road and you'll find both
Hindu and Chinese temples and mosques lining it and other streets within Little India.
Entering Little India
Similar to other neighborhoods within Singapore, you'll find plenty of places where you can shop and
eat. If you enjoy cooking, the aroma of spices filling the streets may even give you the hankering to
cook your own meal!
11. Marina Bay District
Separated by Marina Bay, the two areas comprising the Marina Bay District are
connected by the Helix Bridge. North of the bridge you'll find one of Singapore's largest
shopping malls, Suntec City Mall. With over 350
retailers including more than 100 places to grab something to eat or drink, the air conditioned venue
can be a great respite from the heat.
Located south of the bridge is Marina Bay Sands, the three towers connected by what many
think looks like a cruise ship on top. This huge unique structure is a resort hotel with shops,
restaurants and a variety of entertainment options for both kids and adults. Linking the three towers
overhead is Sky Park. While it's easier to imagine the awesome views from the top, you may
be surprised that there's also walking and jogging paths and a swimming pool surrounded by beautiful
Marina Bay Sands
Gardens by the Bay, the ArtScience Museum (built in the shape of a newly opening
lotus bloom) and a water and light show can also be explored during a visit to this Singapore precinct.
Gardens By The Bay Nature Park
12. Mount Faber
Named after engineer Captain Charles Edward Faber, Mount Faber is one of the country's
oldest parks. With views of Singapore's southern Islands, Sentosa and the central business district,
there's no better place to take in these spectacular sights. Faber Peak is also home to
restaurants, bars and entertainment making it a must visit for both couples and families.
Stacy at Coy Pond on Faber Peak
In addition to riding a bus or taking a taxi, there's a variety of other options for reaching the summit,
each with their own merit. Although it does come at a cost, the easiest and most popular way to the
top is by cable car. Those with a car who think driving on narrow mountain roads makes for a fun time
will likely enjoy the winding road engineered by the mountain's namesake. Adventurous hikers might
want to take one of the footpaths leading to the peak which can be found at the following eight
near the Henderson Road bus stop;
near the bus stop along Telok Blangah Way;
at the intersection of Telok Blangah Way and Henderson Road;
at the pathway leading up from Temenggong Road;
from the stairway next to Masjid Al-Amin and Telok Blangah Rise;
from the stairway near Telok Blangah Rise at Block 30;
from the stairway near Telok Blangah Rise at Block 31; and
from the stairway near Telok Blangah Rise at Block 42.
If exploring the flora and fauna along the way sounds appealing, but you don't have the time or desire
to hike both ways, combine a hike on the way up or down with a cable car ride in the opposite
Formerly a military fortress, the small island just south of Singapore is known today as Sentosa. People travel from all over the world to
stay at this island resort for days at a time. Even those not staying in one of the resort hotels while
visiting Singapore should plan to spend at least a part of a day on the island to get a taste of what
attracts people of all ages to Sentosa.
Train at Sentosa
The island's three tropical beaches each have their own draw - there's even one geared toward
families with young ones. Adrenaline junkies will likely prefer spending their time on the rides and
other attractions at Mega Adventure Park - Singapore or "skydiving" at iFly Singapore.
Those more attracted to nature and wildlife will find options at Sentosa to learn more about (and
maybe get up close and personal with) Singapore's flora, fauna and undersea life. Of course, there
are plenty of restaurants, shops and laid back entertainment options on the island as well.
Don't miss seeing the statue of the lion's head with a fish tail known as the Merlion.
Measuring over 28 feet tall, the sculptured cement statue weighs 70 tons. The lion represents "Singa"
from the city's new name and the fish symbolizes the fishing village of Temasek, the ancient name of
6 of Singapore's "Don't Miss" Bridges
The twelve bridges crossing the Singapore River are each interesting and differ
dramatically from one another. Whether you are strolling along the banks of the river or enjoying a
comfortable ride on the waters, make sure to take in these awesome works of art.
Here's a brief introduction to six of our favorite bridges:
14. Alkaff Bridge
Looking more like a work of graffiti than a pedestrian bridge, the Alkaff Bridge spans the
Singapore River at Robertson Quay. The 55 meter long bridge has the distinction of being
Singapore's first "Bridge of Art." Decked out in 55 different colors, over 900 liters of paint were
required to paint the bridge.
15. Read Bridge
The lesser known Read Bridge has straddled the Singapore River since 1889. You'll often find
the bar and club-goers crossing the bridge to reach the watering holes of Clarke Quay.
16. Anderson Bridge
Built in 1910 due to increasing traffic on the Cavenagh Bridge, the Anderson Bridge is
unlike any other in Singapore. The bridge was created out of intricate plaster and metalwork.
Beneath its elegance, however, lies a sad past. During the city's 1942 - 1945 Japanese Occupation,
severed heads from criminals were hung on the bridge as a warning to others against breaking the
17. Helix Bridge
With steel tubes forming a minor and major "helix" spiraling in opposite directions, the pedestrian only
Helix Bridge is most beautiful at night. Representing cytosine, guanine, adenine and thymine
(the four bases of DNA), you can make out the decorative paired letters "c" and "g" as well as "a" and
"t" lit up in red and green.
The Helix Bridge was the first curved bridge in the world. The design is created by two opposing spiral
steel members held together by connecting struts. The four viewing platforms are perfectly placed
between Marina Centre and Marina South for pedestrians to marvel at the city's
Singapore's Helix Bridge
It is said that the bridge symbolizes "life and continuity", "everlasting abundance", "renewal" and
18. Henderson Waves Bridge
At 36 meters above the city's roads, the Henderson Waves Bridge can be found among the
tree tops west of Singapore. The bridge is popular both day and night with locals and tourists alike for
relaxing, hiking and just plain admiring. With twists and curves which provide some unique private
areas, the "snake-like" bridge resembles the shape of a wave. As a part of the Southern Ridges
Nature Trail, the bridge is the city's highest pedestrian only bridge. Beginning at 7:00 PM each
evening, LED lighting illuminates the bridge for a dramatic nighttime effect.
19. Esplanade Bridge
Spanning the mouth of the Singapore River, the Esplanade Bridge was built to provide
easier access to the financial district. Upon the 1997 completion of the bridge, it was discovered that
the bridge blocked the Marina Bay waterfront view of the city's iconic Merlion statue. Because
of this, the statue was moved to its current home in front of the bridge. An evening stroll across the
bridge is a must to soak in the amazing views of the city at dusk.
6 Experiences to Include during a Visit to Singapore
The list of experiences to include when visiting Singapore could go on and on and cause a visit to be
never ending. In an effort to limit our list to those that are unique and more iconic to the city, we've
narrowed our list down to the following six:
20. Ride the Singapore Flyer
Anyone who has had the privilege of riding the Singapore Flyer will tell you that the panoramic views from high in the sky are breathtaking.
While aboard the wheel for a complete 360 degree loop, you'll enjoy a bird's-eye-view of the
waterfront and the Singapore skyline. You can even distinguish individual sights such as the Marina
Bay Resort, Raffles Place, the Esplanade and the Floating Stadium, the world's largest floating
Riding the Singapore Flyer
A single revolution in one of the 28 capsules takes about 30 minutes. With each capsule having a 28
person capacity, just under 800 people can ride on the giant observation wheel at one time.
The Singapore Flyer
21. Ride the Singapore Cable Car
Connecting the Harbourfront to Mount Faber and Sentosa Island, take a ride
on the Singapore Cable Car. The eight person
cabins glide along cables suspended 120 meters above sea level. In addition to providing
transportation, the ride in a cable car is fun with riders being treated to awesome views of Singapore's
harbor and Sentosa Island.
Riding on the Singapore Cable Car
For those inclined, a more expensive dine and ride even includes up to three round-trip rides plus a meal!
22. Stroll through the Singapore Botanic Gardens and National Orchid Garden
Nowhere in the city are gardens more lush than at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Originally founded in 1859, the site is today's home to a
rainforest, a lake and all manner of gardens. In addition to finding your favorite flowers or plants and
enjoying the ground's wonderful aromas, people also enjoy walking or jogging ... and drinking and
The sixty acres of land include a Ginger Garden, an Evolution Garden and even the
Jacob Ballas Children's Garden devoted to youngsters. Our favorite, however, was the
National Orchid Garden with the world's largest orchid display including more than 1,000
species plus another 2,000 hybrids.
Entering Singapore's National Orchid Garden
Stacy at the National Orchid Garden
23. See "Songs of the Sea"
A water and light show, "Songs of the Sea" has been performed nightly at Sentosa
since March 2007. With seaside bleacher type seating, the show's setting incorporates both the sandy
beach and the sea.
The love story is told using a combination of computer images, laser lights and music. Both fire and
water jets as well as fireworks enhance the story of the young man who is enamored by the sleeping
Sentosa's "Songs of the Sea" Laser Light Image
24. Explore the Night Safari
If your stay in Singapore includes at least one overnight, take advantage of the more comfortable
outdoor temperatures in the evening with a visit to the Night Safari. The first wildlife park in the world built for "after-hours" visits, the
Night Safari is located right next to the Singapore Zoo and is open evenings after 7:00 PM.
Exploring this rainforest which is home to over 2,000 nocturnal animals can be done either on foot, by
riding an open-air tram, or best of all by a combination of the two. The tram takes riders on a 35
minute journey through each of the park's seven sections while providing live commentary. The park's
four walking trails allows you to get a closer look at even more animals exploring and playing in a their
natural, free-roam environment.
Except for the best of photographers, taking pictures at the Night Safari is quite challenging because
of the dark skies and dimly-lit habitats. Take your camera, but don't be disappointed if you give up on
picture taking and leave with just memories of seeing these animals with your eyes!
Singapore's Night Safari
25. Treat Yourself to a Fish Spa
To this day, Stacy still talks about her experience at Kenko Wellness Spa. In Japanese, the word "Kenko" means "health", and the goal of the
fish swimming in each of the three pools is to provide patrons with healthier feet!
After washing their feet and legs below the knee, spa goers first find a spot to sit on the edge of the
pool filled with baby fish. The baby fish take their job seriously and immediately begin swarming
around your feet and legs as they eat any dead skin that they can find. After a short while, patrons
are moved first to a pool filled with medium sized fish and finally to the pool with the largest of the fish
(which are still quite small).
Stacy at Kenko Wellness Spa
The sensation felt during a fish spa exfoliating treatment is strange, interesting and good - all at the
same time. When we left the spa, Stacy's legs definitely felt softer and smoother!
Cruising Southeast Asia and China
Although Singapore was the final port of call on our 16 night cruise aboard Diamond Princess,
there was so much more to our vacation. Don't miss reading Seeing the Best of Beijing in Three
Days for ideas for a pre-cruise land tour. We've included a suggested itinerary as well as contact
information for a local guide who can help you make the most of your time in Beijing.
Planning a Visit to Singapore
If you were to provide some tips on what to see and do or where to eat and stay, what would be your
top few suggestions for someone visiting Singapore for the first time?
Created On 01/07/2019 17:09:53
Updated On 09/08/2019 08:52:29
Scheduled On 09/08/2019 08:52:28
Posted On 09/09/2019 16:52:28
Last Editor Stacy
Location Singapore River