Singapore is definitively a “City in a Garden”: clean, green and quiet. I loved to see how good is the integration of buildings and green areas. Moreover, I also find noteworthy the integration of different cultures and religions (beyond mental borders) with mosques, churches, and temples located next to each other.
If you plan to spend few days in Singapore, here is my list of ten things to do.
#1) A visit at the Raffles Hotel & a taste of the Singapore Sling
This is an historical place in Singapore, definitively worth of a visit. A walk along the courtyards on the east side brings you towards the Long Bar, where you can drink the original Singapore Sling (35 S$), listening jazz music and eating peanuts.
I recommend to arrive from Beach Road, so that you can enjoy the stunning facade of the hotel.
#2) A relaxing hour at Cat Café Neko no Niwa
If you love cats, this is the right place to go. You can drink a coffee while observing the behavior of eleven cats, sleeping or moving around into the small room of this Café: an experience not so common for European travelers.
The time is enjoyable with the company of Emma, Robbie, Brown Monkey and with the waitress explaining the stories of these strays’ cats, rescued from the road in these years. The windows also allow a great view of the river quay. The cost per hour is 12 S$, beverages not included.
I recommend to arrive from Elgin Bridge to appreciate the view of the river quay.
#3) A walk to the Merlion & to Marina Bay area
If you follow the course of the Singapore river, you will arrive at the famous Marina Bay. The north side is characterized by the Merlion, a famous fountain representing a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. This icon is the symbol of Singapore.
From this point, it is possible to observe the unique shape of the roof that hosts the famous Marina Bay Sands Singapore Infinity Pool, at the 57th floor of Sky Park building. To access the floor is necessary to make a reservation. Instead, there is the possibility to access the Sky Park Observation Deck at 56th floor without any reservation. But it is quite expensive: 26 S$.
The walk to the other side of the Marina Bay gives you the opportunity to appreciate the majesty of the skyscrapers of the central business district; all buildings and skyscrapers conform to a height of 280 m due to aviation regulations.
#4) A walk around the Gardens by the Bay
I recommend to arrive from the Dragonfly Bridge, to have a front view of the Supertree Grove: a system of vertical gardens that look like trees, located in the middle of this area and embedded with environmentally sustainable functions like photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy. The best time to visit the area is at the sunset, waiting for the Light Show that illuminates the different vertical gardens with colored lights at the rhythm of music (in our case Vincero´ / Nessun Dorma – Turandot by Puccini). There are two Light Shows: the first begins at 7.45 p.m., the second at 8.45 p.m. There is no fee charged for the Gardens by the Bay.
We were particularly lucky since we could also see the temporary exhibition (until 15th March 2020) of 334 large inflated egg-shaped lights floating on Dragonfly Lake at Gardens by the Bay: simply beautiful.
#5) A walk across the Helix Bridge
When you see it for the first time, you think: I might have already seen this design. When you are walking over this pedestrian bridge, you realize that you are following the shape of the DNA! Pairs of colored letters c & g, as well a & t, placed on the floor represents the main bases of the DNA: cytosine, guanine, adenine & thymine. The bridge connects Marina South to the Esplanade and Youth Olympic Park.
#6) A walk along Haji Lane
It is a short road, but indeed full of colors and life. The murals on the wall of the Piedra Negra bistro´ is only the first of others featuring the facades of the small bars there.
It deserves to be experienced in the evening after dinner for a cocktail or a beer, while local singers enliven the moment with live music.
The road is parallel to Arab Street and 200 meters far from the Masjid Sultan mosque, creating a strange combination of cultures with many local Asian restaurants and Massage Spa nearby.
#7) A visit at Thian Hock Keng Temple in Chinatown
This temple is constructed using traditional techniques, supported entirely on bricks and wooden posts with no nails in any part of the structure.
The visit of the temple is cost free. It is only important that it is not allowed to use the main door for entry or exit from the temple as a mark of respect. In Chinese customs, you should use the door on your right to enter and on the left to exit…. like we did!
#8) A walk from Ann Siang Hill to Pagoda Street in Chinatown
Ann Siang Hill is a small hill inside Chinatown, full of green plants and trees. The walk up and down is useful to reach South Bridge Road, where the Mariamman Temple and the Masjd Jamae mosque are separated only by Pagoda Street, a street known in the past for textile and tailor shops and nowadays for several Chinese stalls.
#9) A walk across Little India
Smells, colors and people bring literally you into India. The walk along Buffalo Road is really worth of, with so many stalls of colorful flowers neckless meticulously prepared by the local Indian sellers.
#10) A run in the Mount Faber Park
Ok. This is only for uphill addicted, like me. If you look for a place in Singapore to run, you can definitively follow the routes along Marina Bay and the Marina Promenade. But, if you wish to challenge yourself a bit more, I definitively recommend some up & down along the stairs in the Mount Faber Park.
The elevation gain is only about 90 meters, but when you repeat them few times, the final effect on the legs is guaranteed.
If you have energies and wish to run at 30°C (like I did), you can arrive at the bottom of Mount Faber running across the entire Singapore (starting point for me near the Lavender Metro) and discovering less touristic corners of the city.
Last short information & tips
The current currency is the Singapur-Dollar (S€); keep in mind that many commercial activities require cash payments.
During the days in the city, I have been positively impressed by the transport systems, with low traffic and very efficient metro; do not forget that vehicles on the road and people walking on the streets or escalators keep to the left.
Security seems to work pretty well; we felt safe in all the areas we visited. Note that fingerprints of both thumbs will be taken upon arrival at the immigration department at the airport.
We were there in the first days of March and the weather was always good, mostly sunny with temperatures ranging between 25 & 30°C. Overall it was a humid climate; thus, always bring something to drink during the sightseeing. And for a relaxing evening, I would recommend to drink the local beer: Tiger.