Here are some photographs taken on my first trip to Singapore in July 2017. I was really impressed with Singapore, it's clean, safe, everything works super efficiently and there are many exciting things to see and do.
Over the years Singapore has gone from being a hub and gateway to Asia, to being a must-visit destination in its own right. There has been huge growth, with many new attractions. Another thing that you quickly notice is that the infrastructure is excellent, from the wonderful and super efficient MRT subway, to the miles of shaded walkways. So from being a good place for a few day stop over on a trip to the east, Singapore is a place that now compels you to stay for a much longer time.
As well as photographs from my trip you'll find some travel tips and recommendations, which I hope that you find useful if you're planning a trip to Singapore.
Ahead of the trip I had spent hours trawling through reviews of hotels, checking locations, facilities etc. That investment of time, and no doubt a bit of luck, led me to book the Hotel Jen at Orchard Gateway. The hotel is in an ideal location, a lift from the lobby takes you directly into an MRT subway station and just across the road is the main Singapore Visitor Centre. The rooftop pool area is superb, although sadly with too many things to do in the city there just wasn't enough time to make full use of it.
If you are staying at The Hotel Jen then I think that it is worth choosing a room that includes access to their Club Lounge, as this will get you a free breakfast buffet, soft drinks and snacks all day and a free bar for a couple of hours in the evening. The free bar time was especially welcome as alcohol is very expensive in Singapore. A special mention too for the Hotel Jen's staff who were all brilliant.
Over at the aforementioned Visitor Centre on Orchard Road there are very knowledgeable staff who, with the help of an interactive screen, can assist you in planing your days. You can also purchase discounted multi tickets their for the attractions, this will also help to save time when you arrive at them.
Just outside the Visitor Centre on Orchard Road you can board a 'hop on - hop off' double decker bus and explore the history and rich culture of Singapore, from its colonial days to the modern day vibrant Little India and Chinatown districts.
You must of course visit the world famous Raffles Hotel, where you can buy an obligatory, but not too cheap Singapore Sling.
The Battle Box
I don't have any photographs of our visit to The Battle Box Exhibition as cameras aren't allowed, but I would strongly recommend a visit. It's the bunker where the British Army General made the historic decision to surrender to the invading Japanese Army during the Second World War. There is a pre-bookable guided tour around the bunker with waxworks and recreated environments that help to tell the story of the events that ultimately led to the decline of the British Empire.
Gardens By The Bay
Gardens By The Bay is relatively new, it's actually built on land reclaimed from the sea. Reclaimed land accounts for nearly a quarter of Singapore. Start by taking in the scale and beauty of Gardens By The Bay from the viewing platform at the top of the neighbouring Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The rooftop area is boat shaped and supported by three huge towers.
From the giddy heights of the roof you can see the super trees, domes and gardens of Gardens By The Bay. The ambition for Singapore is to be not just a garden city, but a city in a garden, an aspiration that certainly seems to have been achieved.
Gardens by the Bay is free to enter, you pay though to walk on the elevated skyway (see pictures above) between a few of the trees and for entry to the Flower and Cloud Domes. The Children's Garden (below) with its climbing area and water play parks is free though.
The hugely impressive Cloud Dome recreates a moist tropical cloud forest that would typically be found in Asia and South America.
The focal point of the huge Dome is a giant waterfall and you can walk on elevated walkways and platforms around it. It is a breathtaking experiece, enhanced as night arrives by the introduction of the domes lights.
The Flower Dome is equally spectacular, presenting themed gardens from regions around the world.
A highlight at Gardens By The Bay is the twice nightly free show, where the super trees light up in time to music.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel
Back to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which also houses a casino and huge shopping mall with canals and fountains amongst the designer shops. Whilst we were there they even had a Downton Abbey exhibition, with sets and costumes from the TV series.
Getting Around Singapore
There are shopping malls everywhere in Singapore, they all seem to interconnect and always contain streams of people travelling through them to avoid the outdoor heat and busy roads.
The MRT subway system is everything that you'd want a city transport system to be - fast, cheap, safe, air conditioned, frequent and reliable with free wifi. Purchase a Tourist Card to cover the number of days that you plan to be in the city, you will get good value from it and you won't have to work out an advance fare for each trip. Another good way to see the city is on a river cruise.
Singapore Zoo is world renowned and you can see why. There's also a Night Safari, Bird Park and River Zoo, with new parks currently being built. However, we found more than enough to keep us at the main zoo, although it can get a little tiring in the heat. Our highlights included a chance to feed the giraffes, the Elephant Show and orangutangs.
The fun filled Sentosa Island can be reached by footbridge, monorail, road or cable car. On it you will find many attractions including Univesal Studios Theme Park, aquarium, Madame Tussauds Waxworks, a water park and Luge, which is a combination of go kart and tobogann.
Sentosa was great fun, we went to Universal, Luge and Water Park. The secret of all of these places is to arrive in time for when they open. At opening time at Universal Studios we walked straight onto the very popular rides with no wait, although as soon as the crowds grew towards mid to late morning average wait times were over 60, or even 90 minutes.
Here are some photographs of Universal Studios, including the Minions and characters from Madagascar, along with the Water World Stunt Show and some of the main rides.
Clarke Quay, like many areas in Singapore, comes alive at night. This popular spot along the river contains many restaurants. There are generally a stack of options for eating in Singapore, including the legendary Hawker Centres.
I hope you found my guide to Singapore interesting. Singapore was much more than just a stop over point for a trip to Sabah, on the island of Borneo.
Paul Saunders is a Marketing Consultant, based in Loch Lomond, working throughout Scotland and specialising in marketing, video production and photography for businesses and charities. Just for fun Paul blogs about his travels in Scotland and across the world. All photographs are available for purchase.