I spent 10 amazing days traveling around Asia and the first stop on my trip led me to Singapore. This is one of the cleanest (and greenest) countries I've ever traveled to. From the regal rooftop views at Marina Bay Sands to the dreamy vibes inside Gardens by the Bay, here are the top things to explore in Singapore.
A friend and I took a direct flight on United from San Francisco to Singapore. This was a 17 hour flight, the longest flight I've taken. We arrived at the Changi Airport, rated as the "World's Best Airport." The Airport is immaculate: there are several gardens, shops, restaurants, and a movie theater all inside the airport. This is the airport to go to if you have some time in between flights. The Butterfly Garden is a true gem and perfect for relaxing outdoors before a long flight.
Upon arrival, we experienced amazing hospitality in this very clean and quiet city. Singapore is small, but mighty with a population of approximately 5.5 million people. The climate is very humid and hot, it doesn’t get cold all year. The forecast is either hot and dry or hot and rainy. Singapore has really cool architecture, clean streets, with a lot to see and do.
Singapore's Key attractions:
Marina Bay Sands & Observation Deck - This is best seen at night for a sparkling spectacular view of the city and the light show of the Super Trees (last show is at 8:45pm). In the day time you can see the full view of the city and the marina. Reserve your tickets online in advance for your time slot to visit the SkyPark Observation Deck. The Deck is located on the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. There is a small fee to visit the Deck, but if you book a stay the hotel, it is free for hotel guests.
Gardens By the Bay: There are several different options for tours of the gardens. It takes 2-4 hours to get through the exhibits. We visited the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, featuring the Avatar Experience. You can also experience the Flower Fantasy exhibit. The Flower Dome has rows and rows of live flowers; the Tulipmania exhibit was there when we went. It felt like I was walking in a fantasy world of real plants and fresh flowers. Visit the Avatar Experience to spend time near the refreshing waterfall and breeze through the amazing art installations, featuring scenes and characters from the movie Avatar. There are plenty of spots for great photo ops.
Marina Bay Sands shopping: After spending some time in the gardens, visit the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands for lots of designer stores, speciality shops, and a huge food court (I had the chicken ramen from Ippudo). There are other malls in the area, like the Esplanade mall for more family-friendly shopping.
Dining Options: Singapore has a variety of dining options, from ramen and pho to popular U.S. fast food chains like Carl’s Jr, McDonald’s, & Shake Shack. I personally avoided eating from any of the same restaurants we have in the States to try new foods.
Accommodations: For our first night in Singapore, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn which is located in Little India, and we felt safe in this area. There is a 7/11 right beside the hotel for your convenience. However, this area of Singapore is about a 10 minute drive from the attractions and center city. I highly recommend that you stay in the city center at the Ritz Carlton, which is where we stayed for the second night. There’s also the Mandarin Oriental and the Marriott. The walk to Marina Bay Sands is convenient, especially with the bridge that connects the marina to the tourist attractions.
Keep in mind that Asian laws are often different and some things that are common in the U.S. are not allowed in Asia. For example in Singapore, chewing gum is banned. It is not sold in stores and it is illegal for gum to be imported into the country. This is partly due to the country’s effort to stay clean. Crime is low in Singapore as the fines for committing a crime are really high, with punishment severe enough to deter most citizens & visitors from committing crimes. Smoking is not allowed in most places, even outside.
Whether you're just passing through to connect to another destination or if you have a few days to sightsee, Singapore is worth visiting. There are plenty of tourist attractions for the whole family and even if you don't have time to visit the attractions, Singapore's world-class airport has plenty of places and things to explore.