Singapore has been a top Asia travel destination for me for quite some time. I’ve heard about how much of a megacity it is and how it’s leading the other Asian cities in terms of business, finance and technology. Plus, the Garden by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands sounded pretty awesome and I wanted to see it in person.
I was very impressed by the city and even more impressed by how it developed so quickly – in only about 50 years! Quick history lessons: Singapore broke off from the Malaysia Federation in 1965 due to their disputes. The city state country invested in infrastructure, finance, education and healthcare and quickly boosted its economy, standard of living and reputation in the world. This was evident in how the city was designed.
I spent a quick two days in Singapore and I was able to see most of the city. The main city area is very small and easily accessible by Grab (Asia’s version of Uber) or the MRT (super convenient!). I’ve outlined some of my favorite things below.
Garden by the Bay
This refers to a large section of the city dedicated to making Singapore feel like a garden. It’s an effort by the government to create more green space in the country. I only ventured through part of the garden but it was pleasant getting lost amongst the trees. My favorite exhibit in Garden by the Bay, and all of Singapore actually, was the Cloud Forest.
The Cloud Forest is in Garden by the Bay and it’s an enclosed glass dome that mimics the tropical environments of a rainforest. There is a descending walkway from the top that takes you through the different environments, plants and flowers at each altitude. It felt like strolling through a tropical botanical garden, and occasionally I’d see the Marina Bay Sands in the background. There is also the world’s largest waterfall! The AC in the Cloud Forest also makes for a refreshing break from the humidity.
These are avatar-like trees that are very eco-friendly and energy efficient. They were all sorts of colors – purple, orange, green, yellow – and make for a good sight as you look up in the Garden by the Bay. Atop the highest Super Tree is a bar called Endochine. At dusk, the rooftop bar offers an amazing view of the entire garden and beautiful views of the Marina Bay sands light up in the dark.
Marina Bay Sands
Most people are familiar with this hotel where a massive ship-like hull sits on top of three asymmetrical towers. The MBS is visible from almost everywhere in the downtown area, and is even more impressive up close. The structure is massive! I went up to the Skypark observation deck at the tip of the ship which only offered views of the city. The infinity pool is reserved for guests only. Honestly, the views from other rooftop bars were nicer because you actually see the MBS.
Haji Lane is one of my favorites! It’s a short and narrow lane lined with colorful houses, boutique shops, and coffee shops. Everything on this street was very hip and aesthetically pleasing, and everyone was taking photos on the street. There’s not as much to do on this street, but I really liked the vibe of it. So much that I came here twice!
Smoke & Mirrors Bar
Although not an attraction, this bar on the rooftop of the ___ museum, has one of the best views of the MBS. From the edge of the bar, there’s only a small soccer field between you and the MBS. I spent about an hour sipping on cocktails here while watching the sunset and then the MBS light show. I’d recommend making a stop around sunset at Smoke & Mirrors.
Two days in Singapore was enough for me to see most of the main attractions. However, I do want to revisit to explore more of the local culture and activities rather than going where all the tourists go. That’s the best part about traveling and learning about different country’s culture and norms.