By Jen Lewallen
Despite being one of Asia’s best kept secrets, Singapore’s appeal is slowly but surely being revealed to western travelers. This city is so delightfully diverse that you can travel the world without leaving its limits. Its futuristic and innovative atmosphere seamlessly intertwines with breathtaking greenery and ancient temples, and English is one of its official languages, making Singapore an ideal introduction to Asia for most Americans. The “Little Red Dot” boasts big sights, bold flavors, and beautiful cultures, but we’ve managed to narrow down a few of our favorite experiences that you need to try between sipping on Singapore Slings.
1. Gardens by the Bay
This massive 250-acre park was created as part of the strategy to turn Singapore into a “city within a garden.” The complex includes a giant bio-dome that houses a tropical cloud forest, a canyon trail and sun pavilion featuring rock formations and desert plants, lakes, and a children’s garden. But the real stars of the park are the gigantic Supertrees – vertical gardens harnessing natural energy for the city that come alive with light at night. Their skyward branches have become an iconic silhouette in Singapore’s skyline, and you can get a bird’s eye view of them from the Skyway, a suspended walkway that weaves its way around their “trunks.”
2. Street Food
Cultures from all over the world have converged in Singapore, bringing the vibrant flavors of their heritage with them. Here, the street is your 5-star restaurant, the vendors your Michelin Star chefs, and the prices your wallet’s relief. Follow alluring aromas to hawker centers – food courts with rows and rows of food stalls – where chefs are turning out made-to-order masterpieces. Head to Chinatown’s famous Maxwell Food Court for a bit of Tian Tian Chicken’s Hainanese chicken rice, and stop by Tekka Centre in Little India for hearty portions of biryani, curries, and delicious Halal dishes – this hawker center’s bright orange and yellow structure is hard to miss. Don’t even think about leaving Singapore without trying its legendary chili crab, found at most hawker centers around the city. If all these foodie hubs seem overwhelming, have your travel consultant arrange a food tour early in your trip, so you can get your bearings and navigate the hawkers like a pro during the rest of your time in Singapore.
3. Peranakan Culture
Like many features of the city, the Peranakan culture is a blend of civilizations, primarily from Chinese and Malay ancestors, and its people have made a vibrant mark on the city. While samples of their culture can be found throughout Singapore, the Katong and Joo Chiat neighborhoods showcase the largest concentration of their heritage. Take a tour or stroll at your own pace past colorful shophouses decorated with sculptures and hand-painted tiles, hunting for beaded clothing and shoes, and intricate jewelry. Naturally, Peranakan cuisine is also famous in this city, so be sure to have a meal or two in these districts.
4. Singapore’s Skyline from Marina Bay Sands SkyPark
You’ll see the Marina Bay Sands’ three-tower hotel topped with what appears to be a large long ship in almost every picture of Singapore’s skyline. But for the most awe-inspiring views, ride an elevator all the way to the “ship,” which is actually a SkyPark offering 360-degree vistas of the city and unparalleled photo opportunities. If you find yourself fortunate enough to be a guest at the Marina Bay Sands, you’ll have exclusive access to the SkyParks’ infinity edge pool. Spend a day floating and sunbathing in the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool 57 stories above the city.
5. Bumboat Tour
Singapore is a captivating island nation, and one of the best ways to see its impressive cityscape is from the water. Cruise through its iconic marina and into the heart of the city on a Bumboat tour. These traditional vessels have been transporting goods and people from islet to islet for over 150 years. Climb aboard to gaze at the striking skyline from Marina Bay, snap a selfie with statues of legendary creatures as you sail past Merlion Park, and sit back and relax while your expert guide reveals the story of Singapore’s transformation from a simple fishing village to the modern metropolis it is today. Spend a day immersed in Singapore’s fascinating history by having your Liberty Travel consultant arrange a Little Red Dot City Highlights Tour. Not only will you enjoy a morning on a Bumboat, but you’ll also get to explore the streets with your guide after the cruise, allowing you to experience the best of land and sea.
6. Night Safari
Do you consider yourself a night owl? Meet like-minded creatures at the world’s first nocturnal zoo, the Night Safari. Walk or take a tram around this open-air park through seven individual zones mimicking natural habitats, searching for night-loving animals like tigers, Indian rhinoceroses, and tarsiers by moonlight. While reveling in the eco-display of animals playing, eating, and enjoying the twilight hours, catch a few of the cultural presentations – performed by humans of course! – like dazzling tribal dancers and brave fire breathers.
Singapore is a true city of the future where modern innovations, vast greenery, and contrasting cultures move in a perfect symphony, and it’s time you revealed its secrets for yourself. Talk to your local travel agent today and let them guide you on an adventure to Singapore.