I love Singapore. I think its one of the coolest cities in the world. You can roll your eyes but I’ve been to a few of the cool cities : London, New York, Paris, Milan, Hong Kong and they just aren’t Singapore. One day I would like to work in Singapore for a little – with their crazy tall buildings filled with gardens and trees in the most nonsensical way. We had five days in Singapore and they were rushed and jam packed and exactly how we travel.
1) Eat like a local
If you eat at any American fast food chain whilst in Singapore we cannot be friends and you need to stop reading my blog. Not joking *serious face*. I love love love Asian food and we ate some incredible food in Singapore. Singapore is now the most expensive city in the world which means eating is an incredibly expensive thing to do. We found some great food and some affordable prices by following locals around the place.
We ate fantastic dim sum for breakfast in a busy food court at the top of a shopping centre. We were the only Westerners there. We ate honey chicken which is mind blowingly sticky and sweet and crunchy and delicious in an underground food court so packed with locals we had to stand. And the brother and boyfriend at ramen everywhere they could. Our rule of thumb: The dodgier the ramen spot the better the ramen.
2) Visit the Gardens by the Bay
This was a serious highlight of my time in Singapore. I love botanical gardens and will always visit gardens when exploring cities (ps – Prague has an awesome garden too). But the Gardens by the Bay is pretty incomparable. It is probably the Disney Land of Gardens – so huge, so brilliant and such fun!
Please excuse the penis shaped cactus pictured below. I feel if I did not include this photo the boyfriend and the brother would never forgive me. I’m ashamed to say that spotting these cactus penises was one of the highlights of the garden and they still bring it up on occasion.
Special highlights include the incredible Cloud Forest pictured below. You climb up and around the inside of this giant cylindrical structure which is covered with orchids and other plants and flowers that grow at high altitudes. Another favourite was the Flower Dome which shows flowers from all around the world. It was wonderful to see flowers from various Mediterranean regions. It was even better to see a whole section dedicated just to South Africa! The Flower Dome is also the home of these penis shaped cactus. The Flower Dome hosts an exhibit every month – while we where there it was Christmas theme’d with these beautiful white reindeers!
TIP: Exploring the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome falls under a separate ticket for the Conservatories. This can be a little pricey but so worth it in my opinion. If you flew to Singapore via Singapore Airlines keep your ticket stubs for entry discounts at the Conservatories.
3) Walk around the City
Walk, walk, walk and when your feet are sore keep walking. Singapore is incredibly beautiful and incredibly different. You can find yourself walking through so many cultures in just a morning. We loved walking through the markets of China town, walking down Orchard Road (the shopping street of Singapore) and spotting crazy buildings like the building topped with a ship or office blocks with giant holes in the middle packed with trees.
By walking around you get to see some crazy cool Asian things so different from our own culture. And that is why you travel. So get walking 🙂 !!
4) Visit the S.E.A Aquarium
I love aquariums, but even if you don’t love aquariums go visit this one. If you only visit one aquarium in your lifetime – visit this aquarium.
One of the exhibits which blew my mind was the tiny baby shark embryos still growing in their purses. If you look at the picture below you can see the tiny shark silhouettes. Such a simple exhibit but incredibly powerful.
The tanks are absolutely incredible filled with crystal water packed with interesting and colourful fish. We must have spent an hour alone at the Open Sea tank which is home to the ‘gentle giants’ of the ocean. We watched Manta rays glide above our heads, leopard sharks dart passed and giant tuna swimming passed. For our hour at the Open Sea tank I must have said ‘WOW’ over 100 times!
Another incredible exhibit is the Shark Seas. I have never seen so many sharks in one place before! It is terrifying and wonderful to see this scary guys up close and personal.
One thing to be aware of is the Asian Tourists. They WILL push you right out the way to get the shot/video they want with both their gopro, camera, video camera AND cellphone. If you can’t beat them, join them! I snapped away with the best of them. But it can be annoying. If your stuck with a big group – just hang back and they will quickly pass leaving the tank to yourself once again. The Aquarium is busy so I would recommend trying to go on a weekday if your schedule allows.
5) Visit the Zoo
This is one bad ass zoo. It is actually three zoos in one: The Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari and the River Safari. We chose the River Safari option because it was brand new and receiving rave reviews. We were not warned about the drive – during the mornings of peak traffic it can easily take you an hour and a half to get there. It only took us 25 minutes getting back after traffic. Do your best to go to the zoo between traffic hours to avoid wasting time in a taxi.
While I’m talking about taxis- surprisingly reasonably priced especially if you’re sharing!
The River Safari covers fauna and flora of the worlds rivers including the Mississippi, Congo, Nile, Ganges, Murray, Mekong and Yangtze rivers. It also includes a little boat ride down the ‘Amazon River’. The boat ride was down for maintenance when we were at the zoo but there was so much to see we didn’t miss it. Without the boat you are still able to walk and see 85% of the park.
Highlights included the beautiful resident giant pandas, Kai Kai and Jia Jia. I also loved the busy busy red pandas who were putting on a show for us and the beautiful but shy golden pheasants. The Squirrel monkey forest was an absolute laugh with teeny tiny monkeys climbing on your shoulders and clinging to your fingers. The manatees were an absolute treasure to see. They are such charming little sea cows who have captured my heart since a holiday in Florida. In Florida we went swimming with them in the Everglades where you get to rub your feet on their slimy muddy backs for a little manatee massage. Such gentle giants 🙂
The River Safari was an absolute highlight. Again I would recommend visiting in the week to avoid families and children. The pandas are especially shy and don’t like to come out for large groups. By going in the weekday your chances of seeing the animals is higher.