Short Break in the Lion City, Singapore

STE’s Holiday Editor, Tony Taylor, reports on his experiences on a three day short break in Singapore.

Supertrees and the Marina Sands Hotel
Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Supertrees

Since my last visit to Singapore over ten years ago, there has been much reclamation of land from the sea, which has allowed developments like the Gardens by the Bay and the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

I was looking forward to seeing both whilst revisiting some favourite places from previous visits.

Our short break in Singapore was for just three days. This was as a stopover on the way to take a Saga Holidays tour of Burma, featured in an earlier report on this website. In hindsight we wish we had stayed much longer.
Singapore Smallest
Singapore, or rather Singa Pura as it was originally known, means Lion City in Sanskrit – a curious misnomer in that there have never been lions in the city, although there were tigers until about 80 years ago. The city’s Coat of Arms features both a lion and a tiger!

When visiting a city new to us, we usually use a tourist hop-on hop-off bus to get a feel for the city and its major attractions and sites. Then having been all round the route, we use the bus to visit the ones that most appeal to us most. This often requires a two day pass.

View across the Singapore River
View across the Singapore River

Singapore has several tourist bus routes covering different parts of the island but using one ticket. We decided on a one day bus pass to refresh our memories. As we had flown Singapore Airlines, the production of our boarding pass received a significant discount. We also used the excellent, reasonably priced service buses and MRT (Metro) to travel around.

Entrance to Chinatown
Entrance to Chinatown

We selected a number of things to see and do including:

• The Gardens by the Bay provided a lovely walk through different areas including the Supertrees, the riverfront and a number of gardens by nationality (e.g. Chinese, Malay, Indian). There are views of the spectacular Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The sun and warmth in February was also much appreciated.

• A late afternoon and evening visit to Chinatown, which happened to be at the Chinese New Year, was a colourful and lively experience. We had a meal at the hawkers’ stalls, which provided a wide selection of good food, at reasonable prices in a local environment.

Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore Botanic Gardens

• We had a relaxing stroll through Singapore Botanic Gardens. Entrance is free and a map can be obtained when you enter so that you can plan your route. It has a range of areas, including a rainforest and an orchid garden (with a small entrance charge).

• We visited the shops in Orchard Road, followed by a meal in one of the small hawker stall areas – not the touristy Newton Circus. Again we had a very good meal, each choosing different things and at a very reasonable price.

We had been to Singapore twice before and enjoyed a drink at the atmospheric Raffles Hotel. This time we planned to have to a meal there. Unfortunately it was closed for renovation! Consequently we dined outside at a restaurant by the Singapore River, with a very pleasant view and good service. Needless to say, it was far more expensive than the hawker stalls, but no better with regard to the quality of the food, although better presented.

Night market in Chinatown
Market stalls in Chinatown

Our previous visits included exploring Little India, the Colonial District and Mount Faber, plus a boat trip along the Singapore River and a cable car ride to Santosa Island. All are well worth doing on a longer stay in Singapore – but time ran out for us!

Singapore is what I would describe as clean and clinical. Everywhere is spotless (including the automated MRT), safe to walk around, safe to eat anywhere, and easy to travel around. But it still manages to be a dynamic city, bustling with activity, and offers a massive variety of interesting places to visit.