SINGAPORE is easily one of my favourite places. With a combination of tropical heat, clean streets, friendly people, fantastic views, amazing food and not forgetting to mention the fiercely efficient public transport system, the MRT. This mix of modern and colonial is unsurpassable.
It was 5am when my husband and I arrived on our most recent visit. We had both been before but never together and as it was the first leg of our honeymoon, we were eager to cram as much into our three days as possible. As was expected, our hotel room was not going to be ready to use until 2pm. We dumped our bags and headed straight out into the hazy morning, keen to make the most of our time.
1. Eat breakfast with the locals in a hawker centre
There are no shortage of hawker centres in Singapore. My favourite for authentic Singaporean street food is Lau Pa Sat (also known as Telok Ayer Market), set in an old Victorian pavilion among the skyscrapers and international banks of Singapore’s financial district. The market truly comes to life at night with smoking satay stalls lining the street; early morning it has a strangely sleepy vibe without the clamour and buzz.
We arrived to the savoury smell of steamed rice and headed straight for a small congee stall where we could see a few local people queuing to buy breakfast to go.
Congee is a savoury rice porridge topped with a choice of shredded meats, ‘century egg’ (preserved egg), crispy deep fried garlic, spring onions, chilli oil and finely chopped fresh ginger. From as little as S$4.50 (roughly £2.56) it is both cheap and a substantial breakfast which will set you up for a morning of sightseeing.
2. Explore one of Singapore’s exotic gardens
Singapore Botanic Gardens are open from 5am – midnight and you could easily spend the whole morning, or even day, meandering through the 82 hectares of flora and fauna and basking in over 150 years of history. In 2015, SBG was inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site, Singapore’s first. Admission is free and there are dining options on site.
Gardens by the Bay are another option if you would like to stay within the Marina Bay Area. The gardens are home to ‘Supertree Grove’. The Supertrees are man-made and environmentally sustainable structures, the biggest one is as tall as a 16 storey building! At night they come alive with an awe-inspiring light display (another post, another time) but are equally impressive during the day.
You can get to the gardens from the Helix Bridge and from the Lion Bridge leading through the Marina Bay Sands hotel (also worth a look). Including a 440 metre boardwalk running alongside the dragonfly lake, the outdoor gardens are free entry and open from 5am – 2am.
3. Take a nap on a reclining bench by Marina Bay
Okay, so this one is a little unconventional and, in our case, accidental! Ambling around Marina Bay in a jet-lagged stupor, we stumbled across some rather inviting reclining benches (not sure if that is the correct terminology). We decided to rest our weary feet and watch the world go by for 10 minutes…
We awoke from a deep sleep 20 minutes later. Fortunately for us, Singapore is renowned for low crime rates and was named as the world’s safest place to live in 2016, according to the London-based Legatum Institute prosperity rankings. Yet another awesome reason to visit!
In all seriousness, if public art is your thing then there are some interesting benches in and around the Marina Bay and Raffles Place area. Danish artist, Jeppe Hein has left a trail of ‘modified social benches’ around the city which make for interesting viewing – see how many you can spot! Why not head over to Merlion park while you’re there to get an up close look at the emblematic feature.
4. Absorb breathtaking 360 cityscape views
Standing at 165m tall, the Singapore Flyer is among the world’s largest observation wheels – second only to the Las Vegas High Roller. Not only are you guaranteed incredible panoramic views of the city, including some of Singapore’s iconic landmarks such as Merlion, the F1 circuit and Fort Canning Park; on a clear day you can see as far as Malaysia and the islands of Indonesia.
The flyer opens at 08:30am. Each capsule holds 28 people and takes 30 minutes to do a 360 loop. The terminal building’s leisure facilities open at 10am and include an airline pilot flight simulator, a built-in rainforest and a fish foot spa.
Prices are currently S$33 for an adult and S$21 for a child. You can book your tickets on arrival or click here to book in advance and catch the first ‘flight’ of the day.
5. Unwind at a 24 hour spa
This is something that we hadn’t thought of on our last trip but in hindsight, really wish that we had! If you’re visiting Singapore from Europe then the chances are that you’ve endured a lengthy flight and may want to postpone the sightseeing for a few hours in favour of rejuvenation. If not, then a plush 24 hour spa is still a pretty cool experience.
Singapore has a number of 24 hour spa houses and this is something we will definitely be doing next time we are visiting or passing through. A popular choice is the G Spa, located on Guillemard Road. The exterior appears to be somewhat ordinary but inside you will be greeted by a sumptuous hideaway home to a sauna and steam room, hot and cold pools, a relaxation lounge and a restaurant offering free flow food and drink, 24 hours a day.
For more information about visiting G Spa, or to view the spa treatment menu and make a booking online, click here.
Have you been to Singapore? I would love to hear all about your experience in the comment section below!
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