Singapore is an easy place to explore for many visitors, due to its accessibility and diverse culture.
We had a few days to spend on our first visit in Singapore, and we very much enjoyed our time there. The days are predictably hot and humid, but we tried to spend most time inside during the warmest hours. One interesting fact that I discovered while researching Singapore is that the all time record low temperature is 19.4 degrees C (66.9 degrees F). I live in Milwaukee, where the temperature ranges more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the course of most years.
We spent our first day exploring a few areas relatively close to our hotel. We got a late start due to our early morning arrival at the Conrad Centennial. One of our first stops was the Singapore National Museum. It was a good spot for tourists like us to learn about how Singapore developed into the unique place it is today.
Singapore National Museum
We walked around some more, and and eventually enjoyed some evening cocktails along Boat Quay. Boat Quay was historically the busiest part of the old Port of Singapore. Many of the old shophouses have been converted to restaurants and pubs.
A statue of Stamford Raffles
He is credited as the founder of Singapore, near the location where he first landed on the island. There are various sculptures in this area denoting activities that occurred in this area in the past. It is a stark contrast from the mostly modern buildings all around.
Further down the river is Clarke Quay. Historically, this was the location of lots of warehouses to store many of the goods coming through Boat Quay. This area also has several restaurants in the historic buildings, plus some restaurants that are housed in some of the old boats moored along the waterfront.
Clarke Quay, named for the second governor of Singapore.
As a reminder to my fellow Americans; Quay, meaning jetty or dock is pronounced like “key”. I first discovered this in Sydney, when I learned the name for the ferry harbor between the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge was pronounced Circular “Key”.
Of course, a big part of any visit to Singapore is eating. We were kind of lazy and depended on the hotel for most of our breakfasts, but beyond that almost all of our meals were in various hawker centers along our way.
Nighttime market near our hotel, appropriately named Gluttons Bay
A more typical hawker centre where we had lunch one day.
Items like Hokkien Mee, Roti Prata, Hainanese Chicken Rice and Satay are some of the most common items sold in these stalls. I tried some of each, and lots more. These stalls are a great way to try lots of different items, and generally prices are very reasonable. Each stall usually has a speciality, and each center often focuses on the ethnic food in the neighborhood, although it is usually possible to get Indian and Malaysian options in a Chinese neighborhood and vice versa. The sheer variety of options in these hawker stalls was one of my favorite parts of our time in Singapore.
We did more touristy things while visiting Singapore. A visit to the Raffles Hotel, and had the one of the more expensive drinks I can recall, S$26 for a Singapore Sling. Granted, it was invented there in the hotels Long Bar, and it was tasty, but I’m not sure if it is that special.
S$26 for a cocktail served with peanuts which are thrown on the floor
We also visited the Botanic Gardens, which was a serene spot in the middle of a bustling city.
Orchids in the Botanic Gardens
Another activity that I did was the Singapore Flight Experience. Initially, I didn’t want to spend the money, but my wife was pretty insistent. She knows how geeky I am about flying, and of course she was right about this. It was awesome. They have a 737 simulator, and there are multiple packages that are available. I booked an hour long session, and got to learn some very basic parts of piloting a 737, and did some take offs and landings at various airports, including Changi Airport, O’Hare, and my favorite, Hong Kong’s old airport, Kai Tak. Highly recommended for my fellow avgeeks.
Captain Brad just after the fun approach and landing at Kai Tak
The Flight Experience is located in the mall connected to the Singapore Flyer, the large Ferris wheel. We did not go for a ride on it, despite this being recommended as a very romantic place for a meal by our flight attendant on the flight to Singapore.
Also near our hotel is Marina Bay, and the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel. This unique hotel is visible from all over the city. We did not go inside, and to get to the huge rooftop pool, one must be a guest. There is a small viewing area on top for non guests, but we didn’t bother.
Marina Bay Sands
Before the Marina Bay Sands, one of the more famous symbols of Singapore was the Merlion. There is a large Merlion fountain facing Marina Bay. The Merlion serves as a mascot for Singapore.
View of the CBD and Marina Bay during a morning run.
Nighttime view of the Anderson Bridge near the mouth of the Singapore River
We did a lot of walking throughout our time in Singapore, but the MRT (subway) is an easy (and air conditioned) way to get around for longer trips. I went for runs each morning, and even in the early morning, it was quite warm and humid. It was a nice way to see the city before it gets too busy.
Finally on our last day, we wanted to visit the Sultan Mosque. This was relatively close to our hotel, so we just walked.
Views of the Sultan Mosque
Sultan Mosque is located in the Muslim Quarter, with strong connections to the Malay and Muslim communities in Singapore. There are interesting shops and restaurants in this area. Unfortunately we didn’t have too much time to explore this area, as we had to head back to the airport for the next stop on our trip, Kuala Lumpur.
I really enjoyed our stay in Singapore, and would certainly return. We had 3 days there, and certainly didn’t see it all, but I think that was enough time to get a good flavor of the city. What’s your favorite part of Singapore?