I am living in Indonesia, the south-east part of Asia Continent and I’m currently residing in the island of Sumatera, which is very, very close to Singapore. From Pekanbaru, it takes less than an hour flight to reach Singapore. I could also fly to Batam and then reach Singapore by ferry.
Singapore is the leading country in South-east Asia, so despite its relatively small area (700 km2), it has a very developed and reliable infrastructure. To me, Singapore is heaven for independent traveler who wants to go places with clean and reliable public transportations. It also offers myriad attractions and cultural-rich places I am never satisfied to explore. Since I live next-door to it, I can say that at least I visit the country once a year (probably more last year). The fact that my best friend also live in Singapore makes another reason to visit the country for couple of days to just get lost and have a mini reunion with my friends.
I am writing this not because I have explored every attractions Singapore has of offer, but because despite I have visited the country several times, I still feel like there are many places of interest I have yet to explore. So, these are several places that I have (and have not) visit in Singapore that I think worth to explore. Depends on how long you’re planning to stay, the duration to explore each place will vary. But to make it easy to plan, I will also include estimated duration to explore each place.
1. Gardens by the Bay
This is so far, my favorite place in Singapore. These vast 250 acres area is a perfect garden to lost in. From daylight to nighttime, from January to December, this garden offers unique beauty. I have visited this place five times already and always find new corners and muse I’ve never found before. I came in April to May 2017 to find the tulips special exhibitions in its Flower Dome Conservatory. I also came during Christmas to find Christmas Wonderland light and sound show on its Giant Tree area. I came during daylight to get some green pictures with a blue sky, and came here as well during the nighttime to get the picture of lighting decoration on its trees. I also love it because of the many kinds of flower we can see and I love how they decorate it in a unique and creative way filling the giant space of its dome. I like to picture it as a plant kingdom, instead of a garden.
Duration: to get the best from daylight and nighttime, spend at least 5 hours (3pm-8pm) in the garden on a leisure pace
When: 9am-9pm. Try to visit it on its seasonal exhibitions (Easter, tulips blooms, Christmas) to watch special exhibitions although it may be crowded than any other day. If you’re looking for something quiet, try to visit it regular day/low season (Feb-Mar, May, Sept-Nov).
Cost: SGD 28 for adult and SGD 15 for children (as per January 2018)
How to get there: Use the circle line or Downtown line MRT to stop at Bayfront MRT Station (CE1/DT16) and follow the direction towards Garden by the way (sign board on MRT is really helpful to guide to there)
Official Website: http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en.html
Giant Tree picture from 2013 visit - i didn't go to any of its conservatories back then
Flower exhibition on Flower Dome in 2014
Tulips exhibition in Flower Dome on 2017 April
Christmas Wonderland December 2017
2. Marina Bay Sands and The Shoppe at Marina Bay
By any means this is not my second favorite after Garden by the bay, but I also love explore this area. The mall (The shoppe at Marina Bay) is a giant, huge, massive mall with massive space. I love this mall because of its grand architecture and its imitation of river of the base of the mall. I visited this mall not to shop around (the high-end brand is definitely out of my league), but I love its atmosphere. It also has food court, which offers variety of food you can enjoy before continue strolling the area. Other thing to enjoy is the ice skating ring on the ground floor. The location itself is right the opposite of Gardens by the bay, after the hotel, which makes it worth visiting before/after going to the Gardens by the Bay.
The hotel, is open to any curious visitors on its ground level. The towering levels of the hotel viewed from the ground Is amazing, especially for architecture lovers. The observation deck on the top level is not free (SGD 23) which can be bought online or right on the hotel, but the infinity pool is strictly for the hotel guests. But, you will pass the pool on your way to the observation deck.
Duration: If you are not here to shop, a good 2 hours for both mall and the Hotel is enough (3 hours if you want to go up to exploration deck)
When: the whole year, be it daytime or nighttime outside high season
Cost: Marina Bay Sands Hotel Observation Deck access: SGD 23 (as per Jan 2018)
How to get there: Use the circle line or Downtown line MRT to stop at Bayfront MRT Station (CE1/DT16) through Exit C and D or by the bus, more info on this link
Interior of The Shoppes at Marina Bay
Marina Bay Sands Hotel
3. Singapore ArtScience Museum
This museum building is hard to miss. This is the building that shapes like a flower right in front of The Shoppes at Marina Bay. The three buildings (the Marina Bay Sands, the Shoppe at Marina Bay, and the ArtScience Museum) makes one of the most famous landscape in Singapore nowadays (not to mention its helix bridge).
This museum has many exhibitions, but what I love most is the Future World exhibitions, where strand of lighting dots hanging from the ceiling, they change color as the music changes, blink fast and slow following the music rhythm. This exhibition itself will blow your mind. You can buy ticket for single exhibition, double, or for all access. This is probably one of the coolest museum I have ever visited in Asia. If you have children, this is the best place to spend time with children as well.
Duration: For art lovers, surely a day is not enough. But for curious visitor, 2-3 hours is more than enough in the low season
When: 10am-7pm, and definitely not in high season, as entering one exhibitions will takes hours in queue. It also saving times if you visit early on its opening time (10am).
Cost: all access ticket: SGD 38 (as per Jan 2018)
How to get there: Use the circle line or Downtown line MRT to stop at Bayfront MRT Station (CE1/DT16) through Exit C and D
4. Bayfront Area – Self Walk
This is probably one of the best walk in Singapore and takes up to a day or even more if you also include exploring nearby attractions, malls, and sampling its café and restaurants on its sidewalks. You can start at any point, but in the map below, the starting point is from ArtScience Museum and concludes in ArtScience Museum as well.
The short circle would be from ArtScience – Merlion – Waterfront Promenade – ArtScience. But you can also take the long circle passing Clarke Quay Area and its narrow street.
The best part of this walk is probably during the night, where all the building lights shine and reflected by the river. Also, the light, sound, and water show named Spectra which combined sounds, water jet, and visual projector. This advanced show is free to public and is AMAZING !! The best spot to watch it is from the open area in the back of The shopped at Marina Bay mall. It’s available from Sunday to Thursday 8pm, 9pm, and Friday and Saturday at 8pm, 9pm, and 10pm.
Don’t miss: Hellix Bridge
Hellix Bridge is the best of this area I would like to visit over and over again. It ‘s just beautiful during the night and there’s no ugly photos of it taken literally from any angle.
Duration: 1 day includes short exploration to its nearby mall and stores
When: anytime, best during nighttime, and stay away when it rains
How to get there: depends on your starting point, but if you start from ArtScience Museum/ The Shoppe at Marina Bay, you can use MRT Circle Line/Downtown Line and stop at Bayfront MRT Station, through Exit C and D.
5. Bayfront Area – Singapore River Cruise
In 2013 I took this Singapore River Cruise with the highlight on Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Marina Bay. This is the best way to enjoy Singapore’s skyscraper during the night. If walking during daylight has taken all of your energy, this is the best alternative to enjoy Singapore river. It costs SGD 25 per person (adult) and you can buy the ticket along the road at Boat Quay (59 Boat Quay, according to Google map)
Duration: 1 hour
When: anytime when it’s not raining
Cost: SGD 25
How to get there: Hop on North East Line and stop at Clarke Quay (NE 5), then walk to to Singapore River Cruise Kiosk to depart
6. Library @Orchard
Well, I went to this Library mainly because its architecture. The waving book shelves, the white and clean interior with colorful book shelved on it. If you are looking to admire architecture and interior, this is the place to wander. This library is located inside Orchard Gateway Mall, so you can pay visit while exploring Orchard area.
Duration: 30-45 minutes
When: literally anytime within its opening hour (Mon - Sun: 11:00 AM - 09:00 PM)
Cost: Free if you just visiting
How to Get There: Hop on North South line, and stop at Somerset (NS23), take exit B
7. Singapore Zoo (The Zoo, Night Safari, River Safari, and Jurong Bird Park)
Just like Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Zoo is a one stop attraction for animal lovers and always full of visitors from all ages at any season. I have visited the zoo itself, twice experiencing the Night Safari, and once hopped on River safari, but I have never gone to Jurong Bird Park).
Let start with the easy one, The Zoo itself. If you are animal lovers, surely this place is a must visit. From indoor to outdoor, from panda to artic bear, this place houses 2800 animals from 300 species on its 26 hectares area. The zoo is neatly managed and easy to explore.
But, I love it best during nighttime! That’s when the Night Safari starts. Somehow, I like the mystery-like feeling exploring the zoo during the night. When you buy Night safari ticket, guided tram ride is complimentary. It will take you to from one zone to another where zone area is inhabited by unique animals from elephant, giraffe, or even jaguar. There are also shows like Thumbuakar show and Creature of the night Show. But, to watch these shows we have to queue.
The one show that I watched was Creature of the night show, where we sit on amphitheater and the host of the show starts inviting animals (binturong, civets, and others) to interact with guess and perform some interesting tricks. The show is entertaining and runs for 25 minutes. The show runs 4 times (7:30pm, 8:30 pm, 9:30pm, and 10:30 pm).
The Night Safari-only ticket costs SGD 45 (adult), but you can get discount when you buy combo ticket (together with the zoo, Jurong Bird Park, or river safari, so choose wisely which one do you want to experience). This Night Safari opens from 7:15 pm to 12 am with last entry at 11:15 pm. So, this is definitely for those who’s really want to stay up late.
I love Night safari better than River safari cruise, the overall view is just okay, and if you like to have a great scenery, Singapore River cruise is way better to do that. When I did it, there were not much animal I could look at closer, Giraffe from afar, Elephant from afar. No crocodile encounter, although I slightly wished I met one.
But, other than the cruise there are also Amazon River quest, and River trails, a walk-through zone with river animals footprints. This could be the best part of the River safari.
Rive-Safari-only ticket costs SGD 30 (adults) and there are more discounts on combine parks with night safari and the zoo.
How to get to Singapore Zoo: Hop on North South Line and stop at Khatib (NS14), then go through Exit A to the Bus Stop, hop on Mandai Khatib Shuttle (The loop Shuttle service from Khatib MRT station to Singapore Zoo Coach Bay is available daily every 20 mins, from 8.00am (first bus from Khatib MRT) to 7.20pm (Last bus from Coach Bay). Travel time takes approximately 15 minutes, subject to traffic conditions.)
When: Opening Hours: 8.30am to 6.00pm Last entry at 5.30pm