Singapore is Southeast Asia’s peerless, unique destination. The tiny city-state is a total contrast to the traditional Asian areas. Singapore became independent from Malaysia in 1965 and since then has undergone rapid development, and today the city’s modernity rivals the major cities in Europe and America. Skyscrapers, structured processes, strict regulations, and cleanliness dominate so much that you easily forget that you are actually in Asia, but the Chinese and Indian districts, the local restaurants, and of course, the subway trains → which are designed for short people make you feel the Asian sense of life.
Today, Singapore has grown into a financial, innovation, and maritime trade center with an outstanding significance, not only in Asia but also worldwide, despite the fact that it is barely larger than Budapest in terms of territory.
When visiting Singapore, it is important to be aware of the strict laws of Singapore and to follow the rules even as a tourist, as this is partly the key to such a unique thriving economy. Drug smuggling, for example has a death penalty consequence. Spitting, littering, e.g. throwing away chewing gums and cigarettes results in severe fines. These are just a few of the many, but it already suggests quite well that the contrast in Singapore is really enormous compared to the neighboring countries.
Anyone traveling to Asia will have a good chance of changing flights in Singapore before their final destination. In this case, it is well worth planning to not just change flights but also to stay 4-5 days there to explore Singapore, as it is a wonderful city with breathtaking attractions, beautiful botanical gardens, rainforest tours, and modern buildings.
This modernity is also reflected in the prices. Accommodation, food and drinks are very expensive. You can catch a good value Airbnb, but the price of a night in a not-so-fancy accommodation can easily cost the same (or even more) than e.g. 3-4 nights in a good accommodation in Bali.
You shouldn't be surprised when in 7/11 (local supermarket chain) a piece of apple or a piece of banana costs 2 Euros.
The weather in Singapore is quite unpredictable, it is common that the weather turns out to be completely different than what meteorology predicts.
Which is for sure, it’s always warm and the air is humid. The wet monsoon weather is typical for the winter months from November to February-March, but there are small downpours all around the year, thanks to which the humidity level, is quite often around 90%, which can easily cause tiredness for tourists who are not used to it.
Singapore has a very well-developed public transport system. The network of bus-, and metro lines cover the whole city, making transportation easy and fast. For public transport, it is worth buying an EZ-Link card: there is also an unlimited travel option for few-day periods and a top-up solution as well when the fee is deducted depending on the distance traveled. However, if you do not have a public transport card, you can also pay with cash on the buses, but you have to give the exact sum for the ticket price and it is good if you have coins because you don’t get back the change.
The cheapest and often the fastest solution to the airport is the metro. The air-conditioned metro trains are very clean and full of clear markings (also in English), so there are no difficulties with public transport at all.
The metro is otherwise very safe, as each station has shields along the platform that only open when the metro train stops.
So in this respect too, we may feel as if we are walking in one of the great metropolises of Europe or America.
Singapore's top sights:
Gardens by the Bay: Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, OCBC Skywalk, Garden Rhapsody
Marina Bay Sands: Skydeck, Infinity pool
Marina Bay: Merlion, Financial District, Laser show
Botanical Garden and National Orchid Garden
MacRitchie Treetop Walk
Southern Ridges Treetop Walk
Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is a huge botanical garden behind Marina Bay Sands. It is a completely unique artificial park in the world, which is made even more special by the 18 “supertrees”.
These supertrees are special not only because of their appearance, but also because of their functionalities. Some of them collect rainwater, feed the irrigation system, some have photocells that collect the sun’s energy. Their trunks are also flower beds, as many fern species, orchid species, and other plants cover the trunks of the trees, bringing together the duality of artificiality and naturalness. And of course, thanks to their huge size (25-50m), they also provide shadow against the strong sun.
These trees come to life twice every night (after sunset: 7:45 and 8:45) in the frames of the Garden Rhapsody, which amazes visitors with the supertree light-show designed for the rhythms of the well-known music hits played in the background. You can enjoy the play while lying on the benches at the foot of the trees, or perhaps a little further from where you can see all the supertrees together, with the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in the background.
Despite the pleasant warm air in the evening, you might get goosebumps from this incredible show. If you are visiting Singapore, Gardens by the Bay is a must-see place!
The park is free to visit, you can walk among beautiful flowers, orchids, and themed botanical gardens in the shade of the supertrees. The garden, on the other hand, has three paid sections, the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest, and the OCBC Skywalk.
The Flower Dome is the largest greenhouse botanical garden in the world. The characteristic plants and flowers of different Mediterranean landscapes can be seen in a beautifully arranged and well-groomed environment, where in addition to a permanent flower exhibition, you can also admire constantly updated seasonal specialties in a thematic environment.
The Cloud Forest, the other greenhouse (the humpy one), which unlike the Flower Dome, does not show the Mediterranean vegetation, but the vegetation of the tropical mountains at an altitude of 1000-3000 meters above sea level.
From the top of the 42-meter-tall Cloud Mountain in the greenhouse, a waterfall rushes deep, providing humidity. From the top of the artificial mountain, you can descend on a winding promenade, admiring the beautiful vegetation, ferns, orchids, carnivorous plants, and other wonderful flower specialties.
It is kind of like a suspension panoramic promenade between two supertrees, offering beautiful views of Marina Bay Sands and the Gardens by the Bay as a whole. Here, due to the limited number of people who can walk on the bridge at one time, there is often a long queue, so in this case, it’s worth exploring the rest of the garden first.
Marina Bay Sands:
Marina Bay Sands is one of the world’s most expensive hotel specialties, with an estimated construction cost of nearly $ 7 billion, has been waiting for guests since 2010.
At the bottom of the luxury hotel, there is a casino complex, and at the top, there is an infinity pool with stunning panoramic views of Singapore’s Financial District and the Gardens by the Bay → Many traveler’s bucket list item. :)
It is quite pricey to book a room in the ship-shaped luxury complex, the cheapest rooms start at around 300 Euros per night, and the limit is the starry sky.
Thus, those who don’t want to pay so much for a night, can either visit the Skypark Observation Deck, a panoramic lookout terrace designed for tourists (not hotel guests) with a ticket price of ~15 Euros, or you might even get the chance to enjoy the infinity pool and the wonderful view with a little trick as well...! :)
Marina Bay & evening laser show:
Marina Bay, located between Marina Bay Sands and the Financial District, is a wonderful place to walk around.
Stop and relax for a bit at the famous Merlion, the half-lion half-fish statue, which is also a symbol of Singapore, and admire the amazing views of Marina Bay Sands, the lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum, the utopian Helix Bridge, and the skyscrapers.
Make sure to plan your day in a way to be around Marina Bay in the evening, because in the evening, when it is already dark, an amazing laser and fountain show takes place that amazes tourists.
The laser light is broken on the water spray of the fountain and thus creates the effect of looking at a screen, the overall effect is enhanced by the background music and sound effects. The theme of the laser show is changing from time to time, but we can always admire a little story, a film-like projection. In words, you can’t really give back that experience, it’s just amazing.
The laser show’s and Garden Rhapsody’s timing are aligned, so you can watch the one after the other if you hurry. You just have to go through quickly at the bottom of Marina Bay Sands to the other side of the hotel.
IF anyone hasn’t been impressed enough yet by the monumental buildings, the boat-shaped luxury hotel, and the supertrees, these two evening shows will definitely make your day.
The island of Sentosa is like a separate little world within Singapore.
Sentosa, also known as the State of Fun, is located southwest of downtown and is full of many attractions such as: Swimming with Dolphins, Universal Studios, Waterpark, Wind tunnel, Segway, Museums, but also plenty of free entertainment options such as the Fort Siloso Skywalk, Bird and monkey shows, walks on the beautiful tropical rainforest promenade, and of course on the beautiful beaches and the Crane light show in the evening.
In my opinion, the most superb place on the island of Sentosa, which is by the wayfor free, is the Southeasternmost point of continental Asia, where you can walk from Palawan Beach via a rope suspension bridge.
Beautiful sunset-view place especially with a chilled coconut in your hand! And yet this special horizontally grown palm tree is also quite a super and unique experience.
Botanical Garden and National Orchid Garden:
For plant-, and flower lovers, the Botanical Garden and Orchid Park are must-see places in Singapore.
The botanical garden is a huge park, open to anyone. Beautiful surroundings, with many plant specialties, beautiful lakes, and if you are an eye-catcher you can even see a varanus. Inside the park of the botanical garden is the National Orchid Garden. Lovers of flowers should not miss it!
The price of the ticket to the Orchid Park is around 3 Euros, the garden itself is not very big, but it gives home to a ton of orchid specialties.
MacRitchie Treetop Walk:
This treetop walk also reflects the duality of Singapore. North-west of the city center, a huge national park awaits nature lovers with more beautiful hiking trails. One of the best of these is the MacRitchie Treetop Walk, where you can walk in a rainforest environment with monkeys, varanuses, special butterflies, birds, and maybe even snakes.
If you approach the place by bus (which is not problematic thanks to Singapore’s great public transportation), you have to get off the bus at Upper Thomson Road Venus Drive and the hiking trail starts from there.
The treetop walk is a super experience, as you can admire nature, birds, and monkeys on the 25-meter long canopy from the height of 250 meters. On the other hand, it is important that the bridge closes at 5 pm, and you have to take into consideration that the way back will last for an additional few hours from there.
But it is worth leaving early in the morning anyway, on the one hand, to avoid the big crowd, and on the other hand not to have to walk in the most scorching heat.
Make sure you have with You:
Drinking water (there is a Ranger station before the suspension bridge, you can still fill the bottles there)
Comfortable hiking shoes.
The hike there-and-back is around 7-10 km long, but in warm humid weather it can be strenuous and seems longer, so plan at least half a day for this program, so that once you’re already there you don’t need to rush.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be accompanied by monkeys on and before the suspension bridge, but be careful with them because they can attack easily.
The same rules apply, like the ones that I described in my Bali post, don’t look in their eyes for long, don’t feed them, and put away the food and drink deep in your bag.
Southern Ridges Treetop Walk:
This canopy trail is located in the city, much faster and easier to reach than the canopy trail in MacRitchie National Park. This promenade can be accessed from several different parks, and one of the best-known parts is the Henderson Waves section, which connects Telok Blangah Hill Park and Mount Faber Park.
In Chinatown, you find everything from traditional Chinese lanterns to cheap Chinese souvenirs. It’s worth buying all the souvenirs here, as you can get things for a fraction of the price compared to the same items in the souvenir shops at the famous tourist attractions.
The most beautiful and authentic buildings in Chinatown are the Thian Hock Keng Temple, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, and the Hindu Buddha Sri Mariamman Temple.
The Little India district also has a number of religious buildings, mosques, and places of worship, the most beautiful I think is the Sultan Mosque, reminiscent of the Sultan’s Palace in Aladdin.
There are not many places in the world where the airport itself is one of the attractions, but Singapore also carries the palm in this respect.
Singapore’s Changi Airport has been named the world’s best airport for almost 10 consecutive years.
No wonder, there are not many airports in the world with free foot massagers, orchid parks, sunflower park, botanical garden, cactus garden, butterfly park, swimming pool, cinema, game room, artworks, slide and now indoor waterfall and tropical rainforest, which all make the waiting at the airport a pleasant pastime (which normally on most of the airports just pain in the neck).
If you’re lu