The motive was the Maldives, Singapore was the bonus stop over….
So with that said when we booked our trip to Singapore we really didn’t have any pre conceived ideas over what it would be like, other than hearing the usual comments from those who have been before “it’s so clean and very green” they said. Therefore we decided we should really do some research and plan our itinerary being that we were only in the city for four days.
Funnily enough on the 14.5 hour flight out to Singapore, I happened to watch the movie ‘Big Rich Asians’ and this was the first time it truly dawned on me the magic that I was about to experience.
Its hard to believe that a city lined with skyscrapers, impressive architectural grandure, stunning botanical gardens, luxury shopping malls and exquisite restaurants & bars as well as its own island of fun ‘Sentosa’ was once a tiny little fishing village. Singapore has earned the reputation of the best tourist destination in Asia and after four days in this incredible destination we now know why.
After what felt like the perfect city break I wanted to share our itinerary with you and include all of my favourite moments in Singapore just in case you are heading there yourself in the near future…
Our Flight landed at 7.30am so after such a long time seated and in the air we wanted to plan the first day to be gently active and outdoorsy for two reasons. Firstly to stay awake and secondly to get our bodies moving before settling into our lovely hotel!
We checked into ‘The Quincy hotel’ located a stones throw from Orchard Road & the Lucky plaza shopping centre.
We picked this hotel for so many reasons; It is close to National Orchid Garden and Chinatown Heritage Centre. Not only is The Quincy in the perfect location it also features a 24- hour gym, Outdoor pool, a sauna and complimentary Wifi. As well as including a complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea & cake, early evening complimentary snacks, canapés and happy hour all completely free when you are staying there. Our room was perfect, the bed was so comfy and the staff were super helpful and friendly.
[Disclaimer: Room Upgrade & Luxury car Airport Transfers – Gifted]
The Botanical Gardens
Opening Hours: 5.00am – Midnight
Price: Free unless you visit the National Orchid Garden which has an entry fee of $5.00
How to get there: 1 Cluny Rd, Singapore 259569 – We walked there in under 20 minutes from Orchard Road or the nearest Metro Station: North East Line from Chinatown MRT Station.
Head to the Botanical gardens to take a deep breath of fresh air, to stretch your legs, to picnic, to relax and experience the true beauty of Singapores greenery. It takes approximately 4 hours to walk around and experience the entirety of the gardens so grab yourself a bottle of water and an ice cold Frapuccino from the Starbucks on the corner before you head in, also wear your comfortable shoes. Having said that you can take in as little or as much as you like of this vast space.
The grounds cover 82 hectares and features lakes (my favourite was Swan Lake and yes it had actual swans!), waterfalls, and ponds, a Bonsai tree garden, a one hundred year old tropical rain forest, as well as the stunning National Orchid garden. The Singapore Botanical Garden is the city’s only UNESCO heritage site and is one of the reasons why Singapore adopted the title “City in a Garden”.
We ended up being in this gorgeous place for well over four hours so then we hopped in a cab and headed back to our hotel for hot showers and a power nap before heading out for the evening.
LAVO – Marina Bay Sands
Mon – Thurs: 10.30am – 2am
Fri: 10.30am – 3am
Sat: 10.30am – 4am
Sun: 12pm – 2am
How to get there:
L57, Hotel Tower 1
Central (Orange zone)
10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956
People often think to take in the incredible birds eye view of Gardens by the Bays impressive Super-tree Grove light show, or the sea that stretches from Marina South Pier all the way to the Singapore Strait they have to pay $23 per person to go to the 57th floor observation deck at the Marina Bay Sands hotel.
However if you are planning to go for dinner anyway and you like fresh and tasty Italian American food then book yourself a table at LAVO (also on the 57th floor). By the time you consider what you would have spent on the observation deck ticket and what you would have spent on a lower cost dinner it pretty much equals out to the cost of dinner with a delicious bottle of wine at LAVO.
LAVO offers the most stunning views of the city in a setting that reminded me of a traditional old school New York City Italian restaurant but with a luxury contemporary twist. The menu is exciting and even as vegetarians we had plenty of choice and the food was so flavourful. They were also super accommodating of my allergies and were happy to make minor adjustments to some of the recipes.
Once dinner is finished and the diners begin to clear, guests make there way outside to take in the breathtaking views and the impressive light shows. Whilst the guests clear, inside LAVO transforms into a sleek nightclub complete with handcrafted cocktails a live DJ and the sprawling outdoor bar and terrace comes to life, all whilst taking in the twinkling city lights from 57 storeys aboveground. The night we had here was the perfect mix of being tourists, a romantic date night and a night out on the town… You may even spot a celebrity or two… Singer Anne Marie was celebrating her birthday whilst we were there!
[Disclaimer: Cocktails & wine at LAVO – Gifted]
China Town, Temples & Street Food
One of Tony’s favourite parts of Singapore was China Town… Imagine a maze of narrow little colourful streets which are both home and work to many Chinese immigrants. The area is buzzy yet still calm and you can spend an entire day immersing yourselves into Chinese culture. From the Temples to the Street food, its a wonderful experience.
Visit the Temples…
With every corner turn in China town there are incredible buildings to discover, but there are three spectacular temples in Singapore that you don’t want to miss out on experiencing…
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (Address: 288 South bridge road) 7am –7pm (Dress code: Cover shoulders and knees)
This temple felt really special, its a remarkable red and gold gilded 5 story temple built in a style based on the Buddhist mandala and integrated with the Buddhism of the Tang dynasty. Situated in the centre of China town it was founded in 2002 and only opened its doors to the public in 2007. The Museum houses a massive stupa that is made from 320kg of gold and the 10,000 Buddha Pavilion which houses a large prayer wheel. We were blessed enough to witness a buddhist ceremony whilst we were there and we also fully immersed ourselves in Buddhist culture and ritual by finding each of our own ‘Guardian Deity’ based on the year we were born and offering up a prayer and making a donation to the gods. We spent over an hour at the temple just taking it all in and it felt like a truly spiritual moment.
Sr Mariamman Temple (Address: 244 South bridge road) 7am –12pm / 6pm – 9pm
(Dress code: Remove your shoes before entry).
Based in Downtown China Town, this temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. The Temple was founded in 1827 by Naraina Pillai eight years after the East India Company established a trading settlement in Singapore. The building itself is rather fascinating to look it, It is embellished with six tiers of sculptures of Hindu deities, other figures and ornamental decorations all decorated in bright vibrant colours. You have to enter the temple barefoot…. which by the way is my “nightmare” being the germaphobe that I am! Whilst we were there it was prayer time so it was mesmerising to see many Hindu immigrants enter the main prayer hall to pray towards the central shrine of Mariaman, during prayer the hall filled with sound, two men were seated on the floor playing the drums and chanting creating the most beautiful sound. It was an interesting to experience another strong cultural hub within just a small radius of Singapore.
Thian Hock Keng Temple – (Address: 158 Telok Ayer Street) 7.30am – 5.30pm
Thian Hock Keng temple was a lot more still, tranquil and peaceful than the other temples that we visited. People trickled in and trickled out again, worshipers took a private moment alone to pray, it was very quiet. There was a small wishing well in the centre where you can toss a coin and make a wish, and of course we couldn’t resist taking part in the ritual. There was some beautiful detailed carvings, sculptures of dragons, Chinese red ceiling lanterns as well as the colourful broken porcelain on the roof ridges. There was a lot less tourists here than at the other two temples and it made it a little more authentic in experiencing day to day workings of the temple.
Baba Heritage House – 10am only pre-book, possibly not open on Sundays
Xixing Xuan Teahouse (Address: 30/32 Tangjong pagar road) 10am – 7pm – 45 mins experience $20 each.
Sadly we couldn’t visit Baba Heritage House as we went to China Town on the Sunday, but it was on our list of places to go so if you get the chance to visit then please do as we will certainly be going next time we come to Singapore. Another thing we will be sure to do next time we are in Singapore is to go to the Xixing Xuan Teahouse, but unfortunately it didn’t fit into our schedule for this trip but it comes highly recommended for a traditional Chinese tea ceremony.
Get some Brunch…
The food choices in China town are so wonderful, you have a nice mix of casual relaxed restaurants, world famous hawker centres and the China Town food market. We knew we would like to sample the street food for lunch, so we opted for a highly recommended Australian brunch spot popular with locals and ex pats for our breakfast. Its on the small side so you may have to wait for a table, but its got a nice vibe, good wifi and awesome fresh food! It’s called ‘Sarnies’ and this place really new how to do tasty brunch. It served great coffee and fresh juices along with a hugely varied menu suitable for veggies and vegans too!
SARNIES: 136 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068601
Opening Hours: Friday 7:30am–12am, Saturday 8:30am–4pm, Sunday 8:30am–4pm, Monday 7:30am–10:30pm,
Tuesday 7:30am–10:30pm, Wednesday 7:30am–12am, Thursday 7:30am–12am
Sadly the Hawker centre was closed as we visited on a Sunday, but its a must visit and we will definitely be going back to Singapore and checking one out. Hawker centres are one of the only places in the world where each vendor only works on one type of dish and they work tirelessly for years to perfect their one dish. Its also one of the only places in the world where street vendors can even earn a Michelin star (Hawker Chan is one to visit for Michelin star street food)! We were gutted to miss out on this experience but all the same it comes highly recommended and we will be trying it next time.
When it came to the street food market all your senses come to life, imagine hustle & bustle, the smell of fresh Chinese food being cooked right in front of you, rows of little tiny restaurants and long communal tables. Now you wont believe this but I managed to order food from the one Indian vendor in the entire market with out even realising it wasn’t Chinese until I started eating LOL. I know, I know what a bloody idiot…. but the food was super tasty and we never got the chance to visit Little India in the end so i’m not complaining. I think its because it was the most veggie friendly and I was so focused on find a veggie nut free meal that I genuinely didn’t notice the staff were all Indian and not Chinese. Either way thumbs up to the China Town food market.
Wander the little shops and markets…
Whilst visiting China town take some time to wonder around the various stalls and shops… The sellers are friendly and not pushy at all. You can expect to find shops selling antiques, tailor made suits, dried foods, Chinese tea and bone china, it’s also the best place to get your gifts and souvenirs to bring back home. As I wasn’t able to shop in Orchard Road I really enjoyed all of the small treasures of China Town and I picked up some beautiful little hand painted China bowls as well as the obligatory fridge magnets for the family.
Relax with a massage…
After two days of pavement pounding our feet were a little weary & swollen and after a 15 our flight our backs were quite stiff. So we treated ourselves to a post travel treatment… China town has plenty of no frills massage spas around. We looked for somewhere that looked popular and clean, they do some helpful treatment combos, so we opted for 30 minutes massage combined with 20 minutes reflexology each. Your treatment is carried out in a large room with 8 -10 massage beds and a similar number of reflexology chairs. All your clothes remain on and they get to work on working out your muscle tension without an oil or balm in sight. I have to say I do love this no nonsense straight to the point approach, as long as you can relax without all the spa fluff you might be used too in the UK (candles & zen music for example) then its a really effective treatment…. who knew we had so much tension in our feet… BEST FOOT RUB EVER!!!
Gardens By The Bay
Address: Gardens by The Bay (Address: 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953)
Opening Times: Supertree Grove: 5.00am – 2.00am daily
TOP TIP: Rhapsody light show @ 7.45pm & 8.45pm Location: Super tree Grove
This was probably the part of Singapore that I was most excited to see. Its one of the most photographed and filmed places in Singapore (it also features heavily in Big Rich Asians!). We may of seen it already from the long distance away view point of The Marina Bay sands hotel roof terrace. But it was time to get up close and personal with this beautiful and unique place. There are an awe-inspiring 18 Super trees in Gardens by the Bay, 12 of them are situated at Super tree Grove, with the tallest one measuring up to 16 storeys in height. Every night they put on an mesmerising light show that you can literally lay back on the warm ground and gaze up to enjoy. Its like laying back and watching the stars but way more exciting, a tad more surreal and a little bit romantic too. We loved it here and for 10 minutes, we didn’t speak, we didn’t take photos we just laid on the warm tarmac (remember Singapore is spotlessly clean) and we drank it all in. It was a moment…. a really lovely one.
Visit Sentosa Island…
Sentosa Island is literally an island designed for fun! It’s a small man made island just 15 mins from Singapore with a few fun ways to get there… you can either jump in a cable car, use the monorail, or take a nice walk along the pedestrian boardwalk.
Once a British military base and a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. The island was renamed Sentosa and turned into a tourist destination in 1972. Sentosa has so many activities to offer that one day on the island simply isn’t enough time to see and do it all. You can visit one of the two golf courses, take in the view from the Tiger Sky Tower, visit the Butterfly & Insect Kingdom, and explore one of the largest collections of aquatic animals in the world at the SEA Aquarium, there is also a 2 mile beach for those who want a change of pace from the city and to experience a more beach holiday vibe for the day, over the weekends you can expect to see lots of Singapore residents picnicking on one of the beaches or having fun on the wave machine.
As we only had one day in our schedule to visit Sentosa Island we chose to have big kids day of fun so therefore Universal Studios was our choice. I always try to be honest on my blog and although we did have a lot of fun we both agreed that it wasn’t the best Universal studios either of us had ever been too. Tony said it didn’t come close to Universal studios in Orlando and I have previously been to the one in LA which was so much better so the Singapore offering really didn’t match up. I would say this specific location is more aimed towards young children as the options for bigger kids and adults were so limited that we had managed to experience the entire park, plus we had lunch in just over half a day. We did opt to buy fast passes which I would recommend as some of the que’s were 40-50 minutes long for those without them, with our fast pass we never waited more than 5 minutes, especially if you only want a half day here they are a must.
Cocktails by the bay…
If like us you only spend half a day on Sentosa Island then next stop would be cocktails & a bite to eat on the rooftop at an Iconic hotel like ‘The Fullerton Bay’. The view from the Marina Bay Sands hotel might be spectacular however it is really nice to have the Marina Bay Sands in your sights and that is the view from The Fullerton Bay as well as the calm waters of the bay. The roof top has a beautiful blue swimming pool, lined with sun loungers, then when you head into the terrace area it is laid back lunching and hands down the best cocktails we tasted whilst in Singapore. This is the place to go for the best Singapore sling you can get your hands on in Singapore. We also sampled the menu and the food didn’t let us down. Think super flavoursome wood fired pizza slabs, the freshest salads and sandwiches. It was a perfect lunch and the cocktails really packed a punch! I was even a little giddy by the time we left.
[Disclaimer: Cocktails & Lunch at The Fullerton Bay – Gifted]
Dinner at The Four Seasons…
As a fairly new vegetarian of only two years, Tony and I are still learning how difficult it can be to find interesting dining experiences when travelling. Nine times out of ten you are looking at boring menus with simple choice of menu options; pizza, pasta and risotto! It can get pretty dull in terms of variety regardless of how tasty the dishes are and very carb heavy . So when the Four Seasons restaurant ‘One Ninety’ invited us to sample their highly accomplished head Chef Kamarl John’s brand of culinary craftsmanship we couldn’t of been more excited.
The restaurant itself was spacious, light, airy and elegantly decorated with comfortable soft leather and rattan seating with plump cushions. There was also greenery and bright pink orchids everywhere which I love. It was fairly quiet as we visited on a Monday night and the ambience was pleasant and the temperature just right (I cannot stand being cold in restaurants). The service from the very first moment was impeccable, the waiter was polite, attentive and friendly, he was also extremely knowledgable about both the food and the wine. Chef Kamarl had kindly organised for a menu to be printed especially for us where he had picked out the dishes that were suitable not only for us as vegetarians but also accommodated my nut allergy. Now i’m a total foodie and even the menu itself had me highly excited to try the food. There was so many choices and It sounded like it was about to be the best meal we ever had, purely from the description on the special little paper menu.
Course after course arrived at our table and the flavours, and textures were out of this world. Delicate details that gave each bite something special to savour, colourful fresh ingredients, you could just tell that this chef cooks with love for what he does and pride in his dishes. Everything was delivered to our table like a gorgeous work of art that you felt almost guilty to ruin by eating it. This food was hands down the best food we had ever tried since becoming vegetarians and i’m certain had we tried the meat dishes we would be saying the same thing. This was dining at its best, incredible flavour, perfect portions and we left suitably full up! We sampled a flute of Champagne, a large glass of Red Wine recommended by the Maitre d’ & a couple of interesting cocktails in the bar including a memorable twist on a Sangria that I wish I took the recipe for…. everything was divine.
Following our meal we relocated to the bar which had a moody expensive speakeasy feel to it, it was relaxed but has a nice relaxed buzzy vibe to it. Again the service was amazing and the drinks went down with ease. The pastry chef kindly send over a platter of mini deserts from the desert table for us to try… we were so full from our meal but they looked so incredible that we couldn’t say no and they tasted so good that we finished them all! My personal favourite was the little raspberry creme patisserie tart. The food was so good that we then returned the following evening for a more casual experience in the One Ninety bar where we nibbled on some small plates and ordered our favourite cocktails from the night before. Cut a long story short when we come back to Singapore we will be back to see Chef Kamarl John & the lovely staff at The Four Seasons hotel.
[Disclaimer: Drinks & Dinner at The Four Seasons Hotel – Gifted]
Shopping on Orchard road
Opening Hours: Most shops open from Sunday to Thursday at 10 am and closes at 10 pm, they extend their shopping hours till 11:00 on weekends.
Price: £0 to £1,000000000000 Lol
How to get there: The nearest station is 7B Dhoby Ghaut Station
Lets just say that it was a blessing in disguise that we had tight luggage allowances on this trip or I promise you that Orchard road would have destroyed my credit card balance! After our trip to Singapore we were heading to The Maldives on a tiny seaplane with a tiny luggage allowance of just 20KG!
I nearly forgot myself on a stroll into YSL (I actually fell in love with a beautiful handbag) but my lovely ‘Mr’ kindly reminded me that our luggage was already at 23kg on the way out so there was no way we could buy something that heavy!
Orchard road makes Oxford street in London look amateur! Firstly its a super long street where every direction looks like ‘Bond Street’, secondly its clean and modern and glitzy, you can shop indoor, you can shop outdoor, in fact there is even 3 Gucci’s on one corner where each Gucci stocks mostly completely different products… How awesome is that! I know people who actually fly to Singapore every few years purely to hit the shops!
The good thing is you can find something for every budget here. There are high-end luxury designer malls like Paragon and ION more affordable options like Lucky Plaza too. I saw everything from H&M to JD Sports to Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga, In Singapore you can shop until you literally drop! We only spent a few hours here and it was plenty but you could genuinely spend the entire day browsing the shops if you had the time and more importantly the CASH!
Gardens By The Bay – Part 2!
Opening Times: OCBC Skyway:9.00am – 9.00pm daily
Peak hours for OCBC Skyway are from 5.00pm – 8.30pm.
Last ticket sale and admission: 8.00pm
Price: Adult: $8 / Child (3-12 years old): $5
Seeing that when we had visited Gardens by the bay previously to see the light show all of the other attractions were closed we planned a second visit during the day light hours. If you are not afraid of heights you can buy a ticket to head up to the top of one of the Supertrees and be blown away by a stunning 360 view of the Gardens and the surrounding Marina Bay area. You can also stroll along OCBC Skyway, which connects 2 of these towering Supertrees. It only takes around 20 minutes to walk your way across 128-metre long aerial walkway, and its an experience not to be missed especially if you want that epic holiday photo that let’s everyone know exactly where you have been on vacation.
The area itself is larger than you might think and its not just the incredible light show at the Super tree grove to see within the Gardens by the bay area there is also the Flower & Cloud domes that are also worth a visit.
The Flower Dome
Price: Adult Senior: $28 / Child (3-12 years old): $15 (Ticket price gains entry to both domes)
9.00am – 9.00pm daily
Last ticket sale: 8.00pm
Last admission: 8.00pm
Peak hours are from 4.00pm – 7.00pm daily.
Longer waiting time may be expected
There is a huge flower dome to check out featuring the worlds flowers, plants and tree’s all under one roof yet cleverly zoned into countries so you can experience a miniature outdoor tour of Australia for example, all through its maze of mini garden experiences. Replicating the cool and dry Mediterranean climate, Flower Dome showcases exotic plants from five continents which are displayed in nine different Gardens. Wander amongst thousand-year-old olive trees and unusual Baobabs as you take in sights of the Flower Field Display. Unfortunately on the day that we visited they happened to be making some major changes to their displays so I don’t feel we got the true experience but I can imagine when its at its best it is stunning, but I still favoured the natural beauty of the Botanical Gardens on our first day in Singapore over this attraction.
The Cloud Dome
Price: Adult $28 / Child (3-12 years old): $15
9.00am – 9.00pm daily
Last ticket sale: 8.00pm
Last admission: 8.00pm
Peak hours are from 4.00pm – 7.00pm daily.
Longer waiting time may be expected.
10.00am, 12.00pm, 2.00pm, 4.00pm, 6.00pm, 8.00pm daily
Then there is the cloud dome, another imposing glass conservatory yet this one houses an incredible souring 30 ft waterfall that pours from a tall lush vegetation of the tropical highlands and sprays a cool delicate mist. I’ve gotta day this place was very impressive especially once to take the time to understand what it is, why they have created this attraction and you listen and learn the Eco message and education they are trying to teach. Keep an eye our for the stunning densely planted mountain wall with fascinating orchids, delicate ferns, colourful bromeliads, dazzling begonias and carnivorous pitcher plants – this is basically an epic photo wall! Very Instagram worthy!
Price: Approximately £28.00 per person
Opening Times: 7.30pm – Midnight Monday – Sunday
Address: 80 Mandai Lake Rd, Singapore 729826
How to get there: We would recommend booking a coach with your entry ticket.
Tony loves animals so when he said he wanted to book for us to see the night safari it was a no brainer. We have been to plenty of day time Zoo experiences in the past, but this would be different, seeing nocturnal animals at night time out in the open was a new experience for us. We were also drawn to this attraction as it had a more authentic safari feel to it over a zoo type experience. The safari park comes to life each night for visitors to see animals exploring their free-roaming environments, designed to replicate the Himalayan foothills, Southeast Asian rainforest, and Indian subcontinent. We pre brought our tickets through Trip Adviser and our tickets included coach transfers, priority que jump and 2-3 hours at the Zoo which is plenty of time. You are taken through the park in a tiger striped tram, the journey time is around 35 minutes. It tours you around the wildlife park where you will see up too 2,500 resident animals from over 130 species. Following that there are four walking trails that you are encouraged to explore following a map, which was our favourite part as we love to explore at our own pace. There is also casual fast food dining outlet for those who want to eat there, and a traditional Thumbuakar Performance, a pyrotechnic show by warriors to the beat of jungle drums and fire takes place every night, or you can check out the “Creatures of the night” animal instincts show. Overall it was a fun and educational night out and it was nice to see the animals after dark.
We’ll Be Back!!!
Our trip to Singapore was ultimately EPIC, we both came home telling our friends and family that we had an equally awesome time in Singapore as we did in the Maldives which was our second stop on this vacation. We’ve already decided we will be returning to this wonderful place so expect Singapore part 2 on my blog very soon as I am certain there is another 4 days worth
of things to do in Singapore when we visit this wonderful place next time around.
Helpful Tips about Singapore…
Singapore is a tiny city it is so easy and enjoyable to walk from place to place plus most of the attractions are located very near each other as well. If walking isn’t for you want to travel like a local, you can choose to take the MRT and Buses. Singapore doesn’t have Uber but it does have it’s own similar App’s: GrabCar, GOJET or TADA or you can just grab a regular metred taxi. We either walked or got a taxi as they were very cheap.
Tipping is neither customary or expected in Singapore. Most restaurants add 10-12% service charge, if you receive great service and you wish to tip then you should but don’t feel obliged.
Singapore is on the Singapore Dollar (SGD). 1 SGD = 0.57 GBP. For up to date conversions, get the XE Currency Converter App.
Singapore isn’t always sunny even though it is mostly hot and humid. It can also rain out of nowhere so always travel with a little umbrella. The dry season is from March to August, while the wet monsoon season is from September to February.