One of the best bits about holidaying in Singapore is the lifting of restrictions on what foods belong at which mealtimes. For example, it becomes socially acceptable to eat noodles for breakfast. Kick-start the day by going down to the local market and picking up some Baozi (steamed buns filled with meat or vegetables), or better still, yummy, yellow, steamed Shumai (dumplings filled with a mix of pork, prawn and spring onions). When you’re in a country with food of high quality at low prices (and more so for the happy haggler), ensure that you take full advantage of the variety on offer.
Once you’ve had some delicious dim sum, head over to Singapore’s Botanic Garden for a mid-morning walk amongst the beautiful flora and fauna. There is only a small additional charge (S$5) for adults to enter the National Orchid Garden sub-section, home to one of the world’s largest collections of gorgeous orchids. Even the least green-fingered people will be awed by the unusual colors and pleasant surroundings. Within Singapore’s Botanic Garden, you will see a beautiful bandstand, of which a miniature replica can be found in the gardens of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, UK. The College has Singaporean links due to benefactor Lee Seng Tee and his wife Betty Wu Lee.
Alternatively, those who love to cycle can explore the East Coast Park, which spans 185 hectares and offers a relaxing place to ride while hugging the water’s edge. This definitely feels like an Eastern beach as you pass coconut trees and groups of people doing Tai Chi. Make sure you stop at the food outlets or hawker store to grab a drink served in a coconut or to watch the men create a sugar cane drink using fresh sugar cane.
A trip to Raffles Hotel is well worth a visit. The hotel’s namesake is Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the man who many consider to be the ‘Founder of Singapore’ after he set up a trading port at the mouth of the Singapore River. Stop in the Long Bar and sample the world-famous Singapore Sling cocktail, believed to have been invented by a Hainanese bartender many years ago. The Singapore Sling is a gorgeous sunset red and consists of gin, Cherry Heering, Dom Benedictine, Cointreau, pineapple juice, lime juice, grenadine and angostura bitters topped off with a pineapple slice and a cherry. Before departing the River area, take a tourist picture imitating Raffles’ arms-crossed pose (see Raffles’ statue for inspiration).
Not far from Singapore River is the £4billion Marina Bay Sands complex – now the world’s most expensive hotel. The view from the 55th floor observation deck is breathtaking, a real opportune place to take perfect panoramic photos of Singapore’s river, famous buildings and beyond. The Marina Bay Sands was designed by architect, Moshe Safdie, and stands tall with its three towers and a platform reminiscent of a boat which rests on top. Inside visitors can catch a show at one of several theaters, indulge in retail therapy in the many luxury shops or stop by the Marina Bay Sands complex, which hosts a serene infinity pool set 650ft above sea level, one of the world’s largest outdoor pools at this height. In typical Singapore style, this impressive complex integrates the modern with the traditional. Visitors can purchase a new Swarovski watch and then embark on an 18th century Sampan boat ride in the indoor canal.
After 8pm on any Singapore evening the many hawker centers and food courts dotted around town provide inexpensive, filling dishes until the early hours of the next morning. Alternatively, visitors can take a trip on the MRT and head to the Ang Mo Kio Hub to tuck into the ‘cheese-baked rice with chicken chop’. Those with a sweet tooth can finish off the meal with a refreshing dessert such as Chendol or Ice Kacang to reward themselves after a day of intense sightseeing.