singapore in a day
If Singapore had to be described in a few words, Devin perhaps said it best: “a true jungle metropolis.” However, if there was no word limit, some other descriptions could be: “an architect’s playground…a botanist’s daydream…. The urbanization of Ferngully.”
Whichever way you’d choose to label it, the contrasts are stunning.
Arriving at the airport, the immigration officers give out mints. Mints, because well, gum is actually illegal. Another important law to note is that drug smuggling is punishable by death, so leave the cocaine and LSD at home. This is one of the few countries where the officers are just so friendly. Perhaps it’s the culture, perhaps it’s the survey ranging from frown face to an elated emoji. In addition to free mints, the airport provides complimentary tours of the city, making those long and unfortunate lay-overs much less miserable. While we can’t comment on the airport- sponsored tour, we can vouch for a self-guided tour that exceeded our expectations of this modern city.
We boarded Bus 36 at the airport and made our way to the city center. Exploring the city behind a rather clean bus window, we decided to get off the bus at the walking bridge. For us, this was the perfect starting point as we were able to commence our introduction to the city by walking across the bridge, soaking in the sun, the river and the skyline view. After an uncomfortable and tiring flight, it was fun to take selfies and panos with the impressive buildings serving as a backdrop.
As we made our way across the bridge, we couldn’t help but notice impressive gray clouds engulfing the business district. However, we decided to delay our encounter with the alluring downtown, and took a left to explore the greener side of Singapore. The green energy producing city park is as enchanting as it is efficient. At the Gardens there’s honestly something for everyone: a running path, fish pond, cloud forest, wood-carved sculptures, restaurants, and numerous Instagram-worthy shots. But the highlight for us was definitely the Super Tree Grove. Tall and triumphant and modern, these flamboyant man made trees will leave you requiring a neck massage – but don’t worry there next to free in most of Asia! A final note about the Gardens: if it isn’t raining be sure to take a stroll along the pedestrian bridge connecting the trees – the views are absolutely stunning.
Quick Break at Marina Sands Mall
After all the walking and frolicking in the Garden, it was time to EAT. We decided to check out Marina Sands Mall where we stumbled upon an affordable and eclectic food court, providing a quick and cheap lunch. The mall is huge and geared towards those not on a backpacker’s budget. Don’t expect to find Nordstrom Rack or Forever 21 here.
After our lunch, we took the exit by the bay. The sun was shining bright and two chase lounges along the water invited us over for a rest. We took off our shoes and socks and relaxed for a bit. We napped until we were awaken by a sprinkling of rain. Feeling refreshed and replinished we set out to tick more sights off our Singapore list!
Necessary Merlion Fountain Stop
Back to a more exciting itinerary. The next stop was the Merlion Fountain. Featured on almost every postcard and tourism image relating to Singapore, we imagined a majestic structure projecting water artfully down into the sea. It could have been magical, had the swarms of tourists throwing up deuces for the camera stepped aside. I won’t lie, I saw a glimmer in Devin’s eye as he watched one particular man measure with his wife to calculate the best angle making it look like he was urinating from the fountain water. Holding back all desire to copy the shot ourselves, we trudged on towards Clarke Quay. Although we visited the fountain during the day, a nighttime view would have been worthy as well, unfortunately for us, time didn’t allow. The reflection on the water and the city lights combined with the fountain would have been IG gold. #maybenexttime #googleimagedit.
Stroll Around the City
Our next destination was Clarke Quay, but first, we had to get there. A plethora of shaded parks and paths, food stands and seafood restaurants met us along the way. Many vendors asked if we were hungry or interested in try their special homemade dish! What started out as nice invites, soon turned to annoyances as they all but chased us down the street, insisting we try! We picked up the pace, racing past the tanks of fish and crabs of all colors and sizes. Finally, we escaped and came upon tall staircases leading to a park in the middle of the city. Many cities in Asia are known to have amazing parks- rich with historical facts, statues, and sometimes, exercise equipment. After the incline up the steep stairs, we enjoyed our stroll through the beautiful park. We enjoyed it that is, until a group of CrossFit enthusiasts ran past, and thoughts of French Fries riddled our minds with guilt. Nevertheless, it was good to see greenery again and read about the history of Singapore featured on signs posted around the park.
The walk to Clarke Quay proved to be worth the sweaty t-shirts. It was an area filled with (mostly over-priced) restaurants and nightclubs. The center included your typical souvenir vendors, light-up t-shirts that move to the music, large margarita specials, etc. It seemed like a great spot for singles and divorcees, but considering that we didn’t fit the profile, we continued walking to the riverbank promenade. That was much more our style! The sunset was reflecting off the water, boats lazily floated by and the tip-worthy musicians serenaded our ears. How nice! We sat a little longer, enjoying one of Singapore’s more relaxing and “chill” scenes, but were hungry for dinner. We decided on an organic restaurant featuring a smoothie and salad for two (thanks a lot, CrossFitters). It was a good day of exploring the city, but it was time to make our way back to the airport.
By the time we made it back, we still had a couple of hours left until our flight for Australia. Heat-struck and sweaty, we were more than happy with our choice of returning early to shower in the lounge. Although, with this decision, we missed out on Little India. If we could have done anything different, we might’ve somehow made time to get to Little India (it was just so far away from everything else!). But all in all, we feel like we saw the city’s highlights and had a good time spent during our layover in Singapore!