Singapore is somewhere that people love or hate. Everything is on a huge scale, the bustling city crammed with bright lights, soaring buildings and man-made opulence. Maybe it is the extreme juxtaposition between Singapore and its neighbouring countries that makes it the marmite of capital cities, but one thing is certain: whether you prefer city breaks or tropical idylls, it is worth stopping in Singapore, even if it’s just for 24 hours. At the very least, you get to see the world’s best airport, and often a longer stopover will help you to get great deals on flights to your final location.

Singapore is easy to get around: it is smaller than New York City and boasts one of the most efficient (and economical) transport systems in the world. There is no doubt that there are enough things to see and do in Singapore to keep you occupied for days but, if you are pushed for time, it is possible to spend one day seeing the key attractions. Whether you stop off for a day or stay for a week, we take a look at the best things to do in Singapore.

Marina Bay

If you have just one day in Singapore, head down to Marina Bay, where you will find an array of unforgettable activities. Singapore’s coastal region is, unsurprisingly, the epicentre of tourism. You can while away the hours people watching, checking out museums and the surrounding architecture, stopping for a coffee and a bite to eat.  Amongst other great sights, you will find the Singapore Flyer, a vast big wheel that offers incredible views of your surroundings. The Singapore Flyer is nearly 100 feet taller than the London Eye and is a great way to familiarise yourself with the city, especially if you are only staying for a short while; apparently, on a clear day, you can catch glimpses of Malaysia and Indonesia from the top. An added bonus is that the pods are air conditioned, so they offer a cool relief from the Singapore heat.

 

Gardens By The Bay

Nearly ten years ago, Singapore needed to address their carbon emissions and their voracious appetite for fossil fuels. The answer? Gardens unlike anything anyone has seen outside of a Hollywood movie: a S$1 billion, 101-hectare garden that is as pleasing on the eye as it is gentle to the environment. The Gardens By The Bay feature bio-domes, sculptures and, of course, Supertrees. There are 18 trees in all: 12 in the Supertree Grove and two clusters of three, in the Silver and Golden Gardens. The trees in the Grove are connected by the OCBC walkway; if you are feeling brave, you can walk the 22-metre-high paths and survey the exquisite surroundings. While aesthetically breath-taking, the Supertrees serve another, much more important purpose: eleven of the trees have been created with sustainable features, such as solar harvesting and between them, the eighteen trees are home to more than 160,000 plants from a vast array of species. When you visit the Gardens By The Bay, you may well feel as though you are glimpsing into the future; and you could just be.  Entry to the gardens is free, there is a small fee for the bio-domes and the Skyway. Try to visit the gardens in the evening, for the spectacular light shows which take place daily at 19.45 and 20.45 p.m.

Chinatown

As a nation, Singapore is a melting pot of cultures. Most of its occupants are immigrants, and as a result there are distinct communities which draw on certain cultures. One of the most significant, and vibrant, of these enclaves is Chinatown. Chinatown is divided into 5 sectors, each packed with a dizzying array of food, colours and trinkets. Tangong Pagar district is known for its nightlife, while Telok Ayer district is home to delightful ancient mosques and temples, including the must-see Buddha Tooth Temple. At every turn you will see souvenirs, restaurants and street food vendors, but for a real treat, head to New Bridge Road, which is famous for its delicious barbeques. The energetic vibe of Chinatown makes it an experience with itself; the added bonus is that it’s friendly on the wallet, too. Food and accommodation tend to be much cheaper in Chinatown than anywhere else in Singapore, making it well worth a visit.

Parks and Zoos

Singapore is packed with entertainment for big kids and small ones and its quartet of parks and zoos can occupy a family for days. Singapore Zoo is said to be one of the best in the world, the Night Safari an unforgettable experience, and the Jurong Bird Park a fascinating day exploring myriad tropical birds. However, adjacent to the zoo you will find something a little bit different, and truly special: Singapore’s River Safari. Here, you can explore the major rivers of the world, and meet some of their rare and elusive inhabitants. In just one day, you can visit the Amazon and get up close and personal with sea monkeys; meet the giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia in their conservation area, especially designed to replicate the upper banks of the Yangtze River. The other rivers featured in this fascinating safari are: The Mississippi, Congo, Nile, Ganges, Mary and Mekong.  You can buy tickets to any of the parks online; avoid queues and get great deals on two-park tickets or four-park admission.

Singapore feels like a different world: the cocktail of cultures, the rapid growth into the future, the acknowledgement that, to thrive, it needs to accept the vital role of nature and adapt accordingly. The exquisite fusion of nature and technology is almost impossible to conceive but somehow, Singapore has managed to get it right. No matter what you do in Singapore, your trip promises to be truly unforgettable, leaving you dazed, awed and inspired.

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