Whether you like your holidays spent touring the city while learning about the diverse culture, laze about on the beach while working on your tan, surround yourself with nature and wildlife or even exhaust yourself with some much needed retail therapy; Singapore has it all. A little island city situated to the south of Malaysia with a wealth of history and an essence of a modernism, which is sure to take first time visitors by a huge surprise. Travelling alone, with friends or with kids, this city is sure to leave you with memories to cherish.
The Lion City
‘Singapore’ derived from the Malay name for this country ‘Singa pura’; in which ‘Singa’ means Lion and ‘Pura’ means city or town. It is thought that a long, long time ago, a young Indonesian prince landed on this island and thought he saw a lion. I say ‘thought’ because lions are not native to this part of the world, so it could not have been a lion. Regardless, the prince founded the city under the name of ‘Singapura’, and ‘Singapore’ as we know it today.
That is just the beginning of their rich history. Initially inhabited by a few thousand people of Malay and Chinese origin, today Singapore boasts a population of over a million. Yet, Singapore never feels over crowded, thanks to the vast amount of land set aside to lush green parks and nature reserves and also the land reclamation projects which is allowing the country to increase its land area.
You have been warned
Singapore is a tropical country with unexpected rain showers at any time of the day. Travelling from Dubai, I remember thinking, ‘’Sunny weather with a few refreshing showers everyday…this can’t be bad’’…. But, boy-oh-boy was I wrong. I had not taken the high levels of humidity into consideration and that was the biggest mistake. So, when travelling to Singapore please wear light and loose clothing, a hat, sunglasses and apply tons of sunscreen! Yes, Singapore has a wonderful air conditioned public transport system to get you from one amazing place to another, but I think you get to truly see and experience a new city when exploring on foot.
So, fear not, as the weather will not dampen your spirit to get out there and discover what the city has to offer. Without further ado, let’s get the list of attractions started:
Top 5 attractions
- The Original Merlion Statue
This mythical creature made up of a half lion and half fish is a well-known icon of Singapore. The lion part represents the origin of ‘Singapura’ while the fish part represents Singapore’s humble origins as a fishing town.
Situated at the mouth of the Singapore River, with the city’s skyline in the background, you simply cannot come to Singapore and not have tons of pictures taken here. After you have taken you epic picture with the iconic Merlion, there a few trendy cafes nearby for you to enjoy your Iced Latte, and if you are feeling adventurous take a trip along the river on a River Cruise.
- Sentosa Island
This island resort is very popular with the grown ups and the little ones with many attractions to keep you occupied for a good few days. It is afterall, the State of Fun. For us, the fun started right from the Cable Car at Mount Faber to enter this island. Both, the Cable Car and the Tiger Sky (observation) tower offered us unprecedented 360 degrees panoramic views of Sentosa, Singapore and neighbouring islands.
Other attractions included the SEA Aquarium, Butterfly Park and Insect Garden, Sentosa 4D Adventure land and many many more. Hubby-bi and I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘Wings of Time’ show, featuring laser projections, water and flame bursts. The show situated in an open-air outdoor viewing gallery against the backdrop of the ocean with the sunset creating a harmony of colours was spectacular.
- Gardens by the Bay
It’s so easy to escape the city life in Singapore and hit the reset button, simply by visting ‘Gardens by the Bay’. This nature park is situated right in the heart of the city, boasts numerous species of plants and a sure hit with nature lovers. The Supertree Grove transports you to a different planet and the two large column-less conservatories; Flower Dome and Cloud Forest leave your awe-struck and awaken your inquisitive minds. This place is a treat for all your senses, as you see the vibrant colours of the impressive flower display at The Flower Field, smell the olives from the Olive Grove and hear sounds of (and even get slightly wet at) the tallest indoor waterfall. As evening precedes, you simple must find your way back to the Supertree Grove to watch these tall structures come to life with dazzling lights and music.
- Singapore Zoo
If you’re thinking this zoo is just going to be another zoo with animals behind a wall for the little ones to see, think again. I got to take pictures with an Orangutan, touch a (kinda big) snake, watch a sealion catch Frisbees, be amazed at the Asian elephants performing tricks, get real close to wild (and I mean ‘wild’) animals, and I’m not even the kid here! This zoo is a rainforest zoo, exhibiting a variety of animal and plant species in modern ‘naturalistic’ open lands and at the same time educating us about the dangers of animal extinction.
- China Town and Little India
When visiting these places, you will not only find many souvenirs to take back home and learn (and improve) the art of haggling, you will also be going back to the traditional roots of the city, away from the skyscrapers and shopping malls. Just a walk through these places and you will see Hindu and Buddhist temples decorated with figures and carvings, women walking in embroidered sari, shops selling floral wreaths and incense sticks, medicinal halls and admirable architecture of the street houses. We got our Merlion statue souvenirs here and matching ‘I love Singapore’ T-shirts for the whole family to wear.
Ofcourse, Singapore has so much more to offer and we had the opportunity to visit some of these places, and left a few out for next time.
Have you been to Singapore yet? How was the experience for you? What other family friendly destinations would you recommend?