1 Marina Bay Sands
The opulent Marina Bay Sands resort complex includes a hotel, high-end luxury brands, a mall with a canal running through it, the ArtScience Museum, and the Marina Bay Sands Skypark – a vantage point for taking in the entire city. The Skypark’s viewing deck and infinity pool are found in the ship (yes, ship) that tops the hotel. Only hotel guests are allowed to use the infinity pool but anyone can visit the observation deck. From the skypark, you can see the innovative double helix bridge, the port, the Gardens by the Bay, and the impressive skyline. While up there on top of the city, guests can grab a snack or a coffee at the rooftop restaurant or pick up some keepsakes from the souvenir stand. You can purchase a photo of yourself green-screened in front of the massive hotel as it’s all lit up at night, but the cost is steep: 50 Singapore dollars. Better to ask a fellow tourist to snap a photo of you. The luxury and elegance of the Marina Bay Sands exemplify Singapore’s taste, and help designate a major international city in Southeast Asia.
2 Singapore Flyer
If the observation deck at the Marina Bay Sands doesn’t quite do it for you, try taking in high tea while looking out over the city from the Singapore Flyer, the world’s largest giant observation wheel. Choose from several different packages that allow you to be served and pampered while enjoying a view that encompasses not only the Singapore skyline, but reaches to the Spice Islands of Indonesia and Malaysia’s Straits of Johor. There are several different ticket packages to choose from, and each includes access to the multimedia Journey of Dreams exhibit that delves into Singapore’s history and the creation of the Singapore Flyer. Flights last 30 minutes each and run from early morning until late at night, so you can choose which view of the city you want to enjoy: the beginning of another bustling day or when Singapore is aglow after dark.
3 Gardens by the Bay
Once you’ve glimpsed this beautifully designed green space (from the top of the Marina Bay Sands, perhaps) you won’t be able to stay away. Wander through the Bay East Garden, perfect for enjoying the vibrant plant life and escaping the city bustle for a moment. You won’t want to miss Supertree Grove, where you’ll find a cluster of the iconic, futuristic structures designed to perform environmentally sustainable functions. Then, head to the Cloud Forest Dome to see the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and learn a bit about biodiversity. Check the website for final ticket sale and tour times.
4 Botanic Gardens
Not to be confused with the Gardens on the Bay, the botanic gardens are also worth a visit. Singapore received its first UNESCO World Heritage nomination for the botanic gardens, and with good reason. The city can sometimes feel like a concrete jungle, albeit a clean and comfortable one, but the botanic gardens preserve pieces of Singapore’s wilder heritage. Indeed, you can visit the gardens’ heritage trees via walking trail, which are conserved as part of an effort to protect the city’s mature tree species. Make sure to visit the impressive National Orchid Garden. Other attractions include an eco-garden, eco-lake, bonsai garden, sculptures, and several other gardens and unique sites.
If you’ve ever visited China, Singapore’s Chinatown neighborhood will bring you right back there. From the small mom-and-pop stores and authentic Chinese food to the bright red lanterns, there’s an excitement and hustle in this district. You can visit the Chinese Heritage Centre and see the impressive and beautiful Sri Mariamman Hindu temple. Another temple worth seeing is the Buddha Tooth Relic temple. If you’re up early enough (think 4 am), you can hear the morning drum ceremony. Or you can just check out the closing ceremony in the evening after viewing the relic.
Heritage markers have been installed throughout the neighborhood in English, Japanese, and simplified Chinese so visitors can better understand the significance of the area. But this neighborhood is not just a testament to the influence of the Chinese throughout Singapore’s past. This is a progressive neighborhood (with free Wi-Fi for all) and it’s home to the trendy Ann Siang Hill area, where the quaint bistros and upscale boutiques could be at home in any Western city.