Blazing a Heritage Trail
Brilliantly depicting the island as the ‘Asia for Beginners’ that she is, Singapore is most certainly home to a heritage dating back decades, in that the country’s ethnic diversity lends colour to its historical backdrop.
Encapsulating a truly Oriental feel mixed in with futuristic flavours, Chinatown is the perfect beginning to the telling journey ahead. A jovial enclave bustling with life, the place captures the ‘old-meets-new’ theme ingeniously. Home to a cluster of medicine halls, textile stores, dim sum restaurants, family-run goldsmiths and temples, it’s hard to miss the aged aura that dutifully envelopes the atmosphere here.
However, that isn’t all this famed tourist hub entails. A stroll down South Bridge Road will introduce one to popular bakeries like Tong Heng Oriental Pastry, while Sago Street presents old tea houses such as Kwong Chen and Club Street hawker stalls and hip bars which run all night. Add a shopping paradise, opulent boutique hotels and heritage centres to the mix, and a world-class heartland stands before you.
2. National Museum of Singapore
A prime landmark, the National Museum of Singapore is custodian over the country’s 11 national treasures while acting as host to her History and Living Galleries. The oldest structure in its category, it saw inception in 1887. The monument delivers the history and culture of the land using multiple perspectives so as to redefine the conventional experience.
Meanwhile, an architectural marker all the same, the one-stop resource centre is a common venue for celebratory events and festivities such as the Night Festival, art installations, artifact exhibitions, film screenings and cultural performances. Re-opened in December 2009 following a facelift which took three years, the museum commemorates its one-hundred-and-twenty-fifth anniversary this year.
3. Little India
Unlike its name, Little India is anything but. A prominent culturally-authentic hotspot, the district is a celebration of bicycle bells, jingling chimes and vibrant chatter. Serving also as a centre for local commerce, much of its charm derives from olden-day trades which still occupy key roadside alleys and back lanes.
Fortune-tellers, jasmine flower retailers, pushcart ‘kachang puteh’ (roasted nuts) sellers and street-side newspaper vendors are a common sight in this part of town. However, the destination’s rustic outlook should in no way deceive you. Easily explored by foot, it is also accessible by the MRT or SMRT Link, a complimentary shuttle bus service.
Boasting an eclectic selection of Indian restaurants, hawker stalls and food courts like Komala Villas, Banana Leaf Apolo and Muthu’s Curry, Little India is in no way short on dining options. A darling shopping arena, indulge in a dose of retail therapy after a good night’s rest at boutique hotel, Wanderlust parked on Dickson Road.
4. Peranakan Museum
Constructed in 1912, the Peranakan Museum is a reflection of Peranakan communities across Southeast Asia. Installed in the former Tao Nan Chinese School, the iconic landmark showcases a most comprehensive collection of antiques and artifacts. Comprising galleries on three floors, each illustrates the cultural traditions and distinctive visual art forms of this ethnic group.
While providing a stimulating and educational experience for all, it also depicts the persisting lifestyles and customs of the Peranakan people in the region. The structure is a component of the Asian Civilisations Museum, run by the National Heritage Board.
1. Universal Studios Singapore
The first Universal Studios theme park in Southeast Asia spells F-U-N right from the entrance and throughout its seven themed zones: enter the glam of Hollywood Boulevard of the 1970s and have your pictures taken with Marilyn Monroe; stroll down the iconic New York City so often romanticised in the movies; experience the whoah-that-was-a-near-miss sensation on the Battlestar Galactica roller coasters at Sci-Fi City; play an archeologist for a day in Ancient Egypt and be careful of fireballs and warrior mummies; enjoy the show Waterworld at The Lost World and be prepared to get wet; join Shrek for a 4-D adventure to help save Princess Fiona in Far Far Away and, in Madagascar, join the ever-popular Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria on a one-of-a-kind water boat ride.
2. Singapore Flyer
Near the shore of Marina Bay is where you can enjoy the best view of Singapore at 165 metres up in the air. The Singapore Flyer is Singapore’s answer to the London Eye, standing 30 metres taller with 28 air-conditioned capsules. Up on the observation wheel, you will be treated to a stunning 360 degrees view where landmarks like the Marina Bay Street Circuit, Raffles Place, Merlion Park and the Padang can be spotted. Situated at a three-storey terminal building, the place affords visitors to play, shop and dine. There is a free shuttle bus which goes to the Singapore Flyer from City Hall MRT Station operating every half-hour.
3. Night Safari
One of the most popular attractions in Singapore is the unique Night Safari, open only at night for visitors to observe the nocturnal wildlife. Explore through eight geographical regions on foot or by tram; visit the Equatorial Africa to find beautiful bongos and cape giraffes, or look for the magnificent Greater One-Horned Rhinocerous at the Nepalese River Valley. The zoo is lit by lighting similar to moonlight and, instead of cages, the animals traverse freely with natural barriers keeping them from the visitors. On Fridays, Saturdays and the eve of Public Holidays, visitors can expect to be amazed by the fire-eating Thumbuakar performances, while the 30-minute Creatures of The Night show is available daily. www.nightsafari.com.sg
4. Gardens by The Bay
You will be hard-pressed to find a garden in Singapore that is more elaborate than Gardens by The Bay. Bay South Garden, at 54 hectares, houses two cooled conservatories, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. The Flower Dome is a cool-dry conservatory that replicates the climate of Mediterranean regions while Cloud Forest is a contrasting cool-moist conservatory. Bay East Garden, stretching 32 hectares, boasts open lawns and palm trees for you to enjoy the Marina Bay skyline along its 2km waterfront promenade. Dotting the Gardens are the 16-storey high Supertree Groves: tree-like structures that function to plant, shade and act as environmental engines for the gardens. At night, a shower of lights in a plethora of colours brings the Gardens to life.
1. Auriga Spa, Capella Singapore
Nestled within intertwined curved, modern structure and stately colonial buildings in a verdant rainforest, Auriga Spa & Wellness Centre is a quiet place to receive rejuvenating treatments. Focusing on health and wellness by using organic and natural products from The Organic Pharmacy through unique and specialised programmes, Auriga Spa takes pampering to a higher level.
Signature treatments are designed to reflect varying energies of the Moon cycle— New, Full, Waxing and Waning—and is only offered during particular stages of the Moon to ensure the most profound experience for the guest.
Wellness Experiences promotes inner beauty through detox and stress management. For couples who want to bond over a session of restful spa treatments, Auriga offers its ‘Honey Moon for Two’ with scrub, wrap, massage, bath, ending with drinks and bites in the garden. ‘PS I Love You’ begins with a foot ritual, massage, sensual candlelit bath, and ends with tea in the garden.
2. The Vein Clinic
Singapore is a popular destination for medical tourism. Many tourists come for reliable and affordable aesthetic health care such as at The Vein Clinic & Surgery. A one-stop centre for the treatment of vein disorders, you can obtain desirable, smooth skin, unmarred by vein bumps at this clinic, helmed by vascular Surgeon Dr. John Tan.
Using the latest noninvasive technology, the clinic can eliminate all vein problems such as varicose, spider, hand and facial veins, while you just lie back and relax.
The treatments include Duplex Ultrasound, Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT), Sclerotherapy, Mini-Ambulatory Phlebectomy, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), Veinwave. These treatments have no need for general anaesthetic, no hospitalization required, no cutting or scarring, minimal pain and you’ll be up walking instantly.
3. Botanic Gardens
They say the colour green relaxes the eyes. Singapore Botanic Gardens, its ‘garden in a city’ concept, is the ideal location for respite and recreation.
A walk through the Sun Garden of succulents and plantsfrom arid regions transports you to the Wild West. Cactuses and euphorbias grow on red rocky ground and you can half imagine tumbleweeds rolling by.
Sculptures of bronze and serpentine that celebrate human life and love, dot the gardens. There is a sculpture of a girl on a bicycle, nurturing mothers and children, maidens on hammock and swing.
See Singapore’s national flower, the Vanda ‘Miss Joachim’ in its glory at the Botanic Gardens, alongside other orchid species.
Tranquil and scenic, Swan Lake has a landmark island and elegant nibong palms which has become a timeless facet of the landscape of the Gardens. Eco Lake is home to colourful fishes, waterhen, heron, migrant ducks and majestic black swans.
4. Labrador Nature Reserve
An oasis of peace and natural wonders, the 10-hectare Labrador Park is gazetted as a nature reserve. The reserve has the only rocky sea-cliff on Singapore island offering breathtaking views. A rich variety of flora and fauna will surely delight nature lovers.
As you take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque trails, you can spot squirrels scurrying on tree branches and listen to the songs of the Oriental Magpierobin and Black-naped Oriole.
Not only is Labrador Nature Reserve luxuriant in vegetation, it has also abundant historic value. This headland was a significant venue in history during World War II. Secret tunnels and a fort still stand—a reminder of hard times and provide insight into military tactics of the British Army.
The latest extension to the nature reserve is Comchest Green. This idyllic site boasts soothing sounds of the lapping waves, the scent of the sea breeze, and beautiful flowers which deliver a therapeutic effect.
1. The Lantern Bar
The Lantern Bar at Fullerton Bay Hotel has a spectacular view of Singapore skyline and Marina Bay Precinct. Taking its name from the original Chinese description for Clifford Pier “red lantern pier”, the bar in itself resembles a lantern through its structure. As the bar is located adjacent to the hotel pool with lush greeneries surrounding it that creates a tropical atmosphere which suits its Latin American/Caribbean theme. Sit back, relax and let the melodious Latin music played by the live band entertain you as you sip on fine wine or delicious Latin themed signature cocktails.
2. 1-Altitude Gallery & Bar
The latest addition to the rooftops bars in Singapore has taken it to a whole new level, literally. 1-Altitude Gallery and Bar sits comfortable at the top of One Raffles Place, exactly 282 meters above sea level. Deemed as the highest alfresco bar in the world, it is definitely not for the faint hearted. Boasting a panoramic 360° view which will take your breath away, it has an extensive list of beverages which includes some of the finest wines and champagnes. The vibe of the place is akin to a Moroccomeets-Manhattan-night that comes with a beautiful backdrop of the city.
3. The Butter Factory
If you are looking for a place to let loose and dance the night away then The Butter Factory would definitely suit your wild side. Known for hosting wild and eccentric themed parties, it will definitely be an unforgettable experience. The Butter Factory introduces a great blend of hip hop, R&B, urban grooves, alternative vibes and street art that will have you grooving to the beats. Awarded the Best Nightlife Experience in Singapore, it certainly draws the crowd in every night.
4. St. James Power Station
St. James Power Station is the ultimate clubbing spot in town. The club which is set in an old power station that was built in 1927 is the largest all-in-one club in Singapore. Divided into many different sections within its vicinity, each plays different genres of music that you can choose from according to your taste. The Belini Room for instance plays great jazz music while the Powerhouse has a mix of trance, electronic and dance music. For the more sophisticated partygoers, The Gallery will suit your fancy. If you are interested in pop, rock, R&B and soul; the Boiler Room has it all. As for wine lovers, the St. James Wine Bar has some of the finest wine collection. More where that came from, St. James Power Station is a one-stop clubbing destination in Singapore.
1. Wave House, Sentosa
What Singapore beaches lack in rips, Wave House makes up for in waves. The attraction’s latest addition is a pool featuring waves at 10 feet high, making it an ideal destination for surfing. Using sheet waves which pump in water at high speeds over stationary walls, it creates impressive ripples to resemble those found at sea. Located on the glorious sands of Sentosa Island, it is perfect for those looking to catch that much needed shoreline breaker.
Water sports enthusiasts, you’re in luck! You will be glad to know that the fun doesn’t stop at surfing. The Ski360 features a selection of exciting activities including cable-skiing or cable wakeboarding. The first Cable-Ski Park in Singapore, it certainly draws crowds eager to get in on the action. These offerings are exactly like water skiing or wakeboarding, except they are supported by a cable system which goes round the lagoon full-circle. There are also different types of obstacles on deck such as kickers, tabletop and wall rides which add to thrill.
3. Border X
For those interested in mountain sports while in town, the Border X has just the thing to get your adrenaline pumping. The in-house team recently introduced the Via Ferrata, a traditional European mountaineering activity reputed to have been used during World War I in Italy. Interestingly, its main function is to ensure one’s personal safety during the climb to the top. Border X creates the perfect avenue for adrenaline junkies to challenge their rock climbing skills as they scale to new heights.
4.The G-Max Reverse Bungy and G-5 Extreme Swing
Both the G-Max Reverse Bungy and G-5 Extreme Swing will have your heart racing and adrenaline pumping as you take a ride on them. The first of its kind in Singapore, it was created and designed in New Zealand, the home of the bungy. The G-Max hits a speed of up to 200kph, reaching 60 meters in the air while the GX-5 falls from 50 meters, reaching more than 120kph. Both exhilarating rides, each one is engineered to satisfy one’s need for speed.