There’s a lot you can do with $8 billion, and the Marina Bay Sands may have just done them all. Touted as the world’s most expensive casino this 2,561 room integrated resort lavishly offers nearly anything that a visitor could ever need on their stay in Singapore. In addition to the 500 tables and 1,600 slots which comprise the atrium casino, the Marina Bay Sands has also opted to include an ice-skating rink, two entertainment theatres, the 300-store Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands shopping mall, an art science museum and a full range of evening entertainment and shows.
There is also an impressive, 478 foot (145.7 meter) long infinity swimming pool which gazes out over the Singapore skyline at the aptly named SkyPark—an observation deck which stretches longer than the Eiffel Tower were it laid down. Swimmers with a fear of heights beware: the “infinity” edge looks out over a 55-story drop to the street level below.
For sub-continental color, cuisine, atmosphere and bustle, head to Singapore’s Little India, one of the island’s most vibrant and authentic precincts. Shops, restaurants and colorful Hindu temples line the streets of Little India, and the best thing to do here is to just take a walk and drink it all in.
The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is dedicated to the bloodthirsty god Kali, Sri Srnivasa Perumal is dedicated to the more peaceful Vishnu, the Taoist Leong San See Temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, and the Temple of 1000 Lights features a gaudily lit Buddha.
Come to Little India to sample terrific curries, dosas and banana-leaf thalis at restaurants, street stalls and cafes. Shop for everything from incense to saris, and lose yourself in the interestingly named Thieves Market, where anything and everything is for sale.
Merlion Park is not as much a park as it is a standing symbol for all of Singapore. Spread out over 2,500 square meters, or about 27,000 square feet, the park is perhaps most famously known for its centerpiece, a 2 meter tall, or seven foot, Merlion cub fountain at the center.
Because of the great city view from the park, which extends out to the Marina Day Sands , the waterfront park has become a busy destination around clock, with access open 24 hours a day. The park is centrally located on One Fullerton near to the busy Central Business District.
Drawing over a million visitors each year, the park’s Merlion cub was first unveiled to the public in 1972. A large public event was recently held for the 40th year anniversary of the occasion.
The Raffles Landing site in the Boat Quay area of downtown Singapore is the apparent location of the landing place for Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 when he signed a treaty that established modern day Singapore. Marked by a white marble statue about 20 feet, or about 6 meters tall, the statue depiction of the father of Singapore is dwarfed by the surrounding office towers that now exist in the area, but nonetheless tells a historic tale of the founding of the country.
As the landing site is believed to be along the banks of the Singapore River, it is said that Raffles was able to establish a treaty with the local rulers within ten days of arriving that would pave the way for the construction of the city’s sprawling metropolis. History aside, the statue is located in an open outdoor space that provides a great view of the buildings located in the opposite southern banks as well as an opportunity to take a quiet walk and relax.
Mount Faber Park, one of the oldest green spaces in Singapore, is also one of the best places to go for views over the city and Singapore Harbour. More of a large hill than a mountain, the slopes of Mount Faber are covered in lush rainforest, and if you want to get to the top, you have two options.
Budget travelers looking for something free to do can hike to the peak. The path is paved the entire way up and shaded for most of the way, but bring plenty of water, as Singapore can get hot and humid. If you’d rather save your energy, you can ride the Singapore Cable Car to the top.
No matter how you get to the summit, set aside some time to wander the gardens and take in the views from several lookout points. Mount Faber is also home to the Jewel Box, a shopping, dining and entertainment venue and one of the most romantic spots in the city for dinner.
Singapore’s River Safari, the world’s first river-themed wildlife park, recently introduced the first visitors to its 5,000 animal inhabitants during a soft opening in April 2013. The 30-acre (12-hectare) park presents the world of freshwater aquatic animals to guests with a series of walkthrough exhibits inspired by eight iconic rivers, the Mississippi, Nile, Amazon, Congo, Ganges, Mekong and Yangtze.
Of the animals on display, representing some 300 species, the Giant River Otter and the Giant Salamander stand out as rare highlights. Not all the animals at the River Safari are aquatic, however. You’ll also find an ever popular pair Giant Pandas in Southeast Asia’s largest Panda exhibit, the Giant Panda Forest, as well as squirrel monkeys, jaguars, giant anteaters and Brazilian tapirs in the Wild Amazonia area of the park.
Later in the year, the park is set to open the Amazon River Quest, a river boat ride through the Wild Amazonia exhibit.
Located on the left bank of the Singapore River, the Padang (Malay for field or open ground) represents the very essence of colonial Singapore. It was selected by the founder of modern Singapore, Sir Raffles, as a recreation area when he laid out the plans for the city and is surrounded by some striking colonial architecture.
A long stretch of flat green land, the Padang was the hub of colonial life, used primarily for sporting events and recreational activities. In 1834, the Europeans began hosting a New Year Regatta at the Padang, which soon expanded into an annual sports day.
Today the Padang is the site of the Singapore Cricket Club and the Singapore Recreation Club. It’s a place where the locals still gather to walk and socialise together and where sporting and social events take place.
Home to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay offers travelers access to incredible indoor mountains that climb high into veils of cloudy mist. Visitors can explore tropical canopies and rainforest vegetation while wandering along bridges that crisscross through nine vastly different zones.
Crystal clear glass panes hang high above the forest floor. The start contrast between breathtaking Mother Nature and the city skyline beyond the dome is just one of the reasons a visit to Singapore’s Cloud Forest is not to be missed.
One of the more famous neighborhoods in Singapore, Kampong Glam is a preserved town once home to the Malay and Muslim elite that inhabited it prior to British colonization in the early 19th century. Although the town was comprised of a multitude of ethnic groups over the last few hundred years, much of this pristine town has been restored to its former beauty, with strips of colorful shop houses now home to modern businesses.
Among some of its other key features includes one of the most important mosques in the country, the Sultan Mosque. It also has a peaceful pedestrian walk called the Bussorah Mall as well as the recently opened Malay Heritage Center, which contains loads of cultural pieces and history showcasing the lives of Malay Singaporeans. As a destination for foreign visitors, the town itself now has several local restaurants as well as art galleries textile and carpet shops to peruse.
The Kranji War Memorial, located in northern Singapore, is an impressive structure built in 1946 immediately following the Second World War to commemorate the soldiers from the allied and regional countries who fought and died protecting Malaysia and Singapore from the invading Japanese forces.
Made up of a cemetery of nearly 5,000 servicemen and a separate memorial bearing the names of more than 24,000 others, the war memorial is divided in three segments to represent the different branches of the military, the Air Force, Army and Navy. Of the tombstones, about 850 remain without names.
Upon entering the memorial, there is a large bronze door nearby a reference book for each of the names within. On Remembrance Day, which is typically held in November, there is a rather large service at the memorial to pay tribute to those who lost their lives.
Having moved from the prison site to its new location directly across the Changi Gaol in 2001, the Changi Memorial and Chapel is a testament to those prisoners of war who were made to suffer and perish during World War II.
In the memorial, several artifacts from the period show how Singaporeans, particularly those prisoners being held in the Changi prison, had suffered under Japanese occupation during the war. Boasting tons of personal affects including emotional letters, drawings and photographs, the memorial tells the stories of more than 50,000 people who had been there between 1942 and 1945.
Entrance is free or for a nominal fee, visitors can elect to embark on a one hour guided tour of the complex that goes through paintings made years later by several internees who recreated what life as a POW was like inside the prison. Visitors can also purchase an audio tour or stop over to watch one of a few informative videos with footage from the era.
Lining the Singapore River, the renovated riverside warehouses and ‘godown’ shophouses of historic Clarke Quay make up one of Singapore’s major wining and dining precincts.
Now pedestrianised and home to shops, restaurants, nightclubs, river cruise bumboats and floating cafes, the precinct pays homage to Singapore’s river trade and colonial history.
Clarke Quay is a good place to look for varied cuisines, from Italian to brewhouse and fine French, and relaxed outdoor bars with riverfront views. It’s also where you’ll find Singapore’s wild Reverse Bungy adventure ride.