Sunday, 29 May 2016

Travel: Singapore in 72 Hours

Singapore belongs on the list of countries that I've never particularly sought out to go to but where I've thought that I'll "probably" visit one day. As we flew to Vietnam with Singapore airlines it made sense to do a pit stop on the way home and rounded out our trip nicely. I've stopped off in Singapore on past trips but never made it out of the airport so it was good to see the city and get another stamp in the old passport.

We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental which was beautiful and in an ideal location for a first time visitor (although not really a budget option). The outdoor gym area and rooftop pool were definitely appreciated. Singapore is hot all year round but was experiencing hotter than usual temperatures for our visit. 8am poolside and it was already insanely hot but not the sunny, European heat that I am used to but a thick, muggy heat that makes doing anything other than lie on a sun lounger very unappealing. If I came back I'd definitely take it a little easier and concentrate activities towards the slightly cooler evenings but you know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen...

Singapore is a bizarre place as it has so much history and such a mix of vibrant cultures and yet still has a reputation for being a bit dull. For a stopover destination it's great - clean, easy to get around and somewhere I'm glad I've seen having friends who either grew up in the city or have worked there. We took a Metro ride to experience efficient, clean, air-conditioned public transport to Little India which was a nice contrast from the high rise slickness and a good place to pick up some bargains and Indian street food.

My favourite place was Gardens By The Bay - a much-needed green oasis amongst the skyscrapers. It's free to get into but visiting the Triffid-like "sky trees" or domes incurs an extra charge but both are well worth it. Unlike an English greenhouse the domes are actually cooler than the outside temperature! 

The night safari was recommended to me by everyone I spoke to at home - I booked online and it's a short taxi ride from the bay area where we were staying. While in a long queue surrounded by children I felt a bit doubtful - my family are not really animal-lovers and I hadn't come all this way to visit a zoo....but, I was wrong - the night safari was genuinely amazing. The animals are not behind bars or in cages so it feels like being on an actual safari and as the animals are nocturnal you are viewing them in their true habitis. Amongst the lions, tigers and bears my favourite were the spotted deer. No pictures as y'know, it was dark...

Shopping is an obvious Singapore acticity and a good way to avoid the heat. Many places can be reached walking through malls and the malls are interconnected meaning that avoiding sweating and sunburn isn't too hard. The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands were my favourite - a slick, designer shop filled mall with a great food court and our hotel was near the Marina Square and Suntec City Malls - the later having a branch of Din Tai Fung which is a must visit when I'm in a country that has a branch. St Andrew's Cathedral is nestled right in amongst the malls and hotels looking more than a little out of place!

Raffles is somewhere I've always wanted to visit at some point. although in my head by this "some point" I'm 5'8 tall, glossy-haired, designer outfit clad and with my wherever-did-he-get-to prince charming. In reality we visited at 4pm when it was already pretty busy - the clientele mostly American tourists in shorts and myself in Birkenstocks and a topknot because did I tell you how hot it was? The Long Bar is world-famous and I loved the colonial-era d├ęcor and bags of peanuts on the tables to snack on (throwing the shells onto the floor is allowed but littering is a crime everywhere else in Singapore). The Singapore Sling itself is sweet and fun to drink - there are seasonal variations but we stuck to the classic, invented in 1915 to make it acceptable for ladies to drink alcohol in public. At around £16 it's pretty pricey but no more than I expected it to be and we weren't rushed out of our table despite it being busy. I was quite surprised to see children in the bar - Screaming Brat isn't really my preferred soundtrack when drinking a £16 cocktail and I do think that bars should really be a grown-ups only privilege.

Next up - afternoon tea at The Fullerton Bay hotel...



  1. You're making me want to jump on a plane asap Lily!
    A Story of a Girl

  2. I was really surprised by how great the night zoo was as well.


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