Singapore is without a doubt the most developed, urbanized country in Asia often seen as just a place to stop on the way to somewhere else which is a shame.. oh! oh! however, that’s exactly what we did. Our original plan was to visit Thailand but since Singapore Airline had these amazing stopover packages we decided to stopover in Singapore on our return trip to Dubai.
As soon as we landed at Changi Airport our first impression was a gigantic kid’s playground with big screen TV’s, video games and computers, massage chairs, food courts, easy to log in wifi, nature trail which is such a refreshing change to the dull, sterile boxes that airports so often are.
Singapore and Sentosa Island is a fabulous place for a vacation, especially with kids. There are just so many attractions and things to do and is such an easy place to visit with a fabulous transportation system. It is also neat, tidy and orderly!
Day 1: We took the flight from Bangkok to Singapore, arriving Changi around 7pm and took the complimentary Marina Bay shuttle service (pre-booking required) from the airport to the hotel which was around 30-40 minutes.
Tip: Ensure you keep your Singapore Airlines Boarding pass to enjoy some good deals at participating merchants. The pass also features a host of activities that you can enjoy while in transit at Singapore Changi Airport. Such activities including free movies, city tours, Xbox games and even chair massages.
First impression of Marina Bay Sands Hotel
A massive structure comprising of three towers holding a ship on the top. It’s insanely beautiful and sits across from the amazing Singapore skyline. I feel the hotel itself is a destination on its own. The hotel lobby stretches from Tower 1 to Tower 3 and each tower has several check-in counters. The check in process was relatively painless and they of course deliver your luggage to the room. Post a quick scan of the room we headed towards the hotel’s sky terrace called the Sands Sky Park located on the 57th floor to get a glimpse of THAT famous 150m infinity pool which is placed on top of the world’s largest public cantilevered platform.
Words fail to describe how impressed we were by the sheer size of the pool and the beautiful panoramic view of the city in the backdrop with all of the lights on – it was insanely unreal! The infinity pool spans the three towers of the hotel and totally makes staying here worthwhile!
After soaking in the sight of this amazing man-made wonder we decided to go to Clark Quay for dinner. What food do you usually associate with Singapore when someone asks you what is uniquely Singaporean? For me it most definitely would be the Singapore Chilly Crab at a restaurant which is a local and tourist favourite –Jumbo Seafood Restaurant located along Riverside point at Clark Quay. We went to their outlet in Clarke Quay since this was the closest to get to from Marina Bay Sands. The restaurant is situated along the Singapore River which gives vibrant and phenomenal views at night.
If you haven’t tried the award winning Chilly Crab before you should give it a try, especially if you’re in Singapore!
After satiating our appetites we took a walk around the Riverside, took a couple of shots and returned to the hotel calling it a night.
Day 2: After a good night’s sleep in our comfortable room it was time for our gastronomic adventure at RISE which is situated in the ground lobby of Marina Bay Sands. RISE offers a lavish buffet of diverse culinary delights. Looking at the feast in front of us we were like…. oh wow!!! where do we start? It is sheer MADNESS… you name it, they have it!
Post the sumptuous breakfast we took a taxi from the hotel to visit Jurong Bird Park which is Asia’s largest bird park. Its 20-hectare space is home to 5,000+++ birds from different species. Most of the birds in the park are species I did not know even exist! Or birds we have only watched on National Geographic, Discovery Channel or Animal Planet. Jurong Bird Park is indeed a paradise for bird lovers!
We made our first stop at the “Penguin Coast” (it is also the first stop from the main entrance) mimicking an Antartica-like icy environment, housing close to 100 penguins across 6 different species. This is a darkened place where you will find all the chubby penguins wading around. They were such adorable creatures!
We were then encouraged to feed the lories at Lory loft with nectar mix costing SGD2. Prior to feeding the birds we watched a demonstration by the bird keeper on how to feed these birds.
The “lory loft” which is 9 storeys high and spans an area of 3000 square meters is quite interesting. People can walk on high suspension bridges with the tree canopies beneath their feet and a thousand colorful lories flying about!
We then headed to the Flamingo lake. Jurong Bird Park adopts an open concept where hundreds of flamingos hang out in one of the most attractive surroundings in the park.
We took the Panorail to explore the park since the place is quite massive and we had few activities remaining on our planner for the day.
At the main entrance (also the exit) of the Bird Park, there is a colourful dome made out of stained glass on the ceiling, with pictures of birds and trees.
The park has a colourful map with cute icons of the birds! It gives a good picture on what to expect at Jurong Bird Park. My boys had loads of fun checking out the exotic birds, watching the bird show, feeding the lories and the tram ride around the park.
After spending a couple of hours at Jurong Bird Park we took a taxi to China Town since logistically this worked for us. The moment I laid eyes on Chinatown, I was so impressed by what I saw – bright surroundings, no trash, no unpleasant smell, no crowd. China Town is for sure one of the most vibrant and happening parts of the city.
Inside this Tang Dynasty-inspired building you’ll find chanting monks, a museum of Southeast Asian religious art, a rooftop orchid garden and a sanctum containing a tooth said to be from the Buddha himself. We spent an hour or so exploring the temple and the museum on the upper floor.
We enjoyed our lunch at Yum Cha followed by some cheap souvenir shopping in Chinatown. We then took a taxi from Chinatown back to Marina Bay Sands.
That evening my husband invited his godchild, who studies in Singapore Management University, to try out the chocolate buffet at Club 55 in Marina Bay Sands. This place is a chocolate lovers paradise offering a wide variety of chocolate-based dessert. I was literally in heaven indulging myself with almost one of each dessert and was in a state of sugar coma when we left 😉
Day 3: Post breakfast at RISE the boys decided to visit Harry Potter’s exhibition in ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. The exhibition spans 15,000 sq ft in terms of gallery space featuring props and costumes from the Harry Potter film series. The exhibition was a nice opportunity for the boys to appreciate the fine details behind the imaginative and enchanting Wizarding World. Towards the end they picked up a few ‘overpriced’ replicas of the film props.
We then decided to walk around Marina Bay Sands, did some window shopping at The Shoppes and ended up buying a really pretty metal reclining buddha candle holder from this store.
We then took a taxi from the hotel to visit Singapore Zoo. My first impression of the zoo was that they had put in a lot of effort into the zoo’s maintenance. The Park covers an area of 26 hectares and is home to over 2,800 animals representing over 300 species. It is a colorful mixture of mammals, birds and reptiles with over 40 animal feeding sessions, photo opportunities, shows and rides – as they say the fun never ends at Singapore Zoo!
The nice thing about Singapore Zoo is that most of the animals are in “open” exhibits with hidden barriers, moats and glass between the animals and the visitors. The animals are kept in spacious, landscaped enclosures where one can walk around and look at them. Dangerous animals that can climb, and animals that require colder climate like the polar bear and the penguins, are housed in landscaped glass-fronted enclosures.
My boys enjoyed the animal show which showcased some amazing acts by the animals, balancing the showmanship aspect while highlighting the true stars of the show.
We took the hop-on/hop-off tram service which takes you around the main part of the zoo.
Singapore River Cruise – see it from the water as we saw it!
Post lunch we returned to the waterfront to book our tickets with Singapore River Cruise.
This 40 minute long river cruise starts at all of the waterfront jetties that includes Merlion Park, Marina Barrage, Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, Fullerton, Esplanade, Promenade and many more. And during these 40 minutes you can lazily watch most of Singapore’s top attractions and iconic buildings go by. The trip includes video and audio guides presenting interesting background info and history of Singapore and its river. We thoroughly enjoyed the fascinating views that surrounded us while taking pictures and a couple videos!
There was ample space on board so we all grabbed the window seats!
We passed by the majestic architecture of the iconic Fullerton Hotel. The five-star hotel stood tall and proud on the edge of the river.
Has anyone tried this restaurant? Do they really serve the ultimate fried rice?
Below are more pictures of the attractions as seen during the boat ride.
Clarke Quay – this historical riverside gives a solid insight into the colonialist history in Singapore and shows a great variety of beautiful old colonial buildings.
The boat cruise was perfect for us as we managed to see so many attractions, capturing different views of Singapore along the way.
We returned to Marina Bay Sands as the boys were eagerly looking forward to spend the evening in the infinity pool. While wading through the pool it looks like you can fall right off. However you cannot since it has a mini pool catching the water and putting it back into the pool. The pool is surrounded by a lush green garden with palm trees and sun loungers. The view of Singapore from the edge of the pool is just spectacular!
When you go around the back of the pool there are hot tubs facing the harbour and Gardens by the Bay which were heated and quieter than the rest of the rooftop. Nice place to relax and have a good soak!
Day 4: Post breakfast we went up to the Observation Deck located on the 57th floor to soak in the breath-taking view of this beautiful city!
It was time for us to bid adieu to this fabulous property and proceed to our next destination Sentosa Island which is Singapore’s mega-themed park on an island, located in the south of Singapore. Sentosa Island is a place where you can have exciting outdoor and indoor activities with friends and family.
Link for a map of the island: Sentosa Island Map
We booked a 2 night’s stay at Shangri La Rasa Sentosa Resort located on Siloso Beach. The good thing about Rasa Sentosa is that it is probably the only beachfront resort in Singapore. The beach is literally steps away from the main pool. This resort is an ideal haven for a tropical retreat.
After paying the SGD2 admission in Sentosa, transportation within the island is FREE. There are three coach shuttle lines which connect Imbiah Station to various points in Sentosa. There’s also the beach tram, which serves the islands’ three beaches. After lunch at Sarpino’s Pizzeria we tried out some of the attractions in Sentosa. We managed to squeeze in quite a few activity!
Our first stop was the Skyline Luge. We purchased the luge and skyline combo tickets. The Luge is a unique wheeled gravity ride that provides riders full control over their descent on purpose built Luge track whereas the Skyride chairlift gives a fantastic panoramic scenery of the Singapore city skyline and beautiful coastline of Sentosa Island. Truly an experience not to be missed!
We then took the bus to visit Fort Siloso which is home to the nation’s largest collection of World War II memorabilia. Fort Siloso was built in the 1880s as a fort for the British armed forces to watch out for any attacks on Singapore from the sea.
Thereafter the boys booked a game of indoor combat laser game at Combat Skirmish LIVE’s Indoor Maze! The Combat Mobile Maze is a mobile maze structure which allows players to experience Laser Tag in a customisable maze structure.
… followed by Laser Clay shooting where you can shoot to your heart’s content and nobody or nothing gets hurt. It’s similar to clay pigeon shooting, except the bird substitutes here are plastic discs and even they finish intact. Instead of shot-filled cartridges, you fire infra-red lasers. You still hear a simulated “bang” each time you fire. If you manage to hit a clay, you hear a “crack” sound. With this game you won’t get the shoulder-bruising kickback you would experience from firing a real shotgun. Just rest the butt in the hollow of your shoulder, aim and fire. That’s at least what the man of the house thought 🙂
We returned to the hotel for some beach activity and to use the hotel’s swimming pool. Boys rented a paddle boat from the hotel and once they realized how steady the big foam boards actually were on flat water they enjoyed different viewpoint that a stand up paddling offers.
The resort’s 1.2 metre deep swimming pool is one of the largest freeform pools in Singapore, and features two outdoor Jacuzzis. There is also a children’s pool with water slides and a splash pad. The water at the swimming pools in the hotel is made of pure, natural water so that there is little irritation of skin and eyes. The only chemical in the water is a minimum amount of chlorine, regulated by the government.
Day 5: Post breakfast we took the tram from the hotel to Universal Studio which is the ultimate attraction and a definite must-see on Sentosa Island! A physical adaptation of major blockbusters and Universal Studio’s Classics combined with endless entertainment from the action-packed rides and shows, we fell in love with this wonderland!
As well as all the rides here, we watched the Waterworld show which is basically a giant special effects showcase. We were blown away by the huge pyrotechnics, including people on fire. There were latex masks, planes flying around, things blowing up, and boat-on-boat violence. Overall it was an exhilarating experience!
We then took the eco-friendly Segway, a futuristic two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle touted as a green alternative to transportation, and enjoyed the scenic views along Sentosa beaches.
Boys then tried out the Flying Trapeze on Silosa beach where a certified trapeze Instructor made them hang upside upside down in mid-air and tried various other stunts since the boys were up for it 🙂
Gorgeous sunsets never fail to impress!
Since we were keen to see Vivo City, the biggest mall in all of Singapore we quickly freshened up and left for the mall. Whilst technically not on Sentosa, Vivo City is associated with the island as it’s commonly used as a gateway to get there (the mall links Harbourfront MRT with the skytrain to Sentosa just across the water). We were glad that we managed to squeeze in a visit to this fabulous mall!
Day 6: Post breakfast we packed our bags and were ready to take our flight back to Dubai.
I love the tagline on Sentosa’s website – Welcome to The State of fun. This is the State where borders are open to everyone, but shut to boredom. Here, Fun is the most fundamental right of all. This is Sentosa, The State of Fun.
I can only agree! Whether you’re interested in relaxing or looking for some adventure, there’s something for everyone on this island paradise and for sure this is the best place to go in Singapore 🙂