We really only had two full days (Saturday & Sunday) in Singapore and we PACKED in the activities. Singapore is one of the stops I was most excited about for really no particular reason other than seeing pictures and hearing generally from others/travel blogs/etc. that it’s amazing. It did not disappoint!
How do you describe Singapore…
My best description is that Singapore is a classier, super futuristic, jungle garden version of Vegas. Sounds fun, right?
Fun facts about Singapore:
- Singapore has the 3rd highest GDP per capita in the world
- From 2013 to 2019, it was ranked the most expensive city to live in in the WORLD (by the Economist)
- 5.6 million people live here – 39% of them are foreign nationals!
- The only country we’ve visited on this trip where all the signs are in English…and really ONLY in English.
- Singapore is the only Asian country with a AAA credit rating
- About 45% of the workforce in Singapore are NOT Singaporean!
Singapore’s Green Scene
In 1967, Singapore’s government introduced a vision of the city as a “garden city” – and you can see evidence of that literally everywhere you go. It is one of the greenest places we’ve ever visited – and not just because it’s tropical, it is very INTENTIONALLY green. The streets are all lined with trees and beautiful plantings, there is designated green space everywhere you turn – even many buildings are covered in beautifully planted, vertical green space.
Singapore’s current drive is to move from being a “garden city” to a “city IN a garden” – as you’ll see from pics, they are well on their way and we enjoyed every beautiful moment of it.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
If you don’t know Nick, he LOVES flowers and gardens. So when we are visiting a city that IS a garden, we knew we wanted to visit the beautiful gardens there are. The Singapore Botanic Garden was our first stop in the Singapore whirlwind and we spent HOURS ooh-ing and ahh-ing in this place. For one of the world’s most expensive cities, we were shocked that the gardens themselves are free – the only paid part is the orchid collection and it’s a meager $3 per person. As Nick will heartily attest, it was worth every penny. 8 foot tall orchids!? An entire garden devoted to ginger!? The largest collections of orchids in the world!?
Couple fun facts about these stunning gardens…they are the only tropical gardens in the world honored as a UNESCO site. The gardens are 160 years old. The orchid collection is the LARGEST collection of orchids in the world (1200 species, 2000 hybrids) and this garden is seen as a worldwide pioneer when it comes to hybrids.
Gardens by the Bay
One of the most famous sites in Singapore, the Gardens by the Bay were created fairly recently in 2012 and were intended to be the “premier urban outdoor recreation space” and a national symbol. It is an enormous space, right on the water and it is still being developed into an even bigger, better, greener space. There are 3 main parts we went to and each was stunning in its own way – the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest Walk and the Supertrees. Not only beautiful and futuristic, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest Walk were designed as energy efficient showcases of sustainable building technology.
The Flower Dome is exactly what you’d expect – an enormous greenhouse (the largest columnless greenhouse in the world!) with breathtaking architecture and a seemingly endless supply of uniquely orchestrated flowers, trees and plants.
One of the more unique things we did was experience the Cloud Forest Walk. Similar to the greenhouse that is the Flower Dome, this is designed to replicate the cool, moist conditions found at higher elevations in places like Southeast Asia and South America. Designed with “Cloud Mountain” as the centerpiece, you take an elevator to the top and wind your way down and around each and every layer of the cloud forest. It was magical!
Last but certainly not least, the Supertree Grove. One of the most iconic parts of Singapore these days, we had the opportunity to see them up close, from afar, by day and by night. And not once did they disappoint. Ranging in size from 80-160 feet, they are vertical gardens (obviously shaped like trees) that serve so many functions – planting, shade, and workhorses for the gardens. What’s that mean? These trees – like everything in Singapore, it seems – were designed very specifically with technology and energy efficiency in mind. The technology built into them is supposed to mimic ecological functions of trees – solar energy provides the lights at night, rainwater collection helps with irrigation throughout the Gardens and air intake and exhaust functions help with the cooling systems in the conservatories. I told you! The future!! If these trees – and Singapore – are an example of what the future could bring, sign us up.
Marina Sands Bay Hotel
Remember when i said Singapore is like a fancier Vegas? Walk anywhere near this incredible hotel complex and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Three enormous (55 story!) towers, side by side, with a “skypark” and 500 foot infinity pool on top – the world’s longest elevated swimming pool! The world’s largest atrium casino in the basement. Multiple theaters that have showcased things like Cirque and The Lion King. Many, many celebrity chef restaurants. One MILLION square feet of shopping at places like Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Manolo Blahnik…get the picture? It is a NICE complex. We spent a few hours just wandering around to see what there was to see…
But of course we had to get a view from the top! Pay a “cover” of about $20 – that you can put towards food and drink – and take the express elevator to the rooftop bar. We stayed for a drink and the sunset, watching the lights come on in in the city!
That Soccer Game, Though…?
As we both always say, about half of our trip is planned and half we leave to serendipity. Well, this was one of our favorite examples yet. I went downstairs to pickup a quick lunch for us and on my way back, I met a really nice African guy in the elevator who struck up a conversation. He asked if I was in town for “the game” and if I would be watching tonight…I nicely said I was just here visiting and that maybe I would see the game on a TV in a bar later. I honestly had no idea what game he was even talking about.
He very quickly asked, “do you want to GO to the game?” and proceeded to pull out two tickets from his pocket and hand them to me. In shock, I took them and said thank you and asked why he didn’t need them, was he not going to the game? He casually said “oh I’m on the team!” – I had just met one of the players from the Nigeria soccer team!! I quickly said thank you, almost missed my floor on the elevator and got out to run and tell Nick what had just happened!
I’m not gonna lie – neither Nick nor I like soccer…but one of the players from the team just gave us tickets to the game! We knew we had to go, even if it was only for a little while! After a little research, we discovered that we didn’t just get tickets – we got really GOOD tickets. Like $250 tickets. In the front section. So of course we were going! It was Nigeria v. Brazil – just a “friendly” game – that was part of the Brazil world tour.
We got there just a few minutes after it started and dealt with absolutely no traffic or crowds…then realized that our good tickets put us smack dab in the middle of the “friends and family” section of the Nigeria team! And they were a riot!!
Cable Car to Sentosa & Mt. Faber
One of the best ways to see a lot of the city all at once is to take the cable car! You can ride over to Sentosa Island to see the famous Merlion and then take it all the way back around to visit Mt. Faber. We rode the whole way to see the sites and then hit up Mt. Faber for a little exercise! 360 degree views of the city from this little cable car were the perfect way to start our last day in Singapore! Once we were on the last leg of the cable car ride and headed “up Mt. Faber,” we had to giggle because to call it any kind of “mount” is more than a little generous. It’s just a nice, green hill but either way, it was fun 🙂
Mt. Faber Hikes & Southern Ridges
Knowing what a green city Singapore is, we wanted to look for an opportunity to get outdoors and do some physical activity! Taking the cable car to the top of Mt. Faber, there was a lovely 5 mile walk through a major park surrounded by the city. We wound through green space, walked up and down walkways suspended in the forest and got a good afternoon sweat going!
Singapore was one of our quickest but one of our best stops yet. A clean, modern, super green city that gives you a glimpse into what cities could look like if the focus is on the right things…and the ultimate party destination. We’ll be back.