Singapore: The Perfect Stopover

In Singapore, Travel Guides
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Singapore nature

When it comes to the moment of deciding with which company you should reach Australia, three main possible stopovers will appear in front of you: Hong Kong, Dubai or Singapore. All the three options seem really interesting, but for this time we decided to land in Singapore.
We (me and my travel mate Sonia) are flying with Singapore Airlines from Milan Malpensa to Sydney; summed up it will make something like a 20hrs flight: unbearable! The best thing to do for us is finding a trip that would let us rest our legs for a while, but without losing too much time doing nothing. And here comes the perfect stopover: 17 hours and a half to spend in the wonderful territory of Singapore. We can’t miss this chance!

Landing in Singapore

We have to spend a couple of good words over Singapore Airlines company:

  • It is one of the most affordable airlines, compared to others like Etihad or Emirates, really convenient even if it’s probably not as luxurious as the other two. If you’re travelling low budget, but you still want to fly comfortable, this is the best option.
  • When you call at the transit airport they will take care of everything, from the luggage to yourself. They gave us some coupons and some sort of travellers cheque to spend in the airport’s shops, for free! So we didn’t have to spend any of our money to eat.
  • If you have to stop over for many hours, they organize some free tours that you can join to give a quick look at the city while you wait for your next flight.

As we had a long time to wait, we decided to take advantage of the free tour to give a quick gaze to the city before going by ourselves. The tour lasts 3 hours, they take you around the city with a bus, stopping every now and then to take some pictures in the most popular and touristic places.

The Free Tour

The tour guide was a Singaporean guy in his forties, very friendly and positive. While the bus was heading to the first stop he told us a part of the country’s story, showing himself really proud of his “home” highlighting how the country has always respected nature, even when the population reached 5mln people. He made us turn our head from left to right and from right to left so frequently that my head was almost spinning. He had so many things to say about what was surrounding us that it was almost impossible to follow everything. I’ll explain later all the info he gave us, as it deserves a paragraph by itself :)
The first stop was in Merlion Park 

Here we got the chance to enjoy a wonderful view over the Marina Bay Sands, an amazing three-towers hotel with the famous Infinity Pool at its top, and the stunning Singapore Flyer, a 165m tall Ferris wheel that overlooks the city. The stop lasted around 20 minutes, more than enough to take some souvenir pictures of these great monuments.

View from Merlion Park

View from Merlion Park
Back again on the bus, the tour goes on, running through the colourful and ever-changing streets. What hits the most about this place is the continuous contrast between nature and humanity, ancient and new. You pass from a characteristic China Town to a modern University area; from a colourful Little India to a business district around the corner.
The second and last stop was in the Arabic zone, full of little restaurants and shops that sell you typical Arabic souvenirs. There’s even a very nice mosque, the Sultan Mosque, that you can visit freely. By the time we got here the heat was impressive, the temperature was around 40 °C, with a humidity of 80% at least, the joy that the fresh mosque gave to me cannot be described. 
Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to stop there, so the group went back inside the bus and we left Singapore at our backs.  The bus took us back to the airport, and the tour guide gave us a nice farewell; he also stopped to give us some directions to go back to the city by ourselves. It has been a very pleasant trip overall.

What to do in Singapore

So, my friend and I went back to the centre with the train. Even if Singapore is a pretty new metropolis, the transport system is well organized, and easy to take. You have to get a pre-paid card and then you can go around using any transport you like.

There’s a few things that you can’t miss in this city:

  1. Gardens By The Bay: it’s a massive area of around 100 hectares of park, first opened in 2011, divided into three main areas (Bay Central Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay South Garden). We decided to stop here for a while and rest a bit after the long flight and it was definitely worth it. If you’re planning to stay for a couple of days in Singapore you have to visit it properly as there’s so many interesting things to see inside. The Bay Central Garden is the smallest of the three, it is just a connection between the two main parts but still worth a walk on the waterfront promenade from where you can enjoy a nice view of the east side of the city. The Bay East Garden runs next to the Marina Reservoir and contains a series of leaf shaped buildings each with a different style and theme, aimed to host various activities. The last garden is the biggest and owns the main attractions of the site. In the Bay South Garden there are various places of interests, like two massive glasshouses (The Flower Dome and the Forest Cloud) built with sustainable technologies and with the minimum environment impact; the Supertree Grove with its astonishing Supertrees, tree-like structures that contain till 50m of vertical gardens, you can even climb up to a walkway that connect two of the bigger ones to enjoy a wonderful view of the Gardens; two Horticultural Themed Gardens and even a Children’s Garden where you may find some interesting workshops that would let your kids know how important is nature for life. For more info you can visit the official website.
  2. China Town: I know there’s a China Town in every big city, but this is a PROPER China Town! It has all the typical Chinese shops and restaurants, red lanterns hanging everywhere in the streets and the smell of their good food follows you everywhere. We couldn’t help but to stop here to eat something and relax a bit. But no forks, so be ready to show off your skills with the sticks :)
  3. Little India: another district of the city that you can’t miss because of his characteristic aspect. When you step inside you are suddenly hit by a spicy air made up of exotic ingredients and peculiar flowers; it is a sort of open air market, you can find any unusual thing that you might need and the colourful stands will attract you like bees with flowers, you really can’t help it. It is definitely worth a visit, you won’t be disappointed.
  4. Last, but not least, you might bump into the Marina Bay Sands: if you’re more into a relaxing stop in the city, then you might want to climb up to the 57th floor of this 5* resort and jump into a 150mt long Infinity Pool. From this height you can enjoy one of the best views of the city skyline, especially at sunset. Only negative side is that you have to stay in the hotel to get access to the pool! If you can’t afford a 500 S$/night stay, then you might prefer to visit the Sands Skypark Observation Deck, for only 23 S$ you can still get a breathtaking view. If you’re interested in visiting this venue and want to get more info, just click here.

Conclusion

The places I’ve listed before are just a small part of the incredible things you can do and see in Singapore. You might need three or four days to visit it properly as every single stop of the train takes you to an astonishing area, completely different and often opposite to the one before. So, whether you’re stopping over for a flight, or you are deciding where to spend your next holidays, if you get the chance to spend some time in this growing and ever improving city, don’t miss it!

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