Swinging Through Singapore
Jumping out of chronological order to skip ahead and tell you about my February adventures! We’ll be back to Hawaii soon <3
When Ian and I were planning our trip to Telunas Resort in Indonesia, we were thrilled that this was a trip where getting there was going to be half the fun. Why? Because it required a stopover in Singapore! I mean, sure, technically, we didn’t have to spend three nights there on the way back to Thailand, but wouldn’t we be kind of crazy not to?
I admit it, it took me a while to get where I am today — totally obsessed with Singapore. When I was first backpacking through Southeast Asia, I didn’t really get the appeal of this sterile-sounding city, and I only visited for the first time because I had a twenty-four hour layover en route to the Philippines. Later, I returned with my friend Katie en route to catch a party cruise back to Phuket — you’ll read about that trip soon, I promise! And this trip, I brought Ian for his first Singapore swing (see what I did there?) on our way back from Indonesia.
But don’t let the fact that I only seem to visit Singapore on the way to or from somewhere else fool you. These days, I’d rank it one of my favorite cities in Southeast Asia. (Which makes me think it might be time for a Southeast Asian version of this post, no?)
Since each of my trips have been so brief — just three days or less — I’ve tried not to spend too much time treading familiar ground. And yet there is one place so special, I’ve been there every single visit. Sometimes more than once.
That place? Gardens By the Bay.
Ian, not normally one to want to play tourist, had specifically requested it. So we set off, on a white hot day, for Singapore’s Downtown Core. I’d actually hoped to stop at the Singapore Flyer en route so I could tick a new Singapore attraction off my list, but just our luck, it was down all week for repairs. At this point, I’m confident there will be a next time.
We’d barely set foot in the sprawling, maze-like Gardens By the Bay when we heard something mysteriously lumbering through the tropical brush. An enormous monitor lizard appeared, reminding us that this city of skyscrapers emerged from what must have been something more closely resembling a swamp.
I was absolutely thrilled to visit Garden By The Bay’s two conservatories for the first time. Why? (A) It was something new to do in an attraction that technically, this was my fourth time visiting. (B) I was sweating extensively and made the poor planning decision to wear a white shirt, and the conservatories were air-conditioned. Ya know, important stuff.
So I was pretty crushed when we arrived and found out that the real showstopper of the two, The Cloud Forest, was closed for maintenance. I was gutted! Our consolation prize was the smaller Flower Dome. I have to be honest — I was majorly hating on the Flower Dome.
Aside from the pretty-cool succulents and desert section and the fact that I was able to stave off sweat stains for an extra thirty minutesBut onward and upward, literally, , I was extremely underwhelmed. In Singapore, the admission fee of $12SGD (about $9) per person is a bargain, and it still wasn’t worth it.
But onward and upward, literally. After a quick snack top at Satay By The Bay — quite possibly my favorite food court name in the history of time — on the Skyway. I can almost guarantee that there has been a person who has regretted the $8SGD (about $6) admission here.
Soaring 72 feet in the air, this walkway around the magical Avatar-esque tree grove isn’t for the faint of heights. But for those with an addiction to sweeping, surreal views of otherworldly landscapes? It’s a can’t miss.
Hats off to my fellow bloggers who set their alarms for before sunrise to nab that perfect morning light and always beat the crowds. We are total failures in that — and countless other — regards, and arrived at that precise mid-day moment when the sun is at its highest and shadows at their harshest and no self-respecting photographer would be caught dead changing a lens.
After our equal parts magical and sweaty stroll through Gardens By The Bay, we walked over to the Lau Pa Sat hawker center. Singapore is widely known for these authentic food centers, and Ian was eager to cram as many as possible into our trip. From an aesthetic point of view, this might just be my favorite. It’s almost as if this historic building has been there since the beginning of time, and the Downtown Core just sprang up around its octagonal plot.
When Ian finished slurping down authentic soups, I requested a stop of a more modern and international variety. I’m essentially obsessed with acai, and so when I saw Absolute Acai pop up on our Google Maps, I knew it was a must. I flipped when I arrived and recognized the acai brand they were using from my travels to Brazil, and the girls behind the counter super sweetly inquired about our trip and let me borrow their cord to charge my phone so we could take Uber home.
There’s no question I’d be a regular here if I called Singapore home!
We actually spend the vast majority of this particular trip exploring the neighborhoods surrounding our Airnb in Jelan Besar. In my last two trips to Singapore, I’ve really discovered that as amazing as the tourist-hevy center is, I really fall in love with the city in its ever-so-slightly more residential area. We were really pretty in love with the northern neighborhoods of Jelan Besar, Little India, and Kampong Glam, and I have a post coming up about them soon!
However, we did make one other trip down south of the Singapore River.
Potato Head Singapore, the city slicker sister property to Bali’s infamous beach club, lived up to the hype and was well worth the trip. Each floor of this four-story heritage building is treated as a separate venue, and we went straight for the tiki-style, aptly-named Rooftop.
Here, we couldn’t resist splurging on our one-and-only drink of the trip each (we were detoxing from Banyan closing!) which were well worth Singapore’s exorbitant alcohol rates. We were also able to order burgers from Three Buns, the restaurant downstairs.
Whether you come for food or just a drink, I can’t more highly recommend this spot for watching a sunset over the beautiful city skyline. Who needs a stuffy old Singapore Sling, anyhow?
I love that this one-week little vacation managed to fit both an off-the-grid island retreat with overwater bungalows and turquoise as far as the eye could see and a big city weekend full of rooftop craft cocktails, futuristic art installations and skyscrapers so tall they could make you feel dizzy.
It was, for us, the perfect trip.
Singapore, I’ll see you soon. I’m sure of it!
Pssst! Don’t miss the free shipping sale on my Wanderland Waves collection with Amy Jennifer Jewellery! Enter the code “Wanderland” at checkout until Monday the 20th of March for free shipping worldwide. Read more about Amy in her recent Earning Abroad interview!
I have to admit I don’t know much about Singapore and haven’t put it that high on my bucket list, but after reading this I’m rethinking that!
Hopefully my next post will do even more to sway you 🙂
Surprised to see you using Airbnb in Singapore since its now illegal and you risk huge fines?!
Frankly, I didn’t know it was. I used it in November and again in February and didn’t have any drama either time. There were sooooo many listings, was this super recent?
Wow, I know nothing about Singapore, but as far as cities go, it sounds/looks pretty amazing! But… really writing to say that I LOVE your dress in the last two photos. So cute!!
Thanks Melissa! I bought that here on Koh Tao. I’ve actually been kind of on a shopping diet lately but this is one of the few items that has slipped through. I love it 🙂
Wow it’s awesome how you managed to take a trip involving a huge city and remote island that were just not far from each other! As far as major cities go Singapore has always seemed pretty interesting to me, although I’m not particularly a big city person. I’m also not a hot weather person so I would have to psych myself up for that XD
Ha well, this day in particular was bright, sunny and sweaty 😉 They aren’t all that bad! But I’d rather have blue skies and heat than rain and a chill.
Every Airbnb I’ve booked in SG in last 3 yrs (friends too) has cancelled on us the week or two before!!
I commuted there for 8 months last year and stayed at Sofitel just opposite Lau Pa Sat – my regular dinner joint ❤️
No way! That’s a hassle. Both Airbnbs I rented in Singapore in the last two months were super official and run by what appeared to be a management company that owned several properties. I don’t know if that makes a difference but yeah, they were drama free!
I visited Singapore for a few days years ago, and I really liked it! I don’t think Gardens by the Bay was around then, so I really have to pay Singapore a visit again soon!
Seriously, that alone is worth the flight!
I wasn’t a fan of Singapore until my third trip. Just felt a new sense of energy from a recent trip compared to so many years ago.
Third time is a charm, perhaps 🙂
Singapore has never really been on my radar, but it is now! The gardens look lovely 🙂
Just wait until my next post! Jelan Besar was for me the highlight of this trip.
Why is Singapore one of those places you just expect to stop in at some point & therefore don’t bother planning a trip? Poor Singapore! Perhaps your upcoming post on neighbourhoods will change that!
Indeed! And I’ll have another one eventually on Tiong Bahru, another badass neighborhood. Sounds like Airbnb in Singapore is a tad controversial (oops) but it’s really helped me explore.
The trip up to the swimming pool of the hotel in your first photo, is well worth the small amount you pay. The magnificent view allows you to see the amazing road track which is used when formula one is there. Its especially pretty when it gets dark. Go at dusk is my recommendation!
I have seen photos that are magnificent! I’d love to make it happen someday!
As you know, I’m a huge fan of Singapore…glad you’ve come to appreciate it! We should go together next time…
I’m IN! Maybe en route to our next cruise…
Thanks for the 2 wonderful posts on the city I live in. You absolutely nailed all the right stuff to do. Whenever I read travel blogs, I’d usually check if they have posts on Singapore before I decide they worth my time. And you got every detail right. What can I say, you even found The Projector!
Thanks for digging beneath the shiny glossy surface of Singapore that everyone loves to hate.
This comment made me very proud, so thank you! Glad I did your great city justice 🙂
Very nice blog!! My last visit in Singapore was 2014..and of course Lau Pa Sat is a must to go for dinner!! There are more delicious food in Singapore like Laksa / Prawn Mee / Black Pepper crabs…. yummmmm. Thank you for reminding me for all those delicious food!! I am living in Bora Bora with my husband and I hope one day I will take him to Singapore!!
Hi Bonnie! Took a long blogging hiatus but I’m back and catching up on comments 🙂 Thanks for reminding me of this awesome trip and the suggestions for next time! I actually went to Bora Bora last year — will blog about it soon!