My sister, Helen, her ex-husband Paul (yes, they are still good friends!) and I decided to do a road trip in Australia this year (see additional review). To break up the journey we decided to have 3 days in Singapore on the way out. Helen was keen, I had been before so was not too enthusiastic and Paul had already decided he wasn’t going to like it, but we all agreed that we would be happy to break up that long long flight!
We arrived early evening to a very muggy Singapore and took a taxi to our Hotel. Our driver, a 90 year old toothless Chinese man (“can’t afford to retire” he told us!), was a font of all tourist knowledge. He pointed out sights along the way and told us which ones to visit and which to avoid. He also gave us some tips about where to eat. Our Hotel, The Park Hotel at Clarke Quay was in a great situation, right by the water with lots of bars and restaurants nearby. Our rooms were lovely and the staff very friendly. After freshening up we walked into China Town (one of our taxi drivers suggestions) but to be quite honest we could have been in China town in London or any other major city, there was nothing particularly special about it.
The next day we took one of the open top tourist buses around Singapore. We discovered that because we had flown with Singapore Airlines we could claim a 50% discount when we showed our boarding card. It has changed so much since I was last there (probably about 15 years ago!). It is much more tourist friendly now with many amazing gardens. It’s skyline would rival any other major city and it has some amazing architecture. The bus took us past China Town (seen the previous night), Little India, The Financial District and The Botanic Gardens. We saw The Singapore Flyer which is like The London Eye. This was one of the places our taxi driver had told us to avoid. (“Too busy, too pricey and you get a better view from the top of The Marina Bay Sands Hotel” he had said). So we left the bus at The Marina Bay Sands Hotel. This incredible Hotel was used as the finishing point on the recent TV show ‘Race The World’. It has 3 towers and at the top a ‘Sky Park’ links the three towers. This features a large infinity swimming pool and numerous bars and restaurants. Our taxi driver had told us not to buy an admission ticket ($23) but to just walk into Tower 3 and go up in the lift to the 54th floor. So we did! The views are stunning and I was so ready to dive into that wonderful pool! (Unfortunately it is for hotel guests only!) We had a drink and admired the whole vista of Singapore below us. When we left there we walked to the Gardens by The Bay. This fabulous park has some huge ‘Super Trees’ which are solar panelled sculptures and give off a light show each night. However what impressed us most about the gardens were the otters! Everywhere in the park there are signs telling visitors not to bother the otters. We were hopeful we might see one or two but as we turned a corner we came across a whole family of them just lying around posing for the tourists! Then they all headed off to the lake to swim among the lily pads and pose for the tourists there! There was a food court ‘Satay By The Bay’ where we had lunch and then we got back on the bus for more sightseeing.
The Park Hotel has a lovely pool area and later, we were very happy to finish the afternoon off with a little swim and sunbathe (it wasn’t quite the infinity pool at the top of the Marina Sands Hotel but it did us nicely!) That evening we ate at a pizza place on the Quay and then enjoyed a drink in Harry’s Bar.
The next day we took a boat with The Singapore River Cruise Company. It gave great views of the skyscrapers but there were also lots of small original “shop houses” along the river which gave a taster of what Singapore used to look like. When we alighted we walked to Raffles (the famous English colonial Hotel) and we just had to sample the famous Singapore Sling cocktail in The Long Bar. We felt like we had stepped back in time, everything is much as it was back in the 1940’s. They even had sacks of monkey nuts on each table and it seems that it is the tradition to break open the nuts and throw the shells on the floor! It looks messy but is different!
Our final evening was spent at another of the restaurants on Clarkes Quay. It may be worth mentioning here that it is not very cheap in Singapore. As well as quite expensive food and drink there is also a number of taxes added to every bill and the service charge is always added as well.
Helen was very impressed with Singapore, I fell in love with it all over again and even Paul admitted he really enjoyed our 3 days there. So, if you are planning a stopover or just want a short break all 3 of us would definitely recommend it – and do look out for the 90 year old toothless Chinese taxi driver, his advice was priceless!