It’s safe to say that most people end up in Singapore as part of a layover. The city/country is a major travel hub in southeast Asia, meaning that anyone travelling in the region will likely end up in Changi Airport at some point, whether for a few hours or overnight. If you get this opportunity, embrace it! Not only does the actual airport have loads of free stuff to entertain travellers (computers with internet access, video games, charging stations) but the actual city is absolutely beautiful and could easily entertain anyone for a week.
If you’re flying Singapore Airlines, you’re in luck. Not only is it one of the world’s best airlines, but it offers a unique program called the Singapore Stopover Holiday. For a nominal cost ($1-$59 depending on your booking) you get one night in a BEAUTIFUL hotel room (lots to choose from), airport transfers, admission to top attractions, discounts on food and shopping, and complimentary rides on the SIA Hop-On bus which will take you around the city.
There are too many attractions in the Garden City to list, but here is a rundown of some of the top picks.
Singapore is home to the world’s largest observation wheel, which stands 165 meters above ground. Positioned near Marina Bay, a ride this high affords breathtaking views of the entire city—though it may not be a good pick for those who are terrified of heights! Admission is $33 and the Flyer is open from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. If you opt for one of the night rides, you’ll get to city the whole city lit up, reflecting off the water, which also makes for a romantic evening.
Upgrade to the Moet & Chandon Champagne flight for $69 which gets you a glass of bubbly, the ride, express boarding, strawberries and chocolates. Perfect for a proposal, perhaps?
The Singapore Zoo is world-renowned, and should be on everyone’s itinerary. The 26-hectare wildlife park has dozens of interactive exhibits, and many animals are allowed to roam freely in large enclosures. Visitors can get up close and personal with more than 2,800 animals, which includes giraffes, birds, pygmy hippos, cheetahs, lions, kangaroos…the list goes on and on. With so much to explore, you don’t have to do it all on your two feet as there are also guided trams that take visitors through much of the park. The zoo is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and admission will set adults back $22, with kids paying $14.
For an experience you won’t get anywhere else, head to the park at dusk for Night Safari.
From 7:30 p.m. to midnight, visitors can watch nocturnal animals in their element. A tram will guide you through exhibits where you can see the crowd-pleasing Asian elephants, bearded pigs and bharats, which are known as blue sheep. Or, set off along the walking trails to check out flying foxes, leopards and fishing cats on your own.
Ever had a $22 cocktail? I hadn’t either, until I headed over to the famous Raffles Hotel.
The lavish estate is not only a haven for overnighters, but is the birthplace of the Singapore Sling. The drink was invented by a bartender at the hotel some 100 years ago, and is made of lemon juice, gin, cherry brandy and soda water. Even those who aren’t gin fans will appreciate the thirst-quenching, sweet cocktail. Any self-respecting drinker will pay the hotel a visit to try the original—but it will set you back. Expect to pay a staggering $22 per drink. But hey, it’s worth it for a piece of history, and to enjoy it on the beautiful, sunny patio, right? Right?!
Shop ‘til you Drop
Singapore is famous for its shopping, whether you’re looking for souvenirs or high fashion. There are dozens of shopping complexes around the country, tailored to the trendy traveller. Those looking for bargains will be wise to shop during the Great Singapore Sale, which sees stores around the city slash their prices by up to 70 per cent during June and July.
For even more savings, be sure to apply for a tax rebate. Tourists who spend at least SGD100 are eligible to get the seven per cent tax back, by applying for a refund at the departure hall at Changi Airport.
One of the most famous shopping districts is along Orchard Road, a two-kilometre stretch which has a staggering 22 shopping malls. If you just can’t bear to carry any more bags, the area is full of great food stalls and entertainment areas, which makes for a perfect place to rest while you take in the action. Even if you don’t want to spend money, some of the malls are worth walking through just for the wow-factor, like Bugis Junction which features a glass-covered street and open-air shopping, or Suntec City Mall which hosts the largest fountain in the world, and was designed according to Feng Shui principles.
All in all, Singapore is one of Asia’s most beautiful cities, full of culture, great food, attractions and shopping, and is worth visiting for at least a few days if you can swing it.
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