Singapore

Singapore was the mix of traditional and modern that I was hoping for. Gardens by the Bay was the highlight for us.

Day 1: Phuket to Singapore

Our Scoot flight was delayed for 1.5 hours. On the way to our plane we passed a SCAT airlines plane. A couple of us got a kick out of that. We got a shuttle from the airport. Beautiful old trees line the road from the airport. Neither the driver nor the women working the desk knew where our hotel was. We found it. We got some good local tips as we were escorted to our room. After dropping our bags we got cash at the exchange booth at the nearby MRT station, then dinner at the Maxwell hawker center, practically next door. 

hawker centre

We picked up breakfast from a cafe then sat on the terrace by the hot tub — which was closed for renovations — and drank our complimentary Chianti and beer. The juxtaposition of traditional buildings and modern skyscrapers is interesting. 

Day 2: Chinatown and Night Safari

We were tired after our early start yesterday so we slept in today. We need to pace ourselves because tonight we go on the Night Safari, which we booked last night. We followed the Chinatown neighborhood walk in the Lonely Planet Singapore guide book, which took us past a few temples and down to the river. 

The closer we got to the river the more modern skyscrapers we started seeing. We continued to see a mix of those with traditional temples and other buildings. 

Down at the river we got a look at some of the quays and the Fullerton Hotel, one of the old traditional hotels.

We walked back along South Bridge Street and ate at the Maxwell Centre again. This building was a interesting with all the planting incorporated. 

We got to the Night Safari via MRT and bus. It was easy to get there and back though it took about an hour each way. 

Day 3: Gardens by the Bay

Today was another tricky timing day, since we want to see Gardens by the Bay and be there for the sound and light show. In the morning we went for a walk in our neighborhood and picked up breakfast so we don’t have to do that later. 

There was lots to see at Gardens by the Bay. It’s free to enter the gardens but most of the main attractions, like the Supertree Observatory that the photo below was taken from, require paid tickets. We bought all the tickets. 

The Cloud Forest was first up, a glass dome with an indoor waterfall. We liked that the best. 

Next up — and right next door — was the Flower Dome with lots of flowers and plants from Mediterranean climates. 

Then we walked over to Floral Fantasy. That had interesting garden ideas and a cute 4D movie. 

We finished up in the Supertree Grove where we went up to the observatory and the skyway. After dinner at the nearby food court we finished up the evening with the sound and light show

Day 4: Little India and Botanic Gardens

On our last day in town we took the MRT to Farrer Park station and did the Little India neighborhood walk from the guidebook, where we saw more temples

The architecture in Little India is similar to Chinatown but there are different street banners and the buildings are more colorful.

Some of them might even be too colorful! It was very hot and thirsty work walking around so we stopped at the Tekka Centre (another hawker center) and got an iced tea, which was Singapore style with condensed milk and pretty good. We went upstairs to see some of the colorful Indian textiles. 

Our last stop was the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where we walked around the northern part of the gardens. 

At the Maxwell Centre we had sichuan food. I ordered spicy fried chicken. In the before picture below you can see the chicken and red peppers. There are also whole peppercorns that are harder to see. The after photo is what was left after I was done. It was easily the hottest thing I’ve ever eaten. 

Airports aren’t usually worth photos but Changi airport had a fun fishpond with a glass bridge you could walk over, and we got a kick out of the robotic wheelchairs following one of the airport employees. 

Essentials​

Lodging

Our room at The Scarlet Singapore was small but but luxe and we had enough space to stow things that we weren’t tripping over them. The private terrace was nice for breakfast. Very nice shower and nice extras like a complimentary minibar. It was a great location near sights, dining options, and MRT stations. Helpful and friendly staff. It was the most expensive place we stayed on this trip and it was still good value. 

hotel exterior

Dining

Singapore is famous for food, especially hawker centers. We ate Hainanese chicken and rice — the national dish — twice at Maxwell Centre. (Tian Tian was better than Ai Tan.) Plus we had soy chicken from Hawker Chan at Gardens by the Bay, and sichuan food. Alcohol was pricey but we ate surprisingly cheaply. The Madame Ooze cafe near our hotel had delicious muffins for breakfast. 

Transportation

Singapore is the easiest city to get around that I’ve ever been to. Each MRT (metro) station has maps of the local area and the station so you know where to exit. The trains announce the upcoming stop and have route maps. Even the bus we took to the Night Safari announced the next stop. We bought a three day tourist pass and used it a lot. We had to leave a deposit but got it back when we returned it before we left.