Singapore may be one of the smallest countries in Asia, but it certainly packs an entertaining punch as a stopover destination. Sure, you could choose cheaper destinations, but only Singapore can combine an airport slippery slide with chic dining experiences and a 16-storey walkway between two sculptural “supertrees”.
Here’s how to make the most of it.[related_articles]52304,49310,45197[/related_articles]
Before you leave Changi airport, grab your bags and head to Terminal 3 to ride the four-story slippery slide. It’s an all-ages slide, and it’s free if you spend $10 at the airport (hello, duty free). It’s sure to improve your mood after navigating your way through customs.
Then hop in a taxi, drop your bags, and stack your wallet with Singaporean dollars for some serious shopping on Orchard Road. The famous 2.2km strip is packed with shopping centres and boutiques and features everything from bargain buys at H&M to the lofty #baggoals of Chanel.
When you’ve worked up an appetite, it doesn’t get more classic than high tea at Raffles. It’s exxy, but it’s a decadent experience that’s worth the dosh for colonial architecture buff and dessert aficionados alike. (It’s worth noting that the high-tea experience is unavailable until mid-2018 while renovations are carried out on the hotel.)
If you can’t spare the expense, grab a Singapore Sling at the iconic Long Bar, and toss your peanut shells on the floor as many travellers have before you. It’s the only place in the city you’re legally allowed to litter.[related_articles]60555,57950,57174[/related_articles]
In the afternoon, head to China Town and lose a few hours as you stroll around the neighbourhood filled with tiny shops and food stalls laden with durian (the hard, prickly fruit of a tree of the same name). For a real treat, head to the Michelin-starred chicken rice stand – you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the long queue of punters keen to try the delicious street food for themselves.
If you can’t locate the end of the line because it’s too long (which is very likely), opt for a serve of the city’s famous Singapore chilli crab for dinner instead. Just be wary that, if you ask five locals where to find the best crab in town, you’ll get five different answers. Jumbo Seafood down at Clarke Quay is a tried-and-tested bet – their crab is succulent, fresh, and loaded with a heap of that signature chilli sauce.
If there’s one thing Singapore is known for, it’s a penchant for kookiness. From the mythical Merlion statues that have become the city’s mascot, to the natural-but-fake playground atmosphere down at Sentosa, you’re never short of an experience that leaves you simultaneously confused and entertained.
So, shake off the jet lag and get your legs moving again with a wander around the strange and surreal – not to mention super-snappable – world of Gardens By The Bay.
Your first encounter will be with the pink sculptural “Supertrees” that rise 16 stories in the air above you. Grab a ticket to walk along the 128m OCBC Skyway suspension bridge in Supertree Grove. Admission costs SG$8 (AU$8) for adults and SG$5 (AU$5) for children.
Next, head to the twin glass domes in the distance – they house two different nature experiences. The Flower Dome is pretty, filled with plants from around the world, but the Cloud Forest brings the drama. A waterfall cascades 35m above you as you walk in, and ‘clouds’ are artificially created every two hours to simulate a misty, mountainous experience. Admission costs SG$12 (AU$12) for adults and SG$8 (AU$8) for children.
As afternoon descends, look up and you’ll see a cruise ship floating in the sky above you. Only, it’s not a ship, it’s the unusual architecture of the Marina Bay Sands resort – and that “boat” propped atop two vertiginous glass towers is the Skypark Observation Deck.
Instead of paying SG$23 a pop for a glimpse of the view as you elbow tourists out of the way, book a table at the on-site cocktail bar, Spago, ahead of time – you’ll get the view for free, and without the bustling crowd.
(If you’re thinking of sneaking into the infinity pool – which is accessible for resort guests only – for the perfect sunset shot, you may be able to find a secret unguarded entry from the change rooms… But you didn’t hear it from us.)
Pick up some delicious bar food from Wolfgang Puck’s kitchen next door at Cut, and sip on Singapore Slings as you watch the sun set. It’s the perfect ending to an action-packed Singapore stopover.[qantas_widget code=SIN]Check out Qantas flights to Singapore.[/qantas_widget]
(Lead image: Dan Nguyen)