In April 2018, we embarked on our first multi-country Asian trip landing in Manila in the Philippines and flying out to Singapore, dropping by in Hong Kong and then returning to the Philippines. After a couple of days seeing family in Filipino capital, it was time to fly out to Singapore.
It is our first time in Singapore and while it is a popular tourist destination, we didn’t know how our trip was going to fare. We didn’t have much time in Singapore with only 2 days and 2 nights of full exploration. As expected, Singapore had a world class transport system and perhaps the best in the world in my opinion. We got to our hotel to drop the bags off in no time and we were out to explore straight away.
But first, we had to visit Singapore’s national treasure, the hawker centres. Fortunately, our hotel was quite close to one and we walked which seemed like just around the corner, to the Golden Mile Food Centre. Singapore is renowned for its food and there is no better place to try amazing food at affordable prices than in one of a hawker stall.
Bellies full and evening came, and what we noticed was how hot it was. We had a couple of days in the summer heat of the Philippines but Singapore had that extra humid edge that made us sweat uncontrollably. We headed to the Gardens by the Bay which was an absolute spectacle. Located at the foot of the magnificent Marina Bay Sands, it is a lush park with elegant lights and gorgeous waterworks.
We were treated to a brilliant light show held every hour. We took our place in Super Tree Grove where we were treated to a show from the supertrees. It is fair to say that it was one of the best shows we have ever sat through, and it was free!
The night was young and we had a little bit of energy left so we went to Chinatown to see the buzz around the area and have some food. We were greeted by a beautiful Hindu temple, the Sri Mariamman Temple, on the way there which was sadly closing at the time as we wanted to experience serenity inside a busy city.
Chinatown was a busy place with lots of stalls selling trinkets and the air filled with the aroma of flavours which got us hungry very quickly. I have never been into fine dining and the Michelin star rating usually means its too expensive, but that is not true in Singapore. We tried a restaurant which was recommended by the late great Anthony Bourdain to try Singapore’s most famous dish, the Hainanese chicken and rice. For 3 Singaporean dollars which (around £1.70), you can taste an award-winning dish worthy of a Michelin star.
The simple concept of having chicken breast on rice seems a little basic, but rich flavours explode in your mouth as you take a bite of the most tender chicken breast and the most fragrant rice. A small drop of soy sauce then it is a party in your mouth. Simple, cheap and delicious. So delicious in fact that I ordered two large servings.
The next day was a trip to the indoor gardens in the bay, the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. Entrance in both gardens was a bit pricey but it was worth it as we spent most of the day there. The place was a fully in conditioned which was a welcome break from the scorching heat outside. It was full of exotic flowers and trees through wonderful pathways. The highlight was definitely the huge waterfall as you walk in the Cloud Forest.
We went around Sentosa Island for a bit but as we had no plans in going in the theme parks but it was a great peek into Singapore’s resort island. The plan for the night was to get a view of Singapore from the top of the Marina Bay Sands. Unfortunately, the skies opened up and hammered it down with torrential rain. That meant we were held indoors which wasn’t too bad. We hung out the hawker centre again eating lots of great food without being out of pocket.
Our time in Singapore was far too short. I underestimated the time required for exploring this microstate. We missed out other great sights and attractions but we had enough time to get a glimpse of what Singapore has to offer. A green ultra-modern city where the infrastructure works with rich history and some of the world’s best food. But our next journey takes us to Hong Kong.