The Garden City. The food capital of Asia. The New York of the East. With names like these it’s no surprise that Singapore is one of the Far East’s most popular cruise destinations. Here are our top ten things to see and do in Asia’s Lion City.
Singapore Flyer & Marina Bay
Views across the skyline of Singapore to the distant islands of Malaysia and Indonesia can be enjoyed from the Singapore Flyer, which, at 165 metres, is the world’s second largest Ferris wheel. It’s just one of the many attractions of Marina Bay, a waterfront district packed full of fashionable restaurants, luxury hotels, trendy shops and galleries.
A mix of theme parks, golf courses, beaches and hotels, this small island is where Singaporeans come to enjoy themselves. Once a fishing villages, Sentosa means ‘peace and tranquillity’ in Malay, although finding that during weekends and holidays can be difficult due its popularity. It’s packaged and processed fun, as is the Singaporean way, but there’s something for everyone, including a vast oceanarium, a waterpark and Universal Studios.
Moats and streams replace barren cages at one of the world’s few open zoos, which houses more than 300 species, including rare Asian animals such as the Komodo dragon, Sumatran tiger, clouded leopard and a large colony of orangutan. Explore by foot or hop on board a guided tram to explore the award-winning zoo’s 11 zones, which include a giant biodome, a stunning recreation of an Asian rainforest.
A visit to Singapore’s famous Night Safari, located next door to Singapore Zoo, is a highlight of any stay in the city. This unique attraction invites visitors to take a safari through the jungle, by tram or on foot, to observe the night time habits of animals including Himalayan griffon vultures, one-horned rhinos, wildebeest and gazelles. The Night Safari is also one of Asia’s leading conservation and research centres.
Even if you’re not staying there, a trip to Singapore wouldn’t be complete without a visit to this timeless, colonial-style landmark. Named after Sir Stamford Raffles, it’s evolved into an elegant haunt for celebrities, writers and royalty. Stop by for a Singapore Sling at the famous Long Bar. This cocktail of gin, cherry liqueur, sugar, pineapple or lemon juice and angostura bitters was invented by Ngiam Tong Boon in 1915.
Shopping is something of a national obsession in Singapore and Orchard Road is its most famous shopping district. This long expanse of gleaming shopping centres and air-conditioned, tax-free boutiques buzzes with activity day and night, not least during Chinese New Year when colourful street parades take place along it, and at Christmas, when the main street is festooned in festive lights.
Thriving Chinatown is something of a Singapore icon. Great for shopping, it has some of the best-priced souvenirs in the city. It’s also the place to go to try authentic Chinese food, served fresh from the stalls of street vendors or any number of excellent local restaurants. Learn more about the history of Chinatown at the Chinatown Heritage Centre on Pagoda Street and pay a visit to Thian Hock Keng, the oldest temple in Singapore.
Located to the east of Singapore River, Little India is one of Singapore’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. Its colourful, noisy streets are packed full of Hindu temples, mosques, churches and market stalls selling all types of souvenirs and tasty Indian and Malaysian treats, from Keralan curries and North Indian thalis to roti prata (pancakes) and steaming cups of teh tarik – a ‘pulled’ hot milk tea.
Packed full of buzzing bars, restaurants and nightclubs, Clarke Quay is the place to go for a good night out in Singapore. Its location, just off the city’s main river, lends itself to al fresco dining, while for daytime visitors, several good shopping centres along with galleries, museums and historic attractions, including the city’s old colonial fire station, are all close by.
The mythical symbol of Singapore, the 70 tonne waterspouting Merlion is the city’s most recognisable statue. It provides the quintessential Singapore photo opportunity, attracting millions of self-snapping visitors a year. Once you’ve taken that all-important shot, spend some time relaxing on the terraced seating area, which provides some great views across the water to Marina Sands Bay.
Who to cruise with
There’s an excellent range of leading luxury cruise lines that sail either from or to Singapore, with our specialist-recommended picks including Silversea, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Lines, and Oceania Cruises.
Scott Anderson is General Manager at The Luxury Cruise Company. The Luxury Cruise Company is your port of call for incredible cruise holidays.