IN SINGAPORE, you can tour around the city-state by riding a mass rapid transit (MRT), bus, cab, or walk and be awed by the country's tall buildings and landscape.
That's what our tour guide said when we visited the multicultural country for three days last November.
The Republic of Singapore, an island country in Southeast Asia, is a home to 5.61 million people, according to the Department of Statistics Singapore.
The data showed that, as of June 2016, Chinese formed 74.3 percent of the resident population, followed by the Malays with 13.4 percent, and Indians with 9.1 percent.
Despite of the country being diverse, everyone speaks English, though Singlish, a collection of colloquial catch phrases and lingo, dominates the conversations among the locals.
Plan your trip ahead
If it’s your first time to visit Singapore, here are some of the go-to attractions that will surely make your stay worthwhile.
River Safari is the newest addition to the Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s parks: Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.
The river-themed wildlife park tours you to the different rivers: Mississippi, Congo, Nile, Ganges, Mekong, and Yangtze.
The safari houses 400 plant species and more than 6,000 land and aquatic animals representing 200 species. It is also a home to the Giant Panda Forest, Squirrel Monkey Forest, and the Amazon Flooded Forest.
The place is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets cost S$30 for adults and S$20 for kids.
The easiest way to get to the place is by riding an MRT on the North-South line and transit to connecting public bus services.
Sentosa Island, which name means peace and tranquility in Malay, journeys you to world-class attractions like the Universal Studio Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium, Dolphin Island, and Adventure Cove Waterpark.
Universal Studios Singapore features 24 rides, shows and attractions in seven themed zones -- The Lost World, Ancient Egypt, Sci-Fi City, New York, Hollywood, Madagascar, and Far Far Away.
Starting December 1, 2016 to January 2, 2017, the Santa’s All-Star Christmas will transform Universal Studios Singapore into an enchanted wonderland with snowfall, fireworks on selected nights, multimedia light shows, new musical performances by the park’s very own all-star cast decked out in their Christmas outfits.
Tickets are available at S$74 (adult), S$56 (child), S$36 (senior). An after 5 p.m. family bundle is available at S$134 and this includes park admission for two adults, one child, and retail and dining vouchers.
Also located near the Universal Studios Singapore is an interactive Trick Eye Museum, which uses the TROMPE-L’OEIL (trick of the eyes in French) technique that makes you the subject in the picture.
Tickets are sold at S$25 for adult (13 to 59 years old), S$20 for a child (4-12 years old), and S$20 for a senior citizen(60 years old and above).
You can reach Sentosa by taking an MRT, public buses, taxis, or by foot.
Gardens by the Bay, which opened to the public in June 29, 2012, serves as a major public green space within Marina Bay.
Inside the huge garden are the Cloud Forest, Flower Dome, and the Supertree Grove.
The Cloud Forest is composed of the Lost World, Waterfall View, Foothills, Cloud Walk, and Tree Top Walk.
In the forest is the 35-meter tall mountain that is covered with plants and has the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
You can also descend from the mountaintop using the two walkways in the clouds to see an aerial view of the canopy and mountainside.
Another attraction is the Flower Dome that showcases unique plants from the Mediterranean and semi-arid subtropical regions. The display of flowers changes every two months.
If you want a romantic view, the nearby Supertree Grove provides music and synchronized lighting every night. If you visit the place during the day, you can go up the treelike structures and see an aerial view of the area using the walkways that link the 25-meter tall supertrees.
To reach the Gardens by the Bay, you can ride an MRT at the Bayfront Station (Circle Line) or by bus (SBS 400) from Marina Bay Station (North South Line), Exit B.
Admission in the Gardens by the Bay is free, but charges apply to the two cooled conservatories and OCBC Skyway. Click here, for more information.
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Dine with the locals
There are a lot of “shiok” (fantastic) food in Singapore, including the famous Laksa, which we tried at the Good Old Days in Sentosa Island.
There are many types of Laksa, but it is basically a noodle soup that has spice, dried shrimp, and broth of coconut milk.
The Good Old Days’ main menu also includes home style fried rice, Singapore chicken rice, Nasi Bryani with Raita and Papadum, Vegetarian Spaghetti with tomato sauce, and old fashioned fish and chips.
By the way, other local dishes in Singapore that you must try are the Devil’s Curry, Roti Prata, Char Kway Teow, Kueh Pie Tee, and Mee Siam.
If you’re going out with your friends or your family, Spathe Public House offers mammoth signatures that are good for four to six people.
But if you’re on a diet, you can still try their waffles, salads, sides, pasta, and more.
If you want chargrilled satays, seafood, and refreshing desserts, head to the Satay by the Bay at the Marina Gardens Drive. They have a number of food stalls that you can choose from.
Bring home souvenirs
Also, you wouldn’t want to leave the Lion City without bringing home its local products.
The best place to buy your “pasalubong” (souvenirs) is at Singapore’s only 24-hour shopping mall, Mustafa Centre, that offers some 300,000 items like clothes, accessories, cosmetics, electronics, mobile phones, and textiles, among others.
If you want to haggle, then Bugis Street is perfect for you. It is known for its pop-culture fashion items inspired from Korean and Japanese styles.
Aside from the usual “I love SG” t-shirts, you can take home trinkets and personalized 3D face dolls.
When you’re done shopping, especially at the Mustafa Centre, inquire about refund policies and product invoice before purchasing.
You can claim a refund on the seven percent GST (goods and services tax) under the Tourist Refund Scheme if you make any purchases of over S$100 at participating shops.
Just make sure that you filed your GST claims before checking in your goods at the Changi Airport Singapore. (Sunnex)
Let me know if my article helped you in planning your trip to Singapore. If you think there are a couple of things I may have forgotten about, kindly leave a comment below. I’m sure you’ll enjoy Singapore lah!