This February I got a chance to spent a few days in the bay of the Singapore river. Well, that is some time for a few signature Singapore Sling cocktails, right? There are still places there, with colonial vibe and feel, much like in 1915, when Ngiam Tong Boon, a Hainanese bartender working at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel invented it. However modern day Singapore has so much more to offer…
Things no to be missed
Gardens By The Bay
Yeah I know people, everybody and their grandma talking about Gardens. But there is just plain good reason for that, it’s just THAT good! Well not good, totally awesome! What you see in the front of the picture above are Supertree Grove.
So all pretty fancy and cool stuff, right? But it is not all, you can pay little fee and enjoy those giants from above on Skyway path. At night there is quite nice Light and music show, putting those to whole new experience.
Another thing which is real bust in the GBTB (cool acronym, isn’t it ?) are two huge Domes, basically your garden greenhouse, but little bit bigger. If you buy combined ticket for both, you even save some money. First one is Flower Dome, lower but larger of the two.
It contains seven different gardens, with nicely presented plants and flowers from semi-dry/tropical regions like Mediterranean, and parts of Australia, USA and Africa. I’ve liked the most the succulent area, with lots of cactuses and fatty bottle trees.
Second one, called Cloud Forest, is much higher and slightly smaller in ground plan. It is vertically planted tropical rainforest, simulating higher altitudes between 100 and 3000 meters. It contains huge waterfall and inside is really quite humid, but actually feels a lot refreshing to outside hot Singapore climate.
As a person who have never been to “Big India”, this was really authentic and quite different proper “Bollywood” experience. I’ve started in great local hawker centre, which is different offering delicatessen from all part of India and Pakistan. Then I continued along main artery of quarter, the Serangoon Road. There are numerous Hindu and Buddhist temples there, and if you are lucky as me and come in time of evening services, you will get even more intense experience.
Walk around the river quays
From the grand Fullerton Hotel, which lies at the mount of Singapore River into South China See, there are couple quays. Now places to chill out, have a beer or cocktail or some bite, and refresh by the breeze and cold beverage. I especially liked south bank of Clarke Quay.
There is fine microbrewery with lots of outside seating, called Brewerkz. Not that I’ve really liked all beers they offer, but thanks to tasting flights, I’ve quickly picked my favourite and carried on with the business as usual. There is up close decent joint to taste most famous Singaporean dish – a chilli crab. Usually good for two eaters, try it in Jumbo Sea Food. Of course, best crabs are found on Singapore east coast, but that is way too far just for trip there alone. Whole riverside is really beautiful at night as bonus for your slightly intoxicated way back home.
Eat where locals do.
And by that I don’t mean fat HSBC bankers or new era Chinese mob kingpins, but where ordinary people do – in local hawker centres. What the heck is that, you would say? It is a food market with good and dead cheap stuff. I mean like 4-7 Singapore dollars for a meal you probably could not even eat whole, that big portions they usually serve. No worries for a sore throat, they usually have a beer as well. It is semi-open, so you can sit outside or inside, whatever you fancy. Inside, there are numbered stalls, offering different cuisine – Chinese, Thai, Vietnam, Penam (local stuff – Malaysian cuisine made using Chinese ingredients). Locals are really into them and swear one is much better then the other, but to be honest – for a European any close one will do just fine. I quite liked Telok Ayer Market for its proximity of city centre, and quite nice Victorian pavilion, inside which all stalls are placed.
Sip a few drinks where locals go out
I had great random night out in one little lane, drinking outside and listening to live music. Haji Line/Arab Street are two narrow streets with lots of bars, little cafes and restaurants. They are located beside Muslim Quarter, closest metro station is Bugis. Maybe I should put a little warning, even as semi-local and hipster, it is not cheap. However, whole Singapore is really not a backpacker place, if you want to enjoy it whole.