Singapore is an excellent hub for travel around Southeast Asia. We stopped in Singapore after our adventures in Cambodia and Vietnam to rest up in a bit of first world luxury before continuing #DrJSabbatical in China. Singapore was the one destination on our extended 6 week trip that we'd visited before. Here are some Singaporean highlights for second-time visitors.
Where to Stay in Singapore
Hotels in Singapore can be quite expensive. You could consider splurging and staying at the unequivocably fabulous Marina Bay Sands. Or, you could pick a more down-to-earth accommodation and consider staying in a serviced apartment like the Oakwood Premier OUE.
Singapore's Gardens by the Bay
The Marina Bay area was not at all developed when we last visited Singapore. In fact, I would definitely put the Gardens by the Bay on a list of sites that first-time visitors to Singapore should see. The Gardens by the Bay features a cluster of over-the-top attractions.
The supertrees are the most iconic element at the Gardens by the Bay. Giant man-made structures tower above the ground with foliage grafted on.
The Cloud Forest at the Gardens by the Bay was pretty awesome. Located inside a giant dome (greenhouse), a waterfall and tropical plants dominate the scene.
When exploring the Cloud Forest, you'll ascend a series of elevators, escalators, and staircases to reach the top and get up close to this tropical microcosm in the middle of Singapore.
The Gardens by the Bay in Singapore also features an impressive botanical garden. Once again housed in a climate-controlled dome, you can explore nature in utmost comfort. Wooden sculptures add to the atmosphere.
When we visited in May 2017, tulip displays were fashioned to resemble paintings by van Gogh. I've come to expect nothing less than over-the-top displays in Singapore so this turn of events didn't surprise me at all.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Interested in experiencing other Asian cities but not sure where to go? I recommend:
May the 4th Be With You
We happened to visit the Gardens by the Bay on May 4th and arrived just in time for the May the 4th be With You Star Wars event. Characters were on hand for photoraphs and you could queue up for a picture with Chewbacca himself.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
We spent a fair bit of time in Singapore's Chinatown. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is worth a stop. See countless colored glass Buddhas lined up in the center of the hall. It was a striking display.
Maxwell Road Hawker Centre
Chinatown is also home to the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre. I also recommended Maxwell Road's street food centre in my previous post. It's worth stopping here whether you are a first, second, third, or infinite visitor to Singapore! I always go for a nutty pancake and kopi (Singaporean coffee optionally made with sweetened condensed milk). Get your fill of street food in Singapore without fear since the industry is heavily regulated and all the food stalls prominently display their health rating. We stuck with A and B rated establishments and our stomachs thanked us.
Visit Kampong Glam
Kampong Glam is a fascinating neighborhood in Singapore that we missed on our first visit. Grab a coffee at Tolido's Espresso Nook to fuel up before a walk around this section of town.
Geylang Serai Hawker Stalls
For a more local and slightly edgier take on street food stalls, check out Geylang Serai.
We sampled a cakey, coconut flavored dessert which was outstanding after tasting a Malaysian laksa. Pro-tip: look for the stalls that have the longest queues to figure out which food is best.
Admire the Architecture at Katong and Joo Chiat
From Geylang Serai, we made a foray into Katong and Joo Chiat. This primarily residential neighborhood of Singapore features historic and colorful Peranakan shophouses.
For more on things to do in Katong, head on over to the Rustic Nomad.
Eat Ice Kachang near Marine Parade
Singapore's Marine Parade neighborhood is walkable from Katong and Joo Chiat. We stumbled upon a hawker stall selling huge portions of ice kachang, a Singaporean dessert featuring flavored shaved ice, jello, corn, and beans. I remember being fascinated by ice kachang on my first trip to Singapore and had to give it another go this time around. This huge dish of sweet Singaporean goodness cost just 2.50 Singaporean dollars.
Take a Walk on the Beach at East Coast Park
We decided to walk off our ice kachang dessert along the beach at East Coast Park. East Coast Park was a fascinating spot for people-watching in Singapore. We visited on a Sunday and tons of locals were out hanging out with friends and having a picnic.
Take a Dusk Walk in Fort Canning Park
Fort Canning Park is a huge greenspace in the center of Singapore. It's a great spot for a walk, especially when the sun starts to go down and the heat of the day eases off a little.
Explore the Tiong Bahru neighborhood
Do Brunch with the Common Man (Coffee Roasters)
As second-time visitors to Singapore, we had the luxury of playing it cool like the locals do. Brunch is popular in Singapore and we queued up at Common Man Coffee Roasters.
The coffee at Common Man was outstanding, as you might expect, but the food also really hit the spot. Gourmet pancakes will satisfy your sweet tooth and eggs with savory greens have got you covered if you're looking for a healthy breakfast that packs a protein punch.
Sip Happy Hour Beers in Clarke Quay
To be honest, Clarke Quay feels a little bit fabricated in a Disney sort of way. Restaurants and bars sit in the shade of the canopy along the Singapore River. Clarke Quay is admittedly a great spot to grab a well-priced drink during happy hour, especially if you are staying nearby.
Eat Rainbow Snow at WooW
Since this was our second visit to Singapore, we had the luxury of slowing down a bit. We decided to walk from Orchard Road to our hotel near Clarke Quay when we discovered WooW. Singapore is hot and humid year round so any opportunity to take the edge off with a cool dessert is always welcome. I couldn't resist trying the rainbow snow at WooW. The dessert was extremely refreshing and extra-awesome when served in an inflatable unicorn cup-holder.
Take a Morning Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir
MacRitchie Reservoir is where locals and expats go for a hike. We charted a course through the trails around the reservoir. We were hoping to see the monitor lizards that are known to frequent the area.