Alex and I had a quick 24 hour layover in Singapore on our way to Thailand from Bali. I’m not going to lie, a lot of our inspiration for where we wanted to go was based on the movie Crazy Rich Asians!
There are 4 main languages in Singapore, one of which is English, which worked out really well for us! The public transportation system was incredibly easy to use. One of the things that I loved about Singapore is that so much of it just made sense - everyone stood on the left when traveling on escalators to allow people to walk on the right, there were designated places for people to stand off to the side when waiting for the train so that the area in front of the doors were cleared for people to exit, and at the airport, the security checks are only at the gates to limit lines.
The Singapore Airport itself is quite impressive, and you should find yourself quite entertained if you ever have to have a layover there. Within the airport there is a butterfly garden, a movie theater, and they just opened a retail complex, called Jewel, that is connected to the airport. Within Jewel is the new tallest indoor waterfall, standing at 130 feet, that is called the Rain Vortex. The waterfall is the centerpiece of the complex with its water falling from a hole in the center of the ceiling. Like a lot of Singapore, the complex does a wonderful job at integrating greenery and concrete construction in the same space.
Here are the places that we made sure to see during our short time in Singapore:
If you’ve seen Crazy Rich Asians - remember the food place they went to when they first got to Singapore? Well, that’s one of the many hawker centres in Singapore. We got dinner at a hawker centre in Little India for dinner and lunch the next day at one in Chinatown. The food is absolutely delicious, authentic, and inexpensive, which is great when the rest of Singapore is so expensive!
Marina Bay Sands
This iconic hotel is even more impressive in person than I thought it would be. We didn’t spend the money to stay here as hotel guests, but we still walked around the hotel. The hotel and associated underground mall is quite expansive, and it is very easy to get lost here, as we quickly discovered! Each night the hotel puts on a water-light show in the harbor directly in front of the hotel that is worth seeing.
Gardens by the Bay
Across the street from the Marina Bay Sands is a beautiful nature park, called Gardens by the Bay. Not only is the landscape here stunning, but the park was designed in a way to create a sustainable, symbiotic relationship between the supertrees and the cool-conversatories. Singapore is definitely a futuristic city, and the scale of sustainability that can be seen throughout the entire Gardens is truly inspiring!
Tip: go to the Gardens by the Bay in the “early” morning to avoid the crowd. Things must start late in Singapore because we didn’t get to the supertrees until 9 (because we could only find 1 restaurant for breakfast that was open before 9) and it was completely empty!
These vertical gardens are solar powered, emit heat from the conversatories, and light up at night. I had seen many pictures of these supertrees online prior to coming to Singapore, but they are truly so much more impressive in person! There is a canopy walk that weaves through the grove to connect two of the trees. I highly recommend that you explore these trees both during the day and at night.
Exploring Cloud Forest was the highlight of our time in Singapore! We only had an hour to explore the conservatory, but we easily could have spent the entire day here learning about the unique biodiversity. When you enter the conservatory, you are greeted with the (previous) world’s tallest indoor waterfall, which is almost 100 feet tall. In the middle of the conservatory is a large “mountain”, covered in colorful florals and tropical greeneries. Each level of the center area has its own theme, from unique plants to cave crystals to all the orchid variations. As someone who loves plants (but has a difficult time keeping them alive) I greatly enjoyed being surrounded by countless plants! One of the coolest aspects of the Cloud Forest, is that there is a section dedicated to what the effects of carbon footprints, global warming, etc have on plant life. There was also a lot of information about various ways on how to reduce one’s individual carbon footprint. I wish I could have read through all of the information, but we were out of time by the time we came to this particular area of the conservatory.
Flower Dome is another conservatory located next to Cloud Forest, and it is the largest greenhouse in the world. Each section highlights different plants and florals from various regions of the world. There was even a California garden, which if we are being honest, should have been drought resistant plants and shrubbery that looks dead, but instead they decided to highlight some grape vines and various crops. It was a great experience to explore all of the regions; however, if you only have time for one of the conversatories, I would recommend Cloud Forest over Flower Dome.