How To Make The Most Of One Night In Singapore
As each year passes, Singapore proves itself more and more as a must-visit holiday destination, overcoming its perception as a mere South-East Asian stopover. Still, time constraints might dictate your time in the vibrant city-state be brief as you breeze in and out of Changi Airport. Here’s how to maximise your Singaporean sojourn, should your time there be limited to 48 hours or less, checking off the must-see tourist magnets in the process.
Go to hell
Ignore the allure of Universal Studios and make your way to Haw Par Villa for a truly unique theme park experience instead. Filled with weird, wonderful, and sometimes macabre statues, Haw Par Villa showcases a cross-section of Chinese mythology. Since its creation in the ’30s by Aw Boon Par and Aw Boon Haw (the brothers who invented world-famous heat rub Tiger Balm), the park has fostered a mythology unto itself. With a relatively unsuccessful tilt as a Disney-fied makeover in the ‘80s, the fading park is now used as a platform for art exhibitions., among other things.
The must-see exhibition, of course, is the Ten Courts Of Hell, belying any semblance of family-friendly preconceptions with depictions of over-the-top violence and suffering, portraying visions of hell as outlined in Chinese mythology. Gnarly!
It’s free entry, and only takes a little over an hour to soak in every delightfully messed up aspect.
It’s impossible to ignore Marina Bay Sands, the gigantic three-tower hotel resort adorned by an adjoining sky-high cruise liner dominating the Singapore cityscape. The Sands Skypark is the major tourist drawcard, but it comes with a pretty hefty entrance fee to access the observation deck. To get the most out of your Singaporean dollar, ask your taxi driver (taxis are fairly cheap here, even with a post-6pm flagfall, just make sure your respective cab is capable of taking your card), to take you to the base of the hotel’s Tower 3 and make your way to the Ku De Ta rooftop bar.
It’s free entry, which means you can justify a little splurge on a not-exactly-cheap cocktail while savouring the incredible view. Tiny sips. Be warned, strict dress codes apply after 6pm, so arrive before evening if you plan to live it up in your leisurely best.
Gaze into the future
The conventional elements of Gardens By The Bay are reason enough to make the park worth a visit, evoking a pristine calm with meticulously curated grounds and tranquil koi ponds lining footpaths. Nothing can quite prepare you for your first up-close sighting of The Supertree Grove – maybe humming the Jurassic Park theme to yourself might help – a truly gigantic array of tree-like sculptures, each bearing environmental functionality. Even in the daytime, it feels like the makings of sci-fi, lighting up like a futurist’s dream after dark. Exploring the indoor elements of Gardens By The Bay might be too much of a time-sink, but a brisk stroll through the park is well worthwhile, be sure to clock the giant baby sculpture created by British artist Marc Quinn while you’re there.
Even if your time in Singapore is fleeting, you’ll definitely want to spend a fair chunk of it amongst the bustle of the many hawker centres, indulging in cheap, delicious local food. And most importantly, hawker centres are one of the few, if only, bastions for drinking at a non-exorbitant price.
Hawker centres can seem overwhelming on first visit, but just go with the flow and follow your nose, peruse at your own leisure. While Singapore is perhaps the most Westernised city in Asia, hawker centres bely that notion with authentic bustle. While Singapore’s high-profile landmarks are indeed awe-inspiring, nothing quite beats sitting in the middle of a hawker centre with a tall bottle of beer and a plate full of delicious local tucker.