Is This The Most Instagrammable City In Asia?
Singapore is big on quirk and colour.
There’s no denying that Asia has the monopoly on utterly beautiful places to photograph, but CITIZENS OF THE WORLD reckon they’ve found the best spot of all.
Thailand’s got azure blue waters and powder sand beaches all wrapped up, Hong Kong has its neon-light game on lock, while Cambodia quietly rules with its mysterious vine-covered temples.
However, there’s one city in the whole region that fascinates for its sheer desire to be all things to all travellers. You want a nice pristine beach? They’ve got three. Aching for the perfect skyscraper cityscape? Piece of cake. Need a temple? Take your pick.
Yes, we’re talking about Singapore.
Unhindered by geography, price, or sometimes sensibility, Singapore has long been inspiring curiosity with its artfully organised civic planning and architecture that always seems to have an eye 20 years into the future. It’s a metropolis so ambitious that they even turned their local sea harbour into fresh drinking water, just because. Which gives you some indication on where their heads are at.
So if you’re the kind of traveller that’s big on quirk, colour and a fan of taking a photo or two, here are 10 must-visit spots to stop in everyone’s favourite ‘if you can dream it, you can build it’ city-state.
1 / 10
Koon Seng Road
Koon Seng Road in trendy Joo Chiat is a one-block rainbow of terrace houses that’s guaranteed to make your Insta-feed explode in a sea of ‘likes’. Each property has been lovingly kept in its formal Straits-Eclectic design from the 17th century, marrying small-scale Chinese shophouses with the elaborate plasterwork and French windows inspired by the colonial West.
A history lesson and shot of chromatherapy all in one, there’s no place in Singapore that better embodies the melange of cultures that have shaped the city.
2 / 10
Little India & Kampong Glam (pronounced ‘geh-larm’)
Manic, colourful and awash with the heady scent of Cardomom in the air, Little India is the antidote to the rest of Singapore’s streamlined perfection. Start your journey peering into the tiny stores of the spice traders along Serangoon Road before making a stop at the bustling Tekka Centre for exotic artefacts and fabrics. You’re only a step away from another cultural hit, with Muscat Street in Kampong Glam nearby, for a hit of Islamic restaurants, boutiques and the iconic Sultan Mosque (originally designed by an Irishman, so how’s that for multiculturalism in action?).
3 / 10
Just because you’re in one of the world’s most densely populated countries, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to escape to the lush green canopies of a mountain rainforest every now and then. This futuristic bio-dome contains everything these ferns and flytraps need to thrive, including cool mists, a self-sustaining indoor waterfall and flawless temperatures all-year round.
While we’re not going to say that bio-domes are better than real rainforests, there’s something comforting about the fact that Singapore knows how to conjure one up if things ever get to that point.
4 / 10
These are the Avatar-esque structures that stand guard to the Gardens By The Bay (where everyone’s favourite bio-domes live) but they are living breathing nurseries in their own right. Here’s a tip; on a particularly steamy day, while away a few hours enjoying the Cloud Forest and then once dusk hits, head out to the Supertrees as they light up in the evening sky.
5 / 10
Geography be damned. The people of Singapore demanded a beach and through sheer force of will and finance they made it happen. And what a beach! Come here just to marvel and the ingenuity of it all. You’ve got blue clear waters, powdery soft white sands and even a drawbridge leading to an island worthy of Robinson Crusoe. It’s a little bit weird but totally wonderful at the same time.
6 / 10
Marina Bay Sands
You don’t even have to enter the Marina Bay Sands to enjoy its staggering views. The ‘sailboat on stilts’ constantly casts its impressive architectural shadow over the rest of the city skyscrapers as if goading them to even try to compete with its majesty. We’re being serious, this casino-mall-hotel-hybrid is without a doubt the most magnificent temple to consumerism we’ve ever seen and during particularly colourful sunsets it almost feels as romantic as the Eiffel Tower… Okay, not quite. But almost.
Note: You don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy the views at the top. Beers at the Flight Bar & Lounge start at around $AU20 but it only takes one look over the edge to know what you’re really paying for.
7 / 10
This is the aforementioned former-sea-harbour-turned-freshwater-reservoir (complete with friendly otter families that frolic around the shore). Join one of the traditional ‘bum boat’ tours from Clarke Quay to Marina Bay for an afternoon cruise by the melange of old colonial houses as they evolve into the monolithic towers that mark new Singapore.
8 / 10
There’s nothing flashy about this ‘hood but that’s precisely why you’ll love it. Here’s where you come to indulge in big bowls of prawn noodles and big plates of chicken rice for less than a tenner. Start at the Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong Temple (it’s one of the oldest in the city) and don’t be shy about stepping into the local eateries that line the strip.
9 / 10
National Orchid Gardens
No matter how much you think you love orchids it will never be as deep nor profound as the affection this city has with these fickle tropical blooms. To be exact, there are over 1000 species and more than 2000 hybrids of orchid that line the walkways of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, each revelling in their own meticulously maintained enclosures (but then again this Singapore, so would you expect anything less?).
10 / 10
It seems like every city has a flyer or a giant wheel of some sort these days but not every city is Singapore, with its avant garde structures dotting the skyline and rainbow-hued sunsets that sparkle glitter over the water.
Make this your last visit before you leave just sit and watch the story of the city unfold from the quiet of your own private cabin.
(All images: Dominic Loneragan/Citizens of the World)