Swimming in the rooftop pool at Marina Sands in Singapore.

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How to make the most of a Singapore stopover

Published June 23rd, 2016

Oh Singapore… The streets are super clean, everything is incredibly orderly, the parks are green and you feel so incredibly safe to wander. In saying that, if this makes it sound a bit sterile, then think again. There are tons of fun things to do and so many interesting little pockets of the city to explore. It’s the perfect mix of East and West, making it a great place to swing by for a quick squiz between long-haul flights.

singapore_streetscene.jpg

A crowded street in Chinatown, Singapore.
Join the fun in Chinatown.

While there are so MANY things to do on a Singapore stopover, these are the cream of the crop for me:

Top 4 things to do

Raffles Hotel high tea

Transport yourself back to the beginning of the 20th century during the British occupation of Singapore, and immerse yourself in pure decadence in the best – and tastiest – way possible.

This regal colonial hotel hosts a high tea to beat all others. At around 60SGD (that’s about $60 AUD) per person, it may not be the cheapest but it’s definitely worth it.

The attentive service makes you feel like royalty, the white linen is impeccable and the lady melodiously playing the harp cinches it all together to form the finest high tea in all the land.

And I haven’t even started on the food. Think little finger sandwiches, petite cakes, moist scones with fresh jam, dumplings with a variety of fillings, flaky savoury pastries, and delicious bread and butter pudding. Wash it all down with a selection of hot or iced teas. Divine.


 

A photo posted by Kay (@luckytrigger) on


Raffles Hotel Long Bar

This old-worldly hotel made so much of an impression on me that I had to include it again in my list of top Singapore activities.

The Long Bar is completely charming from the moment you enter, with its overhead palm leaf-shaped fans slowly moving in unison and the sound of peanuts shells crunching underneath your feet – strewn there by people encouraged to throw them on the floor.

Each table is furnished with its very own bag of peanuts for snacking and tossing. It is the perfect accompaniment to the world famous Singapore Sling cocktail.

The Singapore Sling was originally created in 1915 by head bartender Ngiam Tong Boon so that women could drink alcohol in public under the guise of fruit juice. At $36 SGD a pop you won’t want to waste a drop of this sweet nectar.

Altitude 1

If your idea of an amazing time is drinking a cocktail 282 metres off the ground  – or if that just sounds pretty darn good – then Altitude 1 is the right bar for you.

Up on the 63rd floor you can luxuriate in a stylish bar with 360 degree views of Singapore’s skyline, the highest vantage point in the city.

The $30 SGD entrance fee also includes a basic drink. However, if you happen to be in town on a Wednesday night, and are lucky enough to be a woman, then you can take advantage of free entry for ladies’ night.  


 

A photo posted by 1-Altitude (@1altitudesg) on


Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay truly is a sight to behold, day or night. All those modern twists and spectacles make this horticultural hub more interesting than you could have ever imagined.

The Garden Rhapsody light and sound show at the Supertree Grove is definitely a highlight. The futuristic looking super trees spark into luminous action to the tune of the Blue Danube in wondrous effect.

The dazzling display goes off (or should I say on?) every night at 7.45pm and 8.45pm. Best of all, it’s free!

Just be sure to get there a few minutes early as it only lasts for the duration of the song and you don’t want to miss it!




Thinking about other stopover options?

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+ more on Asia:

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Eating out

When it comes to dining out there is so much choice in Singapore. Thankfully, eating is practically a way of life here.

For an ‘real’ authentic dish, make your way to Chinatown for the taste of the Singaporean specialty, chilli crab. Prepare to get a little dirty as you crack your way into this saucy dish. Best to avoid wearing white!


 

A photo posted by Sidath Dharmapala (@notorioussid) on

For a riverside experience try Clarke Quay or its waterway neighbour Boat Quay. Offering a charming setting and an assortment of Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian fare, you won’t be short of choice or pretty views for that matter.

Handy hints

Where to stay (and swim!)

Check into one of the numerous hotels in Singapore that offer a rooftop swimming pool and bar. It’s the perfect combination for those hot Singapore nights! While it might mean splashing out a bit more cash, there’s no better time to do that than on a stopover so you can properly relax and refresh between flights. If you want to go all out, my top picks are the Fullerton Bay and the iconic Marina Bay Sands. The Marina Bay Sands infinity pool is the highest and largest in the world!



Getting around

The MRT (Singapore’s subway system) is efficient, offers regular services and is cheap. It’s also easy to catch cabs – just note that they’re reasonably priced during the day but tend to increase at night. Leg power is also a good option. The city is flat so it is easy to walk around – but the heat might have you wilting onto the pavement!

Best for shopaholics

Shops, shops and more shops is the best way to describe Bugis Junction. It’s a shopping mecca. Stay away on the weekend, if you can, as it gets crazy busy.

Hippest go to bars

Club Street, near Chinatown, has a fantastic variety of trendy little bars. However, try to go between 5pm and 8pm for a few happy hour drinks as it’s quite a pricey area. The street also has its fair share of rooftop bars, but get in early to guarantee a spot!


 

A photo posted by Aza (@azafotos) on


Getting there

Singapore Airlines is the best airline to fly if you are planning a stopover in Singapore. They offer direct flights daily from most capital cities in Australia. A great added bonus with Singapore Airlines is the $40SGD voucher you can collect and spend at Changi Airport if you are transiting through – perfect to use at the Duty Free shop to pick yourself up a bottle of ‘vino’ to enjoy in your hotel room after a long many hours spent cooped up the back of the plane in cattle class!


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Odette Des Forges

I am a travel nut that is always looking for the next big adventure, and the next cheap cocktail. Once the plane hits the landing strip on a return journey, I’ve already mapped out an upcoming trip in my mind. And in my mind it is miraculously free somehow, which helps as travel makes me chronically broke.