Singapore is the only place in the world that is a city, a state and an island. Its diversity (mainly Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian) makes it a nation richly varied in heritage, cuisine, art and architecture. It has earned the nickname 'instant Asia' because it offers tourists a quick glimpse of the sights, tastes and cultures of all of Asia's main ethnic groups.
'Quick glimpse' described my fleeting visit perfectly. I went for only one day and one night, en route to longer trip around Indonesia. The short stopover was arranged purely to see a friend, check out a few landmarks that didn't exist the previous times I've visited and to enjoy Singapore's dynamic food/beverage scene.
I landed bright and early on Friday morning. Luckily I was able to check into my sexy hotel straight away (Vagabond Club), allowing me to quickly clean up and get on with my full day.
The first stop on my whirlwind daytrip was the Marina Bay Sands (which is new since that last time I was in Singapore). This extravagant three-columned building combines an ultra-luxury hotel with designer shops, upscale restaurants/bars, a casino, a theater, a nightclub and even a museum. The Sands SkyPark straddles the top of all three towers and provides cityscape views. There is a pool at the top as well, but access is limited to hotel guests only.
Despite the scorching temperature and humidity, I walked the few minutes to Gardens by the Bay (which also didn't exist when I last visited, 13 years prior) to check out the Floral Fantasy exhibit and also to stroll amongst the supertrees on the OCBC Skyway (22 meters high). To keep my strength up, I stopped for a quick lunch at the Jurassic Nest food hall, where I ate at Tsuta, serving up the world's first Michelin starred ramen.
After my sightseeing concluded, my indulgence began. I met up with my friend for a late afternoon, into evening, turned late night eating and drinking session, which included the following venues:
Frozen (for a very short amount of time) margaritas at Piedra Negra on Haji Lane
Blu Jaz Cafe for some prosecco
Turkish cuisine at ByBlos Grill
Mr. Stork rooftop, located on the 39th floor of the Andaz Singapore Hotel
LeVeL 33, the world’s highest urban microbrewery
After partying into the wee hours of morning, it was off to bed (for approximately four hours), before heading back to the airport to continue the holiday touring around Indonesia.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Arrival: Complete this online Immigration Card no more than 72-hours before arriving into Singapore, if you're not just transiting through the country.
Getting Around: Use the Grab ride-hailing app to get around quick, cheap and easy
Electrical: UK plugs (with three square prongs)
Weather: It is hot and humid all year-round, with temperatures usually over 86°F/30°C. You should be prepared for rain at any time, which can be torrential, but usually brief.
Tipping: This is encouraged when you have good service, and this would be in addition to the standard 10% gratuity that some restaurants/hotels already add to your bill.
Drinking Water: You can drink straight from the tap as the water in Singapore passes World Health Organization standards.
Language: Singaporeans are fluent in English.
Currency: The Singapore dollar. Notes come in denominations of S$2, S$5, S$10, S$50, S$100, S$1,000 and S$10,000. Credit cards are widely accepted.