Old Singapore – Where to see it

Singapore has built a reputation for being economically progressive and ultra-modern. Its shining CBD area and iconic buildings are a testament to its financial success over the decades since independence some 50 years ago. You’d be wrong for thinking that Singapore was a cold corporate place filled with glass, steel, concrete and people in suits, with no love for the antiquated or historical. In actual fact there is so much more to Singapore and on a recent trip to the Lion City thanks to the Singapore Tourist Board and Unlisted Collection I had a chance to explore the wonderful heritage, history, culture and trend for preservation that can be found all over this Asian country. Here’s some of my highlights.

Tiong Bahru

If you like Art Deco architecture then this is the area to come to. Tiong Bahru was the location of Singapore’s first government land improvement schemes starting in the mid to late 1920s and was where my hotel was situated too. It feels fantastically close to the centre of Singapore yet still retains its beautiful architectural charms. With a mixture of Chinese shop houses and “streamline moderne” style art deco buildings there’s a lot of character in this area.

Heritage trail Singapore

I went for a fantastic photowalk with some locals who showed me some of the clean and pretty streets around here. You’ll find trees and small parks on nearly every street corner and amazing residential blocks that put some modern architectural styles to shame. Even the backs of apartment blocks here are pretty with spiral staircases and wonderful lines and angles all around.

Tiong Bahru staircases

This was once a neighbourhood for high society in Singapore but times have changed and its now a thriving artistic neighbourhood with plenty of book shops, local coffee shops, bars, fantastic restaurants like Esquina and a few choice hotels like 1929 and, my home for the week the New Majestic Hotel. I loved the vibe in Tiong Bahru, it felt so clean, safe and with no shortage of history and a legacy worth preserving. Take your camera, allocate a good few hours here and take a wander. There’s plenty of places to stop for refreshment and buy a book or two as well.

New Majestic Hotel

Clifford Pier

This was once the first sight new immigrants had of this colonial city. Clifford pier was situated right on the south coast of Singapore and while it hasn’t moved the shoreline definitely has with massive amounts of reclaimed land now stretching a mile or so further out to sea. Clifford Pier holds a special place in my heart as it was one of the places I visited when I first came to Singapore in 2005. Back then it still served as a pier where you could catch Chinese junk boats out of Marina Bay and over to islands like Kusu, a pretty little place filled with temples and turtle sanctuaries. I remember buying food from a street vendor and waiting in the hot and humid building for our boat to arrive. Something I’m sure many immigrants and locals alike may have experienced for many decades.

Clifford Pier Singapore

While the building remains, its purpose has most definitely changed. Marina Bay was turned in to a fresh water reservoir in 2006 with the building of a dam that closed the mouth of the bay, thankfully Clifford Pier was given a new lease of life with the extension of the famous Fullerton Hotel and its “One Fullerton” neighbour right on the bay’s edge. Clifford Pier is now a fine dining experience that I thankfully go to experience in 2016. It was surreal walking in to a fully air conditioned venue with luxurious furniture and formal dining under the pier’s archways. I spent most of my time looking around and remembering my first visit here some 11 years earlier.

Historical sights of Singapore

The building has lost none of its charm and its so great to see an icon of Singapore’s past right in the centre of the modern CBD which will be preserved for many years to come. My guide recalled how his father first saw the “red lamp” that hung at the end of the pier when he first arrived as an immigrant many decades ago. Clifford Pier undoubtably has a symbolic connection to almost all Singaporeans. Definitely worth checking out when you’re in town.

Haw Par Villas

Talking of symbolic connections for many Singaporeans, one unusual place that should not be overlooked is the wonderful Haw Par Villas. Built by the brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par who created  Tiger Balm, a very popular product in Asia, they built a park in the grounds of their house back in 1937, free to all who wished to visit. Originally called Tiger Balm Gardens this was the most popular attraction in Singapore in the 70’s and 80’s and a place that every family bought their children to. The steep park is filled with statues and dioramas of ancient Chinese mythology, some colourful and curious, others surreal and comical.

Haw Par Villas Singapore

I’ve definitely never been to a place like this before and delighted at meandering through the park taking in all the sights. The park is a lot quieter these days, especially during the week but back in the day this place was packed with locals, immigrants and tourists taking photos of their loved ones. In fact I met a Chinese family who last visited some 40 years ago when the woman was only 6 years old, she was so excited to stand in the same spot once more for a new photo.

Historical Singapore Sights

In recent years Haw Par Villas popularity has wained but things are set to change here with a major investment from the Singapore Tourist Board, hopefully bringing new life to a real slice of Singapore’s tourism history. With new food stands, yoga workshops, souvenir stands and visitor’s centre, it looks like a whole new generation of tourists both local and international will get to enjoy this most quirky of attractions. Well worth a visit as the park is free although I highly recommend a guided tour for just $10 to really make the most of it.

Tiger Balm Gardens

Pulau Ubin

Singapore is a very clean and well organised country with plenty of money invested in infrastructure, housing, business districts and parks. Its also a very small island nation where escaping the hustle and bustle of modern living could easily be perceived as almost impossible. Thankfully this definitely isn’t the case and a trip over to Pulau Ubin will show you another side to Singapore and a step back in time too.

The island can be found just a few minutes ferry ride away to the North East of the mainland at Changi Point, near to the international airport. Changi Point is a small ferry terminal where you’ll find local ferrymen and their simple wooden boats that will take you over to Pulau Ubin for just $3.

Bike hire on Pulau Ubin

The journey only takes about 5 – 10 minutes and on the island there’s some wonderful rural walks and no shortage of mountain bikes for hire. I had the pleasure of exploring the island with my guide on old but perfectly working bikes,  following a number of trails that are fairly well maintained and easy to cycle.

Cycling on Pulau Ubin Singapore

This tiny island was once home to thousands of early settlers who remained here right up to the 1960’s, since then numbers have declined to just a few hundred but the island serves as a time warm back to simple Malay “Kampong” houses and a rural way of life. Cycling around is the best way to see the island and you might even spot a few elusive wild Boar whilst you’re there. I headed to Chek Jawa which has a fantastic coastal walk on a modern boardwalk that gives you great views of the coastline.

Chek Jawa coastal walk

Chinatown Heritage Centre

Nearly every street of Chinatown feels like stepping back in time, with colourful buildings all around and no shortage of tourist souvenir shops to empty your wallet. This was once (and arguably still is) the beating heart of Singapore and very popular with tourists not only for some cheap shopping but also for its temples, especially the impressive and slightly curious “Buddha Tooth Relic Temple” which is impossible to miss. Tucked right in the heart of Chinatown I visited the Heritage Centre which sits inside 3 beautiful shophouses.

Chinatown Heritage Centre

Inside is a walk back in time to the 1950’s when tenancy in Chinatown was at its peak and space to live and work was at a cramped premium. Each room depicts a different family and their professions, highlighting the living conditions, daily struggles and atmosphere that filled much of Chinatown at the time. It really brings to life the ever increasing immigration to Singapore and its impact on the city, with plenty to learn on 3 floors. I visited the Chinatown Heritage Centre thanks to Singapore Airlines and their “Singapore Explorer Pass” which got me access to many paid attractions across the city for 1 day. Definitely worth considering if you’re flying with Singapore Airlines.

With thanks to the sponsors

A big thank you to the Singapore Tourist Board for their support on the #SingaporeLive campaign and to my wonderful guide Toon Hee for showing me the sights. Also huge thank you to the New Majestic Hotel and Unlisted Collection for their hospitality. If you’re looking for someone to stay in the heart of Singapore’s cultural and historical districts then I can highly recommend checking them out.

Tour guide Singapore Toon Hee

The best new tourist attractions in Singapore

Singapore is country I love to visit, having been here many times of the past 11 year  either on business or to catch up with good friends. Its an island nation most people only think to pass through or stop for a day or two on their way to other continents. Of the many experiences I’ve had here I’ve seen first hand the incredible amount of things to see, do, taste and experience in Singapore and the number of great tourist attractions, cultural hotspots and wonderful views only increases each year. Thanks to a recent trip to Singapore working with the Singapore Tourist Board and Singapore Airlines on the #SingaporeLive campaign I got to some new fantastic tourist attractions that should definitely be on your list. I highly recommend extending your stay in Singapore and making the most of one of the world’s most impressive and culturally rich city.

Future World – Art Science Museum

Located at Marina Bay Sands right in the heart of Singapore, the museum is an iconic architectural masterpiece in itself. Built in the shape of a lotus flower, its houses many temporary exhibitions and now and permanent one that’s perfect for adults and children.

ArtScience Singapore entrance

Stepping in to this exhibition is like being transported to another world of futuristic technological approaches to sensory experiences. A room filled with projectors puts you in the middle of a virtual yet utterly natural wildlife wonderland, while other rooms are filled with interactive toys where the tangible meets the virtual. My favourite room was the last one where you walk through a room filled with vertical strips of colour changing LEDs. Animations in 3D fly through the room in all directions. A visually stunning experience like nothing I’ve seen before. Head to their website for the last exhibition news.

Future world at ArtScience centre

S.E.A Aquarium

Touted as Asia’s biggest aquarium you’ll find it located on Sentosa Island, a tourist’s playground and very popular with Singaporeans too. Its right by the Universal Studios entrance and offers more than just fish tanks. There’s some interesting history on Singapore and nearby Malaysia before you enter what truly is an amazing collection of all marine life. The tanks are huge and only increase in spectacle was you venture further in to this aquatic wonderland.

Shark tank at SEA Aquarium

The shark tank you walk through was one of my favourites, with a diver inside cleaning the glass, giving me a wave as he did so. But the last tank has to be the most impressive here. Walking in to a theatre style room with steps and even a restaurant in one corner, this massive panoramic tank before you seems to defy physics buy holding back millions of gallons of water and giving you an unprecedented view of stingrays, hammer head sharks and all manner of other fish swimming around before your eyes. Easily the best aquarium I’ve ever been to, check out their website here.

SEA Aquarium Singapore

Pulau Ubin

Boat to Pulau UbinAside from the ultra modern and mega-sized tourist attractions in Singapore there are some local attractions that take you away from the Urban sprawl and show you a more natural side to Singapore. A short drive out to Changi Point (near the airport) you’ll find a very traditional little ferry terminal where you can get a little wooden boat ride over to Pulau Ubin. The ride costs just $3 SGD and takes about 10 minutes to cross the narrow water, passing some big ships in the process.

Stepping off the boat at Pulau Ubin is like stepping back in time, where Malay style shacks and rural houses from decades past are mostly hidden amongst the trees and vegetation of this quiet island. Renting a bike here is a must and there’s plenty waiting for you right after the jetty. The roads and paths are easy to cycle with only a few uphill moments to make you do some proper exercise. There’s a fantastic coastal walkway here that takes you out amongst the wetlands and around the bay where you’ll see fish darting around in the water and possibly the odd swimming lizard too! The island is home to wild boar who appear from the woodlands, cross a road and disappear back in to the jungle before you’ve even had a chance to get your camera out of your pocket. I saw 2 while I was there but sadly didn’t have my camera ready either time!

Coastal walk on Pulau Ubin

Pulau Ubin is a great place to get away from it all and get back to nature, popular at weekends with Singaporeans, its distinctly different during the week so for that relaxing and naturally quiet experience avoid the weekends if possible. For more information go here. One recommendation is to keep an eye on your return ferry. The little boats only leave when they have enough paying passengers so if no one else is there you could be waiting up to an hour or more. You can of course pay for empty spaces and at $3 each it might be worth it if you’re short on time.

Gardens By the Bay

This tourist attraction has quickly become one of Singapore’s biggest icons. Built upon reclaimed land behind Marina Bay Sands this park cost around $1 billion to build and is free for all to enjoy. While there’s plenty of natural vegetation all around, there’s also the iconic man made trees here with plants growing up their walls and extending out above you. A great place for some of the best photos you’ll get of Singapore’s CBD, one of the super-trees is also a restaurant offering great views and great food too. There’s also a “skywalk” linking two of the trees together with a walkway offering a great feeling of floating amongst these futuristic trees.

Gardens By The Bay super trees

There’s also two bio-domes here with reasonably priced tickets (included in Singapore Airlines Explorer pass) showcasing two very different climates. The mediterranean biome currently has a very impressive tulip exhibit with thousands of colourful flowerbeds that you’re sure to take plenty of photos of. There’s also trees and cacti from Australia, America and Europe. The building itself is just as impressive as its contents.

Gardens by the bay

The other biome has a spectacular man made waterfall right in front of you as you enter and you can ascend its mountainous internals to access walkways that pump out clouds of moisture every 2 hours. The climate in here is a cool highlands feel with dense vegetation clinging to almost everything and some great paths to explorer around the waterfall. For all the latest information on Gardens By The Bay head to their website.

Whats inside gardens by the bay?

Singapore Art Museum

Known locally as “SAM” this beautiful historic building was once a school and now houses some interesting and artistic contemporary art installations. All the shiny new corporate skyscrapers in Singapore could easily have you fooled that this modern city lacks cultural importance, especially in the contemporary world. Head to SAM and you’ll see art is very much alive and kicking here. Currently the gallery is hosting “5 Stars: Art Reflects on Peace, Justice, Equality, Democracy and Progress“.

SAM galleries

There’s some technologically impressive pieces here, my favourite being the amazing pipes where tiny actuators tap out a musical percussion that bounces around the room. A guided tour enhances your experience the whole exhibit can be completed in around 40 minutes. Check out their website for all the information.

Singapore Arts Museum

With thanks

I recently visited all of these attractions during the #SingaporeLive campaign. A big thank you to the Singapore Tourist Board for making this possible and Singapore Airlines for their support. Also thanks to Unlisted Collections for their hospitality at both the New Majestic Hotel and at numerous fantastic restaurants. You can read my review of these restaurants here.

 

Top 5 restaurants in Singapore

Singapore is truly where east meets west, both culturally and culinary. Dining experiences are in my opinion second to none. There’s tough competition here for your hard earned money creating ever more impressive dining options and fusions of cuisines from all over the world. Having so many great restaurants to choose from makes it hard to pick my Top 5 restaurants in Singapore but thanks to a recent trip to the Lion city I got to try some of what can easily be considered the best dining experiences available right now.

So check out all of these dining options in Singapore…

Esquina

Tucked away on Jiak Chuan Road in Outram Park, It’s easy to find this place on any evening, just look out for the heaving crowds that flock to this Tapas restaurant to sample some of the city’s best Spanish tapas. The dishes here are sublime with authentic approaches to some of Spain’s best loved tapas and others with a wonderful twist to bring something different to the menu. Sitting at the bar is a must for the full experience, watching master craftsmen and women producing exquisite looking (and tasting) dishes you’ll want to Instagram immediately! This little bar is adorned with a familiar industrial feel that many of the Unlisted Collection restaurants and bars do so well in Singapore.

Esquina tapas in Singapore

To avoid fighting the fanatical crowds in the evening head to Esquina at lunchtime where the vibe is distinctly different. I can highly recommend the Pigeon as well as the Spanish Nigiri, a wonderful Spanish take on sushi. The biggest surprise for me was the Octopus, not something I’d usually order but would gladly have again at Esquina. Check out their menu here and if you’re happy to eat away from the bar its worth making a booking for dinner upstairs or take your chances and hopefully get an evening seat at the bar for the best show in town!

Best tapas in Singapore

Bincho

Singapore has a growing trend for fantastic restaurants and bars that are hard to find. Hidden down passageways, unsigned entrances and unsuspecting doorways make it all the more fun when you arrive and are rewarded with some of the best dining experiences in Singapore. Bincho is one such restaurant that, by day is a traditional kopitiam (coffee shop) facing Moh Guan Terrace in Tiong Bahru. Serving simple Mee Pok during the day, its at night that Bincho is awoken and the venue is transformed. Its front doors shut and its cosy little Japanese Yakitori restaurant opened with only a small dimly lit back door the only entrance. Inside you’ll find a cute little bar and a truly amazing Japanese dining experience.

Bincho Teppanyaki in Singapore

Like Esquina a seat at the bar watching the head chef Asai Masash is an absolute must. The attention to detail on every dish is impressive and trying some of the more unusual menu items will reward you with surprising favours and textures you’ve not had anywhere else. The Yakitori “Shio” Platter is one such collection of chicken anatomy I’ve never had before and now remember very fondly. There’s three types of menu here with items changing often to suit the freshest ingredients at the time. You’ll leave feeling well fed, entertained, surprised and with a true appreciation of Asian fine dining. Check out their wonderful website here for more details.

where to eat in Singapore

Labyrinth

A much easier restaurant to find but no less rewarding. Unlike Europe, Asia has no qualms in locating award winning restaurants inside bustling shopping malls. Labyrinth is one such eatery offering what head chef and owner LG Han likes to call an “holistic dining experience“. In truth its part dining experience, part history lesson, part cultural education with exquisite flavours from traditional asian dishes fused with modern takes and unusual approaches in both texture and presentation. Its true to say you’ve never had a meal quite like this. I sampled the Discovery Menu, one of two fantastic set menus on offer.

Unusual restaurants in Singapore

The menus are really a narrative arc and the set menu approach is the perfect way to experience the flavours flowing from one dish to the next. Each item features two titles, its traditional asian background and its new ingredients that are wildly different from the original dish. Truly a sensory dining experience where tastes, textures and memories of traditional cuisine all collide. Quinoa, Chicken Mousselline and Clay Potatoes representing Hainanese Curry Rice. The soft-shell crab with chilli ice cream is also a surprising and delicious must! Of all the meals I’ve had in this culinary rich city this was the most surprising and ingenious. Definitely top of your list when you’re in Singapore! You’ll find Labyrinth in the Esplanade Mall just behind the theatre so its perfect for a night out in the heart of the city. Check out their website for more details.

Fantastic restaurants in Singapore

Dessert at Labyrinth is not what it appears to be.

The Market Grill

Located just a short walk from Telok Ayer MRT station, right in the heart of Singapore’s wonderful Chinatown district. There’s no shortage of dining options in this area but The Market Grill really stands out from the crowd with its eclectic menu and its attention on the freshest of seafood. Perfect for lunch, its a small eatery with more tables at the kitchen bar than anywhere else. Seating around 30 or so at peak times, this place is often packed full of happy diners with a fantastic atmosphere you can’t help but get swept up in. There’s so many good menu options here, a real highlight for me was the “Lobster Roll” with hearty chunks of the freshest Lobster sitting atop a tasty brioche roll.

The Market Grill Singapore menu

There’s also some great signature burgers here cooked to perfection. Head chef’s signature Portobello Burger was fantastic especially if you like your beef rare and juicy. I was wonderfully surprised by the Cod fish burger too which worked so well and is a lighter option if you have a busy afternoon schedule! Just be sure to leave room for the awesome Rum Banana Pocket dessert, the perfect ending to a wonderfully western meal in Singapore! Check out their full menu here.

IMG_1425

Red House

There is of course one dish that no trip to Singapore would be complete without. The famous Singapore Chilli Crab has to be experienced in all its spicy glory but there are yet more great seafood options in the Lion city. Red House is undoubtably the place to go for the best authentic Singaporean seafood in town.

Best chill grab in Singapore

The Chilli Crab is a no brainer but there’s plenty more on the menu to shout about. The Creamy Custard Sauce Lobster was divine with generously chunky and supremely fresh seafood. Check out their mouth watering menu here and be sure to book a table for dinner. Its very popular with locals and its new location at 68 Prinsep Street puts it right near Orchard road and plenty of other popular central destinations. There’s also another Red House situated at The Quayside, 60 Robertson Quay, just a short walk on from Clarke Quay which is bound to be on your itinerary at some point.

#SingaporeLive best food in Singapore

These dining options barely touch the surface of the exquisite and eclectic dining options in Singapore. In fact food is sure to play a very high role in your Singaporean travels.

A big thank you to the Singapore Tourist Board and Singapore Airlines for their support during the #SingaporeLive event. For more information on Singapore check out yoursingapore.com and to book flights head straight to singaporeair.com

SQ308 flight review

SQ308 review – Singapore Airlines SQ308 Changi to London

SQ308 flight reviewAfter a very enjoyable 2.5 months in Asia, catching up with good friends and exploring more of both Singapore and Malaysia, it was time to head back to England via London Heathrow.

Singapore Airline’s SQ308 would be our flight of choice for our return journey.

So here’s my in-depth SQ308 flight review so you know exactly what to expect when you fly with Singapore Airlines.

Why choose SQ308?

We chose this flight for a couple of reasons. Firstly its a fully daytime flight which is unusual for a 13.5 hour journey. Leaving at 9:05am and losing 7 hours on the way (as it was summer time in the UK) meant we’d be landing at around 3:30pm UK time.

It’s hard to work out which has the bigger effect on jetlag, the time difference or the hours away on a plane as I don’t sleep all that much when flying. All the other Singapore to London flights I’ve done have involved some overnight travel which usually cause more jet-lag. So it would be interesting to see if this flight would.

Secondly we chose SQ308 as its one of Singapore Airline’s Airbus A380 planes, the huge double-decker that on this flight was configured with all business-class on the upper deck. Some of their Singapore to London flights have extra economy seats upstairs so if you’re looking for more seating options, or possibly more business class seating options, check which type of A380 you’re booking on.

There’s some notable differences when flying on an A380 that, for me make it well worth hunting out.

Leaving Changi Airport

Changi AirportThere’s probably no better airport on earth than Changi. It has everything you’d expect and a whole lot more. In fact in many ways it redefines what a good airport should be like. The Check in area is quiet and very bright with high ceilings and lots of space.

Border control takes a minute if that, I’ve never seen much of a queue there, they seem to handle staff numbers very well unlike some airports I’ve flown from. There’s no security at this point which speeds things up immensely. That’s handled at each gate which makes a huge difference.

There’s no shortage of things to do once you’re in the departure lounge. Check out the free cinema, get a panoramic view of the runway and planes being serviced. Use the internet for free, enjoy the sunflower garden outside or even the wonderful butterfly sanctuary.

There’s no time to be bored here.

Boarding the A380

SQ308 A380 Singapore to LondonConsidering its size, the Singapore Airlines A380 configurations only carry a maximum of 471 people, fairly low compared to most carriers with A380s at the moment. Changi is fully equipped to handle these giants too, being the first airport and national carrier to fly the A380.

The departure gate has 2 ramps to board either the upper or main deck. So depending on your seat you’ll be directed to the entrance that will get you to your seat quickest.

Boarding time didn’t seem any longer than any other flight I’ve taken. We were soon pushing back and taxi-ing to the runway.

There was a delay of some 40 minutes before take-off due to congestion on our flight path but the surroundings were comfortable enough to relax in.

Take off

Its worth noting the take off of an A380 as its quite unlike any other plane I’ve flown on. Most planes push you back in your seat with a roar of the engines when they begin to hurtle down the runway.

This doesn’t happen with an A380 as it weighs up to 700 tonnes! There’s no feeling of acceleration at all as this process takes a little longer. Airbus also boast that the A380’s superior sound insulation reduces outside noise by 50{bec4beb4183ddc16376e6eff89836f2abe3407e857522bf84005ba0ad48d654d}.

This is most apparent when taking off as you can barely notice any difference. Take off becomes quite a relaxing experience, almost a non-event. Take off out of Changi Airport was smooth and quiet, perfect for anxious flyers.

In-Flight Entertainment

A380 Singapore Airlines in flight entertainmentAs with all major carriers these days there’s on-demand facilities showing a handful of the latest blockbusters and a decent collection of other movies, TV and music. The current entertainment offering on the Singapore Airlines A380s is an older system first introduced in 2008.

While its fully featured I’m looking forward to when the airline update their A380s in line with their new entertainment service on their Boeing 777s which definitely offer a bit more. Never-the-less the choice of movies was very impressive. Catering for both a western and Asian market.

All the latest movies including some indie movies I’d never heard of but were worth watching. They also had entire movie franchises which is something I’d not seen before.

If movies aren’t your thing there’s a decent amount of TV shows and even some live music concerts from the likes of the Rolling Stones. As this was a day flight I had no problem consuming 5 movies and a couple of episodes of an american sitcom.

The only difference with Singapore Airlines compared to some European carriers is that with Singapore you can’t start watching movies before takeoff and during landing. Something which I found enjoyable to pass the time during these parts of the flight. Hopefully this will change as more airlines allow this.

Comfortable seating

Singapore Airlines foodWe were lucky enough to have bulk-head seats during this flight which were comfortable and offered a little more leg room. I’m tall so didn’t have a chair in front of me that usually rubs against my knees.

Singapore Airlines do seem to have a level of quality in their seat upholstery that makes them more comfortable and cleaner looking too. This A380 features a cream and almost orange interior in one section.

With a light blue in another, you could describe the interior as “inoffensive”, it’s not the most exciting but it is relaxing and comfortable. The plane also features a colour changing LED lighting system which the crew can control to simulate sunset and sunrise. A wonderful way to be woken up or sent off to sleep.

Of course with this being a night flight it wasn’t really needed although for some reason I did see the lights go through sunset and sunrise modes a number of times.

There was no need for everyone to pull their window blinds down so there were patches of darker and lighter parts of the plan interior where some had and some hadn’t. Maybe this was the reason.

Conclusion

Considering the 14 or so hours we spent on the aircraft, the journey seemed to go by so easy and effortlessly. The food was great, Singapore do have some of the best inflight meals and rather than push drinks trollies around we could go up to the galley and help request any soft drinks and alcoholic drinks we wanted, along with small snacks too.

The flight crew were friendly and attentive, always willing to help with a smile, all dressed in the very unique Singapore Airlines uniform. I’ve flown long haul many times now but that was definitely the easiest flight, a combination of day time flying, comfortable surroundings and a smooth journey all the way.

Helped by the beautiful beast that is the Airbus A380. I definitely recommend flying on this aircraft if you get the chance.

Our thanks to Singapore Airlines for their hospitality on SQ308 from Singapore to London.

  • From London: Singapore Airlines offers 28 nonstop flights per week, or four times daily from Heathrow, with Airbus 380-800 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft
  • From Manchester: Singapore Airlines operates daily flights from Manchester to Singapore via Munich with Boeing 777-300ER aircraft
  • For more information visit www.singaporeair.com

Cheap hotel deals in Singapore

I’ve been searching the internet for the best hotel deals in Singapore right now. Here’s what I’ve found. I’ll keep this list updated regularly. Just click “VIEW HOTEL” to see more details about the discount deal.

What to read now

How about checking out the Best new attractions in Singapore or my pick of the Best restaurants in Singapore right now. Maybe you’re looking for things to do in Singapore on a budget. If you’re travelling with an infant check out our Singapore Airlines bassinet review.

Best cheap things to do in Singapore on a…

Most people have heard of Singapore and many of you have no doubt passed through Singapore on your way to other destinations. But Singapore has much more to offer tourists than just a place to catch a connecting flight.

Yes you really can find cheap things to do in Singapore on a budget. I’m going to show you where to go!

Read bridge Clarke Quay

Where to go in Singapore on a budgetClarke Quay is a nice but expensive place to hang out of an evening in Singapore. A great way to combine people watching with a drink but still stay on budget is to take a beer along to Read Bridge.

Sit on the edge along with many locals, socialising and people watching too. There’s a 7 Eleven shop just 30 seconds away from the bridge selling beers. A popular hang out for backpackers and a great atmosphere.

National Museum of Singapore

Visit the national museum in SingaporeAt $10 this museum is a must for any budget traveller in need of a cultural fix, it is home to 11 national treasures and has a large variety of events and exhibitions throughout the year.

The Singapore History gallery section also has free guided tours in English, Mandarin and Japanese at pre-set times everyday except public holidays.

This beautiful video does an excellent job of showing you why you should visit the museum.

Observation deck at Marina Bay Sands

At the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel the observation deck boasts a 360 degree view of Singapore. On a clear day you can see both Malaysia and part of Indonesia not to mention stunning views of the CBD and Marina Bay.

To get access you go to Tower 3 hotel lobby and purchase a ticket, currently $20, then take a very fast elevator to the top!

This ticket only gives you access to the observation deck, not the infinity pool, but you can spend as long as you like snapping away at this truly unique view of Singapore.

Check out this video for a real feel for the views from Marina Bay Sands

Southern Ridges

What to do in Singapore on a budgetThe Southern Ridges is a trail spanning 3 parks and is 9 km in length. It is a wonderful place to spend a few hours just strolling along the forest and canopy walks admiring views of Sentosa on one side and Little India and alike on the other.

The Henderson Waves bridge is a particular highlight.

At 274 metres long and 8 metres wide it’s the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore. It is based on the mathematical SIN wave and is a beautiful architectural structure.

To get to The Southern Ridges you can either get the North-East MRT line to Harbourfront followed by bus 491 up Mount Faber (costing $1) or at the other end you can come in through Kent Ridge Park using the circle line, alighting at Kent Ridge MRT.

Sentosa

What to do ion SentosaThe cheapest way to get to Sentosa is to walk across on the Sentosa Boardwalk. With the aid of travelators, a pleasant garden atmosphere and cover you can use this come rain or shine. The cost is $1 over and free on the way back and you can use an Eze link card for speed.

Once over on Sentosa you don’t have to spend a fortune. There are, of course, many forms of entertainment from riding the Luge to Universal Studios but there are also many free attractions. At 9pm each day is the crane dance and at 9.30pm there is the Lake of Dreams show.

The walk from the boardwalk to the beach takes you past Imbiah lookout and the Merlion and once at the beach you can take a rest watching people riding the waves at the Wave House Beach Bar.

This video is a handy guide to Sentosa. There’s so much to do there so its worth watching!

East Coast park

Where to go in SingaporeAt 185 hectares this is Singapore’s largest park. Built on reclaimed land with a man made beach there are numerous activities for the budget traveller.

There are cheap eats at the East Coast Hawker centre, you can watch people wakeboard on the lagoon at Ski 360°.

You can also just walk along the lengthy beachfront stopping for a picnic at one of the many BBQ pits provided.

Go for a walk around Marina Bay

What to do in Singapore on a budgetThere is a nice walking circuit around the entire Marina Bay which offers a different atmosphere depending whether you are there by day or night. In the day go down and have your picture taken by the famous spouting Merlion and stroll along the Helix bridge.

At night enjoy a drink at one of the many bars and restaurants at One Fullerton whilst watching the light show put on by the Marina Bay Sands resort.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Now more accessible due to the opening of the new circle MRT line these gardens are a must see for all visitors to Singapore. Admission is free and for that you can have a full day taking in the 3 lakes, healing gardens, rainforest and much more.

The gardens are also expanding with a new learning forest opening in 2012. The Orchid Garden is the only place where you are asked to pay an entry fee but at only $5 most budgets can stretch to this. Find out more on the Singapore Botanical Gardens website.

Watch this incredible guide to the Botanical Gardens. Definitely one of the best cheap things to do in Singapore.

Visit the Marina Barrage

The Singapore BarrageA dam stretching across the bay from Marina South to Marina East is an unusual tourist attraction but this one is a little different.

The Singapore marina barrage has many statues and water features to visit as well as the solar park and a walk across the dam itself.

You can pre book your free tour online which gives you detailed information on what a feat of engineering the dam really is. To get there you get the MRT to Marina Bay and then either the SBS bus 400 or Marina Barrage shuttle bus to the site.

Eat at Lau Pa Sat hawker centre

Lau Pa SatPopular with tourists and locals alike this hawker centre is one of the best in Singapore. It’s Victorian architecture contrasting with the mass of skyscrapers around it make it an unusual sight. Situated just 5 minutes walk from Raffles Place MRT it is a vibrant place for a cheap meal.

Try the famous Singapore Chilli Crab or grab some tasty chicken satay sticks from the street. Go on a Friday or Saturday night and listen to the live band playing in the centre of the market. Visit the Lau Pa Sat website for more details.

Nobody does a better job of showing you Lau Pa Sat than these guys! Well worth a watch.

More cheap things to do in Singapore

You’ll find awesome hawker centres all over Singapore, each with a distinctive style and history too. Check out the wonderfully named “Chomp Chomp” in Serangoon for some tasty noodles. Also the Golden Mile is great for the best Thai food in town.

What you should read next

Reasons to visit Singapore this year

We have a real soft spot for Singapore and often get asked “why visit Singapore?” well there’s so much to explore and things to do even on a tight budget.

So I’ve put together my top reasons why YOU will love Singapore too.

These are just a few to get you started, plenty more to read once you’re done! So let’s get started…

Amazing parks

Singapore really is a garden city with hundreds of parks dotted all over the city. From the moment you land you’ll notice how green it is here. Every highway has flowers and hedges all neatly manicured and you’ll see plenty of golf courses and lush vegetation all around. Its very easy to enjoy the outdoors here with some great and fairly easy walks through some of Singapore’s larger parks.

Reasons to visit Singapore

The Botanical gardens are a must and easy to get to on the subway. Mount Faber Park and the Southern Ridges near Sentosa are my favourites with picturesque walks and some great views of the city as well as the islands along the coast. The most impressive park at the moment has to be “Gardens By The Bay” a huge area of land reclaimed from the sea with man-made tree structures and bio-domes to explore too. Its an incredible place and even better to visit at night when light shows illuminate the giant tree structures, one of which includes a restaurant for some fantastic views of the entire park.

This video is well worth watching to see Gardens By The Bay

World class Casino

Right next to Gardens By The Bay is the iconic casino complex called Marina Bay Sands. Opened in 2010 this beautiful building has quickly become the new symbol of Singapore with its impressive towers and boat shaped bridge connecting all three buildings. The hotel has over 1600 rooms and probably the best shopping mall in Singapore too. T

Check out this video to see just what its like to stay at Marina Bay Sands and enjoy the roof top infinity pool!

here’s also a huge convention centre and a world class casino featuring both European and Asia games. This casino is definitely worth visiting although I recommend brushing up on your casino knowledge and skills before entering.

Why visit singapore

Marina Bay Sands is one of only 2 casinos in the city where until recently gambling was illegal. This $4.6 billion casino complex certainly put Singapore on the map and the hotel boasts the world’s highest infinity pool, definitely something you have to experience for epic views of the city centre. There’s also an observation deck for those not staying at the hotel, take your camera and be sure to take in the view while you’re up there.

Check out this truly stunning video of the Marina Bay area of Singapore, thanks to Barry Leung.

Very easy to get around (and cheap!)

With over 5 million people living and working in this tiny country, transport is key to keeping everything moving. Singapore has arguably the best transit system in the world with ultra modern subway stations and an ever increasing number of stops opening up every year. The driver-less trains are open and roomy with protective glass walls at every station protecting passengers from fast moving trains. Its very easy and quick to get right across the city with the MRT and there’s also plenty of shops and toilets at every station too. Its also ridiculously cheap with the average trip in to town costing less than 1 dollar. Grab yourself a E-Z-Link card at any station, top up with around $10 or $15 and you’ll be set for your entire trip.

This video guide will show you how to buy a ticket, find the right train and give you a glimpse at their efficiency!

There’s also a great bus and taxi service here. Unlike much of Asia, Singaporean cabs are required by law to use their meters so you’ll always know you’re paying the correct fare. Uber has just arrived in Singapore to so there’s even more ways to get around now.

Want to read more? How about the top 5 restaurants we recommend in Singapore or the 5 best things to do in Singapore right now.