I recently visited Singapore for the first time, and was excited to see what the city I had heard so much about would be like. As much as I love relaxing on a beach or in a quiet countryside setting, I am very much a city girl. I love visiting busy bustling places like New York and London.
However, rather ironically, I do have a bit of an issue with crowds - I know, difficult to avoid in cities. I just find I get anxious if a place is too busy. Which is why I was more than a little nervous when I realised we were visiting Singapore in their Super Peak Tourist Season, over the Lunar New Year.
Singapore Super Peak Tourist Season
I needn't have worried - considering this was supposedly the city at it's busiest, it was possibly the least crowded city experience I've ever had.
I think it's in part due to Singapore being so new - it's grown from nothing in 50 years, and apparently even in the last decade has transformed massively. The whole city is very modern and well planned - the pavements are wide and clean, and the shopping malls and MRT tunnels are very spacious. The public transport was world's apart from the grubby crowded corridors of the London Underground! , with lots of buildings linked by underground tunnels, and everything looks very modern and often luxurious.
Here's an overview of what we got up to over our 72 hours in Singapore, I hope it gives you an idea of what to do in Singapore!
Orchard Road & Somerset Road
Singapore is shopping heaven - Orchard and Somerset Road were the coolest areas we visited - the shopping malls are huge, modern and most importantly air conditioned, making a pleasant break from the city's humidity. The only time the malls were noticeably crowded or busy were in the food courts, and even then we didn't struggle to find a table.
Clarke Quay was a really nice riverside area - there's a shopping mall and lots of bars and restaurants to eat and drink - it was very quiet in the day but we've heard the area really comes alive at night. We took a RiverB boat ride from outside Clarke Quay Central which took us along the river past several points of interest, including the Marina Bay Merlion and of course Marina Bay Sands.
This was probably one of the most bustling areas we visited - the old streets are are bit narrower and packed with people. Even so, we could walk down the street quite comfortably. Be sure to visit the Buddha Tooth Temple - a Chinese temple said to be the resting place of...well...Buddha's tooth. The inside is full of mini Buddha statues and offerings. You should have shoulders and knees covered to come into the temple but don't worry, they do give out scarves to cover yourself appropriately.
We visited this on a recommendation - it's alongside some other zoos - Singapore Zoo, River Safari and Jurong Bird Park - it's unique in that it's only open in the evening, so you see all sorts of nocturnal animals. We went around on a tram ride that showed you the main exhibits and afterwards went around on foot to see some other animals and small exhibits. It's a really nice way to spend an evening and something very different. There were a lot of crowds but once you were walking round the paths it was very quiet.
Marina Bay Sands
This iconic hotel is made up of three towers with what looks like a ship perched on top of it - it's home to a huge shopping mall and the world's largest rooftop infinity pool. Sadly the pool is only open to people staying in the hotel, however for S$23 (£13) you can take a trip up to the Skypark at the top of Marina Bay Sands to see the view over the city. I was surprised that considering it's one of the most iconic, and I would have assumed in demand, attractions, we didn't have to queue for tickets. At all. Seriously. Straight to the desk and then straight up the tower.
Gardens by the Bay
We saved this for our last night as it was the thing I was looking forward to the most - it's been on my bucket list for a long time! It's a vast garden area full of lush trees and flowers, as well as water pieces like the Dragonfly Lake. There are also two huge greenhouses, the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. My favourite of the two was the Cloud Forest, an indoor rainforest including a huge indoor waterfall. The most famous sight, however, is the famous Supertree Grove. Towering over the crowd they look like a cross between a water tower and something out of Avatar, especially when they light up at nighttime. Stick around in the evening to see the light show - it's beautiful! This is where we saw the biggest crowds of our visit - everyone sits on the grass and on benches around the trees to see the spectacle in the evening. Make sure you have your MRT tickets to get back to your hotel before you go - we didn't and faced huge queues to get to the MRT ticket machines - we actually gave up and got an Uber back to our hotel!
This trip to Singapore was definitely the highlight of our trip to Southeast Asia, and I'll certainly be returning in the future. There's so much more to see and do in the city - we never got to go over to Sentosa Island for example, which is suppose to be a lot of fun. Don't be put off by visiting in Super Peak Tourist Season - the crowds are nothing to be concerned about!
A version of this article orginally appeared on www.glutenfreehorizons.com
Contributed by Francesca Wellman
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