I promised my wife that as long as the kids are small, we shall narrow our travels down to Europe and leave other places for later. The agreement was to last until the kids reach the age of five. As in 2019 Bernard was to be five in August, it was high time to go beyond the European continent. And what better place is there to start exploring other continents than Singapore?
Singapore is an air hub located halfway between Europe and Australia and a sea hub halfway between China and Europe. It is also a gateway to South-East Asia. This strategic location has benefited Singapore throughout the centuries. It has also been the reason why our South-East Asia trip started and ended there.
We flew to Singapore with Polish Airlines LOT. Honestly speaking we did not expect that the most convenient and cheapest connection between Brussels and Singapore would be via Warsaw and with LOT, but we thought it would be a good idea for the kids to fly with Polish on board.
We landed on Changi Airport and were eager to discover the best airport in the world. First impressions were good – all the elements of the arrival procedure went smooth and even though the airport was huge, orientation around it was fairly easy. On the way back, we had way more time to see it and we will discribe it more in another post.
Our first tour
We opted for a public bus to drive us to our hotel and we can certainly recommend you this way of seeing Singapore. Our first impressions were that the city is very green and well mantained. Singapore is also a huge construction site, as new structures are being built nearly everywhere. Although at first the views of the city seemed ordinary, they became more and more spectacular as we approached the city center.
We could see the iconic Marina Bay and the Gardens by the Bay for the first time. Our bus advanced towards the famous Orchard Road passing next to numerous shopping malls and plazas. A paradise for any shopaholic.
We were lucky enough to find a hotel just next to Orchard Road. Hotel Grand Central was not only conveniently located, bus also had decent prices and quite spacious family rooms (for Singapore standards of course). We opted for a stay without breakfast and it proved to be a great option, as there were ample food opportunities within walking distance.
Singapore is one of the worlds capital of street food. We wrote a special post dedicated to it, as Malaysian and Singaporian cuisine share a lot of similarities. We loved discovering the street food in hawker centers of Singapore. The simplicity and rapidity of preparing a lovely dish out of simple ingredients was something I will always remember from this trip.
On Orchard Road, just next to our hotel, there was a hawker center. It was a rather small place, but it had all the basic vendors one might need. It was here that I tried my first laksa and teh tarik and the kids their first satays, which they loved. The prices were reasonable even though it was on the most expensive street in Singapore!
Orchard Road is the main street of Singapore. It is full of shopping malls where you can shop till you drop. It has also bysections where the original colonial architecture has been preserved. We strongly recommend you to visit this pictoresque small heavens of tranquility in the bustling city.
Gardens by the Bay
A trip to Singapore is never complete without visiting the iconic Gardens by the Bay. They have become the emblem of modern Singapore and every tourist and every instagrammer has to have a picture with the huge tree monuments as background. We had to be there too.
While travelling we really like to see various parks and gardens. We were impressed to see how innovative and futuristic Gardens by the Bay were.
Apart from the obvious tree monuments, the greenery is even better inside the domes. Gardens by the Bay encompasses two huge glass domes, which host two indoor gardens – the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. You can read about them in a special post which we are working on.
Another highlight of the trip to Singapore is its Zoo. Many cities have zoos, but Singapore’s Zoo is famous for its night safari. Even though we were already tired after a long day and still jetlagged, we took the metro and the bus to go to the opposite side of the city to see this unique event.
Even though it was after 10 PM, the zoo was crowded and we had to stand in a long queue to get into the trains. The queue moved quite quickly and after roughly half an hour we were sitting comfortably in our zoo car.
Another highlight of the trip to Singapore is its Zoo. Many cities have zoos, but Singapore’s Zoo is famous for its night safari.
The ride through the zoo was an interesting adventure and our kids loved discovering the various animals. I must however admit that it left me a bit underwhelmed. Maybe because I have already seen night safaris in Africa, where you can see wild animals roaming free, maybe because the zoo was overcrowded, maybe because it was overpromoted in my opinion. If you have been there and have a different opinion – I’d love to hear it. Please don’t hesitate to leave your comment below the post.
Singapore is also a great place for leisure. In fact they have a whole island dedicated to it. It’s called Sentosa Island and has so many attractions, that it takes a few days to see them all.
As we had a whole day dedicated to Sentosa, but only one – we had to make a selection. Our choice went for the Aquarium, which is one of the biggest in the world and the Maritime Explorers Museum, which is often overlooked by tourists. We left the Universal Studios and other attractions for a different visit.
The Aquarium is very popular. You have to expect a long queue. But once you are finally in, the crowds scatter around the vast surface and you do not feel overwhelmed by people.
The abundance of sealife is stunning. I cannot count how many times I have said “wow” in this unique place. And how much our kids have learned about various creatures living in the Oceans around the planet.
The Maritime Experimental Museum
After a rather crowded aquarium, we went next door to a museum which is way less visited. The Maritime Experimental Museum shows in a very interactive and children-friendly way the discoveries and travels of four famous explorers – Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Zheng He and Sang Nila Utama. We will write more about this museum in a seperate post, cause it’s certainly worth it.
We need to go further, we need to come again
Singapore has so much to offer, that one visit is never enough. We were lucky to have two visits and during the second one we could see a number of places we could not fit into our first one. The second visit is certainly worth another post on our blog and it will come soon.
As for the end of our first Singapore tour, we took a bus and drove to Malaysia, where we started by visiting the iconic town of Malacca. But that’s the beginning of another story…
We sincerely recommend you to visit Singapore. It is a unique blend of Asian and European culture, tradition and modernity. It has great food and great shopping opportunities. Top it with several tourist attractions, museums and attraction parks. And last but not least – the best airport in the world. Hop on and enjoy!