Thursday, 24 March 2011

Singapore City Guide?

Its years since I was in Singapore, and its got bigger! The Marina Bay area is all new.

Prior to my visit I purchased the 2009 Singapore City Guide by Lonely Planet. Unfortunately, I have to report that this book was of little use. I found it hard to use, the maps small and difficult to read and feel that the book was a waste of money, I do not recommend that you get it. Rather, find a Singapore Visitors Centre, Look for the large ‘’ logo. They are located all over the city, starting at Changi Airport, Bugis Street, Orchard Road and ION Orchard (opposite Traders Hotel), the information they provide is all that is needed, and its free. The brochures and maps provided by The Singapore Visitors Centre are of very high quality and easy to use.

The public bus and MRT system in Singapore are world class and very easy to use, but being in full tourist mode, I got a 3 day pass on the ‘Citysightseeing’ (also called Hippo) hop on hop off bus tour. This is also referred to as ‘The Singapore Sightseeing Pass’. This cost $63.00 for 3 days, prices start at $ 23 for the one day pass. It included the use of all three bus routes that wiz round the city, covering all the major sites, plus a boat trip on Clarke Quay and the Duck trip that does a tour of both land and water. The Singapore Flyer, River Taxi, A trip to Sentosa, Various Museums, Orchid Garden and well as walking tours are included. The tour buses operate from 10am to 10 pm.

We went round the red, Heritage Route, the yellow Circle Route and the Original Route to get our bearings and work out what landmarks we wanted to hop off to see. Then, after taking in the sights and smells of Little India, and got off at the Singapore Flyer.

The Singapore Flyer is the world largest giant observation wheel, it is in the area called Marina Bay. It rises to a height of 165m at a very leisurely pace, you can’t feel it moving. It gives you a bird’s eye view of the city. It is open day and night. The Flyer is located on the Formula 1 Circuit, next to the Formula 1 Pit Buliding. It costs $29.50, but it was part of our package with Hippo. It was worth the ride, but take care who gets in your 28 seater pod we were cooped up with a screaming child for our revolution of 30 minutes!

Next we crossed the fascinating Helix Bridge, walked passed the Float @Marina Bay; the worlds largest floating stage and headed for Singapore City’s latest attraction, Marina Bay Sands complex. This new complex is in the Marina Bay Area. This massive complex has a Casino, A 2,561-room Hotel, The hotel is three 55 story towers. A Convention-exhibition centre. There is a large Shopping Mall, an Art and Science Museum, Theatres. But best of all, the complex is topped by a 340m-long SkyPark, or The Sands Sky Park as it is known. This is 200 meters in the sky, the gardens are landscaped and have a 150m infinity swimming pool, this is the world’s largest elevated swimming pool. It looked really very scary and I don’t think I would like to be in it! It cost $ 20.00 to get up to the Sky Garden.

In the shopping centre there is a skating rink, nothing odd about that! The difference is that this rink is not ice, it is a synthetic surface. I did not have a go, but the skaters who were on the ice appeared to be falling over a lot, the surface looked very slippy, at least you don’t get wet and cold when you fall over!

Having tired of watching skaters attempt to skate, we made our way to Clarke Quay to get the river boat. Clark Quay was an odd mix of painted shophouses and strange large plastic umbrellas. Along the river bank there are many restaurants and bars, as well as a G Max Reverse Bungee, shooting victims up into the air at high speed.

I had tickets for the Singapore Night Safari, this is advertised as "the world's first wildlife park built for visits at night". It is open daily from 7:30pm to midnight. It is basically a Zoo that's open at night.
The first stop was at ‘The Creatures of the Night Show’. This show lasts 30 minutes and has Otters, Racoon's, a Wolf, a Hyena as well as a few other night creatures. It takes place at 07.30pm, 8.30pm or 9.30pm.
Then it was on to The Night Safari Tram, this was a large, electrical tram that took us to the animals with minimal effort. The tram has a guide in front narrating the various exhibits.
If you have any time or energy left you can undertake a Walking trails. there are three walking trails ;the Leopard Trail, the Fishing Cat Trail and the Forest Giants Trail. As we left the park the Thumbuakar Performance was in full swing. This was an incredible show, with the art of fire-eating taken to a new height. The performers were turning themselves into human torches. This show was my favourite part of the evening andwhilst I did enjoy the Zoo at Night, and I had nothing else planned for that evening, I don’t really think I would rate it as a No 1 attraction in Singapore.