Sarah Ivens, resident Jaunt Magazine Contributor and the founding Editor-in-Chief of OK! Magazine in the United States, rounds out her Eastern exploits with two more treats in a series on Singapore and Bali.
Singapore is the kind of place that’s seen as a get in and get out joint, the link between East and West, Asia and Australia. But it’s changing. It now rivals Hong Kong and Tokyo as the sleekest of dining and dancing destinations, with enough culture to keep you busy during the day too.
If you’re only passing through on a stopover, don’t fret. At least you’re getting a sampler of this dynamic metropolis… enough to whet your appetite for a longer stay.
So how should you spend 24 hours in Singapore? First rule: stay at the Shangri-La. It’s perfectly placed for the colonial district and the Marina (and a quick trip from the airport and train station). The delightful team there will have everything planned so by the time you unpack, you will feel relaxed, revived and ready for action. If you can push the boat out, stay in the Valley Wing of the hotel. Not only will you be dazzled by the breathtaking chandeliers and local art, the constant flow of champagne and attention to your needs will charm the weariest of travelers.
First stop once you step out of the air conditioning should be the Singapore Flyer, South East Asia’s answer to The London Eye – only bigger. From here you can check out the layout of the city and plan your routes. On a clear day, you can see Indonesia but even on a bad day you’ll be able to see the Singapore Grand Prix track that snakes around the city and the party island of Sentosa.
Next, get walking. From the Singapore Flyer it’s a 10 minute walk along the river front to the iconic symbol of the city, the Mer Lion – half fish, half lion, the gigantic water feature represents Singapore’s strong position as a port and is perfect for photo opps. From there, walk to the old Cricket Club. The pitch sits in the middle of skyscrapers and a Sir Norman Foster spaceship building, a clash of old England meets new powers. It’s another great place to pose for pictures and really sums up the balance Singapore still strikes today. All this posing is hot work of course, so from here head down Beech Road to the legendary Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling – the cocktail was invented here, and the place played home for many a famous writer (Somerset Maughn is rumored to haunt the Billiard Room). Sit down and sip, chuck your monkey nut shells on the floor (its tradition!) and mingle with the ex-pats. By now, you’ve have worked up an appetite. Newton Circus is the most bountiful Hawker Marker in Singapore and will have something to suit your appetite whatever your mood. Hawker Markers are old Singaporean favorites, stalls or little shops nestle up against each other in competition and the winner is the hungry visitor: cheap prices, quick service and lots of options. Expect a hearty meal of curry or noodles for as little as $3.
If you still have the energy, head to Little Indian for a gawp at all the busy people and colorful stalls. If you don’t, head back to the Shangri-La for a cooling fruit juice by the garden-situated swimming pool.
One of the best things about Singapore is Changi Airport. It’s constantly voted the best airport in the world, and it’s the only one that I wouldn’t mind being delayed in. There is 24 hour dining and shopping, free wifi, a cinema and free Xbox stations. One thing you must try thought is Dr Fish Therapy.
Plunge your feet into aquariums and wait for the 500 or so little swimmers to nibble on your dry skin. Not only do you come out with pedicured feet but the tickling sensation is relaxing and improves your circulation. Ask for offers if it’s not busy (I tried my look and got 30 minutes for the price of 10!)
You will fall in love with Singapore, I warn you. It’s a powerful place and even 24 hours will get you hooked and wanting more.