*Travel Period: April 2014
Singapore is an expensive country to visit. But you know, with sufficient planning and research, it can be an amazing destination even for backpackers or budget travelers (myself included).
Why travel to Singapore
Singapore is a modern city with efficient public transport system (airport, MRT, bus). It’s a small country but has so much to offer to tourists with its spectacular architectures, iconic and unique building designs, beautiful night scenery, numerous green parks and theme parks for fun and leisure. Traveling is also convenient especially as it has an English-speaking population and with the safety and cleanliness of the streets.
Walking tour from the Helix Bridge to Esplanade to Merlion Park to Cavenagh Bridge to Boat Quay
Our starting point for this AM walking tour was at the Bayfront MRT Stn or CE1 (point marked as the blue star) and we walked all the way to the Merlion Park (point marked at the black star) as shown in this map (map taken from streetdirectory.com):
Here are the places of interest: The Helix Bridge – The bridge connects the marina bay area and the colorful Marina Bay Seating Gallery going to the Esplanade -Theatres on the bay
(view of the MBS and ArtScience Museum, from the Seating Gallery)
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay – I mentioned about how iconic and unique are the designs of the buildings in Singapore and the Esplanade is one them. The building construction is just amazing, reminds you of the durian (fruit).
The Merlion Park – one of the major landmarks of Singapore where you will find the statue of the mythical Merlion, which is the country’s national icon.
(view from the bridge going to the Merlion Park)
Cavenagh Bridge – a suspension bridge and one of the oldest in Singapore
Bubble Jet River Cruise
In the afternoon, we walked from Clark Quay to Liang Court to take the Bubble Jet River Cruise.
The Bubble Jet river cruise took us from Liang Court to Marina Barrage, which was our entry point to the Gardens by The Bay.
(view of the Merlion Park from the boat)
Walking Tour of the Gardens by the Bay
From Marina Barrage area we walked until reaching the main Domes: Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. Entrance to the domes will cost you SGD28 (price for tourists/foreigners, which is inclusive for entering both domes).
The Flower Dome – this is a huge garden area. The landscaping is just average for me, that is, compared to the picturesque gardens of Japan that I have visited. The “tulip mania” which I originally went there for was nice, but there were not much tulips to see (well, if you’ve also been to a field of tulips before, you’ll know what I mean). Although you can really enjoy a comfortable leisure walk inside since it is an enclosed cooled facility.
(view of the garden, from the top floor)
Cloud Forest – What I appreciated more was the Cloud Forest as it would immediately surprise you with a man-made falls at the main entrance. There is an elevator facility to take you all the way up the dome and have a closer look at the falls and view of the area from above.
(the man-made falls)
Supertree Groves – From the Cloud Forest, we explored the open garden (no more entrance fees) heading to the Meadow to see the white sculpture of the floating infant. Then we walked back and waited for the sunset until the trees of the Supertree Groves were lit and enjoyed the beautiful view.
(Supertree Groves lit at night)
Light and Water Show
From the Supertree Groves, we headed to the dragon fly bridge to reach the Marina Bay Sands in time for the free Light and Water Show (show starts at 8PM).
(Light and Water Show at MBS and the crowd watching)
The Helix Bridge and Merlion Park at night After the show, we again passed by the Helix Bridge and walked until the Merlion Park, both of which were beautifully lit at night.
(The Helix Bridge at night)
(The Merlion Park at night, and yeah, it’s still crowded)
Walking tour of the Singapore Botanic Gardens
This is a huge park, no entrance fee (except for the National Orchid Garden, which is also inside the vicinity of the park), and recommended for a healthy morning walk. Inside the park you come across people who are there for a morning jog or senior people doing exercises (maybe taichi and stuff). It’s beautiful and well-kept and recommended for nature lovers (like me). National Orchid Garden – It’s a long walk from the Botanic Gardens MRT Station to reach the National Orchid Garden, which took us around 20-30 mins (of leisure walk), so best be in your comfortable walking/running shoes. The whole experience of walking to reach the orchid garden though was very enjoyable, refreshing and relaxing especially in the early morning. Inside, there is a main area where you will see the collective display of orchid varieties, which was amazing. The landscaping around the garden has been carefully designed for any visitors to enjoy a peaceful and leisure walk while marveling at the natural beauty of the surroundings, and there are a lot of opportunities for picture taking. Apart from this, there are other lovely facilities inside, such as a small cooled and isolated garden house, where you can have brief break from the heat. We also enjoyed the VIP orchid garden area where you see a huge old-looking house and other exotic collections of orchids and flowers. Around this area, there are drinking fountains (with cold water) and toilets and is also good spot for resting after much walking inside. Entrance to the Orchid Garden will cost you SGD5.
(beautiful flower arch)
On our way back, we had our lunch at the food court located next to the Raffles Building, at the foot of Healing Garden, which is still inside the vicinity of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The food there was great, lots of choices and budget friendly.
(food court at the Singapore Botanic Gardens)
(Chicken Rice — our standard budget meal in Singapore)
Walking tour of Sentosa
You can reach the Sentosa Island by taking the MRT to the HarbourFront Stn or NE1/CC29. From the MRT station, there are 2 cheaper options to enter Sentosa (the more expensive one is taking a cable car): (a) you can walk for 30-45 mins via the Sentosa Boardwalk Island (entrance fee is SGD1); or (b) you can take the Sentosa Express (train fee is SGD4). Since it was too hot to walk at that time, we chose option b and boarded the Sentosa Express.
Note: The SGD4 train fare of the Sentosa Express is only paid once, as entrance to the Sentosa Island. Once you’re inside the island, you can ride the Sentosa express all you want, free of charge, no checking of train tickets inside. Plus, you can have a free ride of the Sentosa express for returning back to the MRT Stn where you came from. There are so many fun attractions inside, but we skipped those with entrance fees (like for instance, we’ve been to the Universal Studios before) and since we had limited time. My recommendation is to hop on the Sentosa Express and get off at each station and explore each island section/area. Also, it’s nice to hang out at the beach 🙂
(Welcome to Sentosa)
(the iconic symbol of Universal Studios)