A couple of weeks ago I returned from my first trip abroad since Covid. I went to Singapore, which I’ve been to before with a couple of friends about 20 years ago, but this time I went alone. Going back has been on my list for a couple of years, but what with other holidays and obviously covid it’s had to wait. The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and The Gardens by the Bay are both new since my last visit, and I really wanted to see them. There were also some museums I wanted to visit. So, I waited for restrictions (ie you don’t need to test before you travel there) to ease, which was quite slow in Singapore compared to Europe, and eventually felt happy to book some flights and plan my trip.
My first day was hot and humid and sunny, probably the hottest and definitely the sunniest day of my trip – 31° Celsius, and very very humid. It was almost too hot for anything. But, it didn’t stop me as I had plans to see the big trees in The Gardens by the Bay.
Before that, I had to eat! Using Google I found a cafe near the hotel which had great reviews for breakfast, so I decided to go there. To get there I walked along the river, which gave me a chance to take in some local views. Breakfast was fab, definitely worth the effort in the heat.
After breakfast, I headed to The Gardens by the Bay from my hotel on the subway, which was so easy to use – you just tap in/out at the barriers like you do in London. It’s also nicely air conditioned on the subway, so it was a welcome break from the heat. It was interesting to see how many people were wearing masks, which are still required on the subway in Singapore – everyone had one on. In the U.K., people were allowed to not wear a mask if they had certain medical conditions – you could get an exception lanyard to wear round your neck. Add in the number of people who felt they just didn’t need one, or just didn’t like them, and didn’t wear them properly, even at the peaks of covid a significant minority of people were unmasked. Not in Singapore on the subway – every single person was wearing a mask properly. Anyway, I digress.
The Gardens by the Bay are free to enter, and has lots of different areas/attractions you can visit. Some are outdoor and free, others are inside and need tickets to visit. When I arrived at The Garden by the Bay, the first place I went to The Dragonfly Lake, mostly because it was the first thing I saw. This was a pleasant walk around a lake, mostly on a boardwalk, with trees casting shade at times. The point of the lake is that’s home to some dragonflies so you’re meant to keep your eyes peeled to spot them – I think I saw a few. There are also some big sculptures of dragonflies in the lake. I also got my first sightings of the big trees which was exciting. The other attraction of the lake is that it was actually quite quiet, there weren’t many other people walking round it. At one point I headed into a more built up area, looking for a drink, but it was actually quite busy which for some reason felt a bit overwhelming so I actually headed back to the lake for some peace and quiet.
While I was wandering around looking for a drink, I also went into a couple of other areas – a couple of Heritage Gardens – The Indian Garden and The Chinese Garden, which are all about the history of various cultures and plants.
The main attraction for me though was The Supertree Grove – ie the big trees. You can actually see them from most places in the gardens, as they are so tall, and they stand above the other attractions. They are impressive, and definitely worth the holiday. They’re obviously not real trees, they’re actually big metal towers which fan out at the top, and are covered in real plants. There are a number of ways to see them. The first is probably the easiest – just look up and there they are, either above the skyline wherever you are, or in the Supertree Grove. The other 2 ways are very similar – there is a skyway walkway, which is high up off the ground, linking the trees which you can pay to walk along, or you can go up to the observation deck on one of the trees, which again you pay for. I did both the skyway and the observation deck.
Before that though I had a good wander around the grove, just appreciating being there, and seeing them up close on the ground, which gives you a chance to see the plants that are growing in the metal towers.
Then it was time to go up the Skyway. This was a good way to see them, as you are up at the top of the trees looking down. It is pretty incredible up there, walking between them like that. It was thankfully fairly quiet up there, so it was easy to get some decent photos, and just take it all in without people disturbing you, or getting in your way. The views are amazing.
After that, I headed back to the hotel to have dinner. I decided to go to a hawker centre to have some street food. Hawker centres are purpose built centres with lots of stalls selling street food, with proper seating areas. They’re incredibly popular with the local community, and a great way for tourists to get some cheap, but very tasty street food. The one I went to Tiong Bahru, which was about 10 minutes on the subway and then a 10 minute walk from my hotel. I had beef with noodles, and then some freshly made orange and passion fruit juice. Delicious!
It was then time to return to The Gardens by the Bay. I had a ticket to go up the Supertree Observation Deck, which I wanted to do as dusk was falling to see the lights coming on. The skyline was stunning, as city skylines often are when sun goes down and the lights come on. The Marina Bay Sands Hotel looked especially impressive.
Then came the highlight; the nightly light show. The Supertrees are covered in lights, which change colour and are capable of an impressive show, which is set to music, mostly 70’s disco – think Beegees, ABBA, the Grease soundtrack. It was fab!! A great end to the day.