Some Singaporeans says that besides dining, shopping and the movies, there’s not a lot you can do here. Ignore all these talks. The must-see list for the one-day visitor to Singapore, especially the first-timer, is very long. There is very little chance that you’ll get bored while your visit to Singapore.
We’re here to guide you to the top 5 places where tourists don’t normally go; in short, the places where Singaporeans in the know live and play.
1. Singapore Botanic Gardens- If you have arrived in Singapore and it’s early morning and nothing really opens for business until around 11 a.m., so how are you going to kill time? The most exciting idea will be to head out to the Botanic Gardens which opens at 5 a.m. to midnight. Wander through the swaths of virgin rainforest (the main boardwalk through it is entered from Upper Palm Valley Road) and then take in the National Orchid Garden’s many-colored collection of 1,000 orchid species and 2,000 hybrids. When you’re done and you are hungry you can dive into the food court near Tanglin Gate for a traditional local breakfast of soft-boiled eggs, coffee and toast slathered with coconut jam.
2. Artwork at the Ritz-Carlton- Ritz-Carlton is not an ordinary hotel it is considered as one of the Southeast Asia’s finest (and under the radar) collections of modern and contemporary art. There is a massive three-ton Frank Stella installation at the entrance and the pair of Dale Chihuly crystal glass sculptures that holds both wings of the building. The majority of the pieces were specially commissioned for the public spaces and guest suites. All the great sculptures present over here are free to view, and you even get an iPod-guided tour.
3. Chinatown Heritage Centre- If you do only one cultural thing during your 24-hour Singapore layover, it must be a tour of the unheralded Chinatown Heritage Centre, where entire sets of bedrooms, kitchens and street scenes from the late-19th century and early-20th century have been faithfully recreated. It’s an authentic slice of Singapore’s history that’s made all the more fascinating by the gleaming skyscrapers just a few blocks away. And if you must, pick up a kitschy souvenir from the gift shop on your way out.
4. Electronics for Cheap- Tokyo may have the latest in electronic gadgets, but Singapore has the widest range, and luckily for the time-pressed shopper, they’re all clustered in two massive multistory emporia. Handicams, portable DVD players, mobile phones, hi-tech cameras, MP3 players and laptops in just about every imaginable configuration are up for grabs at Funan Digitalife Mall and Sim Lim Square. The prices are usually about 10% to 20% cheaper than at other commercial outlets.
5. The Singapore Flyer- The 165-meter-high Flyer is Singapore’s answer to the London Eye. For the moment, it is the world’s largest observation wheel. Despite much fanfare and hype, the locals have never really taken to the Flyer, grousing that it’s too far from anywhere and S$29.50 is a lot of money to pay for a 30-minute ride. The best time to hitch a ride is at dusk when the entire row of downtown skyscrapers is softly lit. Back on the ground, head for a dinner of chili crabs at Seafood Paradise.