Firstly, let me start with a little bit of background as to how this trip came about. After Argentina in June, Jordan and I wanted to seriously start saving to get a Europe trip under our belt… however, upon winning tickets that included a stop over in Canberra, how could we not?
I won two return tickets with Singapore Airlines, Visit Canberra and Visit Singapore at a product launch promoting the new Wellington to the World service. That, along side my colleague also winning two tickets and again, an irresistible agent rate, the five of us (Jordy, myself, Aiden, Anisha and Michael, Aiden’s husband) were locked in for a trip to Singapore in October 2016.
Like Argentina, this trip was only around a week long, so I will try to keep the waffling to a minimal… the key word being try!
It was only Jordy and myself who had the three nights in Canberra so why don’t we start there? Canberra as a whole is very small and very quiet. Being the country’s capital, majority of it’s sights have “National” in the title. The public transport is also not the best, so we were using cabs or Uber a lot which costs around the same price as New Zealand. If you are planning on staying a while I would think about hiring a car if you want to do some exploring 🙂
The Australian Institute of Sport or better know as the AIS is a great place to visit if you yourself or you have kids have interests in particular sports. A lot of Australian Olympic Athletes live and train here. The lovely girl that took us on our tour actually trained there herself, which was great because not being that into sports myself, the passion she had describing each area and its facilities kept me engaged and open minded. Before the tours you are also given a half hour to spend in the “Sportex” which is sort of a more professional version of an arcade and definitely brings out your inner child! Here, you are able to “train like an athlete” by scoring goals, shooting hoops and even seeing how long you can hold a pull up!
We walked from the CBD to The National Museum of Australia which was a nice 30min or so walk around the lake. The NMA had an awesome exhibition running while we were there which was “The History of the World in 100 Objects” which had many objects (some very very old) all the way from the British Museum (and all over the world) that documented the first signs of man all the way through to the first computers. You can get some great deals at the museum that include a glass of wine, a meal and entry into the exhibit – which we did. If you like history and museums in general, this is a great one to visit.
The National Zoo of Australia is also a nice day out. One thing that was astonishing to me was that for 10AUD after the White Lion talk we were actually able to go and feed a one through the back ends of the zoo! You can do this after many of the animal talks that are scattered throughout the day.
Finally a couple of small “must do’s” that we ticked off the list were to get a Freak Shake at Patissez Cafe and have a coffee at The Cupping Room. Canberra is proudly the home to the 2015 World Barista Champion, Sasa Sestic, as well as the recently crowned 2016 Australian Barista Champion, Hugh Kelly. They can be found making great coffee at the Cupping Room, ONA Coffee House or ONA on the Lawns.
We met the others around 11pm at Canberra international Airport, where they were in transit and joined forces for our final destination… SINGAPORE! Our first night was at the Quincy Hotel which was a very short walk from Orchard Road and free happy hour cocktails for a couple of hours in the evening! It was also the first time I used my waterproof phone under water…
I always like to do a Hop on Hop off bus where possible and early on. These are a great way to catch your bearings (even though I have a shocking sense of direction and map reading skills) and you get a little bit of history and background of the city too. We got to see all the little suburbs and decided to stop off in Little India and China Town where you can find little trinkets and market stalls.
Sentosa Island is where we spent one of our days. We took the MRT System to the Harbour Front, switched to the Monorail over to Sentosa and then took the Cable Car back to the City. There is so much to do over there, but we simply spent some time at Universal Studios and decided to check out Siloso Beach. Sentosa Island is awesome for families and as you will see from the photos below, for adults who are children on the inside too 🙂 May I also just mention the replica Merlion on Sentosa is much bigger than the famous one in the city!
The Singapore Flyer, like the London eye is a great way to get views of Marina Bay and all of Singapore (and it is air conditioned!).
Marina Bay is where you will find the famous Merilion which is Singapore’s mascot I suppose? You will find this half lion half fish on many souvenirs and a lot of Singapore’s marketing. You will also see the iconic Marina Bay Sands, the hotel/casino/resort, known for its cruise-ship-like 57th floor, where you will find an infinity pool and bar overlooking the city.
The infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands is only open to it’s guests and with good reason – for $700 or so a night I would not want the public having access in either! You can however, access the top floor at a cost…
Here is a little insiders tip for you; if you head up to ‘Celavi’ on the 57th floor which is the bar next door to the infinity pool, there is no door charge, you simply must buy a drink! To drink in Singapore is quite pricey anyway so expect to pay a little more, especially up here.
At 8pm there is also a free light show you can do from the harbour. In the above pictures you can see the light show from the 57th floor – though you cannot hear much and below is a view of the show from below looking up at Marina Bay Sands, featuring two babes:
Speaking of light shows, Gardens by the Bay also have one that starts at 7.45pm. We did not stay to see it, but we did get some great photos in the evening. I will let the pictures do the talking for this ‘must do’:
Public transport is a dream in Singapore. The MRT system is cheap, fast and easy to use – it is also air-conditioned, organised and clean! If you cannot already walk there (sometimes short distances feel like a lot more in the heat), cabs are ridiculously cheap and Uber drivers are great too. One thing to remember when catching a cab is that between 6pm – 12am it is 25% extra and in the early hours of the morning it is 50% on top of the meter.
In terms of local food we did visit Boon Tat Street. This is where you will find Singapore’s “Best Satay”. The street food area is almost set out like a market place full of plastic tables and chairs with people trying to get you to sit and buy from their menus. You might get paid a visit from the beer lady too, who wanders around serving pints!
One evening Jordy and I ticked another food off of our list which was Singapore’s famous ‘chicken rice’, which I was surprised to find was literally chicken and rice. Visit Boon Tong Kee for Chicken Rice and make sure you order the poached instead the roast chicken to get the authentic local meal!
One thing we missed was Chilli Crab which apparently is more of a restaurant dish.
One of Jordy’s bucket list ticks was to check out the Singapore Turf Club which was really nice and a fun night out at the races – they are every Friday and Sunday night. We were lucky enough to get some tickets to the Owner’s Lounge!
We also visited the Art Science Museum which was a personal highlight of mine due to the exhibit that was running: Future World. It was a really interactive activity from blending into the walls, to watching your own colourings come to life and finally, to walk through the stars! (which is the only thing I can describe it as) The last part of the exhibit was a walk through an alleyway of fairy lights and mirrors that totally blew my mind. We actually found ourselves sitting from the outside of it just staring in awe!
One of the other little areas we checked out was Haji Lane in Kampong Glam which is I suppose the hipster part of town. Here you will find awesome murals, wall art, coffee, food and neat little boutique shops. All of Singapore’s shopping in the city is a much of a muchness, the same brands and giant big malls you get lost it (don’t get me wrong – if you like shopping you will enjoy these giant air conditioned mazes); people come to Haji Lane to find something different, unique and potentially even one of a kind! Think Melbourne’s street art mixed with Cuba Street’s boutique shopping in Wellington.
We stayed our final nights at the Park Hotel (upgraded to the Club Floor), our adventure coming to an end at the pool…
Singapore is a beautiful, safe and clean city, with a variety of things to do for a variety of people: solo travellers, families, couples, friends – you name it. English is widely spoken, there is air-conditioning and wifi everywhere. Unlike other countries in Asia, I would not call Singapore a “cheap” destination, it is similar to home and is close to dollar for dollar. That said, if you want a chic metropolitan get away for one night or even seven where the people are friendly, it is easy to get around and you can do as little or as much as you’d like – Singapore is your go to!
Thank you Singapore, we will be back and thank you for reading all the way to the bottom. Let me know if you have been to Singapore and if you think there is something I should see next time!
Talk soon 🙂