From its early beginnings under the auspices of Thomas Stamford Raffles, to its development into the 21st century, the small island of Singapore has now become a regular stop-over destination for airline passengers travelling further afield.
One need only soak up the atmosphere of Changi Airport to realise that what awaits them outside on their journey into the city will be sure to impress. Voted as being the best airport in the world, Changi is set to become even more spectacular with the addition of the Jewel, a four story tiered garden containing the world’s largest indoor waterfall as well as dining outlets, a hotel and cinema complex. The next stage in its development will see the addition of features such as a glass bottomed bridge, walking and bouncing nets, mazes and much more. Even on a short stay, there is much to be discovered about this multicultural nation with most visitors concentrating their searches in the City or West Island districts.
When exploring the City area of the island be sure to take in some of the following destinations. The Asian Civilization Museum is where you will find relics pertaining to the artistic, cultural and religious developments over the ages. With its 11 themed galleries spread over three floors, there is plenty to discover about this fascinating part of the world.
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is the place where non-Buddhist can enter the sacred areas of the temple and discover more about the Buddhist religion. Make sure to visit the fourth floor where the Buddha Tooth Relic is housed in a golden stupa then continue to the rooftop to view the giant prayer wheel.
The best time to visit China Town is just before Chinese New Year when the streets adorned with red Chinese lanterns vibrate with the sights and sounds of traders selling their wares. The oldest temple in Chinatown is called Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness). There are many eating places in the area offering authentic Chinese cuisine and many shops offering traditional Chinese herbs and exquisite jewellery.
As one would expect Little India is filled with the exotic aromas of spices and the shops display brightly coloured saris and silk materials. This is also the area of the city where you will discover temples, colourful garlands, spice shops, gold merchant stores and fortune tellers. Many foods restaurants will tempt you to sample their diverse menus of Indian foods.
Of course, no visit to Singapore would be complete without a stroll down Orchard Road, one of the world’s most famous shopping streets. Air conditioned malls and shops abound side by side all the way down the road and one can purchase a wide variety of items from electrical goods, designer clothes and unique gifts antiques. With its wide footpaths, it is a pleasant stroll even if one is not buying.
The Botanic Gardens is where you will find the most spectacular display of orchids the world has to offer. There is much to discover about global flowers and plants in the various regions such as Palm Valley; a small patch of Rain Forest; an eco-lake surrounded by medicinal plants, herbs and spices as well as fruit and nut trees. You might even be lucky enough to attend an open-air concert in the grounds.
At Jurong Bird Park you can visit a simulated Antartic Habitat housing penguins and puffins or make your way to the Waterfall Aviary where you can view a collection of over 1500 African birds or attend a variety of shows where the park’s inhabitants entertain. The best way to view the park is to take a monorail trip but be sure to hop on and off to catch a glimpse of the animals at close quarters.
Make the time to journey through the eight geographical zones of the world on a Night Safari allowing you to see creatures such as elephant, lion, giraffe and leopard but to name a few.
When visiting Singapore for only a few days or longer, of one thing you can be sure, your trip will be filled exciting sights, sounds and smells and will leave you wanting to return to discover more