A New Singapore

Fourteen years ago, the first time I came to Singapore, I came away thinking Singapore was really nice but really boring. I loved Singapore Airlines; I loved the food, and thought the city was like Disneyland because the streets were so clean. Well, the streets are still really clean, I still love the food and the airline but there is whole lot more going on in the new Singapore than there used to be.

Merlion and the Marina Bay Sands in the background in Singapore


Over the last fourteen years Singapore has gone through a transformation so to speak. They have evolved from trying to establish themselves as the “Asian Tiger” nation and a regional economic power. They have come full circle and are really branching out and aiming for tourism dollars.

Walkways in the Southern Ridges Park in Singapore


A lot of places say they are focusing on tourism, especially in Asia, but the new Singapore is really doing something about it. They are building things and places that make people want to come to Singapore. It used to be I would fly through Singapore to get somewhere else and if I had to spend a night I would. Now I want to go back to Singapore because there is a lot to do. Even though I’ve been there over a dozen times, there is still much I haven’t done.

Great night view of Singapore


A few years ago Singapore decided to allow gambling to compete for the tourism dollar with Macau. If these casinos didn’t go to Singapore they would have gone somewhere else so it was the right move. The Chinese are big gamblers and the lure of new and exciting casinos is a big draw to them. It’s also a draw to other nationalities, including Americans.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino in Singapore


For me, a casino alone isn’t enough to draw me in but attached to a building like the Marina Bay Sands then we’ve got something. Just look at this building above, it looks fake in person and still looks fake in pictures. It’s one of those buildings you just stare at in awe.

Marina Bay Sands rooftop pool overlooking downtown Singapore


The Marina Bay Sands is the most noticeable part of the new Marina Bay district that Singapore is really developing into an environmentally friendly, cool place to be. The centerpiece though, is the Gardens by the Bay.

Gardens by the Bay from atop the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore


Gardens by the Bay occupies about 250 acres of prime real estate, right on the water and close to the Marina Bay Sands. Singapore is touting Gardens by the Bay to be the “Central Park” of Asia. It is an integral part of their “City in a Garden” vision that they are launching. The goal is to transform Marina Bay into Singapore’s new downtown, with the garden as the centerpiece of the integrated residential, business and entertainment facilities.

Aerial view of Gardens by the Bay in Singapore


I took a tour of Gardens by the Bay and I have to say I was really impressed. I actually went into it thinking it was going to be boring and not something I would like but I was definitely wrong. It is really cool.

Inside the flower dome at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore


The complex houses two domed conservatories. One is called the flower dome and the other is called the cloud forest. Ironically prince William and Duchess Kate were there visiting just a few weeks ago.

Waterfall inside the cloud forest at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore


The flower dome houses flowers and trees as it sounds like but it is done in a cool way and is very pleasing to the eye. The cloud forest was awesome though. There is a massive man made waterfall in the conservatory and there is a sky bridge that you can walk around and get views of the complex. The temperature is also pre-set so it’s actually pretty cool; which is a nice way to escape the Singapore heat.

Supertrees at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore


The other unique aspect of the gardens complex is the super-trees. These funky looking structures look like trees but perform a variety of functions. They are environmental engines for the garden and they hold a variety of different species of plants within them. They also have a sky bridge; which is over 100 feet tall, that offers you amazing views of the entire complex and the Marina Bay Sands right next door. It’s a great spot to check out.

Sky bridge walkway at Gardens by the Bay amongst the supertrees in Singapore


Marina Bay is just one area of Singapore that is developing rapidly into a tourist hotspot. Sentosa Island has long been the epicenter of Singapore tourism. Even Sentosa has outdone itself in recent years with hip hotels, a casino, theme parks, bright lights and every chain restaurant you can think of.

Colorful shop in Little India district of Singapore


Of course there are still the cultural neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little India and the Arab Quarter but there are also new up and coming neighborhoods in Singapore that are worth checking out. Have a look at Dempsey Hill, Yong Siak Street, Duxton Hill and Tiong Bahru next time you’re in Singapore. They’ve got a little bit of an edge to them, a little Williamsburg, Brooklyn if you will.

Mosque in the Arab Quarter in Singapore


Though much has changed, the basics still remain the same in Singapore. It is still clean, there is still zero tolerance for crime and it may be the world’s safest city. It has also become one of the world’s great cities. Just look at this view from my room at the Ritz-Carlton of the Marina Bay Sands and downtown. It is as spectacular as it looks.

Panoramic view of Singapore from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel


If you’ve never been to Singapore, what are you waiting for? If you’ve been there before and had a so-so opinion of it-take a few days there the next time you’re in Southeast Asia, trust me, you’ll love what it’s become and is becoming.

Koi pond at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore

Comments

  1. That building looks amazing! It must be so nice inside.

    • Ya it’s pretty cool inside, I have a bunch of pics of the inside and pool that I didn’t include here. I will likely put them on Facebook soon.

  2. Hi Lee, beautiful photos of Singapore. I am surprised you liked it that much as I found it to be boring when I visited. I will admit it was about 8 years ago though. It’s an easy flight from Australia, so maybe I’ll have another go.

  3. I love koi ponds! Nice pictures Lee.

  4. That skybridge thing looks really cool…is it sturdy?

  5. I love that lion thing, I always see that when I see things for Singapore…what is it?

  6. Nice meeting you today Lee, you’re a true pleasure to talk to. I can’t believe how much information you have stored in your head and now I can see where you get it from. My wife and I will be following you and enjoy the rest of your trip!

  7. Good stuff. I’ve been wanting to see how Singapore has changed, heard many good things about it.

  8. That view is unreal Lee.

  9. I’ve never really had any desire to go to Singapore but this has definitely piqued my interest.

  10. That certainly doesn’t sound like the Singapore I remember when I visited in 1995. I couldn’t get out fast enough. Looks like I have a new place to check out and by new I mean old but I mean new-you know what I mean LOL!

  11. Great post, thanks….would love to go there!

  12. I’m so glad to see all the new developments in Singapore. They’d just started constructing all of that when I was there last. Although many people see it as “Asia-lite” I really enjoyed my time in Singapore. That sky bridge above the gardens is crazy. I thought I’d go back just for the food, but it looks like I’ve got a lot more to see and do besides revisit my favorite hawker stands. Well done, Lee.

  13. It sounds like they’ve done a great job in transforming the city/country from boring to fun. I’ve also heard it’s quite expensive these days? Did you find that the case?

    • It’s not a heap destination for nice accommodation and drinking but not too bad for food and transport, meaning taxis or subway..so about average I’d say

  14. Christine says:

    Beautiful pictures Lee. I love the one of the Merlion and the Sands and the night shot of the downtown area.

  15. I’ve only been to Singapore once, back in 2004 and I was there for just a night and thought that was plenty. I stayed at some craphole too so that probably didn’t help. I’d imagine the Ritz and Shangri-La increase your enjoyment of the place!

  16. Great website, big fan!

  17. Hi Lee,
    Was a pleasure meeting you last week! Thank you so much for the fantastic review! I’m glad you had fun in the Gardens as I had hosting you! Look forward to seeing you again soon hopefully :)
    Regards,
    Ferne

    P/S: we have shared you blog post on our website and Facebook page.

  18. Lee,Glad that you love my country so much! As a citizen here, i am amazed to see the massive changes over the years! Great post and you helped reach out to several would be Singapore tourists ! Thank you!

  19. I find these new tourist additions superficial. I would rather know the real Singapore, which has never been boring for me.

  20. Thank you for writing such nice things about my country, I’m so happy to hear you had a lovely time :) When I was in highschool, I was dying to leave because, as everyone said (and we Singaporeans knew this too!) it was pretty boring. But now there’s a million things to do here, I never want to leave, haha!

    x Renee

  21. Love this post! Been docked here in Singapore for about 2 months now (working) and even though I love the country, it’s small and I felt like I was running out of things to do but I have a few new ideas now- thanks! Also- not mentioned but the iFly Singapore indoor skydiving training center on Sentosa is amazing and you don’t see many indoor skydiving centers yet (although I’ll bet more will start to pop up).

    • That sounds like fun, I wish I had a chance to do that…I recently did one of those in Canada for a TV show I filmed for Travel Channel and it was a lot of fun! Enjoy Singapore Arielle!

  22. Dana Wylie says:

    Just found your blog!! Wow! Thank you for sharing. My hubby and I moved to Singapore last June and I am still making my way through. Love the suggestions of Yong Siak Street, Duxton Hill and Tiong Bahru. I haven’t hit them yet but they are on my list. A few suggestions when you return are Ft. Canning Park, Singapore Botanical Gardens and MacRitchie Reservoir. And they are all free! Thanks again for sharing your travels. I am definitely going to use your blog to research places I want to see while we are in SE Asia!

  23. Really interesting read – I am actually returning to revisit Singapore soon. My first visit was 12 years agai and I didn’t really enjoy myself so haven’t been back. I have heard good things though and apparently parts of the city are unrecognisable!

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