Sightseeings of the City, City Viewing
Singapur really has some sightseeings to offer so that one has to stay more than a few days in the city in order to get a total impression of this fascinating metropolis. Experiencing the mix of different cultures and religions as lso the way of living in such a pulsating city is really very exciting.
During the walks in the Central Business District one can admire the skyscrapers and then further in the quarters Little India, China Town or Arab Street and see as an opposite the small an colourful shophouses. Tradition and modernity - this makes Singapur unique, as nowhere else one finds temples, churches and mosques (approximately 140) in a city where the "Big Business" takes place.
Those who prefer to enjoy comfortably a nice view can have a trip with the "bumboats" that are offered alongside the Singapore River. Thereby, it is possible to step in at several stations. But one should not expect too much, as the trip does not take long time, as it is only sailed on the piece of the river alongside the Central Business District. Additionally, there is the possibility to do a roundtrip through the harbour: the tours start from Marina Bay and are offered by several providers. From the ships, one does not only have a view to the city centre of Singapur but also to the harbour and the small surrounding islands of Singapur. The prices vary between S$ 30 and S$ 50 and most of the times, a lunch and a stop over at one of the islands is included.
In order to see the fascinating city Singapur from another perspective, one should visit one of the fascinating observation decks (see the chapter Sentosa). There are different possibilities to do a small excursion and to look down to the city.
Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay
No other building monument causes so many discussions as this one. The theatre that was opened in October 2002 required 8 years of building time and cost more than $ 600 millions. Therewith, it belongs to the like-buildings of Singapur and due to its globular and spinose design it is called durian (durian is the national fruit of Singapur that smells very unpleasantly).
It accommodates a theatre with approximately 2000 seats, a concert hall with approximately 1600 seats and an integrated shopping-mall. One gets to this builing per MRT up to the station Raffles Place or City Hall in order to continue walking for a few minutes. One has a very nice view from Marina Food Court, there, one can also seat outside and have lunch or dinner there (Food Courts = restaurants similar to cantines that are located in the shopping malls).
Old Parliament House
The former parliament of Singpore is located at the MRT station City Hall and is therewith also right in the core of the city. It was actually built in the year 1829 by the Irish arquitect George Coleman in the sesnce of a merchant house. But later it was rearranged to a court. Since the year 2004, this building is a museum of arts where exhibitions take place on a regular basis and it is called House.
Chijmes (pronounced Tschaims)
This former convent was reopenend in the year 1996 and now it rather serves for leisure - and fun purposes. The name Chijmes resulted from the former name of the relogious order that was at that time: Convent of the sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus. In thre 5 buildings there are mainly restaurants, bars and cafés but also small boutiques and galeries. Here, in the evenings mainly expats (these are European immigrants) cavort and enjoy the summer evenings.
The classic par excellence: on a Wedenesday to Insomnia, a live-club in which two national bands perform; With an entrance fee of approximately S$ 30, one can drink as much as one wants up to midnight and dance to the covered songs. This building is also in the proximity of the MRT Station City Hall at the corner of Ecke Victoria Street/Bras Basah Road.
The history of this venerable hotel goes far back to the year 1887 when three Armenian brothers rented a former bungalow and rearranged it to an hotel; Named after the founding father of Singapur Sir Stammford Raffles, the hotel moulted to the first address of Singapur; Also today the Raffles Hotel is considered as one of the most expensive hotels in Singapur. Here, also the famous Singapur Sling was invented that was already drunk by famous Authors, journalists and stars. In the year 1991, the hotel was restaurated again and from that time it was under monumental protection.
Those who do want to wallow in the brilliance of this imposing hotel should have a look into the inner court. But having a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar of the hotel is rather not recommendable. In my opinion this is purely a rip off for tourists, as the cocktail was with a price of S$ 25 totally overpriced and tasted like nothing. The only reason that justifies a visit to this bar is that traditionally, one gets some peanuts served and that one can throuw the parings on the floor. Where else is that possible? I highly recommend to visit the hotel wearing appropriate clothes, thus no shorts and flip flops. The Raffles Hotel is located at the 1 Beach Road close to the Station City Hall.
Bugis Junction and Bugis Street
This famous crossroad should not be missed in any case! On one hand, there is the department store Bugis Junction that is located right at the Bugis and on the other hand, there is the Bugis Street. The department store is spread on several floors and mainly offers fashion, footwear and cosmetics for young and trendy people as also a cold storage (super market) that is located in the lower part of the supermarket.
If one wants to get to the Bugis Street (one of the big free markets of Singapur), one has simple to cross the street at the end of the department store. Here, one feels like being on one of the markets of Thailand. The stands are one by one beside each other and surrounded by very loud music. Everything concerning clothes, jewelry, handbags, souveninrs and household goods, everything is offered. The prices are unbeatably low, a thing that does not mean that one cannot negotiate. But be careful with fake stuff as the export is not allowed. The audience is mainly young that allow free play to the shopping delusion and is bargain hunting.
Alongside the Singapur river at the Clarke Quay and the same-named MRT there is a rich offer of food and entertainment. The nicest moment in the evening after the sunset, when everything is nicely illuminated. The Clarke Quay that was restored from 5 block houses used to be once the contct point and trade center for goods that were stored and is named after Sir Andrew.
Today, the leisure mile is one of the most popular ones - not only for tourists! Pubs in english style, all kinds of restaurants and clubs with the most different music styles string together. The barkeepers are aware of the popularity and due to this reason one should expect higher prices (specially for alcohol!).
The Fullerton Hotel with its classic cladding is located straight at the der Marina Bay and in the colonial period it was a government building. Named after the first gouverneur Sir Robert Fullerton, this building was arranged in the year 1829 and at that time it was considered as the highest building of Singapur!
Today it is one of the most expensive hotels in Singapur of almost 400 rooms. Those who cannot afford a room in this hotel should in any case have a cup of tea or coffee in the terrace of the posh restaurant. From there, there is a nice view to the Singapore River and one feels like travelling back to these times.
The heraldic animal of Singapur sits at the end of the pier in front of the Fullerton Hotel and guards the city. The Merlion is a mix of half fish and half lion and eagerly spits water from its gorge. In the background, there is not only the Fullerton Hotel but also the Ritz Carlton, the Suntec Towers and the Esplanade.
As a park, this sightseeing is rather wrongly titled, as there are no trees and lawns. Anyway, the Merlion is a must if somebody is visiting Singapur, a picture with the beautiful skyline in the background rewards!
Singapore Night Safari
The only possibility to visit a night zoo is offered by the Singapore Zoo that is opened in the evenings from 19.30 p.m. up to midnight. It has been already rewarded several times as the "Leisure attraction of the year". The exemplary arrangement and the size of the facilities and the accommodation of the animals that is very appropriate to the species contribute to this unique experience.
The best way to get to the zoo is with the MRT to the Choa Chu Kang Station, then by bus no. 927 or with the MRT up to the station Ang Mo Kio and the bus no. 138. The trips takes approximately 1 hour as the zoo is located far outside the city. Of course, it is also possible to get there comfortably by taxi for approximately S$ 15. The purchase of a combi-ticket is recommendable (approximately S$ 40 for adults, S$ 20 for children), that is additionally also valid during one month for visiting the (day-)zoo and the Jurong Bird Park. Before entering, it is recommendable to apply enough protection against mosquitos, as there are subtropical temperatures in which the mosquitos of course feel fine and wait for new victims in the dark.
Right after entering, one can straight away go to the animal show that takes place every day at 07.30, 80.30 and 09.30 p.m. There, one can see a lot of animal feats, as for example the balancing act of a coon or a meerkat that recycle bins and paper. According to my opinion, this show is not really worthwhile to see and one should preferrable start straight away the tour through the museum.
For the tour, one can confidently plan about 2 hours. One either takes the rumbling train or goes by foot. Of course, it is also possible to alternate, as there are everywhere stations in the complex where one can repeatedly get in. Therefore, one simply has to look for the points that are drawn on the map that is given to one at the entrance. Unfortunately, not all animals are active at night and one sometimes has to wait quite a time to see an animal.
But then one anyway feels quite queasy if one is only at a few metres distant from a rhinocerus that is only separated by oneself by a fosse. I was specially fascinated by the open-air enclosure of the bats and the old world fruit bats that is accessed through a thick curtain. A pure adventure! I have never seen before such a huge old world fruit bat hanging from a branch right in front of my face! There are also a lot of other kinds of animals to admire, from which I have never heard in my life (for example a mousedeer). All in total it was a wonderful experience I do not want to miss!
Mac Ritchie Reservoir
In this natural park that is located in the proximity of the Changi Airports outside the city, several tours of different durations are offered. The buses depart from Orchard Road (line 132 or 167) up to Lornie Road. At that time, I choosed the Tree Top Walk of approximately 11 km that took some 3 hours. The special thing of this stretch is the hanging bridge (250 metres) where one can enjoy a fantastic view over the summits of the tropical trees at a vertiginous height; Everything is so green that one does not feel anymore like being in Singapor but rather in the amazonas.
One is continuously accompanied by some running cheeky monkeys that are obviously too used to the human beings. This is the reason why one should not drink or eat anything in their presence. Otherwise, one can expect to be attacked and the desired object will be teared off your hands. This is the reason why there are prohibition signs everywhere avenging the feeding with high punishments. But there are also animals like lizards and turtles in the reservoir that can be watched at the edge of the path.
Due to the reason that having a walk is Singapore is more exhausting than at home due to the temperatures, it is recomendable to do the excursion in the morning. Also an additional t-shirt for getting changed or a towel have to be taken in the rucksack as also enough drinks, sun protection and an umbrella. It oftenly occured that tourists underestimated the area and the duration of the tour and had to interrupt the tour.
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Author: Natascha Nißl; Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz