What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Singapore?
For me, it is the iconic architectural phenomenon, Marina Bay Sands, which looks like a huge ship hanging at an altitude of 200 meters above three matching skyscrapers. There is no such thing.
The towers house the ultra-luxurious Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which is more than just a hotel. It is a sprawling enjoyment complex that includes a casino, a theater and a shopping mall, and also serves as a gateway to many of Singapore’s most popular tourist attractions, such as the ArtScience Museum and Supertree Grove.
Any trip to Singapore would be incomplete without spending at least a day exploring Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and its surroundings.
1. Explore the gardens by the bay
In a city where almost every inch is covered by skyscrapers, Gardens by the Bay is a refreshing piece of paradise. The waterside nature Park consists of lush, grassy open spaces, lakes and fountains, children’s playgrounds, art sculptures and winding hiking trails. All this is open to the public for free. Yes, completely free.
If you want to look around without having to stand for hours in the heat and humidity of Singapore, a shuttle service is available for per person (9.00–21.00).
2. walk through the illuminated trees of Supertree Grove
The biggest trees in Gardens by the Bay are not palm trees or ferns, but great trees!
The shady structures in the form of metal trees are enveloped by deciduous vines and are 30 to 50 meters high. There are a few tree exhibits in the Bay Gardens, but the largest and most impressive is the Supertree Grove.
Although super-tall trees are quite beautiful at any time of the day, at night they come to life with bright LED lights reminiscent of something from the avatar movie. The lights remain blue and purple most of the time, but during the light show twice a day they flash in different colors synchronously with a soundtrack. The light shows take place every evening at 19: 45 and 20: 45 and the crowds gather around the surrounding grassland with picnic blankets. Snacks can be purchased at the nearby food trucks.
3. Walk along the Helix Bridge
Just outside the Marina Bay Sands Shopping Complex is the Helix Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that represents a strand of DNA. With its unusual curves and angles, the bridge is a photographer’s dream, especially around 17.30, when the sun sets and hits the metallic bridge with its sparkling golden reflections.On the side of the bridge there are a number of viewing platforms where you can stop to enjoy some of the best views of the marina, the Marina Bay Sands and the ArtScience Museum.
4. Take a selfie with the Merlion
If you continue walking north along the Helix Bridge, walk west along the waterfront for 8 minutes and cross the Jubilee Bridge, you will reach the statue of Singapore’s official mascot Merlion.
It is said that the Merlion represents Singapore’s origins as a fishing village and its original name “Singapura”, which means “City of the Lion”. The half-lion-fish statue is pictured spraying water from its mouth in the marina below.
A nearby observation deck stretches out in the bay as a popular filming location. Many tourists like to put on a gaping mouth so that it looks like they are catching the water sprayed by the hake. I did not try to do this, but, of course, I had to take a happy photo next to the statue.
5. See Singapore from the Marina Bay Sands
If a structure is as strange as the sands of Marina Bay, there is something that makes you want to see it up close. Fortunately, MBS has opened its SkyPark for tourists.
The boat-shaped roof area is mainly reserved for the largest rooftop infinity pool and rooftop restaurant in the world, but one section has been reserved as an observation deck. The queues for the SkyPark were surprisingly short on the day of my visit, so I took the elevator straight to the 57th floor and had some of Singapore’s best skylines.The SkyPark was pretty laid back, with a few tourists sitting on the ground and enjoying the scenery. I looked around the observation deck and then went to the skybar Cé la Vi for a refreshing cocktail.
6. Shop until you fall into the shops of Marina Bay Sands
Singapore is a popular holiday destination for serious shopping addicts and it’s easy to see why. The countless shopping centers of the city are full of prestigious fashion brands, and the boutiques of Marina Bay Sands are no exception. It’s so chic, it even has a superfluous “p “and a silent “e”
7. Dine in famous restaurants
I was fortunately surprised to discover a handful of restaurants of famous chefs within MBS, including Wolfgang Puck’s Spago dining room and Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street cuisine.
I ate at Bread Street Kitchen and enjoyed the upscale but unpretentious, British-inspired cuisine. The restaurant was not noisy, perhaps because the kitchen is on the lower level. I have not seen the famous Gordon Ramsay, but he definitely left his mark. The service staff was incredibly efficient, often filled glasses with water and monitored the guests without being intrusive.
I ordered the traditional fish and chips, which tasted incredible. Chips were without a doubt the best I’ve had in my life. I have to take my nephew there one day, he is more of a chip connoisseur.
8. Let the ArtScience Museum surprise you
The ArtScience Museum is located in the white lotus building right in front of the Marina Bay Sands shopping center, next to the Helix Bridge. The museum shows the intersections between art, science, culture and technology.
I only had time to visit one of the 3 current exhibitions, so I decided on Future World: Where Art Meets Science, which turned out to be the perfect choice for a tech enthusiast like me.
Most of the attractions focused on the innovative and interactive projection of digital images. There was a natural space with projected images of butterflies flying through the flowering walls and the ground, a slide slide with projected images of fruits exploding in balls of light as they fly over them, and an interactive painting station. At first, the coloring station looked banal-you take a line drawing of an animal and color it with pencils. The magic works when you scan your page in a neighboring scanning station and project it on the back wall to walk and interact with the other colorful animals (the photo doesn’t really do her justice). How cool is that?