I was so lucky to be invited as a guest of the Singapore Tourist Board and Holland America/Seabourn in February.
After a fabulous flight with Singapore Airlines, we arrived into Changi Airport and transferred to the Pan Pacific Orchard to freshen up before our busy day. This five-star hotel is located along the famous Orchard Road and is an excellent base for both business and leisure travellers.
Our first stop was Singapore’s Chinatown, which evolved around 1821 when the first Chinese junk arrived from Xiamen, Fujian province in China. Not all parts of Chinatown are Chinese though. The Jamae Mosque and Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple in the centre of China Town lay witness to the harmonious racial and religious atmosphere in Singapore.
We then proceeded to take a tour of Kampong Glam. The name of this historical district of Singapore originates from the Gelam tree, which once grew abundantly in this historical city for its use in building ships. In 1822, the land in Kampong Glam was officially allocated to the Malays and others in the Muslim community, including a small but successful community of Arab traders. Kampong Glam is a gem of Singapore’s history and culture. An amazing place to experience the hospitality of the Malay people. Haji Lane, a tiny lane, hidden away in the heart of the Arab Street, is a fashionistas paradise.
Moving swiftly on, we then visited Little India. Traditionally the home of Singapore's Indian community, Serangoon Road and its neighbouring side streets are still today a bustling hive of sights, sounds and intriguing aromas. A rainbow of colours greets you as you wind your way through the streets. Here, one can find handicrafts from Kashmir silk to peacock feathers and flower garlands. Glittering silk-threaded saris, brassware and Indian designed jewellery are particularly good buys.
After a long flight and busy day, I had a lovely relaxing night at the Pan Pacific Orchard.
I was so excited the next day as we were to visit the Singapore Cruise Centre and tour the gorgeous 6* Seabourn Sojourn. Seabourn is a small-ship cruise line with intimate ships holding no more than 300 suites. Sojourn herself has 225 luxury suites, 4 dining venues, 6 bars and lounges and a stunning spa. She is simply awesome – I could have stayed for a few weeks. ;-)
We then visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens. With more than 150 years of history, the 74 hectare Singapore Botanic Gardens has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. It is also the first in Asia and the third botanic gardens inscribed in the world. There are a number of trails and so much to see. My particular favourite was the National Orchid Garden.
We then took a scenic tour down the Singapore River on board a vintage bumboat, much like the ones that many of Singapore’s early immigrants depended on for their livelihoods. The relaxing river cruise took us on a journey through time, offering views of the iconic Merlion, the Esplanade, century-old godowns and shop houses, colonial-style government buildings and grand bridges with their quaint light fixtures, as well as the modern skyscrapers that now dominate the city’s skyline.
Dinner was at Satay by the Bay. From classic chargrilled satays to succulent seafood and refreshing desserts, they have it all. Select whatever you like and then sit with friends by the beautiful waterfront, surrounded by lush greenery. I’d highly recommend the Satay.
After filling our boots at Satay by the Bay, we attended the Garden Rhapsody at Gardens by the Bay. We lay on the ground, looking up at these magnificent Supertrees, enjoying an ‘Evening of Musical Theatre’ light and sound show. I’ve never experienced anything like it. This show is free and is shown twice nightly. Do not miss this when visiting Singapore – you’ll be blown away.
The next day we visited Sentosa Island. Sentosa is Singapore’s premier island resort getaway with multi-faceted appeal, teeming with events all year round. Just 15 minutes from the city, it is a unique blend of leisure and recreational facilities including family attractions, sea sports, golf as well as hotel accommodation and retreats. Offering a variety of experiences for all ages, Sentosa is a must-visit destination for tourists and a popular recreational playground for local residents. We enjoyed the luge and skyride and then zipwired through the trees on the mega zipwire before dipping our toes in the South China Sea.
A lovely dinner was enjoyed aboard the lovely MS Volendam, a cruise ship belonging to Holland America Line. There are ten decks, with passenger cabins spread across five of them. The ship has eight bars, two swimming pools, two hot tubs, a spa, and a show lounge. The theme aboard Volendam is flowers and fresh displays are located in abundance on board the ship; décor throughout the ship also emphasise floral patterns. She sails out of Australia, Asia and conducts cruises of the Inside Passage traversing British Columbia and Alaska.
On our final day, we visited Gardens By The Bay. This sprawling garden in the city provides mesmerising waterfront views across three gardens, spanning over 101 hectares of reclaimed land. Adjacent to the Marina Reservoir, the park consists of three waterfront gardens:
Gardens by the Bay is filled with wonders from every continent except Antarctica. We explored diverse plant life from around the world displayed in its spectacular Cooled Conservatories and again, marvelled at the Supertrees – towering vertical gardens that extend into the sky.
I will return to Singapore. It is such a friendly, safe place with so much to do. What REALLY stood out to me more than anything else is the friendliness and awesome welcome you receive.