48 hours is not enough time to get into the swing of a city and a culture. 48 hours is just enough for a taster and I’m fairly certain we used our 48 hours all wrong! We bought a Singapore Explorers package though Singapore Airlines. I think it was about $100 NZD each and included a hotel with breakfast, the tour buses and most of the major tourist attractions. Turns out trying to visit all the attractions was the downfall to our time here.
This was our biggest challenge. In hindsight we should have just sucked up the cost and got a few taxis. We tried to use the bus and it wasted a lot of our time. We used the bus system and the tourist tour buses. Apparently the underground is a great way to get around but we didn’t attempt it.
What you can squish into 48 hours
The night safari: this was a disappointing waste of time. I was so excited for the night safari. It sounded great! You get to go around the zoo on a tram, through enclosures with low fences and they tell you about the animals as you see them. You can also walk around the zoo to see more animals and spend more time with each. Sounds good right? Nope, it sucked. To begin with we had to queue for about two hours before we were let in. Once we got in we found that the enclosures were tiny, like elephant in my back yard tiny. Most of the animals also seemed miserable. On the tram ride we saw one elephant, ALONE in its tiny enclosure, rocking from side to side. I don’t know a huge amount about these animals, but I know that’s not right. There was also little to no information about the animals as we walked around. We were excited to find a Morepork (native New Zealand owl) and all it said on the sign was ‘Morepork’.
Following leaving the night safari just before midnight, bitterly disappointed and very tired, we had the epic mission of getting back to our hotel. Turns out all public transport stopped at 12am (for us at least), meaning we got stranded in the middle of nowhere! We waited nearly an hour before realising that the scheduled bus was not right, and the trains had stopped too. At this point we got a taxi, which turned out to be very reasonable.
Gardens by the bay: this was the one tourist attraction which was definitely worth it! The gardens were beautiful and Daniel had a joyous time snapping the colourful scenes. We visited the two main gardens, the cloud forest and the flower dome. The cloud forest contains a misty man made mountain with the worlds largest indoor waterfall. It’s a serene enclosure with tropical and highland plants. There was a large range of plants including teeny-tiny orchids that you could inspect with magnifying glasses! We also loved the flower dome. There were sections of garden dedicated to different parts of the world. This was pretty cool but my favourite part was the Flower Fields. The fields are frequently changed to reflect different seasons and festivals. It was very special to see the swathes of colour and also good to have some chill out time after night safari experience.
Singapore flyer: following the flower gardens we decided to try the Singapore flyer. We only tried this because it was right by the gardens and we wanted to do another ‘activity’ to make the most of our explorers pass. The flyer was alright but we felt we had seen most of the city in the first 10 minutes. It was nice to just sit down and watch the world go by. We were lucky enough to share a pod with a kid who was on a private tour so got to learn a lot about Singapore through eavesdropping! The flyer was a great way to get an idea of how compact Singapore is. After the flyer we made our way back to the hotel via a series of tourist buses.
Little India and the Indian Heritage Centre: we only ended up exploring this area and the museum as it was walking distance from our hotel and we only had a few hours before we had to leave for the airport. This turned out to be our favourite little adventure in Singapore. It was pouring with rain and we borrowed an umbrella from the hotel to huddle under. I loved walking through the streets of Little India. The architecture was different to the rest of the city and there were lovely little grocers with their produce spilling out onto the street. The Heritage Centre was great and I enjoyed learning about the culture and history of the area. We were the only people in the centre and a very elderly, sleepy security guard ‘subtly’ followed us around. I suspect he thought we were going to do something crazy or steal a prized artefact. The centre is laid out really well with some truly beautiful things to see while you learn how Indian culture became imbedded in Singapore.
What to eat
Hello tasty! I wish we had longer in Singapore, just so I could eat more. We only ate at food courts as we were in such a hurry but the food was still unbelievably fresh and yummy. Many of the locals seemed to have their dinners at these big food courts where you could get all manner of foods including stir fries, soups, curries and loads of unfamiliar meals. Our first dinner included a sizzling hot plate of saucy beef and broccoli with rice and soup, sushi and a whole host of individually wrapped bits of fruit. Daniel was feeling a little unwell on the second day and played it safe with Macdonald while I tried out a ‘create your own’ soup. You selected fresh meat and vegetables from a stand, which was then taken into a back room to be chopped up and cook in a spicy broth. It was so tasty! The only downside was the unfamiliar chilli which numbed my mouth. A very bizarre consequence of dinner. The fruit in Singapore was also amazing. We brought lots of chilled bits of melon and pineapple from shops around the city which we munched on as we wandered around. Like Bali it was very sweet and juicy, and having it chilled was a perfect match to the hot humid city.
We really enjoyed elements of our time in Singapore but if we were to go back we’d approach it completely differently. Next time I’d forgo the explorers pass and tourist attractions and instead focusing on actually being an explorer, walking and eating my way around the streets. I’d love to go back one day to give this a go as I feel that we missed out on many cultural experiences on offer. We will just have to go back!
Chloe and Daniel x