The island city-state of Singapore consists of 63 islands, including the mainland and is on the southern tip of Malay Peninsula. Over the years Singapore has seen many rulers and thus has a very diverse history and heritage.
For detailed itinerary of my Singapore trip read my following blog
Once it was the outpost of the ancient Sumatran Srivijaya empire and during 15th and 16th century was part of the Sultanate of Johore only to be burnt down by Portuguese forces in 1617. It was only during the beginning of the 19th century that Singapore became one of the key trade post and settlement of the British East India Company and subsequently a British colony.
Today, Singapore is one of the most densely populated places on the planet and has become one of the key hubs of economic activities. It has become the prominent financial hub located in the Asia- Pacific region and you will find all the Global multinational companies having their Asia-Pacific headquarters at Singapore. The transformation can be mainly attributed to strategic location, corruption free government and a skilled workforce.
With limited land available, Singapore has to be one of the best planned cities in the world. We checked with our hotel travel desk about any guided tours available and they booked us couple of seats in one of the “Singapore City tours”. The tour operators are very professional and stick to their time – the downside being, you do not have the luxury to spend that additional hour or so at the place of your choice.
Note: If you are on your first visit to Singapore, it would make sense to take these guided tours as it gives you an complete overview of the city. If you have already been to the city or have the luxury of time, I would recommend you to visit the places at your own pace, use the MRT (Singapore has one of the best rail system) and explore the city.
Most of the guided tours start at the “Singapore Flyer”. This observation wheel provides a great birds eye view of the city and was opened to public in 2008. The wheel has 28 air conditioned capsules and each of the capsule was big enough to accommodate around 25 people. We were a bit lucky and had only couple of more families in our capsule 🙂
Opens Daily: 8.30am – 10.30pm
Last Flight: 10.00pm
We choose the Singapore Flight option – you spend approximately 30 minutes in the capsule and the wheel takes one complete rotation.
- $33 for adults
- $21 for children between the age of 3-12.
The city tour took us through the by-lanes of the city. It was great to see everything organized and well planned. Though we were in peak hour traffic, we did not see anyone breaking the rules and trying to cut lanes etc.
Our next stop was the Padang Cricket Club. The word “Padang” means field in the Malay language and this is the place where the celebrations were held after the surrender of the Japanese troops. The Padang was also the venue for Singapore’s first National Day celebration.
Located directly opposite to the Padang is the old Supreme Court and City Hall which have a very distinctive colonial style.
Our next stop was the visit to the famous “Merlion Park”, which also provides a great view of the Marina bay.
Merlion park is one of the major tourist attractions in Singapore and you will find everyone trying to click a snap of themselves with the Merlion in the background. The entire place was a bit crowded and it took me a good 10 minutes to finally capture a photo without anyone photo-bombing it 🙂
The Merlion is located near the very busy Central Business district (CBD) and it 8.6 meters tall. It is indeed a great site to see the Merlion gushing out the jet of water from its mouth against the backdrop of those towering high-rises.
You can also get a great view of the “Marina Bay Sands” hotel from the park. The integrated resort is widely regarded as the world’s most expensive standalone casino properly and is roughly valued at $8 billion !
After the visit to Merlion Park we headed to visit the famous Thian Hock Keng Temple and Chinatown. I found this very interesting monument on the way and checked with the local guide if this carried any significance. According to him, this monument was built to highlight how diverse people came together and remained united in their efforts to built the city of Singapore.
Unfortunately, I was unable to find any more information about this monument on web and had to go with what the guide had explained. A closer look of the monument does support his explanation.
Singapore is a very vibrant city which is rich in contrast and color and you will find a harmonious blend of culture, cuisine, arts and architecture. Located at the heart of Southeast Asia, Singapore for centuries has remained as the bridge between the East and the West.
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