It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks as I had one of my friends from college, Amanda, in town and we were determined to fit in as much fun stuff as possible while she was on this side of the globe! The first weekend of her trip, we ventured south to Singapore for a few days. Even though I’ve already been to Singapore, my first trip was very short so I was excited to go back! We definitely made the most of our time there and covered a lot of ground. It was a pretty hectic trip, so here are just some of the highlights.
– ULTRA SINGAPORE –
The first day of the trip I scored a couple media passes to Ultra Singapore, which was definitely an experience. I’ve been to countless music festivals, and the only word I have to describe this one was underwhelming. Not only was it extremely unorganized, but it was definitely lacking in stage production. They also didn’t have any art installations, dancers, or any immersive extras I’ve come to expect from music festivals. Maybe I’m just spoiled after EDC and other Insomniac events, Southern California festivals, and Coachella, but I expected more from Ultra. The lineup was also pretty mediocre (no bass music whatsoever), and Deadmau5 played the most boring set I think I’ve ever seen (since I bailed on his set at Red Rocks back in 2010). The coolest thing was the location which was right next to Marina Bay Sands- I’m sure the guests paying $1000+ per night were really happy about that. 🙂 The VIP section was also pretty fun with a slide that goes into a ball pit. Overall I’m glad we got to experience a music festival in Asia, even if it didn’t exactly live up to the hype.
– GARDENS BY THE BAY –
Gardens by the Bay is an incredible nature park adjacent to Marina Bay Sands, featuring 101 hectares of gardens and a tropical flower dome. My favorite part was Supertree Grove, which is a collection of futuristic tree-like structures that actually act as vertical gardens with plants such as orchids and vines growing on them. Apparently the Supertrees also serve air intake and exhaust functions as part of the conservatories’ cooling systems- super cool! Despite my fear of heights, we walked the Skyway which is an elevated walkway between two of the structures, towering about 70 feet high. I’ve seen a lot of iconic photos of the Supertrees, but nothing really compares to seeing them this close in person. They are truly works of art that brilliantly juxtapose Singapore’s urban landscape.
– LONG BAR AT THE RAFFLES HOTEL –
Long Bar is the home of the Singapore Sling, the country’s national drink, invented in 1915 by a bartender named Ngiam Tong Boon. Made with gin and different types of mixers including cherry liquer, the cocktail is made to resemble fruit juice, thus making it more socially acceptable for women to drink back in the early 1900s. For just $37 (!!) you can try a Singapore Sling with the original recipe that’s more than 100 years old. The drink was a little fruity for my taste, but I guess it was one of those things you HAVE to do in Singapore, even if it costs you $37. My mom even came here for a Sling more than 30 years ago!
– MARINA BAY SANDS –
Previously I only saw this architectural wonder from the ground, but this time we went up to the rooftop bar CÉ LA VI. Sitting at 57 stories high, the bar is on the “boat” of Marina Bay Sands, offering amazing panoramic views of the entire city. Given that we were in the middle of a concrete jungle, I couldn’t believe how BLUE the view was! It also offers an unparalleled perspective to see just how big and modern the “tiny” city of Singapore really is.
– CAPELLA + SENTOSA ISLAND –
The second night of our trip we were lucky enough to stay at Capella, one of Singapore’s most luxurious hotels at an exclusive location on Sentosa Island. We had a massive suite with all the modern luxuries we could ever want, and it was a blessing to call this place home for a night after a long day of exploring the city. We awoke to light rain in the morning, which killed our plans of chilling by the hotel’s beautiful two-tiered pool for the day, but we got to explore Sentosa for a bit before checkout, which is still my favorite part of Singapore.
– ARAB STREET –
Part of the culturally rich Kampong Glam heritage trail, Arab street is a cool little area with the majestic Masjid Sultan Mosque, as well as a wealth of Arabic, Turkish, and Moroccan restaurants. I wish we could have explored longer – we had just enough time to grab a local beer at a backpacker hostel here before heading to the airport for our late night flight.
– GOOD EATS –
It’s no secret that Singapore is known for its food, with one of its hawker stalls even earning Michelin stars this year! Our first hotel was right in Chinatown and I absolutely loved the street food there, especially because Amanda lived in China and knows all the best dishes to order. Cheap beer doesn’t hurt either. 🙂 We also made a special trip to Little Indian to have dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant with some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had.
Singapore is a really interesting place with lots of diverse enclaves and active cultures. I like how easy it is to just hop on the MRT and end up a different neighborhood with a completely different feel. I also find it interesting how it’s a small tropical island with such a significant presence in Asia. In a way, the city reminds me of Dubai with its futuristic architecture, and how quickly it has developed in the past decade. Just look at this pic I found of Singapore in 1990 vs. now!