Singapore: not only is this one of the world’s last remaining city-states, it’s also the second most densely populated sovereign nation in the world – housing around 7,600 people per square kilometre.
Despite its seemingly bloated population, Singapore is often ranked among the cleanest and most handsome destinations in the world – luring millions of visitors each year. Of course, many of the state’s visitors are just passing through; Singapore is one of Asia’s – and, the world’s – most important aviation and transhipment hubs, with thousands upon thousands of people travelling through the city-state every day.
If you’re one of the many cruise passengers facing a 12-hour layover in Singapore before embarking on an unforgettable cruise through South East Asia, here’s a brief guide on how to make the most of your time in this most majestic of stopover destinations.
Showcasing Singapore’s less-than-high-tech past, Baba House is one of the best-preserved examples of Peranakan architecture in the city. Oozing charm and heritage from its vibrant yet antique façade, this beautiful 1920s shack will leave you longing to learn more about the nation’s simple, humble history. Managed by the National University of Singapore, a touch-and-interact policy is encouraged – making it a suitable attraction for youngsters.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Get the Singapore smog out of your lungs with a quiet stroll around the city-state’s world famous Botanic Gardens. Established over 156 years ago, this 180-acre tropical garden is the only site of its kind to receive UNESCO World Heritage status – thanks in part to its abundance of rare flora and charming, oriental-inspired architecture and design. Complete with a rainforest, waterfall and dedicated Orchid Enclosure; the Singapore Botanic Gardens is unlike any park you will ever visit – don’t miss it.
On the complete end of the spectrum, Little India makes up a large portion of Singapore’s Chulia Kampong district, and takes its name from the thousands of Tamil immigrants who were relocated to the region under British colonial rule. With its evocative architecture, fragrant street vendors and abundance of independent fashion retailers – Little India evokes the spirit of the country from which it takes its name.
With youngsters in tow; finding safe, stress-free things to do in a bustling city can prove challenging. Head to Singapore Zoo however, and the various animals and stimulating English-speaking staff will keep the kids entertained ‘til sundown. Widely regarded as one of the world’s most successful zoos, Singapore Zoo is home to more interesting wildlife than it’s possible to see in a single visit – think white tigers, elephants and free-ranging orang-utans.
The Singapore Flyer
The Singapore Flyer is Singapore’s answer to London’s successful Eye; an enormous ‘observation’ wheel offering commanding views over much of the city and the adjacent coast. Stationed on the banks of Marina Bay, The Singapore Flyer stands at a height of 165m, and was once the tallest Ferris wheel on earth. If you’ve a head for heights, this is by far one of the best ways to see the Singapore skyline.
Chinatown Heritage Centre
Of all the museums and visitor attractions in Singapore, none provide such a stark, charming and evocative snapshot of the city-state’s past like the Chinatown Heritage Centre. Featuring a series of beautifully restored shop-houses, the centre transports visitors back to an era when Singapore was a humble seaport struggling to endure against a rising tide of Chinese immigrants. Located in the centre of the city’s contemporary Chinatown, the Chinatown Heritage Centre is a must-visit attraction for history buffs.
The White Rabbit
Once a 1950s mess hall housing the dining quarters of the British military, The White Rabbit has since received a contemporary facelift and been transformed into a cutting-edge dining venue. With friendly, efficient service and a menu of world classics and Anglo cuisine, The White Rabbit is the perfect eatery for those wary of sampling traditional Singaporean cuisine.
Bali Nasi Lemak
Brave the leggy streetwalkers of Geylang, and amid the stunning period architecture you’ll stumble upon Bali Nasi Lemak – a small eatery dishing up some of the tastiest fare in Singapore. If you’ve a penchant for spice, Bali Nasi Lemak’s noodle-strewn menu will certainly enliven your palate. We’d recommend traditional Singapore noodles served with spicy pork, prawns, rice, tofu and peanuts.
Hawker Food Market
No visit to Singapore would be complete without visiting a street food vendor, and nowhere does street food quite like the Hawker Food Market. With an innumerable number of fragrant food stalls, you’re sure to find a portion of fodder to suit your palate – even if you aren’t keen on spice.
So there you have it – the perfect way to spend a 12-hour stopover in Singapore. If you’re interested in booking a cruise in South East Asia and feel Singapore could be the perfect port destination, visit the Cruise1st Australia website and use the search bar on the left to browse a complete range of upcoming cruises departing from Singapore.
The footage used in these videos is licensed via Creative Commons and has been modified from the original. Credits: Singapore Flyer – View from inside the capsule, Singapore Merlion Park Time Lapse, A table for two, Singapore has balanced the need for density with providing public space, Unreasonable At Sea: Timelapse – Singapore, Inspiration