Singapore has always had a special place in my heart, especially since it’s the first foreign country I’ve ever stepped foot on. Over the years, I feel like I’ve familiarized myself with the Lion City pretty well, visiting annually and sometimes bi-annually, if you count the layovers; but recent changes in my life, which I won’t dwell too much on, brought me to Singapore thrice in the last six months before CoVid-19 (which I shall now refer to as BC19) struck & travel restrictions were imposed.
Now that we are mostly just in our home countries, as travel bans are widespread, hampering my plans to travel to Singapore monthly – which I have no qualms over, by the way, as I’ve decided to focus on the positive things instead. So I thought I ought to put together this post about 9 places I recently discovered during my last three trips in October to November, January for the long weekend, and February to March, to help others plan their trips once the world opens up again for us to explore.
1) ION Sky
Despite having gone to Singapore quite a number of times, it wasn’t until my trip late last year that I found out about the observation deck in the middle of Orchard Road, sitting atop of one of the malls I’ve actually frequented – ION Orchard.Located on the 56th floor, you’ll be welcomed by an animated show that ends in the revealing of the panoramic views this attraction has to offer, where you can get a glimpse of some of Singapore’s iconic landmarks 218 metres above ground level.Even better, you can get in for free – provided you spend a minimum of $20 per receipt at ION Orchard for one admission ticket. During our visit, we lucked-out and got to enter for free, which happens occasionally. For more details, you can visit their website: https://www.ionorchard.com/ion-sky.
2) Tanjong Pagar
This quaint & lovely area located in Duxton Hill is home to some of the best coffeeshops, bars, and restaurants in Singapore; it’s also where one of the spinning studios I’ve gone to, CruCycle, is located. Watch out for the beautifully-colored shophouses, as depicted below, as well as the several Korean barbecue restaurant options they have – O.BBa BBQ is one I highly-recommend!
Popularized by the multi-million dollar box office hit Crazy Rich Asians, I knew I had to visit this building complex situated in the central business district that dates back to the mid 1800s. While it was initially used as a Catholic convent, it has now been transformed into a dining haven, where we were fortunate enough to have spent one Sunday brunch in. There’s also an outdoor area, where you could lounge around, have a few drinks, and spend the weekend afternoon basking in the sun & fresh air – definitely a place I would frequent if I lived in Singapore!
4) Singapore Botanic Gardens
The Singapore Botanic Gardens has always been on my radar, but given its proximity to the hotels we stayed in in the past and us sticking to our usuals for places to visit, it wasn’t until the trip in October last year that I got to visit the gardens. This tropical garden is more than a century and a half old and is only one of the three gardens in the world to be named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A sprawling property of gorgeous open spaces, waterways, venues for public events, and so on, there’s just a ton of things this Singapore landmark has to offer.
5) Boat Quay
Spinning in Anthem on a daily basis during my last trip to Singapore in February to March led me to Boat Quay, which was only a minute away from the studio and a crosswalk away from the station I’d get off from. Overlooking the Singapore River, there’s just something so calming about this place that led me there time and time again. There are restaurants & bars in the area too, where you could have a fantastic meal or drink in.
6) Merci Marcel
I actually first tried Merci Marcel last year – particularly in January 2019 – in Tiong Bahru, thanks to a friend who lives in the area and first introduced it to us.During my trip in October, we attempted to go to the Palais Renaissance location along Orchard during Sunday brunch, which was the biggest mistake ever – as the waiting list was too long, and we didn’t have reservations.Wanting to go back, I made sure that the following trip had a sure locked-in reservation under our name. This time, we went to their Club Street location, and loved the interiors & the feel of the place. From the starters we ordered, the mains (pictured below), the wine, and the dessert selection – everything was to die for, and surely a must-try when in the Lion City!
7) Shangri-La Singapore
Technically, Shangri-La Singapore isn’t a recent discovery, but the restaurants we tried during my trip in October & February were new discoveries, namely: Waterfall Ristorante Italiano and The Line, their in-house buffet.
Waterfall prides itself in fine Italian cuisine and does not fail to impress. Whether you’re looking for a romantic date setting or an intimate dinner with friends or family, this restaurant surely has you covered. The outdoor area is great too, as it overlooks the pool area, making for a relaxing dining scene, paired with candlelit tables. Of course, living up to its Shangri-La standards, the food is top-notch, making you feel as if you were transported to Italy with their fine dishes. The Line, just like every other Shangri-La buffet I’ve tried, is a wide array of high-quality dishes from international origins. It makes for a great Sunday brunch venue, specially if you’re in the city only for the weekend, which was the case for me during my trip in January. Shangri-La Singapore has got to be one of my favorite hotels in the country, and I think I don’t have to explain any further, and just leave you with this photo instead.
8) Colony, The Ritz
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore located in Marina Bay is this grand & massive hotel that’s apparently known for one of the best, if not the best, buffet restaurants in the country – Colony.I was fortunate enough to have spent my birthday there earlier this year – BC19, of course – indulging in their fine dishes, enjoying the excellent service, and beautiful interiors. After having tried several buffet restaurants in a few countries here and there, I would have to say that Colony is by far one of the best restaurants I’ve dined in, and the best buffet I’ve had to-date!
9) Marina Barrage
The Marina Barrage was a pleasant surprise, ending my unknowingly last trip to Singapore – BC19, I was supposed to fly back the following month, but again, the circumstances are now entirely different. The best way to get there is via a taxi, as none of the lines get off there directly. The Marina Barrage is a dam that was built through the vision of the ever-so-brilliant and my favorite world leader Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. This beautiful attraction won’t be on the top search list for “places to visit in Singapore” – yes, I just checked – as I believe it’s more popular among locals; but as soon as we stepped out of the taxi, I was stunned! This outdoor area functions as a running trail, a picnic area, or whatever so you wish, as its entrance is free. I remember saying that during my trip back, we’ll definitely have to return; but again, this was BC19, so that obviously didn’t happen, so I’m counting the days when I get the chance to go back!
As I end this post, if it isn’t already obvious, I’m counting the days when I get to fly back to one of my favorite cities in the world – Singapore, which is the first thing I’ll most likely do when the situation is better and me flying no longer poses a risk not only for my loved-ones, but of course, to the rest of the public.
Till then, I hope you enjoyed this post and that it has ignited your wanderlust, which may now be limited for all of us, but hopefully, in the near future, we get the chance to once again freely explore what Singapore (and even the rest of the world) has to offer!