So what should you do if you find yourself on a 7-hour stopover at Singapore Airport? The answer is get the hell out of there and explore this fabulous city/country/island/city state (delete as appropriate – I still haven’t worked out quite which one it is). As a British passport holder it is really easy to get out of the airport for the day as long as you fill in the visa application forms in the arrivals lounge properly – and have proof of your onward flight. You need to be back at the airport a minimum of 2 hours before your next flight – but that still leaves 5 hours for having an adventure!
The train from the airport into the city centre is really quick and easy to use, costing from $2.40 Singapore Dollars. Other journeys on the efficient metro network within the centre cost around $1.60 Singapore Dollars and are easily navigable.
In our 5 hours we:
1. Headed straight to the Gardens by the Bay – an Avatar-esque experience of high tech supertrees and enormous bio domes. This stunning outdoor space is free to wander – and believe me this in itself is a more than satisfying experience. Then a trip up onto the Skyway (an elevated walkway around the supertrees) is $8 Singapore Dollars – cash only – and well worth it for the views. Checking out the interior of the biodomes was over $25 Singapore Dollars and we had neither the cash nor the time for this, however I am informed that if time and money are no object than it’s well worth it! Once we’d looped the Skyway we headed back to ground level and toured the amazing gardens, which included some stunning larger than life sculptures and some lovely waterside walks.
2. Checked out the view from Sky on 57 at Mandarin Bay Sands at the top (57th floor) of Tower 2 of the Mandarin Bay Sands development. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay to eat as it was a bit out of our price range… Fabulous infinity pool tho if you ever find yourself with enough cash to stay at the hotel.
3. Roamed around Little India – this was like being in a completely different country to the Colonial District and Marina Bay Area,. As we exited the Little India MRT station a monsoon-esque downpour caught us out – so we headed straight to the Tekka Centre which is practically opposite and had a delish street food style meal served up on a banana leaf in the bustling hawker centre.
4. We then checked out the saris on sale in the upstairs market before heading back outside (once the rain had stopped) to tour the rest of the neighbourhood. We spent a great couple of hours exploring temples and Buddhas aplenty – including the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple with its enormous colourful Buddha; Leong San See Temple, Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, the Angullia Mosque (I wasn’t allowed in this one), and the Kampong Kapor Methodist Church. The architecture and atmosphere of all of these different places of worship was eclectic, impressive and beautiful.
5. Visited the iconic Raffles Hotel – we left Little India and on our way back to the airport we jumped out at the City Hall metro and popped to the iconic Raffles Hotel which was practically opposite the station. This was just a sweep browse as the legendary Singapore Slings were rather costly and our clock was also ticking. But it was well worth it. The place was buzzing with the blue rinse brigade and there was literally no room at the inn. But it was well worth a quick visit as the gardens are well kept, tranquil, and hark back to olden times glamour however clichéd. Raffles ticked off my bucket list out – it was time to jump back on the train and go back to departures and start the real holiday in Vietnam.