We had always planned to do a side trip to Singapore while living in Bali, and previously we have just been on tempting transient visits. Because it is so close and cheap to travel there, it is the country of choice for those needing to renew their Indonesian visa. For us Singapore was not just a visa run, we wanted to spend some time and explore this island country.
We stayed in Little India, one part of town for most of our visit, and at times we felt like we were actually in India not Singapore. We had lots of Indian food which was fantastic, but also discovered lots of hawker markets to try a large range of food that Singapore is famous for.
There were heaps of family friendly things to do. We spent a day at the zoo. Everyone recommended the night safari zoo but with young kids we would have found it difficult being out so late. Besides we have to save something for next time!
The Singapore flyer is not a cheap activity, but you get a fantastic overview of the whole cityscape, with high-rise buildings trailing off into the distance. Seeing everything from above gives you a better perspective of how crowded Singapore is. One taxi driver commented while going through a tunnel under the sea, that with the limited space, the only building to be done is either under or over! It makes for interesting architecture.
With the limited space for development in Singapore, there is still surprisingly plenty of greenery. A fairly new development is the Gardens by the Bay. There are two large domes dominating the landscape, with a large flower garden in one, and a rain forest in the other. These are both filled with amazingly manicured garden beds, vertical and layered gardens, also with statues, some art work, plus it is all air-conditioned which was a welcome break from the steamy Singapore humidity.
The Botanic Gardens is also a great place to go. The orchid garden which sits within the Gardens was lots of fun. The array of orchids is absolutely world class. I’ve never seen so many different types and colours. There is also a kids garden which we were very keen to visit, but we only found out it was closed on Mondays when we arrived at the gate.
Another highlight for us in Singapore was the freaky life-size dioramas at Haw Par Villa. We spent a couple of hours exploring the maze of exhibits. The displays really were quite odd, the naked pig-man (see below), the Australian animals, the 10 Courts of Hell with all manner of gory visual ways to die if you are naughty, were among the highlights. Creepy.
Another great discovery was the numerous water play areas. They seemed to be at everywhere you go, and they were a welcome break for the kids to cool off. The best we found was at Jurong East, only a couple of dollars to enter, it was a huge area with slides, wave pool and river to float along. There were also similar play areas at the Singapore Zoo, at Gardens by the Bay, Botanic Gardens (which we missed) and Sentosa Island. We learnt that it pays to always take a pair of bathers when out sightseeing in Singapore.
For the final few nights we splurged and stayed at Resorts World on Sentosa Island, with the highlight being a day at Universal Studios. There were plenty of other highlights too, including the Port of Lost Wonder water play area near the man-made beach, buffet breakfast, and the pool at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Oh, and we did get our visa too. On return from our supply trip to Perth, we all got a 30 day Visa on Arrival, which had quickly expired. Through the help of a visa agent in Bali and a local sponsor, we got all the paperwork to get a Social visa while in Singapore, which will now enable us to stay up to six months without leaving the country.