Eric Stoen travels to Singapore at least once a year with his kids. We asked him why he and his family love the city, and where they eat, shop, stay and play. The city is also home to the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, an Amazing Race pit-stop prize!
I started traveling to Singapore years ago for work, and have found that it’s a great destination, but it also makes a perfect layover city. It’s compact, extraordinarily safe, English is an official language, there’s a lot to do, and the food is amazing. Anytime that it works for us to stop for a day or two on the way back to the U.S. from other Asian destinations, we do it.
Singapore Changi Airport is one of the world’s best (it boasts the world’s largest indoor waterfall), and there are flights from virtually anywhere. That’s part of what makes the city such a great/easy layover destination. From the U.S. there are direct flights from California and New York, or you can fly from almost anywhere else with only one connection.
When to Visit
Singapore is only one degree north of the equator, and there’s virtually no difference in temperatures (humid and upper 80s) throughout the year. November through January is a little rainier, but even then you’ll likely see the sun too. Your bigger consideration should be the holiday/event calendar. Prices and tourism are up for certain events throughout the year, including Formula 1 races (September) and the National Day (August 9).
Where to Stay
Singapore is small, public transportation is excellent, and taxis are inexpensive, so you can base yourself anywhere and explore just the same. The Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, an Amazing Race pit-stop prize, is both an excellent hotel and it’s well-located, near Orchard Road and the Botanic Gardens. What I really love, though, is that it’s an oasis in the middle of the city. Come back after a day of exploring and enjoy the pool and green space. The best of both worlds! For families, there are extraordinary creative-themed suites, a pirate ship playground, an Explorer Zone, and a kid-friendly pool/splash pad — almost a mini-water park. For adults there’s the spa…and everything else you would expect from a world-class hotel.
What to Do
Singapore has some of the world’s best shopping, and a lot of it is along Orchard Road, close to the Shangri-La. The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands are also excellent. If shopping is your thing, you’ll be in heaven! Bring an extra suitcase.
Gardens by the Bay
You’ll recognize Gardens by the Bay immediately — actually a large park, but most famous for its Supertree Grove, a forest of large man-made trees that are actually vertical gardens. Be sure to take the elevator up and walk along the elevated walkway.
The ArtScience Museum
Located at Marina Bay Sands, near Gardens by the Bay, the ArtScience Museum is excellent for kids. There are always special exhibits, but the permanent areas are amazing — including highly interactive digital art that my kids love.
Chinatown and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
We love walking around Chinatown! The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple there is probably my favorite temple in Asia. Give yourself at least two hours to really explore the streets and experience the Chinese culture.
Singapore is known for its street food, and other than breakfast at our hotel, it’s pretty much all we eat. It’s not necessarily on the street though. From the food court at Marina Bay Sands to Makansutra Gluttons Bay (near the marina) to Market Street Food Centre, to the malls and side streets off Orchard Road, there are congregations of street food stalls, with every possible cuisine, everywhere. Enjoy!
The Marina and Merlion
We love the marina area of Singapore. We head over in the late afternoon to enjoy the sunset, get street food nearby, and then relax near the iconic Merlion statue with ice cream. And there always seems to be live music, events and performances around the area. If you’re there during the day, think about renting Segways or bicycles; the area is fun to explore on wheels!
There’s so much more to do! Head to the Botanic Garden, the Spice Garden, or the Orchid Garden. Take a food tour. Visit Little India. And find your own Singapore. We love walking everywhere, even with the heat/humidity, since we discover new places every time.
Have you been to Singapore? What’s your favorite thing to do?
Eric Stoen of Travel Babbo is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity.
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