Singapore here we are!
We planned on staying here for 4 days before we head home to California, and thereby ending our 3 weeks Tour of Asia. I wondered how our experience here would compare to other destinations we’ve visited, namely; Japan, Hong Kong and Bali. All have been wonderful, fascinating places and quite memorable for many unique and first-time experiences.
No loitering, no chewing gums. We were mindful that these are strictly prohibited and could result in fine, public humiliation and jail if caught in violation. It’s no wonder, Singapore is one of the cleanest city in the world.
We stayed at Grand Hyatt Singapore, to help meet the Hyatt Diamond Challenge which required 12 nights stay within 60 days of enrollment. It normally takes 25 stays or 50 nights to earn a Diamond status, but on this promo you’ll earn it after just 12 nights of stay within 60 days of enrollment. FYI, I met the challenge successfully and have Diamond status until February, 2016.
OVERVIEW OF GRAND HYATT SINGAPORE
Our suite has 2 floors, with a living room and dining table for 6 people on the 1st floor. There were snacks left on the table, a coffee machine and half bath.
Up on 2nd floor is our bedroom, a full bathroom and separate area with a dresser. To say we were overwhelmed with its size was an understatement.
We loved their Club Lounge, decorated simply but looks elegant. It offered a variety and wide selections of food during breakfast and cocktail hours. There were hot & cold appetizers, salads, variety of cheese and cold meat, desserts…gourmet & high quality Plenty of choice for drinks as well.
Our favorite attractions are listed below, in no particular order.
THE GARDENS BY THE BAY
The Gardens by the Bay is a massive project that used reclaimed land to build a 183-acre botanical garden next to the more iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel. It’s main attraction is the “Super trees” — 10- to 15-floor steel frames with vines and other plants growing over them. Access to the outdoor garden is free, but there’s a charge to get inside the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest Dome.
The Super Trees: In the evening, there’s a sky show of choreographed lights and sounds amidst the super trees, which we missed unfortunately.
Cloud Forest Dome: Within the enclosed compound is a 35-metre tall mountain veiled in mist and covered with lush vegetation with the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
The Flower Dome: Any garden lover would enjoy a visit to this dome. It replicates the cool-dry climate of the Mediterranean regions and houses collection of plants, some familiar flowers such as roses, geraniums and hibiscus. Unusual plants and trees. On a separate area, there is a display of various animals completely covered with plants & flower petals.
SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDEN: The only garden in the world that is opened daily from 5:00am until midnight every single day of the year. Admission is free except at the Nat’l. Orchid Garden. Founded in 1859, it showcases the best and spectacular tropical flora in a stunning verdant landscape. It is the country’s 1st UNESCO Heritage site, joining the ranks of the iconic landmarks of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and The Great Wall of China.
The Ginger Garden
The National Orchid Garden: Boast to have the world’s largest orchid display with over 60,000 plants and over 1,000 species of orchids.
The Marina Bay Sands (MBS): The unique building of MBS has become an iconic symbol of Singapore. It’s popular for its infinity pool and breathtaking view of the city’s skyline and Marina Bay from the top floor. There’s a fee (S$20) to get up to the Skypark Observation deck, but only hotel guests are allowed in the infinity pool area. Or, you can get up for free by having cocktails (S$20) or dinner at the restaurant on top, The Ku De Ta, and get a similar view.
MOST ENJOYABLE EXPERIENCE
Eating at Hawker Food Center: If you want to eat like a local in Singapore, you need to go to Hawker food centers and street foods where you’ll find a diverse range of authentic flavors and options with influence of Indian, Malay and Chinese. You’ll find here the best Southeast Asian cuisines at the lowest price. We visited a few, and choosing what to eat was mind boggling, but all were tasty and good.
Maxwell Food center
Marina Bay Sand (MBS) Food Court
Lau Pa Sat Market
Breathtaking Skyline views of the city atop MBS: Up on 57th floor, people who paid to go to the Skypark Observation deck, while we got our view from the Ku De Ta restaurant.
Dining at Ku De Ta: Perhaps the most coveted dining address jn Singapore, this place is not for fine dining, but more casual where you get a nice cocktail and order few dishes to share as you enjoy the panoramic view of Singapore’s skyline. Eating here is not cheap, but worth splurging on. We got to try Wagyu beef which costs $110 US per 100g, melt in your mouth, along with 2 other dishes.
Lucky Plaza: We were surprised to discover that this multi-level shopping mall is comprised of shops mostly owned by Filipinos from various provinces or cities of the Philippines: Pampanga, Iloilo, Cebu, Manila, Cavite, etc. The sounds of my native language (Tagalog) resonating in my ears felt like I was back home. It was so surreal esp.I have not gone back home to my native land for more than 30 years.
Exploring the City: It was easy enough to explore the city as our hotel is walking distance to bus stop, metro station, and to Orchard street, a shopper’s paradise to those seeking high-end and known-designer brands.
It was fun getting lost in the city and discover impressive structures.
ETHNIC NEIGHBORHOODS IN THE CITY
Chinatown: A sharp contrast to the rest of the city, with low rise buildings and rich with cultures, from fragrant smells of traditional cuisines to the bold red and gold tones that run through the streets; stringed lanterns adorning the streets. Good place to eat and shop for souvenirs.
Little India: One of the most vibrant and culturally authentic districts of Singapore. It’s a sanitized version of the real thing, and flavors found here are not watered down for Western palates. We ventured into their food court, walked the streets and saw gold shops. It was during the “Festival of Lights” or “Deepavali”, celebrated by Hindus across the world to mark the triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness….so the streets were transformed into a fantasyland of colorful arches and magnificent lights.
Klam Glampong or Arab Street: True to its name, it epitomizes the Arabian way of life. Here, you’ll find conservatively dressed Muslims on their way to Sultan Mosque, illuminated at night giving it a magical glow. Shop for vibrant fabrics and order custom-made gowns. Bargain for Oriental carpets, ornate lamps. Savor ethnic cuisines. If you want “Middle Eastern Exposure”, you’ve come to the right place.
In Summary: Singapore did not disappoint, it was everything I had anticipated and more. Fun, exciting and vibrant. Many attractions to see and enjoy. So much diversity, and its ethnic neighborhoods offers interesting cultural experience.
Finally, our 3 weeks Tour of Asia is over and a trip I will remember for the many 1st time and unique experiences during our trip. Flying 1st class aboard Cathay Pacific. Riding the bullet train in Tokyo. Walking the streets of Kyoto dressed in Kimonos. Taking the tram to Victoria Peak in Hong Kong. Unforgettable and amazing stay at St. Regis in Bali. Over the top Sunday Brunch at Kayuputi. Frangipani bath and spa treatments for 3 1/2 hours in Nusa Dua. Dinner Ku De Ta on 57th floor of Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore. Seeing the most beautiful Nat’l. Orchid Center.
A trip of a lifetime made possible by my new hobby, collecting miles and points.