My first stop in Asia, ever, and my final populated continent to hit. Arriving felt like this big accomplishment now that I’ve been to every inhabited continent (who knows, maybe my next adventure will be to Antarctica!). I was ready to embrace Southeast Asia and my final leg of my trip, albeit my longest leg.
My first day in Singapore was spent at the Botanic Garden. Singapore is known as a Garden City, and the gardens do not disappoint. The Botanic Garden is free and the National Orchid Garden inside is an affordable $1 for students. The entirety of the garden is large enough to entertain you for an entire day. It is also easily accessible on Singapore’s SMRT train, their highly efficient public transportation network.
The highlight of the Botanic Garden is the National Orchid Garden. Here you will find a range of indigenous and imported orchids, along with a number of orchid decorative sculptures within the park. My favorite were the paths of arches formed out of orchid plants.
Inside the city, you will find a very interesting mix of cultures. Three distinct cultures make up Singapore’s streets: Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian. This also brings three different religions into the city and you can find their own footprints around their different neighborhoods. The Malay neighborhood, predominantly Muslim, hosts a beautiful Mosque towering above the adjacent buildings and homes.
The Chinese neighborhood, predominantly Buddhist, is home to, in my opinion, the most beautiful temple in Singapore: the Buddha’s Tooth Temple. Unfortunately, many of my photos were lost (more on in a future post) but a few managed to save to my laptop.
Finally, the Indian neighborhood hosts a number of Hindu temples. I was not allowed to take photos inside, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. But the temples were lined with hundreds of sculptures of Indian gods and goddesses. Just be sure to remove your shoes and socks when entering the temple.
The next day, my parents arrived and we walked to the iconic skyline vantage point. There’s nothing quite like the Singapore skyline. From the incredible Marina Bay Sands Hotel, to the ArtScience Museum, to the dozen skyscrapers lining the waterfront, it feels like you’ve entered into the future.
One of the “things to do” in Singapore: the Gardens by the Bay. A number of huge tree sculptures made of lights, metal, and real plants, surrounded by an enormous garden. The iconic garden that made Singapore’s gardens famous, and better yet: totally free. There is a walk amongst the trees that costs some money, but it wasn’t too expensive.
And finally, my favorite thing in Singapore: the ArtScience Museum. While most of the museum is more designed towards kids and you can do the majority of the museum in only a couple hours, one piece really stuck out. The Space exhibit is one of the coolest exhibits I’ve seen in an art museum. The entire room is built of thousands of lights working together to simulate the universe, create and destroy stars, and transport you through our galaxy. The technology behind it is wild and it truly does feel extraterrestrial.
All in all, I liked Singapore. I wouldn’t say it was the greatest destination I’ve ever experienced, but I think Singapore fits well into the category of the “stopover destination.” You can see the sights in a day or two, easily tacked on to the beginning or end of a trip elsewhere in Southeast Asia. If you only had one full day, I would say the “musts” are the Gardens by the Bay and the ArtScience Museum, which are conveniently right next to each other. With a second day, explore the three cultural neighborhoods: Chinatown, the Malay district, and the Indian neighborhood.