Entertainment galore: Singapore’s attractions all within easy reach
There’s plenty of fun for everyone, from the shops of Orchard Road and old-time charm of Raffles Hotel to eye-opening museums and sights, restaurants and excursions off the beaten track
As a night race, where the action heats up as the sun goes down, the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix offers edge-of-the-seat excitement against a spectacular backdrop of city-centre skyscrapers.
For fans, the weekend’s schedule of events has another advantage. It frees up each day to take in the city’s other attractions, from the shops of Orchard Road and the old-time charm of Raffles Hotel to eye-opening museums and sights, restaurants and excursions off the beaten track.
First-time visitors will see and hear many recommendations, pointing them towards the temperature-controlled indoor collections of the Gardens on the Bay, the always popular Singapore Zoo, harbour boat rides boarding alongside the outdoor bars, and cafes up and down Clarke Quay.
But slight deviations from the usual tourist stops, all easily reached by public transport, can prove equally enlightening and enthralling.
The ArtScience Museum in the Marina Bay area has permanent displays, events, performances and educational activities, besides hosting high-quality touring exhibitions. The aim is to illuminate the creative processes at the heart of art, culture, science and technology and explain their role in shaping society.
Since opening in 2011, the museum has featured exhibitions on subjects as diverse as Andy Warhol, Harry Potter, the dinosaur age, Singapore stories, Leonardo da Vinci, deep sea life and “future world”, ensuring that every visit is bound to inform, entertain or amaze.
Equally engaging – and too often overlooked - is the Jurong Bird Park. It is the place to see up close such exotic species as the cassowary, birds of paradise, hornbills, toucans, penguins, pelicans, and brightly-hued parrots from the equatorial rainforest.
Well-run shows during the day show off the grace, power and precision of different birds of prey, while a behind-the-scenes look at the breeding and research centre is a chance to marvel at rare hatchlings in the incubation rooms.
The wonders of nature can be encountered in other ways with a trip to Pulau Ubin, a largely undeveloped island reached via a 12-minute ferry ride across the strait from the public pier at Changi town. Bikes for hire make it easy to explore the island’s shaded trails, lakes and inlets before circling back to the main village for a fresh seafood lunch at one of the friendly waterfront restaurants.
Singapore has great options for dining out around almost every corner. No visitor, though, should miss the chance of a meal at a local “hawker centre”.
It’s not silver-service dining, but the various outlets, ranged alongside tables shared by come-as-you-are customers, offer an enticing choice of cuisines and dishes throughout the day. Typically, these include local favourites such as satay and chilli crab, spicy curries, rice noodles, and any number of vegetarian options, guaranteeing great food at a reasonable price and an authentic culinary experience.