Singapore may be a tiny red dot on the map, but we’re certainly not lacking in tourist spots and heritage landmarks that draw crowds of visitors to our shores each year. Gardens by the Bay? Been there, done that. The Merlion (all five official ones)? Sure, it’s cool. Universal Studios Singapore? For a thrill, why not.
Venture across the island in search of tourist attraction after tourist attraction, and you’ll be entertained – but you’ll also just be scratching the surface. So to prod a little deeper, we’ve got a couple behind-the-scenes tours for you. From an after-hours sleepover at the aquarium to exploring death and the afterlife to journeying through a local brewery, these ten guided trails are worth checking out to experience a different side of Singapore.
Be an ocean explorer
So you’ve been to the S.E.A. Aquarium too many times to count. But betcha didn’t know you could actually snuggle into a sleeping bag for an overnight stay with the fishes. Once the last guest has left for the day, the Ocean Dreams adventure begins with a 90-minute introduction to the marine creatures, including a back-of-house encounter in the aquarium.
Fun Factoid about Singapore: it’s nickname is “the fine country”. That’s because you get fined for lots of things like littering, feeding monkeys, spitting on the floor, sticking gum below the chair/table and more. Is this a great country or what? And don’t get me started on their draconian legal system…..these folks do not pussy-foot around.
Time for me to head east and stick my tootsies once more into a fish tank…..yes, I did say fish tank. This city-state in southeast Asia is where I first experienced the dubious thrill of fish spas a few years ago, and I’m more than ready for new water sessions. More about this fun stuff later. First, it’s 3 flights across the Pacific via Seattle and Tokyo, before touching down at Changi in tropical heat and humidity just before midnight, and 45 minutes early. Aching head and back with a numb ass are familiar symptoms, but after 27 hours of virtual non-stop flying, what else can I expect?
Singapore’s 74-hectare botanic wonderland is a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the city’s most arresting attractions. Established in 1860, it’s a tropical Valhalla peppered with glassy lakes, rolling lawns and themed gardens. The site is home to the National Orchid Garden (adult/child under 12yr S$5/free; 8.30am to 7pm, last entry 6pm), as well as a rare patch of dense primeval rainforest, the latter home to over 300 species of vegetation, over half of which are now (sadly) considered rare in Singapore.
The National Orchid Garden itself is the legacy of an orchid-breeding program that began in 1928, and its 3 hectares house over 1000 species and 2000 hybrids. Of these, around 600 are on display – the largest showcase of tropical orchids on Earth. Located next to the National Orchid Garden is the 1-hectare Ginger Garden, with over 250 members of the Zingiberaceae family.
Ranked as the world’s most vegetation-dense city, urban jungle Singapore, with her own green standard, ups her game when it comes to combating climate change.
Though small, Singapore topped the list of 17 cities with the highest density of greenery in a recent study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Senseable City Lab, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Cities and its Global Shapers Community.
Indeed, Singapore is dotted with green lungs. Apart from her first UNESCO World Heritage site, the Singapore Botanic Gardens (above), there’s Fort Canning Park, Labrador Nature Reserve, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (below), Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The latest green marvel is the recently opened Learning Forest at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.