Wednesday, 6 July 2022

7 iconic experiences in Singapore you must try

The Lion City may be small, but it doesn’t fall short on things to do and see, especially when it comes to sharing tales of its history and catering to a modern crowd. Adventure and fun is located in plain sight, whether you’re a hands-on person looking to cook up a storm or a visual learner who appreciates a leisure day out, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s something for everyone in Singapore.

1. Take an orchid tour

There’s no better place to learn about the country’s national flower – the Vanda Miss Joaquim – than at Singapore Botanic Gardens. At the National Orchid Garden, visitors get to feast their eyes on the largest collection of orchid species in the city. The garden houses over 700 species and 3,000 hybrids from all across the tropics with some named after highly influential personalities such as Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana. Visitors will also learn the origin story of how the Vanda Miss Joaquim was discovered and came to be the nation’s heritage icon.

In 2021, several additions to the Singapore Botanic Gardens were made. Check out the new Botanical Art Gallery, where paintings and sketches can be admired, or head to COMO Adventure Grove, where kids are encouraged to reconnect with nature.

Secret Ravine_National_Orchid_Garden_ credit NParks
The Secret Ravine trail is part of the Tropical Montane Orchidetum, a new addition to the National Orchid Garden. Photo credit: NParks

2. Learn how to make Hainanese Chicken Rice

Join Ruqxana Vasanwala’s popular cooking classes to learn how to whip up some of Singapore’s most popular delicacies. Participants get to choose what they like to prepare – depending on the schedule, they can pick from a range of local favourites, including Hainanese Chicken Rice, char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles with seafood) and Nonya laksa. Book a private class for a group of friends or the more hand-on, one-to-one option and choose up to three dishes to be taught within the lesson.

Hainanese chicken rice singapore
Try your hand at cooking local cuisines with a professional. Photo credit:

3. Catch your own dinner

Seafood doesn’t get any fresher than this – fish for your own dinner at Smith Marine, a local kelong (aquaculture farm) located off the island of Pulau Ubin. Diners arrive by bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal and try their luck at baiting a fish (typically snapper or sea bass) at the indoor pond. They then pass their catch to the chef, who will cook it in a variety of styles. Other notable dishes here include the Lala (Live Venus Clams) cooked in chilli paste or garlic butter and steamed lobster.

4. Fly in Sentosa

Get a bird’s-eye view of the resort island of Sentosa as you whizz past its jungle canopy and Siloso Beach on Mega Adventure’s 450m Megazip flying fox. And if soaring 72m above sea level is not thrilling enough, explore the treetops by tackling Megaclimb (in the same area as the Megazip park), an aerial obstacle course that includes wobbly bridges, swaying tightropes and airy cargo nets, all set at dizzying heights. If skydiving is your thing, try it indoors at the wind tunnel at iFly Singapore. You’ll receive guidance from a professional instructor before you go in for the actual experience, which comes with unparalleled views of the South China Sea and Siloso Beach.

You’ll also have the option to laze around – or party the night away – at one of Sentosa’s many beach clubs, including Rumours Beach Club or Tanjong Beach Club.

Feel the cool wind against your skin on the MegaZip

5. Farm in the city

How does a farm that’s right in the middle of concrete-jungle Singapore – in the heart of its famous Orchard Road shopping strip – survive and also thrive? ComCrop is an urban farm that supplies some of the most popular restaurants and bars in the city with herbs like basil and habanero. The rooftop establishment employs aquaponics, and you’ll get a chance to learn all about it at one of its monthly farm tours. There are also additional farms around Singapore to help you escape the urban jungle.

6. Hop on a leisurely cruise around Singapore

You don’t need an excuse to enjoy a romantic breezy sunset dinner on a superyacht, do you? The Royal Albatross is a great way to experience an unforgettable and luxurious dinner cruise experience on the Little Red Dot. Choose between two types of journeys – a sunset cruise to see the orange and yellow gradient of the horizon or an evening cruise for a picture perfect night view of the city lights. The price includes a welcome mocktail and free-flow of soft drinks. Top up an extra S$100++ for a wine pairing option while you bask in the golden rays or as you count the stars in the night sky. Bonus: The city lights cruise includes a complimentary limo ride.

Iconic Things to do in Singapore
On deck of the Royal Albatross Cruise. Photo credit: Longkong/

7. Plan a day trip to the islands

The many smaller islands surrounding Singapore are definitely worth a visit and provide a tranquil respite from the bustling city state. Kusu Island, also known as Tortoise Island, is among the many lesser known islands to visit and is the perfect place for a day trip. Visit the various sacred sites, including the Da Bo Gong Temple that was built in 1923 and dedicated to the Chinese God of Prosperity, as well as the Malay keramat (shrine) atop a steep hill. Go snorkelling to see hundreds of tortoises or simply visit the island’s Tortoise Sanctuary. Getting to Kusu Island requires visitors to ride a ferry from Marina South Pier. Other islands to consider hopping to include St John’s Island and Lazarus Island, both of which make idyllic beach escapades.

Da Bogong Temple Iconic Things to do in Singapore
Exterior of Da Bogong Temple on Kusu Island Photo credit: PeJo/

Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking and seating requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.

This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings on 4 August 2016 and updated on 21 April 2021.

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