Singapore Swings


The colourful, exotic world of Singapore offers travellers an easy taste of Asia, according to travel writer Kerry Heaney.

Tropical Singapore combines all the sights, smells and tastes of Asia with a relaxed charm that can make a visitor feel almost like a local.

So much is the same, but different, in the exotic everyday mix of this island city-state. It starts at Changi International Airport where the arrival experience is as quick and painless as the speedy, 20-minute ride into the city centre. Here visitors are spoilt for choice with an array of intriguing places to explore, history to discover, thrills to chase and a vibrant arts tapestry to unravel.

Singapore is a safe city for travellers, so venture out with gusto. Take to the streets for a look at the traditional two-storey shophouses of old world Singapore. Wander through the colourful, textile and accessory-filled bazaars at Arab Street in Kampong Glam. In Chinatown, the shophouses offer art and antiques, souvenirs and clothing.

Delve into history with a visit to the underground Fort Canning Battle Box, where the drama of Singapore’s surrender to the Japanese in 1942 marked the end of the British Empire.

Visit the National Gallery of Singapore and the ArtScience Museum to see art and science fuse in a world of wonderment and the MINT Museum of Toys to catch Astro Boy, Popeye and Tintin.

A magical, human-made plant kingdom awaits discovery at Gardens by the Bay. Explore the Flower Dome, one of the most extensive glass greenhouses in the world, and the Cloud Forest, a mountain of waterfalls with a walking trail through misty walls of tropical vegetation and flowers.

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The tastes of Singapore


Some even pick their homes based on easy access to their favourite hawker centre because that is where you find the street food for which this city is justifiably famous. Expect flaming satay cooked onsuper-hot coals, tender dumplings, fishhead curry and chilli crab.

Start your day here with a kaya toast breakfast like a real Singaporean or try some black or white fried carrot cake. It is made from turnip, not carrot, and looks nothing like the carrot cake you know so well.

For the cheapest Michelin-starred meal in Singapore, head to Liao Fan Hawker Chan in the Chinatown Complex where chef Chan Hong Meng’s soya sauce chicken rice costs just S$3.80. Unfortunately, long queues mean you might have to wait
up to three hours for a meal but another air-conditioned off-shoot across the road at 78 Smith Street has much shorter queues.

Instead of standing in the sun at the Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck, look down on an even more panoramic view from JAAN, on the 70th floor of the Swissotel Hotel. Awarded one star in the 2017 Singapore Michelin Guide and ranked 42nd in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, the restaurant offers multi-course menus that start at S$88 for lunch.

Time a visit with the annual AccorHotels Singapore Food Festival in November and enjoy a set festival meal menu at a bargain price.

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"They say Singaporeans live to eat and shop."

Choose your own adventure


Night time view of Singapore’s ArtScience Museum.

Night time view of Singapore’s ArtScience Museum.

Gardens by the Bay Supertree Grove and Skyway walk

Gardens by the Bay Supertree Grove and Skyway walk

"Singapore is a destination you can experience in three days as a long weekend or stopover, but it really takes a week to get under the skin of this varied destination."

Explore Singapore's unique and amazing Chinatown Complex

Explore Singapore's unique and amazing Chinatown Complex

Exploring the city on foot may see you longing for the comfort of a good massage to relax those tired muscles. A session with Kenny at the Chanlin Reflexology House at 180 Bencoolen Street will have you feeling like a youngster again.

Stay at the very new Sofitel City Centre in the heart of historic Tanjong Pagar, and be within easy walking distance of two of Singapore’s favourite hawker centres, Lau Pa Sat and Maxwell Food Centre.

This hotel will turn your head with its shimmering nine-metre entry chandelier, barrel-aged cocktails and 30-metre infinity lap pool. Sophie, the droid butler who brings that extra towel or drink to the room, is another attraction, along with a Handy Phone that gives guests free access to local and international calls to 10 countries, plus Wi-Fi on the go.

Travel from Brisbane or Melbourne on Singapore Airlines’ new A350-900 daily service and enjoy a getaway that starts at the airport and continues with comfort in the air.

Fancy a holiday in Singapore, or a break elsewhere in Asia? National Seniors has some fantastic tours at member-exclusive prices. Contact our fully accredited travel team on 1300 88 37 50 now, or visit nationalseniorstravel.com.au/asia and find out how much you can save as a National Seniors member. 

This article by Kerry Heaney originally appeared in the Summer edition of 50 Something magazine (December 2017). Disclaimer: The writer travelled as a guest of AccorHotels and Brisbane Airport Corporation.

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