I always see my friends posting photos with the Merlion or maybe with the odd-looking building that has that very distinct rooftop. Even when I was younger, my mom would receive random keychains and other souvenirs with the Merlion on it. They’d say it is from Singapore, an Asian country just close to the Philippines. Since then, I have always wondered what it is like to be in Singapore. Until early this year, when I was able to experience what the Merlion City is all about.
I was booking my plane ticket to Zurich and was in search for the cheapest flight possible without compromising my ultimate flight booking rule: First In, Last Out. Then I stumbled upon Expedia and saw a good deal, in fact, one of the best that I saw that time. Not because it was relatively cheap (my fault, I booked tickets two weeks before my flight), but simply because it will give me a golden opportunity to touch down upon three countries in one round-trip ticket. It became an easy decision for me and booked the ticket right away. Thus, the chance for me to visit the Merlion City with virtually no extra charge. With the help of a good friend, I was able to visit some of the main landmarks of the City.
It was my first time in Singapore and to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect other than seeing the Merlion and having a picture taken next to it. So to my dear friend, Marisel, you’re a total life-saver! It was just a very short trip, around 5 – 6 hours, but we’ve managed to visit and experience a lot already in that quite short span of time. Big thanks to the fact that they have an efficient transportation system that lets you hop from one location to another in a breeze.
What to do in Singapore in less than twelve hours
Let me give you a rundown of what we were able to do during my sojourn in Singapore during my layover:
1. Roaming around Changi Airport – Well, of course, the airport is the first thing that will welcome you in every country that you have to visit. But Changi Airport sure knows how to welcome Singapore tourists well enough. I got 12-hour layover before my flight to Zurich, so I had more than enough time to go to Singapore, their airport included.
The airport in itself is already a tourist attraction, and will already give you an overview of what Singapore really is: a good combination of flora and well-designed architecture. Almost every spot of the airport has its “micro-attraction” and displays that are definitely picture-worthy.
If you want to go out of the airport during your layover, just go to their immigration desks and just present your passport. You will have to fill-up an immigration form that has fields asking for your length of stay and your residence during your stay. For the residence field, just leave it blank and tell the immigration officer that you’ll just see the city and be back for your connecting flight. For the number of days, it depends on your flight but normally, you should just put one day. Don’t forget to exchange some Singaporean Dollars. 50 – 100 Singaporean Dollars should be enough for a one-day tour.
2. Eat in Singapore’s Hawkers – Hawkers are Singapore’s typical food courts. There’s a variety of food choices you can choose from, mostly Asian food obviously. From Singaporean, Indian, Thai, Korean to even Filipino dishes, the food ranges from 2.00 to 5.00 Singaporean dollars per order.
One thing that surprised me is how people would normally reserve seats in hawkers. My friend told me that I can just leave my stuff, camera, cellphone or even my whole bag, and those items will be left unharmed. It speaks a lot about Singapore’s discipline and culture which I came to admire during my short stay there.
3. Meeting the majestic Merlion – I’d be damned if I did not visit the Merlion. There are two Merlion attractions in Singapore (correct me if I am wrong my Singaporean friends), one in Marina Bay and one in Sentosa. We didn’t have enough time to go to Sentosa, so we only went to Marina Bay. The Merlion is definitely a tourist attraction in itself and it was difficult to get a clean shot of it. A lot of tourists are taking its photos or are posing pictures with the Merlion. Luckily, we were able to take an almost clean shot.
4. Walk around the Marina Bay – On top of the Merlion, there are several more attractions you can see and appreciate. Though the weather was really humid, it’s worth the heat and all the sweat. Haha! You can visit Marina Bay Sands, Esplanade, Gardens by the Bay, ArtScience Museum, and Helix Bridge. The one thing that I appreciate the most among the tourist attractions around Marina Bay is their top-of-the-line architecture and building design. You can see from afar how modern and intricate the architecture of each structure is. It’s as if each building is a piece of modern art. Up close, you can see the architects’ delicate attention to detail and not a corner is missed with a unique detail.
It was Chinese New Year week when I visited SG, and the racetrack usually allotted for F1 Grand Prix is turned to a festival street instead. There are lots of food stalls and Chinese New Year decorations, with which to feast your eyes.
If only we had enough time, we could’ve visited Sentosa, Universal Studios, and even entered the Gardens by the Bay. But for now, that ends my sojourn in Singapore and maybe in the near future we’d be back to stay much longer and hopefully visit SG around December when I assume it will be less humid. See you again Singapore!