Singapore (Chinese: 新加坡; Malay: Singapura; Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர்)  is a city-state in Southeast Asia. Founded as a British trading colony in 1819, since independence it has become one of the world's most prosperous countries and boasts the world's busiest port. Combining the skyscrapers and subways of a modern, affluent city with a medley of Chinese, Malay and Indian influences and a tropical climate, with tasty food, good shopping and a vibrant nightlife scene, this Garden City makes a great stopover or springboard into the region. 1 Gardens by the Bay. gardeny garden
See and Do
Long a bit of a joke, Singaporean wags used to quip that "Sentosa" stood for "So Expensive and Nothing to See Actually". Well, it's still expensive, but there are now more than enough attractions to spend a day or two taking in, especially in the family-oriented Resorts World Sentosa. In fact the crowd during the weekends and school holidays can be quite daunting, and it's never easy waiting in long sweaty queues under the mid-day sun but Universal Studios Singapore is a standout experience for theme park lovers and for those who haven't been to Orlando. For all attractions below, a "child" is defined as being between three and twelve.
Resorts World Sentosa
Resorts World Sentosa can be reached via the Waterfront station of the monorail or via the dedicated RWS buses from Harbourfront and other points in Singapore (see Get in). If you plan on visiting more than one park, check out the Multi-Park Passes. The most comprehensive, which includes Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium, Maritime Experiential Museum and Adventure Cove Waterpark, costs $188/136 for a two day visit and is curiously more expensive than the individual tickets combined, but allows for switching between attractions as you like.
- 1 Casino, Crockfords Tower B1M. 24 hours. Singapore's first casino is tucked away underground underneath the Crockfords Tower hotel. There are 500 gaming tables offering 19 different games, but the emphasis is on Asian favorites like baccarat, roulette, tai sai and pai gow, with poker a distinct minority. A dress code applies: no slippers, no singlets and no shorts. Overseas guests free entry, Singaporean/Permanent Residents $100 Casino Levy.
- 2 Universal Studios Singapore, ☏ . Daily 10AM-7PM, F/Sa 7PM-10PM (Hollywood After Hours). The first Universal Studios theme park in Southeast Asia, it can take a whole day to try out all the rides. There are seven zones: Hollywood, New York, Sci-Fi City, Ancient Egypt, The Lost World, Far Far Away and Madagascar. The star of the park is Battlestar Galactica, the world's tallest "dueling" rollercoaster, with two tracks battling it out simultaneously: "Cylon" suspends you in the air, with plenty of loops and inversions, while "Human" is seated and reaches speeds of up to 90 km/h. Inclement weather can put a damper on plans, although some rides do remain open. One-day pass $74/54, two-day pass $118/88, all rides included.
- 2 S.E.A. Aquarium, ☏ . 10AM-7PM daily. The largest oceanarium in the world. Home to majestic manta rays, enormous goliath grouper, Napoleon wrasse, and other gentle giants of the sea. The corridors can get a little cramped, especially when everybody else has the exact same idea to avoid the outside heat. $29/$20 adults/children, includes access to Maritime Experiential Museum. $10 for access to priority queues.
- 3 Maritime Experiential Museum, ☏ . 10AM-7PM daily. See replicas of Asian sailing vessels from the docks at the Historic Ship Harbour, and learn more about Asia’s maritime and cultural heritage through the museum’s education programmes. Shared ticket with S.E.A. Aquarium.
- 3 Adventure Cove Waterpark, ☏ . 10AM-6PM daily. Has Southeast Asia’s first hydro-magnetic coaster and a gigantic wave pool. Grab a tube and journey down Adventure River, passing through 14 themed zones including a tropical jungle garden and a sea creature grotto. Snorkel over a colourful coral reef with 20,000 friendly fish or wade amongst dozens of rays. Lockers cost $10 for small ones and $20 for large ones, so try not to bring too many things. $29/$20 adults/children.
- 4 Incanto, Festive Grand, ☏ . M/Th/Fr 8PM, Sa/Su 4PM & 8PM. Illusionist Joe Labero carries out death-defying illusions and is supported by the astonishing acrobatic sequences of the Shenyang Acrobatic Troupe. $48-$148.
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At the beach
Among Singaporeans, a popular reason to go to Sentosa is to hit the beaches: Siloso, Palawan and Tanjong from west to east respectively. All three are artificial, but does it really matter? Unfortunately the water is rather murky due to the never-ending parade of ships across the Straits. Siloso has a nice beach promenade full of clubs and restaurants, some rather noisy, while Palawan claims to be the southernmost point of continental Asia (if you count the bridge connecting Sentosa, and ignore any competing Malaysian claims). Tanjong, the quietest of the three, is the place for beach volleyball.
- 4 Underwater World, near Siloso Beach (all buses). 10AM-7PM. Features a walk-through aquarium with lots of sharks and fishes and many smaller tanks. Now largely superseded by the nearby S.E.A. Aquarium, but still pretty nice with the fewer crowds. $25.90/17.60 adult/child, includes admission to Dolphin Lagoon.
- 5 Dolphin Lagoon, Siloso Point. Has cute pink dolphins doing all the usual tricks (jumping through hoops, balancing balls, etc). $$$$.
- 5 Fish Reflexology, Underwater World (near ticket booth), ☏ . Daily 10AM-7PM. For a spa treatment with a difference, pop in to have fish nibble dead skin off your feet. You have a choice between "gentle" Turkish fish and "aggressive" African ones: neither will cause damage, but the African ones are pretty ticklish! The treatment concludes with foot reflexology or head and shoulder massage, performed more traditionally by humans. $35/40 min.
- 6 Songs of the Sea (Beach Station). Daily at 7:40PM and 8:40PM. Multimedia extravaganza with live cast, pyrotechnics, water jets and lasers. Very popular, so book ahead, especially on weekends. Premium $15, standard $12.
- 6 Wave House Sentosa, Beach Station, ☏ . 10:30AM–10:30PM. Artificial waves to go along with the artificial beaches, there's the Double Flowrider (easy) and the Flowbarrel (hard). Or just come and watch surfers bust up the waves, with a nearby beach bar and the occasional party event. Need to register at least 30 minutes before a session. $35-$50 for one hour, $60-90 for two, sessions run on the half hour.
For some action
For the best value for money, try the Southern Ridges Walk on Mt Faber, which is totally free and you might see some wildlife too.
- 7 Flying Trapeze, Beach Station. M-F 2:30PM-6:30PM, Sa/Su 2:30PM-7:30PM. Learn how to swing like Tarzan on the trapeze. Closed during wet weather. $10/swing, $20/3 swings.
- 8 iFly Singapore, 43 Siloso Beach Walk, ☏ . A giant wind tunnel five storeys high that gives visitors a chance to try out indoor skydiving and is even big enough to accommodate eight-way formation flying. $69-$89 for two skydives.
- 9 MegaZip Adventure Park, Imbiah Lookout, ☏ . 11AM-7PM. Zip wires, aerial obstacle courses, simulated parachute landings and trampolines, all for the adrenaline pump. $38/zip, $38/obstacles, $18/jump.
- 10 Sentosa Luge & Skyride, Beach Station, ☏ . 10AM-9:30PM. Up the hill in a ski lift and down again in a steerable bobsled. Kid safe. Good attraction for younger kids as the incline of the track hinders going very fast. Not very exciting for those over 15. If you are inclined to go, resist temptation to purchase multiple trips until trying it the first time. The Dragon Trail is closed on rainy days. $13 single ride, plus $1 for child riding with adult.
- 11 Southern Ridges Walk, Mt Faber. On the mainland, it's a 9km long walk starting from Mt. Faber that passes over treetops and through housing estates. Offers an easy getaway from shopping centres and tourist attractions. The Henderson Waves are the first major stop on the trail. Free.
Elsewhere in Sentosa
The prisoner of Sentosa
Most people feel they can see Sentosa in a day — how about being confined to the island for over twenty three years? This was the fate of Chia Thye Poh, a member of the opposition Barisan Sosialis, who was arrested in 1966 under the Internal Security Act. He was asked to sign a document renouncing violence and ties with the Communist Party of Malaya, but Chia, a man of principle, refused as he had no such ties and had never advocated violence. Never charged or brought to trial, he was held in prison for 23 years, becoming the world's second-longest-serving political prisoner after Nelson Mandela, and was "released" only in 1989 to house arrest on Sentosa. He was allowed to move back to the mainland in 1992 and had all restrictions lifted in 1998.
- 7 Fort Siloso, near Underwater World (all buses, then transfer to tram). 10AM-6PM. Formerly the largest British naval base in Fortress Singapore, its guns staring balefully out towards the sea in preparation for enemy attack. The Japanese rode bikes down the peninsula instead; after your visit here, be sure to visit the Battle Box at Fort Canning Hill to find out what happened next. Now turned into a museum, you can follow a tour through the area (complete with lots of wax figures) to find out what the life of a recruit was like. Nearly doubled in size in 2004. $8/5 adult/child.
- 8 Images of Singapore, near Cable Car Station (green, blue bus). 9AM-7PM. A sugar-coated, kid-friendly retelling of the official Singapore story, where people of many races have come together to live in harmony. Renovated in 2006 and now uses the latest technology, but there is not all that much substance under the glitz. $10/7 adult/child.
- 9 Sentosa Merlion (Imbiah Station). 10AM-8PM. A stretched-out 37-metre version of the statue by the Singapore River, which is lit up at night - note, the Merlion highly disappointingly no longer shoots lasers (if in fact it ever did) from its eyes. Admission enables you to take the elevator up into its mouth and gaze out over the nearby Port of Singapore, as well as experience some seriously cheesy exhibits downstairs. $8/5 adult/child.
- 12 Sentosa Golf Club, 27 Bukit Manis Road, ☏ . The only golf club in Singapore open to the public, it features two famously challenging 18-hole courses and hosts the yearly Barclays Singapore Open. When sipping your gin and tonic in the clubhouse, raise a toast to Chia Thye Poh (see box), who was for years held under house arrest in a one-room guardhouse in the club grounds. $120 weekdays, $220 weekends.
- 13 Spa Botanica, 2 Bukit Manis Road (near The Sentosa Resort), ☏ . Singapore first self-proclaimed "tropical garden spa". Shared facilities are limited to a swimming pool and a mud bath, but a wide range of treatments are available. $100-300.
- 10 Tiger Sky Tower, near Cable Car (blue/green bus). 9AM-9PM daily. Asia's tallest observation tower. It takes you up to a height of 131 m above sealevel and offers a 360-degree view of Sentosa, Singapore and the Southern islands. On clear days the outlines of Malaysia and Indonesia can be seen. $10/7 adult/child.
There are a few sights of minor interest on Kusu Island. The name means "Turtle Island" and there are indeed lots of the reptiles scampering about, but don't expect an unspoiled tropical paradise: the island was thoroughly reworked with land reclamation in 1975 and looks exactly like the rest of Sentosa.
- 11 Da Bogong (Tua Pekong) Temple, Kusu Island. An unassuming little Taoist temple dedicated to the Merchant God. This is the focal point of the yearly Kusu Festival (Oct-Nov), when pilgrims come to the island to pray for prosperity.
- 12 Keramat Kusu, Kusu Island. An unusual Muslim shrine (not a mosque) atop a small hill, dedicated to the saint Syed Abdul Rahman and his family, who lived here in the 19th century. The shrine is painted bright yellow and is visited in particular by childless couples.
Kusu and St. John also offer some beaches, which are quieter but otherwise not much different from those on Sentosa itself. St. John is also a popular spot for fishing.
Every corner of Sentosa is inundated with gift shops filled with all the plush Merlion toys you will ever need (and then some).
- 1 VivoCity, HarbourFront MRT. This giant complex on the mainland just next to the Sentosa bridge is Singapore's largest shopping mall, featuring anchor tenants like The Gap, two giant food courts and creative landscaping. There is a huge hypermarket featuring Singapore's largest organic supermarket. The Sentosa Express monorail station is integrated into the mall - the ticketing station can be found on the 3rd floor beside the thematic food court, and the Singapore Cruise Centre is connected to VivoCity via a bridge to the HarbourFront Centre, where there are also other shops as well.
- Sweet Enchantment, VivoCity #01-159. Singapore's first all-natural handcrafted rock candy shop where you can watch their artisan candy chefs create lovely rock candies or lollipops 'live' inscribed with words to mark your passage in this lovely island country i.e. "I Heart SG".