Looking for things to do in Singapore? Check out the highlights from my trip this year – featuring the Projector Cinema, Singapore Zoo and Gardens by the Bay.
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Singapore, to visit my friend George. Given that I’ve never travelled outside of Europe, the trip really was like nothing I have ever experienced before, and I felt very fortunate that I had a friend to show me around. Though the entire experience was pretty unforgettable, there were a few moments that stood out from the rest.
The Projector Cinema
The Projector is the stuff of your Indie dreams. Originally built in 1973 as The Golden Cinema, at the time it was the largest cinema in all of Singapore and Malaysia with a total of 1,500 seats. During the 90s the cinema was divided into three separate halls with today’s incarnation comprising of two halls which originally made up the circle seats. Even a third of its original size, The Projector screens feel huge compared to modernised cinemas, with seating comprising of plastic seats on concrete steps, along with some beanbags down at the front in the Redrum. We ended up in the Green Room so didn’t have the option of beanbags, though George confirmed that, hip as they may look, they did not make for the most comfortable viewing experience.
We chose to see Lady Bird, which seemed an incredibly appropriate choice given the indie venue, and was a great film in its own right. Though there is an incredibly Instagrammable bar in the cinema’s foyer (with some amazing film posters covering one wall), George led us out to the car park where we found a VW van converted into a bar, surrounded by hipsters chilling on sofas. We sat at a table right at the edge of the car park where we could look out across the city, with our night-time view including the Singapore Flyer and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Definitely a spot to try and hit if you’re looking for your own indie movie-moment.
In the lead up to my holiday, other than being able to see my friend, there was one experience I was excited for beyond all others. Pandas are up there as one of my favourite animals but I’ve never seen one in real life. Kai Kai and Jia Jia live in the zoo’s River Safari and visiting them was number one on my to do list! You can see from my face just how happy I was to get a selfie with Kai Kai, the male panda, while Jia Jia gave me a giggle when I saw she was sat, literally covered in bamboo leaves that she was slowly eating!
I am extremely picky when it comes to visiting zoos, and I research as much as I can about the animal welfare standards first. Singapore zoo is a huge development of four different sections – Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and the Bird Park – with all residents given large enclosures that mimic their natural habitats. As each park is charged separately, we visited the River Safari and the main Zoo, seeing so many incredible animals, including white tigers, hippos and manatees! I also feel very privileged to have seen Inuka, the zoo’s elderly polar bear, who was sadly put down recently due to age related conditions.
We spent an afternoon in China Town towards the end of the trip, due to feeling more than a little tired by that point! That’s not to say China Town is a relaxing day out by any means, as this area is one of the most colourful and vibrant parts of the city. Though you’ll find plenty of tourists here, it’s also a place where Singaporeans are just going about their day to day lives. Whilst there we sat on the steps opposite the rear of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, watching one of the city’s outdoor Zumba classes.
If you’re looking for souvenirs, China Town is a great place to go. It was here that I bought some small gifts for my friends, including chopsticks with our Chinese Zodiac animals on them along with a Soot Sprite luggage tag which I ended up losing in transit from my more recent holiday to Florida… I also bought a very stereotypical pair of White-Girl-Goes-to-Asia trousers and have never worn anything more comfortable!
Gardens by the Bay
If you’ve ever visited the Eden Project in Cornwall, you’ll already have an idea of what Gardens by the Bay is like. Here you can find a large selection of beautiful gardens, with examples of plants from across the globe. Whilst there we visited the two conservatories – The Flower Dome and The Cloud Garden – where we were able to take lots of beautiful pictures of various plant life!
Gardens by the Bay is also home to one of the most recognisable Singaporean sights – the solar powered trees in Supertree Grove/OCBC Skyway. As we got there late in the day, we didn’t chose to visit either of these attractions though you can still just about see the trees from further away. If you’re pressed for time, I can recommend sticking to the two greenhouses, however if you have more at your disposal it would be worth a visit (if just for a very typical Singapore holiday photo!).
I’d love to return to Singapore one day, though would possibly spend less time there than I did this year. If you’re planning a trip to multiple East Asian countries, consider throwing a few days in this wonderful city state into your mix!