Singapore’s fururistic skyline combines cutting-edge buildings that stretch into the clouds, elegant colonial architecture and carefully planned greenspaces and is best captured in a walk from Merlion Park to Gardens by the Bay.
Half fish, half lion, the mythical Merlion is the national icon, symbolising Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village and its original name Singapura, meaning ‘lion city’ in Malay.
Singapore is hot and humid, always, so I suggest walking early. Merlion Park is the perfect spot to capture a stunning sunrise before heading over Jubilee Bridge towards the Singapore Flyer. The spiky Esplanade Theatre has been dubbed the Durian by locals, named after the malodorous fruit which is loved and hated in equal measure. This area is great in the evenings when it comes alive with concerts, restaurants and art exhibitions – at least outside of Covid times.
In front of you is Marina Bay Sands, an architectural wonder whose existence is even more amazing when you consider it sprouts magically from reclaimed land. At 57 storeys, it houses some of the world’s most expensive shops, celebrity restaurants and an impressive sky-high pool just made for selfies.
Keep walking towards the Singapore Flyer until you come to the Helix Bridge, designed by two Aussies and named after the DNA molecule to symbolise ‘life, renewal and continuity’, which could not be a more fitting symbol of a city that is forever reinventing itself. As you cross the bridge, the lotus-shaped Art Science Museum floats above the lily ponds, creating a sense of weightlessness as it hovers over the harbour.
At the end of the bridge turn left down some stairs that will lead you to Gardens by the Bay, my favourite spot in the city to commune with nature.
You will pass the glass eggshells of the famed Flower Dome, which houses flora from around the world and Cloud Forest, a mist-veiled biosphere where you can learn about the environment and stand under an indoor waterfall. Come back later to explore these incredible domes, the largest column-less greenhouses in the world.
Just past the Children’s Garden, turn right down a pathway that will take you into the centre of the Garden. You will pass Kingfisher Lake, where the wings of giant steel birds catch and reflect the light.
On the right is a path to my favourite photo spot, a lake filled with lily pads framing views to Marina Bay Sands. Head further into the gardens to discover the imposing Supertrees, artificial evergreens entwined by ferns, standing up to 50 metres tall. These spectacular trees provide a canopy from the sun by day and by night come alive with a magical display of light and sound.
From here, wander through the gardens at your leisure but be sure to walk along Dragonfly Lake, where children ride giant dragonflies in an ode to the joys of childhood. This is another perfect photo stop before heading to the Meadow, to capture a photo of Marc Quinn’s gigantic statue of his son floating against the cityscape.
Continue on towards Marina Bay Sands veering left so you can loop back towards where you started, this time passing the first floating Apple Store in the world and make your way back to the Merlion via Customs House. By now, if you started early, the cafes and restaurants along this strip should make the perfect stop for a coffee and breakfast, or if you walk at twilight, for a cocktail or dinner. It would be hard to imagine a walk more filled with wonder and imagination anywhere else in the world.
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