In November we had the privilege to travel to Singapore to attend the ITB Travel Conference, and for the writer of this blog, it was visit number 29 to Singapore. As the 1st International destination I ever traveled to, Singapore has always been a special place for me, and I have had occasion to return for both business and pleasure many times over the years. On this occasion, I had 3 full days at the conference and then 1 day at leisure before I returned to Australia.
Our flights with Singapore Airlines in Premium Economy Class are always of a high standard and like many past flights, this Singapore Airlines flight was very pleasant, smooth and arrived as scheduled. Singapore’s Changi Airport has been voted the world’s best airport for 8 consecutive years from 2013 by Skytrax and spending any time there, you quickly understand why. From leaving the aircraft to passing through customs and collecting my bags, I was in a taxi and headed to my accommodation within 25 mins, and the efficiently, and cleanliness of Singapore Changi Airport makes the experience as best you can when in an airport environment.
There are 13 different taxi companies in Singapore and we always choose a blue coloured cab, as they are clean, very affordable and the taxi drivers take pride in the service they provide. On this occasion our accommodation was the Grand Copthorne Waterfront, a high-class 4.5-star hotel conveniently located along the Singapore River, close to shops, bars, restaurants and the MRT. We chose this hotel for its proximity to the above attractions, and the property amenities, in addition to the cost, and we can highly recommend to both business and leisure travelers including families this hotel is certainly worthy of serious consideration when planning a stay in Singapore. On arrival at the hotel, check-in procedures were quick and uneventful, our luggage was transported to our room, and after unpacking and preparing for the conference, it was time to lay our heads down and enjoy a decent night’s sleep.
The ITB Travel conference is one of the best on the calendar worldwide and held at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, and a taxi ride from the hotel to the Convention Centre was approx 15 mins in time and less than SGD10.00 in each direction. At the completion of day 1 of the conference, it was time to enjoy a cold drink on the roof of the nearby Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which is a short walk from the Convention Centre. The entry cost to the Sky Park Observation Deck is SGN$26.00, located on the 57th floor and offers breath-taking views of Singapore. This afternoon was a little hazy and as the sun began to fall from the sky, the colours of the sun in the clouds made for some great photos and a lovely environment to enjoy a cool drink. There is a rooftop pool available to hotel guests, and restaurants to the general public however, readers be aware there are cheaper places to enjoy a drink in Singapore or enjoy a meal. At the end of the evening it was time to return to the hotel, and again after a short and affordable taxi ride, we were back at our hotel, and in bed to get a good night’s sleep ready for day two.
Day two’s conference was a successful day, and, on this evening, we had been invited for dinner at the well-known, open-air dining precinct known as Lau Pa Sat. Every afternoon around 6.00 pm the street is closed off, plastic tables and chairs are placed on the road nearby the undercover market, and visitors can choose from a large range of satay hawkers, with a selection of soft-drink, beer’s or water to accompany your meal. It is a very affordable way to dine and in the open air, a very pleasant way to dine. On this occasion with 2 work colleagues, we decided to dine outdoors with a selection of satays, salads, soups and a couple of jugs of cold beer. When you dine here, you can take your time, you will not be rushed to leave after dining, and the entire complex does have a very nice ambience, so for anyone staying in Singapore, you should dine at least once at Lau Pa Sat. A short and affordable taxi ride later we were back in our hotel and ready to enjoy another good night’s sleep.
After business on day 3, our conference commitments were over, and it was now time to relax and enjoy a little sightseeing, so tonight for dinner we decided seafood would be our preferred choice. After a quick return to our hotel for a change of clothes, we were again in a cab en-route to the East Coast Seafood Markets. For those people who have traveled to Singapore, approx 10 mins from leaving the airport driving into the city on the left-hand side you will see a strip of restaurants, this is the East Coast Seafood Market. On our journey our taxi driver recommended we dine at the Jumbo Restaurant, and this evening we took his advice. Situated on the waterfront, with a beachside promenade and people walking pass we enjoyed a dinner of Chili Crab and beer and it was a lovely way to dine. The delicious Chili Crab cost SGD$60.00 so it is not cheap however, well worth the experience if time and cost permits. Within the market area, there is a taxi rank so visitors should have no concern about securing transport late at night to return to their hotel. On several occasions we have since returned to Singapore we have again dined at the East Coast Seafood Markets at several different establishments, all different in the dining experience, cost and ambience, but each one worth the visit when in Singapore.
The final day of our stay in Singapore was at our leisure so after a short sleep in we decided to head to China Town and explore the more authentic areas. We started the morning with a visit to the Sri Mariamman Temple, which is the 1st Hindu Temple in Singapore, the temple worships the goddess Mariamman, and was constructed in the early-19th century by southern Indian immigrants. We then proceeded to Keong Saik Road, previously the red-light district of Singapore, this area is now home to some wonderful and boutique food outlets in addition to small, boutique hotels. It was here we decided to criss-cross Keong Silk Road by one block in each direction, and here you will find many local hawker food shops offering a more authentic dining experience, so we decided to sample a few small dishes at several local hawker stores, instead of a large restaurant.
As we were on a late evening flight bound for home in mid-afternoon we decided to return to the hotel and enjoy a stroll along the Singapore River. The Grand Copthorne Waterfront is perfectly situated along the river, far enough out but at the same time, close enough to popular dining and entertainment precincts, in addition to the city centre. As we walked along the river towards the Marina Bay Sands Hotel complex visitors can find any establishment to their liking for dining or shopping and if the heat is becoming too much, water taxis cruise along the river in each direction which you can hail and enjoy a cruise on the river.
It was now late afternoon and enjoyed a water taxi ride on the river back to our hotel so we could pack, check out and then organize a taxi to the airport, all of which went smoothly as expected. The drive to the airport in the early evening took approx 30 mins in duration and as we were flying on Singapore Airlines, our flights departed from Terminal 3. On arrival at the terminal instead of heading immediately to check-in, we decided to walk over to view the Jewel Waterfall. This is one of the latest attractions at Changi Airport and worth a quick visit if time permits. Set amongst over 2000 trees and plants, and 280 dining and entertainment venues, the indoor waterfall that is Jewel is the world’s largest indoor waterfall. There are several viewing platforms it is a most impressive addition to the airport, and we were glad to spend the extra time to visit. After spending 30 minutes walking around the complex it was time to head to Terminal 3, check-in, complete customs and immigration, as our focus turned to returning home, after yet another enjoyable trip to Singapore, one of many and certainly not our last.