I’ve visited many cities during my travels, falling in love over and over again with each. Cities like Reykjavik, Berlin, Chiang Mai, Wellington, and Melbourne all captured my heart in different ways.

But I did not fall in love with any of these cities like I fell in love with Singapore.

The Singapore Government poured $35 million into one area of the city—Marina Bay. Money well spent, as the product is a masterpiece of architectural wonders, floral landscaping, and waterfront beautification. I could not stop snapping photos during my few hours spent between flights here.

Marina Bay easily left me in awe with the city as a whole. Now I know I must go back—especially to see it at night and to stay at its mesmerizing, world class hotel.

Around the corner to Marina Bay

I was crossing the Anderson Bridge over the Singapore river. I had come from Orchard Road, drawn to the image of the Marina Bay Sands hotel in the distance. Now I was finally approaching the bay with little to expect except for a closer look at the hotel and maybe the Singapore Flyer.

Around the corner from the bridge, I found a pathway between buildings at One Fullerton where sculptures of a mystical “Unielephant” and a multi-colored hippo stood. Beyond them was the bay in all its glory.

The ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands Resort, and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel stood as backdrop to the algae-green bay in the foreground.

I turned left and walked along the waterfront toward a crowd of people.

They were hovering around a giant statue of the “Merlion.” Clearly, there’s some sort of theme going on here with fantasy-type animals…and I appreciate it.

The Merlion was also a fountain, spewing water back into the bay continuously and much to the delight of tourists. I had to join in the photo opp fun like the rest of them. I mean, come on, how often can you get a shot of yourself catching the backwash of a Merlion in your mouth? Simply beautiful. *tear*

 
 

The Architecture on the Bay

In this same location, there is the option to take a boat ride around the bay and up the river for $25 SGD. I almost did it but instead I decided to get a closer look at the architecture in the area—and I am so glad I did!

I made my way along the waterfront promenade to the Helix Bridge connecting one side of the bay to the other.

I love the architectural beauty of this bridge and the meaning behind its shape. Only built in 2010, the Helix Bridge is meant to reminisce DNA. As DNA, the Helix Bridge symbolizes life and continuity, renewal, everlasting abundance, and growth. All of these resonate with my own life and specifically with my travels.

After passing through and over this bridge, I arrived at the base of the Marina Bay Sands Resort with the ArtScience Museum blossoming into the blue sky.

I say blossoming because the museum was built to resemble a lotus flower. The symbolism of the lotus flower has many meanings, one of them “spiritual awakening” in Buddhist and Hindu cultures.

I think it’s a beautiful flower and epic as inspiration in the design of the ArtScience Museum. In fact, I am of the opinion this building on Marina Bay is more impressive than the Sydney Opera House on the Harbour. But I may hear some retaliation from my Australian friends on this comment! ;)

After gazing in awe for a moment, I retreated from the heat of the day into the Marina Bay Sands resort.

In there, I found levels and levels of high end stores and themed eateries. I had no interest in stopping to shop, though. I wanted to get to that hotel!

Up escalators—and up and up—I eventually made it to a rooftop. Looking behind me, the hotel still loomed overhead. I decided to follow the walkway which seemed to wrap around toward the hotel.

Even this lesser traveled rooftop walkway had its own beautiful views and carefully designed features like the rest of Marina Bay. I got a view from a different angle of the bay and the ArtScience Museum below to my right. Ahead of me and to my left, I was consistently delighted with clean lines, modern slopes, and artistic curves in the design of every part of the walkway around to the hotel.

There was even music lightly falling through the air from speakers I could not see. Some big city jazz set the mood to fit the monumental surroundings.

I finally came upon a walkway leading directly into the hotel. It passed through the hotel several stories up and out the other side of it. I decided to take a look on the other side only to be completely surprised by what I saw.

The Supertree Grove and Gardens by the Bay

In the distance, massive, man-made trees protruded out of a lush green garden at varying heights.

I had seen this once before!

Suddenly, I remembered pinning an image of this sight to my Pinterest account years earlier when I was lusting about my future travels. I had forgotten Singapore is the location of this infamous Supertree Grove.

I got so elated I nearly forgot about my original agenda to make it to the rooftop of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. I began scurrying down the path toward the Supertree Grove, not wanting to waste any more time.

I entered a magnificent landscaped garden of tropical trees and flowers, following signs for the grove.

Soon the walkway opened up to pathways winding around the base of the trees. For only $5 SGD, I got a ticket to go up the elevator to the walkway between the trees. The woman at the ticket booth warned me, “You have to go up right now because there’s a thunderstorm coming. Don’t wait. There may be lightning and we won’t let people up.”

I hustled into the elevator and quickly emerged at the top. The view across the Gardens by the Bay, with the Singapore Flyer and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in sight, was absolutely stunning. The thunderstorm approaching made the images from this magical place even more dramatic than on a sunny day.

I was absolutely enthralled by this place, uttering “wow” and “holy shit this is awesome” to myself over and over.

I don’t think I had smiled from a view like that since the coastal landscapes I saw around Niue! But this was all man-made! I had surprised myself with falling in love with something unnatural for once in my travels. All along I had been so impressed by nature itself. This time I was impressed with the artistry of humankind.

The SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands Hotel

I eventually made it back down to the ground, thankfully with no lightening zaps. I strolled back through the gardens toward the hotel and got caught in a downpour. Racing back up the pathway through the hotel, I made it into an elevator on the other side that would take me to the ground floor outside the hotel.

In the elevator, I bumped into a German woman who had been traveling all around the world solo like myself. We both were eager to make it to the top of the hotel—the so-called “SkyPark.”

Apparently, you can pay for a ticket to go to the top (about $18 SGD) and catch a view of Singapore from the northern deck of the SkyPark. But my fellow German traveler had heard of a way to get to the top for FREE. You pretend like you’re going to have a drink at the bar and you can catch views from there.

Excellent.

She and I made our way into the main entrance to the hotel and followed signs to go up 57 floors to the rooftop bar. Sure enough, we were able to get several different views from the rooftop this way all for no cost (we didn’t even order a drink!). On one side, we could look down on the Gardens by the Bay. After entering the bar on the other side, we could look down on Marina Bay.

We could also see the rooftop pool in full swing. Only guests had access to the pool and pool area, but from the bar deck we could see it fully.

I had lusted after photos (and pinned images to my Pinterest) of this particular rooftop pool in the past. It was no less impressive in person. In fact, it was a little scary to look at! We were so high up. But I can imagine the pool being an awesome place to relax—especially at night when the whole bay and city lights up!

Reflections on the Bay

Walking around this entire area—Marina Bay and the Gardens by the Bay—reminded me of my first encounter with New York.

I was maybe 7 years old when I emerged out of Grand Central Station only to look up at all the skyscrapers and be completely blown away. Coming from a small town area in upstate New York with buildings no taller than maybe 4 stories, New York felt like an architectural wonder, an accomplishment of modern humans beyond belief. I was awe struck in the way only a young child can be.

As a result of this experience as a child, my favorite world city has always been New York. Until now.

My only regret is I did not have the chance to stay longer and see the area light up at night. Unlike New York, Singapore is a gorgeous city in the clear light of day with streets so clean I could lick them! This is probably because littering in Singapore carries with it a $1,000 fine! And chewing gum/spitting it out has a $500 fine!

Littering drives me absolutely crazy and the trash around New York is my biggest complaint about my home city. This did give me a greater appreciation for New York City at night, though. I think New York is a beautiful city when lit up at night (when you can't see all the trash) which means Singapore has got to be simply spectacular!

One day I will return to Singapore to spend more time there than only a few hours between fights. One day, I will see the city light up at night. One day, I may even stay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel if for no other reason than to have a swim in that rooftop pool!

In the meantime, I will remember my limited time there very fondly and feel lucky I have realized a new favorite world city.

My recommendations

- Snap a photo at the Merlion
- Cross the DNA-shaped Helix Bridge
- Shop high-end stores at Marina Bay Sands
- Witness the architectural beauty of the ArtScience Museum
- Go up the man-made trees at the Supertree Grove for only $5
- Get free views of the bay and gardens from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel rooftop bar