#SG50: First time in Singapore? 12 places to visit

One of the world’s biggest oceanariums, Southeast Asia Aquarium (S.E.A. Aquarium) showcases marine biodiversity, as over 100,000 marine animals from 800 species call it home. The Aquarium houses species from waters that span the Strait of Karimata and Java Sea, all the way to East Africa.

Its centerpiece is the IMAX theater-like Open Ocean Habitat where you can observe over 50,000 species through a 36-by-8.3-meter acrylic panel. Look out for manta rays, largetooth sawfishes, spotted eagle rays, leopard sharks, and goliath groupers.

As it is committed to conservation, it also positions itself as the world’s largest living marine classroom through various interactive attractions and programs, especially at neighboring Dolphin Island. Even only at the Aquarium itself, visitors can encounter Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins face-to-face at the Ocean Journey zone.

One-day pass – Adults: S$38, Children & Senior Citizens: S$28

S.E.A. Aquarium – Daily (10 AM – 7 PM). Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway.

Madame Tussauds Singapore

World-famous for its hyperrealistic wax sculptures of famous personalities, Madame Tussauds Singapore outpost can be found on Sentosa.

It’s a selfie and photo op central. But you can already get a kick just seeing the likes of Singapore’s revered Lee Kuan Yew, football star Cristiano Ronaldo, Mandopop star Teresa Teng, Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, Brangelina, or Queen Bee, Beyoncé – rendered in lifelike detail.

The Singapore branch also features the Spirit of Singapore boat ride, a multi-sensory experience that celebrates the history, culture, and present of Singapore.

Full Experience Ticket (includes Spirit of Singapore) – Adults: S$39, Children: S$29, Senior Citizens: S$30

Madame Tussauds Singapore – 40 Imbiah Rd. Monday to Friday (10 AM – 6 PM), Saturday, Sunday, and Public Holidays (10 AM – 7:30 PM).

Marina Bay Sands

Integrated resort Marina Bay Sands is a symbol of and a gateway to modern Singapore. Designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, its iconic hotel towers resemble a deck of cards with a ship-like SkyPark sitting atop, which makes it such a monumental feat of engineering.

Probably the most Instagrammed infinity pool to have been built can be found at the SkyPark on the 57th floor. As the pool is exclusive for hotel guests, the SkyPark still promises sweeping vistas of Singapore at a sizeable observation deck with places to wine and dine like Sky on 57 or Cé La Vi.

The waterfront Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands offer a variety of top-tier retail and dining options. Get a dazzling view of Singapore’s central business district on its promenade, where in the evenings, you can catch the lights and water spectacle, Wonder Full.

Visit the futuristic lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum located here as well. The museum houses both permanent and temporary exhibits like the ongoing DreamWorks Animation behind-the-scenes galleries, or the Eames retrospective that highlighted the designer’s iconic mid-century furniture designs.

Marina Bay Sands – 10 Bayfront Ave.

SkyPark Observation Deck – Monday to Thursday (9:30 AM – 10 PM), Friday to Sunday (9:30 AM – 11 PM). Adult: S$23, Child (2-12 years old): S$17, Senior Citizens (65 years old and above): S$20.

ArtScience Museum – See marinabaysands.com/museum/ticketing for admission charges, as fees for special exhibits vary. Family Fridays promo – Up to 4 children (12 years old and below) can enter for free with every adult ticket purchased.

Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands – Sunday to Thursday & Public Holidays (10:30 AM – 11 PM), Friday, Saturday, and eve of Public Holidays (10:30 AM – 11:30 PM).

Gardens by the Bay

In 1963, Lee Kuan Yew planted a Mempat tree. With this gesture, Singapore moved forward with a plan to transform into a model nation for sustainable development. “Many countries now do tree planting and call themselves Garden Cities. To retain our edge and continue our living environment, we are transforming Singapore into a City in a Garden,” he said. (READ: #SG50: How planning made Singapore a Garden City)

Quite aptly, he said this under the canopy of the Flower Dome, an architectural marvel and highlight at Gardens by the Bay. Aside from nursing flora from all corners of the globe, Gardens by the Bay features key attractions like the iconic and functional Supertrees and the cooled conservatories: the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest.

The Flower Dome is an enormous greenhouse that houses various flowers from various regions in the world. The Cloud Forest mimics tropical highland ecosystems and comes with a 35-meter waterfall. At the two conservatories, lush exotic greenery or colorful flowers surround you in a comfortable, air-conditioned setting.

Gardens by the Bay has also become a “People’s Garden” that hosts a range of activities and programs. One notable example: the only Asian leg of Australia’s Laneway Festival is annually held here. The most recent edition, featuring acclaimed acts like St. Vincent, FKA twigs, Chet Faker, Future Islands and more, attracted millennials even from neighboring countries and was flocked by a sold-out crowd (The music festival also happens to fall around Chinese New Year, and the city-wide sales will certainly be a bang).

Gardens by the Bay – 18 Marina Gardens Dr. Outdoor gardens – Free. One conservatory – Adults: S$12, Senior Citizens (60 years old and above) & Children (3-12 years old): S$8. Double conservatory ticket – Adults & Senior Citizens (60 years old and above): S$28, Children (3-12 years old): S$15

For SG50, Gardens by the Bay also offers a great deal for families: free entry for 1 child with 2 full-priced Double Conservatory tickets purchased. This offer stands until December 31, 2015.

Singapore Flyer

The Singapore Flyer, Southeast Asia’s tallest observation wheel, stands at 165 meters and offers unparalleled views not only of the Central Business District and Marina Bay, but also even beyond Singapore.

Aside from the regular Singapore Flight, scheduled deluxe packages are available. These include the Sky Dining Flight that comes with a personal butler and a four-course menu.

Enjoy the other attractions at the complex: a flight simulator, a 6-D motion ride theater, and a multimedia showcase named the Journey of Dreams. Its food court, Singapore Food Trail, harks back to the 60s, when hawkers would peddle Singapore’s favorite grub on street carts.

Singapore Flight – Adult: S$33, Child: S$21; Singapore Sling Flight – Adult S$69; Moët & Chandon Champagne Flight – Adult: S$69; High Tea Flight – S$99 for 2 persons; Sky Dining Flight – S$269++ for 2 persons

SG50 deal: Free entry for 1 child with 2 adult Singapore Sling/Cocktail flights purchased online at singaporeflyer.com

Singapore Flyer – 30 Raffles Ave. Daily (8:30 AM – 10:30 PM).

Night Safari

Some wildlife only comes alive after sundown, and at Night Safari, you get the chance to encounter them up close. Located next to the Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari is the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals. It harbors over 2,500 of the world’s most fearsome predators and curious creatures – showing them in their element.

A 35-minute tram ride takes you through several ecosystems across the globe, from the Himalayan foothills to equatorial Africa.

Several walking trails that feature animals not seen along the tram route are also available. As the name suggests, the Leopard Trail allows you to observe leopards and other big-to-mid-sized felines through a glass barrier. However, you can only find Malayan flying foxes and giant flying squirrels in the aviaries along this trail.

After these tours, catch the enchanting Creatures of the Night show (7:30 PM, 8:30 PM, 9:30 PM, and 10:30 PM) that puts a spotlight on animals like the otter, hyena, binturong, civet, and more.

The Night Safari is located up north in the city-state, so travel can be tedious. But don’t let this fact deter you from this unique experience. Look out for tour packages inclusive of back-and-forth transportation, as those are indispensable bargains.

Tickets – Adults: S$42, Children (3-12 years old): S$28. Admission is free for children under 3 years old.

Night Safari – 80 Mandai Lake Rd. Daily (7:30 PM – 12:00 MN), ticket counter (5:30 PM – 11:15 PM).

Marina Barrage

The Marina Barrage is a great example of Singapore’s urban design philosophy, one that emphasizes community building and sustainability. The facility is primarily a reservoir for the city’s water supply and regulates inland flooding. But someone had a spark of genius and turned it into a 3-in-1 recreational facility where people can go boating, kayaking, and more.

Walk up an ingeniously designed spiral ramp to its rooftop turned into a sprawling, well-manicured lawn where families can kite, play, and picnic. Sit on the grass, and take in inspiring views of Singapore’s iconic cityscape at the end of your trip.

Marvel at the miracle that is Singapore. Soak in views that show how the Little Red Dot made possible what was once thought impossible.

Marina Barrage – 8 Marina Gardens Dr.

For more information on SG50 promos, see yoursingapore.com/goldenjubilee.

– Rappler.com

Paolo Abad is a film/television editor and motion graphic designer. He is also a self-confessed concert junkie. Follow his Instagram for live music @outoftunephoto

Note: The writer was part of a recent trip to Singapore sponsored by the Singapore Tourism Board.