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Do in Singapore

Posted by in on 5-14-13

While you can find a place to practice nearly any sport in Singapore — golfing, surfing, scuba diving, even ice skating and snow skiing — due to the country’s small size your options are rather limited and prices are relatively high. For watersports in particular, the busy shipping lanes and sheer population pressure mean that the sea around Singapore is murky, and most locals head up to Tioman (Malaysia) or Bintan (Indonesia) instead. On the upside, there is an abundance of dive shops in Singapore, and they often arrange weekend trips to good dive sites off the East Coast of Malaysia, so they are a good option for accessing some of Malaysia’s not-so touristy dive sites.

Art

Singapore may be a young country but it has a constantly evolving artistic landscape that draws its influences from its unique heritage of East and Southeast Asian culture, with a good mix of western touch.

The Renaissance City Project was initiated in 2000 by the Singaporean Government to establish Singapore as a regional city of the arts to cultivate artistic interest and culture. Today, Singapore sees itself flourishing in the third phase of the renaissance city project with new museums, international galleries and art fairs entering the local artistic landscape.

In 2011, Singapore saw the opening of the ArtScience Museum at The Marina Bay Sands, a museum dedicated to design and technology. And in 2012, fourteen international galleries arrived at the shore of Singapore housed at The Gillman Barracks, a new artistic area. The city state is also anticipating the inaugural opening of The National Art Gallery in 2015; the largest visual arts institution in Singapore and also one of the largest regionally, focusing on modern Southeast Asian art through its collection.

 Culture

Singapore skyline
Esplanade Theatres by the BayOn the cultural side of things, Singapore has been trying to shake off its boring, buttoned-down reputation and attract more artists and performances, with mixed success. The star in Singapore’s cultural sky is the Esplanade theatre in Marina Bay, a world-class facility for performing arts and a frequent stage for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Pop culture options are more limited and Singapore’s home-grown arts scene remains rather moribund, although local starlets Stefanie Sun and JJ Lin have had some success in the Chinese pop scene. On the upside, any bands and DJs touring Asia are pretty much guaranteed to perform in Singapore.

Going to the movies is a popular Singaporean pastime, but look for “R21″ ratings (21 and up only) if you like your movies with fewer cuts. The big three theatre chains are Cathay [42], Golden Village [43] and Shaw Brothers [44]. Censorship continues to throttle the local film scene, but Jack Neo’s popular comedies showcase the foibles of Singaporean life.

In summer, don’t miss the yearly Singapore Arts Festival [45]. Advance tickets for almost any cultural event can be purchased from SISTIC [46], either online or from any of their numerous ticketing outlets, including the Singapore Visitor Centre on Orchard Rd.

Gambling

Singapore has two integrated resorts with casinos. Marina Bay Sands at Marina Bay is the larger and swankier of the two, while Resorts World Sentosa at Sentosa aims for a more family-friendly experience (but offers No Limit Holdem from $5/$10). While locals (citizens and permanent residents) have to pay $100/day to get in, foreign visitors can enter for free after presenting their passport.

Besides the casino, there are other forms of legalised betting which are more accessible to the locals. This includes horse racing, which is run by the Singapore Turf Club[47] on weekends, as well as football (soccer) betting and several lotteries run by the Singapore Pools[48].

Mahjong is also a popular pastime in Singapore. The version played in Singapore is similar to the Cantonese version, but it also has extra “animal tiles” not present in the original Cantonese version. However, this remains pretty much a family and friends affair, and there are no mahjong parlours.

Golf

Despite its small size, Singapore has a surprisingly large number of golf courses, but most of the best ones are run by private clubs and open to members and their guests only. The main exceptions are the Sentosa Golf Club [49], the famously challenging home of the Barclays Singapore Open, and the Marina Bay Golf Course [50], the only 18-hole public course. See the Singapore Golf Association [51] for the full list; alternatively, head to the nearby Indonesian islands of Batam or Bintan or up north to the Malaysian town of Malacca for cheaper rounds.

Races

F1 Singapore Grand PrixThe inaugural F1 Singapore Grand Prix [52] was held at night in September 2008, and will be a fixture on the local calendar.The F1 Organizers have confirmed that the night race will be extended till 2017. Held on a street circuit in the heart of Singapore and raced at night, all but race fans will probably wish to avoid this time, as hotel prices especially room with view of the F1 tracks are through the roof. Tickets start from $150 but the thrilling experience of night race is definitely unforgettable for all F1 fans and photo buffs. Besides being a uniquely night race, the carnival atmosphere and pop concert held around the race ground as well as the convenience of hotels and restaurants round the corner, distinguish the race from other F1 races held remotely away from urban centres.

The Singapore Turf Club[53] in Kranji hosts horse races most Fridays, including a number of international cups, and is popular with local gamblers. The Singapore Polo Club[54] near Balestier is also open to the public on competition days.

Spas

Singapore has recently been experiencing a ‘spa boom’, and there is now plenty of choice for everything from holistic Ayurveda to green tea hydrotherapy. However, prices aren’t as rock-bottom as in neighbours Indonesia and Thailand, and you’ll generally be looking at upwards of $50 even for a plain one-hour massage. Premium spas can be found in most 5 star hotels and on Orchard, and Sentosa’s Spa Botanica also has a good reputation. There are also numerous shops offering traditional Chinese massage, which are mostly legitimate. The less legitimate “health centres” have been shut down. Traditional asian-style public baths are non-existent.

When looking for beauty salons on Orchard Road, try out the ones on the fourth floor of Lucky Plaza. They offer most salon services like manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing and hair services. A favorite of flight crew and repeat tourists due to the lower costs as compared to the sky high prices of other salons along the shopping belt. Shop around for prices, some of the better looking ones actually charge less.

Swimming

Forget your tiny hotel pool if you are into competitive or recreational swimming: Singapore is paradise for swimmers with arguably the highest density of public pools in the world. They are all open-air 50 m pools (some facilities even feature up to three 50 m pools), accessible for an entrance fee of $1-1.50. Some of the visitors don’t swim at all. They just come from nearby housing complexes for a few hours to chill out, read and relax in the sun. Most are open daily from 8AM-9PM, and all feature a small cafe. Just imagine swimming your lanes in the tropical night with lit up palm trees surrounding the pool.

The Singapore Sports Council maintains a list of pools [55], most of which are part of a larger sports complex with gym, tennis courts etc, and are located near the MRT station they’re named after. Perhaps the best is in Katong (111 Wilkinson Road, on the East Coast): after the swim, stroll through the villa neighbourhood directly in front of the pool entrance and have at look at the luxurious, original architecture of the houses that really rich Singaporeans live in. If you get bored with regular swimming pools, head to the Jurong East Swimming Complex where you get the wave pool, water slides and Jacuzzi at an insanely affordable entrance fee of $1.50 on weekdays and $2 on weekends.

For those who feel richer, visit the Wild Wild Wet[56] water theme park with $19 and get yourself wet with various exciting water slides and a powerful tidal wave pool.

For those who don’t like pools, head out to the beaches. The East Coast Park has a scenic coastline that stretches over 15 km. It’s a popular getaway spot for Singaporeans to swim, cycle, barbeque and engage in various other sports and activities. Sentosa island also has three white, sandy beaches – Siloso Beach, Palawan Beach and Tanjong Beach – each with its own distinct characteristics, and also very popular with locals.

Water Sports

Besides the more regular water sports such as waterskiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, canoeing and etc., Singapore also offers water sports fans trendy activities such as cable-Skiing and wave surfing in specially created environments.

Snow Sports

While obviously not the best place on Earth for skiing, sunny Singapore still has a permanent indoor snow centre — Snow City offers visitors to the region a chance to experience winter. Visitors can escape from the hot and humid tropical weather to play with snow or even learn to ski and snowboard with internationally certified professional instructors.

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