Singapore has undergone a huge transformation in the last few years. If you have been to Marina Bay 10 years ago and come again now, you won’t even recognize this place. Yes, it was a metamorphosis! The newly reclaimed area at the Singapore harbor front is now a place with all sorts of fun and entertainment – from art exhibitions that are suitable for all ages, shopping and dining experience, to educational and fun tourist attractions… the bay has it all. On top of that, it’s all under the stunning backdrop of the city’s skyline in CBD!
Well, Singapore is not big – and I visit Singapore at least 1-2 times a year. I have seen the key sights in the city and there was a time I decided to stay within Marina Bay, hang around the Marina Bay Sands resort, enjoy the infinity pool and discover Garden by the Bay. So starting from Marina Bay Sands hotel, let’s check out all the new and must-see places counter-clockwise and you don’t miss anything!
Marina Bay Sands & Digital Light Canvas
Marina Bay Sands is no stranger to anyone who has visited Singapore because it has officially become the country’s landmark.
The futuristic design of three towers sharing a 340-meter long cantilevered platform – the hotel complex was designed by architect Moshe Safdie, and it’s truly one-of-a-kind. Within a sprawling entertainment complex, it features an exciting number of shops, restaurants, and performance and event and conference venues, not to mention the only two casinos in the city that mark the transformation of the bay. I stay here every time I am in town and still, it has something new every year – a new bar, a new shop, a new show, or a new sought-after dining place… among it all, the Digital Light Canvas is a new addition of public art, supported by teamLab since 2017.
Looking like the Rain Vortex in Jewel Changi, this art installation is, in fact, made of lights, not water. It consists of a 15-meter diameter circular lighted rink and a cylinder at a height of 20-meter that consists of a collection of light points. The art exhibit is giving the public a spectacular lighting show for free every 30 minutes on the hour and half the hour from noon until 8 pm (9 pm on the weekends). For S$5 (or with an ArtScience Museum Future World ticket), you could actually create art through an interactive experience with light. The exhibit is seasonal and they change the design from time to time – but with the visitor’s involvement, the computer-programmed lighting and stimulation never repeat themselves!
“Digital Light Canvas is giving a spectacular lighting show for free every 30 minutes”
Infinity pool and SkyPark Observation Deck
Well, I was on a …. VACATION! Therefore, some pool time is definitely necessary (no matter its day or night). One of the coolest things about MBS is its infinity pool built on the 59th floor. This is, officially, the highest infinity pool in the world at 340 meters above the ground.
Here, where the hotel guests can enjoy a stunning view of the entire Marina Bay, the Singapore CBD, and beyond; it is also possible to have a dip in the pool, order a nice cocktail on the deck, sunbathe under the palm trees, or hang out with your friends and family – all in one spot.
The pool is only limited to hotel guests, and in no way a hotel visitor could enter the pool without a hotel key card. It might sound strict, but the truth is, the pool is busy enough just serving hotel guests.
People are coming day and night, and it could get crowded during peak hours. Don’t worry, the pool may still have a “slow” time (if you are somehow lucky enough to be there at the right moment), and the pool has plenty of chairs. The view has its unique beauty day or night (even if it’s raining) – so I can’t really choose and have a particular “best time to go”.
The upper part of the SkyPark is exclusive to hotel guests, too. I was surprised to see quite a lot of visitors from Japan and Korea staying at the hotel during my stay.
“Marina Bay Sands infinity pool is only limited to hotel guests, but it’s busy enough.”
While visitors may not be able to experience the pool, they still get to visit the roof of the hotel at the SkyPark, or dine in one of the upscale restaurants there. The SkyPark is an observation deck at the tip of the building’s rooftop, offering uninterrupted views of the East side of Singapore.
S$23 (Senior Citizen over 65 years old)
S$20 (Child, 2 – 12 years old)
Gardens by the Bay
The Gardens by the Bay used to be a new attraction in town. Not so “new” now, but it’s still “in”. I am still impressed by its design as I enjoyed the view and breeze on the balcony of one of the Marina Bay Sands Suites when I stayed there.
The Garden by the Bay has three major attractions – the Supertree Grove, the Flower Dome, and the Cloud Forest. There is more like the FarEast Organization Children Garden, Satay by the bay, and the Meadow.
What I love about the Garden was easy to access. It’s closely connected and within walkable distance to the Bayfront MRT Station and the Marina Bay Sands (the connecting bridge is separated from the hotel though). It is more than a typical botanical garden, the park has a theme and it is a trendy place with exciting design elements that make the garden lively and multi-dimensional.
The Supertree Grove
Called the OCBC Skyway (named after the sponsor) is a group of solar-powered light
posts that dressed like a tree. Look up in awe at dramatic plant displays, and the Skyway is a 22-meter high, 128-meter long aerial walkway connecting the “trees”, offering a bird’s eye view of the garden. When night falls, the Supertrees were quite hyper and super; they come to life with a spectacular light and sound show, powered by the solar power saved up during the daytime… Very very Avatar, and very very green.
These days, the Supertree has also become a landmark and a sought-after event venue, which was also featured in Hollywood blockbusters like Crazy Rich Asians.
From the balcony of my hotel room, I noticed two futuristic greenhouse-like structures erect on the waterfront. Visitors could decide their own ticketing combo; first-timer should usually visit both places (Flower Dome / Cloud Forest).
The Flower Dome surprised me because I didn’t expect such a diversity of plants in one place. It is listed as the largest greenhouse in the world in the 2015 Guinness Book of World Records at 1.2 hectares. Apart from flower arrangements, the greenhouse replicates a cool-dry Mediterranean climate, showcasing a well-organized and comprehensive succulent collection. The domes are, in total, separated into eight gardens – namely The Baobabs, Succulent Garden, Australian Garden, South African Garden, South American Garden, Olive Grove, California Garden, and the Mediterranean Garden.
It was both fun and educational to see some weird and exotic plants and flowers from all over the world, that we don’t expect to see in Singapore.
The Cloud Forest features a different kind of environment (or habitat). When we entered the Cloud Forest it was just in time for misting!! The tower was spraying mist all of the sudden and I felt like I was walking through a mysterious fairyland.
The Cloud Forest takes you through a journey of diverse vegetation, rare plants, and hidden floral gems in the fast-disappearing environment. The “Cloud Mountain” has grown numerous types of tropical plants on its 35-meter high man-made mountain with a waterfall; visitors could explore the highlands amidst orchids, pitcher plants, and ferns from the cool-moist Tropical Mountain region.
Walking in and out of the mountain was like a hike – the wooden walkway wrapped around Cloud Mountain at different levels, where you could both walk outside to have a higher view and inside to see exhibits introducing the formation of rocks, the difference of stalagmite and stalactite, and many more.
Just if that’s still not enough, Gardens by the Bay featured a number of Gardens: Heritage Garden, Outdoor Garden, Serene Garden, Bay East Garden, and Art Sculpture – but my advice: take a stroll or walk in these early in the morning or in the evening to stay away from the immense heat and sun at the afternoon.
“It is more than a typical botanical garden, Gardens by the Bay has a theme and it is a trendy place with exciting design elements.”
Ticket prices (Two Conservatories)
S$15 (Child, 2 – 12 years old)
Ticket prices (Two Conservatories)
S$12 (Child, 2 – 12 years old)
9 am – 8 pm daily
ArtScience Museum & LOUIS VUITTON
When I first visited the ArtScience Museum a few years back, it was showing a Hermès exhibition – luckily the exhibition was FREE. The museum’s exhibition floor (2/F) changes its theme periodically and the one that I missed was the Harry Potter exhibition.
Leather Forever – was the theme of the exhibition and the floor was cut into 12 rooms with 12 exhibitions of that related to the passion and history or Hermès with leather. The materials that created bags, from plume to Kelly to Birkin… We went up to the 3/F there was another free exhibition about Science.
While you will see more photos on my Instagram: Singapore Modern Art Scene post, the museum itself is an art piece – a giant lotus flower that stood at the waterfront of Marina Bay, designed by the architect Moshe Safdie.
This is also the world’s first and only ArtScience museum. Owned by Marina Bay Sands, the ArtScience Museum hosts touring exhibitions curated by other museums and explores where art, science culture, and technology come together. In other words, the museum is unveiling the future and exhibits both art and science with new ideas and innovative ways. Book your ArtScience Museum Entry Ticket here.
“This is the world’s first and only ArtScience museum. The new permanent teamLab exhibition has only made the museum so much more exciting.”
The new permanent teamLab exhibition has only made the museum so much more exciting. Titled “Future World. Where Art Meets Science”, the exhibition truly showcases the beauty of lights which combines art and science. With state-of-the-art and cutting-edge technologies, teamLab realized unimaginable art displays through visual art installations and projections.
Helix Bridge & Suntec’s Fountain of Wealth
The Helix Bridge is located at the exit of Marina Bay, connecting pedestrians from Marina Bay Sands to the Promenade.
The steel footbridge was opened in 2010, and it was inspired by the curved form of the structure of DNA.
Across the water, the Suntec City above the Promenade MRT station has been a popular shopping mall for years with a number of eateries – Check out its Fountain of Wealth in the center of the complex – which is a huge contemporary outdoor fountain with nightly light shows.
Singapore’s iconic observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer, commands the skyline in the downtown suburbs. At a height of 165 meters, it is amongst the tallest structures in the city (and the largest observation wheel in Asia) and clearly complements the neighboring architecture of Marina Bay Sands, the Helix Bridge, and Gardens by the Bay.
The view from atop the Singapore Flyer is impressive as it overlooks the entirety of downtown Singapore. It offers a great angle for viewing some of the other architecturally designed buildings in the city.
Aside from riding the wheel itself, it looks impressive as it stands out within the city. For photography enthusiasts, it is a great subject to photograph during either sunrise or sunset.
“Singapore Flyer is impressive as it overlooks the entirety of downtown Singapore, but it’s more than just the view.”
Ticket prices (Singapore Flight)
S$21 (Child, 3 – 12 years old)
2:45 pm – 8:15 pm Thursday to Sunday and public holidays
Esplanade & from Merlion to National Gallery
The Esplanade is named – Theatres of the Bay, the famous “Durian” is a futuristic waterfront art venue with a 1,600-seat concert hall, 2000-person theatre, and mall. The nearby Raffles City is yet another popular mall located above the City Hall MRT station. Across the Esplanade Bridge, you will reach the “original” Marina Bay waterfront (which is also renovated and transformed) with the Merlion, The Fullerton Hotel, and One Fullerton. The new National Gallery Singapore (a municipal building dating to 1929 and restored) is within walking distance. Check out The Great Modern Art Places and Instagram Spots in Singapore.
Spectra – A Light & Water Show on the Bayfront
Right outside the Marina Bay Sands is a pleasant walkway of the Bayfront. Apart from Louis Vuitton, which I have shown the photos next to ArtScience Museum, the location is also served as a venue for a number of shows, weekend markets, or events.
The 15-minute light and water show, Spectra, at the waterfront in Marina Bay, is a “regular” show that happens right here, with Singapore’s skyline as a background. It is a light and sound visual stimulation with a very touristy storyline about Singapore, and I won’t say it’s a must-see that you have to go out of your way to come here, just to check it out. However, if you are staying in Marina Bay Sands, or, you are hanging out in the area at night. You are welcome to just sit down somewhere on a bench and catch the show as it performs two times every night.
Furthermore, if you are looking for something similar on a much larger scale and more spectacular, maybe you will consider checking out the Stratofantasia Hong Kong in Best Free Viewpoints of Hong Kong’s Dramatic Skyline by the Local Experts.
“I won’t say the Spectra Light & Water Show is a must-see, but if you are here, just sit down and enjoy the show.”
Red Dot Design Museum
The new Red Dot Design Museum (opened in October 2017) has moved to Marina Bay. It sits in a full glass facade building right beside the Marina Bay Sands shopping mall along the Waterfront Promenade. But also, I have a picture on Instagram: Singapore Modern Art Scene showing what the museum looked like when it was on Maxwell Road.
i Light Singapore
Formerly, i Light Marina Bay (renamed “i light Singapore” in 2019) is a leading sustainable light art festival in Asia, held in Marina Bay. The festival was inaugurated in 2010 and owing to its success, the event takes place biennially in 2012, 2014, and 2016, and will continue to take place annually!
There were more than 22 light installations scattered all around Marina Bay in 2018 (from 9 March to 1 April), while most of the exhibits are created and designed by contemporary artists in the region. Like “Dancing Grass” by Yuree Hong and Siyong Kim, Light Play by NTU’s School of Art, Chandelier of Spirits by Living Spirits, and Octopoda by Amigo and Amigo. In 2019, the event has gone only bigger with even more artists participating. It was also renamed i Light Singapore as the anchor event to commemorate the Singapore Bicentennial.
Originally, 31 artists will be showcasing their works in the year 2020, but the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 situation. Hopefully, it will come back in 2021 stronger with an exciting performance program, free guided tours, workshops, and competition.
It was a really beautiful night all visitors enjoyed a wonderful walk along the bay; my friends also found got some nice designer goods (and name cards) at the flea market by the bay as well!
If you are interested to learn more about the event and participating next year, visit their official website.