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AN INSTAGRAMMER'S GUIDE TO SINGAPORE

May 8, 2019

After a decade of traveling, I finally made it to the Instagram darling of Southeast Asia, Singapore! I had more than 20 trips to the Far East under my belt, but the island city-state located off of Malaysia's coast was always a tricky destination to get to. For me, Singapore was a place I could spend a long weekend, not a two-week holiday. I told myself I'd visit one day, tacking it onto a larger trip - maybe a visit to Myanmar, Sri Lanka or The Maldives. Then as I started to piece together a 10-day trip to The Philippines earlier this year, I realized it was the perfect excuse to finally visit the Lion City. I caught a direct flight from California to Singapore, and spent two full days hunting down the most Instagrammable spots in the city before flying direct Singapore to Manila with Scoot Airways, part of Value Alliance. Value Alliance is the world’s first low cost carriers alliance in Asia Pacific and allow travelers to connect easily and find affordable fares through their booking website. Below is a quick guide to all my favorite spots for photos around the most colorful urbanscape in Southeast Asia.

 

 

1. Cloud Forest, Gardens by the Bay

The beautiful Cloud Forest waterfall in Gardens by the Bay was one of the easiest places to find in Singapore. An urban Ferngully, the tropical vegetation was housed in a massive greenhouse, and the waterfall I wanted to see was located at the main entrance. This had its pros and cons. The location at the Cloud Forest entrance meant it didn't take long to find, and it was impossible to get lost -  major plus. But the waterfall was also the first thing every visitor stopped to see, which meant a steady stream of tourists taking selfies and posing for photos. I visited in the afternoon, but I recommend going early right when the Cloud Forest opens to avoid people. (SGD $20, 9 AM-9 PM daily)

 

 

2. MICA Building

Formerly the Old Hill Street Police Station, this building now serves as the Ministry of Communications & Information. While that might sound a bit dull, this is actually one of the most striking spots in Singapore. The building has 927 windows that have been painted the colors of the rainbow - an absolute kaleidoscope of color. It sits on a very busy street with cars, buses and Grab taxis constantly obstructing the view of the building. I visited first thing in the morning when the city streets were pretty quiet, and most people still asleep. (140 Hill Street, Old Hill St., Police Station, FREE)

 

 

3. Haji Lane, Kampong Glam

Haji Lane won my prize for most colorful street in Singapore. Lined with funky boutiques, eclectic murals and bright cafes, the pedestrian lane was bursting with good energy and friendly vibes. My favorite spot for photos and refreshments was Juice Clinic, home to the tastiest fresh squeezed concoctions, along with the cutest colorful tables - perfectly placed for pics and people watching. There were also plenty of other photo opps along Haji Lane in front of the cute shops and colorful murals scattered up the little street. For photos, it was best to visit in the mid-morning when the businesses had opened up, but the crowds still non-existent. (Juice Clinic 27-29 Haji Ln., 9 AM-12 AM Sunday to Thursday & 9 AM-3 AM Friday and Saturday, FREE)

 

 

 

 

 

4. Japanese Cemetery Park 

A bit further from the Marina Bay area of the city, the Japanese Cemetery Park sits tucked away in Singapore's Hougang residential district. The park was home to dozens of archways covered in pink flowers that created a the prettiest long tunnel of blooms, blooms, blooms. We reached this place via Grab Taxi in the late morning, and only saw one person in the two hours we were there - definitely not yet on the tourist radar yet. (22 Chuan Hoe Ave, 8:30 AM-6:30 PM daily, FREE)

 

 

5. Gardens by the Bay

Definitely the most iconic spot in Singapore, and one of the easiest places to shoot photos. For me, Gardens by the Bay was Avatar meets Ferngully with its futuristic Supertrees measuring 25 and 50 meters tall. The gardens occupied 101 hectres of Marina Bay with an array of viewpoints, trails and walkways, which meant that even with crowds of visitors, everyone was scattered throughout massive the space, making it easy for photos all times of the day. We visited both in the late morning and late afternoon, and had no problems with tourists. The vertical gardens were also a treat to visit at night for the Garden Rhapsody Show, daily at 7:45 PM and 8:45 PM. (18 Marina Gardens Dr., 5 AM-2 AM daily, FREE)

 

 

 

6. Residence of Tan Teng Niah, Little India

The old Chinese villa located in the heart of Little India was one of the most charming buildings in Singapore. Bursting with color, the Residence of Tan Teng Niah was a kaleidoscope of blues, greens, yellows, reds and purples. My 8 AM visit was perfect - in the hour we were there, we only  saw one family, one couple and a small tour group stop by for quick photos of the iconic spot. (37 Kerbau Rd., Open 24 hours, FREE)

 

 

7. Masjid Sultan, Kampong Glam

Located near Haji Lane in the city's Kampong Glam neighborhood, the Sultan Mosque was another Instagram darling in this vibrant district. There are several views of the mosque - it's best to walk around the entire building to check out all the different perspectives. The spot below was not a pedestrian street, making it almost impossible for photos later in the day. There's an easier photo spot on the other side of the mosque - just as pretty with no cars. (3 Muscat St., Outside views open 24 hours, FREE)

 

 

 8. Future World

For year's I'd seen the incredible exhibits of teamLab on Instagram, but I was never in the right city at the right time to experience one first hand. When I made plans to visit Singapore, the Future World: Where Art Meets Science installation at the Marina Bay Sands was absolutely a must-visit for me. Specifically, I wanted to see - Crystal Universe and Universe of Water Particles, Transcending Boundaries. I blocked off an entire afternoon for my visit, knowing it was a selfie magnet, and there would be people taking photos for the 'gram. I was correct. The crowds actually weren't so bad, it's that everyone took 25-50 photos in each spot, so it took a while to get a moment without people around. (6 Bayfront Ave, 10 AM-7 PM daily, SGD $18)

 

 

 

9. Joo Chiat Neighborhood

Honestly, there wasn't a ton to see in the Joo Chiat Neighborhood. It was Singapore's version of the Rue Cremieux, in Paris - only much smaller. Joo Chiat is a street lined with two dozen pastel patterned homes, and that's it. For tourists not interested in photos for Instagram, I'm not sure a visit is worth the price of the Grab taxi. It literally took me all of two minutes to walk the entire street and see all the homes. (A: Koon Seng Rd. and Joo Chiat Rd., FREE)

 

 

10. library@orchard

The ultra modern library@orchard was a last minute addition to my Singapore itinerary. On our last day in the city, it started to rain and we needed somewhere indoors to hideout for an hour. This bright white public library located in one of the the city's many shopping malls was the perfect spot. The two-story bookworm retreat was a blinding white space made up of waves of shelves filled with colorful paperbacks, novels and magazines. (277 Orchard Rd., Orchard Gateway, 11 AM-9 PM daily, FREE)

 

 

 

11. Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore

A year ago I told myself that if I ever visited Singapore, the place I wanted to stay was the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. The property was famous for its iconic octagonal bathroom windows overlooking unobstructed views of Marina Bay. There were several different room types to choose from, but I specifically requested a room with the view below - I wanted to start and end my days soaking in this sweeping setting from the most Instagrammable tub in the city. 

 

The hotel's location in Singapore couldn't have been more perfect. It was completely central to everything we wanted to see while in town. I stayed in one of the property's Grand Marina rooms, and it was my luxurious retreat in the evenings - plush king bed, additional daybed, walk-in closet, epic desk views of Marina Bay and an oversized bathroom with equally sweeping views. My room came with Club Access, which was an amazing amenity that included personalized check-in and check-out in the Club Lounge, delicious breakfast, afternoon hors d'oeuvres, garment pressing and limo service within the area (my favorite perk!). (Marina Bay, 7 Raffles Ave., Room prices vary)

 

 

 

 

Thank you to the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore for hosting my stay and sponsoring this post.

 

All honest opinions are my own! xx

 

 

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