What to do in Singapore
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 or $2,000/year to get in, foreign visitors can enter for free after presenting their passport. A driver license from your home country will not work.
Besides the casino, there are other forms of legalized betting which are more accessible to the locals. This includes horse racing, which is run by the Singapore Turf Club on weekends, as well as football (soccer) betting and several lotteries run by the Singapore Pools.
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 parlors.
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, the famously challenging home of the Barclays Singapore Open, and the Marina Bay Golf Course, the only 18-hole public course. See the Singapore Golf Association 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.
The inaugural F1 Singapore Grand Prix was held at night in September 2008, and is a fixture on the local calendar. The F1 Organizers have confirmed that the night race will be extended till 2021. 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 centers.
The Singapore Turf Club in Kranji hosts horse races most Fridays, including a number of international cups, and is popular with local gamblers. The Singapore Polo Club near Balestier is also open to the public on competition days.
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 neighbors 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
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 50m pools (some facilities even feature up to three 50m pools), accessible for an entrance fee of $1.00-1.50. 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 08:00-20:00, and all feature a small cafe. Just imagine swimming your lanes in the tropical night with lit up palm trees surrounding the pool.
Experience world-class Olympics-standard swimming pool at the OCBC Aquatic Centre near Stadium MRT. It opens all day 07:00-22:00 unless they’re hosting swimming championship. Entrance is $2.60-2.90 and include access to Training Pool anytime of the day and Competition Pool at certain hours.
ActiveSG maintains a list of pools, 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 neighborhood directly in front of the pool entrance and have a 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 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 15km. 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.
Canoeing and dragon-boating are popular water-sports in Singapore, and there are many beautiful reservoirs and rivers where one can partake in such physical activity. Check out the MacRitchie Reservoir, Kallang River and Marina Bay for reasonably priced options. Besides these more regular water sports, Singapore also offers water sports fans trendy activities such as cable-Skiing and wave surfing in specially created environments.
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.
Off the beaten track
There are several enjoyable things that not even many locals know about. Do look up places like Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Old Rail Corridor, Labrador Park, Istana Woodneuk, etc. If you are in the mood of doing sport, consider the MacRitchie Reservoir, featuring 11km of jungle running trails with monkeys, reptiles and turtles. If you’re an avid fisherman, you can also try your hand at prawning, or prawn fishing. The sport of prawn fishing has grown tremendously in recent years across South East Asia and can also be found in Singapore.