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ANIMAL, BIRD AND AQUATIC LIFE
The Singapore Zoological Gardens, an open-concept zoo which is home to more than 2,000 creatures, has attracted international acclaim because of its clever use of rock walls and streams as natural barriers.
Next to the Zoo is the Night Safari, another world-class attraction, where you can look a single-horned rhinoceros in the eye, prowl through the dark with a pack of striped hyenas and look out for leopards.
The Jurong BirdPark is one of the world's largest and most impressive aviaries, and a refuge for over 8,000 birds of 600 different species from all over the world.
Singapore Zoological Gardens
In its lush jungle setting, Singapore's renowned 'open' zoo is a haven for both animals and visitors. More than 2,000 creatures are housed in landscaped enclosures, with rock walls and streams replacing cages.
Special attractions include Children's World, where kids can interact with animals and enjoy excellent playgrounds, the six island Primate Kingdom, the sealion and penguin gallery, the air-conditioned polar bear exhibit and a miniature railway.
Feeding shows take place throughout the day; favourites include the primates, reptiles, elephants and sealions. Among the zoo's many endangered species is the world's largest colony of orang utans, with whom you can enjoy breakfast or afternoon tea if you book in advance through your hotel. Allow a whole day to enjoy the zoo's attractions.
The Night Safari
This is the world's premier night zoo. The twilight holds many surprises ... and more so at Night Safari, where you can look a rhinocerous in the eye or hear the howls of a pack of striped hyenas. There are over 1,200 animals of over 110 exotic species to watch out for. The animals are in 8 zones that recreate various geographic regions like the Southeast Asian rainforest, African savanna, Nepalese river valley, South American pampas and Burmese jungle.
Strike out on your own along the walking trail or relax in a tram ride - whichever you choose, Night Safari is a wild adventure not to be missed.
Winner of the Tourism Awards 2000,1999, 1997 and 1996 - Leisure Attraction of the Year.
Open: 7.30pm to midnight (daily)
Last ticket sale: 11pm
Location: 80 Mandai Lake Road Singapore 729826
Tel: (65) 6269 3411 Fax: (65) 6367 2974
Getting there: Take the MRT to Choa Chu Kang Station (NS4), then board TIBS bus 927 to the zoo. Or take the MRT to Ang Mo Kio Station (NS16), then board SBS bus 138.
GARDENS, PARKS AND NATURE RESERVES(Top)
This is Singapore's largest commercial orchid garden. It's worth a visit for the colourful displays and the method and manner of cultivation. The 4-hectare Gardens features a whole hillside covered with flowering orchids in the open sunshine, including Singapore's national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim. There is also a landscaped Water Garden at the valley with many plants of botanical interest. Located conveniently next to the Zoo and Night Safari, visitors will also find orchid flowers and choice gift items at the Gift Shop to take home. The "Orchid Gift Box Service" will deliver orchids to any address in the world.
Open: 8.30am - 5.30pm (daily)
Admission: SGD 3 adults, SGD 1 children (under 12 years)
Approximate Touring Time: 1 hour
Location: Mandai Lake Road Singapore 729825
Tel: (65) 6269 1036 Fax: (65) 6366 1918
Getting There: Take the MRT to Ang Mo Kio Station (NS16), then board SBS bus 138. Alternatively, take TIBS bus 927 from Choa Chu Kang (NS4) MRT Station.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Singapore is one of only two cities in the world to have a significant area of primary rainforest within its boundaries - the other being Rio de Janeiro. This 164-hectare reserve, only 12 kilometres from the city centre, contains more species of trees than the entire North American continent. At the heart of the reserve lies Singapore's highest point - Bukit Timah Hill, at 164 metres above sea level. Well-marked paths meander through the jungle, and on the way, walkers can spot exotic birds, butterflies, monkeys, squirrels and flying lemurs as well as unique plantlife like the insect-eating pitcher plant. The reserve is an ideal place for hikers.
Open: 8.30am - 6.30pm (daily)
Approximate Touring Time: 3 hours
Location: 177 Hindhede Drive Singapore 589333
Tel: (65) 6468 5736
Getting There: Take the MRT to Newton Station (NS21), then take TIBS bus 171.
Built in 1975 and designed by Prof. Yuen-chen Yu, a well-known architect from Taiwan, the Chinese Garden's concept is based on Chinese gardening art. The main characteristic is the integration of splendid architectural features with the natural environment. The Chinese Garden is modelled along the northern Chinese imperial style of architecture and landscaping.
Bonsai Garden - Opened in June 1992, the Suzhou-style Bonsai Garden cost an estimated SGD 3.8 million to build. This 5,800 sq metres garden with Suzhou-style buildings (incorporating a main hall of 50 sq metres) and landscape houses a collection of some 1,000 bonsais imported mostly from China. This world-class Bonsai Garden has since taken on a new look. Newly revitalised, after spending an estimate of another SGD 500,000 - the Bonsai Garden is a wonder that must be seen to be believed. A Bonsai Training Centre will also be launched where resident Bonsai experts from Shanghai and Suzhou (China)will teach on how to prune and care for Bonsais and how to appreciate the beauty of this unique artistry.
Admission: Admission charges to Bonsai Garden SGD 5 adults, SGD 3 children (3 - 12 years), SGD 3 senior citizens (55 years and above)
Approximate Touring Time: 1 hour
Location: 1 Chinese Garden Singapore 619795
Tel: (65) 6261 3632 Fax: (65) 6261 1390
Getting There: The gardens are a 5-minute walk from the Chinese Garden MRT Station (EW25).
Singapore Botanic Gardens
The Gardens epitomises the tropical island's luxuriant parks. Spread over 52 hectares and close to the centre of the city, the Gardens is a combination of untouched primary forest and specialty gardens displaying frangipanis, roses, ferns and desert plants, to name a few. There are numerous plant species here, including many rare specimens, reflect the Gardens' richness and diversity of plant life.
The present orchid enclosure has 20,000 orchid plants on display. The National Orchid Garden promises sprawling orchid displays, water features, and an exotic bromeliad collection from Central and South America. Other attractions for visitors' enjoyment include Palm Valley, Eco-Lake and outdoor concerts on Symphony Lake.
Shop for exquisitely beautiful gift items at the RISIS Store located at the entrance of National Orchid Garden. Its merchandise ranges from ornate sets of orchid brooches to unique name cardholders with designs inspired by the Peranakan culture, which is a fusion of Chinese, Malay, and European influences. Definitely a great place for those who are looking for special mementos.
If you are looking for a fine dining experience by the greens, head on down to Au Jardin, an exclusive little French restaurant serving one of the best French cuisine in town. For more information, call Tel: 6466 8812. If fine dining is not your cup of tea, drop by any of the cafes ideally located in the Gardens.
Open: 5am - 12 midnight (daily)
National Orchid Garden: 8.30am - 7pm (daily)
RISIS Store: 8.45am - 5.45pm (daily)
Botanic Gardens: Free
National Orchid Garden: SGD 2 adults, SGD 1 children and seniors
Approximate Touring Time: 2 hours
Location: Cluny Road Singapore 259569
Tel: (65) 6471 7361 Fax: (65) 6475 4295
Getting There: From the Orchard MRT Station (NS22) along Orchard Boulevard, take SBS bus 7, 105, 106, 123 or 174.
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is Singapore's first and only protected wetland nature park. It is home to over 500 species of tropical flora and fauna. The 87 hectares of conserved wetland habitat is a "refuelling point" for birds on the East Asian Flyway. Carefully constructed hides and boardwalks provide a close-up view of the flora and fauna in the Park.
Open: 7.30am - 7pm (Mon - Fri), 7am - 7pm (Sat, Sun and public holidays)
Admission: SGD 1 adults, SGD 0.50 children
Approximate Touring Time: 2 - 5 hours
Location: 301 Neo Tiew Crescent Singapore 718925
Tel: (65) 6794 1401
Fax: (65) 6793 7271
Getting There: Take TIBS bus 925 from either Woodlands MRT Station (NS9) or Kranji MRT Station (NS7). This bus stops at the Park entrance on Sundays and Public Holidays. On weekdays and Saturdays, alight at the Kranji Reservoir Carpark for a 20-minute walk to the Park.
Fort Canning Park
Established in 1859 as an arms store, barracks and hospital, Fort Canning is now a park overlooking Orchard Road. It contains memorials of Singapore's early history dating back to the 14th century and Sir Stamford Raffles' personal bungalow. Look out also for the Spice Garden, a small replica of the original 19-hectare tract Raffles established in 1822 as the first experimental and botanical garden in Singapore. Fort Canning is also a popular venue for the arts, including sculpture exhibitions, plays and open-air ballet.
Approximate Touring Time: 1 hour
Location: 51 Canning Rise Singapore 179872
Tel: (65) 6333 0510 Fax: (65) 6333 0590
Getting There: Take the MRT to Dhoby Ghaut Station (NS24) and walk towards Fort Canning Road.
East Coast Park
East Coast Park, located off the East Coast Parkway, is a favourite play area for Singaporeans, either at the beach or on its landscaped vistas and terrains where cycling is much enjoyed. Hire a bicycle or pair of rollerblades or just laze on the sandy beach. Eat at the many fine seafood restaurants or amuse yourself at the various leisure attractions. These include a bowling alley, golf driving range, tennis and squash complexes, watersports centre, swimming lagoon and the East Coast Sailing Centre.
Getting There: Take a taxi from Orchard Road, or take SBS bus 16 and alight at Marine Terrace. Then use the underpass to cross the ECP expressway.
MacRitchie, Peirce, Lower Seletar and Seletar Reservoirs
These reservoirs are surrounded by broad swamps, jungle and greenery, which run through the central northern parts of Singapore. The reservoirs are popular for family outings and picnics. They are a quiet contrast to the bustle of the city and provide a variety of recreational facilities like paddle boating and golf at Upper Seletar or sport fishing at Lower Seletar. MacRitchie Reservoir has a 12-hectare park with a jogging track, exercise area, playground, tea kiosk and fountain. On most Sundays, local school bands or orchestras play at MacRitchie (check local dailies for time of performances).
MacRitchie: off Lornie Road
Upper Seletar: off Mandai Road
Lower Peirce: off Upper Thomson Road
Lower Seletar: off Yishun Avenue 1
MacRitchie: Take SBS bus 132 or TIBS bus 167 from Orchard Road.
Lower Peirce: Take TIBS bus 167 from Orchard Road.
Upper Seletar: Take the MRT to Ang Mo Kio Station (NS16) then board SBS bus 138.
Lower Seletar: Take the MRT to Yishun Station (NS13) then take TIBS bus 171.
Marina City Park ( Click for postcard )
Marina City Park offers breathtaking views of the city skyline and the sea. The acres of open space are suitable for kite flying and there are some unusual works of art amidst its rolling greenery. These works include sculptures of Confucius and seven other Chinese legendary heroes and a 13-metre high brass and stainless expression of Singapore's aspirations called "Spirit of Youth and Sculpture Fountain". Drop by at the park for a picnic or savour a sumptuons steamboat buffet dinner at one of the many food outlets.
Location: Near Marina Bay
Getting There: Take the MRT to Marina Bay Station (NS27). From the station, it's a short walk, or take SBS bus 400.
Mount Faber offers landscaped gardens and vantage points at its peak provide panoramic views of the harbour, Sentosa island and the other Southern islands. Chill out at the Altivo bar as you enjoy the spectacular views of the city at night. You can also board a cable car to Sentosa from here.
Approximate Touring Time: 1.5 hours
Location: off Telok Blangah Road
Getting There: Take a taxi or the cable car from the World Trade Centre.
ISLES OF SINGAPORE(Top)
Singapore is not just one island, but a main island with over 50 surrounding islets. Some of Singapore's smaller islands offer a quiet respite from the big city with their laid-back ambience, idyllic beaches and inviting waters.
Sentosa - Singapore's resort island getaway is a must-see for all visitors. Just minutes away from the bustle of the city, this island of tranquillity welcomes you with beautiful sandy beaches, rustic nature trails, Asia's most exciting oceanarium & Dolphin Lagoon, historical sites, museums and great entertainment!
Pulau Ubin is a window into Singapore 30 years ago - thatched huts, backyard orchards, dirt tracks and interesting wildlife. St. John's Island, a former penal colony which has been transformed into a tranquil resort with abundant watersport activities and holiday bungalows, makes an ideal getaway.
Kusu or "Turtle" Island is best known for its legend of how a giant turtle turned itself into an island in order to save two shipwrecked sailors, a Malay and a Chinese. Lazarus and Sisters Islands are some of the other easily accessible tropical paradises known for snorkelling and diving. Simply catch a ferry from the Singapore Cruise Centre at the World Trade Centre or hire your own boat from Jardine Steps, Clifford Pier or the Changi Jetty.
Kusu and St John's Islands
On Kusu Island, there is a Malay shrine and a Chinese temple with an interesting legend woven around them. A giant sea turtle is believed to have saved two shipwrecked sailors - a Malay and a Chinese from drowning. As an act of thanks, the two men built a Chinese temple, Malay shrine and a huge turtle sculpture on the island. Taoists make annual pilgrimages to the Tua Pekong Temple during the ninth lunar month, while Muslims visit Kramat Kusu, a Malay shrine.
Stunning views of the mainland can be seen from Kusu's beaches and its hilltop. The warm waters of the lagoon are ideal for swimming.
Getting There: Take a ferry from Sentosa Ferry Terminal. Departure times: 10 am and 1.30 pm (Mon to Sat), and at 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm (Sun and public holidays).
Return ticket SGD 9.00 (adults), SGD 6.00 (child 3 to 12 years).
Duration of the boat ride is about 30 mins. For enquiries on ferry service, call the Hotline at 1800-SENTOSA (6736 8672)
Pulau Ubin is an island off the northeastern coast of Singapore, shaped like a boomerang and covered by low hills. This offshore island is being developed into a nature park complete with trails, shelters, camping sites, chalets and other basic amenities.
To enjoy the natural vegetation and the laidback kampong atmosphere, you should try leisure walking or cycling. Bicycles can be rented at the village. The trails have been upgraded to facilitate trekking and basic amenities like toilets and shelters are available for the convenience of visitors.
Much of its natural environment will be preserved in the development programme and visitors can still experience the rustic village atmosphere encompassing granite quarries, coconut and rubber plantations, mangrove swamps, fish and prawn farms, and traditional fishing "kelongs".
Located at the eastern tip of Pulau Ubin is a natural beach called Chek Jawa, on which marine life such as the horseshoe crab and sand dollar, a disc-shaped member of the star-fish family, live. It also houses sea-grass meadows that habour carpet and peacock anemones, as well as coral rubble that is home to sponges of various hues. Visits to Chek Jawa are on a first-come-first-served basis and only when there are low tides. To book, call the National Parks Board at Tel: (65) 6542 4108.
Getting There: Take the MRT to Tanah Merah Station (EW4), then take SBS bus 2 or 29 to Changi Village bus interchange, followed by a 10-minute boat ride from the Changi Point jetty. Cost of the boat ride is SGD 2 and the service operates from 6am to 11pm.
Lazarus & Sisters Island
These tiny southern islands offer quiet respite from the big city with their laid-back ambience, sandy beaches and inviting waters. Swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving are recommended.
The waters off Lazarus and Sisters Islands are good for scuba diving although the currents are quite strong. They are recommended only for experienced divers.
Getting There: Water taxis are available for hire at approximately SGD 50 per hour from Clifford Pier and Jardine Steps (World Trade Centre).
LANDMARKS AND MEMORIALS
Merlion and Merlion Park ( Click for postcard )
The Merlion was designed as an emblem for the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in 1964. The designer was Mr Fraser Brunner, a member of the souvenir committee and a curator of the Van Kleef Aquarium.
The Merlion has a lion head and a fish body resting on a crest of waves. The lion head symbolises the legend of the rediscovery of Singapura, as recorded in the "Malay Annals". In ancient times, Singapore was known as Temasek, a Javanese word for sea. In the 11th century A.D, Prince Sang Nila Utama of the Sri Vijaya Empire rediscovered the island. When the Prince first landed on Singapore's shores, he sighted a mystical beast which he later learnt was a lion. The Prince then decided to name the island "Singapura" which in Sanskrit means Lion (Singa) City (Pura). The fish tail of the Merlion symbolises the ancient city of Temasek and represents Singapore's humble beginnings as a fishing village.
The Merlion statue, measuring 8.6 metres high and weighing 70 tonnes, was built by the late Singapore craftsman, Mr Lim Nang Seng. It is made of cement fondue. A smaller Merlion statue, measuring two metres high and weighing three tonnes was also built by Mr Lim. The body is made of cement fondue, the skin from porcelain plates and eyes from small red teacups.
Its First home
The Merlion and the Cub were originally located by the Esplanade Bridge, just 120 metres from their present location. Also called the Merlion Park, the area soon became a popular tourist attraction and took its place among the famous landmarks of great cities of the world. Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the then Prime Minister of Singapore, officiated the installation ceremony of the Merlion on 15 September 1972. A bronze plaque commemorated the auspicious occasion with the inscription, "The Merlion has been erected as a symbol to welcome all visitors to Singapore".
Today, the Merlion attracts more than one million visitors a year who make the trip to the Merlion Park to photograph this world famous icon.
Parliarnent House and the Elephant Statue
Designed and built by George Coleman as a colonial mansion in 1827, this is Singapore's oldest government building. It was the former home of Singapore's democratically-elected Parliament. Visitors to the stately building are greeted by a bronze elephant statue, a gift from King Chulalongkorn of Siam in 1871.
Singapore's Parliament has shifted to new premises at 1 Parliament Place, just a short walk away.
Location: Empress Place
Getting There: Take the MRT to Raffles Place Station (EW14/NS26) and walk across Cavenagh Bridge.
Statues of Sir Stamford Raffles
The statue of Singapore's founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, cast in dark bronze by Thomas Woolner stands in front of Victoria Theatre. Its replica, made of pure white polymarble stands at North Boat Quay, at an area colloquially known as Raffles Landing Site, as this is the spot where Raffles is believed to have first stepped ashore.
Location: North Boat Quay
Getting There: Take the MRT to Raffles Place MRT Station (EW14/NS26) and walk across Cavenagh Bridge.
Supreme Court and City Hall
Built in 1939, this stately building with its Corinthian columns, spacious interiors which feature murals by Italian artist, Cavalieri Rodolfo Nolli, and classic design, make the Supreme Court building one of the finest buildings ever built during the British Rule of Singapore.
Beside the Supreme Court is City Hall, Which was built in 1929 and was the site of the Japanese surrender to Lord Mountbatten in 1945 during World War II.
Visitors are welcome to attend all open court hearings unless otherwise ordered and to tour the premises. However, visitors are requested to be appropriately attired (no shorts, singlets or slippers). Photographic and video equipment are not allowed on the premises and other electronic equipment such as handphones and pagers must be turned off or switched to silent mode.
There are permanent exhibits on the history of the Courts on the ground floor of the Supreme Court Building, a multi-media gallery with corporate video screenings as well as interactive electronic information kiosks. Don't forget to pick up a copy of the "Guide to Supreme Court, Singapore".
Open: 8.30am - 5pm (Mon-Fri), 8.30am - 1pm (Sat)
Location: St Andrew's Road
Getting There: Take the MRT to City Hall Station (EW13/NS25) and walk along St Andrew's Road towards the Padang.
Kranji War Memorial
Kranji War Memorial honours the men from Britain, Australia, Canada, Sri Lanka, India, Malaya, the Netherlands and New Zealand who gave their lives for freedom in World War II.
Marked graves of 4,000 servicemen who died during the Japanese Occupation stand in neat rows on manicured lawns. Another 24,000 names of soldiers and airforce men who died but whose bodies were never recovered are inscribed on 12 columns.
Kranji War Cemetery began as a hospital burial ground during the Japanese Occupation and became a military cemetery after the war. Bodies of servicemen buried in other parts of Singapore were exhumed and reburied here. The area is also the burial ground of Singapore's first two presidents.
Open: 7am - 6pm (daily)
Location: 9 Woodlands Road
Getting There: Take SBS bus 170 from Rochor Road or take the MRT to Kranji Station (NS7) and it is a 5-minute walk away.
Civilian War Memorial
Also known as the "chopsticks", this structure was built to honour the civilians killed during the Japanese Occupation. The four white pillars measure 10 metres in height and symbolise the Chinese, Eurasians, Indians and Malays who died in the war. A memorial service is held at this site on 15 February every year to commemorate the Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942.
Location: Memorial Park, Beach Road
Getting There: A short walk from City Hall MRT Station (EW13/NS25).
Arabs were among the first to arrive in Singapore to trade, bringing with them the Islamic religion and converting many indigenous Malays to their belief. Today the old section of the city around Arab Street provides an intriguing glimpse into the Muslim way of life.
The Sultan Mosque dominates the area, a fantastic building with its impressive gold dome and vast prayer hall. Arab Street itself is a riot of colourful textiles from all over Asia at very low prices. Also on sale, overflowing from the shop houses onto the pavement, are saris and batik, basketry, leather goods, cane and rattan, jewellery and hand-beaten brass, perfumes and a host of other treasures. Allow two hours.
Getting there: Take the MRT to Bugis (E1) and walk. Chinatown Here amidst narrow streets of picturesque shophouses and restaurants brimming with life, the temple idol carvers, herbalists, calligraphers, traders and trishaw drivers pursue a way of life that has changed little for generations. Incense stream from the old temples, the elderly spread their wares out on the pavement for sale and sea cucumbers, regarded as a delicacy, dry in the sun.
Much of Chinatown has recently been renovated, but the old traditions endure. A walk around the streets of Tanjong Pagar reveals local craftsmen at work making clogs, kites and traditional seals for stamping documents. During Chinese New Year, the whole of Chinatown is lit up and buzzes with activity as stalls sell a variety of festive goods. Allow two hours.
Getting there: Take the MRT to Outram Station (W2).
Little India, centred around Serangoon Road, embodies the vibrant and colourful culture of the Indian community in Singapore. Women in graceful saris and turbaned Sikhs go about their daily business in the Zhujiao Centre, where a bewildering selection of food is on sale. Small shops abound, selling bolts of glittering silks, temple garlands, gold jewellery and spices that are ground in front of you. The Hindu religion plays an important part in the life of Little India, and the Sri Veerama Kaliaman and Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temples in the area are well worth visiting. Allow two hours to browse.
Getting there: Take SBS buses 64, 65, 106 or 111 from Orchard Road.
Here amidst narrow streets of picturesque shophouses and restaurants brimming with life, the temple idol carvers, herbalists, calligraphers, traders and trishaw drivers pursue a way of life that has changed little for generations. Incense stream from the old temples, the elderly spread their wares out on the pavement for sale and sea cucumbers, regarded as a delicacy, dry in the sun. Much of Chinatown has recently been renovated, but the old traditions endure. A walk around the streets of Tanjong Pagar reveals local craftsmen at work making clogs, kites and traditional seals for stamping documents.
During Chinese New Year, the whole of Chinatown is lit up and buzzes with activity as stalls sell a variety of festive goods. Allow two hours.
Getting there: Take the MRT to Outram Station.
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