The 8.6m-tall Merlion statue that sits at the mouth of the Singapore River spouting water into Marina Bay is a popular tourist hotspot despite its surprising banal origins. This ‘mythical creature’ was created in 1972 as a logo for the Singapore Tourism Board, and as an amalgamation of Singapore’s heritage. The Lion reference draws from ‘Singapura’, an old name for Singapore meaning ‘Lion City’, while the fish half is a callback to Singapore’s early days as a fishing village then known as ‘Temasek’ or ‘Sea Town’. Detractors often compare the Merlion to the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen – the statue is a lot smaller than you might imagine from the photos and perpetually swarmed with way too many tourists to be worth the effort to visit. There are actually seven official Merlion statues located around Singapore – the largest one is on Sentosa and a tower that you can climb. That version is often described as rather murderous looking because of the lasers that shoot out of its eyes.
The Singapore Flyer was once the tallest observation wheel in the world until 2014, but remains Asia’s largest observation wheel at 165m tall. It draws crowds for its prime position with panoramic unblocked views of the Marina Bay area and its architectural landmarks, where you can even see parts of neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia on a clear day. An adult ticket on the Singapore Flyer is not a cheap price to pay for just half an hour’s worth of scenery-chewing. Add on an overpriced drink and your ticket more than doubles in price – pretty steep considering there are plenty of rooftop F&B establishments in the area where you can enjoy potential happy hours, table service and as much of a view as you like for the same price or cheaper.
Marina Bay Sands Skypark
Since its opening in 2010, Marina Bay Sands dominated the view around Marina Bay and one of the best places to get a view is from the Skypark 57 storeys high, with an observation deck that overlooks the Central Business District offering views of the iconic Singapore cityscape. You can also find some fine dining and premium bar establishments up in the Skypark for a scenic meal, as well as the Instagram-famous infinity pool. The Skypark is free for hotel guests, but others have to pay for a S$23 adult ticket just to take the elevator up 57 storeys to a tourist-filled viewing deck, and you don’t even get to dip in that famous infinity pool as it is reserved exclusively for use by hotel guests. There are plenty of other viewpoints around the Marina Bay area that don’t come with an entrance fee and may be more worth your while to check out.
Orchard Road is one of the tourist attractions located in downtown Singapore touted as a must-see for its entertainment and shopping opportunities. It’s a long, straight road lined with shopping malls, many of which are interconnected by a series of underground walkways to let shoppers beat the hot afternoons and sudden tropical downpours. Most of the shops you find along Orchard Road tend to be popular international brand names that can be found all over the world, or luxury brand names that only the very wealthy can afford, so if you are looking to bring home something uniquely Singaporean, this may not be the best place for you. Orchard Road also gets absolutely packed with locals and tourists alike on the weekends, jamming the roads and corridors with human and vehicular traffic. When coupled with the elevated tourist prices, it’s easy to see why some regard this as a spot in Singapore too much to handle.