Orchids, tigers and the enchantment of Singapore
For years, travelers tried – and failed- to categorize Singapore. Was it a necessary stopover on the way to more exotic locales? A commercial sector? A misunderstood gem? Disagreement came from the fact that the country boasts a wide array of cultures, with no single architectural style or way of life dominating the scene.
Instead, Singapore proved to be a cultural mosaic – a melting pot of skyscrapers and temples, of malls and small markets. Rather than choose between their traditions, their colonial history and their future, the people of Singapore embraced it all and helped shape a country that is finally receiving the appreciation it deserves.
The city-state is now one of the world’s most popular destinations. This “City in a Garden” is a haven for both those who love all things natural – mythical rainforests and vast wetlands are always within reach – and those who prefer to travel to the soundtrack of urban life; the rapid chatter of merchants and the low, hustling rush of crowds
A tour of Singapore is nearly limitless. Everything is open to your exploration. But if you’d like a starting point, any one of these sites is worth a visit:
Much of Singapore is beautiful, but Pulau Ubin is in a class all its own. This rural, largely undeveloped stretch of jungle is teeming with the melodious calls of strange birds, darting lizards seen only in a flash of vibrant pebbled skin, and the kind of shrines that often turn up in adventure movies. There are several ways to explore Pulau Ubin, but if you’re prefer a little extra adventure in your tours, nothing beats leaning forward in the saddle of a mountain bike. Just following the roads whichever way your instinct takes you can lead to spectacular views, both of wildlife and the ocean.
Not everyone wants to brave the jungle to see exotic animals, and that’s okay. For those who want to get the wildlife experience in a more familiar environment, the Singapore Zoo manages a blend of the natural and the controlled by means of more than 64 acres of wide enclosures. The zoo is home to lots of exotic wildlife including Malaysian flying foxes, sloths, baboons and the absolutely stunning white Bengal tigers – and gives them all plenty of room to move around. Visitors with children will be especially enthralled as they find themselves only inches away from these amazing species.
Nearly 200 acres of arrestingly beautiful green provide a soothing escape from the sounds of the city to those who visit these Botanic Gardens. Residents of the enchanting city-state begin their day with tai chi here among the towering trees and calm lakes. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the garden has been around since 1860. It is home to more than 300 different kinds of vegetation – including world-famous orchids – about half of which are considered rare.
A traveler arriving in Singapore for the first time and seeing clusters of malls and modern shops might easily assume that the island nation has been overly commercialized, but they wouldn’t have seen enough to realize just how expansive the bite-sized nation is. From the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple to the Esplanade theater to the Botanic Gardens, Singapore can captivate a visitor with its past as easily as it can with its future and the promise of more great things to come.