Imagine a world where you can skydive 20 metres from the ground then sip on cocktails 200 metres above. Where the national icon is half-fish, half-lion and a surfer simply has to ask for the perfect wave to get one. When we are left to our own devices, it’s pretty hard to stop us from having our own brand of fun. These may not be the run-of-the-mill things you would expect from a land-scarce island city, but crazy ingenuity does sometimes lead to strangely wonderful results. The question is, are you up for it?
Thrillseekers, take note
From family-friendly water theme parks to a reverse bungee that will catapult you 60 metres into the air, there’s a whole host of extreme activities in Singapore for an adrenaline rush and overdose of adventure at any time you choose to visit, all year round.
Whether you are craving for a surfing fix while it’s winter back home or simply looking to catch some serious air time amidst a beautiful crowd, Wave House#41 Sentosa is a hip flow riding joint you must not miss. Water is pumped as fast as 48 km/h to create an endless supply of perfect waves, including 10-foot barrelling waves, for riders to bust gravity-defying jumps all year round. Tired from the exertion? Simply sit back and relax as you savour a range of tantalising California Asian-inspired bites.
But it’s not just the experience of surfing we have recreated. We have also built the world’s largest wind tunnel so that we can skydive indoors. Measuring 5.02 metres in diameter with a flying height of 17.22 metres (the equivalent of five storeys), the sheer size of the wind tunnel at iFly#42 can cater for a variety of movements, such as freeflying and even formation skydiving.
Don’t want to do it alone? Get your mates, children, parents and even grandparents together for an aero-acrobatics session! iFly’s state-of-the-art patented technology ensures a high degree of safety so that anyone, from first time flyers to seasoned skydivers between seven to 106 years old, can fly – at one-fifth the cost of a tandem jump.
Embrace your wild side
Is it possible to have all the major rivers in the world in one single place? At River Safari#47, it is. From the submerged forests of the Amazon to Mekong’s river giants, seven iconic rivers from around the world are recreated in a water wonderland that is home to over 6,000 animals, including 40 threatened species and the world’s largest freshwater aquarium. Do not miss the chance to get up close and personal with rarely-sighted creatures such as the massive manatees and red pandas.
Nestled alongside this river-themed wildlife park are two similarly interesting wildlife attractions –Night Safari#53, the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals, and the Singapore Zoo. In both these attractions, animals live in environments that are modelled closely after their natural habitats in the wild. These living conditions also seem to be conducive for romance and procreation, as babies of endangered species, such as Sunda pangolins, red giant flying squirrels and even a polar bear cub, have been successfully bred over the past years!
If you would like to sample local heritage, spend some time surrounded by nature and go on a trip off the beaten track all in one sitting, take a leisurely boat ride 5.6 kilometres south of mainland Singapore to find the mystical Kusu Island#51. Legend has it that the island came to be when a giant tortoise transformed into an island to save two shipwrecked man – one Malay and one Chinese. That is why you will find Taoist temples and Muslim ‘Keramats’ (‘shrines’ in Malay) on this island.
Apart from the religious institutions, Kusu Island also provides a great secret picnic location, away from the city’s bustle. With plenty of greenery on every square inch of the island and a small, scenic beach tucked away at the back, this is the perfect place to slow down. Take your cue from the hundreds of tortoises housed at the island’s Tortoise Sanctuary#50– just bask in the sun as time passes you by.
Take to the high places
Having a tipple after a long day may be a reward on its own, but enjoying it atop the city’s highest points#43 makes the experience strangely wonderful – as we have taken drinking to a whole new level. Perched 282 metres above ground at the heart of the central business district, 1-Altitude isn’t just the highest rooftop bar in Singapore – it is the highest multi-experience lifestyle joint in the world; with an al fresco gastro bar, an European restaurant, a sports bar and even a golf simulator all in one venue.
Alternatively, consider KU DÉ TA, which sits right at the top of the iconic Marina Bay Sands#46. By day or by night, you can take your pick from a range of experiences at this boat-shaped skypark which has been voted one of the top ten global hotspots by The New York Times. From poolside terraces, lazy lounges and deck chairs to an artisanal cocktail bar, there is a whole range of experiences to elevate revellers to a whole new party dimension.
Quirky discoveries of the liquid kind
For connoisseurs of bespoke creations, there are plenty of watering holes that go beyond the typical housepours. Lovers of craft beers would appreciate the hunt for LeVel 33, one of the world’s highest craft-breweries – accessible only by a dedicated lift. As you walk into the restaurant, you will see the actual storage tanks and giant copper kettles used in the beer brewing process. Have a taste of the limited-run craft beers and savour modern European cuisines served with a twist as you enjoy sweeping panoramas of the city.
Wacky cocktail bars are another must-go to witness the heights of ingenuity in the local drinking scene. Drinks are served in the weirdest receptacles at the Art Bar, where quirky Singaporean coffeeshop paraphernalia often stand in for cocktail glasses. If dramatic entrances and spectacular displays are what you look for, check out Tippling Club, where flavours and presentation have become an art form.
Up for more of the strangely wonderful? Take a deep dive into the daily lives of Singaporeans to discover a culture that comes with more than its fair share of quirks. A great place to start would be our coffeeshop culture.
Strangely Wonderful Glossary
#41- Wave House- We create our own waves to surf on and they’re (almost) as good as the real thing.
#42- iFly- Almost like the real thing without the danger. Skydive in an indoor stimulator while enjoying views of the Straits China Sea.
#43- Roof top bars- With not much space in Singapore, we enjoy camping out on rooftops for a drink.
#46- Marina Bay Sands- Why would anyone build a boat across the top of three buildings? We project a laser show out of this huge building twice a day which on a clear day, can be seen from halfway round the island.
#47- River Safari- Is it possible to have all the major rivers in the world, in one single place? At the River Safari it is.
#50- Turtle Temple and Museum- This unique museum is home to over 800 turtles and tortoises. In Chinese tradition, turtles represent long life and 25 good fortune, hence a visit to the museum is believed to extend your life!
#51- Kusu Island- It is believed that Kusu island came to be when a magical tortoise turned itself into an island to save two shipwrecked sailors.
#53- Night Safari- We built a zoo for nocturnal animals that is only open at night rather than reversing the day-night cycle of animals. The animals are made visible by using lighting that resembles moonlight at the Night Safari.