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Marina Bay travel guide

The Singapore River empties into the Marina Bay, an artificial inlet formed by reclaimed land, which has become the heart of the city’s redevelopment. At the heart of this new hub is the Marina Bay Sands, one of Singapore’s two new Integrated Resorts (IRs). Surrounding it are the 101-hectare Gardens by the Bay, the Singapore Flyer (the island’s answer to the London Eye) and the Marina Bay Street Circuit, which hosts the Singapore Grand Prix. It is dominated by the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, the pride and joy of Singapore’s arts scene, and is home to Suntec City and Marina Square – self-contained retail and business cities.

Marina Bay

Taking centre stage here is Marina Bay Sands, which was opened in phases from May 2010. At the heart of this development is the Marina Bay Sands hotel, made up of three towers, crowned by the Sands SkyPark on the 57th storey. Shaped like a boat perched at the top of the towers, the one-hectare sky oasis has restaurants, sculptured gardens and an infinity pool.

The building also houses a casino, theatres, exhibition space and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, with over 300 shops and restaurants. 

The ArtScience Museum is a lotus-shaped museum that marries both art and science, resulting in unique, world-class exhibitions. A 280-m (918-ft) bridge, connects the two sides of the bay. Viewing platforms along the path allow superb bay vistas.

Opposite, Gardens By The Bay is a sprawling horticultural attraction housing over 250,000 rare plants in huge, domed conservatories. The Supertrees are 25-50 metre-tall vertical gardens, with a suspended 128-metre-long walkway, giving you a bird's eye view of the Gardens and the Marina Bay area. Discover more about the area’s transformation at the Marina Bay City Gallery.

Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Whatever your opinion of the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay – looming on the waterfront with its spiny hedgehog-like profile – there’s no denying the role of this S$600 million arts centre as a symbol of the city’s aspiration to be Asia’s arts hub. The audacious structure has been a magnet for artistic creativity since it opened in 2002, showcasing a finely tuned repertoire of performing arts from Singapore and abroad. The adjoining Esplanade Mall houses an array of restaurants and quirky shops, busiest on performance nights. Walk along the Marina Bay Promenade just outside; this is one of the best spots to view the CBD skyline. The Makansutra Gluttons Bay, to the Esplanade Theatres’ right, is popular for after-performance suppers.

Marina Square

On the same side of the bayfront as the Esplanade Theatres is Marina Square, a huge mall linked to several of the city’s top hotels – Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Mandarin Oriental and Pan Pacific. Suntec City, a massive shopping and business development, is also connected to Marina Square. Retail options abound in the oversized Suntec City Mall, noted for its gigantic Fountain of Wealth – the world’s largest. 

On the eastern tip of the bayfront turns the Singapore Flyer. Enjoy a jaw-dropping panorama of the bay from the world’s highest observation wheel at 165m (541ft). If the weather is pleasant, it is worth making a detour to the left of the Esplanade Theatres, where a string of modest memorials stand, set in tree-lined open spaces. These include the War Memorial, in the park of the same name, a tribute to the countless civilians who died in World War II.The Esplanade Park, stretching along Connaught Drive, is dotted with monuments like the Victorian-style Tan Kim Seng Fountain, built to mark the merchant’s £13,000 contribution in 1857 to build the town’s public water works. 

Places to visit around Marina Bay

Staggering Marina Bay Sands

10 Bayfront Avenue, Marina Bay

When this Integrated Resort was built, it changed Singapore’s skyline completely. Designed by Moshe Safdie Architects, the three soaring hotel towers are crowned by the Sands SkyPark on the 57th floor, offering an amazing 360 degree view.

Another iconic structure in the vicinity by the same architect is the ArtScience Museum. Perched at the Marina Bay waterfront, the round shaped building features 10 ‘fingers’ designated as gallery spaces. These fingers feature skylights that allow natural light to flood in. The dish-like roof allows rainwater to flow through the building’s central atrium. 

Beautiful Gardens by the Bay

18 Marina Gardens Drive

tel: 6420 6848

www.gardensbythebay.com.sg

The most iconic structures at Gardens by the Bay are the two conservatories: Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. The former replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean regions. Walk around in 22 degree C and smell the flowers, herbs and plants. The Cloud Forest boasts the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, tropical plants, and a 35-metre-tall mountain covered in lush vegetation.

Outdoors, more than a dozen of the towering Supertrees (up to 16 storeys high) offer shade in the day and glittering light displays at night. Walk along the OCBC Skyway which connects two of the Supertrees and enjoy views of the lush area. Other attractions here include the Heritage Gardens that tell you how the plants of the island are linked to its culture. Bay East Garden is where you should go for some serenity and amazing views of the Marina Bay skyline. 

Fantastically designed Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

1 Esplanade Drive

tel: 6828 8222

www.esplanade.com

The design of this landmark – which people either love or hate – with its distinctive facade of sharp-edged metal sunshades, has been mired in controversy since the model was first unveiled in 1992. Michael Wilford, the British architect who designed the edifice, quit the project in 1995 over unexplained differences, leaving home-grown company DP Architects to complete the job. The result is a glazed building that is protected from the tropical sun and heat by triangular aluminium sun shields. The shields are set to open or close at varying angles, depending on the angle of the sun’s rays. And so arose the building’s myriad nicknames, everything from ‘fish scales’ and ‘bug eyes’ to what most people seem to have settled on, the ‘Durian’.

Suntec City Mall - a shopper's paradise

3 Temasek Boulevard

tel: 6825 2667

www.sunteccity.com.sg

It is easy to get lost in this veritable city with over 350 shops and a whole lot of restaurants and eateries. Until VivoCity was built, Suntec City was the largest mall on the island. 

Singapore Flyer - for incredible views

Marina Bay

tel: 6734 8829

www.singaporeflyer.com.sg

Get an unobstructed bird’s-eye view of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia on a 37-minute ride on the 165-m- (541-ft-) high Singapore Flyer observation wheel. Located at Marina Bay, it is unabashedly touted as Singapore’s version of the London Eye. 

War Memorial Park

Beach Road

The War Memorial Park is dedicated the thousands of civilians who suffered and died in Singapore in World War II. Popularly known as the ‘Chopsticks Monument’, the memorial consists of four interlinked tapering columns representing each of the four main ethnic groups. Beneath the 61-m columns are urns containing the remains of some of those who died.

Top hotels in Marina Bay

  • Ritz-Carlton Millenia

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7 Raffles Avenue

Marina Bay

tel: 6337 8888

With an impressive contemporary art collection and Singapore’s largest guest rooms, plus stunning bathrooms with views to match. Restaurants serve Western, Cantonese and seafood cuisines. The bar with a riveting glass sculpture as its talking point is perfect for after-dinner drinks. 

Top restaurants in Marina Bay

  • My Humble House

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02-27/29 Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue

Marina Bay

tel: 6423 1881

When the creative director is an artist-turned-restaurateur, you can only expect a restaurant so sensuous, even the sautéed spinach dish is named Night is in the Air. The menu reads like a poetic work of art, the décor is sexy, and the modern Chinese cuisine is simply splendid.

  • Rang Mahal

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3/F, Pan Pacific Hotel, 7 Raffles Boulevard

Marina Bay

tel: 6333 1788

Dine on classical northern, southern and coastal Indian specialities in a chic, modern interior. Whether it’s a new twist to a traditional dish (tandoori salmon) or a classic favourite (murg hazari, or stuffed chicken), you can be assured of a memorable meal. The lunch buffet is fantastic value for money. 

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Read more about Singapore in Insight Guides: Singapore City Guide

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