Singapore is a blast in the daytime. Earlier, we sketched out four fun things to do during the daylight hours. But once the sun starts down, and the all-business city sheds its tie, it’s time for the excitement and pure bliss that is a Singapore evening.
SkyBar at the Marina Bay Sands
The night time parade starts in the lobby of the unmistakable Marina Bay Sands hotel, easily the most photographed building in town. Head to the lobby of Tower 3, the northernmost of the three that make up this structure. The destination is that surfboard looking thingee on top, connecting all three at the top, 55 stories in the air. Head to the sign for the entrance to CE LA VI at the mall level. Our goal is to view sunset from the top of the surfboard, so timing is everything. Sunset is right around 7:00 nightly, year round, an advantage of being this close to the equator. Time your arrival for a little before 6:00. While the bar opens at noon, the restaurant opens then. We want to beat that crowd for a seat as the bar is first come, first served.
After reaching the 57th floor, you’re greeted with stunning wraparound views of the city and bay. The round bar is surrounded with deep seating, umbrella covered banquettes. Glass railings circle the perimeter of the deck, with views from the bay all the way around to downtown behind Marina Bay. This view doesn’t come cheap. The signature drink menu starts at around S$28. Sounds steep, doesn’t it? But if you’re not staying in the hotel, just admission to the observation deck two stories below is S$23 alone. So come, gaze at the sunset, have a couple of drinks and enjoy a taste of the incredible luxury of this distinctive building.
Once the sun goes down, its time to head back downstairs for our next stop. Ask the staff in the lobby for directions to Canal Level B2 in the Shoppes next door. It’s time to eat at a Michelin starred restaurant.
Din Tai Fung
After exiting the underpass walk inside the mall toward the skating rink. As you are ogling every luxury brand on earth, about half way to the rink, you will notice a restaurant with a big crowd waiting outside. Yup. This is the place, Din Tai Fung. See the hostess and get and order sheet, called a “chit”. Every item on the menu is listed, grouped into broad categories – soup, noodles, steamed dumplings, etc. On the wall is a picture menu. While you wait, you mark up your chit with your selections, so you are ready to order when you get a seat.
While you wait for a seat, entertain yourself with the show of the dumpling masters, skillfully twisting, kneading, rolling – whatever it takes to produce proven morsels of goodness. Many choices on the chit, so many selecting is challenging. Let me suggest one thing from most of the categories. We chose two soups, six piece shrimp and pork xiao long bao, fried rice with shrimp and egg, three chili crab pork buns, and two Earl Grey lemon iced teas.
Food arrived quickly. Soup was in a flash. My hot and sour had an incredibly rich and flavorful broth, with the black vinegar an accent, and not the totality so common in US renditions of the dish. The fried rice was easily sharable, and solid while not much more. The chili crab buns were a fantastic way to sample the iconic Singaporean food, without nearly the usual mess.
But the highlights were the xiao long bao. This is the dish the Din Tai Fung empire was built on, earning them a Michelin star at one of their Hong Kong restaurants. The ten arrived in a large bamboo basket, their white skins enclosing a small pork and shrimp meatball, swimming in a perfectly seasoned broth. They were as beautiful as they were exquisitely, subtly delicious. The Michelin star was earned from this greatness.
With an eye on the clock, we left around 7:45. It’s a short walk to our next destination, but we needed to be there no later than 8:00. No time to dally.
Head back towards the hotel, just not by the same way. Ask one of the concierge desk personnel throughout the Shoppes for directions to the Gardens Bay Bridge back to the hotel. After crossing above Bayfront Avenue, you will enter the hotel and continue between Tower 1 and 2. The bridge turns into Lions Bridge and crosses Searles Avenue into Gardens by the Bay and the Supertree Grove.
The Supertrees are eighteen man-made replicas of trees, ranging from 80’ to 160’, that combine technologies to act like trees. Covered with plant life such as ferns and bromeliads they collect solar energy and rainwater for use throughout the Gardens by the Bay complex. Winding through these Supertrees at a height of 70’ is the OCBC Skyway. With a length of approximately 1/10 of a mile, it offers a superb view of not just the Supertrees, but the entire area. But the most spectacular view is of the free OCBC Garden Rhapsody sound and light show, nightly amidst the Supertrees. Just be aware of the times: Last S$8 tickets are sold at 8, last admission to the Skyway is at 8:30, with the show at 8:45. If you don’t make the 8:00 cutoff, you can still catch the wonderful show from ground level.
1-Altitude Gallery & Bar
So, head back one last time to the hotel via the Lions Bridge. Grab a taxi – destination 1 Raffles Place, Singapore’s tallest building. There will probably be a wait at the clearly marked street level entrance to the express elevators to our destination, 1-Altitude Gallery & Bar. The S$30 one drink minimum is no deterrence for these remarkable horizon to horizon vistas atop Singapore’s tallest building – over 900’ above ground. That height makes views of all of Singapore possible, even including the islands in Indonesia.
1-Altitude covers two floors – the first level is all bar, band and dance floor. That’s not what we’re here for. We are headed to magnificent panoramas of the top floor, shaped like a triangle and surrounded by tall glass panels. Like the floor, the low seating glows with subtle colors to complement the lights of the nearby buildings. There are great views of downtown here, with even better views across the water to our earlier stops, and the Singapore Flyer. The vibe is casual, more so than the Sky Bar at Marina Bay Sands, with cheerful staff members accommodating any request, including taking the requisite photos.
After a while, it’s time to call it a night. If it isn’t, head down one level to the DJ or band, which go until 3:00 AM. Whenever you call it quits, this has been a memorable evening, and a fitting end to an incredible day in one of the world’s most amazing cities.