Singapore skyline viewed from Gardens by the Bay East
Bumboat sailing past the Esplanade Theatres and the hotels of the Marina District
Marina Bay is Singapore's newest district, created on reclaimed land just south of Riverside.
The label "Marina Bay" is a little fuzzy. Technically, it's the body of water created by reclaiming land around the mouth of the Singapore River and blocked off from the sea by the Marina Barrage, but Singaporeans associate the name "Marina" with the Marina Square shopping mall and the many hotel developments around it on the north shore of the river. The half to the south of the river, or Marina South, has to date been just empty land dotted with construction sites, but its centerpiece, the Marina Bay Sands casino and convention center, opened in April 2010 and there's lots more to come. In this article, Marina Bay is simply defined as everything to the east of Shenton Way and Esplanade Drive.
Transportation to Marina Bay remains a little disjointed. The northern half is best accessed through the shiny new Circle Line MRT (opened April 2010), which has stations at Esplanade (Suntec City) and Promenade (Millenia), or you can hike for 15 min through the underground CityLink shopping mall from Raffles City (City Hall MRT, where the North-South and East-West line intersect).
Getting to the southern half is more difficult. The Marina Bay Sands is directly served by the Bayfront MRT station and buses 97, 106 or 133. The same buses also serve Marina Bay MRT, which (despite the name) isn't particularly convenient for anything else just yet (except the Marina Barrage where you need to take a shuttle bus from the station to the said attraction). The Downtown MRT line is scheduled to open its Marina Bay stations in 2013.
From the airport, Marina Bay Sands hotel guests can use a 24-hour shuttle bus for free, but all others need to pay S$25 — nearly the same price as a taxi.
Marina Bay Sands hosts a slew of attractions.
- Marina Bay Sands Casino, . 24 hours. Singapore's second casino, larger and glitzier than its family-oriented competitor on Sentosa, with 600 gaming tables and 1500 slot machines. Visitors can enter for free, but locals and residents have to pay $100 just to get in. An age limit of 16 applies, and you'll need to bring ID.
- Sands SkyPark, Marina Bay Sands (Tickets from hotel lobby, Tower 3), . 10 AM-10 PM. Singapore's single most dramatic landmark, the SkyPark defies gravity, perched 55 stories above the ground like a surfboard on top of the three hotel towers. Views aside, for time being there's not much bang for your buck though: the pool is open to guests only. The alternative to paying the entry fee is to visit the restaurants (see Eat) for lunch, which will set you back around $50, but you can freely explore the SkyPark afterwards. $20/14 adults/children.
Supertree Grove, Gardens by the Bay during the night
Gardens by the Bay during the day
- Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Drive (City Hall MRT), ☎ +65-68288377, . Singapore's equivalent of Sydney's famous Opera House, except that the two-lobed spiky Singaporean version deliberately bears a striking resemblance to the durian, a tropical fruit related to the jackfruit which is notorious for its sharp odour. Opera, dance, classical concerts and similar entertainment is offered daily. Prices for the main entertainment start from $20-30 for poor seats, up to over a $100 for good ones. For the traveller on a budget, there are usually free productions on the outdoor riverside stage on weekends.
- Gardens by the Bay, . 5:00 AM-2:00 AM for outdoor gardens. 9:00 AM-9:00 PM for cooled conservatories and skyway. Gardens by the bay is a futuristic park which consists of three waterfront gardens. Includes giant artificial trees that glow in the night time and two domed conservatories. $20/12 adult/child for two conservatories. $5 for skyway. Gardens are free.
- Singapore Flyer, 30 Raffles Avenue (30 Raffles Avenue), ☎ +65-63333311, . 8:30 AM-10:30 PM. Singapore's newest tourist trap, this 150-meter-tall observation wheel modeled on the London Eye is no less than the world's tallest. One rotation takes about 30 minutes, and for an extra $25 you can sip on a cocktail while admiring the views, but expect to share your capsule with as many as 28 people unless you stump up a cool $1,000 for a private ride. Discounts are widely available, grab a brochure from any tourist information counter. $29.50/20.65 adult/child.
- Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix (Formula 1 Singapore Night-time Grand Prix), Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore., . The Singapore Grand Prix is a motor race, currently on the calendar of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The first race held at the Marina Bay Street Circuit was the 15th round of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship. It was also the first, and thus far only, night-time event in Formula One history. Night races are held in September, in conjunction with a comprehensive entertainment schedule. Officially known as the Grand Prix Season Singapore, the lead-up to the final race will include parties, race-themed events, music concerts, exhibitions and dining & shopping experiences.
- ArtScience Museum, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956, . 10am - 10pm daily. ArtScience Museum is the world's first ArtScience museum and the largest private museum in Singapore. It is part of the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort. It mainly hosts international traveling exhibitions and it has a small permanent exhibition. Some of the exhibitions it has hosted include Genghis Khan: The Exhibition, Dalí: Mind of a Genius – The Exhibition, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal and Harry Potter: The Exhibition. $15-$28 adult, $14-$27 senior citizen, $9-$16 child.
- Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Blvd (Promenade MRT), ☎ +65-68831122, . Upscale mall known for housing Singapore's best collection of luxury watch retailers.
- Suntec City, 3 Temasek Boulevard (Esplanade MRT), ☎ +65-68252667, . Daily 10 AM-10 PM. At the northeastern edge of the CBD is Singapore's 2nd largest shopping mall, featuring the Fountain of Wealth, reputedly the world's largest fountain. If connecting to the Circle Line is inconvenient, the other way in is to take the MRT to City Hall and then follow the signs in the underground CityLink mall, a 15-min air-conditioned walk. Do take note that Suntec City is undergoing renovation works, which is expected to complete in 2015. Carrefour is exiting Suntec City in December 2012 and the Phase 1 (Galleria) is also started to renovate.
- The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, . The Sands' shopping mall, chock full of expensive brands geared at stripping jackpot winners of their earnings, plus a dinky little canal where you can go for a spin in a sampan boat at $8/person. Featured 350 shops in the heart of expensive area.
- Gluttons Bay, Esplanade Mall #01-15, ☎ +65-63367025. Daily 6 PM-3 AM. Run by famous foodies Makansutra, this outdoor eatery puts together 12 of Singapore's most famous hawkers. Breezy location by the river, great views of the city and pretty good grub make this a winner. The food here is a tourist-friendly reproduction of some of Singapore's best, though you can usually find better (and usually cheaper) versions in the heartlands. $5-30.
- Gajalee, #01-13C, Colours By The Bay, 8 Raffles Avenue (Next to Esplanade). Singapore branch of a Mumbai restaurant. Flavors are a bit different than the typical North Indian fare. Get the green chilly crab and the bombay duck (bombil fish). $30-60.
Marina Bay Sands is bringing in a constellation of big names, with Daniel Boulud, Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, Santi Santamaria, Guy Savoy and Tetsuya Wakuda all opening restaurants in the complex.
- Ku De Ta Skybar, Marina Bay Sands SkyPark, ☎ +65-66887688, . noon-3 PM, 6 PM-2 AM. A branch of the famous bar/restaurant in Bali, although there are already lawsuits flying over the name. The restaurant's tapas-style food is by most accounts overpriced for what you get, but it's still probably a better deal than forking out $50 for entry to the bar (one drink included). Lunch $30-85, dinner $100-200.
- Sky @ 57, Marina Bay Sands SkyPark, ☎ +65-66888857, . 7-10 AM, noon-2:30 PM, 6-10:30 PM. Modern Asian food by celebrity chef Justin Quek and some of the best views in town. The three-course $50 lunch (four courses for $60) is probably the best-value way of checking out the views from here. Note that although there is an outdoor dining area, access to the public SkyPark is not included - you will need to buy a separate ticket. Lunch $50, dinner $80+ (minimum charge).
There are a few interesting places around Marina Square as well.
- Shiraishi, 7 Raffles Ave #03-01 (Ritz-Carlton), ☎ +65-63383788. noon-2 PM, 6-10 PM. A tiny place in a quiet corner of the hotel, you won't stumble into this intimidatingly Japanese place by accident, but the restaurant's many regulars come here for some of the best and most consistent sushi and sashimi this side of Tokyo. Lunch sets are good value, but ordering à la carte for dinner can be very expensive indeed. For connoisseurs. Lunch $30-85, dinner $100-200.
Nightlife option in Marina Bay are still developing but more and more options are popping up.
- Pangaea, ☎ +65 6688-7448, . Opend in 2010, this is the first megaclub at Marina Bay Sands.
- Conrad Centennial, 2 Temasek Blvd, ☎ +65-63348888, . New and impeccably tasteful hotel, located next Suntec City but a bit far from the MRT. Very good value for a 5-star. $290.
- Marina Bay Sands, ☎ +65-66888868, . The three "card decks" of the Marina Bay Sands house nearly 2,500 rooms offering some of the best views in the city. Launched in April 2010, the hotel sits atop Singapore's largest casino. Home to the famous 'skypark' featuring a rooftop infinity pool with panoramic views of Singapore's Central Business District. All rooms are large, modern, and well equipped. From $300.
- Ritz-Carlton Millenia, 7 Raffles Ave, ☎ +65-63378888, . Modern and impeccably stylish, with fantastic full-wall skyline views, even from the bathroom, for rooms on the Marina Bay side. (Don't worry, it's one-way glass.) All rooms are large and equipped with frills like a pillow in the bathtub. Gym, spa, pool and a popular Sunday champagne brunch. Recommended. $400.
- Naumi, 41 Seah St, ☎ +65 6403 6000, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. A hip hotel 5 minutes walk from City Hall MRT. 40 rooms and suites. from S$360++.
- 2 Bedroom Apartment (Modern Oriental Apartment Rental). checkin: 1:00 pm; checkout: 11:00 am. This private apartment comes with 2 Bedrooms, 2 Baths and a Kitchenette. It is located in the international plaza in the heart of the CBD, close to the Tanjong Pagar MRT Station. There is a range of shopping, convenient stores and food and beverage outlets on the ground floor of the apartment block. 213 USD.
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