I’ve been in Singapore for nearly six months, and it is only now that I have begun to work out what Sentosa is.
Yes, I know it’s an island. Yes, I know it’s a playground for all ages. But, without a little bit of research, I simply couldn’t see through the mist – too much information, too many choices.
The muddle in my brain is not helped by the orientation of tourist maps. As any map lover, or geography student, will know, north should be at the top edge of a map. However, you only approach Sentosa from the north, across a bridge or by cable car. This means your introduction to the island is south facing, and what you expect to be on the right is actually on the left, and vice versa. Clear as mud? The difficulty is that some maps present Sentosa as north facing and some as south facing. It’s enough to make you dizzy and your brain hurt. Getting to grips with orientation is timesaving information, and will hopefully save you a migraine.
So Sentosa is a theme park: there are glamorous homes and hotels, golf courses, a marina and a fort. It helps to get a mental picture of the island by visualising it in five zones:
1. Centre: At the heart of the island is Imbiah Lookout, which is surrounded by a range of attractions, rides and activities, centred around the 37m Sentosa Merlion statue.
2. North: Resorts World Sentosa houses Universal Studios, the Marine Life Park, Adventure Cove Waterpark and even more attractions.
3. East: Sentosa Cove is home to the Marina, and apparently the most desirable address in the world (according to the website).
4. South: Sentosa Beaches is the place to canoe, swim or play on the swings. Cross a rope bridge and you will reach the southern most point of continental Asia.
5. West: Siloso Point is home to Fort Siloso, complete with 17th century guns; a laser attraction called Combat Skirmish Live, and Underwater World Singapore.
You can get air dropped onto the island from a cable car, like a paratrooper, to the Imbiah Lookout and immediately you are surrounded by a range of entertainment options. It’s daunting; the unprepared tourism bimbles around aimlessly (that was us the first time we went), trying to find a focus and keeping track of their spending as they continuously thrust their hand in their pocket to pay for the attractions.
So if you are new to Singapore, this piece of insight is for you. I could write an entire list of things to see and do, and probably leave you overwhelmed. I’ve chosen three bite-size trips.
1. For the sophisticated: Treat yourself to a staycation. The W hotel, in Sentosa Cove, is nestled in the marina. It’s the perfect place to escape: chill out by the pool or stretch your legs around the boardwalk. Bring the kids’ scooters and wander around the boats, stopping at the children’s playground, or for an ice cream. There are plenty of restaurants, which are bustling with a good vibe, despite the quiet location. For adult time, book into W’s Skirt restaurant for a great steak. Click here for more information.
2. For the young at heart: Universal Studios has something for everyone. If it’s your dream to hang from a rollercoaster, get spooked in Jurassic Park, or hang out with Shrek and Princess Fiona, this is the trip for you. Most of the rides are suitable for young children over 80cm as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Although the stunts and effects were impressive, our four-year-old found WaterWorld too scary, and there are no obvious warnings about the violence. Book park tickets in advance for deals and to avoid queues. Click here for more details.
3. For the explorer: Take the cable car from the top of Mount Faber, or near Vivo City, and drop right into the heart of the island. You can buy a number of different passes that give you access to the attractions, or you can pay as you go. You don’t need a ticket just to wander around. Walk to the very south of the island and along the Palawan and Tanjong beaches, where you’ll find restaurants, playgrounds and a rope bridge to a small island with a viewing tower. Click here for more details.
What are your thoughts? What do you think of Sentosa?
Do you have a favourite bite-size trip you’d like to share?