Dec 19 2011
If you ignore the stifling heat and monsoon rains, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Singapore. Orchard Road is the centre of festivities with Christmas trees, lights and fake snow, plus on Christmas Day itself there will be carolers and parade floats. Maybe it’s because I come from a ridiculously cold city, but I prefer to spend Christmas Day in Singapore enjoying life in the tropics rather than joining the crowds on ‘Mall Street’. If you’ve come all the way to Singapore for a tropical Christmas, you might too.
First up, spend the morning surrounded by exotic tropical flora at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. While the main attraction is the orchid garden which boasts hundreds of these delicate blossoms (each prettier than any Christmas tree!), there are also gardens of cacti, gingers, palm trees, bamboo and fruit trees – some are even decorated for the holiday season. For great coffee and a little Christmassy ‘good will to men’, have breakfast at the new Botanic Gardens branch of Food For Thought Café, which donates to clean water charities.
After a walk around the Botanic Gardens you’ll probably be good and sweaty, so it’s time for a swim. If you’re not lucky enough to be staying at a hotel with an outdoor pool, get to Sentosa Island where you can swim and sunbathe on Singapore’s best beaches. Sentosa’s three beaches – Palawan, Siloso and Tanjong – all have clean white sand, changing rooms and plenty of spots for a cool drink. If you’ve got kids in tow, take them to Underwater World Sentosa to wish the fishies a merry Christmas and see the pink dolphin show.
If it just isn’t Christmas without a traditional dinner, many hotel restaurants offer Christmas buffets with roast turkey and all the fixings. That said, they run about S$60 per person before adding the wine, and you’ll want a reservation. To better appreciate Singapore’s multicultural cuisine and perfect evening temperatures, head to Clarke Quay for an al fresco dinner by the Singapore River. Dozens of restaurants serve every cuisine imaginable, from Indian to Mexican and Chinese to fusion chilli crab pizzas. After dinner, move upriver to Boat Quay where the traditional shophouses have been converted into bars — a uniquely Singaporean setting to imbibe in some Christmas cheer!
Happy holidays, lah!
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