Nearly half of the world’s population resides in the Asia Pacific region, which is why Australian Associations are so keen to look beyond their domestic market and tap into such a large network.
As a hub for Asia Pacific, Singapore is well placed to offer Associations the perfect meetings destination from which to engage with the region.
With over 200 weekly flights from Australia to Singapore by both full-service and low-cost carriers, it’s easier to get there than ever, and once you’re there you’d be amazed at how far your dollar can go.
Singapore has plenty of green space but one Gardens by the Bay takes the cake. In the shadow of Marina Bay Sands, this 101 hectares parkland is home to bio-spheres Flower Dome and Cloud Forest which charge an admission fee. But you don’t need to spend big to make a big impression with the awe-inspiring Supertrees free to admire. Try taking a tai chi (Chinese martial arts) lesson under the Supertrees or stay for the Garden Rhapsody Light Show at sundown which is as ‘wow’ as it gets and it’s free of charge to all. If your budget stretches to a round of beers, head up to the SuperTree by IndoChine bar for happy hour and a million dollar view.
More green space but with a quieter atmosphere, the Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is truly an oasis from the hustle of the city. This 156-year-old tropical garden is right in the thick of it but you wouldn’t know when you’re past the gates. Established by Singapore’s founder himself, Sir Stamford Raffles, the Gardens have an unmistakably English feel to them, but are nonetheless home to a heritage-listed array of tropical plant life. Come on Saturday and enjoy a free guided tour from a local or download a free walking tour app and wander at your own pace.
Eating at a Michelin-starred venue is not the sort of the thing you would normally do if you’re on a budget but Singapore is not a normal destination. Hawker street vendors Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle were both awarded a Michelin star in 2016. So tuck into one of their signature dishes for less than the cost of a bottled water at one of the other swankier Michelin-starred restaurants in the city. Be warned though, there will be a queue!
To understand Singapore you need to understand the Peranakan culture. Peranakan or ‘local born’ is the defining narrative in this cultural melting pot and nowhere is this better experienced than in the neighbourhood of Katong and Joo Chiat. Simply wander around and admire the colourful houses and shopfronts that define Peranakan culture, or stop off for a bite at one of the many local eateries from cool cafes to old-world coffeeshops selling the iconic Katong laksa, kueh chang (rice dumplings) and other Nonya delicacies.
With so many cultures calling Singapore home it is no wonder it has so many temples for both Hindus and Buddhists. Chinatown is home to the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, the Sri Mariamman Temple. Dating back to 1827, the temple is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, known for her power to cure illnesses and diseases. If you’re here in October or November, you can see the Theemithi (fire walking ceremony), which is the main festival celebrated annually at the temple. Also in Chinatown, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum is a little more contemporary (built in 2007) but equally fascinating. Housing what the Buddhists regard as the left canine tooth of Buddha, The Buddha Tooth Relic is housed in a giant stupa weighing a 3,500kg made from 320kg of gold. Admission to both is free.