With hot days and cool attractions, Singapore is an enticing destination for Alaskans

For any Alaskan, the first impression on arrival in Singapore is likely summed up in one word: hot.

Don’t let that stop you from exploring this great city, though. Just be sure to stay hydrated, especially if you plan on enjoying the official drink: the Singapore Sling. Almost any bar in town will serve you one, but it’s a real experience to stop in at the birthplace of this famous gin cocktail: the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel.

The Raffles Hotel is named after the British founder of modern Singapore, Stamford Raffles. It’s a luxury hotel that serves a classic high tea with all the treats, in the lobby. But upstairs, in the Long Bar, the Singapore Sling is the name of the game.

The cocktail first was concocted in 1915 by a bartender, Ngiam Tong Boon. A mix of gin, Benedictine, lime juice and bitters, it first was developed to serve to women in the hotel, who still were not allowed to drink alcohol in public. The Sling was passed off as fruit punch.

And it’s refreshing, especially on a hot day.

Raffles is a very nice hotel. I think it’s important that you find a nice place to stay when you visit. Almost every major chain is represented here, so it’s a great place to use your loyalty points.

My favorite loyalty plan is Hyatt Hotels, which I access through my Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card. The Chase card also allows transfers to Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) and Marriott’s Bonvoy program.


When making plans to visit, I found a small, boutique hotel called the Hotel Telegraph (formerly a Sofitel hotel). The list price for the hotel is around $318 per night, but I got it for 20,000 Hyatt points per night. There are just 134 rooms, in the middle of the central business district. It features a nice rooftop pool/bar, as well as a sumptuous breakfast, which is included each morning.

There are several Chase cards that provide sign-up bonuses between 60,000 and 100,000 points. That’s more than enough to cover a stay at the Telegraph. It’s a big reason I use most of my Chase points for hotel nights.

Everyone I asked about visiting Singapore said the food is delicious, particularly from the “hawker stands” throughout the city. We arrived at the hotel just in time to get ready for dinner.

Located across the street from the hotel, Lau Pa Sat originally was built as a fish market in 1824. But it was rebuilt at its present location in 1894 and now hosts dozens of food vendors, or hawkers.

We had a choice of Indian, Malay, Thai and Chinese food. The flame-grilled chicken-on-a-stick or satay stood out. Diners munch away while the cooks carefully manage the flames of the barbecue.

The Big Bus hop-on-hop-off bus came well-recommended to get an overview of the city’s top attractions. That included the Marina Bay Sands complex, the Gardens by the Bay, Little India and Chinatown.

The iconic double-decker buses run two different routes throughout the day and you get unlimited rides on both lines. That said, there were a couple of times we showed up at a stop and no bus arrived. Be sure and check ahead to see about gaps in the schedule.

Our first stop was at Gardens by the Bay. The waterfront complex features huge, man-made Supertrees that look like part of an Avatar movie. The trees showcase plant species native to the area and are lit up each evening in a fantastic light show.

Two other huge greenhouses sit right on the water. One, the Flower Dome, currently is hosting a massive Tulipmania display. The interior temperature and humidity are monitored to take the edge off the hot, humid weather. The Cloud Forest includes one of the world’s largest indoor waterfalls and a host of exotic plants.

The whole complex is something of a botanical zoo for residents and visitors to learn more about the plants around them — and around the world.

Next on our agenda was a trip to the top of the massive Marina Bay Sands hotel. Perched 56 stories above street level is a massive swimming pool for hotel guests. But on the 57th floor, there’s a series of three restaurants and a bar for those who want to take in the sights while sipping a Singapore Sling (or another beverage).

It costs about $23 for a food and beverage credit to ride the elevator to the top. I thought that might be enough for a drink and a snack. Alas, it just covered the drink. But the view was fantastic. We could look down on the light show at nearby Gardens by the Bay, in addition to all the shipping traffic offshore.

The next day, we found a combination of cab rides and walking was more dependable than the Big Bus.

If you’re only spending a couple of days in Singapore, you may find your list of what to do shrinks, as your list of what to do next time grows longer.

We missed the botanical gardens, the zoo and a cruise along the river. But we ate really good food and saw some incredible sights, which makes me want to return soon.

Singapore is an easy destination for U.S. citizens to visit, but it’s not cheap. The “Singapore Sling” at Raffles costs $37 (Singapore dollars). A beer at the Telegraph Hotel’s rooftop pool is $18. An early-morning cab ride back to the airport was more than $60. This is one reason the hawker stalls are so popular — it’s much cheaper than a regular restaurant!

But everyone speaks English. Everyone takes credit cards, including the buses. Each Singapore dollar is worth about 75 cents, which is almost the same exchange rate as the Canadian dollar.

Scott McMurren

Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based marketing consultant, serving clients in the transportation, hospitality, media and specialty destination sectors, among others. Contact him by email at Subscribe to his e-newsletter at For more information, visit