Travel

Singapore Is Finally Reopening to Australians. Here’s Where You Should Go First

The Gardens by the Bay is on our bucketlist.

things to do singapore
Photo: @yk

Aussies love Singapore for many reasons, mainly because there is something for everyone—from a diverse food scene that encompasses hawker food to fine dining, to cultural neighbourhoods, to iconic attractions like Gardens by the Bay and the Night Safari. The list is honestly endless. 

Singapore has announced the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme will include Australia from 8 November 2021, as part of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore’s (CAAS’) cautious and step-by-step effort to revive air travel and reclaim and rebuild Singapore’s status as an international aviation hub with global connectivity.

Under the VTL, fully vaccinated travellers from Australia may enter Singapore without quarantine and are not required to take pre-departure test. Children aged 12 years and below who are not vaccinated will be allowed to travel under the VTL into Singapore if they are accompanied by a VTL traveller who meets all VTL requirements.

So if you’re ready to sample the cheap hawker fare, the Michelin-starred affairs, or the food-enamoured Singaporeans, here is everywhere you should go in Singapore first. 

How to get into Singapore

VTL flights: Travellers must arrive in Singapore on a designated VTL flight in order to be eligible for the VTL. Travellers currently booked on non-VTL designated flights should check with their airline regarding transferring to a VTL flight.

Insurance: Visitors must purchase travel insurance for the entire duration of their stay in Singapore, with a minimum coverage of S$30,000 for COVID-19-related medical treatment and hospitalisation costs, prior to travelling to Singapore. Visitors will have to declare, at the point of VTP application, that they will purchase travel insurance. They must also carry with them an electronic or physical copy of their insurance policy to facilitate their entry into Singapore. Visitors must purchase COVID-19 travel insurance prior to their travel to Singapore.

Current restrictions to know

Singapore’s tourism sector has shown both resilience and ingenuity to meet the evolving needs of visitors, ensuring that every aspect of their experience is safe and enjoyable. One of the key measures is SG Clean, a national certification programme to identify businesses that meet high standards of cleanliness and hygiene.  This applies nationwide from retail through to attractions, hotels and eating places.  

Singapore has also implemented Safe Management Measures (SMMs) which includes mask-wearing, physical distancing, limiting of group sizes, etc.  

To facilitate contact tracing, people are required to perform SafeEntry check-in and check-out using the TraceTogether (TT) app. All these measures are also constantly reviewed to keep Singapore COVID-19 resilient. 

things to do singapore
Photo: @heichuanhuili

What’s been happening in Singapore?

Despite the pandemic, many new hotels, restaurants and bars opened in the past year, including hotels such as Dusit Thani Laguna, The Clan Hotel, Oasia Resort Sentosa and the newly revamped PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay opening its doors. There is also a pipeline of new attractions with the Museum of Ice Cream just opening last month, and Changi Museum has reopened its doors again too. 

things to do singapore
Photo: @1atico.sg

What to eat and drink

While we were away, Singapore was busy adding new places for people to eat and drink. The cocktail scene welcomed newcomers Barbary Coast and Sago House which both placed on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, and a new speakeasy, Miss Fitz.  New restaurants include Moonbow in Dempsey and Zodiac which is in a Peranakan shophouse. Sprawled across two levels of ION Orchard and 218 metres into the Singapore sky on the 55th floor of ION Orchard, 1-ATICO offers the ‘penthouse’ of dining experiences. Describing themselves as ‘unpretentious and casually sophisticated’, Clos Pasoh offers ‘chic reimagining’ of the classic French brasserie. Diners have the option of an A La Carte dinner option—complete with Escargots, or a set lunch menu complete with Lobster Bisque. The restaurant also offers an array of fine French wines to refresh the palette. Head to Sommer Dining for their personal approach to modern European cuisine where ingredients are showcased through seasonality. The menu offers a canopy style eating experience. Diners are also offered expert advice on the perfect wine to pair with their chosen dish.

things to do singapore
Photo: @larvitar

Where to stay

There are a few new hotels that opened in 2020 and 2021. Located on the grounds of Laguna National Golf and Country Club in the east of the city, Dusit Thani Laguna is just a 10-minute drive from Changi International Airport. Amenities include eight pavilions, indoor and outdoor event spaces, three swimming pools, three tennis courts, a putting green, gym and a spa. The Clan Hotel is designed for the tech-savvy modern-day traveller. One of the newest business hotels in Singapore, facilities include a modern Sky Terrace, Sky Pool and Sky Gym. Oasia Resort Sentosa is a new addition to the peaceful resort offerings on Sentosa, designed to relax, recharge and refuel the mind. Offering several luxury wellness activities, the property is the fourth managed by Far East Hospitality Group to open on Sentosa—joining Village Hotel Sentosa, The Outpost Hotel and The Barracks Hotel. The hotel also boasts an infinity pool, gym and all-day dining facilities featuring fresh produce grown in the hotel’s own garden. 

things to do singapore
Photo: @museumoficecreamsg

Play in the Museum of Ice Cream

Not your average Museum, The Museum of Ice Cream was created especially for frozen treat lovers. The Museum features guided tours that take visitors through 14 multi-sensory installations, including a pool filled with sprinkles and a banana split room. Visitors are also entitled to unlimited sweet treats as they explore the museum. 

things to do singapore
Photo: @changiairport

Visit newly opened Jurassic Mile

A great new attraction for the family, Jurassic Mile is a dinosaur exhibition located near Changi Airport. More than 20 different prehistoric creatures stretch over one kilometre of the cycling and jogging path. From a towering Tyrannosaurus Rex to gigantic dinosaur eggs, visitors will be wowed by the lifelike dinosaur exhibits at the Changi Jurassic Mile, making it a perfect outdoor weekend destination for families and friends.

things to do singapore
Photo:@yiming.spyro

Explore the many gardens

Singapore might be a concrete jungle, but its gardens are truly magical. Gardens by the Bay is a popular spot boasting a 114-foot indoor waterfall and the cool-moist ecology of a rainforest. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a must, home to over 10,000 species of plants, including stunning orchids. The MacRitchie Reservoir Park is perfect for nature lovers and hikers, while the Chinese and Japanese Gardens are ideal for admiring architecture and landscape. You can even feed the reptiles here. 

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Travel

Find Volcanoes, Wine Islands, and Thrills in Auckland

One minute you're on a ferry to wine island, the next you could be bungy jumping off of New Zealand's tallest tower.

things to do auckland
Photo: Natasha Bazika

The city of Auckland is a free spirit. It is easily the most geographically blessed city in New Zealand. Within an hour, you could be tasting wines on an island, chasing more than 50 volcanoes, or leaving footprints on a black sand beach. Keep in mind, that Auckland is the country’s most populous city but certainly doesn’t feel cramped.

Instead, the city is buzzing with trendy eateries, boutique shops, quiet streets, and expansive green parks. Around every corner, you’re never too far from something beautiful to see.

From world-class wines to kickass thrills, here’s where to find what you’re looking for in Auckland.

things to do auckland

Seek the thrills

If you thought Queenstown was the home of the adrenaline rush, wait until you see Auckland. In the middle of the city, you can jump off a sky tower or a bridge, zip through the jungle, and scream on a high-octane jet boat ride. The Sky Tower, which can be seen from every corner of Auckland is more than just a landmark. Take a ride to the top and sign up for a Skywalk, where you can wander around the platform, which just so happens to be 192 metres above the ground. If that doesn’t get your heart pumping, you can always jump off it. It’s New Zealand’s highest jump, and can only be described as just like being a movie stuntman, or a superhero. 

The other iconic place to jump off of is the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Unlike the Sky Jump, this one will have thrill seekers dipping their hands and head in the ocean. It’s a 40-metre Bungy, and a great experience. Although, if you’d rather still take advantage of the bridge views, book a climb, which takes you right to the top for sweeping views of the city.

Another way to take in the city is via Auckland Adventure Jet, which takes passengers for spins and tricks on the water.

Just a 35-minute boat ride from Auckland is Waiheke Island, where thrill-seekers will find Eco Zip Adventures. Across three separate lines, you will zip high above a working vineyard and lush, ancient forest canopies, soaking up incredible views back to the city and beyond.

things to do auckland
Photo: Natasha Bazika

Sip wine on Waiheke Island

Whether you want to spend a weekend or a day, Waiheke Island is a must-visit. It’s around a 35-minute ferry ride to the island from Auckland, and once there you can hop from winery to winery. The island is quite large and the terrain is rugged, so trust the experts and book a tour with Ananda Tours. The small, family-run business is owned by Jenny who has been on the island since before the vines were planted and she’s the best person to seek out when getting the Waiheke Island experience. You can book a private tour or group tour, and they can be catered to your preferences and tastes. A few standout stops include Kennedy Point, where they produce fully certified organic Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay wines. You can also state estate-grown olive oils, which the island has plenty of. Enjoy a tasting on the deck with views of Kennedy Bay, or enjoy a picnic under the olive grove.

For the best views on the island, head to Batch Vineyard. As the highest vineyard on Waiheke, you will be treated to panoramic views of the rolling hills, blue waters, and even Auckland city. Their sparkling wine, Blanc de Blancs is a must-try.

When it comes to lunch, there are two spots to choose from. The first is Stonyridge, which is also where you can taste premium award-winning wines, including a Cabernet blend Larose—New Zealand’s cult wine. The second is Mudbrick, a romantic spot, set amongst beautiful gardens with even more spectacular views, and a bar and bistro serving up some of the best dishes on the island.

things to do auckland
Photo: Natasha Bazika

Eat your way through the city

Auckland’s dining scene isn’t pretentious, but the food quality is good enough to rival the best restaurants in New York—but the city doesn’t like to brag. Instead, it celebrates good food in every setting, from waterside restaurants to trendy Mexican eateries in a shopping centre.

Inca, is helmed by critically acclaimed chef, Nic Watt. Inspired by Watt’s travels to Peru, diners can expect to find Nikkei cuisine, including spicy chicken karaage, hand-pressed corn tacos filled with pork cheek and spicy tuna. You wouldn’t expect to find such a good restaurant in a shopping centre, but there it is.

Another great trendy restaurant is Hello Beasty, which is home to the famous, prawn and crab toast. This work of art starts with a slice of crispy deep-fried bread, smothered with prawn and crab mousse. On top, there are slices of wagyu, drizzled with a sweet and sour sauce. Although, there are plenty of other great dishes on the menu, including a Sichuan tuna tartare, Korean fried cauliflower, and potstickers swimming in chilli oil. Try the yuzu mandarin soda if you’re looking for something fizzy to go with dinner or lunch.

Deli De Bossi is a recent opening and already becoming a favourite breakfast spot. Apart from coffee, you can get all kinds of toasted sandwiches, filled with everything from mushrooms to hams and salamis.

Another iconic eat-hit list is Parade in Ponsonby. Here, the burgers are served in a pretzel bun and filled with chicken or beef.

Most of these restaurants are casual, but if you’re looking for something a little fancy, book a table at Kingi. Taking cues from Sydney’s own Josh Niland, the dishes at Kingi focus on sustainable seafood, caught locally by local fishermen. The blue cod wings are a must. They’re covered in burnt lime and served with a ranch sauce for dipping. The stracciatella with feijoa is also a standout dish, that’s light and a great start to a meal. Inside, the dining room is cosy with bench seats, fire heaters, and exploded brick walls.

After dinner, walk down the street and grab dessert from Miann. The flavour of the day is always chocolate, and they serve up seriously good desserts. Try the tasting platter for a piece of each pastry on the menu of the day, or pick one that is most desirable to you. Although, the tasting platter is only $23 and you’d be missing out on tasting a little of everything they offer if you didn’t get it.

things to do auckland
Photo: Natasha Bazika

Discover art, culture, and movie magic

One of the best ways to learn about a city or country is by visiting its top museums and galleries. The Auckland War Memorial Museum sits atop a hill in Auckland’s Domain, which also happens to be the city’s oldest volcano. This museum is one of the most important as it tells the story of New Zealand’s natural and military history. Take a self-guided walking tour to explore at your own pace. There are plenty of interactive features for the kids and adults. The museum also hosts exhibitions. An ancient Greek exhibition is currently on display and is one of the largest exhibitions the British Museum has ever loaned to Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Art lovers, spend a few hours wandering around the Auckland Art Gallery, Toi O Tāmaki. You will find artworks from around the world, including a Picasso or two. Although, the exhibitions are a real treat. Yona Lee’s, An Arrangement of Five Rooms is an incredible installation, spanning multiple rooms, which you can sit on and touch—to immerse yourself in the artwork. Declaration: A Pacific Feminist Agenda, is another must-see exhibition exploring the most pressing issues of our times: climate change and resilience, tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty), activism and social justice.

While art and history museums are insightful and a great way to educate a visitor, there are some other museum types that can be a lot of fun and interactive. Weta Workshop Unleashed is a new Auckland attraction and an incredible experience you don’t want to miss. Step into the world of filmmaking, explore how horror, sci-fi, and fantasy films are made and at times feel as if you’re in a movie. Comedic tour guides will introduce you to movies that are in production and explain every aspect, from prop making to effects, and more. There are even mysteries to be solved, making it fun for the whole family. It’s truly an unmissable experience in Auckland, and one of the best, unique tours you might ever experience.

things to do auckland
Photo: @sidwithlens

Walk on a volcano

Erupting over 100,000 years ago, Pukekawa is one of Auckland’s oldest and most popular volcanoes. Today, the Domain parkland is the remains of the explosion crater and most of the surrounding tuff ring of Pukekawa. Most days you will see people running around the park, families picnicking on the weekend, and tourists snapping photos by the pond or under a magnificent tree, grown from an experiment conducted by the Auckland Acclimatisation Society. Enter from one end, enjoy a picturesque walk, and exit through the historic Parnell shopping and restaurant area. On a sunny day, the atmosphere is charged with romance, but even in the rain, it’s a moody, beautiful sight to see. The Auckland War Memorial Museum’s large neo-Greek architecture is also a standout, commanding top-of-the-mountain views.

where to stay in auckland

Where to stay in Auckland

If you’re looking to sleep on top of the world, you can’t beat a room in Cordis Auckland’s new Pinnacle Tower. From the pillowy-cloud-like beds, guests have sweeping views of the city from the Sky Tower to Rangitoto and Mount Eden. Enjoy a breakfast buffet in the Eight restaurant downstairs, and canapes and drinks in the Cordis Club lounge on the 14th floor. There’s also a health club, spa, and swimming pool. The hotel is within walking distance to some of the best eateries in Auckland, making it a prime option.

Although, if you’re looking to stay in the heart of Britomart, Auckland’s hub of shopping, eating, and drinking, then The Hotel Britomart is where you want to be. From its exterior of hand-made bricks to its beautifully timber-lined rooms, The Hotel Britomart does detail like nobody else. Plus, the best of downtown waterfront Auckland is just outside your front door. With 5 Green Star Design and Build ratings from the NZ Green Building Council, The Hotel Britomart is the country’s ONLY 5 Green Star hotel, and has sustainability built in from the ground up. 

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