On the Marina Bayfront, where six-star hotels hold their ground against the upcoming Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, there is no shortage of things to do in Singapore’s glitziest district – sit down to dinner at a fine-dining restaurant, savour martinis in a classy bar, or pick up the latest designer togs. But the surprise (or could it be a secret?) of Marina Bay is really the spectrum of outdoor activities that are on offer, and for free.
While it is true that Singapore’s climate can be too swelteringly hot most times to stay outdoors for long, the Marina Bay area’s proximity to the sea brings a respite from the heat. One of the best places on the water is undoubtedly the Esplanade, with its world-class theatres and startling architecture that sits right on the water. Host to some of the world’s best acts, the Esplanade also supports smaller-scale artists by giving them a platform to perform. Its Outdoor Theatre plays host to acts such as bands, percussion groups and theatre groups, in a high-visibility space amidst lively bars and restaurants and arresting bay views.
Esplanade outdoor theatre
Stroll along the waterfront during the many festivals throughout the year, and you might find a performance or two at the Edge, or the Forecourt. Look across the water, and you might just be able to make out loving couples romancing under the mighty spray of the Merlion. The Esplanade’s Roof Terrace, a fast eroding secret, is an Eden with manicured greenery and unparalleled views of the city and the Bay. Contemplate the skyline with a glass of wine at Orgo, a chic, and the only restaurant, on the roof.
A little further out into the South China Sea, the Marina Barrage, Singapore’s newest downtown icon, adds a new dimension to the Marina Bay area. Above its functionality as an urban reservoir and dam that prevents flooding in Singapore’s low-lying areas, Marina Barrage is the latest hotspot for family fun. The Green Roof, literally a grass lawn that covers the building’s roof, offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the bustling Central Business District, the Singapore Flyer and the South China Sea. Taking advantage of the billowing breezes here, kite enthusiasts let their kites of every shape and size ride the wind up high. If you get into the mood of kite-flying but are caught out without one, the Barrage Cove shop on the first floor has a sizeable selection of kites to choose from, from giant squids to butterflies.
The Green Roof slopes down in two interlocking spirals that lead to the Central Courtyard, where kids can run and play among an arts trail and water fountains. The courtyard also is a popular spot for family picnics, but those who wish to dine at the Marina Barrage can choose from the casual Gallery Café, or the 7th Storey Restaurant serving up Hainanese fare and steamboat. On the second storey, the Sustainable Singapore Gallery educates older kids and adults about Singapore’s water history amidst a wonderfully imaginative setting. When the sun sets, a mellow and markedly different atmosphere replaces the hyperactive mood of the daytime, as the courtyard is softly illuminated by underground lights. The outdoor areas remain open through the night and if a midnight promenade among soft fountains and a still water surrounding is desired, this is the perfect place to be.
Photos are courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board and PUB Singapore.