Marina Bay is Singapore's newest district, created on reclaimed land just south of Riverside.
The label "Marina Bay" is a little fuzzy. Technically, it's the body of water created by reclaiming land around the mouth of the Singapore River and blocked off from the sea by the Marina Barrage, but Singaporeans associate the name "Marina" with the Marina Square shopping mall and the many hotel developments around it on the north shore of the river. The half to the south of the river, or Marina South, has to date been just empty land dotted with construction sites, but its centerpiece, the Marina Bay Sands casino and convention center, opened in April 2010 and there's lots more to come. In this article, Marina Bay is simply defined as everything to the east of Shenton Way and Esplanade Drive.
Transportation to Marina Bay remains a little disjointed. The northern half is best accessed through the shiny new Circle Line MRT (opened April 2010), which has stations at Esplanade (Suntec City) and Promenade (Millenia), or you can hike for 15 min through the underground CityLink shopping mall from Raffles City (City Hall MRT, where the North-South and East-West line intersect).
Getting to the southern half is more difficult. The nearest MRT station to Marina Bay Sands is Promenade, from where you can walk across the Helix pedestrian bridge in about 15 minutes, or connect to any of buses 97, 106 or 133. The same buses also serve Marina Bay MRT, which (despite the name) isn't particularly convenient for anything else just yet. However, there are no less than three new MRT lines in the area under construction, all scheduled to open in 2012-2014.
From the airport, Marina Bay Sands hotel guests can use a 24-hour shuttle bus for free, but all others need to pay S$25 — nearly the same price as a taxi.
Marina Bay Sands hosts a slew of attractions.
- Marina Bay Sands Casino
open: 24 hours
Singapore's second casino, larger and glitzier than its family-oriented competitor on Sentosa, with 600 gaming tables and 1500 slot machines. Visitors can enter for free, but locals and residents have to pay $100 just to get in. An age limit of 16 applies, and you'll need to bring ID.
- Sands SkyPark (address: Marina Bay Sands) (directions: Tickets from hotel lobby, Tower 3)
price: $20/14 adults/children
open: 10 AM-10 PM
Singapore's single most dramatic landmark, the SkyPark defies gravity, perched 55 stories above the ground like a surfboard on top of the three hotel towers. Views aside, for time being there's not much bang for your buck though: the pool is open to guests only. The alternative to paying the entry fee is to visit the restaurants (see Eat) for lunch, which will set you back around $50, but you can freely explore the SkyPark afterwards.
- Esplanade Theatres on the Bay (address: 1 Esplanade Drive) (directions: City Hall MRT) +65-68288377
Singapore's equivalent of Sydney's famous Opera House, except that the two-lobed spiky Singaporean version deliberately bears a striking resemblance to the durian, a tropical fruit related to the jackfruit which is notorious for its sharp odour. Opera, dance, classical concerts and similar entertainment is offered daily. Prices for the main entertainment start from $20-30 for poor seats, up to over a $100 for good ones. For the traveller on a budget, there are usually free productions on the outdoor riverside stage on weekends.
- Singapore Flyer (address: 30 Raffles Avenue) (directions: 30 Raffles Avenue) +65-63333311
price: $29.50/20.65 adult/child
open: 8:30 AM-10:30 PM
Singapore's newest tourist trap, this 150-meter-tall observation wheel modeled on the London Eye is no less than the world's tallest. One rotation takes about 30 minutes, and for an extra $22 you can sip on a cocktail while admiring the views, but expect to share your capsule with as many as 28 people unless you stump up a cool $1,000 for a private ride. Discounts are widely available, grab a brochure from any tourist information counter.
- Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix (address: Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore.)
The Singapore Grand Prix is a motor race, currently on the calendar of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The first race held at the Marina Bay Street Circuit was the 15th round of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship. It was also the first, and thus far only, night-time event in Formula One history. Night races are held in September, in conjunction with a comprehensive entertainment schedule. Officially known as the Grand Prix Season Singapore, the lead-up to the final race will include parties, race-themed events, music concerts, exhibitions and dining & shopping experiences.
- ArtScience Museum (address: 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956)
price: $30 adult, $27 senior citizen, $17 child
open: 10am - 10pm daily
ArtScience Museum is the world's first ArtScience museum and the largest private museum in Singapore. It is part of the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort. It mainly hosts international traveling exhibitions although it has a small permanent exhibition. Some of the exhibitions it has hosted include Genghis Khan: The Exhibition, Dalí: Mind of a Genius – The Exhibition, Van Gogh Alive - The Exhibition, and Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds.
- Millenia Walk (address: 9 Raffles Blvd) (directions: Promenade MRT) +65-68831122
Upscale mall known for housing Singapore's best collection of luxury watch retailers.
- Suntec City (address: 3 Temasek Boulevard) (directions: Esplanade MRT) +65-68252667
open: Daily 10 AM-10 PM
At the northeastern edge of the CBD is Singapore's 2nd largest shopping mall, featuring the Fountain of Wealth, reputedly the world's largest fountain. If connecting to the Circle Line is inconvenient, the other way in is to take the MRT to City Hall and then follow the signs in the underground CityLink mall, a 15-min air-conditioned walk.
- The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
The Sands' shopping mall, chock full of expensive brands geared at stripping jackpot winners of their earnings, plus a dinky little canal where you can go for a spin in a sampan boat at $8/person. Will feature 350 shops when complete in 2011, but still a construction zone for time being.
- Gluttons Bay (address: Esplanade Mall #01-15) +65-63367025
open: Daily 6 PM-3 AM
Run by famous foodies Makansutra, this outdoor eatery puts together 12 of Singapore's most famous hawkers. Breezy location by the river, great views of the city and pretty good grub make this a winner. The food here is a tourist-friendly reproduction of some of Singapore's best, though you can usually find better (and usually cheaper) versions in the heartlands.
Marina Bay Sands is bringing in a constellation of big names, with Daniel Boulud, Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, Santi Santamaria, Guy Savoy and Tetsuya Wakuda all opening restaurants in the complex.
- Ku De Ta Skybar (address: Marina Bay Sands SkyPark) +65-66887688
price: Lunch $30-85, dinner $100-200
open: noon-3 PM, 6 PM-2 AM
A branch of the famous bar/restaurant in Bali, although there are already lawsuits flying over the name. The restaurant's tapas-style food is by most accounts overpriced for what you get, but it's still probably a better deal than forking out $50 for entry to the bar (one drink included).
- Sky @ 57 (address: Marina Bay Sands SkyPark) +65-66888857
price: Lunch $48, dinner $80+ (minimum charge)
open: 7-10 AM, noon-2:30 PM, 6-10:30 PM
Modern Asian food by celebriy chef Justin Quek and some of the best views in town. The three-course $48 lunch, which includes access to the SkyPark, is probably the best-value way of checking out the views from here.
There are a few interesting places around Marina Square as well.
- Shiraishi (address: 7 Raffles Ave #03-01) (directions: Ritz-Carlton) +65-63383788
price: Lunch $30-85, dinner $100-200
open: noon-2 PM, 6-10 PM
A tiny place in a quiet corner of the hotel, you won't stumble into this intimidatingly Japanese place by accident, but the restaurant's many regulars come here for some of the best and most consistent sushi and sashimi this side of Tokyo. Lunch sets are good value, but ordering à la carte for dinner can be very expensive indeed. For connoisseurs.
Nightlife option in Marina Bay are sparse, but Pangaea is set to open its first Asian megaclub at Marina Bay Sands by the end of 2010.
- Conrad Centennial (address: 2 Temasek Blvd) +65-63348888
New and impeccably tasteful hotel, located next Suntec City but a bit far from the MRT. Very good value for a 5-star.
- Marina Bay Sands +65-66888868
price: From $500">The three "card decks
- Ritz-Carlton Millenia (address: 7 Raffles Ave) +65-63378888
Modern and impeccably stylish, with fantastic full-wall skyline views, even from the bathroom, for rooms on the Marina Bay side. (Don't worry, it's one-way glass.) All rooms are large and equipped with frills like a pillow in the bathtub. Gym, spa, pool and a popular Sunday champagne brunch. Recommended.
- Naumi (address: 41 Seah St) +65 6403 6000
price: from S$360++
A hip hotel 5 minutes walk from City Hall MRT. 40 rooms and suites.