10 Things to Do When it Rains in Singapore
Featured destinations: Singapore
Published 30 March 2016
With an annual precipitation of around 2,340mm, the chances of getting caught in a shower are high in Singapore. In fact, rain falls almost one day in every two here. But don’t let that put you off – storms don’t usually last longer than half an hour or so, and there’s an average of five hours 39 minutes of sunshine per day, so it’s likely you’ll see the sun too. If you happen to be stuck in a downpour without a brolly though, wait it out at one of these undercover attractions.
Shopping in Orchard Road
Orchard Road is the place to come for some retail therapy in Singapore, with hundreds of stores selling pretty much anything you can think of, from designer shoes and handbags to imported artisan cheeses. Even when it’s not raining, the air-conditioned department stores are a welcome reprieve from the heat and humidity. Start with the shiny shopping haven of ION Orchard, linked by underground passageways to the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit – the Singaporean underground) and various other department stores, meaning you never have set foot outside.
National Museum of Singapore
Singapore’s oldest and largest museum transports visitors through the history of the city, exploring the evolution of its eclectic fashion, food and music scenes. Varied and informative exhibits include antiques, drawings, books and clothes, housed in a beautiful neo-Palladian and Renaissance hybrid building, inspired in part by London’s Royal Albert Hall. Look out for the impressive 24-metre-wide stained glass dome, which is illuminated at night.
Telling the turbulent tale of Singapore’s role in the Second World War, this compelling museum educates visitors about the horrors experienced by prisoners of war during the 1942-45 Japanese occupation. Discover photographs, letters, drawings and first-hand accounts from former captives.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
In the heart of bustling Chinatown, this Buddhist temple was specially designed to display a tooth believed to have been plucked from the Buddha himself. In 2007, generous Singaporeans donated 234kg of gold to create the stupa that now houses the tooth, although it was later discovered that the sacred relic was most likely from a cow. Nevertheless, it’s an impressive building to wander around and will keep you nice and dry when it’s drizzling outside.
Singapore’s fabulously futuristic skyline is best appreciated from above, so what better way to take in the panoramic views than from a capsule on the Singapore Flyer? This giant Ferris wheel, similar to the London Eye, takes half an hour to complete a full rotation and offers impressive city vistas day and night, even when it’s raining. In fact, dark and brooding skies add considerably to the experience and make for some dramatic souvenir photos.
Lau Pa Sat Festival Market
Declared a national monument in 1973, this hawker centre’s Victorian architecture is impressive, but what really draws punters are the numerous food stalls serving up sizzling Singaporean specialities by the plateload. Better yet, there’s a roof, so you can pull up a chair during a downpour and eat to your heart’s content. It can be difficult to know what to order first; I personally recommend the chai tow kway, otherwise known as carrot cake. Do not be fooled however, as this cake-less, carrot-less dish is actually a delicious combination of fried white radish with garlic, eggs and preserves.
Singapore Sling in the Raffles Hotel
You’re happily walking down the street when suddenly the clouds darken and you feel the first spots of rain. What to do? Head to the nearest bar of course! In this case though, don’t go for just any old watering hole, but opt for the Long Bar at the upmarket Raffles Hotel, a Singaporean institution and colonial-era landmark that opened its doors in 1887. It was here in 1915 that bartender Ngiam Tong Boon invented the Singapore Sling, a long cocktail made with gin, cherry brandy and pineapple juice. You simply cannot come to Singapore without trying one. Cheers!
Marina Bay Sands
Practically a city in itself, this enormous entertainment complex contains a hotel, a shopping centre, 50 restaurants, a theatre and an ice rink. There’s even a 146-metre infinity pool on the roof, 57 floors above the ground. In the rain, make a beeline for the basement and take a gondola ride on the canal. Here, an enormous glass funnel known as the Rain Oculus channels the rainwater from street level, creating a swirling whirlpool which washes dramatically into the pools below, a bit like an enormous plughole.
Gardens by the Bay Glasshouses
A 250-acre botanical garden created on reclaimed land might not be the ideal spot to escape a downpour, but the two domed greenhouses, each showcasing plant species from the cooler parts of the world, offer a welcome respite from the damp. When the sun reappears, check out the Supertrees Grove, a collection of 50-metre-tall ‘trees’ that are actually vertical man-made gardens fitted with state-of-the-art ecological technology and housing a collection of exotic ferns and vines.
St Andrew’s Cathedral
Built in 1862 by local prisoners, neo-Gothic St Andrew’s is the country’s largest cathedral. It served as a hospital in 1942, before Singapore fell to the Japanese, and is now a national monument. With a bright white façade and some pretty stained glass windows, St Andrew’s proves to be a real contrast to the imposing steel skyscrapers surrounding it.
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