HarbourFront and Sentosa

Contents
1 Introduction
2 Sentosa Island
2.1 Getting there and around
2.2 Sights


To the west of Tanjong Pagar port, on Keppel Road, is HarbourFront (formerly the World Trade Centre). Most people visit the centre either to get to Sentosa, to take the boat to Batam and Bintan islands in Indonesia's Riau Archipelago , or to use the cable car that connects Sentosa with Mount Faber.

Opposite HarbourFront's exhibition halls lies the
Telok Blangah Johor State Mosque
, dating from the 1840s. It was the focal point of the pre-Raffles Malay royalty in Singapore. Nearby is the tomb of the Temenggong Abdul Rahman (the Tanah Kubor Rajah or Tanah Kubor Temenggong), who was partly responsible for negotiating Singapore's status as a trading post with Stamford Raffles. The Johor royal family lived at Telok Blangah until 1855, when the town of Iskandar Putri was founded on the other side of the straits; it was renamed Johor Bahru in 1866.


Sentosa Island

Sentosa is a tourist resort island with three beaches stretching along its southern coast and various activities including a man-made volcano, a 4D theatre, a luge ride, a laser-lit merlion statue, an oceanarium, a butterfly park and a Second World War museum. There are also five-star resorts and a couple of golf courses.


Getting there and around

The orange
Sentosa bus
operates from the HarbourFront Bus Terminal to Sentosa. The
Sentosa Express monorail
 including admission to Sentosa
, links Sentosa Station in VivoCity with the Imbiah and Beach stations on Sentosa. HarbourFront has its own MRT station, from where you can take the Sentosa bus or Sentosa Express. The
cable car
 has three stops: Mount Faber (the highest point in Singapore, with scenic views and seafood restaurants - worthwhile), the Cable Car Tower adjacent to the HarbourFront and the Cable Car Plaza on Sentosa.

Once on Sentosa, there are three free
bus
lines, and two free tram lines. The blue line does a loop from the Visitor Arrival Centre past the Merlion to Underwater World and Siloso Beach. The green line runs between the Ferry Terminal, the cable car and Underwater World. The yellow line links the Visitor Arrival Centre with Dolphin Lagoon. The red line links Underwater World with Dolphin Lagoon. The Siloso Beach Tramline runs between Siloso Beach and the Beach Station, while the Palawan-Tanjong Beach Line shuttles between the Beach Station and Tanjong beach.
Tandems
and
trishaws
are for hire from the ferry terminal and near Palawan Beach. There is also a 6-km
cycle track
around the island.


Sights

Travelling anti-clockwise around the island, the first attraction of interest is the
Underwater World
. It's highly recommended and is the highlight of any visit to Sentosa. A 100-m tunnel, with a moving conveyor, allows a glimpse of some of its 350 underwater species and 5000 specimens. Giant rays glide overhead, while thick-lipped garoupa and spooky moray eels hide in caves and crevices. The 'creatures of the deep' tank, with giant octopus and spider crabs, is impressive. Smaller tanks house turtles, reef fish, corals, sea urchins and others. There is also a touch pool where the curious can have a close encounter with starfish and baby sharks. It is possible to dive with sharks and dugongs here.

Fort Siloso
, on the westernmost point, is Singapore's only preserved coastal fort, built in the 1880s to guard the narrow western entrance to Keppel Harbour. It provides an informative visit, especially if you're interested in the fall of Singapore. It is possible to explore the underground tunnels, artillery nests and bunkers, experience a mock firing of a seven-inch gun, run riot over the assault course and play various interactive computer games with a martial tinge. The fort was built to guard against a seaward attack, but, as every amateur student of Singapore's wartime history knows, the Japanese assault was from the north. The guns of Fort Siloso were turned landwards, but could do little to thwart the Japanese advance. When news of the surrender came through, the soldiers of the Royal Artillery (many from the Indian subcontinent) sabotaged the guns to prevent them falling into enemy hands.

Mega Adventure Park
www.sg.megaadventure.com is a new park much loved by thrill seekers and corporations on team-building days. Of the four rides, the most fun is the 450 m-long Megazip flying fox, the steepest in Asia, which goes up to 50 kph. There are three wires, so you can race your pals over the jungle canopy. Other rides include the MegaClimb, climbing obstacles 40 m up with superb views over the shipping lanes (for those without vertigo); MegaWall, a 16 m-high climbing wall; and MegaJump, a freefall simulator involving a complex arrangement of wires and a 15-m drop.

Float through the air with the greatest of ease on
Sentosa's Flying Trapeze
. Daredevils wear safety harnesses to enjoy heart-stopping swings.

Sentosa Luge and Skyride
 is Southeast Asia's first luge, a bizarre mix of sledging and go-karting that kids will love. To get to the Luge, take the scenic chairlift - the Skyride - up the hill.

The
Butterfly Park
and Insect Kingdom Museum
 is a 1-ha park containing 1500 butterflies from 50 species at all stages in their life cycle. Also here is a rather antiseptic museum of dead butterflies and insects.

Poking up like a giant needle, the
Tiger Sky Tower
, next to the cable-car station, has a small glass-sided cabin which rotates at 131 m above sea level giving good views of the island.

Songs of the Sea
 is an award-winning night spectacular featuring pyrotechnics, lasers and 40 m-high water jets. Shows last 25 minutes.

The 37 m, 12 storey-tall
Merlion
 is a stupendous symbol of Singapore. The Merlion can be climbed either up to its mouth or its crown for views over Sentosa, the city and port. There is a shop here - since nothing can be built on Sentosa without some merchandising outlet - themed as a Bugis shipwreck. The Bugis were the feared Malay seafarers who sailed from southern Sulawesi and controlled the seas of the Malay archipelago long before the Europeans arrived. They have often been likened to the Vikings and, like the Vikings, they were famed for their fearlessness and for their seafaring skills and for the terror they instilled in the hearts of coastal communities.

Images of Singapore
,
Pioneers of Singapore
and the
Surrender Chambers
, offer a well-displayed history of Singapore, focusing on key figures from the origins of the city state as an entrepĂ´t, through to the modern period and also telling the traumatic Second World War story. The wax models are not up to Madame Tussaud's standard, but the history is well told.

The southwest 'coast' of the island has been redeveloped, with tens of thousands of cubic metres of golden sand shipped in from Indonesia, along with 300 mature coconut palms and over 100 ornamental shrubs and flowering trees. Three
beaches
have been created: Palawan, Siloso and Tanjong. The beach trams run between them.

The
Dolphin Lagoon
 is situated near Tanjong Beach. So-called pink (although they are more white in colour) Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins have been trained to do rather banal and demeaning tricks.

The
Sentosa Orchid Gardens
, very close to the ferry terminal, have 10,000 plants and over 200 species of orchid. Within the gardens is a restaurant, a fish pond with koi carp, a Japanese tea room and various other gazebos, boulders and associated paraphernalia, and - yes, you've guessed it - a souvenir shop.

Cineblast, www.cineblast.com.sg, is a high-tech movie extravaganza. Combining high-definition film with state-of-the-art sound and seats, raised on hydraulic jacks, it creates what is rather ambitiously called 'hyper reality'.

Golf
is available on one of two 18-hole courses - Serapong or Tanjong.

Resort World Sentosa
, an integrated resort costing Genting International almost US$5 billion, is made up of six hotels, a casino, the world's largest oceanarium (not open at the time of going to press) and Southeast Asia's first Universal Studios. The beginning of 2010 saw the opening of the Michael Graves-designed Hotel Michael, with abundant light wood touches, mosaic showers and arty furniture and the Hard Rock Hotel, with the usual bright and garish faux rock-and-roll theme and gorgeous pool surrounded by white sand imported from Australia. Other hotels recently opened here include Crockford's Tower, Spa Villas, Equarius Hotel and the family-oriented Festive Hotel. Reservations can be made through the Resort World site, www.rwsentosa.com.

Southeast Asia's first
Universal Studios theme park
, www.rwsentosa.com, is carved up into different themed zones. This sweaty day out is guaranteed to have you gulping down ice cream as you wander through a disturbingly tropical New York Street, a Hollywood and a sci-fi city based on the TV show
BattleStar Galactica
that no sci-fi fan can afford to miss. One of the park's star attractions is the world's tallest Duelling roller coaster at over 43 m. Other attractions in the park include the highly popular indoor Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster, the Jurassic Park River Adventure, and those in the mood to experience a tsunami can check out Waterworld.

If you fancy a flutter, visit the controversial
casino
at the resort. It's open 24/7, has a smart dress code and is expected to contribute S$2.7 billion to the country's GDP by 2015. The casino met with opposition from social workers and Christian groups who had serious concerns over the effect of a casino on the Singaporean population and on a possible increase in organized crime. Within a week of opening, over 100 Singaporeans had voluntarily banned themselves from entry. Singaporeans and Singapore Permananet Residents are charged a S$100 entry fee in order to discourage low income locals frittering their hard-earned dollars away.

The other integrated resort is at Marina Bay and can clearly be seen from the bridges near Clarke Quay. This resort, the Marina Bay Sands Resort (www.marinabaysands.com), features three 55-storey hotel towers topped with a 1-ha sky garden on the roof with what promise to be spectacular city views. The resort opened in mid-2010.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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