Ten* Dollars Off the Skypark Observation Deck and a Free Cup of Tea
Blink in Singapore, and they’ll whack up a new building. A few years ago, they decided to go one further and put a sort of boat-shaped thing on top and an “edgeless” pool and whatnot, and then someone thought gosh, there’s a view we could charge $20 per adult, $14 per child from 2-12 years, and $17 per senior 65 years and above for. People will love spending that much to watch our hotel guests enjoying the pool. Which they can’t swim in. Unless they’re a hotel guest.
But the view itself is actually pretty good. You can see a fair chunk of Singapore from this vantage point, which is great for people who want to stay on top of which streets are being demolished and completely rebuilt this week, as if we are all part of one of those competitive, speed-renovation reality TV shows. Or for those who are on a lightning-fast stopover and want to smugly tell everyone that they’ve seen all there is to see in Singapore, whilst conveniently omitting that they saw it all aerially.
Yesterday, we went to Marina Bay Sands SkyPark to see the view and watch the hotel guests swimming in their exclusive infinity pool, but we did not pay $20 per adult, $14 per child from 2-12 years, or even $17 per senior (which would have first involved rustling up a senior, which would have been weird). Instead, I paid only ten* dollars (*plus tax) and I got a “free” cup of tea.
There’s a trick, you see – instead of following the signs from Bayfront MRT Station all the way to the official entrance, you turn left just before you go out through the final set of doors, and you walk over to the little concierge desk for the
Ku De Ta (pronounced “coup d’etat“, but also spelt that way) Bar and Restaurant. Then you say the magic words: “We’re after drinks at the bar, thanks.”
You’ll get a free ticket, which allows you in to the restaurant lift lobby, from where you’ll ride to the 57th floor. The lime juice at the bar costs more than ten times what you’d pay at the local hawker centre and is not really a lot different, but the peony jade tea is quite lovely, the coconuts are fresh, the beer is cold and on tap, and the view is much the same as the one you’d get from the observation deck below.
If you want to linger longer, you can order food at the Club House, which has views in a slightly different direction.
Or you can insist that the kids order coconuts, which can be fiddly and time-consuming.
Update: please note this trick is best for sunny days. They close the outdoor seating area with the best views when it’s raining (though you can still try the Club House). A stylish/smart casual dress code exists after 6pm.
One of the best parts is that when you come back downstairs you’ll be at Marina Bay, and what can’t you do there? Or, on second thoughts, what can you do? (It’s a much shorter list – though it could still fill a day.)
Free Stuff You Can Do At Marina Bay
- Watch the Marina Bay Shopping Centre whirlpool and the gondolas
- Window “shoppe” through the mall – Marina Bay Shopping Centre has the most stunning shopfronts (my favourite is the one at The Wright Gift, which is like a cross between a colourful, old-fashioned curios shop and a firm lesson for my children in keeping one’s hands to oneself because mummy and daddy can’t afford anything here)
- Spot the fish at the lily pond outside the Art Science Museum
- See the Merlion (across the bay)
- Stroll through the outdoor sections of Gardens By The Bay (the conservatories and Skyway have admission fees) and all the way through to Marina Barrage
- Walk the DNA Bridge and discuss the building blocks of life and/or bridges
- Watch the Marina Bay Sands Light and Water Show (after dark)
- Take yourself on an Underground Mystery Tour of the tunnels around Raffles Place MRT Station (a lot like getting lost in the subway, but with less whining)
Budget Stuff You Can Do Around Marina Bay
- Have claypot rice at the food court in the basement
- Try a Kraze Burger, near the basement food court (disclosure: owned by a friend of mine, but the burgers really are nice)
- Take a water taxi across Marina Bay
And Going Up From There
- Go ice skating at the equator (for over-fives; next to Kraze Burger and the food court)
- Take a ride on a gondola
- There’s a little “train” running around outside sometimes, but we haven’t managed to work that one out yet
- Visit the Art Science Museum – they have some superb exhibits
- Take a cruise down the river to Clarke Quay
- Visit the conservatories and skywalk at Gardens By The Bay
- Actually buy something at Marina Bay Shopping Centre (Prada and fish spas, anyone?)
- Ride the nearby Flyer for a different angle on the view
- Take in a show at one of the theatres, or visit the casino
And this is where I call out to my Singapore peeps (hi Kids R Simple, ExpatDadSG and anyone else who’s swung through for a short or long time and taken a turn around the Bay) and ask them to fill in my gaps. What did I miss? I’ll put it on my list for the next visit.