Oh, Singapore, you unique place. I think I may be slowly falling for you. I found myself back in Singapore and decided to treat myself rather than go ultra cheap as I did on my last trip to the city. Ever since hearing about the island of Sentosa at the southern most tip of Singapore filled to the brim with fun and frivolous activities I decided that would be my next target once returning to the city.
Sentosa is a tourist’s dream. An entire area packed with resorts, chills, thrills, and food. I was mainly going to check out the SEA Aquarium and Universal Studios Singapore, but there is much more to do in the area. Sentosa has it’s own beach (apparently it is the southern most tip of mainland Asia), indoor skydiving, golf, spas, a water park, laser tag, a zip line, a Madam Tussauds and more plus all the shopping and eating that you could ever wish for. Seriously, if you are bringing kids especially, research this area!
There are a number of beautiful resorts to stay at including a Hard Rock Hotel and a Shangri-La, although I stayed at a hostel in Chinatown because I ain’t rollin’ in the dough like that. However, the island is extremely easy to access if you stay off-site.
You can make your way there in a couple of ways, all ranging in different costs and excitement levels. First, you can take a cable car that takes you over the bay between mainland and the small island. You can also take the metro from Harbor Point, although it is an extra $4 Singapore dollars. Another way is by bus which is a small fee to go across the bridge. I however took the only free route: walking. If you disembark from the metro at Harbor Point and exit into the gorgeous mall attached to the MRT station, you can follow the signs for the Boardwalk. The boardwalk is about a ten minute jaunt on a covered walkway across the water. The boardwalk includes moving walkways and a daily bazaar to pick up any last minute items. Yes, it’s a bit hot, but you’re gonna be sweating in Singapore, accept it, live it, love it.
Once you arrive you can easily find where you want to go be following the plethora of very informative English signs that point you anywhere you would like to head. The main area of food and shopping is called The Forum while Universal Studios makes up the front of the island and the resorts in the back. On my first day I headed to the SEA Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the world. The tickets were $28 Singapore dollars for adults and $15 for children which is a pretty steep price, but Sentosa isn’t a cheap destination.
I was there on a Saturday, which, for obvious reasons meant it was very, very crowded. Do your best to avoid weekends, otherwise it definitely takes away from the experience. Upon first entering the aquarium you are immediately ushered into a clear tunnel with all kinds of sea creatures swimming around you. This was really cool, not gonna lie. I wondered what we must look like to the sharks and mantas swimming by, our mouths agape. You then proceed in typical aquarium fashion through tanks filled with seahorses, clownfish, lobsters and much more. The scale of the aquarium is what is truly unique. The tanks are massive! One was so large I don’t even know how to properly describe it to you, so here’s a picture.
On a typical day I would say you could easily spend maybe four hours meandering through the large aquarium, although because I hate crowds and I could barely get a glimpse of some of the tanks due to the high mass of people, I only spent an hour there. Although I must admit that’s fairly typical for me when it comes to museums, theme parks etc. I walk very fast. I wish I could have spent more time there, but I do feel that I saw what I wanted to. Honestly, my main reason for going was to hype myself up for my upcoming scuba diving certification for which I was petrified. Did it help? Sure, let’s say yes.
Afterwords, I walked into The Forum area and got some lunch. I had time to kill so I explored the rest of Sentosa which included a huge version of the famous Singapore Marlon and a butterfly garden (plus everything stated above). You could easily spend a weekend here and fill up every second with exciting activities.
The next day I arrived early to purchase my tickets for Universal Studios. You can buy online and pick up your tickets at Guest Services, but I chose to use the ticket booths. Universal Studios Singapore Ticket Prices (Singapore dollars)
|One-Day Pass||Two-Day Pass|
|Adult (Aged 13 to 59)||$74||$118|
|Child (Aged 4 to 12)||$54||$88|
|Senior (Aged 60 and above)||$36||$58|
While living in Southern California I worked at Universal Studios Hollywood, which is why I wanted to visit the park in Singapore.
It was raining when I arrived so I huddled under an umbrella while I waited for the gates to open. I arrived about an hour early, but thankfully the park actually opened about 20 minutes early. If you arrive early, know that nothing is really open at that time. Maybe a place for breakfast or two, but in general all the Sentosa stores (including a Universal souvenir store) are closed, so it’s a lot of waiting.
Once inside the park, you are immediately in the “Hollywood” area, filled with stores and character meet and greets. It is very similar to the Hollywoods of other Universal parks. I turned right and was transported to New York and all the Sesame Street attractions you could ever want. This park tends to cater a lot to children and a younger audience, so whether they want a show or to meet Elmo, their wish shall be granted.
Next is Sci-Fi City, which is home to the Transformer ride. This ride is identical to the other parks, but still worth a ride. I chose the Single Rider que. Transformers is a 3D motion simulator with moving vehicles. If you get motion sickness like me, be prepared to close your eyes occasionally. At this point the rain began a torrential downpour, and all outdoor attractions were closed for the time being.
I went over to The Mummy ride, which is my personal favorite, and rode it back to back a few times. They offer free lockers for an hour and you must use them if you have any belongings. I again used single rider and waited no time at all and got the front seat each time. That was just lucky, though. The Mummy ride is an indoor roller coaster based on the films.
USS also has lands dedicated to Shrek, Madagascar, and Jurassic Park. Madagascar land is quite small and is only made up of a few rides for smaller children. Shrek, or The Land of Far Far Away, is probably the most impressive land, authenticity wise. If you are a fan of the films, you will really enjoy walking around. The have a 4D show and a few smaller rides along with shops and restaurants. The detail is quite impressive in this land.
Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies and is where I worked most of the time at Universal Studios Hollywood, which is why it was my highest priority. The main attraction is the Jurassic Park ride, which was actually better than any other JP ride I had been on before. Instead of being in boats we were placed in rafts. I did the single rider line, but unfortunately this time it took quite a while to get through the que. The ride itself takes you through many dinosaur enclosures and although the final T-rex reveal was a bit on the disappointing side, the drop was way more fun in a raft. I got soaked, even with a poncho.
I then went back to Sci-Fi city and rode the Battlestar Galactica dollar coaster. The coaster is quite large and is the biggest thrill in the park. You must use a locker for everything you are carrying and the will check you at the entrance with metal detectors. The coaster is comprised of two intersecting tracks, one with a typical train (humans) and one where the seats dangle (cyborg). You choose which you want at the start of the ques. I went full cyborg. If you’re used to the whole dollar coaster game then this one is fun but nothing real special, if I’m honest.
USS also features the Waterworld show, a stunt and special effects show based on the film, however I chose to skip it due to the fact that I had seen it plenty in Hollywood. There are plenty of street performances to view including a Sesame Street show and a Barbershop quartet. The food options are plenty and very diverse.
Overall the park was very similar to other Universal parks, especially Universal Hollywood. It was quite small and, unlike what I thought, you really don’t need to dedicate an entire day to experiencing it. Although there are a number of attractions for the thrill seeker in all of us, in general it seemed quite geared towards a younger audience. So, if you are in Singapore with your family don’t feel like you have to skip the park because you have small children.
What I came to realize is if you don’t care about the films which the rides are based on, you won’t care about the park. I love, love, love all things Disney, which is why Disneyland is so special to me. Honestly, other than Jurassic Park and the Mummy, I couldn’t care less about most of the rides at USS. If you love Shrek, then Far Far Away will be super cool to you, but it didn’t mean anything to me. If you love Battlestar Galactica, then it will be super special to ride a coaster based on the series/film. It didn’t mean anything to me. I love Harry Potter and Marvel which is why Universal in Orlando is a much better time in my humble opinion.
I’m glad I went and got to experience a Universal park in another country. If you have extra time or love theme parks then I think it’s a great option although don’t go expecting Orlando’s Islands of Adventure.