Sentosa meaning 'peace and tranquility' in Malay, is Singapore's favorite playground. It is not the island's original name, but was given to it in the early 1970s, when the government decided to turn it into the country's "leisure-land..."
Currently, the best starting point for a visit at Sentosa and Mt. Faber is HarbourFront MRT station. It's the first station on the purple marked Southeast line and can easily be accessed through MRT-Dhoby Ghaut, or Outram Park, in Chinatown.
MRT-Harbor Front is positioned in between Sentosa and Mt. Faber and is, therefore, a good "departure base" (especially if you plan to use the cable car).
From the HarbourFront MRT station, you have a few options available:
Most visitors use the Sentosa Express monorail to get to Sentosa. It departs from VivoCity Mall (The station is on the Level 3 - Lobby L) and has three stops on Sentosa, as follows: 1) Waterfront Station, where Resorts World Sentosa, the casino and Universal Studios are located, 2) Imbiah Station, in the centre of Sentosa, next to most of the attraction and 3) Beach Station, near Palawan Beach.
A train leaves every few minutes, from 7am to 12midnight and the journey takes only 10 minutes or so. The "Sentosa daily Pass", which can be bought at the station, costs SG$ 3 and gives unlimited rides on the monorail, as well as admission fees to the island (not including the different attractions).
The orange colored Sentosa Bus leaves from Harbour Front Bus Interchange, next to the MRT station, and moves through several stations on the island, in a loop, before returning to its departure point. The bus operates daily, 7am - 10:30pm (until 12midnight on Fridays, Saturdays, and public holiday Eves). Similar to the monorail, the daily pass costs SG$ 3, covers the entrance fee to Sentosa and on your way back, you are free to use either the bus or the monorail...
By far, the nicest way to travel to the island is with the cable-car, connecting Sentosa with Mt. Faber. The cable-car station is at Harbour Front - Tower II, just five minutes walk from HarbourFront MRT station: Walk out of the station to the adjacent bus-interchange and Seah Im Food Centre, from where you proceed along the pedestrian bridge, across the road, and onto the building next to where the cable-car station is located. From here, you can either take the cable-car to Mt. Faber and continue, from there, to Sentosa, or the other way around. At the time of writing, a return ticket costs around SG$ 12 for an adult and SG$ 6.5 for a child, and you can "upgrade" to the Glass Cabin at a price of about SG$ 18 for an adult and SG$ 11 for a child (prices do not include entrance fee to the island). Moreover, they also offer the "Sky Dining" experience, where you can enjoy a romantic dinner in a cable-car cabin, surrounded by the city lights... The pleasure costs something like SG$ 90 - 160 for a couple (depends on the menu you choose). For more details on the cable-car (including promotions and special packages), call them on 6377 9638. For more information about the "Sky Dining" experience, you can call them on 6377 9688 or visit their website.
Sentosa Rider is a new bus service, which picks up passengers from hotels in town and drops them off in several places across Sentosa. It also passes through Mt. Faber before proceeding to Resorts World Sentosa/Universal Studios, Sentosa's Siloso Point (Underwater World), Imbiah and other places-of-interest...
Their daily pass costs SG$ 8 and gives unlimited rides, but they also have "special packages" on the offer... Their buses operate daily, 9am - 10:30pm, from either Orchard Road or Raffles and Marina Bay. For more details, you can take a look at their webpage, or timetable.
The newly opened Sentosa Boardwalk provides access to the island on foot. It’s a leisurely stroll from VivoCity Shopping Mall’s waterfront promenade, made easy by two-way canopy-covered travellators (The boardwalk is opened 24 hours a day, but the "travellators" run only from 7am to 12 midnight).
Sentosa orientation and transportation
Located just a stone's throw from the port and the city centre, Sentosa is a triangular shaped island which its narrow vertex is at its Northwest end.
The distance between the island's westrenmost tip and its wide, eastern coast, is around three kilometers, while the distance between the north and south shores is around one kilometer, depends at which point.
The island's numerous attractions are covered by several types of free shuttle buses, that run along circular routes, morning till evening... Once you are through with one attraction, you won't have to wait more than a few minutes before a bus will be there to take you to the next one... For more info on how to get around Sentosa, you can download this map, where all the lines are clearly marked.
Most of Sentosa's attractions and entertainment venues charge separate entrance fees (on top of the basic entrance fees to the island) and you can purchase all sorts of "combo tickets" at a discounted rate (you'll better have a word with the folks at STB or check the island's website www.sentosa.com.sg before you buy tickets, 'cause there are special promotions sometimes, which are worth knowing about).
Sentosa's central part
Most of Sentosa's attractions are concentrated around the island's central part, a relatively small area between the Visitors Arrival Centre and the Cable Car Plaza, which can be easily covered on foot.
We chose the Cable Car Plaza as a starting point. If you are not arriving at Sentosa by cable-car, you can get here by either the green or the blue bus, or with the Sentosa Express monorail.
Tiger Sky Tower is Asia's tallest free-standing observation tower (although there are many higher buildings in Singapore, not to mention Asia...). Its top elevator-observation deck reaches 110 meters above the ground and 131 meters above sea level.
On a clear day, you can see the islands of Indonesia from here and when visibility is not that good (which is the more common scenario) you can enjoy lovely panoramic views of Singapore Island.
The tower is located right next to the Cable Car Plaza, and is open daily, 9am - 9pm (last lift leaves at 8:45pm). Ticket price is around SG$ 12 for an adult and SG$ 8 for a child (under 12).
Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom is where you can walk amidst the lush tropical vegetation and see hundreds of species of amazingly beautiful butterflies.
The Insect Kingdom boasts an impressive collection of insects, including the very rare ones which you'll probably see nowhere else but here. Located next to Cable Car Plaza, very recommended.
Daily, 9am - 6:30pm (last admission on 6pm). Entrance fees are around SG$ 10 for an adult and SG$ 6 for a child (3-12 years old).
Images of Singapore is a beautiful museum, highly worth visiting. It takes the visitor through the history of Singapore, from the 14th century onwards, mainly through "scenes" where life size tableaus depict major events in the city-state's history, as well as through other multi-media displays which make the visit more interesting and enhance the experience of "being there"... Legends, folktales and actual historic events are all woven together, creating quite a unique experience...
Open daily 9am - 7pm (last admission on 6:30pm), entrance fees are around SG$ 10 for an adult and SG$ 7 for a child (3-12 years old).
Sentosa Luge and Skyride is a good fun for kids, as well as for adults... The Luge is a sledge-like cart that runs down the hill, along a 650 meters paved track, specifically built for that purpose, while the Skyride is some sort of a ski-lift that takes those who finished the track, back to the top of the hill.
Open daily, 10am - 9:30pm (the track is lit after the sun goes down). Prices range around SG$ 9 per person for one Luge ride + one Skyride lift, and there are all sorts of "packages" and "family deals".
Sentosa 4D Magix is a so-called "4 Dimensional cinema", meaning that on top of the usual 3D effect, there are more features that make the experience even more tangible... like moving chairs, blowing wind, sea spray and more... that create the "fourth dimension". It's a fairly nice experience (especially if you are here with the whole family) but, otherwise, theatres of this kind are already operating in quite a few cities around the world... The theatre is open daily, 10am - 9pm, last show starts at 8:45pm
The Cineblast, just across the street from the 4D Magix, is what is known as a "cinema ride" : an adrenaline-boosting experience that combines special photography techniques, special 3D effects and moving seats... highly recommended. Open daily from 10am - 9pm (last show starts at 08:45pm).
The "MegaZip Adventure Park", one of Sentosa's newest and most exciting attractions, is just like one giant scouts camp, packed with extreme activities... The Flying-Fox seems to be the park's main draw...
MegaZip, one of Sentosa Island's latest attractions, is like a huge scouts camp, packed with extreme activities... The place is open daily, 2pm - 7pm and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, 11am - 7pm
For more information, including price-chart and special offers, visit their website.
The Merlion & Merlion Walk: Behind the Images of Singapore museum there is a giant replica of Singapore's well-known symbol, the Merlion (you can read more about the original Merlion at the Singapore River section). The statue soars to a height of almost forty meters and in it there are some sculptures of mythological sea-creatures. From the observation deck, on the Merlion's head, there is a nice view over the island and the port.
At the foot of the massive statue, there is a pedestrian-walk, where you can see some beautiful mosaic-covered fountains and street-sculptures, featuring the style of famous Spanish architect, Gaudi.
Entering the statue involves a payment (open daily 10am - 8pm, last admission at 7:30 pm).
The "Songs of the Sea" show is a real spectacle, which you should make an effort to see! Take a look at this short video to get an idea of what to expect...
Down by the beach, next to Beach Station, is the venue for one of the island's most popular attractions:Songs of the Sea.
This state-of-the-art show integrates dancers, pyrotechnics, water screens, three dimensional projection and laser effects. It shows nightly at 7:40pm and 8:40pm (and 9:40pm, on Saturdays), on a small manmade island, and the ticket costs SG$ 10, at the time of writing (click here for more details / online bookings).
Palawan Amphitheatre, south of the Merlion Statue and Merlion Walk, and next to Palawan Beach, is where you can watch one of the highly recommended animal & bird encounters. Those "meet-the-animals" shows are usually very good fun (especially for families with kids...). The shows are free and are held daily, as follows: 12noon (reptiles), 12:30pm (monkeys), 2pm (parrots), 3pm (monkeys), 3:30 pm (large/mimicking parrots), 4:30pm (close encounters with parrots) and 5pm (last show of the day, with all the animals). All interior bus lines arrive at the amphitheatre (Click here for the current timetable).
iFly Singapore, one of Sentosa's newest and most exciting attractions, is the world's largest wind tunnel for skydiving.
Located near the "beach station", it gives visitors the chance to experience true free-fall conditions, just like a real skydive, but without any of the danger, and for much less money…
Open daily, from 9:30am to 10pm (From 10:30 am on Wednesday)
Mt. Imbiah, a minute away from the Cable Car Plaza, is Sentosa's "Nature Reserve". Here you can take a walk along the Dragon trail, where 'mystique' dragon faces are engraved into the rock and the visitor walks on or between them... If you have enough time, walk the full Nature trail (one and a half kilometers) which passes through a tiny forest... reminder to how the area looked like in bygone days.
Sentosa's North and West parts
The underwater world, one kilometer west of the Cable Car Plaza, is one of Sentosa's most recommended attractions (if not the most recommended), with thousands of fish and marine animals, belonging to approximately three hundred different species, many of which from the seas around Singapore.
The oceanarium boasts three levels, each of them displays different stuff: The "touch pool", near the entrance, is where the visitor can touch all sorts of sea-creatures... from Blowfish and Starfish to baby sharks. Next are the "Turtle pool" (with some rear and nearly extinct turtles), the "Rays pool" and other pools, exhibiting fascinating marine-life, like the "living fossils", the world's largest fresh-water fish, and other corals, crabs and all sorts of monstrous creatures... Take a look at the "Vertical Tube", a six meters high cylinder that its glass wall actually magnifies the relatively small fish in it, and move onwards, to the main attraction: an 83 meters long tunnel passing through a gigantic aquarium, where you are surrounded by hundreds of fish, sharks, rays, eels and other creatures...
Other than its fabulous exhibits, the Underwater World is also in charge of the Dolphin Lagoon, in Palawan beach, where the visitors can have a close encounter with the local Pink Dolphins (Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins), learn about them and play with them.
The Underwater World also features all sorts of activities, like feeding sessions, "dive with the sharks", "fish reflexology" and what have you... It's advisable to visit their website http://www.underwaterworld.com.sg/to check if there's something special at the time you are planning to visit (or call them on 6275 0030)
The underwater World is open daily, 9am - 9pm (last admission at 8:30 pm)
The Dolphin Lagoon is open daily, 10:30am - 6pm (last admission 5:30pm)
Tickets cost around SG$ 19.9 for an adult and SG$ 12.70 for a child (3-12), and cover the Dolphin Lagoon as well. Special activities like "dive with the sharks" or "Fish Reflexology" are charged for separately.
All of the island's interior bus lines are passing through the Underwater World.
Fort Siloso, on the island's westmost tip, few hundred meters from the Underwater World, is a (former) massive coastal fortress. It was originally built by the British at the 19th century and was refortified and improved during the 1930s, when Japan started to become a serious threat.
As the Brits expected a Japanese attack to come from the sea, Fort Siloso was meant to serve as Singapore's prime defense line... Eventually, as known, the British strategy proved wrong, as the Japanese invaded from the Malay Peninsula and Fort Siloso was actually one of the last places they reached (after 99% of Singapore was already conquered...). The fort boasts a labyrinth of tunnels, bunkers, observation points and cannon positions, and the visit is very interesting, especially thanks to the vast restoration and preservation works that brought the fort back to its heydays...
Life-size mannequins are scattered across the fort, depicting the dramatic battle that took place here during World War II, together with sounds and other effects that enhance the experience... There is also an impressive collection of old British canons, old maps and WW II time movies...
The fort is open daily, 10am - 6pm (last admission on 5:30pm). Admission fees are around SG$ 8 for an adult and SG$ 5 for a child (3-12) and there are free guided tours every Saturday and Sunday, 11am and 4pm (limited to groups of only 20 people though).
You can get here with the blue, green and red buses.
Sentosa's South Beach starts not far from the fort, near the Underwater World. Sumptuous Rasa Sentosa Resort is the first site along this lovely beach and, next to it, you will see TheFlying Trapeze, where you can challenge your fear of height and get your adrenalin pumping... visitors can actually fly (almost) like the trapeze artists at the circus... quite an exciting experience...
Open every afternoon till 6pm (until 7pm on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays). It's just a short walk from the Underwater World.
Siloso Beach is the westernmost among the three southern beaches. It starts from Shangri La's Rasa Sentosa Resort and stretches for a distance of about one kilometer.
As a 'proper tropical beach', it offers the whole shebang of white sands, coconut palms, thatched-roof shelters, and whatever you would expect from a beach on an exotic island to have...
Otherwise, there are plenty of leisure activities... Beach volleyball, boats and other aquamarine equipment, restaurants and beach-bars... Opposite the beach, there are some tiny manmade islands that make the whole place look like a tropical lagoon.
You can get to and from the beach with the Beach Tram, some sort of a bus with open sides that runs up and down, along the three beaches.
Sentosa's South and East parts
Down the coastline, west of Siloso, there are two other beautiful beaches, worth knowing about:Palawan Beach and Tanjong Beach(which is probably the best of the three).
As mentioned already, both of them can be accessed by the Beach Tram, as well as with the island's interior buses. Both Palawan and Tanjong are pretty much similar to Siloso beach...
Palawan Beach is Sentosa's central (and busiest) beach. Located next to the Sentosa Express final station, it a few "unique" attractions : The first is the opportunity to set a foot on Continental Asia's southernmost point (the hanging bridge leads you from the beach to the tiny island opposite), the second attraction is the Dolphin Lagoon, which forms a part of the Underwater World (although it is not physically at the same place).
Although there is not that much difference betwen Sentosa's beaches, Tanjong Beachseems to be somewhat cleaner and more pleasant, compared to the other two...
Alongside those attractions which we mentioned already, Sentosa boasts quite a few luxury hotels and holiday resorts, as well as a wide variety of restaurants, fast food outlets, bars, pubs, cafés and what not...
Spending a bit of time in one of the lovely Beach Bars is also a good idea, the ambience is young , cool and breezy... makes you feel like you are on a holiday in an exotic island..
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The "Lake of Dreams" at Resort World Sentosa
Occupying much of Sentosa Island's northern shore, facing HarbourFront and the city, the colossal "Resort World Sentosa" seems to be one of the hottest things in Singapore nowadays.
Other than a swanky casino (Singapore's first), the main draw is the resort's thoroughfare, FestiveWalk, which is lined with fantastic restaurants, cafés and shops, and offers world-class entertainment spectacles like "Lake of Dreams" (integrating sound and light effects, pyrotechnics and water) and the very popular "Cranes Dance", where two colossal crane-shaped robots perform a love dance, with lots of effects, fire, water, lasers and what not…
The two spectacles are free, which in its own is a good reason to come here. .
The main attraction of this uber-ambitious project is undoubtedly the Universal Studios theme park, although there are some other grandiose attractions that are well worth knowing about, such as the Marine Life Park, which aims at being the world's largest oceanarium, the Maritime Experiential Museum & Aquarium , where visitors can learn about the history of naval trade in Southeast Asia through an interactive 360° multimedia experience that simulates a journey on an old ship, and the Equarius Water Park, where many of the rides and the pools are built in harmony with the island's natural terrain and its tropical vegetation, including the "Water coaster" : A thrilling water slide that runs through tree tops and jungle greenery.
The Maritime Experiential Museum & Aquarium, in Resorts World Sentosa, focuses on the history of ancient maritime trade in Southeast Asia, and tells the story of a 9th century Arab merchant ship which wrecked in the Java Sea, while sailing from China back to the Middle East and became known as the " Belitung shipwreck"…
Other than an accurate reproduction of the Arab dhow ship, there are hundreds of artefacts that were salvaged from the shipwreck on display, as well as models of other ancient vessels, and a " Typhoon Theatre" where visitors get the taste of sailing through a storm.
Open daily, from 10am till 7pm (till 9pm on weekends)
Hollywood is the first themed-zone you come across, when entering through the gate. It replicates LA's famous Hollywood Boulevard, including the "Walk of Fame" and the Washingtonia palms that line the road.
The main draw of this zone is the "Pantages Hollywood Theatre", featuring the Universal Monsters Show.
New York themed-zone is next in line, bringing the spirit of America's big apple to the shores of tropical Singapore... Other than New York style streets and food outlets, the main attraction here is called Lights, Camera, Action: A Movie-special-effects show that demonstrates how a devastating hurricane is created behind the scenes... Stage 28 is another attraction of this zone, enabling visitors to discover the ins and outs of a real film production studio.
The Sci-Fi City, a science-fiction "future city" themed after the popular TV series, Battlestar Galactica, is where the (currently) world's tallest dueling roller coasters can be found.
Ancient Egypt, as its name suggests, is themed after Egypt of the pharaohs. The rides include an indoor coaster that zooms through the dark and "almost collides" with scary creatures from the movie "The Mummy", and the "Treasure Hunters": small vintage-like cars.
The Lost World, next door, is the most attractions-packed section of the park. Themed after both Jurassic Park and Kevin Costner's Waterworld, the main attractions include the Jurassic Park River Adventure (a "Shoot-the-Chute" water ride) and Waterworld (A live sea-war spectacular, based on the movie, supported by many pyrotechnic, flame, water, and other special effects, including the explosive crash landing of a seaplane...), both can also be found in other Universal Studios parks around the globe...
Far Far Away is the sixth themed-zone, based on Shrek and his animated friends. "Shrek 4-D" is one of the main draws here, featuring a 3-D Shrek movie, supported by special effects like winds, water sprays, jumps, bumps and so on... But there are some other nice highlights, like "Donkey live" and "Enchanted airways" (flying on the back of Dragon).
Madagascar, the last themed-zone before completing the circle and returning to Hollywood and the gate, is based on the popular animated film, and is also quite packed with attraction-rides, including a "River boat adventure" and "King Julien's beach party".
For more information about Universal Studios Singapore, you can visit their website or call them on (+65) 6577 8888 Or visit the website of Resort World Sentosa.