Singapore: Turning stopovers into holidays

Singapore: Turning stopovers into holidays

Its position as a busy transport hub makes Singapore a popular stopover for UK travellers heading for Australia and other Far East destinations. Some 493,000 UK travellers visited last year.


While this was a few thousand down on 2007 levels, the Singapore Tourism Board aims to reverse the trend this year with its 2009 Reasons to Enjoy Singapore campaign.

The campaign is part of BOOST (Building On Opportunities to Strengthen Tourism), a £45 million tourism investment plan.

STB area director northern and western Europe Divya Panickar said: "Singapore has always been the perfect stopover destination but with a constant stream of exciting new experiences our visitors now have plenty of reasons to stay longer."

Twin-centre breaks

Indeed, the city-state makes a great choice for a twin-centre break with one of the many great beach destinations in the region.

In its Asia programme, Hayes and Jarvis combines Singapore with locations such as Koh Samui in Thailand, Bali in Indonesia and Langkawi in Malaysia.

Regional product and contacts manager for the Far East Andrea Loddo said: "Singapore is a great hub - a modern, culturally diverse city with a huge range of contrasting sights.

"Contrary to reputation, it needs to be given more time and not treated as a stopover, which is what is increasingly happening with our clients.

"The growing demand means we've expanded the range in Singapore to cater for all budgets and accommodation tastes."

Virgin Holidays product manager Far East Margaret Oliver said: "We offer a variety of trips to Singapore from city breaks in the heart of the action, through to the relative calm of Sentosa's resorts. Our packages are flexible so travellers can combine a stay in this fabulous city with a wide variety of destinations."

Virgin's most popular option is a stopover en route to or from Bali, but it is seeing increasing demand for breaks twinned with Thailand and Hong Kong, as well as the beach resorts of Dubai and Australia - and for Singapore as a destination in its own right.

"It ticks a lot of boxes: great food, history, excellent shopping and a vibrant mix of cultures, all in one destination," said Oliver.

Over at Tropical Locations, whose most popular Singapore twin-centre option is Langkawi, group head of product David Kevan said: "In terms of quality, it is outstanding, very easy on the eye and probably the best introduction to the region for the first-time Asia client.

"There is little that is frightening or intimidating and the restaurant scene is probably the most varied in the area, with many al fresco options."

Carrier, meanwhile, is seeing an increase in UK visitors travelling on the Eastern and Oriental Express train out of Singapore.

Getting there and around

Last month Qantas announced plans to increase its Airbus A380 services between the UK and Australia via Singapore to five flights per week from June 8, flying on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Singapore Airlines, meanwhile, celebrated carrying its one millionth A380 passenger on the route last month.

As befits such a modern and diminutive destination, getting around is easy on the super-efficient SMRT (Mass Rapid Transport) system. It extends to Singapore's excellent modern airport, Changi, which expanded with a third terminal at the beginning of the last year.

The STB also aims to increase its cruise ship visitors from 943,000 in 2007 to 1.6 million by 2015, backed by a new International Cruise Terminal, set to open late next year.


Singapore has no shortage of hotels, from great value budget options, to luxurious old dames such as Raffles and the Fullerton (converted from official offices to a hotel in 2001) to modern luxury options such as the Marina Mandarin and Four Seasons Singapore.

Shangri-La has a budget Traders hotel as well as its five-star Singapore and Rasa Sentosa properties. Recent openings to note include the five-star, all-suite St Regis Singapore, just off Orchard Road, which is being offered by Travel 2 among others.

What to do

Singapore is a shopper's paradise, with some of the best bargains for electronic items and designer goods on offer during the Great Singapore Sale (May 29 to July 26).

Another of its major draws is its food. An evening spent strolling and grazing through Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street is a real treat.

Alternatively, there are lots of fine dining options, with a vibrant local nightlife centred on areas such as Clarke Quay and Dempsey.

A boat ride in the bay is a great way to see Singapore from the water. If your clients have a few days, suggest they head to one of the offshore islands such as Sentosa, which has aquariums and an Asia Village theme park for the kids.

A night safari at the excellent zoo is also a must.

This year Singapore will also host its second Formula 1 Grand Prix race from September 25-27.

New developments

Last month Orchard Road, a key hub for shopping and accommodation, emerged from an £18 million refresh.

Three new malls are due to open by the end of the year

Other recent additions to the list of attractions include the world's tallest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer, which stands at 165 metres.

Marina Bay Sands, the first of two planned 'integrated' resorts, will open later this year. Features include

  • 2,600 luxury hotel rooms
  • A casino
  • One-hectare tropical rooftop Sky Park with restaurants and swimming pools, a shopping mall and an indoor ice rink.

The second, Resorts World on Sentosa, due to open next year, will boast a Universal Studios theme park, the world's largest oceanarium, another casino and six hotels.

Another work in progress is the 101-hectare Gardens by the Bay development, which will flank the mouth of the Singapore River.

Sample product

Virgin Holidays has a Singapore and Bali break from £1,089 per person, valid for August 15-30 departures, including Singapore Airlines flights from Heathrow.

The price includes four nights’ room-only in a superior room at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront and five nights’ room-only at the Griya Santrian, Bali in a Garden Wing Room. Tel: 0844 557 4001

Tropical Locations has a Singapore/Malaysia package staying three nights at the Traders Singapore and seven nights at the Andaman, Langkawi on a room-only basis.

The price of £1,590, valid April 20 to July 6 or August 7 to October 30, includes Malaysian Airlines flights and transfers. 
Tel:  0845 277 3310

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