Singapore is pretty clever.
It never had a lot of space to build giant theme parks and uber-luxurious resorts, nor did it have the pristine beaches of neighbouring countries Malaysia and Indonesia. So, it built an island that became the tourism capital of Singapore.
That island, Sentosa, is now home to some of the world’s most prestigious resorts, action-packed theme parks, fast food and fine dining restaurants, and the best beaches in Singapore.
Some tourists spend their entire vacation on Sentosa while others just visit for a day.
A day trip to Sentosa presents endless options for attractions, food, and fun. Here’s how I suggest spending a day on Sentosa.
9:45am – Grab a Ride to Sentosa
Sentosa is connected to mainland Singapore by road, sky-train, cable car, and pedestrian bridge. If, like me, you have a lot to squeeze into your day, the quickest way to get there is via taxi or rideshare app Grab.
Tip: Vehicles are charged a fee of S$2-$6 to enter Sentosa unless visiting a resort, theme park or attraction. Buy tickets online in advance and flash the confirmation ticket or receipt at the guardhouse to gain free entry.
10am – Pose with Celebrities at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Madame Tussauds offers encounters with life-like wax sculptures of your favourite celebrities.
The first exhibit, World Leaders, displays past political figures from Singapore, Malaysia, China and India as well as easily recognised world leaders like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Barak Obama and Queen Elizabeth II.
Another exhibit is dedicated to Film and TV with scenes from blockbuster movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Terminator, and ET. Most scenes have a spot free for you to re-enact your favourite scene beside the iconic characters.
My favourite exhibit was sports, where I got to “play” basketball with a waxy Yao Ming, currently the tallest NBA player. The sports exhibit is relatively interactive with golf putting against Tiger Woods, 1-on-1 basketball with Yao Ming, and a sit-up workout with David Beckham.
The featured attraction was a Marvel 4D experience. We got to dress up like Ironman, be rescued by Spiderman, and watch a 15-minute 4D movie based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (requires additional ticket). With 3D glasses in place, you can’t help but duck from Thor’s hammer or Spiderman’s webs thrown in your direction, especially when you feel a sudden puff of air down the back of your neck at the same time!
We arrived at the museum just after 10am before the crowds descended. We could wander around at leisure and take photos without having to wait too long or get in anyone’s way.
Two other attractions are included in the main ticket price, a 5-minute indoor boat ride targeted at young children and Images of Singapore, an interactive educational exhibit that takes visitors on a walk through Singaporean history with real-life actors, sound effects and props (no photos allowed here).
Madame Tussauds is open from 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 7:30pm Saturday and Sunday. Discount tickets can be purchased online at Voyagin.
12pm – Walk to Silosa Beach for Lunch
We took a stroll down Merlion Walk for lunch on the familiar white beach sands imported from my home state, Western Australia.
There are a few restaurants to choose from on Silosa Beach. We ate at Flame, a small, casual eatery with seating on the beach sand under the shade of coconut trees. Flame serves typical western bistro food, like beef sliders, pizza, and roast chicken.
1pm – Catch the Sky Train to Resorts World Sentosa
1.15pm – Visit Either S.E.A. Aquarium or Adventure Cove Water Park
It’s pretty impossible to fit more than two theme parks into one afternoon. Universal Studios is a must for the late afternoon/evening, leaving the early afternoon for either S.E.A. Aquarium or Adventure Cove Water Park.
S.E.A Aquarium is one of the largest and best laid out aquariums I’ve ever visited. The aquarium’s many tanks house over 100,000 underwater animals of all sizes and colours from oceans all around the world. There’s vibrant hues of orange, pink, yellow, purple, and even rainbow fish.
Main attractions include an overhead shark tank, dolphins, and a viewing gallery that’s like a giant fish tank crossed with a movie cinema. Spanning 36 meters, the tank glass is 700mm thick and weighs a whopping 250,000kgs! I could have sat at the gallery and watched the graceful sting rays, manta rays, fish, and sharks all day, but Universal Studios was calling.
The aquarium’s other attractions include creepy moray eels, jellyfish, starfish, and sea dragons.
S.E.A. Aquarium is open 10am to 7pm Friday to Tuesday and 10am to 6pm Wednesday and Thursday. Discount tickets can be purchased online at Voyagin.
Adventure Cove Waterpark
Adventure Cove Water Park is a popular place for local staycationers and international tourists to escape Singapore’s heat.
My favourite attractions were the wave pool, with a beach sand bottom that almost made it look like the real ocean, and the lazy river. This lazy river passes viewing windows into a stingray tank and tropical fish tank.
Other popular attractions include waterslides, a dedicated kids area, and a shipwreck themed wet maze.
Adventure Cove also has a dolphin exhibit, stingray tank, and large aquarium that people can snorkel in. I was a little uncomfortable seeing these animals in a commercial complex intended for fun. I would much prefer the sea life exhibits to be kept at the aquarium next door – it’s far better equipped to care for these animals.
I visited Adventure Cove around 1pm on a Saturday and it was crazy busy, with a 35-minute wait for most waterslides. If you have the opportunity, I strongly suggest visiting on a weekday. Make sure you bring a swimsuit to change into and flip flops to walk around the hot paving. Belongings can be left in a locker near the main entrance with small lockers costing $10 and large lockers $20.
Adventure Cove Water Park is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Discount tickets can be purchased online at Voyagin.
3pm: Visit Universal Studios
Universal Studios can take a whole day to experience fully, but it’s possible to visit in 2-4 hours if you don’t mind skipping a few rides.
From the moment you enter Universal Studios’ gates, it feels like stepping inside a movie. The main street is lined with themed souvenir stores and cafes, like Minon Mart, which sells Minion branded clothing, toys, accessories, homewares, and souvenirs.
The complex is structured into 7 themed zones. The craziest rides are without a doubt in the Sci Fi zone with giant rollercoasters inspired by Battlestar Galactica or Transformers that twist, tilt, and soar at extremely fast speeds. Not far behind on the crazy-scary-scale is the Ancient Egypt zone,with a jaw dropping indoor rollercoaster inspired by The Mummy.
The Lost World zone, based on the Jurassic Park movie franchise has a few hairy rides too. We tried one of the least adrenaline pumping rides, the Sky Flyer, which twisted and turned high above the dinosaur-themed jungle below for about 45 seconds before returning safely to solid ground.
My favourite zone was Happily Ever After, inspired by Shrek. After a short 5-minute wait to meet Shrek and Fiona, Fiona tried to run off with me, leaving poor Shrek heartbroken! After continuing the charade for a few moments, we smiled for our photo and went on our merry way.
The fun continued with a 4D movie featuring the ghost of Lord Farquaad and then my favourite show, Donkey Live, a stand-up comedy act performed by the notoriously inappropriate Donkey. Since the main act was on a giant LCD screen, I was quite impressed by level of audience interaction. A charismatic host had members of the audience answer questions which the voice and animation of Donkey immediately and flawlessly responded to.
I got to see a special, Sesame Street 50th anniversary exhibit as part of the regular New York zone. Most Sesame Street shows and meet and greets are only on in the morning, but we enjoyed walking around a recreated Sesame Street and stopping for a photo in Big Bird’s nest.
Universal Studios is now open late on Fridays and Saturdays with pop up food stalls and live bands starting at 8pm and a firework display at 10pm.
I visited on a Saturday but surprisingly didn’t come across too many crowds. The longest we had to wait for a ride was 10 minutes, although I noticed some rides had longer lines with wait times up to 35 minutes.
Universal Studios is open 10am to 7pm Sunday to Thursday and 10am to 10pm Friday and Saturday. Discount tickets can be purchased online at Voyagin.
7.30pm: Diner at Isle Quay
After all of the excitement at Universal Studios, we needed a little peace and quiet and Sentosa Cove was the perfect place to find it. The upmarket residential area has gated luxury condominiums, a marina full of luxury yachts, and Quayside Isle, a waterfront café strip lined with international restaurants and bars.
After a relaxing stroll along the harbour, we felt like Greek so enjoyed tasty moussaka and spanakopita at Mykonos on the Bay.
Where to Stay near Sentosa
We stayed at The Westin Singapore, a 10-minute drive from Resorts World Sentosa. The Westin is an ideal base to explore the whole of Singapore, being located in the centre of the city and walking distance to Marina Bay Sands.
My favourite aspect of this hotel was the amazing views of Singapore’s marina and iconic ArtScience Museum and Singapore Flyer, which are best enjoyed from the level 35 rooftop pool, Cook & Brew restaurant on level 33, or while enjoying the to-die-for buffet breakfast at Seasonal Tastes on level 32.
The Westin’s Lobby Lounge was the consummate place to unwind with a cocktail after a long day out.
And to finish it off, a soak in the bathtub (with amazing views too), and a super soft heavenly bed provided a restful night’s sleep.
The following day called for a little recovery time, so we booked an appointment at the award-winning Heavenly Spa.
We felt rejuvenated after a 90-minute Lavender Spa Journey, which included a body scrub, massage and access to a steam room and jacuzzi (separate facilities for men and women). Just what was needed after a full day at Sentosa.
The Bottom Line
It would be easy to spend a few days or even a whole week enjoying the beaches, theme parks, and adventure activities on Singapore’s Sentosa Island.
For the ultra-disciplined time management ninjas or simply short-of-time holidaymakers, it is possible to do Sentosa justice in as little as 1 day with this itinerary.
No matter how long you decide to spend on Sentosa, it promises to be an experience you’ll never forget.