Sentosa Island in Singapore
Sentosa is an island just off the southern coast of Singapore.
Tanjong Beach on a lazy Sunday afternoon
Formerly known by the rather unattractive name of Pulau Belakang Mati ("The Island After Death" in Malay) and the centrepiece of Britain's unsuccessful "Fortress Singapore" strategy in World War II, Sentosa has been rebranded and resculpted into one big tourist attraction, popular among Singaporeans as a quick island getaway. The new jewel in the crown is Resorts World, an enormous complex comprising a Universal Studios themepark, Singapore's first casino, shopping malls and hotels.
The small southern islets of Kusu Island, St. John's Island, the Sisters Islands and Pulau Hantu are managed by Sentosa. Various plans to develop them have not come to much and they remain off the beaten track, but by no means undiscovered. The first two can be reached by public ferry, for the rest you will have to charter a boat.
Map of Sentosa
Basic admission to the island will set you back at least $2 per person which is included in the transportation fares from the mainland to Sentosa. There is an ever-changing palette of combination tickets that may work out marginally cheaper if you plan to visit multiple attractions. The island itself is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, although many of the attractions are not.
The best way is in to take the North-East Line of the MRT to HarbourFront and then make your way to Level 3 of Vivocity, where you'll find the Sentosa Express monorail to the island. The train operates every 5-8 minutes from 7AM to 11:45PM daily, and an round-trip ticket costs $4 (up as of May 9, 2013 -- island admission included, EZ-Link accepted). The cheapest way though, is to take an SMRT bus for $2:
RWS 8 from VivoCity/HarbourFront MRT
By taxi or private car, you'll need to pay $2 to $7 per vehicle to enter, and a $3 taxi surcharge also applies on the way out. It is now possible to walk across the bridge via the Sentosa Broadwalk (free at least until 31 Dec 2018, normally $1, EZ-Link accepted) .
The Cable Car between Sentosa, HarbourFront and Mt. Faber has completed its renovation and reopened to public in July 2010. Return ticket on Cable Car costs $29.
Sentosa's ferry terminal has been demolished to make way for the casino, but there are still limited ferry services from Singapore's Marina South Pier (bus 402 from Marina Bay MRT) to the southern islands of Kusu and St. John. Monday through Saturday, there are two services a day, leaving at 10AM and 1:30PM, looping to Kusu, St. John, Kusu again and then back to Marina South. This gives you one hour on Kusu, which is plenty for seeing the sights. On Sundays and holidays only, there are five services, at 9AM, 11AM, 1PM, 3PM and 5PM, which run to Kusu, St. John and then return directly to Marina South, giving a minimum of two hours on any island you go to. All ferries cost $15 return, no Sentosa entry fee needed.
All internal transport around Sentosa (except taxis) is free.
Since Stagecoach took over the whole Sentosa bus services because of the exit of FirstGroup's strategy in June 2013, Stagecoach has provided three services in Sentosa. These are bus 1, bus 2 and bus 3.
Beach trams supplemented by minivans shuttle people along the beaches every 15-20 minutes. One service connects Beach Station to Siloso Beach, another connects Beach Station to Palawan and Tanjong Beaches.
The old round-the-island Sentosa Monorail was decommissioned in March 2005 to make way for the new Sentosa Express, which can also be used to shuttle between the beaches and Imbiah Station (near the Merlion).
Long a bit of a joke — Singaporean wags like to quip that "Sentosa" actually stands for "So Expensive and Nothing to See Actually" — Sentosa's attractions have received some much-needed upgrades in recent years, with the worst of the lot unceremoniously demolished. Offerings of interest to adults are still quite limited, but at there's enough to keep children amused for a day or two. For all attractions below, a "child" is defined as being between three and twelve.
Tiger Sky Tower, near Cable Car (blue/green bus), . 9AM-9PM daily. Asia's tallest observation tower. It takes you up to a height of 131 m above sealevel and offers a 360-degree view of Sentosa, Singapore and the Southern islands. On clear days the outlines of Malaysia and Indonesia can be seen. $10/7 adult/child. edit
Fort Siloso, near Underwater World (all buses, then transfer to tram), 10AM-6PM. Formerly the largest British naval base in Fortress Singapore, its guns staring balefully out towards the sea in preparation for enemy attack. The Japanese rode bikes down the peninsula instead; after your visit here, be sure to visit the Battle Box at Fort Canning Hill to find out what happened next. Now turned into a museum, you can follow a tour through the area (complete with lots of wax figures) to find out what the life of a recruit was like. Nearly doubled in size in 2004. Free. edit
Madame Tussauds, near Cable Car Station (green, blue bus), ☎ 67154000, 10AM-6PM weekdays, 10AM-7.30PM weekends & holidays. $39/$29 adult/child. edit
Sentosa Merlion, (Imbiah Station). 10AM-8PM. A stretched-out 37-metre version of the statue by the Singapore River, which is lit up at night - note, the Merlion highly disappointingly no longer shoots lasers (if in fact it ever did) from its eyes. Admission enables you to take the elevator up into its mouth and gaze out over the nearby Port of Singapore, as well as experience some seriously cheesy exhibits downstairs. $8/5 adult/child. edit
Sentosa Luge & Skyride, Beach Station / Imbiah Lookout, Up the hill in a ski lift and down again in a steerable bobsled. Kid safe. Good attraction for younger kids as the incline of the track hinders going very fast. Not very exciting for those over 15. If you are inclined to go, resist temptation to purchase multiple trips until trying it the first time. The newer Dragon Trail is closed on rainy days. $13 single ride, plus $3 for child riding with adult. edit
Songs of the Sea, (Beach Station). Daily at 7:40PM and 8:40PM. Additional show are available at 9.40pm every Saturday.. Multimedia extravaganza with live cast, pyrotechnics, water jets and lasers. Very popular, so book ahead, especially on weekends. $10 normal seats, 15 premium seats. edit
Da Bogong Temple
There are a few sights of minor interest on Kusu Island, reachable by ferry. The name means "Turtle Island" and there are indeed lots of the reptiles scampering about, but don't expect an unspoiled tropical paradise: the island was thoroughly reworked with land reclamation in 1975 and looks exactly like the rest of Sentosa.
Da Bogong (Tua Pekong) Temple, Kusu Island. An unassuming little Taoist temple dedicated to the Merchant God. This is the focal point of the yearly Kusu Festival (Oct-Nov), when pilgrims come to the island to pray for prosperity. edit
Keramat Kusu, Kusu Island. An unusual Muslim shrine (not a mosque) atop a small hill, dedicated to the saint Syed Abdul Rahman and his family, who lived here in the 19th century. The shrine is painted bright yellow and is visited in particular by childless couples. edit
Resorts World Sentosa
Resorts World Sentosa can be reached via the Waterfront station of the monorail or via the dedicated "RWS" buses from Harbourfront and other points in Singapore (see Get in).
Casino, Crockfords Tower B1M, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS buses, Waterfront Station), 24 hours. Singapore's first casino is tucked away underground underneath the Crockfords Tower hotel. There are 500 gaming tables offering 19 different games, but the emphasis is on Asian favorites like baccarat, roulette, tai sai and pai gow, with poker a distinct minority. A dress code applies: no slippers, no singlets and no shorts. Overseas guests free entry, Singaporean/Permanent Residents $100 Casino Levy. edit
Universal Studios Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS buses, Waterfront Station), ☎ 65778899, 10AM- 7PM Mon-Sun, 7PM-10PM Fri-Sat (Hollywood After Hours). The first Universal Studios theme park in Southeast Asia opened its doors in March 2010 — but only partly, with some rides to be added later. During the soft opening period, tickets are limited and for time being only available online. There are seven zones: Hollywood, New York, Sci-Fi City, Ancient Egypt, The Lost World, Far Far Away and Madagascar, with tickets valid for all rides in all zones. The star of the park is Battlestar Galactica, the world's tallest "dueling" rollercoaster, with two tracks battling it out simultaneously: "Cylon" suspends you in the air, with plenty of loops and inversions, while "Human" is seated and reaches speeds of up to 90 km/h. Weekdays $68/50 adult/child, weekends $74/54. edit
Voyage de la Vie, Festive Grand, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS buses, Waterfront Station), ☎ 65778899, . A circus theatre spectacular, “Voyage de la Vie” (french for “journey of life”) is about the story of The Boy’s metaphoric journey to seek the true meaning of life. The story is told through song and dance, combining with the energy, physicality and athleticism of circus arts, resulting in a contemporary cutting edge performance art form which fully engages the senses and keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. The first circus theatre spectacular ever to be created in Singapore, it presents an international cast of circus stars brought together from 16 countries. Singapore Idol runner-up Jonathan Leong was also featured as the lead vocalist in this unique production. This resident show premieres in June 2010 and it is currently running at Festive Grand in Resorts World Sentosa. edit
Botanical Gardens, Visit Botanical Garden in Singapore (RWS buses, Waterfront Station), ☎ 65778899, 5 a.m. to midnight.