Tourist Attractions That Don’t Quite Attract

Singapore is known as a tourist paradise. We are constantly building the next big attraction to pander to the massive tourist dollar. Don’t say there isn’t anything to do here, because there are many tourist attractions just waiting for some people to visit. From the massively underrated Haw Par Villa to the chronically overstuffed USS, there is a plethora of places to see in small Singapore.

The next 10 places, however, are proof that not all attractions are created equal.

1. Sampan Rides at MBS

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You’ve probably seen these sampans bobbing along the man-made canals along the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) mall. They seem to be at least in part inspired by the gondolas at The Venetian Las Vegas. Must be something symbolic about casinos and tiny boats in man-made rivers.

Whatever the case, reviews for the sampan rides are absolutely priceless:

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Yes, these rides don’t come cheap. At $10 per person, you actually have to pay to become an attraction in the MBS mall. Each ride takes about 10 minutes, but really, you’d be better of spending that time pondering your bubble tea order at the Gong Cha upstairs.

2. Singapore Flyer

The Singapore Flyer is essentially just a pimped out ferris wheel, guys. So they added in some air-conditioning and a nice, shiny coat of paint. Big whoop. It’s still kinda lame.

Each of the 28 capsules on the Flyer hold 28 people (28 seems to be a really lucky number), and the wheel takes about 30 minutes per revolution. 30 minutes is a pretty long time to spend with 27 other people in a 280 square foot (see, it’s that 28 again) box in the air, especially when the benches in each capsule only seat four at once.

Here’s how a netizen described an experience on the Singapore Flyer:

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A ride on the Flyer is a bit like Mr Bean on a roller-coaster: the first bit is little exciting, but once you reach the top, everything just goes downhill from there.

No wonder the Flyer was facing money woes since 2010. It was finally bought over by Straco Leisure Pte Ltd in August 2014.

3. Snow City

Because a giant freezer in a country whose climate can only be described as ‘hot’ makes total sense. What’s that? There’s a ski resort in Dubai? Really? 

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No but really. Our own Snow City located in Jurong is less winter wonderland, more ‘very cold room’. The “snow” never actually falls, and feels more like ice kachang shavings than actual snow. Not that we recommend sampling the frozen dessert, because here’s what the gunk in Snow City actually looks like:

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Other complaints about the ice box are forthcoming as well, largely about the smelly and dirty winter jackets provided and just general facility maintenance.

4. Merlion Tower

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NOTE: This Merlion does not refer to the mini one which incessantly spits into the Singapore River. No no no. That Merlion is magnificent. The Singapore River Merlion somehow has the power to make people want to continually be pictured drinking up all the water it expels. We refer to this one —

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Yes. The 37-metre-tall national symbol stands proudly on Sentosa, has a viewing deck for a mouth, and another open roof viewing deck on its forehead. Here’s the best part:

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IT SHOOTS LASERS OUT OF ITS EYES. HOW IS THIS NOT AWESOME.

There is one major problem though. Entrance fees are at $8, just to go up and peer out of ol’ Merlie’s mouth and be treated to a view of the rest of Singapore. The Merlion isn’t quite tall enough to make this view spectacular, and the video presentations that appear en route to the viewing galleries about the half-lion, half-fish mythology are just rather contrived. The Tower might have made sense a decade ago, when times were simpler, and crowds were easier to wow.

5. Sentosa 4D Magix

4D movies are usually rip-offs. There, I said it.

These ‘rides’ usually charge way too much for jiggling seats, bad effects, and some water will inevitably be sprayed at unsuspecting viewers. And the one we have at Sentosa is no different.

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The Sentosa 4D Magix (did somebody forget how to spell ‘magic’?) is now known as the Sentosa 4D Adventureland, because the old name is the most of the problems. Complaints about the attraction range from the length of the movies:

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To the exorbitant price for such uninspiring content:

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Btw, all day passes are at $38.90 for adults and $26.90 for children, for unlimited entries to all three rides.

6. Fountain of Wealth

We’ve all heard the significance the world’s largest fountain plays in the general fengshui for Singapore. The design is supposed to represent the inward flow of Qi (energy) as the water is directed towards the centre of the fountain. On a macro-level, the fountain lies in the palm of the (left, because apparently that’s important) hand formed by the five towers of Suntec City.

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The major issue of the Fountain of Wealth is that the fountain doesn’t really look like much when you’re up close to it. The best place to look at the leaky bronze-covered ring is probably 10 meters away from it. Going right into the centre of the fountain isn’t quite the same experience as looking at pictures of it, in the same way an Uruk-Hai in the middle of formation wouldn’t really be impressed by the size of the 10,000 strong Isengard army marching towards Helm’s Deep. And yet, the drone shots of Saruman’s minions look absolutely awesome.

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7. Singapore River Cruise

Tourists seem to love the quaint bumboats bobbing down Singapore River. They also seem to love sitting in the sun.

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Tickets cost $22 for adults and $12 for children for a 40 minute ride down Singapore River.

To be honest, we really like the Singapore River. The significance of this stream of water is unparalleled. Our forefathers used the river as a major source of  livelihood, and later restorations have made the river a particularly cool place to be and be seen.

But that’s exactly why the Cruise is pointless. All the buzz and interesting things exist on either side of the river. Outside of the water. The cruise only provides a cursory glance at the rich history and exciting present of the Singapore River. Walking along the River on foot might be a more enriching experience.

8. Tiger Sky Tower

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Here’s the most amazing thing about this attraction: it has its own Wikipedia page!

The Sky Tower is Singapore’s highest observation tower — about 110 meters tall — offering visitors a 360 degree view of the Singapore skyline inside a slow-spinning disk as it travels up a long vertical pole. The attraction previously known as the Carlsberg Sky Tower (they seem to have a thing with beers) is located at the centre of Sentosa Island and takes 7 minutes per ride.

“Why is it pointless??!”, I hear you proclaim. Well, for one, it’s yet another really tall thing for people to look out of. And we already have one of those in Entry Number 1. Besides, a maximum height of 110 meters isn’t really that tall, given that the height is equivalent to about 36 floors, and we already have 40-storey HDB blocks in Toa Payoh to visit for the view.

Toa Payoh free somemore.

9. Underwater World

Disclaimer: we don’t really hate Sentosa, despite featuring so many of their attractions here. Sentosa’s a really fun place, with a bunch of really fun stuff. No hate.

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But the Underwater World seems to be a dinosaur. Opened in 1991, the oceanarium has since been overshadowed by the swanky new kid located on the other side of Sentosa, the S.E.A Aquarium.

Last time the Underwater World was a major thing was at least a decade ago. With a bigger and newer competitor just a short ride away, the Underwater World seems to be living on borrowed time.

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Exactly. We haven’t really heard any new stuff going on in there since apart from the bad press about their substandard facilities.

"Poor water quality, run-down infrastructure, extended contact with humans – these were the main criticisms two visiting…

Posted by Sea Shepherd Singapore on Saturday, November 1, 2014

Unless it finds a whole new way to market and make itself stand out, now might just be the time for the golden handshake.

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PS: the underwater travelator is still really cool though.

10. HDB Gallery

You probably haven’t even heard of this place. And really, its for the better. Trust me.

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Tucked in the basement of the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh, the HDB Gallery brings visitors on a journey through time, from the days of pre-independence, to an artist’s impression of an apartment of the future. You know, the ones where everything from the lights to the fridge is connected to a mobile device. Basically the same thing as every other future apartment depicted in the movies.

The whole gallery just reeks of propaganda and how great the entire HDB program is. Yes, we know it’s fantastic. Yes, I’m grateful for the fact that I have a roof over my head. But the content is perfunctory, and CGI content, even worse.

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Just stick to building houses, HDB.


Featured Image via Kristina D. C. Hoeppner
References via Singapore Flyer, Singapore Tourism Board