Visiting Casinos in Singapore
Singapore is a conservative nation that preaches hard work and strict discipline. For evidence of the latter, in the past Singapore has banned chewing gum and caned foreigners for overstaying their travel visas.
But seeing the potential for more tourism and thousands of jobs, Singapore stepped outside its traditionally conservative nature to legalize gambling in the mid-2000s.
By 2010, two of the world's biggest casino resorts—Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa—opened in Singapore and instantly made it a marque gambling destination.
The island city state located between Malaysia and Indonesia doesn't want its own citizens gambling, imposing a S$100, or US$70, daily fee for any local who enters a casino.
But they now welcome millions of foreign tourists to their mega casino resorts every year.
If you plan on visiting Singapore casinos, keep reading to find out more info on the two casino resorts, local attractions, and 7 tips for planning your Singapore gambling trip.
With three giant hotel towers and a rooftop deck called SkyPark connecting them, Marina Bay Sands really stands out in Singapore's skyline.
The international architect firm Aedas designed the complex's look, and they did an excellent job of creating a memorable sight.
Marina Bay Sands was originally set to open in 2009, but its owner, the Las Vegas Sands Corp, faced labor shortages and increasing material costs. Luckily, Las Vegas Sands was able to complete the project the following year without sacrificing their original vision.
The inside of the resort was designed by the world famous Moshe Safdie, who says that he used card decks as part of his inspiration. Given the immense size of Marina Bay Sands, it's difficult to see this vision play out when looking across the resort's many sections.
While the entire complex is a modern marvel, nothing stands out more than the 340 meter long SkyPark—a boat like structure that offers amazing views of Singapore and the Marina Bay below.
As an S$8 billion, approx. $5.7b US, project, it's little surprise that Marina Bay Sands offers fantastic amenities.
The headliner is the SkyPark infinity pool, which, at 146 meters long, is the world's biggest elevated swimming pool. Resting 191 meters above ground, the pool offers incredible views of Singapore.
SkyPark patrons can also visit nightclubs like Ce La Vie, rooftop gardens, and a public observatory deck.
Down on the ground, the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands offer over 300 stores within nearly 1 million square feet. Some of the stores located here include: Armani, Chanel, Cartier, Dior, Dunhill, Emporio, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Miu Miu, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Vertu.
Much like Las Vegas Sands' Venetian properties in Macau and Vegas, a canal runs alongside these shops. You can take a romantic gondola ride down the canal while the gondolier sings.
The main casino floor is a table player's dream, with 1,000 tables offering everything from blackjack and baccarat to roulette and sic bo. You'll also find 1,400 slot machines spread throughout the gaming floor.
Most of the tables and slots are on the ground level, giving you a wide variety of games within a small vicinity.
But the Marina Bay Sands casino measures 4 stories, with additional slot machines and tables on floors 2 4. Just keep in mind that much of the upper floors are reserved for VIP gamblers.
With over 2,500 rooms, the Marina Bay Sands hotel offers a wide variety of hotel rooms and suites.
The smallest option is the Deluxe Room, which spans 39 square meters, or420 sq. ft.. Despite being the most basic room, the Deluxe offers a pleasing design, small lounge area, LCD TV, and good views in many cases.
At the high end is the Chairman Suite, which spans 629 square meters, or 6,670 sq. ft. Sitting on the highest floor, the Chairman Suites offer stunning views of Singapore, a grand piano, two living rooms, two TVs, and four bedrooms.
Marina Bay Sands is located at the southern end of Singapore on Sentosa Island, just a couple of miles away from rival Marina Bay Sands.
The only downside to Marina Bay's location is that it's approximately 10 miles from the Changi Airport, which makes for a long drive through traffic to get here.
Marina Bay Sands offers several celebrity chef restaurants, including DB Bistro & Oyster Bar by Daniel Boulud, Long Chim by David Thompson, Osteria Mozza by Mario Batali, Pizzeria by Batali, and Spago by Wolfgang Puck.
Spago is especially interesting because you'll not only enjoy a fine menu prepared by Puck, but also see the SkyPark views too.
Shaped like a lotus and designed by Safdie, the ArtScience Museum offers 21 gallery spaces within 50,000 square feet. Some of the museum's different galleries include Genghis Khan: The Exhibition, Van Gogh Alive – The Exhibition, Harry Potter: The Exhibition, and the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition,
Continuing with the art theme, the resort also contains an Art Path that offers pieces by famous artists. Each piece is meant to include environmental influences such as light, water, and wind.
Two more big attractions here include the Sands Theatre and Grand Theatre, which seat 1,680 and 2,155 people respectively. These theaters feature world class performance troupes that put on dazzling shows for spectators.
Genting's Resorts World Sentosa opened just a few months before Marina Bay Sands in February 2010.
In contrast to Marina Bay, Resorts World's layout is really spread out, with hotel towers and attractions covering 120 acres.
American architect Michael Graves designed the resort, creating a different theme for each of the six hotel sections. The massive complex is divided into central, east, and west zones.
The central zone is the largest, containing four hotel towers, the casino, several restaurants, and featured shows.
The west zone contains two hotel towers, salons and spas, the Marine Life Park, and the Maritime Experiential Museum. The east zone features Universal Studios Singapore, which is Southeast Asia's first Universal Studios theme park.
The main amenities at Resorts World Sentosa include their spa, convention space, and special event areas.
Called ESPA, Resort World's spa covers 10,000 square feet and offers a variety of treatments. These range from standard massages and saunas, to body cleansing and skin hydrating techniques. You'll also find garden spas in the ESPA area that offer further relaxation.
As for the meeting space, Resorts World caters to business and social events, weddings, and birthday parties.
The Singapore government capped Resorts World's casino at 15,000 square meters or 165,000 sq. ft., making it almost the same size as Marina Bay Sand's gambling floor of 160,000 sq. ft..
You'll find more slot machines, 2,400, here, but less table games, 500. Nevertheless, both numbers should be more than enough to satisfy the average gambler.
Table games include: baccarat, blackjack, Caribbean stud poker, craps, Pai gow, pontoon, Texas hold'em, and progressive 3 card poker.
As mentioned earlier, Singapore has strange rules in place that require Singapore citizens and permanent residents to pay S$100 for a daily pass, or $2,000 for a yearly casino membership. Given that foreigners are allowed in for free, this law is obviously a deterrent to prevent locals from gambling.
The six hotels at Resorts World combine to offer 1,840 rooms, which is about four fifths the size of Marina Bay Sands.
In the central zone, you'll find Crockfords Tower, Hotel Michael, Festive Hotel, and Hard Rock Hotel.
Crockfords is an 11 story building that overlooks Singapore Harbour. Its bottom floor houses the casino, while there's a private gambling floor on the 10th floor.
Hotel Michael is also an 11 story tower that's named after the architect, Michael Graves.
Festive Hotel is geared towards families and houses the 1,600 seat plenary hall.
Hard Rock Hotel is a business oriented section that houses conference and meeting spaces along with an indoor exhibition area. Hard Rock also contains one of Asia's largest ballrooms with seating for 7,300 people.
In the west zone, you'll find the Equarius Hotel and Beach Villas.
Equarius Hotel is close to the Adventure Cove Waterpark, while Beach Villas features 22 villas floating on top of a lagoon.
As the name implies, this resort is located on Sentosa Island, a popular vacation area at Singapore's southern most tip.
More than 20 million people visit Singapore on an annual basis to enjoy the different resorts, golf courses, and other attractions. You can easily take multiple week long vacations to Sentosa and never get bored with everything that Resorts World and other island attractions offer.
The lone drawback is that Sentosa is even further away from Changi Airport than Marina Bay Sands.
It should only take you 10 minutes longer to cover the extra distance from Marina Bay to Resorts World Sentosa. But this is still an inconvenience when going to and from the airport.
If you like fine dining, then you'll want to stay in one of the central zone hotels, where the top restaurants are.
Notable restaurants in the central zone include: Forest by Sam Leong Chinese cuisine, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon by Joël Robuchon contemporary French cuisine, Osia by Scott Webster Australian cuisine, Restaurant de Joël Robuchon by Joël Robuchon French, and Tunglok heen by Susur Lee Chinese.
One area where Resorts World really trumps Marina Bay Sands is in the attractions department. In fact, this casino resort is largely based around its non gambling offerings.
Marine Life Park is a 20 acre facility that houses S.E.A. Aquarium and the Adventure Cove Waterpark.
S.E.A. is one of the world's largest aquariums by water volume, containing 45,000,000 liters along with 49 different fish habitats. Adventure Cove offers seven waterslides, the Riptide Rocket hydro magnetic rollercoaster, Bluwater Bay wave pool, and Adventure River lazy river ride.
The Maritime Experiential Museum offers over 400 artifacts along with a 360 degree Multi sensory Typhoon Theatre. This museum also features over 10 interactive experiences for visitors in addition to the chance to board real Asian harbor ships.
While these aquatic experiences are impressive, the biggest special attraction at Resorts World Sentosa is Universal Studios Singapore. In fact, this theme park is a big reason why Genting won one of the two casino resort licenses being offered in 2006.
Universal Studios is divided up into seven different themes, including Ancient Egypt, Far Far Away, Hollywood, Madagascar, New York, Sci Fi City, and The Lost World. Each of these themes offers building and attractions that fit the zone's name.
Other key elements to Universal Studios Singapore include: Lake Hollywood Theatre pyrotechnics / musical show, Pantages Hollywood Theatre Broadway style theatre, Mel's Diner based on 1973 film American Graffiti, Minion Mart Despicable Me memorabilia, Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride, Superstar Candies store, The Dark Room sells cinema accessories, Universal Studios Store, and the Waterworld Arena.
Non Gambling Singapore Attractions
Geylang has become a popular area of Singapore due to its authenticity and its racy prostitution industry.
But there's far more than this to Geylang since it offers unique architecture, excellent local food, and a taste of Singapore culture. The cuisine mostly consists of regional dishes from Indian and Chinese vendors.
A small lane found in the Muslim section, Haji Lane offers a number of truly unique clothing and décor stores.
Here are some examples: Pluck offers clothes inspired by ice cream shops and the film Austin Powers; Know It Nothing features industrial style dresses and shirts; and Salad sells a number of Asian inspired home decorations.
Ritz Carlton Artwork
If you're gambling in Singapore, chances are that you're already staying at the Marina Bay Sands or Resorts World Sentosa. But that's certainly no reason to avoid stopping by the Ritz Carlton to check out its incredible artwork.
Located just across the bridge from Marina Bay Sands, the Ritz Carlton features giant crystal glass sculptures found on both wings of the complex, a 3 ton piece hanging above the main entrance, and a number of other famous pieces from artists like Andy Warhol, David Hockney, and Rainer Gross.
Even if you're not an art aficionado, you might still enjoy seeing the Ritz's artwork when considering that it's completely free.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Open from 5am to midnight, the Botanic Gardens is one of the few green areas left in Singapore's bustling city. Whether you're looking for a jog or peaceful walk, these gardens allow you to escape the busy casinos and city streets.
Here, you'll find a rainforest, and a National Orchid Garden with over 1,000 orchid species and 2,000 hybrid flowers.
While it may not be as famous as the London Eye, the Singapore Flyer is one of the world's biggest observation Ferris wheels.
$30 will get you a half hour ride, which allows you to see much of the city skyline. It's especially a nice view at nighttime, when you can check out the many lit up skyscrapers throughout Singapore.
The White Rabbit
This jungle based venue has some history behind it, having served as the British Army's Dempsey Hill barracks in the 1950s. Today, this former barracks and garrison church is known as the White Rabbit, a bar / restaurant offering European cuisine.
One of the most interesting dishes here is macaroni and cheese lying inside Black Forrest cake, with truffle sauce drizzled on top.
Whether you come for the delicious dishes or historic atmosphere, the White Rabbit is a great spot for romance.
While Singapore may be known as a strict place to foreigners, the nightlife scene is quite vibrant and compares well to other major cities like Barcelona, New York, and Paris.
Zouk is at the center of Singapore's nightclub scene, offering world class DJs, wild strobe lights, and a young crowd.
If Zouk isn't crazy enough for you, there's also the Ministry of Sound, which is even larger and draws a big crowd every weekend.
7 Tips for Planning Your Singapore Casino Trip
Singapore Is Expensive, Look for Ways to Save
In comparison to neighboring Asian travel destinations like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, Singapore is 2 to 3 times more expensive. Given this, it's easy to blow your budget and gambling bankroll before you even play a hand of blackjack.
One of the first ways that you can save is by getting your casino resort's cheapest room option. Even the lower tier rooms at Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa are enough to satisfy most visitors.
Even better is if you book a room at one of the city's mid range hotels, which can be as cheap as S$100 per night. This may force you to take a taxi to one of the casinos, but it's still cheaper than paying S$200 300 a night.
Rather than dining at the celebrity chef restaurants near casinos, eat the local cuisine. Many city based restaurants offer meals for as cheap as S$10 15, while street vendors sell meals for S$5 10.
Bring Snacks and Supplies
Continuing on the point above, waiting until you get into Singapore to buy snacks and basic supplies is a costly mistake.
We suggest fitting travel friendly food and other supplies into your luggage before departing. Doing so will potentially save you hundreds of dollars during the trip.
Visit Early in the Week
With 5.4 million people packed into 719 kilometers, Singapore has a population density of 7,698 per sq. km. This gives Singapore the largest population density in the world—outranking second place Hong Kong by over 1,000 people per s q. km.
Long story short, Singapore is an extremely busy place. And the earlier in the week you can visit, the better.
This is especially the case if you plan on visiting any of the local attractions that we discussed above, which are way too crowded on weekends. Plan to arrive in Singapore on Sunday or Monday if you want to beat the rush during your trip.
Visit Any Time, Except September and October
Considering that Singapore isn't a tropical destination and its seasons are all relatively the same temperature, there's no bad time to visit from a weather or seasonal perspective.
But one point when you want to avoid traveling to Singapore is late September to early October.
The reason why is because the Singapore Grand Prix runs from mid September through the first week of October, and the city is absolutely packed.
If you're still going to brave this traffic, book your hotel room well in advance so that you aren't left overpaying for one of the few remaining rooms.
Have a Strict Bankroll so You can Enjoy Singapore
Bankroll management is always important, but it's especially crucial when you're vacationing in an action packed place like Singapore.
The last thing that you want to do is blow your money on the slots and tables within the first day or two, then sit around the hotel room because you're penniless.
Divide your bankroll into units before the trip, set aside a certain amount for each day, and keep the rest of your money / cards in your room safe into after a session. Of course, if you don't have a problem with bankroll management, then keeping your remaining roll in the room safe is unnecessary.
Budget for S$200 to 250 Per Day
On the reverse side, you also need to make sure that your travel and eating budget are in order before leaving for Singapore. A good rule of thumb is to have at least S$200 250 per day for reasonable meals, light amenities, and 2 3 attractions for the trip.
This doesn't include your gambling bankroll or plane tickets. If you were to get airfare for S$500 and gamble S$100 per day, this would bring a 4 day trip total to S$1,700 US$1,200 to S$1,900 US$1,350.
Of course, everybody's trip itinerary and budget will be different. But this gives you a reasonable idea of what to budget for regarding the entire trip.
Plan to Stay for 3 4 Nights
This is another aspect that's entirely up to the individual, but we suggest staying in Singapore for 3 4 nights on your first casino trip.
This gives you enough time to gamble, check out the resort offerings, and see a couple of mainland attractions.
This doesn't include flight time, which, if you're flying from the US 20 hours or UK 13 hours is a long time. If you're inexperienced with long flights like this, you'll need an extra day or so to recover before enjoying your drip.
As discussed in the tips above, Singapore can be an expensive place. But it's well worth the cost when considering that two of the world's most elite casino resorts are featured here.
Marina Bay Sands offers a one of a kind SkyPark that lets you swim, party, or eat while looking out over Singapore.
Resorts World Sentosa is packed with special attractions and unique zones that will keep you entertained for days, if not weeks.
Of course, both properties also have excellent casinos that offer more than enough slots and table games.
That said, Singapore is a great place to do your gambling, and you'll find plenty of more love with the resort and overall city attractions.