Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Singapore Flyer

Since the Singapore Flyer started spinning its wheels in February (and officially opened on 15 April), it has become a favourite debate among local residents and tourists — is $29.50 (for adults) worth the 30-minute ride? To which we confidently say, yes. The experience is priceless and the view is spectacular, and will be even more impressive in the next few months.
In September, the F1 Night Race will be held here and you can get a panoramic view of the track while on the capsule. And by the time Marina Bay is fully redeveloped and the casinos are opened, riding the Flyer at night will be nothing short of breathtaking.
When the Flyer was about to open, people were under the impression that tickets were sold out for months. Not true. A certain percentage of daily tickets are reserved for walk-in visitors, though it’s easier to secure a ticket during the day than at night. We have not met a single person who was unable to purchase a ticket for the same day.
How does it look?
The Flyer is like a giant Ferris wheel, but it rotates very slowly. It’s height is equivalent to 42 storeys. One round takes 35 minutes. There are 28 glass capsules (the bottom is not made of glass, though), and each one can accommodate as many as 28 people. The Flyer, however, does not wait for the capsules to fill up. So, depending on your luck, you could end up having the capsule all to yourself or sharing it with 27 other people.
As of this writing, there is no electronic tour guide to help you along with the sites. So if you’re a tourist, it’s best to ride the Flyer on the last day of your trip, when you’ve already done the streets of Singapore and can more or less identify which building is which. Otherwise, you can always get one of those Singapore maps where the landmarks are indicated; 30 minutes is enough time to identify the rooftops of the buildings. On a clear day, you can also see parts of Malaysia and Indonesia.

What’s it like aboard?
If you’re expecting a thrilling ride aboard the Flyer, you won’t get it. The wheel moves very slowly, so you almost don’t feel it going for a spin. Let’s put it this way: it’s slow and stable enough for you to host a 30-minute dinner or cocktails.
Either way, each capsule is equipped with a closed circuit television so the operator will be able to see if anyone in your group is suffering from motion sickness and needs to disembark.
The best way to enjoy a ride on the Flyer is to pace yourself. You have to realise that you have all 30 minutes to enjoy basically the same landscape, though your view gets wider and wider as you go up, and narrower and narrower as you go down.
Sure, feeling the wind hit your face as you go higher and higher from the ground could make the Flyer a more liberating experience, but getting a view from top also works to put things on a different perspective. You’ll feel better when you reach the ground.

How much and what time?
There are three price categories.
Basic/Normal Ride Ticket, which means you queue up with everyone else, is at $29.50 for adults, $20.65 for senior citizens, and $23.60 for children.
Express Ticket guarantees you faster clearance through security for $52, $36.40, and $41.60. We recommend this to the VIPs. Then again, if you can spare 30 minutes for a Flyer ride, we’re sure you can afford a few more minutes queuing up with a Basic Ticket, so why pay double?
Signature Cocktail gets you one glass of the Singapore Flyer cocktail at a cordoned-off reception area, faster clearance through security, and a souvenir cocktail glass. These are limited seats and you have to purchase tickets three hours in advance. Costs $69, $48.30, and $55.20.
The first flight is at 8:30 am and the last flight is at 10 pm; scheduled in 30-minute intervals. You can arrange to stay for more than one rotation if you’re holding an event such as a wedding or birthday celebration.
How to get there?
The Flyer is in Marina Bay, which is where Singapore is hosting the upcoming F1 Night Race and opening up casinos in the near future. The nearest hotel is the Ritz Carlton and nearest MRT station is City Hall, around about 20 minutes away on foot. Here are the directional tips from the Flyer website.
Shuttle bus. The easiest transport from City Hall MRT is to ride the Flyer Shuttle Bus ($2 for adults and S$1 for children; redeemable off Singapore Flyer tickets) which picks up passengers at the Coleman Street bus stop, next to St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Shuttle buses arrive every half an hour starting from 10.00am to 11.00pm
By hotel shuttle. You can also arrange for the Flyer shuttle to pick you up at your hotel for $4 for adults and $2 for children. Book in advance through 67383338.
By public bus. You can catch public buses 106, 111 and 133 to Temasek Avenue. Singapore Flyer is just across the road.
If you’re still contemplating if you should shell out money for the Singapore Flyer, let us give you our final argument. When you’re in London, you go to Big Ben and ride the London Eye, if you’re in Paris you ride the lift to the top of the Eiffel Tower, if you’re in New York, you up the Empire State Building. In the same vein, if you’re in Singapore, you should ride the Flyer: like the buildings we mentioned, it is also a national landmark, and a visit to any city is not complete until you experience what it is proud of.

The Singapore Flyer Opening Fireworks Display 2008