Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Travel Tip: Take the City Tour!

I'm not usually one for gathering with lots of other tourists when I travel.  My husband and I prefer to explore on our own, whether by foot,  public transportation, or car, finding all those interesting out-of-the-way places that make a city unique.

However, there's one exception to our independent travel preferences: Organized city tours!

Singapore Ducktours' amphibious vehicle

I never thought I'd be a proponent of organized city tours.  You know the ones...those double-decker, open top buses you see in places like New York City with a quirky guy or gal shouting into a microphone and gesturing wildly at all the local sights?  "Nope, not for me," I thought.

Well, I was wrong.  On a recent trip to Asia, we took advantage of Singapore Airlines' Stopover program in Singapore (I can't praise this program enough...you should definitely check it out if you are ever traveling through Singapore!)  Now, we'd visited Singapore a few times before and had always loved it.  I didn't think there was much that we hadn't seen of the city.  When I noticed that a city tour on Singapore Ducktours  was included as part of our stopover package, I wasn't too keen on going, especially since there were so many other included attractions that I wanted to visit first.

One of Singapore's many green spaces, framed by the Esplanade, Singapore Flyer, and hotels

My husband convinced me to try the tour anyway, so off we went.  We climbed aboard the retrofitted WWII-era amphibious Vietnamese war craft and got comfortable as we started off on the "land" portion of the tour.  I was surprised at how enjoyable and informative the tour was, and we got to see several parts of the city that I hadn't seen before.

Soon we were headed toward the "sea" portion of the tour, entering the Marina Bay.  Despite the ominous looking sky, we were treated to fantastic views of some of Singapore's best landmarks:

The Singapore Flyer

The Float@Marina Bay, the world's largest floating stadium, hosting concerts and other events 

The Esplanade-Theaters on the Bay

The Merlion, with the Fullerton Hotel and Singapore's financial district in the background

My travel tip for today? Take the city tour!  Don't worry about looking like a tourist :-)  Since my Singapore trip, I've done city tours in several other locations and have found that it's a great way to start off my vacation.  I get oriented to my destination, see amazing landmarks, gather some interesting information from the tour guides, and after an hour or so I'm free to explore the city independently.

Have you ever taken a city tour?  

To view more photos, stories, and tips from fellow travelers, please visit Budget Traveler's Sandbox, Walkingon Travels, and Suitcases and Sippy Cups.