After breakfast at the hotel, we all left, on board 2 taxis, for the Singapore Flyer, a giant observation (management refuses to use the word “Ferris”) wheel at the Marina Promenade, located at the southeastern tip of Marina Center, near the shore of Marina Bay. We wanted to get a breathtaking and panoramic view of Singapore’s magnificent city skyline and what better place to do that than being 42 stories up in a 165 m. (541 ft.) high observation wheel.
The tallest in the world, it is 5 m. (16 ft.) higher than the Star of Nanchang (People’s Republic of China) and 30 m., (98 ft.) higher than the London Eye (United Kingdom). Designed by Arup and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the actual wheel has a diameter of 150 m. (492 ft.). It was constructed from 2005–2008 and its final capsule was installed on October 2, 2007.
The wheel started rotating on February 11, 2008 and it was officially opened to the public on March 1, 2008. Its grand opening was held on April 15, 2008. Initially, the wheel rotated in a counter-clockwise direction until, on the advice of Feng shui masters, its direction was changed on August 4, 2008.
It was almost noon when we all arrived at the 3-storey, 16,000 sq. m.(172,000 sq. ft.) terminal building on which the wheel sits. The terminal houses shops, bars and restaurants, an adjacent open-air Greek-inspired theater along the waterfront, a jetty, roof gardens and a recreated rainforest (Rainforest Discovery) with waterfall in the terminal’s atrium.
After paying the S$29.50 admission fee, we entered one of the 28 airconditioned, 28-pax, 26 sq. m. (280 sq. ft.) exo-capsules which, like those of the London Eye, are attached outward of the wheel structure, offering a continuously unobstructed view when the capsule is at the peak, unlike the more common endo-capsule.
A complete clockwise (when viewed from Marina Center) rotation of the wheel takes approximately 37 minutes. During all that time, we had a breathtaking, vibration-free view of Singapore’s iconic and historical landmarks, views from the Marina Bay to the Singapore River, City Hall, Raffles Place, Merlion Park, the Supreme Court Building, Empress Place and the Padang.
We also had great 360 degree views of the Marina Bay Golf Course, Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort (under construction) and the Float at Marina Bay; the Esplanade (Singapore’s performing arts venue), the 280 m. high UOB Plaza One Building (1 of Singapore’s 3 highest buildings) and the Flyer Theater below. Beyond, about 45 kms. (28 miles) out, are the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan, as well as Johor (Malaysia).
The Flyer also afforded a great view of the Marina Bay Street Circuit of the Singapore Grand Prix (the first Formula One races were held last September 2008) as it is located beside the straight, between turns 21 and 22, and near the pit area.
Singapore Flyer: 30 Raffles Ave., Singapore 039803. Tel: (+65) 6333 3311 and (+65) 6734 8829 (Corporate Office). Fax: (+65) 6339 9167. Website: www.singaporeflyer.com. Open daily, 8:30 AM-10:30 PM. Visitors can take a free shuttle bus from City Hall MRT Station, which operates every half-hour to and from the Singapore Flyer.