A Thrilling 21st century City & Extraordinary Natural Wonders 

A Thrilling 21st century city & extraordinary natural wonders

Tour Manager, Leonie Loudon led our Captivating Holiday to Singapore and Gaya Island Resort in Malaysian Borneo. We will be off there again in October, so we asked her to share her highlights.



The first thing that strikes you when you arrive in Singapore is the total contrast between its history and all it’s doing now to become one of the most modern, and greenest, cities in the world. We went to two of Singapore's stand out gardens -  Gardens by the Bay and the Botanic Gardens, both of which are utterly amazing. We saw orchids galore  – including the rare Tiger orchid. And it's a cultural melting pot too with so many different people speaking so many different languages all living together. 

Singapore orchid gardens by the bay supertrees


Singapore is also famous for its street food. We spent an evening with a wonderful local guide who made sure we tried 10 different puddings, including ice cream made from the famously smelly Durian fruit. It doesn’t taste like it smells fortunately!  

We stayed on Sentosa island, some of which lies on land that has been reclaimed from the sea. It’s an intriguing place with boardwalks through the reed beds and three sandy (man-made) beaches - if you walk over the wooden suspension bridge from Palawan Beach you can stand on the southernmost point of Asia. It’s well worth it for the views over the South China Sea.  There are glimpses of history on Sentosa too. Fort Siloso  was part of Singapore’s defences during World War II, and our hotel, Oasia Resort, was part of the former British barracks. All the eateries are in what used to be the mess.

sentosa island singapore streetfood


I found the energy of  Singapore really inspiring. It such an exciting city and I would definitely go back. It’s full on too so the tranquility of Gaya Island, our second destination, was a wonderful contrast.

We arrived at Gaya Island, which is in Malaysian Borneo, by boat. We could see these little villages with houses on stilts from the water and then suddenly the island came into view. It was a beautiful surprise.

Gaya Island Borneo sunbear orangutan

The hotel is surrounded by secondary rain forest which means you are surrounded by nature and some it comes to visit! Montior lizards come and go, there are lots of birds and troops of Long Tailed Macaques. The hotel staff keep their eyes open for these monkeys as they have been known to make raids on the restaurants.

This region is at the forefront of conservation and we went to visit three conservation projects. We saw rescued sea turtles at Gaya Island Resort’s Marine Centre and spent a very moving day at Sandakan visiting the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Orangutan and Sun Bears are solitary animals and they are kept solitary in the centres, which seems odd at first but the idea is to create an environment that prepares them to be released into wild. Seeing Sun Bears and orangutan up close is such a rare opportunity and I came back home determined to be an ambassador for these animals.

I found my time in Singapore and on Gaya Island very thought-provoking. I would definitely go back.


If Leonie has whetted your appetite for a Singapore and Gaya Island adventure, then you will be pleased to hear that our next tour departs on Saturday 5th October 2024. Discover the tour here