There has never been a better time to soak up Singapore's waterfront experience - and the latest attraction there, the Marina Barrage, takes this to a whole new level.
Sure, a ride in a glass-fronted capsule on the nearby Singapore Flyer will give you a quick high, but the panoramic views at the $226-million barrage are something you can take in at your leisure, with nothing between you and the seabreeze cooling your face and it is free.
The barrage, located at Marina Channel where the Singapore and Kallang rivers meet before flowing into the sea, opened to the public last week. It separates sea water from fresh water, boosts Singapore's water supply by 10 per cent and controls floods in low-lying areas such as Chinatown by keeping out tidal waves.
But aside from those practical benefits, it is also set to be a lifestyle hot spot in the heart of the city.
Whether you want a day out with the family, a fun evening with friends or a lunch break away from the office, there is something for everyone at the barrage's dam, promenade bridge and its distinctive, building housing pumps, galleries and eateries.
For example, you can picnic on top of the spiralling building on its eye-catching 'Green Roof', which has grassy lawns to act as an insulation layer to reduce the need for air-conditioning.
The rooftop spot - the size of four football fields - offers 360-degree unblocked views of the central business district, Singapore Flyer, Benjamin Sheares Bridge and the South China Sea.
It slopes downwards in two interlocking spirals to a courtyard, which has fountains, a water play area for children and water-related art pieces.
In time, visitors can expect to attend concerts or organise private parties up on the roof, said Mr Yap Kheng Guan, director of the Public Utilities Board's 3P (people, public and private sectors) network.
Or you can dine alfresco at the building's Gallery Cafe, facing the South China Sea.
From the middle of next month, you can also enjoy a steamboat meal by the sea at the 7th Storey restaurant, which is actually on the ground floor.
Hit the roof for picnics
Pack a picnic and laze around the grassy lawns of the barrage's Green Roof, which is bound to become a red-hot destination for visitors.
You are spoilt for a backdrop - take your pick of the Singapore Flyer, city skyline or open sea: The Benjamin Sheares Bridge and Kallang River are on your right, if you are facing the Flyer, and on clear days you can also see as far as Golden Mile Complex.
The rooftop lawn sits 13m above ground, giving unblocked views of Marina Bay, and is likely to be the next hot spot for people to watch the National Day Parade fireworks.
Views to your left are obscured at the moment by the heavy construction for the upcoming Marina Bay integrated resort. But come 2010, visitors to the barrage at night will be treated to the twinkling lights of the new IR and, by 2011, by the lush gardens of Gardens by the Bay.
But be sure to slap on some sunblock if you plan to go there in the afternoon - there is no shade to take cover from the sun.
Location and how to get there
Free shuttle bus (40-seater) service from Marina Bay MRT Station to Marina Barrage at 30-minute interval.
Mondays to Fridays 8.30am to 6.30pm
Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays 9.30am to 8.30pm
For enquiry, call 6514-5959