What I have always loved about living in Singapore is that it is the place to be when you are overwhelmed by an urge to escape to that exciting island getaway. As a tropical island itself, surrounded by a plethora of tropical islands, I have to admit that I am spoilt for choice. The ever popular Bali, Redang and Ko Samui are mere hours away but even without crossing borders, there are several sand-fringed jewels just off the coast. Sentosa, for one, has always held a special place in my heart. Like many other Singaporeans, it was my first bona fide “overseas” experience and it was always a treat to ride the monorail, marvel at the life-sized World War 2 dioramas and clamber over ruins of the old British fort and its multi-tonned canons. It is a place that brings back fond memories of family outings, gatherings with friends, first dates and the light-hearted laughter of days gone by.
Today, there’s still plenty abuzz on the island and I am glad to see that it still has the ability to keep the crowds coming back. There is an exciting lineup of activities; some rejuvenated favourites and some brand new but I was most eager to revisit the Luge track, which first opened its doors in 2005 to much anticipation. It is now professionally managed by Skyline Luge, an international company that operates Luge rides on three continents, and after a 14-million dollar upgrade the improved facility has been ranked amongst the most popular attractions in Sentosa by Tripadvisor. That was reason enough for me to plan my return visit to find out for myself exactly how the updated Luge ride leaves all its competition in the dust.
A Day at the Track
I arrived at the ticket counter at the beginning of the day, at 10am and there were already large groups of people filling up the ticketing area. Thankfully, there is a very efficient system in place to bring riders up the hill, where the ride starts. The four-seater chair lift moved the line along surprisingly quick and waiting times were a non-issue. Dubbed the Skyride, it is essentially an open-air bench with safety rails, the kind you would see on ski slopes. With nothing obscuring the view, not even plexiglass, I had an inspiring view of the island, Southern seas and even up to Indonesia. Peering between breaks in the canopy below, I could see parts of the Luge track and riders whizzing around the bends – making for a good build up until my turn to get into the driver’s seat.
At the top, is another entrance for those that made their way up on foot or for the convenience of those that approached from the top of Imbiah Hill. I made my way straight to the start of the ride, stopping to look at the trail map at the side. Described as the longest one, Dragon Trail (688 meters) looked like it would keep me occupied with its tight corners and snumerous turns that weaved through the forested hills. The second longest, Jungle Trail included an interesting 40-meter bridge but Dragon would be my first.
As I jumped into the seat, my enthusiasm was tempered momentarily by instructions on how to operate the cart safely. After a short assessment of my skills, I was given a rubber stamp on my hand certifying my competence and given the green light. I released the brakes entirely and away I went! It is strange how it feels faster while seated in the cart. Despite the speed, the carts handled very well and the design of the whole vehicle was very stable. It was comforting to feel in control the whole time.
Rushing down the track, you are confronted with several forks in the road leading to any one of the four trails so unless you are determined to follow the predetermined path, you can mix and match portions of different trails which, I felt was an excellent feature. Although racing is discouraged, some riders are invariably faster than others and there are several well placed turns that just invite overtaking. I loved the feeling of the wind in my face, the sensation of the centrifugal force while rounding the curves and the blur of everything along the track as I sped downhill. I especially appreciated the well thought out design of the tracks which varied the number and arrangement of many exciting features like hairpin turns, slopes and straightaways to satisfy one’s need for speed. My two favourite tracks were the Dragon Trail and the Jungle trail but it would be remiss to go home without trying Kupu Kupu and Expedition which sports slope features for that boost of speed and challenging turns to test your reflexes. Suffice to say, one trip down each trail was not enough.
Come nightfall and the Luge track takes on a whole new perspective. The interplay of shadow and lights in red, green and blue provides an additional challenge that keeps riders engaged – a completely surreal experience, almost like being in a Sci-Fi movie. There definitely is no other adrenaline-filled activity quite like this one on the island and having read that Skyline Luge welcomed its fifteen millionth rider in July 2018, it seems that most visitors to the island tend to agree.
Safety (And Fun)First
Overall, the ride experience was fantastic and what really impressed me was that the operation was professionally run without compromising on fun. Safety is a big feature of the ride. In addition to the initial safety assessment, there are crash guards at appropriate points on the track. Running alongside the route is a raised concrete guide to ensure that no rider goes off course. There are signs that give advance warning at cruial junctions such as merging lanes and chicane marking alerting riders to sudden turns. Additionally, the Luge carts themselves are specially designed with an auto braking feature if one accidentally loses hold of the handle bars. The rider has absolute control over the functions of the Luge cart such as braking and steering, just let gravity do its work and you are off!
Skyline Luge offers a number of promotions on its tickets, especially on purchases of multiple tickets. There are also online specials that provide compelling deals on ride tickets, so before gathering your friends and heading down to Sentosa, it pays off to check for the latest rebates on the website. I managed to catch the monthly online special which saved me a significant amount of money and got me 5 Luge and skyrides at just $30 instead of $23.50 for only 2 rides. As they say here, “one ride is never enough!”
For more information, visit the website here.