Singapore has so much to offer with its diverse cuisine, world class attractions and vibrant nightlife. It is one of the top tourist destinations in Asia and is known as ‘the melting pot of asia’. Singapore is noted to be one of the worlds most expensive cities to live in, as a visitor it isn’t actually as expensive as you would imagine. Accomodation is on the pricier side compared to other South East Asian destinations but food is remarkably cheap. Singapore is one of the highest populated countries in the world. Hard to believe as it didn’t feel at all over crowded, perhaps due to its liveable and pleasant green city.
I visited Singapore in April, it tends to be hot and humid all year round so there is no perfect time of year to visit (monsoon season is between November and January). I made my way from Thailand to Singapore via Changi airport. On my arrival I realised there are several ways to get to downtown Singapore, subway, public bus, airport shuttle, private transfer or taxi. I chose to use the airport shuttle as it was late in the evening and I’d no idea where I was going. It was 9 Singapore dollars, these shuttles run 24 hours a day and bring you directly to your chosen accomodation and the tickets can be booked directly at the airport.
Singapore’s public transport system is extremely efficient. The MRT (metro) goes nearly everywhere. You can invest in a Singapore tourist pass, available for 1,2 or 3 day passes and it will give you unlimited rides on the MRT, LRT and public buses. I’d recommend doing this as single tickets tend to be a lot pricier.
I stayed in the culturally rich district of Chinatown. A capsule pod boutique hostel which cost 28SGD per night. I initially chose it because if it’s convenience, being 130 metres from Chinatown MRT station. It had clean, air conditioned rooms with seperate bed pods, each fitted with a flat screen TV and a power source. They provided breakfast each morning and advice on what to check out. The staff were extremely helpful and friendly.
Singapore is relatively small, but packed with fun, interesting and adventurous things to do. To help me get my bearings I bought a local SIM card and topped it up in order to use google maps to navigate my way around the city. All locations and destinations were very well signposted and having 3 days to explore all that Singapore had to offer meant that I had to fit a lot into each day.
The first day of sightseeing I met two Malaysian brothers, Yurt and Burt. Some characters! Somewhat attached, finishing each other’s sentences, lovely lads. We decided to head to Universal Studios and purchased our tickets at the hostel. It’s well worth getting express lane tickets as the queues can be up to an hour long wait. Universal Studios was absolutely amazing I was like a kid in a sweet shop. It’s located in Sentosa island, a short train journey from Chinatown. It’s home to many exhilarating rides, theme and water parks and shows. Yurt and Burt were disappointed that Harry Potter did not feature as they were die hard fans! However, it does feature 24 rides, shows and attractions in seven themed zones, a great days value at 75SGD. Between the attractions there’s many themed restaurants for a pit stop, have your camera at the ready for ‘celebrity’ sightings!
Universal Studios is not the only attraction at Sentosa, it is an entire island dedicated to fun. It’s home to an aquarium, trick eye museum, golf course, beaches, watersport facilities and beach bars. Sentosa island offers a panoramic view of the city with a slew of fun activities. There’s something for everyone at Sentosa, be it loitering by the beach, sightseeing, an adrenaline rush at AJ Hacketts bunjee or enjoying a 360 degree view of forests, skyscrapers and sandy beaches from a cable car.
Singapore is known as one of the greenest cities in Asia. Gardens by the Bay is a fantastic place, its the most popular attraction and it’s not hard to understand why, its absolutely mind blowing. I explored the two amazing conservatories by day – The cloud forest, the worlds tallest indoor waterfall and The flower dome, the largest glass greenhouse in the world. It’s a huge park spanning 100 hectares of reclaimed land composed of several gardens showcasing beautiful flowers and species. The super trees can be seen by a 128 metre aerial walkway. The super trees come alive at night with an exhilarating display of lights and music. It would be advisable to get there early to get a good spot before the crowds arrive. At 28SGD this was one of my favourite places in Singapore.
Marina bay sands is the most iconic hotel in Singapore and is home to one of the most amazing infinity pools (unfortunately it’s only open to guests of the hotel). The alternative choice is to head to the skypark observation deck on the 57th floor to witness the most stunning views of Singapore as they are absolutely amazing. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate on arrival, drinks are expensive, but come on, how often do you get to experience something like this.
Singapore is renowned for its fusion food, hawker stalls that have been serving the same iconic dish for decades are every bit as important as a high end restaurant. Mr Noodleman on Smith street in Chinatown offers delicious homemade noodles, made fresh daily, the dumplings are simply sensational. I ate twice at Hong Kong Soya Sauce Rice, a Michelin starred restaurant in Chinatown as I just couldn’t get enough of it, you could get a delicious meal for under 5SGD. Another popular eatery is Blue Label pizza on Ann Siang road. Maxwell Food court, right in the heart of Chinatown will never disappoint and is visitor friendly. It took me a while to realise that if there’s an empty table full of tissue packets, this is the Singaporean way of reserving a table.
For the best shopping head to Orchard shopping road, its the equivalent of London’s Oxford street. Here you can shop till you drop. Vivo shopping centre is the largest indoor shopping mall in Singapore. Bugis street is perfect for bargain hunters (a large arcade selling all sorts of things). Singapore is known for its electronics and Sim Lim Centre is the place to find all your technological needs at affordable prices where haggling is encouraged.
Clark Quay is where you’ll find the backpackers socialing in the evening time along the banks of the river. You can’t go to Singapore and not indulge in a Singapore sling and throw your peanut shells on the floor of the long bar at Raffles. The area of St James’ Powerstation, a trendy hotspot set in an old Powerstation has 11 funky bars on the waterfront to choose from. These bars have everything from live rock, karaoke, sports bars and jazz bars.
My only regret in Singapore was not having enough time to explore the city fully, it just means I’ll have to take a trip back again at some stage.