First off…some facts about Singapore.
Singapore is a wealthy city state in south-east Asia and was once a British colonial trading post, today it is a thriving global financial hub and is renowned for its conservatism and strict local laws and the country prides itself on its stability and security. Chinese account for more than 75% of Singapore’s multi-racial population, with Malays and Indians making up much of the remainder. Densely-populated, most of its people live in public-housing tower blocks on the outskirts of the city.
So what can I tell you about my Singapore experience?
The streets are clean …(no chewing gum is allowed in the country – read about this here) and spitting is banned; (a far cry from our experiences in India where they spat a brown nut juice on the streets and inside temples, staining them bright red.)
It’s exceptionally green…A government program made sure Singapore became one of the world’s greenest cities. The city puts a cap on the number of vehicles allowed on the island and charged a fee in some zones. It’s nice to know that more than 5% of the island is reserved for nature.
Street food is good…Street food relatively cheap and is eaten on little plastic tables and chairs and little wooden stools inside some markets, like the one we ate at below.
Everyone speaks English, and it’s good English! The Singapore government encourages the use of proper English (as opposed to “Singlish,”), street signs and menus are in English too so it’s great for tourists. I tried my hardest but could not find any signs worth giggling, at unlike when I visited China!
It’s safe…even if travelling alone. I never felt uncomfortable in Singapore, yes I was always with Tom but I never felt like I was being targeted or looked at wrongly, unlike in countries we had travelled to before Singapore, India being the main one. Also with so many Westerners travelling to the country now they’ve seen it (blonde hair, white skin) all before. It’s only ever the tourists who wear their bags like this, locals tended to be more relaxed about their possessions.
While it’s generally safe for tourists, be careful when crossing roads. We saw this huge crash unfold on New Years Eve and never found out if there had been any casualties. This could have easily crashed into pedestrians on the walkways.
Singaporeans take shopping seriously…Shopping is a national pastime and many designer shops are pieces of art. Tourists can get refunds on sales tax at the border over a certain amount. We visited 2 main shopping strips, there are so many to choose from you could spend all your time shopping (if you wanted to!)…
- Orchard Road – On first sight it’s a 2.2km shopping boulevard that doesn’t look that packed until you realise each door takes you into a new huge sparkly shopping mall. The sheer scale of this retail onslaught is overwhelming, there is every shop you will ever need here.
- Haji Lane – This was my favourite shopping strip due to its quirkiness. You might have trouble finding it as it’s only a narrow alley in Kampong Glam.
Nearest MRT station – Bugis MRT (EW12) – Walking 4 mins from Exit B.
They have the super trendy Marina Bay Sands…You can’t beat a drink at one of Singapore’s sky-high rooftop bars. With outstanding views and in an iconic location, CÉ LA VI bar at the top of the Marina Bay Sands is the best place to cool down and relax in between sightseeing or shopping. At night you can see the laser show from here and at all times you can watch (enviously ) over swimmers at the guest only rooftop swimming pool.
You can visit one of the worlds largest Aquariums…The S.E.A. Aquarium (South East Asia Aquarium) which contains more than 100,000 marine animals of over 800 species. The centrepiece of the Aquarium is the Open Ocean tank (below).
You have the well known Long Bar at Raffles to drink at…Yes it’s expensive but it is iconic and it’s a must do when in Singapore. If you have good company and a few spare £££, wade through the monkey nut littered floor, grab a seat at the bar, chat with others and treat yourself to the most famous drink – the Singapore Sling.
Marina Bay is one of the coolest places in the world to spend New Year amongst the locals…There are live performances each New Year’s Eve from some top bands and a big fireworks display to cap off the night over the Marina Bay Sands. It was crowded, the metro stopped for the night for obvious reasons and everyone had to walk home but the atmosphere was amazing, one of the best NYE shows I’ve been to.
They have lots of gardens…Gardens by the Bay is a nature park in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. There are three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. The government wanted to transform Singapore from a “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden”and the aim was to raise the quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city.
The F1 is held here…Unlike many circuits where they are within boundaries, here it’s on public streets. If you come just before or after the race you can see some of the set up and wander into the garages too. You can easily walk the circuit in no time if you plan the route or have maps on your phone.
The buildings are historical and unique…Singapore is full of photo opportunities. We came across this quaint little street along the Singapore river called Boat Quay with restaurants, bars and live seafood waiting to be eaten on.
My Singapore Highlights