I’ve been lucky enough to live in Singapore for the last two years, and I’ve had more people visit me there than I ever did in China! I’m often asked what to see when people are there to catch a cruise, or are on a stopover to Vietnam, Cambodia or Thailand (Changi Airport is wonderful) so I’ve put together this list. Singapore, the little red dot in South-East Asia is a peaceful mix of Chinese, Malaysian and Tamil peoples. It is a wonderful place for a stopover, as a former British colony everyone speaks English and it is clean, safe, has wonderful public transport systems (the MRT the underground train network), has beautiful gardens and lots to see and do. These are the things I take family and friends to experience. Here’s the map of the MRT (just get a $10 visitor pass). Taxis are also easy to get (go to a taxi stand which are everywhere) and fares range from $8-10 and overall cost no more than $25 anywhere in Singapore. Prepare for the heat and humidity (30-34 degrees Celsius most of the year) by wearing sandals, shorts and Tshirts in cotton. Tropical downpours and thunderstorms are also normal so be ready to duck under cover or buy an umbrella, available everywhere.
#1 Take a hop on hop off tour to get the lay of the land. It’s also a very easy way to see everything, just get off somewhere that takes your fancy and back on later. There are several lines, this one costs $23 SGD.
#2 The first night we always go to the top of the Marina Bay Sands (the Skypark) which has wonderful views over Singapore and the harbour. You can pay $25 to go to the viewing platform or go up to the lounge and have a drink for the same price! There’s also a restaurant at the top, not cheap, reservations recommended. MBS is a hotel, luxury shopping centre and the Singapore Casino is here too.
#3 Fancy some peace and quiet and natural beauty? There’s the Gardens by the Bay -the interesting vertical gardens you can see lit up at night from Marina Bay Sands, but I prefer the wonderful Singapore Botanic Gardens. It’s free, has great restaurants and bars and the $5 entry free to the famous National Orchid Garden with plants named for famous people who visited e.g. Princess Diana is incredible.
#4. Chinatown is a must! Great, cheap shopping and super food and drink. If not on the sightseeing bus, take the MRT to Chinatown and take the Pagoda Street exit. The heritage centre is very interesting. Make sure to see the Hindu Temple and the Bhuddist Temple.
#5 Little India is not as organized as Chinatown but just as interesting. If not on the bus take the MRT to Farrer Street. Go to the Tekka Centre for wonderful, cheap kurtis (long tunics to the knee) and then the Mustafa Centre an incredible four storey department store that has literally everything from around the world. Enjoy a curry on the roof!
#6 Arab Steet is one of my personal favourites. Eating at sunset at one of the pavement cafes’s (Turkish and Middle Eastern food) as the call to prayer echoes from the Sultan Mosque you’d think you were in the Middle East! Cheap beer (2 for 1) at the Kiwi Backpackers Hostel. Cute, quirky shopping in Haji Lane.
#7 Orchard Road is Singapore’s famous 2.2 km long shopping street. Think Prada, Rolex, Gucci-that kind of shopping…makes for an interesting wander though.
#8 Gardens by the Bay, if there’s time you can take this in when you’re at Marina Bay Sands. It’s lit up at night and has a canopy walk too.
#9 Fancy a Singapore Sling? Then go to the famous Raffles Hotel. The Singapore Sling was invented in the Long Bar there, itself an interesting visit with the mechanized fans wafting overhead and the peanut shells on the floor! The drink isn’t cheap at $25. I prefer high tea in the Tiffin Room at Raffles, a wonderful nod to Singapore’s colonial past.
#10 Sentosa Island…is not my favourite place but most people seem to like it so I’ll add it at the end. The beaches are artificial and look out to the cargo ships! This is where Universal Studios, the Aquarium and many other attractions are to be found. I do enjoy the cable car over to the island:)
Have a good time in Singapore:)