SINGAPORE: CITY GUIDE

Located by the equator, Singapore is one of the most advanced cities in the world when it comes to technology. The Lion City, as it is also called, has no specific religion and it has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Almost all Singaporeans speak English. Singapore is also a big hub for transportation. In fact, Changi airport is not only considered the centre of aviation in Asia, as it is also the number one airport in the world! 

 

When to go there?

Anytime is good to visit Singapore. It’s a warm and humid country, with a tropical climate during the whole year. The peak season is between December and the Chinese Lunar Year, in January/ February, so it may be more expensive to go there during that time.

 

How to get there?

If you’re flying from the UK like I did, there are direct flights between London Heathrow and Singapore, operated by Singapore Airlines and British Airways. Airlines like Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways also link London to Singapore, with a stopover in the middle east. The direct flight takes approximately 12 hours.

 

Transportation

It is very easy to go from one place to another in Singapore, as the city is fully flat. However, due to the high temperatures and humidity, it is hard to stay in the streets. There is the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) subway system and it is very simple to use. You can buy a travel card for $12 SGD which you can top up as you use it (for me, this is the best option). There are also single tickets available, but these will be more expensive if you’re staying for a few days. It is extremely safe and comfortable and the trains run from 5:30am until midnight.

 

Places to visit

Asian countries are always very interesting to visit. Everything is different from what we have in Europe, wether we’re talking about food, costumes or religion. If you want to visit Singapore, I’d recommend you to visit it along with another asian country, like Malaysia or Indonesia for example. Because it is a small place, you can easily visit the city in 3-4 days. I stayed there for 5 days and, as a member of the cabin crew was telling me during the flight, it is more than enough considering how small the city is.

Depending on wether you’re going for 3, 4, 5 or more days, here’s my list of the places you can’t miss in Singapore:

 

Marina Bay & Marina Bay Sands

The Marina Bay is considered the center of Singapore and it’s where you’ll find the Marina Bay Sands, the famous hotel we’ve all been seeing pictures on the internet. At the top of the hotel there is the Skypark Observation Deck, which is possible to visit. It costs $23 SGD for adults and $17 SGD for children between 2-12 years old. Child under 2 don’t pay.

From the rooftop of the Marina Bay Sands, you will have this amazing view of the Gardens by the Bay. On the left you have the two domes: the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. On the right you’ll find the Supertree Gove, which leads me to the next mandatory place to visit.

 

Gardens by the Bay & Supertree Grove

The Gardens by the Bay are divided into three gardens: Bay East Garden, Bay South Garden, and Bay Center Garden. In the Bay South Garden, which is the biggest one, you’ll find the two domes: the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, as well as the Children’s Garden and the Supertree Grove.

In the Flower Dome there is a wide variety of plants that can be found in the Mediterranean as well as in other parts of the world, like Australia, the Americas and South Africa. In the Cloud Forest you’ll find the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. You can go to the top of it (called the Lost World) in an elevator and then make your way down in skyways that will give you an amazing view of the dome and the city as well.

The Supertree Grove consists of 20-50 metres structures that look like trees. There is 22-metres walkway between the trees, called the OCBC Skyway, where you can get an amazing view of the Gardens. As the night comes, the trees light up and there is a light show with symphony before 8pm.  It’s beautiful.

The Children’s Gardens are ideal for kids (as the name says, right?). If you have children, make sure you take them to these gardens as they are filled with sprinklers that will keep them amused and fresh!

 

Helix Bridge

Now this is a unique piece of architecture and it just shows how talented Asian architects are. The bridge is located by the Marina Bay and it is mandatory to cross it! There are a few platforms by the bridge which allow you to take pictures of the Marina Bay and, after you cross it, you’ll be halfway to the Merlion Park.

 

Merlion Park

The Merlion is the national symbol of Singapore and it is half lion and half fish. Each part of the symbol has its own meaning: the head refers to Singapore’s name (Singapura in Malay, which means Lion City) and the body is a symbol of the city’s roots as a fishing village. It is located in the Marina Bay after crossing the Helix Bridge and walking something like 10 minutes. Here you’ll find lots and lots of people (mainly Chinese) trying to capture themselves “drinking” or “grabbing” water from the Merlion. It’ll take you a long time to get a decent picture of this amazing sculpture.

 

Chinatown

Chinatown is filled with markets and food shops, so it’s the perfect place for you to eat and shop, as well as to get to know the Chinese culture in Singapore. It is also where you’ll find the Chinese and Hindu temples, like the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the Sri Mariamman Temple. Make sure you don’t miss the chance of buying souvenirs, which you’ll easily find in the Chinatown Street Market.

The Sri Mariamman Temple is one of the places you have to take your shoes off to go inside, so this means walking barefoot in a temple that is located in the open air, which can be a problem if the floor is too hot. It’s the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore and it honours the goddess Mariamman.

The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is where you’ll be able to get in touch with buddhism, even if you’ve never heard of it or know nothing about it. There is a tour of the temple, which is completely free and it will take you through the many levels of  it. The Buddha Tooth Relic can be found on the fourth level of the temple while on the third level you’ll find the Sacred Light Hall and some relics of the Buddha.

 

Sultan Mosque

The Masjid Sultan (as it also called) is the biggest and most important mosque in Singapore. It is located close to the famous Arab Street and it’s also where muslim people come together. Here, you’ll also find an entire street filled with shops.

 

Little India

In Singapore there is a wide variety of people and religions. Most of the people you see are Chinese, but among them are Indians, Muslims and more. There are also many foreigners, some of them on holidays and some others living and working there. In fact, many companies choose Singapore because of its laws: not only it is a politically stable country, as it has open business policies and English as the main working language. Sounds perfect!

Little India is a place filled with colours, also good if you want to purchase souvenirs and try some real indian food. One of the most interesting things I found there was Indian people eating their meals with their own hands. It may seem strange but it’s definitely worth trying! Also, don’t forget that Indian food is really spicy, so if you’re going to order the less spicy meal, it’s still going to be very spicy!!

There is a very nice 24-hour shopping centre, called the Mustafa Centre. It’s huge and perfect to buy whatever you need. It has everything! I got lost there a few times, you just go up and down in the escalator and you lose track of where you are.

 

Haw Par Villa

Creepiest theme park I’ve ever been to! The Haw Par Villa portrays Chinese mythology and folklore and it features more than a thousand statues which will creep you out. However, the main and most shocking part of this villa is the Ten Courts of Hell, which illustrates the Chinese vision about Hell and it is where parents used to take their kids to educate them on moral and principles. Each scenario has its own story and lesson.

 

Botanic Gardens

After being considered the first UNESCO Heritage Site in Singapore, the Botanic Gardens is a 150-years-old tropical garden that features a wide range of flowers, plants and animals and you simply can not miss this. One of the main attractions of these gardens is the National Orchid Garden, famous for having the largest exhibition of orchids in the world. Make sure you have an entire morning available to walk through these gardens and appreciate nature. It’s a very peaceful place, away from the confusion and ideal if you want to take a walk.

 

Clarke Quay

Clarke Quay is a famous place to go out and have a drink. There you’ll find restaurants and nightclubs, so it’s the best place to go if you want to enjoy the Singaporean nightlife. At the entrance of Clarke Quay you’ll find the G-MAX reverse bungee, perfect for the adrenaline lovers. Overall, it’s a beautiful place, you have boats everywhere in the river and the buildings are very colourful.

As I stated in the beginning of this post, Singapore is a very small place… Tiny, in my opinion. I don’t think it is worth to stay there as many days as I did (5), I believe that 3 days is completely ok, otherwise you’ll be visiting the same places in the last days. During the 4th day I thought about visiting Malaysia but I hadn’t done any research about it, so I ended up not going. Maybe it’s something you should consider doing!

 

Personal tips:

  • Take as less clothing as you can. It is a very warm and humid country and it’s also very easy to travel with just one cabin bag (at least that’s how I did).
  • Even though it may be cloudy or raining, make sure you apply sunscreen. I didn’t apply and so my arms and neck ended up scalded.
  • Everything is very expensive in Singapore, so make sure you have a decent amount of money with you if you want to visit famous spots and if you want to buy some souvenirs. For example, a ticket to visit the domes costs $28 SGD.
  • Food is expensive as well, so the best option is to eat at the Hawker Centres, where the Singaporean people go and where you’ll find the best typical meals!

 

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