5 minutes with Singapore

Sunset from Skypark, Marina Bay Sands
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Singapore is jammed-packed with culture, humidity (all year round – stay hydrated), great food, efficient and clean public transport, and a city-scape that contrasts the old with the new.

Quick facts:
  • Currency: Singapore Dollars SGD
  • Primary language(s): English, Malay, Tamil (Indian), Standard Mandarin.
  • Population: Approx 6 million
  • Population Density: 7,405 per square kilometre (2011)

Chinatown:

Singapore Chinatown

Singapore Chinatown

Brightly coloured colonial terrace buildings and stalls of nick-knacks line the streets of Chinatown. Keep your eyes peeled and you might snag yourself a good bargain or that perfect souvenir. Hostels are scattered around advertising $25 SGD a night which we would definitely check out on our next trip. Take respite from the sweltering heat with a cold Tiger at the local seafood restaurant. Be aware though – as Chinatown is a tourist hotspot, it can be more expensive to eat here.

Little India:

Singapore Little India

A view of the main street in Little India

Our meal at the Tekka Hawker Centre

Our meal at the Tekka Hawker Centre

Tekka Centre, right outside the subway station in Little India, is a large food hall filled with hawker stalls. Take delicious pleasure in a Chicken Dum Briyani and Mee Goreng noodles for the total of $8.50 SGD – great food that’s good for your wallet.

Vegetarian restaurants line Serangoon Road as you walk from Tekka up to stop by the Mustafa Centre, on Syed Alwi Road – a 24 hour department store 5 stories high – and be astounded by its size and contents.

Mustafa Centre

The Mustafa Centre in Little India. Open 24 Hours a Day

 Marina Bay Sands hotel and ‘shoppes’:

Marina Bay Sands

A view of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel Towers

From the 3rd tower of Marina Bay Sands (the hotel will stun you in itself), take the escalator down to a desk and for $20 SGD per adult take the lift up to Marina Bay Sands Skypark for spectacular views of Singapore’s skyline. The sky deck is restricted to one end of the sprawling deck, the rest, including the pool, being reserved for the hotel guests, but the view is still one in a million.

Marina Bay Sands Skypark

A night view from Marina Bay Skypark, overlooking part of the viewing deck

Once of the entrances to the Marina Bay Shopping Complex

Once of the entrances to the Marina Bay Shopping Complex

High-end shopping, restaurants and the casino make the shoppes opposite the hotel a popular spot. If you are just keen for a sticky-beak, the shopping precincts food court has an amazing selection of cuisines from all over the world, with emphasis on Asian dishes, that will set you back around $7 SGD.

 

 

Changi Park and Pulau Ubin (Island):

Changi Park, Singapore

Changi Park, looking North

Changi park at Changi beach has new, clean, public amenities, picnic tables, and beautiful views of surrounding islands.

Changi Bistro

Changi Bistro at Changi Park

Along here you’ll find Changi Bistro, whose menu features mostly western dishes, like fish and chips, which can be enjoyed with a pint of beer, looking out at sea. From there, walk to the ferry terminal, which is also an international port to Pengerang in Malaysia. Once on Pulau Ubin, hire a bike (approx. $8 SGD) and cycle around the many tracks of the Island, most being an easy, relaxed cycle as you take in the beauty of the Island.

Our meal at Palau Ubin

Our meal at Palau Ubin

Enjoy lunch at the seafood restaurant by the sea. Three small dishes, which is enough for two hungry people, to share will set you back around $20 SGD, plus beverages.

Remember to bring mosquito repellent (they do sell some sprays on the Island if you forget), a rain jacket or poncho for unexpected downpours, and Cash – there is no ATM or eftpos/credit card facilities on the Island.

Getting there: EW (the east-west) MRT to Simei, walk to bus stop 1 and take the number 9 bus to Changi Park.

A bumboat from the ferry terminal to Pulau Ubin will cost $2.50 SGD, payment is direct to boat driver when you climb aboard, same on return journey.

Changi Ferry Terminal

Changi Ferry Terminal & Bumboats

Favourite ‘local’ restaurant:

Singapore (4 of 4)

Was in Outram Park on the corner of Neil and Spottiswoode Park Road, a restaurant called Gao Feng Fishing Steamboat serving up delicious noodles, special fried rice and seaweed soup for the grand total of $11.50 SGD was always teeming with locals, and had a great jalapeño-soy dipping sauce.

 

Most delightful find:

Strangers Reunion Cafe

Strangers Reunion Cafe

A cafe restaurant by the name of “Strangers Reunion” whose outstanding coffee blew us away. A separate review is coming soon. Until then check out their Facebook page!
33-37 Kampong Bahru Road, Singapore, Singapore.

Dietary notices:

Soy milk is not a common – although not impossible – dairy milk alternative. Some soy milks can be found at the convenience stores, although these are very “soy-ey”. I now prefer to substitute with coconut milk.

Public Transport:

Singapore MRT

View from inside a MRT carriage

You can purchase a “tourist pass” from major MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) stations, for 1-3 days. This allows you to get on and off all trains (most of which are underground) and most bus services all over Singapore. A 2-day pass will set you back just $16 SGD (plus a deposit $10 SGD, refundable on return of the card). The subway system and transport system as a whole is fantastically integrated, clean, on time, efficient, air-conditioned, easy to understand – overall very impressive.

Transport to and from Airport:

There are shuttle buses which cost around $9 SGD per person, depending on distance. However taxi’s are competitively priced, as well as being direct and convenient. This may still be cost effective for you if travelling in pairs or groups. If your tourist pass is still valid you can make use of public transport or simply purchase a ticket from your nearest station.

Final Thoughts:

  • Singapore is as expensive or cheap as you make it.
  • The general vibe for dress code is Western yet conservative. Polite, respectful. With so many cultures around it’s good to keep that in mind.
  • Hydrate. If you like coconut water, get your hands on “cocomax” – hands down best bottled 100% coconut water EVER!
  • Singapore is a fusion of east and west, so if eastern delights aren’t your cup of tea, rest assured western cuisines are scattered all around.
  • If you see the signs saying “NO DURIANS”, it refers to a fruit with a pungent aroma you will love or hate. The smell is so overpowering the transport system and many hotels have banned them. If you are feeling daring, try the fruit inside – you might be surprised, as you may be with everything Singapore has to offer. 

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