Imagine London, now picture it with half the people, clean it up so it’s spotless, instigate a justice system so strong that whether you’re walking around on your own day or night it’s safe. Can you imagine it?
This is Singapore. Where the buildings glide into the sky, steel and glass meet clouds. Where forests are enclosed in sky domes, and every street and corner you turned is filled with lush tropical vegetation, concrete and palms have never looked so good. Just don’t jay-walk, they’ll get ya!
At only 53 years old this is a city built on efficiency, where the air conditioned train system and buses breathe you back to life from the sheer wall-to-wall humidity and heat.
There is an impersonal feel to this place sometimes, which is why it has a reputation as soulless, and judging by how few people spoke to me when I spent a week there solo it’s a hard nut to crack as you sit there with your £6 tiny coffee, contemplating how to make conversation with folks who just stare into their phones, or are too busy taking selfies.
However, dig a little deeper, trip down to China Town for instance and see how the history and culture becomes a vibrant, lively experience for tourists and locals while you chow down on some overpriced noodles. Sit yourself on a sweaty plastic seat in a hellishly-hot hawker centre for cheap fried rice and frog for the brave, watch the locals enjoy their delicacies over an after work beer and see how you can go from ultra rich areas to very, very local in a few short steps.
It’s a little utopian but this island has all the bells and whistles of a place which has sprung to life and is proud of itself. Sure there’s an element to it which can make a tourist or traveller feel invisible, but why let that put you off, there’s so much to explore and plenty of freeness to enjoy if you can bear the heat. Sunscreen and hydrate folks, but prepare to sweat like you’ve entered Satan’s inferno dressed as paradise.
- Transport is cheap, at 87 cents for a bus journey with full air conditioning you can’t do better. They use a little contactless transport card – grab it from a train station, top it up and off you go on the MRT (train) and buses.
- Use Grab, it’s an app for taxis a little bit like Uber, much cheaper than flagging down a local cab.
- City Mapper works here and will ensure you don’t get lost, unless you’re me. Somehow I conveniently missed a netball date with a friend, as I took a scenic bus trip 20 mins in the wrong direction with the app open 🙄. Even Citymapper can’t help the geographically challenged.
- It’s safe, SO safe. As a solo female any time of day, you are fine. Brilliant.
- You can eat in Hawker centres, which offers Street food for cheap. You can watch the locals drink beer towers (yep, what?!) as fast as they can and fall over drunk.
- It’s the lushest, green, tropical city I have ever seen. Couldn’t believe my eyes!
The Not So Great Bits:
- It’s expensive. Like imagine your budget, and then easily double it and prepare to consider selling a kidney if you want to eat somewhere pretty nice. Eat at hawkers and get buses. Find the Wine Connection chain bars and drink there because….
- Alcohol is insanely expensive. Eye wateringly so. I thought Stockholm was having a laugh with their £12 glasses of wine, but Singapore pushed that off the top spot.
- Marina Bay Sands comes under this list because it’s pricey but it’s so worth that $26 dollar cocktail for the view. So empty that wallet, gorge yourself on the view but you can’t touch that swimming pool with the vertigo-inducing views unless you’re staying at the hotel. If you’d like to book a night here, just let me know as I can get some great rates as a travel agent in this epic hotel!
- Ok so…the humidity is oppressive and you will struggle to walk for more than 10 minutes without feeling utterly drained and soaked. It’s pretty fricking horrendous combined with the heat, but air con is everywhere…. yay.
- The population isn’t as friendly and social as other countries, or even the rest of Malaysia, so don’t expect too much. If you’re staying in hostels or social type hotels you’re sure to meet some fun people though.
However it is well worth a couple of days of your time, it’s an incredible place.
Here are some highlights;
I discovered this on my second visit to Singapore and it’s my favourite place, it’s such a vibey and vibrant little area. Full of colour, art, bars, restaurants and live music. Lots and lots of happy hour offers, it’s such a great area to spend the evening – get merry listening to live music and being bitten by mossies. Go explore or pick a hotel near there, you’ll love it.
What can I say? I love finding a China Town in every place I go and look at those lanterns, so pretty!
Macritchie Reservoir (it’s free!)
There’s an abundance of beauty here, there’s even monkeys and a beautiful Japanese style garden on the edge of the water. Watch out for the snakes, I got the fright of my life and squeaked and dashed away trying to stay calm!
(45 mins on 1-2 buses from the city centre, super easy).
Marina Bay Sands
An incredible sight, makes you think humans are remarkable creatures to be able to imagine and build like this. Visit the top deck bar, Spago. Views like you can’t imagine. You can dress pretty casual for this bar, there’s another bar but it’s a bit less easy going, they’ll give you a good up and down look before they decide you’re not fit to visit their establishment – how rude!
Gardens By The Bay
This makes you feel like you’re inside Avatar. Again this is free, the light show every night twice a night is spectacular. Take a blanket, lay on your back and watch the light dance. Choreographed lights dancing have never looked so good.
There’s an entrance fee and it’s wall to wall tourists taking a gazillion selfies, but if you love flora and a want a cool break from the heat, go see – it’s beautiful. Love the chick in the second photo posing for her poor boyfriend titanic style! Poor instabae…
Your neighbourhood place for cheap eats and beers, you can even try sweet and sour frog if you’re brave enough. Dare ya.
Enjoy more greenery and rain forest, this is one of Singapore’s oldest parks. You can grab the cable car to Sentosa Island from here, Sentosa is said to be super touristy so I didn’t check it out. My mate swam in the man made beach and came out feeling oily and gross from all the ships that frequent the water. Yum. Enjoy the hike and those views instead.
Walk to Mount Faber via Henderson’s Wave, this cool wooden helix style bridge with immense views….see how many selfies you can photobomb.
Fort Canning Park
Once the home of 14th Century King’s Palace’s, this park is a beauty and if you check the schedule you might be able to see Shakespeare in The Park or a live show. Get cultured, just don’t get sunstroke.
I stayed at….my mates place, then a very, very questionable hostel that led to a grim and scathing Trip Advisor review about how dire it was. So yay. Spend the money, there are some gorgeous hotels here and something for every budget.
If you’d like to look into a trip just drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org