Singapore is a unique and remarkable city for many reasons; it is one of the only three surviving city-states in the world and apart from Monaco is the most densely populated city. It is home to a multicultural population consisting of four predominant cultures, Chinese (covering a large portion of 75%) Malays, Indians, and Eurasians and has four official languages in the country: English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil which make Singapore a cosmopolitan city jam packed with interesting cultures to explore.
Even though it is the world’s most dense city, Singapore is also by far Asia’s cleanest and despite its population functions incredibly smoothly. They even have a a National ban on the importation of chewing gum and a 500$ fine that has been put in place since 2004 to hopefully (and has effectively) help keep their streets clean.
I arrived in Singapore after a long double-sector flight (we stopped in Sri Lanka to drop off and pick up passengers) and after a tiresome day in the air pulled my blinds closed for a much deserved nap. A few hours later I stirred from my sleep and with the sun still shining and with a curious glance across the street from my hotel window, I found myself heading towards Chijmes Village wearing lazy Roots Sweatpants and with a book tucked into my bag.
It was just my luck that when I finally found a restaurant to sit down at that I chose Insomnia, and when the hostess brought me to my seat she asked me for 20 USD cover. Confused at first but than delighted by what I was paying for, I had unwittingly sat down at the Supperclub at 6:55pm – just five minutes before the 2 hour all-you-can-drink free pour began.
Needless to say, I wasn’t without friends for very long and by the end of the evening was the only white girl swinging around on the dance floor jiving away to Asian pop, making new Singaporean besties and harbouring a book in my bag.
need to know Singapore
the Weather – Singapore sits 137 Km North of the equator and has consistent temperatures throughout the year. With no distinctive seasons, this small country has a tropical rainforest climate that makes Singapore a great place to visit year round, mind for the hottest months in April and May. Make sure to stay hydrated and to keep under a sun hat in this sometimes overwhelmingly hot climate.
the Food – Singapore Chilli Crab is my favourite dish for dinner and they certainly have it mastered here where they serve a delicious whole Dungeness Crab cooked in a spicy tomato-chilli sauce, (curry-like in texture) that’s a bit tricky to get at but absolutely worth the effort.
Some other specialities that you have to try when in Singapore are: Char kway teow, a flat rice noodle stir fry with soy sauce, prawn and egg, Nasi Goreng, friend rice with egg and proteins or Mango and Sticky Rice for desert.
Singapore is known for many things and if you happen to be flying on Singapore Airlines in a premium cabin, be sure to ask the hosty for some piping hot pulled tea known as Teh tarik. Even if you do have that option though you still need to try Teh Tarik Authentic – make sure to find a Tea stall somewhere in town: not only is it delicious but pouring Teh Tarik is also an Art.
If you aren’t in the mood for hot tea and are looking for a more refreshing drink in the tropical heat, try an ice cold Tiger Beer from Singapore’s National Beer brand or splurge on a Singapore Sling, the country’s world famous colourful cocktail made from gin, club soda, brandy and grenadine.
Because of the diversity of Singapore’s population and thanks to the harmony of cultures that coexist there, Singapore is also home to some of the best food in the world with an outstanding range of authentic dishes from across Asia. That is the beauty of multiculturalism, that for one day in Singapore you can have: Malaysian for breakfast, Chinese for lunch and Indian for dinner.
the Stay – there are plenty of amazing hotels to stay at around Singapore that can fit everybody’s budget but I’ve decided to leave out the fancy hotels because I’m not sure that any of us can afford them. Some of the more affordable options worth checking out are:
Matchbox the Concept Hotel is a new pod-style hostel that caters to the upmarket backpacker looking for a unique experience. It is clean, welcoming and located right beside Chinatown.
The 5 Footway Inn Boutique Hostel is new to the scene but has strategically opened four boutique hostels located around town in the most exciting and up and coming neighbourhoods to draw backpackers in.They consistently offer new, modern rooms with free wifi and access to computers, 24 hours security and lots of clean open spaces for you to have a Tiger after a long day. www.5footwayinn.com
For great valued hotels, check out: www.agoda.com
the Spots – I’m likely biased because I love flowers but trip advisor seems to agree that The National Orchid Garden is much more interesting than it sounds and definitely worth a visit. Even if you aren’t impressed by the thousands of Orchids grown there, you might enjoy the lush gardens and diverse wildlife that this stunning park has to offer.
I never had a chance to check out the Gardens By The Bay in Singapore because it hadn’t been created yet but when I go back it is the first thing on my list. Gardens on the Bay is a 100 hectare park in the middle of the city that was created to improve the quality of life in the country by adding flora and greenery to the city. Standing watch over the Bay South Garden, the Gardens feature 18 man-made “Super Trees”, which are incredibly large structures shooting up to 16 stories into the sky and teaming with over 200 different plant species. Admission is only 5$ for just the super trees and I cannot wait to check it out. www.gardensbythebay.com
For a little bit of Indian culture and on your way to Chinatown, be sure to stop by Sri Mariamman Temple to appreciate all the colours and intricate designs of the countries largest Hindu temple.
Clark’s Quay is a vibrant spot in downtown Singapore with plenty of great restaurants and a rowdy nightlife. Head to the Quay for dinner and then spend some time (and too much money!) on the amusement park rides or walking along the busy promenade watching the dinner cruises glow as they sail by.
Raffles Hotel is one of Singapore’s most historical buildings and was named after Stamford Raffles, the British General and founder of Modern Singapore. It is a beautiful colonial building which has been fully restored and just a short taxi ride away from the luxury shopping district, Orchard Road. www.raffles.com/singapore/
Unfortunately you can only use the infinity pool on top of the world at Marina Bay Sands Hotel if you’re staying there as a guest, so this fact alone might be with splurging on a room there. But even if you don’t get to stay or even go into the Hotel, the impressive architecture is hard to ignore as the hotel looks like a giant cruise ships and glitters above the city 55 stories in the air.
The Singapore Flyer might be an obvious tourist attraction but you really do get to see great view’s of the city from each of the cabin’s 360’ windows. Is it worth the 80$ though? … thats for your pockets to decide. www.singaporeflyer.com
Insomnia at Chijmnes. From 9 to 11pm, Insomnia opens its bar for free-flowing booze ($20 per entry) – and this is where my story started and ends.
I encourage you to pop by here by yourself with a book for a boozy night of dancing in your sweatpants.
wwww.timeoutsingapore.com is a great resource for finding the best nightlife.
This photos been borrowed from flickr. All rights reserved by fiftymm99.