What was once an equatorial tropical jungle is now a hot, humid urban jungle. Some of the amazing hundred-year-old trees still remain, lining the clean, litter free kerbs of the huge roads or to decorate around the high rises. But most trees have been replaced with skyscrapers and shopping malls and masses of people.
Many people just pass by or ignore Singapore on their South East Asia trip, ‘it’s too expensive’, ‘it’s boring’ and actually it kinda is both of those things, but for me, it was a bit of reliable internet and 1st world paradise after a crazy dirty few months. The airport was truly a slice of heaven!
Sure it probably is the most expensive country in South East Asia, but still, it’s Asia, so still not THAT expensive compared to the west. A shopoholics paradise full of shopping centres with every shop you could possibly need from high end to the Japanese $2 store. And don’t worry about the humidity, you have more chance of freezing in the icy cold air conditioned malls.
Everything and everywhere in Singapore is so clean and feels safe. Drivers follow the rules on the road, there is no haggling for prices and the city just runs very well.
East meets West here and if you were blindfolded, flown here and not told where you were you could have a hard time guessing where you were or that you were even still in Asia. Yet, this tiny little country is SO diverse. The diversity can be seen everywhere, from the food which varies from a $3 foodcourt fish curry to a Starbucks muffin. Even the language people speak, Singlish, a mix of English and Chinese.
Iconic Singaporean Sites
I can’t talk about Singapore without mentioning the Marina Bay Sands or a Singapore Sling (or in my opinion Changi airport).
The Marina Bay Sands is that building with the boat on top, and it’s amazing! Don’t worry if you can’t afford the $500 a night price-tag to stay there, staring at it from the Starbucks across the bay never gets old however many times I visit. In fact, the entire bay is an architectural masterpiece and totally worth having a look around at. There is a building shaped like the Durian fruit (that’s the Theatres on the Bay), a Louis Vuitton store that has created its own island, and the Merlion statue, another icon of Singapore. Take a snack on your walk around the bay, unless you want to pay over the odds for gourmet ice cream or high tea, there aren’t any budget food options around there.
You’ve seen that photo of the infinity pool overlooking the Singapore skyscrapers, that’s the Marina Bay Sands pool, on the roof, and you can’t get in for a swim unless you are staying at the hotel. BUT you can still get up on the roof. There is a nice (although VERY expensive) bar with the same views.
The Singapore Sling isn’t as popular in Singapore as you might think. It is a very sweet tasting, gin based cocktail and was first invented in Singapore at the Long Bar in Raffles hotel way back in 1915. It was full of citrus, so some say it was invented to help those sailers suffering with scurvy. Now people from all over the world come to the famous Long Bar to order a horrendously overpriced sickly sweet drink for the photo op. The drink isn’t worth it, however the bar is nice and the bags of peanuts and shells all over the floor are pretty cool. You can almost feel like you stepped back in time to the days of the empire when Singapore was a British colony. Along with all the other tourists there.
There is lots of evidence of the British colloquial lifestyle dotted around the city, not just the Raffles hotel. Although sitting in the hotel gardens you do feel like Jane from Tarzan, surrounded by all this Britishness in the middle of the humid jungle. However you don’t have to go to the raffles hotel just to feel like you are part of the colony, you’ll even see old buildings from the era around the backstreets near orchard road.
25 hours in Singapore airport
Changi airport, in the east of this little island, has been voted many times as the worlds best airport, and it’s easy to see why!
Free massage chairs, sleeping areas, a butterfly garden, 2 cinemas, 24hour food options, I could write a whole blog post about how you could spend your time there. It’s like a city within itself. On a trip from Kuala Lumpa to Bali I even choose to voluntarily have a 25 hours layover in Singpore, I didn’t leave the airport the entire time, even though you have the option to go on a guided bus tour of the city, and I still ended up having to run for my flight!
Until recently I would say Changi airport has the best wifi in South East Asia, however I have been recently and they have changed the system, it’s not so great anymore :(.
Local food in Singapore – the fish curry from the food court for 3 dollars or a starbucks, both could be seen as ‘local’. This tiny country is SO diverse.
The aquarium is also worth a visit.