The beautiful island of Singapore nestles snugly between Malaysia and Indonesia. Sir Stamford Raffles founded the modern Singapore and the city itself still retains a huge amount of quintessential Britishness. Singapore is an exotic, intriguing and exceptionally safe traveller’s destination and has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. It is also one of the cleanest cities on the planet, even chewing gum is banned! I fell in love with the country when I was fortunate enough to spend time here last year. From my experience here is my travel guide to Singapore including places to see and visit.
Photo: Nir Sinay
There are a fantastic range of hotels in Singapore to suit all budgets including clean and well run hostels. Having saved for a long time I decided to stay at the Raffles Hotel which is an institution in Singapore and a favourite haunt of celebrities including Noel Coward, Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maughan (all of whom lend their names to the hotel’s renowned ‘Personality Suites’). Staying here is like taking a trip back in time; you can indulge in High Tea and pristinely suited waiters cater to your every whim! It’s a classically beautiful and unique hotel and oozes luxury throughout. For those really looking to splash the cash I thoroughly recommend it. If not then choose one of the hotels near Orchard Road or the Marina as these are both excellent areas close to many city attractions.
Orchard Road is the main thoroughfare and a serious shoppers paradise. Go there for high street and luxury fashion emporiums and numerous malls.
Singapore’s latest phenomenon is the 24 hour shopping malls, crammed full of technology, fashion and craft stores. Although if you want to really experience the city’s real culture try the side streets. If you are looking for a new suit or a dress here you will also find many tailoring shops that can whip up a made to measure suit or kimono in 24 hours!
I would recommend heading for the restaurants in Pagoda Street or Tanjong Payer as this would be the ideal place to sample the local cuisine. Try Singapore Vermechilli – a noodle based mild vegetable dish, usually served in a pineapple, washed down with a jug of the country’s own Tiger beer! (A jug here only costs $5sing-about €3). Also don’t even think about leaving the island before sampling mooncakes and a cup of ginger tea from Ah Tengs Bakery.
Photo: Sherwin Huang
If you are looking for something more upmarket try the Equinox Restaurant located on the 70th floor of the Stamford Hotel, it has a glass wall circumference and panoramic views of the islands marina and harbour. (Booking highly recommended!)
As over 25% of the island is covered by forest there are plenty of national parks, gardens and nature reserves to choose from. After a trip to the stunning Botanic gardens, go for a meal at the famous Chijmes which was one of the last cloistered convents in the world. It has now undergone a massive facelift and with its gothic architecture and stunning surroundings it makes for a fantastic dining experience.
Photo: Kenny Teo
Also try Sentosa island (pictured above). The best way to reach the island is via a cable car over the ocean (great for views of both Sentosa and Singapore). On the island you can swim with the dolphins in Dolphin Lagoon, brave the rides in the amusement park or if you’re feeling energetic climb the 37 metre high Merlion monument. The incredible views of the ocean and Singapore’s skyline is well worth the climb! On another day head for the Marina for great seafood restaurants, jazz bars and local stores.
After a long day shopping or sightseeing, pick one of the many great restaurants or return to your hotel bar. Some of best memories from Singapore is relaxing in the Raffles Long bar with a Singapore Sling, afterwards I would head to the Tiffin Rooms for a taste of the traditional tiffin curry (a local delicacy).
I promise if you give Singapore a try you’ll be addicted! It’s a colourful, affluent, enjoyable and charming city and the smell of orchids, taste of tiffin curry and the cacophony of local malay song will linger with you, long after you leave this incredible city.
Singapore: the Lowdown
Singapore is an island city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. At 274.2 square miles Singapore is the smallest nation in Southeast Asia with a population of nearly 5 million. During Colonial rule Singapore became one of the most important commercial and military centres of the British Empire, now it’s a major tourist destination and attracts over 10 million visitors a year. The island experiences a tropical climate with hot, humid weather all year round. November to December is the rainy season, June to August is the best time to travel to Singapore.