Many travellers tend to see the small island country of Singapore as nothing more than a stopover/connecting destination.
It’s easy to see why. Singapore Changi Airport is one of the busiest in south-east Asia, connecting the west to the east, and of course on to Australia and New Zealand. A country rich in diversity and culture, Singapore is sure to delight on so many levels.
That said, it’s time to switch your thinking on Singapore. Flic and Nick give us their tips on why we should consider the country as a final destination, rather than a mere stopover. As always, you can find out more about the blogging two from their IQPlanner profile page.
There’s so secret to this first reason: we simply love great food, more so when it’s reasonably priced. There aren’t many places in the world where you can get a Bib Gourmand meal for less than the price of a McDonalds Big Mac, but you can in Singapore. It’s full of talented hawker chefs who’ll cook up a flavoursome feast in a matter of seconds.
According to the ArtScience Museum, there are so many hawker stalls in Singapore, that it would take 160 years to try them all! Saying this, how do you choose which one will be good? We came up with a game called ‘hawker roulette’. It basically involves joining the longest queue (long queues mean good food) and waiting till you get to the front of the line to look at the menu. Hopefully live bull frog porridge won’t be the only option!
We’d not been impressed by the coffee scene in many cities, so we were overjoyed at the choice on offer in Singapore.
Rich, tar like kopi is brewed in large metal jugs and poured down an elongated spout into a hot glass mug. It’s tasty and very delicious!
Whatever your budget, Singapore has everything to suit every need. Orchard Road has designer brands and big labels, and all in air-conditioned comfort. Chinatown and Bugis offer more affordable, if not so genuine, merchandise.
Nick probably bought a counterfeit Casio watch on a Bugis street corner, but to our surprise it still works! For a totally random fact, Bugis Junction shopping mall even has an air-conditioned roof garden with a fishing pond!
The architecture in Singapore is one big juxtaposition. Expect to find original colonial mansions and colourful Malay fishing cottages, clashing with ultra-modern glass and chrome skyscrapers.
The Marina Bay Sands Resort boasts a giant ship structure, balanced on top of 3 buildings. This ArtScience Museum — though similar looking to a huge bunch of white bananas, has some excellent exhibitions inside. There’s usually an entry fee but it’s well worth a visit.
The public transport
There’s nothing we didn’t love about the public transport in Singapore. Efficient, clean, easy to use, never late and never too crowded.
What’s more, the trains show videos explaining to passengers how to be polite and courteous to each other! In a nutshell, it’s everything the London Underground isn’t.
Due to its strict no graffiti policy, there’s not much street art in Singapore. However, the Singapore Art Museum always has excellent exhibitions, and on Friday night you can visit for free!
We were lucky enough to visit one of the exhibitions about Singapore’s independence and were given an unexpected private tour by a very proud and enthusiastic curator.
Everyone we met in Singapore was courteous, polite, friendly, helpful and happy. No one ever seems to be in a rush and you never feel like you’re in the way. Even the ticket machines are programmed to say ‘thank you, have a nice day.’
Taken straight from the film Avatar, the Supertrees in the Gardens by the Bay stand at 25 to 50 meters tall and are covered in over 162,900 plants. These breathtaking living structures provide shade and a peaceful place to chill out during the day, and an exhilarating light show in the evenings. Best of all, entrance is free!
Changi Airport constantly features in the ‘World’s best Airport’, and yes, it’s all true. There’s a koi pond, a rooftop swimming pool, a butterfly garden and a 24-hour free cinema!
On the way to your departure gate, you can relax in one of the many free massage chairs. It’s almost worth the airfare just to go to the airport, then fly home again.
The Night Safari
The Singapore Night Safari is pretty much a zoo without cages. Thanks to the clever use of trenches and wire, you can come face to face with elephants, lions, hyenas and rhinos when they’re at their most active — at night.
There are some animals that are behind glass, such as tigers and leopards, for obvious reasons, but it’s still cool to see them on the move at night rather than sleeping during the day.
Haw Par Villa
Also known as Tiger Balm Gardens, Haw Par Villa is as close to a bad trip as you can get without actually taking hallucinogens!
Check out the 10 Courts of Hell if you’d like some new ideas for nightmares. It’s free to enter, so it’s worth going if you like that kind of feeling!
The cat cafes
Needless to say, if you’re not a cat person, this may not interest you! There are, however, 5 cat cafes to enjoy in Singapore if you do like the feline creatures.
We like The Company of Cats on Mosque Street, which serves tasty snacks and drinks to enjoy with their 10 adorable rescue cats.
This might sound a little strange to recommend a destination based on its toilets, but Singaporeans seriously know how to do their business in style!
Beautifully designed and seriously clean enough to eat from, we didn’t have to pay once to use these beautiful facilities.