Singapore a city that never stops developing and renewing itself. It weaves its history and traditional culture with tasteful art and colour so no neighborhood would ever looks old or run down. Singapore is admirable in many ways. It encourage its citizen to be the best version of themselves, it has strict rules that everyone obliged to that keep the city clean and safe, it has an extremely effective public transport system, it has countless entertainments and despite its lack of God Given Natural attraction given its Geography, it manages to combine nature and technology in environmental conscious uber futuristic project like The Garden by the Bay and Cloud Forrest. Its architecture is also equally stunning like the Marina Bay Sand that gives birth to the luxury of infinity pool by the rooftop. My other favorites are how it turns heritage building into stunning mansion-like hotel for all to get a taste to a majesty like The Raffles Hotel and The Fullerton Hotel.
Top Things to See and Do
Unsurprisingly, a lot of tourists from neighboring countries come to Singapore very often to shop. Singapore and Hongkong is the place in Asia to buy luxurious brand goods as they are cheaper and always up to date. In Singapore you can get a normally steep priced brand of clothing for up to 70% off. The option and range are also massive. It almost houses every brand there are in the world. Everyone in Singapore looks very fashion forward and stylist. Well, while in Singapore, be prepared to shop till you drop.
Where are the places to shop? Everywhere but here’s the top 3.
Orchard Road is the ultimate shopping street where shopaholic will roll and drool with glee. The amount of shopping malls that lines side by side in this massive street is countless. To name a few there are Takashimaya that sells all the bona fide brands, Paragon where you can find a lot of great restaurants, Tang, Plaza Singapura, Wisma Atria and many others. I score some great bargains in Wisma Atria and Plaza Singapura. Paragon and Takashimaya is side by side and connected to MRT via underground tunnel that are more like a shopping paradise tunnel. Best of all there are more food at the lower level. Keep a look out for Llaollao, a swiss originated frozen yoghurt chain which sells the best cup of frozen yoghurt ever.
Bee Cheng Hiang is also a popular branch originated from Singapore specialised in asian style meat jerkys and floss. These jerkys or dried meat is smokey, slightly sweet and better than bacon.
Bugis street is the opposite of Orchard in terms of price and brand. The shops at Bugis street is small, indie, independently labelled, much cheaper, a lot of it are one sizer, no fitting and no refund. It’s like the markets in Taiwan and the likes. If you are a bargain hunter you will love this kind of shopping, you might score something unexpected. You can also try your luck bargaining and get an even better bargain. Besides clothing, there are bags, accessories and others.
Near Bugis street there is Bugis Junction, a shopping mall and nearby it there’s a market with a food court worth visiting. The famous food to eat here are Fish Head White Noodle and Tian Tian Chicken Rice. You can always tell a popular food court booth by the amount of people queuing outside it.
I may be a bit bias here, not only Haji Lane is my favourite place in Singapore, I like to shop here too (and eat, sip coffee, listen to live performance, and stroll).
Haji lane is an alley that always draws tourist and photographers. It is covered by wall paintings and vibrant colours. On top of it, it hides numerous starts up boutiques, shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s laid back, charming and it’s a very friendly place – perfect place to get a break from giant shopping malls.
Enough shopping? These destinations will please the eyes and introduce you to the essence of Singapore:
Marina Bay is not just one destination; the things that I listed below are all in and around Marina Bay.
- Marina Bay Sand
Marina Bay Sand is the new icon of Singapore, featuring what looks like a ship atop of three sky scrapers. It is the ultimate luxury stay in Singapore with rooftop infinity pool just for the hotel guests. To go up as a non-quest will cost $15 but better yet, visit Ce La Vi, a restaurant on top of if Marina Bay Sand that has the same amazing view. Reservation is recommended and dress formal.
Below it there is a luxurious shopping mall where you can find all sort of branded goods and some of the best restaurants in the country. Here is also where Singapore Casino is located. If you are planning to go to the Casino, it is important to bring your passport (if you are a foreigner) because Singaporean needs to pay $100 to enter the Casino while Tourist can enter for free; a great way to discourage their citizen into gambling. No dress code to enter and smoking is allowed inside.
- Garden by the Bay (Cloud Forest and Flower Dome)
Garden by the bay looks most spectacular at night. It is man-made futuristic giant trees that light up during night time. Flower dome is a massive indoor garden in controlled atmosphere so plant and flowers from all over the world can grow here. The cloud forrest has the same concept which is an indoor tropical rainforest. Entry for both of the garden is SGD 30.
- Giant Ferris Wheel
This is one of the biggest Ferris Wheel in the world. The cabin is so big that it is big enough for a romantic dinner called sky dining. You can even rent this cabin for party or just the two of you for a romantic date. To ride the ferris wheel cost SGD 30.
- The Helix Brige
This is the bridge nearby the promenade and Fullerton Hotel that shaped like DNA and light up during night time.
- Marina Promanade
Great place to stroll by the water will beautiful view of the bay (complete with laser lighting show at night) and the beautiful Fullerton Hotel.
Singapore are made up of three main distinct ethnicity (Chinese, Malayas and Indian) and it embrace them all. The China town in Singapore has been facelift into a colourful and vibrant town. There are a lot of food, cheaper shopping centres and is the best place to get typical Singapore souvenirs. China town has a place called People’s Park – no, it’s not a park, it’s an oldie mall that has many tour centres and massage parlours. It is also a place you can buy bargain-able gold and precious stones.
Little India is where you can shop of enthic pieces and has awesome authentic Indian food. You can also see some of the interesting temples and sites. There are mall and the famous Mustofa centre. Mustofa centre is where you can buy electronics and everything cheap as chip though don’t expect an air-conditioned mall. These places are slightly more run down. Another well known street located here is Arab street which is just next to to Haji Lane.
Not to forget the Malays, Kampong Glam is a place where you can please your eyes with some of the best Malay architecture.
Tiong Bahru is an area where there are some restaurants and hang out places. At the moment there are not that many. It is also combined with citizen housing. Keep an eye on this space as in the future this may morph into a foodie alley or more robust like Haji Lane.
A lot of people come to Singapore and want to strike a pose with its original icon, the Merlion statue (I’m definitely one of them). The purpose of coming to Merlion park? None other that to see this statue and strike a pose to take a photo that basically screams, see that, I’ve been to Singapore. Merlion is the half fish half lion statue that is the symbol of Singapore – legend has it that they spotted this creature, there’s where Singapore (Singapura) gets its name from – Singa which means Lion in Malay and Pura which means town. Literary, Singapore means the Lion City.
Gardens and Museum
For Nature and history lover, there are plenty of gardens and Museum to explore. The most famous Gardens are the Botanical Garden and the Orchid Garden. Orchid is the national flower and another symbol of Singapore. These gardens use to be the tops tourist destination before Marina Bay and all the other newer things start to take over.
As of night life, Clarke Quay is where you want to find yourself at for the best clubs, bars as well as restaurants. The most popular club is Zouk that often host international guests and events. This is located along the river and is a great place to chill and dine.
Resort World Sentosa
For kids and adults alike don’t miss Resort World Sentosa. Sentosa Island is connected to Vivo City Mall, another large mall in Singapore. Sentosa is a leisure park dedicated to one island and it has many things to offer from Casino , Aquarium, a Universal Studio and many other attractions for all ages. We went to The Universal Studio and pay SGD 70 for entry. The best ride in the house was the Transformer, the queue was hours but the experience was amazing and worth the wait and entry fee!
Singapore has some great food and restaurants. Some of Must Eat in Singapore are as below:
There are two 1 Michelin Star Dim Sum branch in Singapore originated from Hongkong. One is Din Tai Fung which is specialised in its Shanghai Dumpling (Sao Long Pao) – a total must try! And the other one is Tim Ho Wan which has yummy bun, Radish cake and steamed egg cake. I have to emphasis that the branch that actually earn the Mitchelin star is in Hongkong but they sure have great reputation everywhere else.
-There are a total of 19 branches of Din Tai Fung in Singapore. Visit their official site to locate.
– There are a total of 6 branches of Tim Ho Wan in Singapore. Visit their official site to locate.
Kaya Toast Singaporean style is my favourite breakfast and the champion of this is Ya Kun Kaya. Ya Kun Kaya has now opened countless branch all over the world but original is always best. Kaya toast is a very thin crispy toast sandwich of butter and coconut jam, served with two gooey and runny soft boiled eggs and thick red milk tea or coffee.
Address: 18 China St, Far East Square, Singapore, Singapore
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 7.30 am – 6.30 pm, Sat – Sun: 8.30 am – 5.00pm
Closed on Public Holidays
Hokkien mee is egg noodles serves with prawn.
Fried Carrot Cake
This is a brown colored very similar to radish cake stir fried cubes.
Bak Kut Teh
Bak Kut Teh is herbal soup made up of slow cooking Bak Kut Teh herbs with pork ribs. The character of Singaporean Bak Kut Teh is different to those from Malaysia. Bak Kut Teh Singapore style soup is clearer and more peppery. A recommended place to have Bak Kut Teh is Song Fa Bak Kut Teh located at 11 New Bridge Rd #01-01, Singapore 059383
One of the best meal to have here is the Chilli Crab. We tried one in Jumbo restaurant, Clarke Quay. The crab meat was has plenty of juicy sweet meat and easy to crack open.
I’ve tried two chicken rice in Singapore, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice and Kampong Chicken Rice Chicken House. The Chicken rice from Chicken House is the best I’ve ever tasted. They uses Kampung Chicken which meant it is organic and free range. The rice was very flavoursome, aromatic and fluffy. The rice was not broken and soft, every grain is plump and whole – an outstanding chicken rice indeed.
Chicken House: 255 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore
Tian Tian Chicken rice is also extremely good. The queue to get a serve was incredibly long but it moved quite rapidly. The sauce was a bit different that it is thicker than usual and slightly starchy. The chicken was juicy and tender with aromatic rice like a good Chicken Rice should have.
Tian Tian Chicken Rice: #01-10 Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore
Other than many fish head/fish soup noodle you can try from many food courts, Whampoa Keng Fish Head Steamboat Restaurant is specialized in Fish steamboat located at 556 Balestier Rd, Singapore 329872.
The Fancy Stuff
As one of the most modern and metropolitan city, there will be some fancy choices on top of the above. One that I’d like to try is Waku Ghin which I may save for some more special occasion. Waku Ghin by Tetsuya Wakuda is a 10-course degustation in Marina Bay Sands that is one of the top 50 Best Restaurants in the World.
Local ‘Not so’ Secret
There have been a buzz around Singapore Hawker food that have been awarded Michelin star. Being a hawker, this means food is cheap as chip and is the cheapest Michelin star food in the world ranging from SGD2-SGD10. As you can imagine the line would be insane but if you’re up for it, here they are:
Blk 335, Smith Street No.02-126
Chinatown Food Complex
Weekdays: 10:30am to 7:00pm
Sat and Sun: 8:30am to 7:00pm
466 Crawford Lane
Tai Hwa Eating House No. 01-12
Daily: 9:30am – 9:00pm
Closed: 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month
Getting around in Singapore is easy using the MRT or taxi. If you are a group of more than 3 people, taxi is the better option because taxi rate is inexpensive in Singapore.