Singapore is one of the most fascinating places in Asia. It is spotlessly clean, safe, easy to navigate and everyone speaks English. It is a melting pot of different Asian cultures, making you feel like you’ve traveled a continent all within a single city-state.
Where to stay
Hotels abound throughout Singapore, both local and international brands. Short-term holiday rentals are also available for those who prefer to be in a flat and want a kitchen and Singaporean neighbours. For a true local feel, there are many homestays in Singapore where locals are excited to host travelers in their homes. Holiday rentals and homestays can be an economical option and provide experiences not available in a hotel.
Where to eat
Singapore is full of restaurants. However, for the best cultural experience, you must eat at a hawker centre. Sprinkled throughout the city, these are massive food halls with individual stalls featuring everything from Indian curries to Malaysian noodles to Chinese dim sum. One of the most popular centres is at Maxwell Road in Chinatown. Must try foods include kaya toast, toasted bread with coconut jam; carrot cake, which is actually an omelette with white radish; Hainanese chicken rice, tender boiled chicken over rice; and crab, seasoned with a spicy, sweet chili sauce or a black pepper sauce.
What to do
Explore the three main cultures of Singapore: Chinese, Malay and Indian. Stroll through the streets of Chinatown. Enjoy the paper lantern strings above your head and look at the traditional shops and souvenir stalls. Don’t miss the nearby Buddha Tooth Temple, with its beautiful architecture and sweet incense aroma. For Malay culture, walk down Arab Street to the Sultan Mosque, with its huge onion dome, and then to the Malay Heritage Centre, which is located in a restored palace. Near Chinatown is the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple, which is covered in intricate statues. Visit Serangoon Road and the Mustafa Centre, which are crowded with spices, fabric and Bollywood DVDs, to further explore the Indian community.
Shoppers will delight in Orchard Road, a street lined with gigantic shopping malls, department stores and luxury boutiques. Even those less inclined to shop will enjoy the spectacle, especially at Christmas time when the road is lined with lights and Christmas trees.
Many popular tourist attractions are at Marina Bay. The Gardens by the Bay feature two indoor gardens, one of which has a spectacular waterfall. The outdoor park has a grove of “supertrees,” artificial trees that are most impressive as the stars of a nightly light and music show. The Waterfront Promenade also has a nightly light and laser show over the water with the cityscape in the background. To get the best feel for the very large Marina Bay, rent a bicycle and ride along the paths along the shoreline.
If you are interested in Asian culture, Singapore is a must visit. It has something to please every taste. Once you’ve visited, you’ll want to come back again and again.