"Singapore" Singapore by SWFC_Fan
Singapore Travel Guide: 4,570 reviews and 10,393 photos
The city of Singapore lies in the south of Singapore island; an island with a population of some 5 million people and one of the highest population densities in the world and the largest of a group of islands that make up the nation of Singapore.
Singapore lies off the southern tip of the Malay peninsula in south-east Asia, just a short distance north of the Equator.
The island of Singapore is connected to neighbouring Malaysia by bridge. Various Indonesian islands lie just to the south of Singapore.
How to get there?
Singapore has air links with major cities all over the world. This small nation has an internationally renowned airline (Singapore Airlines) and an award winning international airport at Changi.
Changi Airport lies in the east of the island, about a 20 minute taxi ride from the city of Singapore. Expect to pay a little over S$20 for a taxi ride from the airport to the city after allowing for the airport pick-up surcharge.
Alternatively, get from the airport to the city via the ultramodern Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) rail network. These modern, efficient underground trains connect various parts of the island and journeys generally cost between S$0.5 and S$2.5.
There is also a small airport (Seletar Airport) in the north of the island with a few regional flights each day.
It is possible to arrive in Singapore by road from Malaysia via the bridge that connects the Johor region of southern Malaysia with northern Singapore.
Alternatively, it is possible to arrive at the island by boat from various ports in neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia.
I arrived at Changi Airport after a 12 hour KLM flight from Amsterdam and, being unfamiliar with the MRT system, took a taxi from the arrivals terminal to the hostel I was staying at.
I left a week later on a long distance bus to the Malaysian town of Melaka (a journey of nearly 5 hours after allowing for heavy traffic at the border crossing and a 30 minute stop at a food centre en route) at a cost of S$20.
I returned to Singapore a week later on a bus from Kuala Lumpur (a journey of between 5 and 6 hours, at a cost of RM30), before leaving on my return flight to Amsterdam.
Prices correct at December 2005: (1 GBP = 1.5 Euros = S$2.7 = RM6.5)
A few recommendations of things to see and do based on my 11 days in the city:
This long strip of luxurious shopping malls, restaurants and fast food joints is flooded with tourists and locals day and night. Orchard Road provides the full spectrum of shopping and dining experiences from designer boutiques and international restaurants to souvenir stalls and hawker centres serving cheap local cuisine. At the time of my visit it was also decorated with Christmas trees and lights.
Atmospheric Chinatown contains Chinese temples, food stalls at hawker centres, red lanterns galore, souvenir shops, tailors, reflexologists and a number of trishaw drivers - it's all very touristy, but well worth spending a few hours here if you're in Singapore.
Not as large as Chinatown but just as atmospheric, Little India occupies a few roads in Singapore. Impressively decorated Hindu temples, fabric shops, fortune tellers, coconut sellers and cheap food stalls are all prominent in the area.
The theme park island of Sentosa lies to the south of Singapore and provides a fun day out for kids and adults alike. The most exciting (and frightening!) way of reaching the island is by cable car, but you can also get there by road via a connecting bridge. Take a ride to the top of the Carlsberg Sky Tower for great views, visit Underwater World to see sharks up close, take a ride on a virtual rollercoaster at Cinemania or swim and sunbathe on Singapore's best beaches (manmade with imported sand and specially planted palm trees).
An impressive zoo with no cages (animals are kept at a safe distance thanks to water-filled moats), allowing you to view exotic animals in something close to their natural environment. Look out for the monkeys swinging in the trees above your head, watch a dolphin show, take a ride on an elephant or visit the "Fragile Forest" - a rainforest recreated in a large greenhouse, complete with butterflies and bats flying around and lizards and insects on the ground.
A short walk from the end of Orchard Road and a welcome respite from the high paced city centre. A great place for a picnic or just for a stroll in green surroundings without the buzz of traffic. The gardens contains numerous lakes and an amazing variety of plants and trees.
Central Business District and quayside dining
Take in the impressive riverside skyline of Singapore's business district. Tall office block skyscrapers tower over the bars and restaurants on the quayside. Enjoy a pint or a seafood meal in one of the many bars overlooking the river.
Bumboat ride along Singapore River
On my first day in Singapore, I undertook a 45 minute boat journey up and down the river. Bumboats ply back and forth along the river during both day and night, offering commentary of the impressive sights that you pass.
The large Merlion statue stands at the mouth of the Singapore River and shoots a continuous fountain of water from its mouth. This half-lion, half fish statue became the symbol of Singapore during the 1960s when it was designed by the tourist aiuthorities.
Singapore Sling at Raffles
I resisted the temptation until my last night in Singapore...and then I gave in! For the first time in 3 weeks I put on my trousers and smart shirt and (after a quick beer on the 70th floor of the adjacent Stamford Hotel) made my way to the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel. Inevitably, I ordered the hugely overpriced Singapore Sling and then proceeded to make it last as long as possible while devouring the large bowl of complimentary peanuts (and engaging in the tradition of discarding the shells on the floor).
Visit Pulau Ubin
For a taste of traditional Singapore, take a short boat ride to the small island of Pulau Ubin off Singapore's north coast. Cycle or walk around the island...but keep an eye out for spiders, snakes and giant lizards!
A few observations from my 11 days in Singapore:
I've been to hot countries before, but I'd never previously been anywhere as humid as Singapore. Coupled with jet-lag, the stifling humidity made my first few days in the city very uncomfortable. A simple 100 yard walk would leave me dripping with sweat, and given that I was walking all over the place for the first few days, I soon became physically drained. Thankfully, with the city's efficient MRT network, you'll never need to walk too far! All shopping malls and most bars and restaurants are air-conditioned, so it is possible to escape the uncomfortable conditions outside.
Singapore is possibly the cleanest city in the world. You'll see very little of the litter and graffiti that blights other major cities. In part, this is because of heavy punishments handed out to anyone caught littering (an offence that carries a fine of up to S$1000) and a ban on chewing gum. It is also because the Singaporean authorities have invested in litter bins throughout the city and undertaken campaigns to promote awareness of "keeping the country clean". All in all, it seems to be working well, and the cleanliness of the city is one of the first things that many people I spoke to commented on.
Law and order
Singapore is a very safe country to visit, with very little anti-social behaviour. You can walk around most parts of the city at any time of day or night and never feel the least bit uneasy. Heavy punishments are handed out for all manner of offences from littering to smoking in public, jaywalking to eating or drinking on the MRT trains. Muggings and assaults are practically unheard of, and drug possession is a definite no-go area. On the day that I arrived in the city, an Australian citizen was hanged for drug smuggling after being caught with a sizeable quantity of drugs while in transit at Changi airport. This high-profile case was just one of many such punishments handed out in Singapore; in fact Singapore has carried out by far the highest number of executions per capita of population in the world over the last decade. Despite its notoriously tough stance on crime, Singapore has managed to achieve a safe environment without the need for the presence of armed police in the streets - so, whether you agree with their "nanny state" policies or not, I guess the authorities are doing something right!
- Pros:Clean, safe, an abundance of good, cheap food.
- Cons:Hot and humid year round.
- In a nutshell:The "nicest" city in the world...unless you break one of the many laws!
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