“Singapura”, “The Lion City”
17th to 19th of October, 2011
We left behind Thailand and the peaceful time by the beach and pool for this great island-country, where everything seems out of this world in the sense of clean, safety, order, education of the people, buildings. It’s really everything. A country which claims to have the lowest crime in the world, and I can totally agree with that. Nowhere at any moment I felt any insecurity nor saw any action or incident.
Their perfection comes to the the point that the chewing gum is forbidden. And why is that you might ask? Two reasons, first because it can make the streets dirty once spit away, and the second one, a much funnier one. The new and shiny metro system had such sensors installed at the doors, that a chewing gum was between those in the floor and did not close. It took a long time for them to find the reason why. Hilariously, that was the cause of this “incident”.
Seeing cleaners wiping the windows of the metro trains is not unusual. Specially after rush hour, when some “hands and finger prints might be on them” (as in any city would normally happen), but here this seems to be not so acceptable hence the obsession for perfection.
We were in this city for 2 days, and this was not enough. 3 days would be ideal. Not because it is big, but because there are many places and things to do, that’s why time runs quick in here. Also if you are considering to go elsewhere to the coast or around, then plan more time as its logical.
Getting lost in this city is almost impossible. The areas are very well defined and the streets follow a grid pattern. You can easily walk from one area to another, or take a bus or metro. Transportation is very efficient and covers every area you need to go.
There is something quite important you should also know relating to the weather. It is incredibly difficult to have a clear sky day. Your chances to see the sun are always in the mornings, while in the afternoons the big cloud will come and heavy rain is likely to happen. Don’t worry, remember the temperature it is around 28 degrees all year round, therefore the rain was pleasant to my taste even I got absolutely soaked. Rain might be for around 30 minutes, and then it’s gone. This happens day after day.
Looking for food? You are in the right place. Fusion of Chinese, Malaysian, Thai. You will find everywhere little places where you can get great noodles, but the best place to be is Lau Pa Sat market. Here you will get lost and crazy. Far too many options that you don’t know what to get. Keep trying something different every time. We ended up coming here for lunch and dinner both days. Best bet impossible.
What to see and do in Singapore:
- Chinatown Many streets filled with gorgeous Sino-Portuguese houses all perfectly restored. Also many temples are around the are, not only Chinese, but Hindu. It is one of the best areas to admire the once colonial Singapore.
- Civic Centre This area as opposed with Chinatown is filled with English colonial architecture. Grand buildings, cathedral, churches, administration, museums. All sort of buildings which once formed the English colony.
- The Raffles Hotel In the middle of the Civic Centre is this spectacular and luxury hotel. You can go inside to the courtyards. It is a must while in Singapore, and if you are willing to pay quite high, you can order at the bar the world famous and iconic singapore Sling cocktail. (Of course you can also order the same elsewhere for a fraction of the price), but it was here at the Raffles were it al began.
- Lau Pa Sat Market Near the business district is this old Victorian market, not turned into a food heaven market. You can try dishes from everywhere in the world at very competitive prices. It is better enjoyed at dinner, where the place is filled with people.
- Central Business District (CBC) The nowadays world famous skyline keeps rising from every possible space.
- Esplanade/Marina Bay It is the main avenue running along the CBC on the Marine Bay. From here you will get one of the best views of the skyline.
- The Merlion No visit to Singapore can miss the icon of the city, the Lion fountain, located in Esplanade opposite the Fullerton Hotel.
- Fullerton Hotel Another of the impressive luxurious hotel. A famous picture is that of the Merlion and the hotel in the background at night, when both are lit.
- Marina Bay Sands Hosting the title of most expensive hotel ever built on earth (as of 2011), those 3 towers became from the first day of completion part of the skyline and how people conceive Singapore from its silhouette. What is best, you can go to the roof terrace and get stunning views of the marina and skyline. As usual, the best is to check when the sunset it, so plan to go up 1h before sunset, enjoy sunset light (90% or higher it will be cloudy), and then the night light view. You can either go to the viewing area (quite big already), or to the gardens, which stand, again, as the largest highest garden in the world. The hotel has one of the most shocking infinity pools in the world. You can see it from the observatory deck.
- Clarke Quay Opposite the Marina Bay in the Singapore River. Another of the great colonial areas of the city, now full with shops and restaurant and thriving nightlife.
- Little India To the north of the city, it is packed with Sino-Portuguese buildings perfectly restored, a mosque and many Indian and Muslim shops and restaurants.
- Orchard Street It is the main shopping avenue. Malls include Orchard Central which offers a 24/7 operational Roof Garden or ION Orchard where ION Sky offers a 360 degree view from the highest point on Orchard Road.
You can use either of the EZ-link and Nets Flash Pay card where you can store value on it and use it on the MRT trains as well as all city buses at a 15% discount. The card costs $12, including $7 stored value, and the card can be topped up in increments of at least $10 at the fare card vending machines or 7-Eleven stores. But from our experience, we can say that the need for public transportation is not going to be much, so you are better off by paying single tickets each time.
Tourist-oriented bumboats cruise the Singapore River, offering point-to-point rides starting from $3 and cruises with nice views of the CBD skyscraper skyline starting from $13.
From the airport its very easy, as Changi has MRT station where you can link to the rest of the network.
Can be expensive, like everything else in the city (except food). There is a vast choice so competition is high. It might take you a long research, but you will get to find good deals for good hotels.
In our experience we stayed at Park Hotel Clark Quay (near Clark Quay MRT Station). Another great hotel in our trip. Perfectly located walking distance to everywhere. Big, very spacious, huge and high quality breakfast, extremely clean and very professional staff. Not to mention the pool, which included back massage bubbles and heated water. That was the perfect ending of the days, relaxing in the pool until past 23.00pm.