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13
Dec
08

Singapore

As I write this post, I’ve been to Singapore 5 times.  Once to spend quality time with my then fiance, and the rest to fulfill my business duties.  Singapore is recorded to be the 5th wealthiest country in the world, and is a melting pot of nationalities — Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, Indian — and that diversity is reflected in its varied neighborhoods: Colonial Singapore, dominated by the magnificent Raffles Hotel; Chinatown, home to Buddhist and Taoist temples; and Orchard Road, once the stomping ground of wild tigers and now the poshest shopping street.

singapore

My Top 10 MUSTs for those who plan to visit Singapore:

  1. A walk down Orchard Road.  It’s the biggest shopping district in Singapore with lots of malls selling high-end stuff.  Tangs, Paragon, OG, Takashimaya Square, John Little, The borders, and Ngee Ann City are worth visiting.  If you are into designer brands, you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for in this place.
  2. Some impulse shopping at Bugis Street — you’ll only do it once :)  This is the place in Singapore where you’ll enjoy choosing from a wide selection and you wouldn’t mind carrying lots of shopping bags.  Explore all the adjacent streets to it and you will discover small eateries, fruit stalls, and department stores.
  3. A visit to the Merlion Park, the icon of Singapore.  It’s adjacent to Esplanade — the theater by the bay shaped like a dome (or rather the pungent-smelling durian fruit).  You can stroll along the park to see the major banks and busy central business district surrounding the park with huge sky scrappers and also enjoy the sea breeze, as the park is by the bay. You can hop on a boat in the Singapore river adjacent to it to see all the individual attractions.  A ride of half an hour trip costs S$12 per person.
  4. If you love rides, a day tour in Sentosa Island will definitely be worth your time.  It will take about 6 hours to see all the attractions in Sentosa, and note that the world-famous Musical Fountain Show is in the evenings only — 7:40pm and 8:40pm every day.  Weekends are very crowded so make sure to queue an hour ahead of showing because they always start on time.
  5. Swing by Suntec Mall and check out the Fountain of Wealth (listed as the largest fountain in the world).  This is the setting for laser performances, as well as live song and laser message dedications between 8pm to 9pm daily.
  6. Try out some Hawker food (the ones at Tiong Bahru, Newton, and The Esplanade are worthy to mention). Undoubtedly, eating out in Singapore isn’t complete without a visit to a Hawker Centre – a collection of individual stalls selling food at very reasonable prices, in an open-air setting. Start by “chope-ing” or reserving a table.  The typical way to do this is to leave a packet of tissue on the table, and people will immediately understand that the table is taken.  Don’t use your celfone or wallet to chope a seat because it’s gonna be stolen.  Hawker tables have numbers on them — note your table number because you need to say it to the specific stall where you are buying your food (so they’ll know where to deliver your food).  Once you finish eating, there’s no need to clean up or deposit the utensils in a receptacle because there are cleaners who will do it for you.
  7. Explore Clarke Quay.  During the day, G-Max Ultimate Reverse Bungee gets you tossed like a ball into the air to a heart-thumping flying experience.  Or you can embark on a scenic Singapore River Cruise and visit the Asian Civilisations Museum which is within the waterfront precinct. At night, this place turns into the center of  Singapore nightlife — with clubs especially targeted to those who love to get drunk.
  8. Have a Singapore Sling at Raffles.  Even if you’re not staying in this plush hotel, you can visit its famous Long Bar to sample their legendary cocktail.  The main ingredients are gin, cherry brandy and fruit juice, but if that’s not to your liking then you can choose something else from their extensive drinks menu.  Don’t forget to take your camera with you because Raffles is one of the most famous hotels in the world and even if you’re not staying there you can at least say you’ve been there.
  9. Go to the Night Safari to keep you going at night. If you’ve ever visited a zoo during the daytime and been disappointed to see so many of the animals sleeping, then you shouldn’t miss this one.  The Night Safari is the first wildlife park in the world designed to be viewed at night, to take advantage of the nocturnal nature of many of its four-legged inhabitants.  It’s worth getting there early to see the show before opening time, as this will ensure you have plenty of time to walk the trails and really experience being up close with the animals.
  10. Before going home, drop by the China Town to buy pasalubong. It’s a typical chinese street with many shops where you can get your souvenirs at 3 for S$10. Shops sell good table runners, windchimes, fortune buddhas, fans, purses, keychains, toys, decorative items, silk bouses, scarves, etc.

If your travel agent or chosen airline offer a free tour, by all means, take it.  Singapore is a small island so most, if not all, the places I mentioned above would be covered.  Cabs may be hailed in designated stops (which every corner has practically), but it’s still best to take the MRT or city bus because the latter is dramatically affordable.  And oh, they follow a “no tips” culture.

Don’t forget to grab your free copy of the Singapore city map at the airport — it will surely help a lot.  Have a great Singapore getaway! :)


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