For such a small country/island/city, Singapore is packed with a variety of culture, crazy architecture and a world renowned food scene. It has never been a place too high on my bucket list and initially I just saw it as a popular stop-over city that would be a good place to start an adventure to Malaysia from. I soon realised how wrong I was. In total, I spent five nights and about four full days here, which felt like enough at the time. There is actually so much more to do that I didn’t get around to, but I’m sure I’ll find myself back here sometime soon!
First, I stayed on Somerset Road for three nights in a windowless Airbnb, and then spent another two nights in the Fragrance Hotel Ruby in Geylang before returning home. To be honest, it’s tough trying to decide which was worse. Walking through the Marina Bay Sands and Fullerton hotels, oh how I wished for a bigger bank account, or that I just did some more research as to where we were going to stay… Both had air-con, wifi and were cheap, so I can’t really complain, especially because Singapore is known to be one of the most expensive countries in the world.
Fragrance Hotel Ruby was located in the red light district and, while entertaining from the hotel window, walking and staying in the “seedy side” of Singapore was not enjoyable; I was left feeling uncomfortable most of the time. I guess the windowless Airbnb was the winner. Moral of the story: don’t stay in Geylang, just don’t.
Singapore is a great place to splurge on accommodation at places such at Marina Bay Sands, though! This is what I’ll be doing next time!
Singapore is known as an efficient and clean country and their public transport is definitely a reflection of this. Everywhere you probably want to go is located near an MRT station (underground train) or bus stop. The longest I had to walk from a station would of been about 15 minutes.
To save money, buy a tourist pass from the ticket booth at most stations. It costs about $5 and I put $20 on it, which lasted the whole time for all our transport including buses (I actually ended up having about $5 left over!)
To get to and from the airport and bus terminals, getting a taxi is usually easier with all your luggage and they are quite cheap!
Marina Bay Sands
My first stop just had to be the infamous Marina Bay Sands hotel. Incase you don’t know it by name, it’s the hotel and shopping centre with what looks like a ship on top that is home to the world’s most instagrammed infinity pool – you know the one! Get off at the Marina Bay or Bayfront MRT station and wander through the shopping area, along the water and then wish you were staying here if you’re not. Sadly, I didn’t make it to the bar up top, but it looks beautiful! At night, you’ll find a free light and laser show next to the Louis Vuitton shop at 8pm and 9.30pm, which just as much impressive as it is incredible!
Gardens by the Bay
Transport yourself to the future as you wander through the Gardens by the Bay. Many have likened this Singapore highlight to feeling as though you’ve stepped into the movie Avatar. The futuristic tree groves, Cloud Forest and Flower Dome were the highlight from my time in Singapore; you can’t miss them. While the gardens are free, it costs about $28 for entry into the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. Inside the first you will find, beside it being a nice place to escape the humidity, the world’s largest indoor waterfall. The flower dome, while still beautiful, was nearly as impressive with its various gardens and flora from around the globe.
Walk through the Marina Bay Sands shopping area or the closest MRT is the Bayfront stop.
Under the waterfall in the Cloud Forest.
You can pay to walk amongst the trees, too.
Admiring the Cloud Forest.
Just a week before Chinese New Year, Chinatown was bursting with people, food and decorations. I’m sure it would be great anytime of the year, and I definitely feel it’s the best Chinatown I’ve been to. Do some shopping in the cheap market stalls, visit the Sri Mariamman Temple and then head over to the Maxwell Road Hawker centre. Here we tried the famous Tian Tian Hainanese chicken and rice where the lines were out the door. Sadly, I don’t think it lived up to my expectations, but the rice was tasty nonetheless.
Just jump off at the Chinatown MRT stop and you’ll find yourself in the midst of it all.
More Chinese New Year festiveness in Chinatown.
Tian Tian Hainanese chicken – the tastiest plain rice.
Filled with colour and vibrance, little India is another great area for food, shopping and photographs. The highlight is definitely the House of Tan Teng Niah, or otherwise known as the most colourful building in Singapore, is located right in the centre of the area. For an authentic Indian feast, you won’t be short for options here!
Little India MRT stop.
Large, clean and filled with nearly every kind of animal you could possibly want to see, the Singapore Zoo is known as one of the best in the world and I could definitely vouch for that. I loved the cheeky monkeys swinging around on vines above our heads, the baby Rhino and Giraffe as well at the wide array of turtles and reptiles. The night safari is supposed to be awesome as well if you end up staying all day, but I didn’t get round to doing that. Despite all this, I still can’t help but feel sad for the poor animals locked up. While some looked happy, others looked quite depressed.
Take the red MRT line to Choa Chu Kang and then get on the 927 bus just in the station that takes you right to the zoo! It took me maybe 45 minutes to get there.
Monkeys on their way to breakfast.
Pretty buildings in Bugis.
A great area for shopping and eating. I found a market area that was packed with people and a stall on the end selling fresh juices for only $1! SO cheap compared to the fresh juices in Australia that cost like ten times the price! Also, go down to Bugis Junction for food, which you’ll find when you hop off at the MRT. I ate at a Japanese place here that was delicious and found a good supermarket and bakeries, too!
Bugis MRT station, which leads out to the street and into Bugis Junction.
Rainbow buildings along Clarke Quay.
This is where I spent the majority of my nights. There are several quays that face the water, not just Clarke Quay that is known as the main area. Follow the restaurants down about 10/15 minutes past Robertson Quay until you reach the last restaurant that is Bar Bar Black Sheep and Bangkok Thai. The best meals I had were at this Thai place! My tastebuds have daydreams of their chicken and rice with broccoli! You can also jump aboard a river cruise that looked great from Clarke Quay and appeared to take you to the Marina Bay Sands area if you are willing to pay the hefty fee.
I walked from my Airbnb, but you can get off at the Clarke Quay MRT station. It’s also easy to walk to the Marina Bay from here.
Ah, when the tourists ruin the photo 🙁
Take the Marina Bay Sands Hotel out of the picture and Raffles is probably known as the most iconic hotel and building in Singapore. It is so picturesque and pure white, the kind of place one would imagine heaven looks like. Sip on a refreshing and infamous Singapore Sling in the Long Bar and take photos around the hotel, daydreaming of being able to afford to stay here, even if just for a night.
Just around the corner from the City Hall MRT station, though I needed Google Maps to find it…!
Singapore Slings with every other tourist in Singapore.
Heavenly decor at Raffles.
Books Actually exterior.
Walk down to Yong Siak Street, a quaint little area filled with bakeries, shops and cafes. The highlight is probably Books Actually, a quirky book shop with an equally pretty exterior. This is definitely the place to go if you’re wanting to escape the hoards of tourists and crowds to just sit in a cafe or shop and relax!
Get off at the Tiong Bahru MRT and walk about 15 minutes. Maybe use Google Maps just to ensure you get here easily as I would not of found it otherwise.
Shades of green in the Botanical Gardens.
Definitely the best botanical gardens I’ve seen and a stand out on the list of things to do in Singapore. The gardens are huge, filled with numerous species of plants and flowers and were also named a UNESCO World Heritage Site last year. You can’t miss the Orchid Garden that costs about $5 to get into, while the rest of the gardens are free. I couldn’t believe some of the flowers in here were real and had to double check they weren’t plastic. If you’re down for some brunch, get to the Halia restaurant for some great food and decor. After a few weeks in Asia, I was craving a classic Australian breakfast and found satisfaction in their tasty food.
The easiest way is probably getting off at the Botanic Gardens MRT stop. Though, you can get buses from other areas.
The orchid garden.
Future garden dreams minus the humidity.
Chorizo beans with eggs at Halia restaurant.
The shopping mecca of Singapore that is world renowned. I sadly did not have the money to actually buy anything, but window shopping in Topshop and Zara was still fun (kinda). For the most amazing and obnoxiously large egg waffles, head in to 313@Somerset to Hvala waffles. Mine was smothered in chocolate, salted caramel, ice-cream and fruit loops and just as difficult to eat as you would imagine, but worth the struggle and weird looks I received.
The Orchard MRT station or the Somerset station will place you in the heart of this shopping area.
They tasted even better than they look!
Looking back on my time in Singapore, I’m a bit sad that there were things I wanted to do but didn’t. These included Sentosa Island, Pulau Ubin Island for bike riding and walking along the Mac Ritchie Trail… There’s always next time, I hope! Next stop on my trip was: Malacca, Malaysia.
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