Singapore - A Thriving Metropolis
Singapore is a little reminder of home in the middle of South East Asia. It's strange, like you are in a little bubble. It's totally different to its neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia. Singapore is a fantastic way to ease into the traveling and you don't feel too out of our depth there, as everything feels so familiar and user friendly. It is the perfect place to start out travels around South East Asia.
I was there during the Chinatown festival so the place was littered with glorious colourful lanterns and there was an incredible positive vibe around. I explored the sights, glanced at the Raffles Hotel and spent quite a bit of time down by the Marina, even managing to get out of the heat and into the air conditioning of Starbucks comforted by the coolness of an iced latte!
SINGAPORE - DOING IT ON A BUDGET
Singapore is definitely a place that you can do on a budget, although it is on the pricier side of places to travel in South East Asia. If you are looking for an inexpensive meal, a great place to head to is Little India, it’s one of those places that is incredibly friendly and ridiculously colourful.
Hostels are on the pricier there and they are really hit and miss, but my stay there was intriguing to say the least. I opted to stay in a hostel which was fairly modern in decor - it wasn’t until I tried to get some sleep that I realised that the hostel was right above a karaoke bar. Now, if you’ve ever tried to do that, you’ll know how hard it is to try and get some sleep without a dreaded headache evolving. The only option was to switch on the iPod and lull yourself into some type of coma.
AND THEN THE RAIN STARTS
Landing in Singapore can be an oasis if you have been on the road for a while. It brings with it air conditioned malls including stores of all kinds. It also brings with it ferocious downpours in the middle of the day which you need to be prepared for.
Of course, traipsing around the city in an old pair of flip-flops with little grip was a terrible idea and I ended up succumbing to a fall while I was in the mall and slipped on a puddle of water which I didn't see lay before me at the bottom of an escalator. What an experience. I blacked out for a little bit before waking up to quite a few locals staring at me. Totally shocked at what had happened, I was heartened by the generosity of a few who helped me to my feet and pointed me on my way. Those damn flip-flops. That stupidly slippery floor.
If you get Singapore there are a few places that you must check out:
The Marina Bay Sands Hotel where you can watch the sunset from the Sands SkyPark Observation Deck. Singapore at night is dazzling. The view of the Singapore F1 grand prix track is pretty impressive and not something that you will see elsewhere. If you make it up there while there's a concert on in the big park in Singapore, you'll also get to go to a free gig with a pretty awesome city view. Make sure that you get there before sunset so you can see it by day and night.
Ok, so who really recommends to check out an airport? Well, you haven't been to Changi Airport Singapore yet. Honestly, when I was there I wished that my flight would be delayed for 24 hours so I could make the most of their hotel, pool and other ridiculously futuristic facilities. But, there is a difference between the terminals, it's Terminal.... that you want to spend time in. There's little to do and little variety of places to eat and relax in Terminal.... unless of course you fancy a fish pedicure... hmm..
You must check out Little India, so colourful it's unreal and they had some little restaurants, Indian takeaways, and temples which you could check out. Do a walking tour with your Lonely Planet guide in hand and you'll be sure to fall in love with the place.
Don't miss the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It's perfect if you want to get away from the rush of the city and have a little piece and quiet. I didn't make it to the National Orchid Garden within the grounds as I was on a budget and at the time it was more money than I was willing to spend but after hearing about how stunning those orchids are, I regret it a little bit. I found the easiest way to get there was by taxi - as it's out of the centre a little bit.
What to pack
Make sure you include a copy of Lonely Planet's Southeast Asia on a Shoestring!
I hope that you have as great a time as I did!