Adoration 4 Adventure’s local guide for visitors to Singapore by A4A guest writer, Bernard Tan.
Local guide posts provide recommendations for destinations from locals who are currently living or have lived in that particular place. Including information on the top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around with an emphasis on saving money.
Overview of Singapore
Singapore has a land area of about 700 square km (270 square miles) and an estimated population of 5.3 million. It has been named the most expensive city in the world according to research by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) for the past two years.
Singapore, which means Lion City, received its independence on 9 August 1950. We recently celebrated our SG50. Singapore is a multi-racial, multi-religion, multi-culture country.
Planning a trip to Asia? Read the local guide for visitors to Hong Kong.
Top 5 places to visit
5. Singapore Botanic Gardens (Free)
On 4 July 2015, Botanic Garden became Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 156-years old attraction spans over 74-hectares and includes the National Orchid Garden which has over 1,000 orchid species and 2,000 hybrids on display. More than 200 orchid hybrids are named after celebrities such as Jackie Chan, and foreign dignitaries such as Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher. Singapore’s national flower is Vanda Miss Joaquim, which is a hybrid orchid.
Tip: Visit in the morning, followed by heading to Cheong Chin Nam Road, located near Beauty World MRT, for some local delicacy. Cheong Chin Nam Road has a whole stretch of restaurants at the shop houses that are pretty budget-friendly.
4. Garden by the Bay and OCBC Skyway
Garden by the Bay was awarded TripAdvisor Singapore’s Most Reviewed Attraction in Singapore 2014, with more than 6.8 million visitors. It is Singapore’s vision to create a city in a garden. It incorporates environmental friendly solutions in the super-trees.
The OCBC Skyway (approximately $3-5 SGD) provides views of the garden and Marina Bay, including the Marina Bay Sands hotel.
Tip: Visit it in the late afternoon to evening time, and you will be amazed by the spectacular light show.
3. Haw Par Villa (Free)
Har Par Villa was built in 1937 by the Aw Family, who are also owners of Tiger Balm.
Haw Par Villa depicts the gruesome nature of the underworld, like the Ten Courts of Hell in Chinese mythology. The Ten Courts of Hell explains in great, gruesome detail the various tortures for each sin that is being committed.
2. Visit Chinatown & Little India (Free)
When Singapore was a British Colony, the British divided the country and placed the migrants based on their race. Chinatown was the main area for Chinese migrants that came to Singapore, and Little India was for Indians.
Tip: Shop at Mustafa at Little India if you are on a budget. It is the largest shopping mall in Singapore and has almost EVERYTHING. You can also stock up for the next leg of your trip after Singapore.
Sentosa is a man-made island near harbour front, which is at the most western part of Singapore. The island is home to many tourist attractions including Universal Studios, Madame Tussauds and the aquarium. You could purchase passes based on your needs.
Tip: Instead of crowding at the Merlion near Fullerton Hotel, I suggest that you come to Sentosa and visit the Merlion here. It is less crowded and it is bigger than the one in Fullerton area but it does not spray water from its mouth.
Eating and drinking
To get cheap good food, go to the various hawker centres all around Singapore. When you see a stall with a queue, normally the food is pretty good. For Indian food, try the Tekka Hawker Centre in Little India.
Recommended dishes to try:
- Chinese Food: Chicken Rice, Bak Kut Teh, Pork Satay, Laksa, Wantan Noodles, Dim Sum, Chili Crab.
- Malay Food: Mee Rebus, Mee Soto, Nasi Lemak.
- Indian Food: Roti Prata, Nasi Briyani, Teh-Tarik (Drink).
Singapore has one of the most cost-effective transport systems in the world. You can literally get anywhere in Singapore by public transport. This means you can save on money, to spend on delicious local food all around Singapore.
Singaporeans usually use cash-less mode to pay for their transport, using either EZlink or NETS Flashpay cards. Both have the same function and can be bought at any Mass Rapid Transitlink (MRT) station.
Tip: Either purchase a Singapore Tourist Pass for 3-days unlimited for $30 (including $10 refundable) OR you can purchase a top-up card with a non-refundable cost of $5 for the card (top-up can be done at all the MRT Stations).
If you intend to stay in hotels in Singapore, accommodation can be pretty expensive. Staying in Orchard area will cost you $120 SGD or more per night for a hotel room.
In the Chinatown area, a hotel would cost $100 SGD or more per night. For budget friendly hostels in Chinatown, I would recommend 5footway inn, Adler Hostel, Wink Hostel, Istay Inn and Beary good hostel ($30 SGD per bed, per night).
The Geylang area is the red light district in Singapore and is therefore not recommended to stay there.
Bernard Tan is a business consultant that was bitten by the travel bug. Once in a while, the itch is so bad that he needs to take a break and plan for an extensive trip. He has also recently fallen in love with traveling alone.
All photos in this article (excluding the vertical graphic) are the property of A4A guest writer Bernard Tan.
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