I have a problem with clean,perfectly ordered, civilized, “boring” countries: I LOVE THEM. This was my second time to visit Singapore, and I liked it even more. It would totally live there… although I would live pretty much in any country just for the experience… but you get my point…
They even have a cute sense of humor!
I stayed at the Quincy Hotel, a new concept of all inclusive stylish boutique hotel, with an outstanding service and minutes away from the shopping mecca of Orchard road, not even Paris has that many Louis Vuitton stores so close to each other. And that would be an accurate quick description of Singapore… a city-sized mall. But don’t worry, you don’t have to sell a kidney to be able to afford shopping in Singapore, there is a wide range of options. Bugis Village is a massive market like complex with really nice thing at happier prices.
However, the more time you spend in Singapore the more you realize there is more… so much more.
Culture/History nerd type of person? Three clashing Asian cultures reside at the heart of the place, coated by the unavoidable influence of western civilization. Start with a stroll in little India. Sense the sounds, the smells, the colors. Don’t miss the Mustafa center, a astonishingly big shopping complex… not a mall, it is one store, with everything you can think of, but it may take a while for you to find it… I feel so sorry for the people who have to keep the inventory of that place. Eat at the well known Banana Leaf restaurant… all food is served on banana leaf “plates”/ mats, hence the name. Their specialty is fish head soup.... I think the curries are just as good.
Now enter the Arab Quarter. Notice the change. Visit the mosque. It is smaller than little India, so it will be a quick stroll.
Move on to China town for souvenirs and gifts.
For a trendier option visit the art galleries at the Gillman barracks (sorry, no pictures!)
More of a nature loving person? This is still the place. The botanical gardens are a most, with one of the most varied orchid gardens. The futuristic looking Gardens at the bay at the other end of the city are another option.
Looking for a more relaxing, beach kind of holiday? Yep, right here again. Connected to Singapore by a bridge, Sentosa island has nice beaches and excellent excursions to do some kayaking or explore other neighboring islands.
The weather in Singapore is usually hot and humid. Refresh along the way with a fresh fruit juice or a Taiwanese bubble tea. Have dinner at the river side and try the Singaporean speciality: Chilli crab. If you are going on your own, like me, prepare to be eating for a while, 1-1.5kg of crab is a big meal.
Sunset is the time to go up to the Observation Deck at the Marina Bay Hotel. Of course, stop on your way there to see the symbol of the city: The merlion… I still don’t get it… why?
Just don’t get overexcited about the Marina Bay, you will not be able to sit next to the impressive infinity pool, that is just for hotel guests… you can see a little bit of it from one of the corners of the observation deck, but believe me, it will only make you jealous. Make sure is a sunny day (mine wasn’t), or your pictures won’t impress anyone back at home (mine didn’t).
A trip to Singapore is not finished until you set a foot on the iconic Raffles hotel. The film Casablanca was filmed here, and it still conserves the posh colonial feel from the past. You can sit in the bar for a traditional taste of the tiny peanuts watered down with a Singapore Sling.
The only thing is that the bar is kind of outside the main building of the hotel, so you don’t really get to see much, and you cannot go in unless you are staying there. But you can do, what I did. Book a table at the restaurant (I had a lovely high tea) and then peep inside the hotel; it is like looking into the past. Note that there is a dress code.
There is a last chance for you to do some shopping at the airport. Again, proper mall with planes. It is considered to be one of the best in the world, and I have to say it is truly efficient one. I bet they do it on purpose, so you have extra time to shop… again.