Singapore is a clean, modern city.
Strikingly beautiful old colonial houses and temples give way to uniquely designed skyscrapers, each incorporating unique features like gardens and sky bridges. Without leaving the downtown core you can take in delightful tourist attractions like Gardens By The Bay or take a cable car to Sentosa, where more traditional attractions like the Madame Tussaud’s and Universal Studios Singapore await.
The Raffles hotel, in the heart of the city, is something out of Indiana Jones and immerses visitors into a bygone era of travel and adventure. The hotel used to be set along the water but with so much land reclamation the sea is now 500m away. Raffles is a name you keep seeing around the city and for a good reason. It’s the last name of the man who founded Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles. He’s also responsible for the fantastic design of the archway covered sidewalks and the urban planned areas of Chinatown and Little India.
The secret to keeping Singapore affordable is to never sit down for a full service meal and don’t expect to go out drinking. Cocktails start at 25$ and all full service restaurants add 17% worth of charges to your bill. If you have money to blow, go for it. If not, steer clear of bars and restaurants and you’ll find Singapore incredibly affordable.
Why you’d want to sit down at a restaurant when the hawker centers and food courts are so abundant is beyond me. Food courts here share little in common with their North American counterparts. There are so many of them and each offers more options than the last. With meals costing between 5-7$, it’s both a steal and an opportunity to try a dazzling array of local and international dishes, all freshly made.
Shopping ranges from the incredible deals to be found in Chinatown to the insane high-end shops of Orchard Street and Marina Bay Sands. For a more middle of the road experience, visit Vivocity across from Sentosa Island.
The only thing that might set you back is your hotel, where again that 17% service charge and tax returns, but the hotels here are truly outstanding and worth the splurge.
We were lucky enough to visit just shy of the Chinese Lunar New Year which appears to be bigger than Christmas. Decorations are everywhere (even Universal Studios where those adorable Minions were dressed for the occasion) and sales are happening all over the place (all sales seem to end in the number 8, a lucky number).
Our time in Singapore felt far too short and it’s the kind of place I hope to return to soon and often.
Oh, and just a special note – if you’re taking a cruise – there are 2 cruise centers in Singapore. Make sure you’re going to the right one. We didn’t and had to hop in a taxi to make it to our ship on time.