Modern Singapore was founded by the British as a trading colony in 1819 due to its geographical location between East and West. Independent since 1965, Singapore is a very modern city and has one of the highest population densities in the world. Be warned, it is extremely crowded!
Singapore is hot and humid all year round. This makes it uncomfortable to spend long hours walking around the city or engaging in outdoor activities. Where possible, avoid travelling to Singapore in the months of December and January, as the monsoon season brings with it torrential rains.
Most Singaporeans rely on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system to get around the city and trains are usually very crowded, even during off-peak hours. This results in plenty of pushing and shoving. MRT stations are generally located far apart, and commuters often have transfer to buses to complete their journeys. Bus fares are cheap, but bus routes are often confusing and the bus guides located at bus stations are often difficult to comprehend. When confused, do seek advice from the locals at the bus stop as most Singaporeans are able to speak English. Taxis are quite affordable in Singapore. But be warned, during rush hours, it is almost impossible to get a cab. Singapore travel bloggers reported that waiting times for taxis could last as long as 45mins at certain shopping malls along the busy Orchard Road. Consider storing some telephone numbers of taxi companies in case you need to call a taxi. It’ll save you plenty of time, but at the cost of the reservation fees.
Where and what to Eat
Eating is the favourite pastime of Singaporeans. A visit to Singapore would not be complete with a visit to the local Hawker Centres. Some favourite Hawker Centres include the Maxwell Food Centre, Newton Food Centre and Chomp Chomp (near Serangoon Gardens). Do try Bak Kut Teh, a dish of pork ribs served in a peppery soup. Another popular dish is the Hainanese Chicken Rice. My favourite chicken rice outlets are Loy Kee and Boon Tong Kee located along Balestier Road. Another popular chicken rice outlet of mine is located along Thomson Road, opposite the Novena Church (Novena MRT). Another interesting dish is the oyster omelette. Try the oyster omelette at Stall 48 at Newton Food Centre, my personal favourite.
Clarke Quay is the most popular entertainment and leisure location in Singapore, It’s filled with restaurants serving food from all over the world, vibrant pubs and dance clubs as well as shopping outlets selling all types of gifts and food. Robertson Quay and Mohammad Sultan Road are two other areas popular with the locals for the restaurants, wine bars and night spots.
For a bit of peace and quiet, try dining or having a drink at Rochester Square; food outlets here are converted from colonial-style bungalows. Tanglin Village, located on a small little hill surrounded by lush greenery is another great place to chill out.
Orchard Road is the undisputed shopping district of Singapore. Here, you will find all the luxury brands as well as little stalls selling affordable street wear. Orchard Road does get pretty crowded during weekends. Suntec City and Raffles City are two other favourite shopping malls (City Hall MRT) linked by an underground shopping street called Citylink Mall. Shops are pretty much the same as those along Orchard Road, so if you have limited name, it’s best to stick to the malls along Orchard Road.
Sentosa is an island resort located just off the southern tip of the main island. It has plenty of tourist attractions, including long stretches of man-made sandy beaches. While you are at Sentosa, do catch the Songs of the Sea, a visual display composed using laser, water, fire, music and fireworks. Cable car journeys from Sentosa to Mount Faber offer panoramic views of the city. If you are the romantic type, you can even choose to dine in a cable car with your love ones. Vivocity is a large shopping mall located near Sentosa; it’s a huge shopping mall with plenty of good eating outlets.