Our guest blogger Nikolas Tjhin is back for another inspiring city break in Asia, this time for a weekend in Singapore…
Most travelers only stop by Singapore, famous for its five-star airports and a lack of chewing gum. But it would be a shame to just pass by Singapore on a tour of South East Asia. This city, country and island is a wonderful mishmash of Asian cultures, evident in its unique slang of English, locally referred to as ‘Singlish’.
The Beach Beckons at Sentosa: Start your trip with a day out at the beach on Singapore’s little holiday resort, Sentosa Island. Make your way towards Harbourfront MRT Station, where you can take the tram towards the island from inside Vivocity (a recent addition to the host of shopping malls gracing Singapore). At Sentosa, you can enjoy a host of beach-side activities and visit the Merlion, a giant statue of Singapore’s icon, a mythical creature that’s half-lion, half-fish.
Afternoon Breeze at the Esplanade: After a day out in the sun head back inside Vivocity for a quick browse of the shops, and walk in the afternoon breeze towards the Singapore River. Check out the antique Cavenagh Bridge and the newly constructed Singapore Flyer as you make your way towards the Esplanade. If the weather permits, enjoy a walk riverside, where you’ll get grand views of the scenic Singapore skyline.
Dinner at Chinatown: Come night-time, make your way towards Chinatown, using the convenient MRT transport system. Outside you’ll see a host of street-side vendors and stalls selling all kinds of souvenirs. Shop if you must, but don’t take long – dinner awaits! ‘Chinatown Food Street’ is a section of road reserved especially for foodies. Try out the flavorful Char kway teow (fried rice noodles with chili, prawns, cockles and vegetables), or the popular Satay (grilled meat on a skewer served with peanut sauce).
Nightlife at Clarke Quay: Head towards nearby Clarke Quay, Singapore’s entertainment hotspot. For those looking for a bit of nightlife, there are various bars, pubs and clubs catering to all kinds of tastes. Those looking for a quiet evening stroll can wander by the Singapore River, and stop for a dessert break at one of the many cafés by the water.
Sleep stylishly: Singapore has a reputation as one of the priciest countries in South-East Asia, but Singapore hostels are plentiful, and like the rest of the city, cool, clean and well-run. The Hangout at Mount Emily is a modern, laid-back hostel, overlooking the scenic Mount Emily Park. The rooms are hip and high-tech and the facilities are second-to-none, with a bar and restaurant, lounge and ‘Cyber Corner’ for checking your emails.
Local Breakfast: Join the locals and have breakfast at one of the many Kopitiams (coffee-shops) around town. They are more like food courts than coffee shops, with various stalls offering a variety of food. The standard Singaporean breakfast is toast with Kaya (egg & coconut jam), half-boiled eggs and coffee (usually mixed with sweet, sugary milk).
Bugis Street & Haji Lane: Start your day exploring the Bugis area before it gets too crowded. Bugis Junction is a comfy air-conditioned shopping mall, whilst the Bugis Street Market is a large outdoor market with throngs of stalls offering all kinds of cheap products. For trendier items, head down to nearby Haji Lane where you’ll find an array of colonial shop-houses offering eclectic local and international fashion.
East Coast Park: In the afternoon, head towards East Coast Park and cycle, roller-blade, skate or jog through. Towards the end of the Marina you can try out wake-boarding in a man-made lake constructed especially for wannabe boarders.
Dinner in Katong: Head towards nearby Katong for dinner, where you can find a selection of Singapore’s specialities. Try out the Katong Laksa, a spicy noodle soup served with succulent ham, or the famed Bak Kut Teh, a serving of meaty pork ribs in a broth of herbs and spices. These run out quickly, but fret not, there are plenty of other delicacies on offer.
A Wild Evening: Finally head towards the zoo to enjoy the Night Safari, often touted as the world’s first. The Safari is built especially for evening visits, with over 40 hectares of tropical jungle playing host to over 1,000 nocturnal animals and 100 different species.
LJS- Planning a trip to South East Asia? Check out our guide to cheap flights and more!