When I asked friends for suggestions or recommendations for my upcoming trip to Singapore friends told me to, “go to Malaysia instead…”
“Or Indonesia or maybe even Brunei. Not Singapore” Countless times, I was told to “skip Singapore.”
Since I already had flights, I couldn’t just skip it.
I didn’t know what the big deal was, why was everyone telling me to “skip Singapore?”
Honestly, I am glad I didn’t listen to any of them! ….Although, I didn’t have much of a choice with already purchased international flights leaving from Singapore International airport.
We only had three days in the Kingdom, but it wasn’t hard to find an unexpected love for Singapore.
With spotless streets, a perfect subway system and the most beautiful architecture, I recommend anyone traveling through Asia to spend a few days in this city.
Initial Impressions: cost vs cleanliness
After spending five months in Asia, I got use to dirtier streets, restaurants where I debated the imminent diarrhea, and the constant noises from honking drivers.
I don’t mean to knock this continent, I love Asia. But let’s face it, some places just aren’t as clean as you’d hope them to be. You just accept the facts.
Cost of living weighs heavily into my choice of next destination. I’m not the most budget traveller, but I’m definitely far from a luxury traveller. I would say I am on the lower middle end. I enjoy good food, taking tours when they should be taken, and staying in decent accommodations.
As for Singapore, any traveler needs to accept the cost of hotel rooms, a hostel bed, and Airbnb’s are just expensive. It’s the way it is — there are a limited number of accommodations and rent is high.
But, it shouldn’t deter you from spending a few nights here.
You can still visit without breaking the bank. Food is affordable: you can eat well on less than $5 a meal at Hawker Centers. Plus, there are a ton of free activities in the city.
Three Days in Singapore
We spent three days visiting the Botanical Gardens and Gardens by the Bay, dining at Hawker centers, and meandering through the Casino and people watching at Singapores world class mall.
I was impressed by how impressive this city is.
In other parts of Asia, I went to bed around 9pm and didn’t feel the need to stay up late. In Singapore, I found myself wandering the clean streets looking up at the buildings architecture until close to midnight!
The food is renowned for having influences from all Asian countries. If you have a craving — there’s a restaurant for it. I highly recommend taking the subway because its way cheaper than taxi’s and it gets you everywhere and anywhere.
Below are some photos from our three days in Singapore.
Marina Bay Sands Mall
Walking through the mall with our jaws on the ground we were impressed by their collection of luxury shops.
Everywhere you looked there was a Christian Louboutin, Tom Ford, or Burberry. All out fo my price range… but I did entertain the idea of walking through Zara..
There’s even a boat system going through the mall and offering rides to anyone too lazy to walk. Or someone with money to spend on a boat ride through a mall. Same thing, right?
The boys spent the better half of an afternoon at the Casino, but be aware — alcohol is not free. They charge about $12 a beer.
After wandering through the Mall (and a light lunch in the food court — just ok) we decided to grab a coffee and head over to the main attraction.
Gardens by the Bay
This was a HUGE highlight for me. I heard about the Supertrees a few years ago and had to see them.
These man-made structures are covered in plants from around the world. They are intended to create an eco-friendly space in the massive city for its inhabitants.
The Supertree Grove is also designed to show that cities and nature can co-exist.
Either way, it adds a beautiful escape to the noise and glamorous shopping in this city. For $8 you can walk on the 150m platform and get an aerial view of the park. Unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance when we were there, but it looked cool!
At the Gardens by the Bay, it is FREE to explore the outdoor gardens and see the light-show – which happens every day at 7:45pm and 8:45pm.
The conservatories aren’t free, they are $28 a ticket, but I recommend shelling it out its worth it.
There are two: the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. We spent a few hours in both around dusk and afterwards headed to the 7:45pm Supertrees light-show before dinner. It was a fantastic afternoon meandering the trees and catching our first glimpse of Singapore.
For Dinner we wandered into a market in the heart of downtown called Lou Pa Sat. It’s an old historical building full of food stalls and home to our best meal in Singapore:
We visited the Botanical Gardens to get a morning workout in. So, after waking up early and taking the subway, we brought our running sneakers and a water bottle.
There are TONS of meet-up groups that head to the Botanical Gardens for yoga, tai-chi, and boot camps. Sadly, we missed the boot camp, but still had a nice run around the garden.
It’s a bit funny to watch, but if you are on a long-term backpacking trip – you have to find a way to stay sane and I need to sweat it out!
So our workout consisted of jogging for 100m or so, 15 push-ups, jogging again, then we found this spot where we did 25 squats and 50(each leg) toe taps, repeat 5x. We felt great after!
Are you an active traveler? A health nut? Maybe you lead Pinterest in pinning at-home workouts… at least I know I do. Read my posts here about 50 days exploring and staying fit in Sri Lanka and about how we spent a month eating well in Rawai, Thailand after Muay Thai and Bikram yoga classes.
After walking the of Singapore for a day, we caught the Supertrees light show at 7:45pm and then people watched on the water.
We were lucky to visit on a Sunday when the Vintage market was up and running. If you are an avid market shopper, check out the Honeycombers website for that’s happening during your time there.
Rumor had it Little India has the best Indian food (outside of India) in all of Singapore, so we had to go. We ordered a MASSIVE dosa and ate our hearts out.
This little place really makes you feel like you’re in India. It’s filled with tons of [Indian] people, lots of little shops, and the best Indian food. So, go?
Things to know when planning to visit Singapore:
- Restaurant Rating: restaurants have a rating from A-D. Look for the lettering outside that represents cleanliness of the restaurant. If it’s an A, it’s amazing, if there is a D outside, you’ll probably go home with food poisoning
- Subway Hacks: if you take the tram, you can buy individual tickets or 1-day, 2-day, or 3-day passes. I recommend the passes if you are there for a few days, but know there are ONLY select stations where you can buy them, the airport being one of them: see what stations sell passes here
- Grab: if you are going to get a taxi — download the Grab app ANYWHERE in Asia, it’s much cheaper than Taxi’s
- Meet-up: If you are traveling alone, want an outdoor work-out or just want to see what’s going on, check out meet-up
- Airport: Changai airport is listed as the world’s best, so if you have to go there, I suggest spending at least 3-4 hours exploring — what to do in the airport listed here. For $18 you can even swim on the ROOF of the airport while planes fly overhead
Spend a few days in Singapore
Everywhere you go this country is immaculate. And everywhere you look up there is another architectural masterpiece.
This city is the perfect stopover city, but it’s also a great place to visit.
I wouldn’t say there is much else other than good food, great green parks, and shopping, but for three days – it was perfect. The people are also wonderful and welcoming.
We bought coffee packets at a convenience store and the owner gave us her OWN mug to drink from because they didn’t have styrofoam cups. It was incredible.
And, one of our friends, Amelia, took the Grab Taxi with us to the airport and hung out for a beer. “Singapore is small,” she said, and hopped right in. It was lovely to have the company of a local and hear about the city.
Definitely make Singapore a stopping point, even for just a day. Below are some other photos from our trip: