ALWAYS HELLO, NEVER GOODBYE: SINGAPORE

chinatown 2

 

Singa Life, Singa Love

 

10 years ago, Singapore may not have been the first place that came to mind when thinking of traveling Asia, but now that is certainly not the case. The country has become a vibrant hub from which to explore not only its own beauty, but that of neighbouring countries as well. Only a short flight from Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and Malaysia, Singapore can be said to lie at the heart of Asia, the gateway from which all journeys can and should begin.

Why? The reason is quite simple. Singapore is the perfect point from which to begin one’s explorations in Asia. Frequent direct flights travel there from most European cities, and are mostly over-night, so you usually arrive in the afternoon well rested, without the hassle of having to catch another plane or embark on a long boat ride to reach your final destination. Arriving in Singapore allows you to acclimatize both to Asia’s sultry temperatures and its lifestyle before jaunting off to the tropical heat of Phuket or the busy streets of Seminayak.

To put it simply, it gives you time to decompress and unwind, whilst soaking in the many pleasures of being in Asia.  And, although the following list is by no means comprehensive, nor entails all of its delights, it provides a taste of all the wonders left to discover.

 

Where to Go

  • The ArtScience Museum, located in the lovely Marina Bay Sands, and locally referred to as ‘The Welcoming hand of Singapore’ or ‘The Lotus’, due to its flowerlike architecture, for one of its stunning exhibitions and even more exquisite architecture
  • Marina Bay Sands shopping mall, which offers all the luxuries of London, New York and Paris
  • The National Gallery, in one of Singapore’s most historical buildings, or Museum of Contemporary Art, both of which house an impressive collection of traditional and modern art
  • Joo Chiat/Katong a destination for all foodies who like to sample exotic delicacies and local cuisine and wish to explore its Peranakan cultural heritage
  • The beaches in the East Coast area, well-renowned for their savage simplicity and natural landscape
  • Baba House, noted for its traditional Peranakan architecture and color, as well as its museum collection of fine Peranakan artwork
  • Haji Lane and Arab Street, in one of Singapore’s most colorful, unique areas
  • China Town, to soak in its many sights, followed by lunch in one of its many authentic restaurants

 

What to Do

  • Take in the sunset from the rooftop of Ce La Vi, Singapore’s legendary bar
  • Spend the day sunbathing at the Tanjong Beach Club Sentosa, the best beach resort in Singapore and, for the best service, ask for Jake or Ashraf
  • Book a cruise along the river. There are several tours, both day and night.
  • Walk through Fort Canning Park, located at the highest elevation point in the city and then drop by the botanic gardens, with its fine collection of orchids which is certain to delight
  • Go for a run along the promenade to soak in the city vistas
  • Check out the local talent and stunning street art at the Somerset Skate Park, before heading off to do a bit of shopping on Orchard Road

 

Where to Sleep

  • Hotel Indigo, Joo Chiat, one of the most unique and elegant boutique hotels in the city.
  • InterContinental Singapore, a heritage hotel, only a few minutes walk from Haji lane, in the art district of Bugis

 

Where to Eat

  • Piedra Negra on Haji Lane, for the food as well as local atmosphere
  • Ô Batignolles, on Gemmill Lane, a Parisian style bistro well-known for its selection of fine wines, meats and cheese
  • Lucha Loco taqueria and garden bar, at 15 Duxton Hill, for the best tequila and tacos in town

 

Where to Drink

  • Jiggers & Pony on Amoy Street for its excellent cocktails and a great ambiance
  • Bitters & Love, Telok Ayer Street, for its robot graffiti walls, chill back patio and delectable chocolate confections
  • Napolean Food and Wine bar, Telok Ayer Street, for mouth-watering appetizers and fizzy cocktails
  • Kinki Rooftop Bar at Raffles Place for the drinks, the music and the vie

 

Tips:

  • Singapore Airlines provides the best airline service for the best price, ranking far above its competitors.
  • Respect the local laws. Singapore has earned quite a reputation for being strict. Their customs however, such as allowing others to pass on escalators and stairways to pass quickly on the right, are easy to follow and based on mutual respect and consideration rather than arbitrary stringency and, indeed, make life much more pleasant and easier.
  • Be polite. The people in Singapore are warm and friendly if one treats them not as servants, but as equals. Here, a heart-felt hello and cheery goodbye are appreciated and will go far in enabling new friendships.
  • Get the taxi app and a Flash Travel card. The first is worth it as taxis are relatively cheap in Singapore when compared to Europe and America, and it ensures round-the-clock curb side service, while the Flash Travel card, purchasable in any metro station, will allow you to take the metro as well as pay cab fare.

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