Singapore in 4 Words
Clean, Delicious, Expensive, Multicultural
Expectation versus Reality
Before the Crazy Rich Asians movie even came out, I had already known little about Singapore. I knew about their strict rules (e.g. no spitting, no gum), the great food at the hawker centers, and the eclectic mix of people that call it home.
But beyond that, my knowledge was limited. I came to Singapore with no expectations. It was definitely not playing out to be the “Crazy Rich Asians” movie! Realistically, I’m more Rachel Chu than Astrid Leong in terms of travel budget. But I did end up leaving Singapore, a country that effortlessly mixes both old and new, feeling absolutely entranced.
Besides being the cleanest city I have ever been too, it’s also one of the safest. If you are a female solo traveler, I would recommend adding Singapore to your list. So how clean is Singapore? Well, next time you ride their MRT, I dare you to try to find one nasty blackened old piece of gum on the floor, trash, or even dirt on those escalators. Now that’s clean! Singapore should definitely be proud of itself. It holds a near impossible standard of cleanliness for all the other countries and cities I have yet to explore.
Best Time to Go
When is the best time to go to Singapore? Singapore is touted to be year round destination. Singapore gets very little variation in weather, so most of the year you will likely experience the same hot and humid weather. Sorry guys, no getting away from humid weather if you’re visiting South East Asia! One exception to this can be the months of November through January. This is when you can expect more rainfall. But don’t be fooled! Even though Singapore is a year round destination, there is a peak season. The peak season runs from January to February, June to July, and then September to October. Let’s face the facts. Singapore can be expensive! So try to take advantage of the off season prices and discounts. We went in May and the weather was sunny and hot. Perfectly fine for exploring and seeing the sights of Singapore.
The currency of Singapore is denoted as SGD. But the ultimate question is; do you need cash or can you just use a credit card in Singapore? You can easily exchange or take cash out at the ATM’s at Changi airport. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions that will take your credit card. But the hawker centers are a different story. Most of the ones I visited were cash only. I found a couple had ATM’s outside or nearby, so if you forget then you’re covered. Are you planning to hit a lot of hawker centers for food? Then be prepared to bring cash. Cash is king there, and I found myself spending most of my money at various ones throughout the city.
Getting Around Singapore
Singapore has an amazing, very clean, and efficient MRT system. The MRT can get you almost anywhere in Singapore. If you’re traveling on a budget, you can take the MRT line straight into the city from terminal 2 of Changi airport. If you arrive in terminal 2 or 3, you can just walk over. If you arrive at terminal 1, there is a dedicated shuttle bus that drives you to this terminal.
To be prepared, download an MRT app onto your phone or you can access a map here. But just be careful if you plan on staying out late! The MRT only runs from 5:30 am to around midnight.
Where to Stay in Singapore
Where: Orchard Road
Who It’s For: The Shopper
For people who love to shop until they drop! Orchard Road is home to many luxury stores, name brands, and electronic goods. If you’re looking for something specific, you’ll have a good chance of finding it here.
Where: Marina Bay
Who It’s For: The Thick Wallet or The Quick Explorer
If you’re in Singapore for a very brief time and you’re looking to hit all the must see spots, then the Marina Bay area may be the right choice for you. You can be within walking distance to Singapore’s main attraction, Gardens by the Bay. There are hawker centers nearby, restaurants, and the Merlion Statue. But being at the center of it all will definitely cost you. Hotels, restaurants, and shopping will be very pricey in the Marina Bay area
Where: China Town
Who It’s For: The Budget Conscious
A very colorful and vibrant neighborhood filled with so many different sights, smells, and sounds. There’s a lot of great food in this area, so make sure you’re hungry when you go! You can stroll around and see temples, Chinese medicine shops, and stop for food at a hawker stall. Try the Chinatown Complex that has over 200 food stalls. One of those food stalls has even earned the honor of a Michelin star. The China town area is ideal for backpackers or anyone looking for budget accommodations.
Where: The Quays
Who It’s For: The 20’s-30’s Nightlife Crowd
This area really centers itself on entertainment. You’ll find a wide variety of bars, clubs, restaurants, tourist shops, and breweries. If you love to go out, this is the spot for you. The restaurants can cater to the up-scale crowd though, so prepare to make a dent in that wallet!
Where: Sentosa Island
Who It’s For: The Family
This island is packed with a ton of family friendly activities. To satisfy everyone, there’s a golf course, a casino, several amusement parks, and even a beach. Dad can go golfing. Mom can tan and get her drink on at the beach. And the kids can ride all the terrifying amusement park rides. No one in your family should be bored here!
Where: Colonial/Historic District
Who It’s For: The Architect/History/Art/Museum Lover
This is the area I ended up choosing. Well, more like I found a really nice hotel that wasn’t outrageously priced! We stayed at Hotel G in Bencoolen. The location had great access to restaurants and MRT lines. The Colonial/Historic District is bursting with history, museums, and great architecture. It’s sandwiched in between Orchard Road, The Quay, Marina Bay, and Little India. If you stay in this area you can easily explore the other areas by walking or taking the MRT.
There are other areas I haven’t mentioned (e.g. Little India, Civic Center, Bugis and Kampong Glam). But for the sake of time and research I only wrote about the areas I knew of.
Hopefully this Singapore travel guide has helped in you some small way. Until next time, see you in the next post!
- Bring cash if you’re going to a Hawker Center.
- Eating at a Hawker Center is also the best way to get good food on a budget.
- Take the MRT straight from the airport to a station near your hotel. You’ll save money this way!