In spite of having travelled to this city a number of times, every time that I visit; I still get excited. Even though Singapore is a very small country, yet there is a lot to explore in and around it. I have managed to see a lot in my previous visits, and this time also I was all ready to explore something new.
The sole purpose of my visit every time is to meet my sister and her husband (my BIL) who are settled there. And for my initial visits all my sightseeing and touristy things were managed by them. Now that I have become pretty familiar with the city, I can manage my way around very easily.
All one needs to survive in Singapore is:
- An MRT card.
- Knowledge of the English language.
- Discipline to follow all rules.
Thankfully, by now I had acquired all of the above and so I was good to go.
I landed early morning at the Singapore airport and it took me precisely 20 minutes to de-board the plane, collect my luggage, cross immigration and be out of the airport. The ways things work here in this country leaves me mesmerised every single time. Everything is so well planned and well executed. Makes me want to move to this country every time I visit.
My sister’s house is literally 15 minutes from the airport i.e. in an area called Bedok (this is her fourth house since she moved here) and this makes my life so much easier.
Once I reached home, I freshened up and decided to take it chill today. No major plans, just lay back, hang out with the family and enjoy the start of a vacation. The condo has an amazing swimming pool (50 mtrs) as well as around 6 spa pods. So I literally lazed around in every possible way.
The best part of the current accommodation was that there was a mall right next door. So in case I wanted to eat or shop or just walk around, I just had to walk few steps across the parking and there I was.
So am going to make things easy for you and divide my journal in 3 parts:
- What to see?- Places in and around Singapore
- Where to shop?
- What to eat?
First comes the touristy part. Things that I would highly recommend to anyone who was planning a visit to Singapore are as below:
- Night safari and Zoo
- Universal Studios
- Sentosa Island
- Gardens by the Bay
- China town
- Marina Bay sands(especially the Casino)
- Singapore Eye– Flyer(for me it was just okay).
- Clarke Quay
I had seen all of the above in my previous visits to Singapore and frankly all have their own special charm. In fact I had visited Universal during Halloween 2 years back and that was probably the best time to visit. Reason being- there was a Halloween special Haunted house exhibition on. I remember me and my friends had gone for this, and all around there were people dressed in scary costumes whose main task was to scare the sh** out of the attendees.
Further ahead there were 4 haunted houses which one had to cross in order to complete the track. Each house had the spookiest feel possible. It was pitch dark in all rooms and suddenly as you would take a step, something or the other would pop out and you would end up screaming the roof down. This was even scarier for people who were just about to enter after you.
What a day that was. Just Perfect.
I had done the night safari and zoo with my sister and bro in law again a year or so back. This whole experience still is fresh in mind. For a change it seemed that the humans were in bars while the animals roamed around freely. And why not. After all, we had come to their home and so why should they be uncomfortable. There are several animal shows also which are held at fixed intervals. Very entertaining and enjoyable.
Another time I had visited the Gardens of the Bay on my own. This is right next to Marina Bay and can be reached by getting off at the Bayfront metro station. I suggest visit the place in the evening, see the two domes-Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, and then wait for the sound and light show which happens at 7.45 PM and another at 8.45 PM. Post seeing all of this, one can just walk across to the Marina Bay sands; have a drink at the rooftop and then head to the casino to make some money. The casino by the way is huge. One of the biggest I have seen.
For the locals the casino charges around 100 SGD but for the foreigners (Carry your passports), entry is absolutely free. In fact soft drinks, tea and coffee also is free inside. So even if you don’t want to play, one can always go for a free cup of coffee 😉
The Singapore flyer or as popularly known as the Singapore Eye didn’t impress me much. It is just another flyer and probably the view is good, but not extra ordinary for the SGD 30 you pay to be on it.
The places that I have still not visited and are on my list based on recommendations is:
- Jurong Bird Park– Heard it is amazing and the variety of bird species is mind blowing.
- River Cruise– This cruise which crosses Clark Quay, Robertson Quay and Boat Quay has mixed reviews. While some have recommended it, others have said that there is nothing special about it and can definitely be skipped. But since I have not seen or experienced it myself, I will definitely go once to make up my own mind about it.
While within Singapore there is enough and more to see, however in case you are here for a longer period then one can definitely consider going to nearby destinations which could be a day trip or for relaxation I suggest spend a weekend in these places.
Some nearby destinations which are just a ferry ride away are- Batam, Bintan and Malaysia. This time around, I decided to spend 2 days in Bintan. This island is a 45 minutes ferry ride from Tanah Merah ferry terminal in Singapore. One needs to mandatorily have a multiple entry visa for Singapore, as Bintan falls in Indonesia and thus there is an immigration done at both ends.
The ferry rides are very comfortable and by spending a little extra cash, one can get the business class seats which also give you access to the deck to enjoy the waves and the fresh air.
Bintan is basically a resort destination with the most popular thing being its golf courses. In fact, residents from Singapore come early morning to play golf in Bintan, spend the day here and head back in the evening.
However, my intention was definitely not to make my trip so quick. I, at least needed 2 days whenever there was a beach involved.
There are several high end resorts here and one has several options to choose from. I was staying put in a resort called Bintan Lagoon Resort or BLR which was a 15 minute cab ride from the ferry terminal. While most of the resorts have their buses waiting for their guests at the terminal, however if you do not want to wait for all the other passengers to board, you can always hire a cab and head directly to your resort. I did just that.
Soon I found myself entering a gate with BLR inscribed on it. What a huge space the resort was spread out in. Acres and acres of green lush land. I was already so excited to be here. Couldn’t wait to explore the property further.
Soon after checking in, I left my luggage in my room which in itself was quite comfortable; changed into beach clothes and headed out to explore the property. This was an amazing property with the sea right in front, 2 huge swimming pools, gaming arcade, spa, 12 restaurants and many more facilities. I decided to take a walk on the beach and enjoy the sun and the breeze before actually getting some lunch.
Words cannot express the feeling of walking on clean white sand with absolutely no tension in mind, body and soul.
After an hour of walking around, I headed to the beach restaurant to have some lunch which definitely had to be seafood. I cannot bear not having seafood when this close to the sea. And it was definitely what I expected it to be. Delicious indeed. I had already decided to come back in the evening for dinner to the same restaurant.
The rest of the day was spend lazying around by the pool, enjoying the sun and reading a book (while obviously hogging on snacks and drinking cocktails).
Next day I had booked myself a spa session AT THE BEACH. Yes, exactly that. There was a spa and massage centre right in the centre of the beach and that too in the open. I loved the thought of getting a full body massage, while enjoying the fresh air and the noise of water gushing on the shores.
Now moving on to talk about one of my favourite topics-SHOPPING. I have my favourite places all ready. If you are looking for Bangkok type shopping i.e. stylish but not-to-hard on pocket kind of clothes, then there is no better place than Bugis Village. This is a one stop shop for the trendiest clothes, bags and shoes for both men and women. In 100 SGD you will come back with a lot of things for sure. This shopping arcade has 3 floors and each floor has a lot to choose from. One can easily spend hours in this place and not even realise. If you feel hungry with all the shopping, just head to ground floor and gorge on some yumm hot dogs and waffles and crepes. I always make it a point to have these when in Bugis.
In case you are looking for some brand shopping then there are enough and many malls to target. There is Ion Mall in Orchard Road, Vivo City near Sentosa and many others. Orchard road is the high end zone and one can find all the brands here in one area. The most premium of all the malls is the Marina Bay Sands Mall. This is one hell of a mall. You feel luxury by just stepping inside the mall doors itself. Hence there is enough options for any kind of shopping at any price cap that one wants.
Now that I have covered two main topics of Places to visit and Shopping, let’s move to the last but most important one i.e. FOOD.
Whenever I had the time, I would wander around and try finding something different and yum to eat. Considering there are so many malls in Singapore and thus that many food courts, the options and the variety of food were many. There were quail eggs, dimsums, bao, mooncakes, donuts, crepes, waffles, cookies, cream cheese cakes etc etc. All were out of the world.
My favourite place to go eat was definitely ECP i.e. East Coast Park Village. This is one place where you get the best sea food ever and that too at reasonable prices. Once you enter the village, one can find many tables and chairs in the centre and all around there are many food stalls. It has a very community eating kind of vibe.
Choose any food stall (menus are put outside the shop), order what you want and let the stall owner know where you are seated. Once the food is ready, it will be served on your table. We ordered the most exquisite of dishes possible i.e. chilly crab, cray fish, pepper prawns, chicken satay, green papaya salad and sugar cane juice. I know, I know it’s a lot. But trust me, it was so good that we easily managed to finish all of it within minutes.
You must must MUST go there if you are a seafood fan yourself.
Next on the list for places to go for food is Changi Village. Again similar to ECP, the food is served from small stalls and the food is both yum and cheap.
Din Tai Fung is another famous restaurant with various chains spread across various malls. You will always find a waiting line here, but the food is well worth the wait. The dimsums especially are very famous.
Nam Nam is a Vietnamese restaurant where one can get authentic finger licking good Vietnamese food. Rice paper Prawns is a must try if you visit this restaurant.
Am sure there are several more popular eating joints which I have not yet explored. But over time, I am sure I will discover many more to share.
That’s all the information I have for now to share on Singapore with all of you.
Drop me a mesage in case you are off to ingapore and need some help in planning your trip and I would do my best to make sure you have a kickass trip.