- An Article by Jeff Epps
I have always heard a lot about Singapore and its uniqueness. I was finally able to visit the city-state last May and meet up with a friend from Indonesia. I was anxiously awaiting all the cool stuff that we had listed on our itinerary. Needless to say, this city was one of the best cities that I have ever been to. It is clean, developed, advanced, safe, one-of-a-kind, and so many other things.
Welcome to Singapore.
Me and Rebecca at the Singapore Changi Airport
It took me about 6 hours to get to Singapore from Wuhan, but Rebecca only had about a 2 hour flight. We met up after looking tirelessly for each other. We both had planned an exuberant four day itinerary to see the best of the best of Singapore. Our adventures would include Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Flyer, the Singapore Zoo & River Safari the ArtScience Museum, Merlion Park, and Sentosa Island.
4 Day Singapore Itinerary
We had a lot of ground to cover, but first we had to get to our hostel and get checked in. I'm not a big fan of hostels. They are typically cheap places with cheap people. With that said, there are a lot of nice hostels out there.
The one we stayed at didn't impress me much, for several reasons. It was cheap, which was one good thing about it. You stayed in these "pods," rather plastic boxes that had just enough room to lay down in. There were sockets to plug in your electronics, a drop down mini-TV, lights, drop down curtain, and a small storage closet on the bottom, outside.
You took your shoes off before entering the hall area. One issue I had with it was the fact that they only give you one set of towels (one big, one small), regardless of the amount of days you stay. I had to argue with an employee for a second set. There were dirty, mildew stained towels hanging around everywhere outside the pods.
I believe it was the third day in the morning I ordered eggs in the lobby area and there was a nice long black hair in my scrambled eggs. Yuck. She was nice enough to cook me new eggs, but by that time I had lost my appetite.
There was a temple next door and they were worshiping 24/7, so if you were on the second floor you got to enjoy that sound all night unless you had earplugs, which were given to you by the staff free of charge. I also had a spat with an employee about the Uber fee before we left, but whatever. You get what you pay for. Other than the hostel issues, Singapore was fabulous.
Met-A-Space Pod, Little India
After we arrived from the airport to the hostel, we decided to explore "Little India" a bit. It was already kind of late and we were tired from traveling, but we wanted to stick to our itinerary and soak up as much of Singapore as we could. "Little India" was an interesting place with businesses and shops galore. Singapore is about 10% Indian, so Indian culture is everywhere, especially where we were staying. I didn't see any trash on the streets. The weather was perfect for an evening walk and we were able to get situated and ready for the next three days of adventure that awaited us.
After breakfast, we were off bright and early in the morning. Our first stop was Marina Bay Sands. This is probably a first stop for a lot of newcomers, for obvious reason. It's a casino, mall, hotel complex that has a rooftop restaurant along with a gorgeous view of the Singapore skyline and the Singapore Straight. The view was immaculate. I mean, not just the sight but the way it makes you feel to be up that high and to see so much of something new. I just wanted to stay up there and pitch a tent or something.
Marina Bay Sands Resort and Hotel
Singapore Skyline from atop the Marina Bay Sands Resort and Hotel
View of Marina Bay from atop the Marina Bay Sands Resort and Hotel
We explored every bit of the Marina Bay Sands, inside and out, top to bottom and yes, we did spend some money on souvenirs. It was well worth it. We met some nice Australian folks at the top and were able to chat with others. We explored the shopping mall inside and had lunch at a great pasta restaurant. It was a good time, but we couldn't spend all day in one spot. We decided to head over to the ArtScience Museum, which was just a hop, skip, and a jump away.
On our way to the ArtScience Museum, we ran into some surprises.
Two Lamborghinis and a Ferrari
There were all kinds of really cool and really weird stuff at the museum. I guess because I just don't go to science museums ever, some of the displays kind of caught me off guard, mostly in good way.
ArtScience Museum (Gallery)
We spent probably a couple of hours in the ArtScience Museum because it was so big and we were really enjoying ourselves. I'm not gonna lie, I felt like a kid in a candy store. There were so many cool things to see and read, I didn't wanna leave. It was a quiet, relaxing kind of place with perfect lighting and lots of neat surprises. I felt like I was back in grade school going on a field trip. Another example of how travel makes a person feel young.
ArtScience Museum (https://www.marinabaysands.com/museum.html)
We made our way around the waterfront while checking out all the little shops, sculptures, and people having a good ole time on the beautiful spring May day. I noticed a guy with a drone and I couldn't help but ask him questions about it. I've been shopping for a good drone for some time.
Scenes Around the Waterfront Promenade (Gallery)
We spent most of the day wandering around the Promenade having a good time. We walked by the Esplanade (theatre) toward the end as we got closer to the outdoor music theater and Singapore Flyer. It started to get dark and we made our way to Merlion Park, which is iconic to Singapore. The Merlion is a mythical creature with a lion's head and the body of a fish that is frequently used as a mascot and is a national symbol of Singapore. It was neat to see the Merlion up close because when you "Google" or "Wiki" Singapore, this is usually the first thing you see.
After relaxing at Merlion Park for a bit, we were about three quarters around the perimeter of the Promenade and getting closer to the Singapore Flyer. We came across an outdoor concert dubbed, "Songs We Grew Up With."
It was about time for dinner. We grabbed some food at a venue near the Singapore Flyer before I, by myself, decided to climb about this giant wheel and get an encore aerial view from different angles as last time. Rebecca was scared and didn't wanna ride. I was cool with it. The Flyer capsules are big and can hold about 20 people or so. You can book private parties in special capsules that are set up with food and beverages and waiters.(http://www.singaporeflyer.com/corporate-events-memberships/event_venues/private-capsule/)
I was in the capsule for about an hour or so. The view was great. The screaming kids were not. It was an experience like none other and you just can't beat the view. Afterward, it was time to head back to the hostel and turn in and get rested and recharged for another day of goodies.
Having seen the bread and butter of Singapore the previous day, we were ready to expand our excursion a bit. There was still much more to see and we were in for another day of surprises. We decided to hit the Singapore Zoo and River Safari first because there was a LOT to see there and we wanted to make sure that we did it with plenty of daylight. Besides, getting to the Zoo early before the big crowds arrive makes it more enjoyable and the lines are shorter. I will say this without hesitation and with sincerity, the Singapore Zoo is the BEST zoo that I've ever been too. I've been to a few a them, but this one was special in so many ways. I think part of it has to do with the year round tropical climate, strict Singapore laws that keep it clean and maintained, and the River Safari which was beautiful and a blast
Singapore Zoo (Gallery)
Monkey at Singapore Zoo
Singapore River Safari
Singapore River Safari (Gallery)
After an awesome time at the Singapore Zoo and River Safari, we decided to go check out the "hop on, hop off" bus so that we could really see the best of downtown. Talk about some great scenery!!
Hop On, Hop Off Bus (Gallery)
After our bus excursion, we decided to explore Chinatown. It's funny how Singapore actually has a Chinatown, considering that about 75% of Singaporeans are of Chinese descent. Singapore itself is like a "Chinatown." But there's a history behind this place and it has to do with the early Chinese migrant workers who settled here back during the British reign. This had to do with the "Raffles Plan of Singapore," initiated by Sir Stamford Raffles.
Singapore Chinatown (Gallery)
We checked out a couple of Buddhist temples in the area that were really neat. The attire, color, music, incense, and everything else was a first time experience for me, and a memorable one. I didn't know how to behave inside of these places so I just kept my mouth shut and walked around taking pictures. I wasn't sure about the pictures until I noticed other people doing it. It was a lot of fun.
We had dinner in Chinatown. I had sweet & sour pork.
Sweet & Sour Pork, Singapore Chinatown
We wrapped up our Chinatown tour by checking out the street shops on Pagoda Street on our way back to the MRT station. It was nighttime and we decided to head back to the hostel, take care of personal business, and then turn in. The next (Day 4) was our departure day and before leaving we had to see Sentosa Island and boy are we glad we did.
We woke up to a bittersweet final day in Singapore. Sentosa Island was calling our names and we geared up to what was going to be one of the best parts of our Singapore trip. It was a bit rainy, but not too bad. The weather was actually almost perfect. By this time, I really didn't want to leave Singapore and all its charm.
Sentosa Island (Gallery)
After a wonderful time on Sentosa Island, it was time to get ready for our flights. I was going back to China and Rebecca, Indonesia. I couldn't have had such a memorable experience without being with someone who had been to Singapore before. Rebecca was already familiar with the city. We all have a job to do and all good things must come to an end, unfortunately. I promised myself that I would be back in Singapore again someday, sooner rather than later. Aside from Hong Kong, Singapore is the best Asian city that I have experienced thus far. It is clean, developed, open minded, cosmopolitan, safe, prosperous, adventurous, and just and all around great place.
Map of Singapore
Sir Stamford Raffles founded colonial Singapore in 1819 as a trading post for the East India Company. During WW2, Singapore was occupied by Japan. Singapore gained independence from Britain in 1962 and became part of Malaysia. In 1965, Singapore became a sovereign nation.
Since Independence, land reclamation has increased the size of Singapore by 23% and due to the "greening policy," much of the island is covered with tropical flora, parks, and gardens.
Singapore lies about one degree north of the Equator, located on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Summers can be HOT. We were smart to get there before the "dog days."
Singapore is a global commercial, financial and transportation hub. It boasts titles such as the most "technology-ready" nation (WEF), a top International-meetings city (UIA), a city with "best investment potential" (BERI), the second-most competitive country, the third-largest foreign exchange market, the third-largest financial center, the third-largest oil refining and trading center and the second-busiest container port. The country has also been identified as a tax haven and is attractive to businessmen/women and retirees from all over the world.
Singapore ranks 5th on the UN Human Development Index and the 3rd highest GDP per capita. It is ranked high in education, healthcare, life expectancy, quality of life, personal safety and housing. There are four official languages: English,Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Almost all Singaporeans are bilingual.
Demographically, Singapore is about 75% Chinese, 15% Malay, and 10% Indian with everyone else being from other parts of the world.
Singapore is a unitary multiparty parliamentary republic, with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government.
Singapore has been consistently rated among the least corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International. Singapore's unique combination of a strong almost authoritarian government with an emphasis on meritocracy and good governance is known as the "Singapore model," and is regarded as a key factor behind Singapore's political stability, economic growth, and harmonious social order.
Singapore has strict laws, which attributes to its success as a nation. "Caning" is still a form of punishment and is punishable for crimes such as rape, rioting, vandalism, and certain immigration offences. Singapore has strict drug enforcement laws and capital punishment does exist in the form of long drop hangings, carried out at Changi Prison. Long drop hangings have decreased over the years, though 95% of Singaporeans support this form of capital punishment.
You cannot chew gum in Singapore unless you have a prescription from a dentist. You will get fined for throwing things at each other in public. Male homosexual oral and anal sex is illegal. Spitting is discouraged. Other laws include failing to flush toilets after use, littering, jaywalking, the possession of pornography, and the sale of chewing gum. Nonetheless, Singapore is one of the countries with the least crime in the world, with a low incidence of violent crimes.
MRT (Metro) Sign
You don't see old vehicles in Singapore and almost no pickup trucks. The government exports vehicles after a certain age. Wealthy people are mostly the people who drive because to own a vehicle in Singapore, you need a "Certificate of Entitlement," pay import duty fees, and vehicles can cost up to three times as much as in other places. The government enacts these requirements to keep a minimal amount of vehicles on the road and to reduce congestion and pollution.
Singapore invests heavily in its youth with boarding schools, educational requirements, and community centers. This also encourages many people from around the world to send their kids to Singapore for school.
For reasons stated above, Singapore is one of the best places in the world to visit and to live. However, it is also very expensive. To rent an apartment in the downtown area it can cost up to $3,000 USD a month. A business office can cost up to $10,000 USD a month.
I love Singapore and I will most definitely be back.
For more information, check out this Singapore tourism website:
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Click on link above to purchase book
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