This post is part of my series of city guides, designed to give you a bit of an introduction into the city in question: activities, accommodation, transport, restaurants, food and nightlife. It’ll also basically act as a contents page for everything I’ve ever written about the place.
I went to Singapore as part of my Gap Year trip in 2010. After America and Australasia, it was my first ever experience of Asia. I was only there for a couple of days, where I stayed with some of my travel buddy’s family, who took us out and recommended some sites. At the time, I thought that a couple of days was enough to explore Singapore- a sentiment which I have heard expressed by others- but in hindsight I’m sure there is much more than I did not get to discover.
During my stay in Singapore, I headed over to the Asian Civilisation Museum to learn about the different cultures on the Asian continent. In addition to the range of displays and beautiful artefacts, there were also several interactive areas, which included some dressing up and colouring in. Admittedly, some of these may have been meant for children but they also kept me entertained.
I was told I should go to Bugis Street before I went to Singapore, and it was certainly worth a visit. You simply cannot go to Asia without visiting a market and Bugis Street provides Singapore’s answer to that need. It wasn’t the best market I frequented in Southeast Asia but I did manage to purchase a bag, purse, necklace, presents for friends and a shot glass for my travel collection. I would have bought more if Singapore hadn’t been my first stop on my trip through Asia. For example, there were some harem pants that I wish I hadn’t held out for.
Changi Prison was used by Japanese soldiers in World War II to hold prisoners of war. This included my great uncle, so when I went to Singapore, I visited Changi to learn more about what had happened there. My audio guide was very informative and included interviews with survivors from the prison. It was heavy going but certainly an important place to visit.
Chinatown was buzzing, filled with souvenirs, food and red lanterns hanging across the streets. After a Dim Sum snack of a steamed pork bun and steamed sponge, I wandered through a nearby market, before sitting down to try a Singapore Sling cocktail, after all, when in Singapore. I’m not sure I would choose to have one anywhere else though.
Sadly, I’ve never been to India, but I felt like I had got a little closer when I went visited Little India in Singapore, which was full of good food and decorated, colourful buildings, with the city’s towering skyscrapers in the background. Apart from sipping coconut milk, through a straw straight from the coconut, I got my fortune told by a bird, which flipped over a card after being let out of its cage. It seemed that good things would happen to me- my fate was like that of Buddha (that can only be good, right?), I would win my lawsuit and my son would be forward in the family (I’m not entirely sure what that means but it sounds positive).
Singapore’s Merlion landmark- a fountain with a lion’s head and mermaid’s tail, which spouts water from its mouth- sits overlooking Marina Bay. On the other side of the water is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which looks like a boat balanced on three stilts. It’s pretty hard to miss. I’d heard there was rooftop garden but when I was there in 2010, it hadn’t officially been open yet so I could not go and see it for myself (there is now an infinity pool up there, where you can swim overlooking the city below). However, the hotel led to a casino, which (then) I wasn’t old enough to get into and onto a shopping centre, which had an actual canal with boats running through it. It was possibly the snazziest place I had ever been.
Singapore is full of some amazing architecture, including Hindu and Buddhist temples, Little India’s bright houses and more classically influenced, white buildings. It’s a great city just to explore.
On the surface, Ais Kacang looks like a mound of crushed ice, covered in syrup. The surface was tasty. However, hidden below was a surprising mix of beans, sweetcorn and agar jelly. Agar jelly may sound familiar to you- it was the stuff used in petri dish-related experiments in Biology lessons at school. Mhmm- tasty.
The Banana Leaf Apolo had been recommended to my travel buddy before we arrived in Singapore so going was a must for us. It didn’t disappoint. Food was served on banana leaves instead of plates and their speciality was fish head curry. A fish head may not sound particularly appetising- and indeed it didn’t look appetising floating in the middle of the dish- but I am happy to report that it tasted good- just like a fish! We went with my friend’s uncle who told us that it was the man of the house’s prerogative to eat the fish eye. We are absolutely fine with that but I’m not sure he was.
- Eight countries to go shopping in
- Travel Photo: buildings in Singapore
- Travel Photo: rubbing Buddha for luck
- Travel Photo: the Merlion and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel
- Two days in Singapore
- Would you like to try a bug?