This was my third time in Singapore. The first time when I was really young, so I have no recollection of it or whatever. The second time was 8 years ago for my high school graduation, but that time I got really sick. This time, I was able to enjoy Singapore while being fully healthy. There were a lot of things that caught my eye that I didn’t notice the first time around in Singapore.
First of course was upon riding the taxi to my first accommodation, the road along was as if giving me a glimpse of Singapore’s Botanic Gardens (beautiful trees, flowers etc.), and then it morphed into what you would picture Singapore to be – a city with modern architecture.
If there was anything that caught my eye, it was the architecture of the city. Everywhere you go, the architecture is very modern, sleek, just very well designed. You will always find poor neighborhoods or poorly designed places anywhere else in the world, but here in Singapore, it’s missing that. It’s amazing!
Which actually brings me to the other spectrum, which is that Singapore feels as if it’s too… organized. As if everything is too meticulously planned and forcefully presentable. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s more like a double edged sword. It’s good that it’s so organized, but it doesn’t feel natural. Maybe I wasn’t staying in Singapore long enough, but compared to Hong Kong definitely the latter felt there were more happenings around. I guess Hong Kong is a busier city anyway (too overpopulated in some areas), whereas in Singapore you can actually have a nice stroll anywhere.
Anyway, very convenient – it is easy to get around by MRT and buses. Even the taxis are slightly cheaper than the ones in Hong Kong. Everyone there speaks English, and some people there can speak Mandarin, and surprisingly, Cantonese.
Buses can take you directly to many places and are easy to understand. But the waiting time for them can be a little long and they may take a lot of alternative routes before arriving to your location.
I went during the month of September, so the weather there that time was already relatively hot. My warning to you is, of course, don’t go during the summer as it will melt you!
(1st location) Vivace – Tong Watt Road, Singapore. (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5662522)
It’s a bit of a walk from Clarke Quay station; took me about 20 minutes to walk there. There are lots of bus options around as well however. That said, it is located in a quiet area next to a 7-11 convenience store that opens 24 hours. This was probably one of the best airbnb experiences I ever had, in terms of the room quality and the value I got from it. You will have to call the host prior to going to the lift before you can go up and access to the room. They have a swimming pool, and a small gym as well. Also included in the room was a washing machine as well.
(2nd location) Park Avenue Rochester Hotel – 31 Rochester Drive, Singapore (http://www.parkavenuerochester.com/)
We got a suite, so we had two bedrooms (two twin rooms and one queen size bedroom), each room had their own bathrooms, and a common area. Washing/drying machine was also included. They also had a swimming pool as well. It is NOT centrally located… the Rochester Drive area is actually a bit west from the central area of Singapore (mainly speaking, Orchard Road). If you’re looking for a reasonably priced hotel for a reasonable quality, you can consider this hotel.
Here are some of the restaurants that I had the pleasure to dine at (except for one):
Yong Bak Kut Teh
I had to take the bus from my airbnb accommodation to the Park Avenue Rochester Hotel. Before boarding the bus, I randomly encountered this restaurant nearby the bus station… so I could see when the bus was coming. Perfect. It was one of the best meals I had in Singapore actually because of it’s tastefulness and it’s authenticity. Anyway, Bak Kut Teh is basically a meat dish cooked and simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices, popular in Singapore and Malaysia. Don’t have exact address, but located near Tong Watt Road. If you see it, stop by and enjoy it!
Bak Kut Teh
Also a bak kut teh place, but they also serve congee as well… their congee was amazing! It’s located in Rochester Mall, next to our Park Avenue hotel.
A Chinese noodle place in Chinatown where you see the chefs “make” the noodles.
Now this restaurant, I wouldn’t recommend. I got one of their signature dishes, some spicy chicken whatever. Lots of bones, hard to eat, taste was meh. Was located in Haji Lane. Only went in cause I saw a lot of people eating there.
The Soup Spoon
Went into a mall, wanted to try something quick that I couldn’t find in Hong Kong. Then I found Soup Spoon. The restaurant basically tells you everything it is – a restaurant that serves soup. Of course, you can also add different stuff to it. Like I added mine to have puff pastry as well. One of those casual restaurants where you get what you pay for.
Another quick casual Vietnamese restaurant filled with lots of people during lunch hours. Actually this restaurant was pretty good, I enjoyed it. Basically they serve mainly pho and sandwiches.
Satay by the Bay
Does this even count as a restaurant? I guess not… more like a food area with a lot of different food stores, most of them of course serving Satay. This area is located in Gardens by the Bay, which is in Marina Bay Sands. The satay was quite nice actually! Flavorful. The best? I wouldn’t say so. But still rather amazing.
Jumbo Seafood Gallery
One of the most popular seafood restaurants in Singapore, and very famous amongst tourists, is Jumbo Restaurant. They are most notable for their chili crab, so this is a must get! This was also one of my favorite restaurants in Singapore as well. Located in Clarke Quay. Everything was tasty and had their own unique flavor.
Da Paolo Bistro Bar
An Italian restaurant located near Rochester Drive. The reason why we ate here was because I was attending a wedding in Singapore, and the wedding was actually located here! Also not bad as well.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
But the no. 1 that tops this restaurant list has got to be Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (ok maybe the Yong Bak Kut Teh shares the same spot… I can’t decide!). Everyone knows that when you go to Singapore that you have to get Hainanese Chicken Rice… but don’t just go to a random food court to get it. Go to somewhere like Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice! They have a couple of branches, but the one we went to was located in Maxwell Food Court in China Town. I think we were there on a Saturday at lunch, so we had to wait in line for about 20 minutes before we got our food. The chicken is astounding!!! Simply beautiful, great texture, good to the taste… just thinking about it is making my mouth water. This is the one restaurant I will go to again next time I am in Singapore.
Things To Do
Like what you would expect visiting most Chinatowns in the world.
MANGOSTEEEEEN. My friends LOVED it. They say it’s the best fruit in the world (I beg to differ) so we bought a bunch and shared it amongst ourselves. Very popular in Singapore actually! However, not my cup of tea.
This temple is a must visit! Do NOT miss out the 6-7 floors in this temple! You would think it’s like any other temple, you go in, see the Buddha, and that’s it. But it’s more than just a temple… it’s actually a museum as well! See pics below for all the other things you can see inside.
Visit Haji Lane if you want to experience a street filled with boutique stores, stuff you wouldn’t find commonly.
Clarke Quay (website)
Enjoy the nightlife or bar scene? Then Clarke Quay is the place for you. It is basically where most of the bars and clubs are congregated. There is something going on everyday, particularly starting from Wednesdays all the way up to the weekend. That said however, there are other places in Singapore that also provide very nice bars and nightlife like those near Chinatown or Marina Bay Sands.
To be honest, it didn’t feel like there was anything special here… there wasn’t much to do. It’s an area filled with restaurants, bars, and cafes, and… that’s pretty much it.
Sands Skypark Observation Deck
Get on top of Marina Bay Sands and see the whole of Singapore.
Shop at Raffles City
Go to Long Bar in Raffles Hotel (website)
Take a visit in the classic Raffles Hotel, and note particularly the Long Bar. It is most famous as being the birthplace of the worldwide recognized cocktail, Singapore Sling.
Since it wasn’t considered appropriate for ladies to drink during those times, Ngiam Tong Boon created this drink which looked like a fruit punch but was actually an alcoholic drink, and so it became very popular with the ladies.
Gardens by the Bay (website)
A manmade garden, very alluring and impressive, to promote the protection and conservatism of the environment and nature in general. A lot of Singaporeans after work come here to run as well.
And definitely visit Cloud Forest in Gardens by the Bay while you’re at it (website)
And don’t forget to visit the casino (and shopping mall) as well. (website)
In contrast with the casinos in Macau, this casino from Sands is actually much more elegant and natural. Another plus is that there isn’t as many people here, so it gives you a lot of personal space to just move around. Of course, the casinos are pretty much the same (like everywhere else in the world) and the big name luxury brands continue to occupy these casino places.
Singapore Botanic Gardens (website)
One of my favorite attractions in Singapore, I could totally see why it’s considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a very tranquil, relaxing area with lots to see. Walked for 2 hours and only covered about a third of this huge garden. There is also an Orchard VIP section (you are allowed to go) where it shows you the important people that have visited Singapore and the Gardens and the specific orchard that is dedicated as a gift for these visitors.
Night Safari (website)
The night safari is a bit far from where everything else is in Singapore, but I definitely do recommend going to the Night Safari… it was actually one of my favorite attractions there! At the safari, you can either choose to do the walking routes, or you can take a tour bus (long queue during peak hours like 7-8pm) and there will be a tour guide that will stop at the animal sightings and give you some information about them.
Singapore was fun, but I definitely think that 4-5 days here is enough. I didn’t do Sentosa this time, but including that, I would probably say a week would be enough to do everything in Singapore. That said, my two recommendations of places to visit would most definitely be the Night Safari and the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Most of the food there was actually pretty good there as well, but it’s better to do some research to make sure you do go to the good ones (which I’ve mentioned some in this blog already!). Unfortunately though, a lot of it reminds me of Hong Kong, especially the shopping, so definitely the shopping part was a bit boring for me.
*Originally published on Oct. 30, 2015