Singapore’s worldwide reputation is that of an extremely clean, very orderly city. While this is quite true (and can be attested to by the level of seriousness in which they take their crosswalks – you DO NOT walk when not permitted), it’s certainly not all there is to the “Lion City”.
Another thing you hear often about Singapore is that you shouldn’t spend too long visiting there because it’s too expensive. Many people only travel there for two days or so as they continue on their Southeast Asian route or continue on to a different Asian metropolis. Now, I’m not going to deny that yes, you can probably see many of the city’s sights and get a good taste for all things Singapore in a short period of time (it’s quite a small city). But I stayed a week in Singapore, and found it to be one of the most favorite places I’ve visited and I did not fall short of things to do by any means. Staying a bit longer in Singapore allows you to dive deeper into this interesting city.
Furthermore, in my opinion Singapore is an absolute haven for the following more common types of travelers nowadays:
Solo Female Travelers
Singapore is one of the safest places on the planet. I felt safer there than I did in my Grandmother’s nursing home (it’s the higher chance of theft at the nursing home that’ll do you in). You could probably walk around Singapore naked and holding a giant wad of cash in both hands, and no one would come anywhere near you. You shouldn’t, because that would make you an a**hole and you’d get arrested anyhow, but you wouldn’t get robbed and/or assaulted. There’s probably not anywhere else in the world where the same would be true. Including my Grandmother’s nursing home.
The orderliness of the city also factors into other aspects of traveling that would otherwise create dangerous situations for women traveling solo. For instance, you will never feel anything but complete comfort with the taxi drivers, who wouldn’t dream of ripping you off as they would in other places just because they figure you don’t know any better. The same can not be said for traveling throughout many places in the rest of the world, unfortunately.
I didn’t get any of those looks there, either. The kind we as solo female travelers dread. When men gathered on street corners glare at you in predator-like fashion. You can almost physically feel them undressing you with their eyes. I’m happy to report that Singapore is completely devoid of this type of uncomfortable oogling. Ladies, you can relax here. It’s a nice treat.
A part of my decision to spend so much time in Singapore was also a result of reading about the Little India neighborhood of the city. Indian culture is one that fascinates and intrigues me greatly, but the idea of traveling to India solo is just not something I’m comfortable with doing at the moment (a hot button topic in the travel community). So after learning of this very authentic enclave of Indian culture within the city of Singapore, I thought I’d treat it as a pseudo replacement for visiting India solo, and do so in an extremely safe environment. There are a lot of great boutique hotels located in the Little India neighborhood, if you’d like to make that your base in Singapore.
With a Mosque on one street, a Hindu temple on the next and a Buddhist temple on the next, Singapore is an absolute hodgepodge of worldwide cultures. This is not only great news for the state of world affairs but also for foodies, as there is something for each and every palate. With the intermix of cultures in Singapore, there’s truly authentic foods available from around the world including Lebanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian. These aren’t the types of Chinese or Indian cuisines you’ll find in the US, either. This is the real deal.
As far as authenticity, a plate of local fare in Singapore is truly like visiting the given country itself and eating what the locals eat there. One night I’d had peking duck over fried noodles, lamb roti the next and barbecued stingray the next.
And two words: hawker centers. They’re all over the place, and they offer such amazingly delicious and inexpensive fare. You will not go hungry in Singapore.
Now that I’ve identified myself as a Flashpacker, I can say without a doubt that Singapore is one of the best cities in the world to do just that. Accommodations, in my mind, weren’t too expensive (contrary to popular belief) that you couldn’t stay in a nicer hotel without forking over your entire life savings. There’s a wide enough range to suit many different types of travelers.
I stayed in a few different places in Singapore, but my favorite was the Hotel Clover The Arts in Chinatown. My room was clean and quirky (with great wall art), and had just enough of what I needed: an ensuite bathroom, TV, air conditioning and toiletries provided daily. There’s a Hotel Clover location in Kampong Glam (Arab Quarter) that I wish I’d also had a chance to check out. I love these properties and highly recommend to my fellow flashpacking visitors to Singapore! Say hi to Abdul for me.
Singapore is also a perfect place to put your DSLR camera to great use! If you want to visit one of the most magical places you’ll ever go in your adult life, do not miss the Gardens by the Bay. Home to the infamous Supertree Grove (which is also in the featured photo for this post), where if you stay for the twice nightly Garden Rhapsody light show, you will undoubtedly get some of the most beautiful photos you’ve ever taken.
Also at the Gardens by the Bay, I highly recommend a visit to the marvelous Cloud Forest, especially on a hot day. Veiled entirely in mist, this 35-metre mountain enclosed completely by rain forest greenery is a completely exhilarating place to visit, and therefore I went more than once. You may find yourself doing the same. However, you can go ahead and skip the Flower Dome.
The SMRT(Singapore Mass Rapid Transit, or their subway) is an experience in and of itself. I always find that I’ll learn a lot about a city from exploring their local transportation system. Wifi availability at many of the popular Singapore stations will show you how modern and convenient the city is. The rule that you cannot even take a sip of water (in order to avoid spillage) while riding the SMRT will show you just how seriously Singapore takes the cleanliness of their city. The efficiency of the trains and the punctuality to which they arrive exactly on the second they’re expected pretty much says it all. It makes me embarrassed for my own commute in NYC, where trying to predict a train’s arrival can sometimes be as reliable as choosing the winning lotto numbers.
There’s free wifi available at a plethora of other places around the city as well, another great aspect for my flashpacking friends. And it’s pretty fast, too. You can also connect at any of the McDonalds and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlets.
Of course, Singapore is a fantastic place to visit for many different types of travelers, and isn’t limited to just the three I’ve highlighted. But being that I encompass these three perspectives, I couldn’t help but confirm that Singapore is a match made in Parinirvana.