During the course of the last two weeks, I’ve been pushing out a series of posts that were written from my experience as a first time traveller to Singapore. If you haven’t already done so, I’d highly recommend reading those too (links right below this paragraph, and repeated right after the entire post), as they may contain some tips missed in this last post of the Singapore Travel series.
Incase you’d like to read the other posts in the series, here’s the Singapore Travel series.
Right, let’s get down to the tips bit.
Tips for first time Singapore travelers.
- Walk. This is the best tip I can deliver. Walk to everywhere in Singapore, at any time. Singapore is a small city, compared to where I hail from. It’s convenient, not at all cumbersome, and more so pleasant than anything else. It is designed to be pedestrian-friendly, something that I sorely miss here, at home. It is also the best way to experience the city. If you cannot afford to walk, take a bus or a taxi. The metro is great, but it runs underground. With the metro, you would end up missing something interesting. Do note that walking does require you have time on hand. If you’re in a rush, I would advice a taxi or another alternative mode of faster-transport, maybe a warp-drive, instead.
- Carry or don’t carry an umbrella. This one completely depends on your personal choice of preference. If you’re like me, you like rain; you like getting wet or drenched in a foreign land, then you wouldn’t want to carry that umbrella. If you generally don’t want to get wet, then by all means carry an umbrella or wear a raincoat or something. It does rain frequently in Singapore, and although most showers are light, thundery, and don’t last long, it is better to carry that umbrella (you know, to share it with someone?). Weather wise, Singapore is a little like Sri Lanka, with the hottest month being February, and the coldest being January.
- Do a little research on arrival, and mark down what’s important to you. Mark stuff on a map or make a list of stuff you want to do or visit. This is more so required if you plan to play it by ear rather than already having built an iteanrry to navigate Singapore with. Singapore has tons to see, and do with regards to events, places, restaurants, bars, and people. Writing a skeletal list or marking things in a map, offers you the chance to club things together or keep some spare time for the unexpected sights, events, or whatever-it-is-that-may-hold-your-interest. For example, I made list of things I wanted-wanted to do, like get inked in Singapore. Don’t let the post title fool you with this one, this tip can be filed within that “Travel Tips” folder too.
- Explore your immediate area, on arrival. You’ve just checked yourself in, now what? Great! Welcome to Singapore! Now get out, and roam the streets around your hotel room, noticing, and marking things / stuff / shops / restaurants in your head, as backups, emergency equipment suppliers, help, etc. Also, this helps in getting that early morning breakfast routine sorted, before you know, heading out on the streets. Singapore is littered with small time cafes, and restaurants located on the streets as well as inside big time malls. So, food is not a problem. Unless, you’re extremely picky, and choosy. Then, no. Just, no.
- Visit the Museums, but keep areas like Fort Canning Park for the last few days or else you’ll miss out on something more worthy of your time, like for e.g. The National Museum, which requires at the least 3-6 hours of your time for a complete visit. And, I would highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in SEA history, art, and culture. The National Museum is surrounded by other galleries, and museums, and it is nestled right outside Fort Canning Park. You could club those two together, but keep Fort Canning Park for after your museum visit has concluded. Also, if you’re planning a visit at Fort Canning Park, stop over at Fort by Maison Ikkoku. The steak’s awesome, so is the ambience, the music, the service, and people there.
- For shopping souvenirs visit Bugis St. It’s a mashup of small stores, and most of them do bargain. Though if you’re looking to buy clothes, the brands at various malls across Singapore are more affordable as compared to street shops, like the ones at Bugis St. It took me 10 minutes to pick all the souvenirs I wanted to. So, really doesn’t take too much time, picking souvenirs from here, and Bugis St., has everything for everyone in terms of souvenirs; for everyone.
- For finding good bargains, on great novelty items, visit Arab St., and Haji Lane. In fact do not give this place a miss, and keep an afternoon, and same evening free for this area; I would’ve recommended to keep the entire day free for these two, but most shops, and restaurants open around afternoon. Both, Arab St, and Haji Lane come highly recommended from me; more so than the Quay-nightlife.
- Feel like bar hopping? Visit Clark Quay, and Boat Quay. They both have excellent places you could get yourself a few drinks at. Though, I wouldn’t recommend the Hooters here; it’s a family friendly restaurant.
- If you’re planning to get inked, check out Familiar Strangers Tattoo Studio. Ask for Chris. I can vouch for his work.
- Locals are very friendly, and approachable. Do not hesitate to strike a conversation.
- Do not, and I mean do not venture to Nunsongyee – Korean Bingsu Café At Bugis (a Korean desert place) in the night. Although, it is one of the few spots in Singapore that is open 24/7, the staff here doesn’t appreciate tourists coming in late. And, the place is super-expensive, the deserts are not that great either. My advice would be to give this one a miss, and instead get an ice cream or some nachos from your friendly 7/11.
- There are 7/11s all over the place, if you would want to get rid of your coin-change then this would be perfect place to end your day, and to unload those coins that are not accepted back home by your friendly, neighborhood forex establishment. I took a walk, every night, just before going to bed, and would get water, etc. to dispose off the coin change.
- Water is expensive inside Universal Studios, carry a 2L bottle from a 7/11. Keep one entire day for Universal Studios, and the other (a couple of days even) for Sentosa. From what I’ve heard Sentosa is worth it. I did the mistake of not visiting Sentosa, and if it weren’t for the Battle Star Galatica Roller Coaster at Universal Studios, Sentosa would’ve been more an attractive place to spend time at, instead of Universal Studios.
- If you ask your hotel to order you a cab, most will charge an additional Singapore dollar for the service. Keep this mind, while asking the reception to hail you a cab or simply inquire about cab hailing charges, and services from your reception desk.
- The Singapore Eye is much hyped. It is good for one go, and usually the better time to visit would be evening around 7ish. At the time of writing this, the ride lasts for about 30-40 minutes, and costs about 135SGD / person. It so happened we found ourselves here in the evening, and it was kinda nice looking at the city lights from up above. But, if you’re alone, you may tend to get bored too; especially if you’re a hyper active individual who likes base jumping.
- Riverwalk, Marina Walk, and Fort Canning park are great for evening walks. Do not consider Fort Canning Park to be something more than a park. Yes, it’s a fort, but more so a park. There’s something interesting there though, if you happen to like steak dinners, and awesome drinks, I highly recommend Fort by Maison Ikkoku. The grounds there may hold concerts, and other events, like a wedding. So check when you’re there.
- There are many co-working spaces strewn across the city, and charge about 20-50 SGD a day. Good for working while traveling. So, if you’re carrying your work with you, these are your best shots at finding a place to work from, for a day or two, sledged between your vacationing time.
- As a recommendation, I would highly recommend looking into the Addler Hostel in Chinatown. I was booked here previously, but had to cancel. Everyone wanted to be together. But, this is somewhere I would stay the next time I find myself in Singapore. Totally worth it, going by the reviews, and bunks. This one’s more so for introverts, and people who’d want to keep their own space, and only mingle when out or about or by choice. This hostel is super clean too.
- If you’re like me, and can’t do without some milk tea, I would highly recommend Toast Box. If you like your coffees in the morning, I would highly recommend Toast Box again. It’s great for a quick cup of your favorite hot beverage, and a quick breakfast bite too! Additionally, Toast Box (at the time of writing this post) has about 50 outlets strewn across Singapore. Most of these outlets are, again, a walking distance from your hotel or hostel or Airbnb. Just Google them, and direct yourself there. Try the Butter Toast. I do not think, I’ve had anything more fluffier in my life.
- If you like to experiment with food, and would want to keep it more affordable, I would highly recommend the local foodcourts. They’re an experience in, and on themselves. I happen to visit one alone, and the food was smackingly good, and worth every penny of the 5SGD. Unless you’re a vegetarian, then your best bet would be a hotel or some restaurants that serve South Indian courses, majority of which are located at Little India.
- The much spoken about mall - Mustafa Centre - located in Little India, is a convenience store. It’s okay for buying electronic items sans duty, and taxes. what I found it good for was buying cheap Instax mini film packs. I got 50 for 50SGD. Awesome bargain that.
- There is an electronics only, IT, and Camera mall - Slim Lim. It’s the best place to find a bargain deal. Though, you’d have to keep your wits about you now-a-days, and not get sweet talked into something you don’t want to buy or pay for. Definitely a visit if you’re planning on buying anything related to electronics or cameras. Do check on international warranties, etc. before investing there. Most malls will offer great products, and most of the shops within the malls will have a sale. Look for them. If you’re into anime, and manga like I am, you’ll find many a shop in the malls of Singapore, to buy related products. Though the products may not be originals, and may be copies from China / South Korea.
- Singapore, it is a concrete jungle. Do not expect much in terms of non-touristy stuff to do, except that of finding a good bargain or two, and admiring the art, design, and local culture. Of course Universal Studio, and other tourist attractions are abound, but for a nature lover or someone who would want more, there’s nothing more to the city really.
- If you have the time, and like clubbing, the Raffles building boasts a great club on the open-roof roof top. From there the entire city is visible, and it may be better than the ride on the Singapore Eye.
- If you want to check out the Marina Bay hotel (seven star hotel), and are not staying there, only a small part of it is open for you. Primarily, a cafe or a bar on the roof top is open to the general visitors or so I’ve heard. Marina bay is great for walks.
- If you would like to be in the center of everything tourist-y, and would like to thus save time traveling / walking, etc Queen St is a good place to stay at or around. Even chinatown for that matter, is a great place to stay and does have quite a few hostels around, if you don’t mind a bunk.
- Speaking of chinatown, keep a day free if you want to explore this area. Preferably make it a Saturday. I’ve heard they have a traditional Chinese dragon-dance every Saturday evening here. And, the streets in the evening are full of food stalls.
- The entire city is lit-up, and in a festive mood during Christmas, and the Indian Festival of Lights. Check for other, upcoming festivities that may overlap with your Singapore travel dates. They live it up, during these or other festivities.
- If you happen to smoke, you’re not allowed to smoke when indoors, with the exception of smoking rooms. Most places would have you smoke outside. When smoking outside, keep in mind that you’ve to be at least five meters away from any doors of anything. You’ll be fined otherwise.
- Overall, be polite, be safe, and do not forget to have fun.
The Singapore Travel Series Of Posts
In the case you’d like to read the other posts in the series, here’s the Singapore Travel series.