If you haven’t heard of Singapore, you must not have watched Crazy Rich Asians yet. Just kidding, even before this movie made the small country so popular, it was already a flourishing tourist destination. I had the opportunity to study abroad in Singapore during my University degree and I can’t say enough great things about this place – it really is my favorite place on earth.
What to EXPECT in Singapore
The humidity in Singapore is so strong that you will feel it as soon as you arrive on Singaporean soil. Be prepared for hot weather, unless you happen to be there during monsoon season (Dec-March and June-Sept). If you are there during monsoon, be prepared for LOTS of rain.
Singapore is one of the cleanest cities in the world and you’ll understand why as soon as you explore the city! Due to the many laws that Singapore has in place, the streets are figuratively clean enough to eat off of.
The amount of rules and policies that Singapore has in place is extensive. If you’re walking down Chinatown, you’ll find a bunch of gag souvenirs with all of Singapore’s laws on display. A couple of the laws that really stick out are:
- Chewing Gum – There is NO chewing gum allowed in the country. This probably helps with keeping the streets as clean as they are but if you are caught with gum you will be fined $1000 for first time offenders.
- Littering – If I didn’t get the message across the first couple times in this post, Singapore takes cleanliness very importantly. So importantly that if you are caught littering you will be charged $300 for small items (small paper/wrappers) but cans and bottles will cost you a trip to the court house.
- Jaywalking – Not crossing on properly marked pedestrian cross walks can cost you anywhere ranging from $20 – jail time.
- Durian in train stations – There are signs around the train station and inside the train that will explicitly state you can not bring Durian on the train. However, it does not state what the punishment is.. just don’t do it!
Singapore has 4 national languages (English, Malay, Tamil, Mandarin). A different Singaporean dialect that I learned of was during my first trip to Singapore. I was at a kid’s flee market and overheard the children speaking a mixture of languages to each other. At first I was confused and asked one of the children what they were speaking and she said Singlish. Singlish is English but incorporated words/vowels/tones from Malay, Tamil and Mandarin.
Travelling around Singapore is very easy by train, bus, uber and lyft. Because of how small Singapore is, you are nearly able to go everywhere by train and walking! The train system is clean and easy to understand. However, if you are used to travelling on Japan’s bullet train, Singapore’s transit is MUCH slower. Travelling from the Chinese Gardens in Jurong East to Chinatown will take you roughly ~30 mins.
You will also notice the lack of cars on the road and that is simply because it costs WAY too much to drive in Singapore. Because cars are imported to Singapore, the cost to purchase a vehicle is double what we would usually pay in North America. Yes, a Honda civic has a hefty price tag on it in Singapore. While I was in an Uber, our driver told us, Singaporean’s that drive also have to pay an additional ~10k fee JUST to drive.
What to SEE & DO in Singapore
There is no shortage of things to eat and try in Singapore. If you need a list of things to try and eat, check out my Singapore food post here!
Gardens by the Bay
Social media has made this place very popular as people have deemed it to resemble Avatar. Whether you’re walking around during the day or waiting for the light show at night, this place is simply worth the stop.
Light and Water show at Marina Bay
Late night around downtown and got nothing to do? Check out the Light and Water Show! It’s a great activity to bring the whole family to and after the show is over, you can take a nice walk around the Bay or pop inside the mall for Gong Cha! This show is just entertaining because it has projections, music, dancing water as well as bubbles.. Everywhere! If you time it properly, you will be able to view the Gardens by the Bay Light Show and then make your way over to Marina Bay for the Light and Water Show.
Fun Tip: outside the mall is a huge whirlpool fountain, if there is no water, get someone to stand on 1 end of the fountain and yourself on the other. If you whisper into the fountain, the person on the other side of the fountain will be able to hear you no matter how quiet you talk. We noticed people doing this and were confused and once we tried, we ended up spending half an hour having quiet conversations or listening to other people’s conversations.
The Cloud Forest
Singapore is extremely hot and very humid. So when you find a place that has aircon it’s a blessing BUT when you find a place that has aircon AND leaves you speechless – you found the Cloud Forest. Of all the monuments and UNESCO sites I’ve seen, nothing compared to this.. It simply took my breath away. There is a package deal that includes the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. Honestly I didn’t find the Flower Dome to be a highlight so I would skip it but ultimately it’s up to you.
Tip: Head to Chinatown’s tourist centers and purchase the ticket from there, it’ll save you a couple bucks 🙂
So you’re deciding on going to Universal Studios.. Or the beach.. Maybe a water park but you can’t decide. This island has it all and more! Family approved and always a good time. They also have the longest Zipline in South East Asia. I went on it and would highly recommend it! When else can you say you’ve been on the longest zipline in SE Asia?!
I don’t know why but Singapore‘s Chinatown is just my favorite place. It’s always bustling with people, the energy is high and there’s always so much to see, do and EAT!
This place is crazy busy and always packed with people. Heck you might even get lost and not know which floor you’re on anymore.. But I think that just adds to the overall experience. It’s a fun place to get souvenirs like durian chocolate or keychains.
Chinese Garden in Jurong East
If you have some time and want to walk around, this place is gorgeous and it’s not as popular as the other tourist destinations. It is rather far from downtown Singapore, but if you’re up this way already.. Enjoy the garden and then head off to Jurong Point for some cheap eats. While going to NTU I spent a lot of time at Jurong Point and have enjoyed the “Mongkok” as well as the Japanese Food Street that they have!
It’s completely free to go up the ION building and you’ll get a fantastic view of the city! After checking out the view, head down and go to Bake! Hopefully the hype has died down and you won’t have to wait for 2 hours like I did, but this place is delicious and a must try.
Here is the website: https://sg.cheesetart.com/
Shopping Tip: The store Charles & Keith is a popular shoe/accessory store worldwide. However, for some reason it’s the cheapest in Singapore. If you’re looking for a new bag or shoe – for literally a fraction of the cost compared to other countries, get it in Singapore!
This area is bustling at night. It can get rather busy and noisy but if you want to have a night out with friends, this place is full of energy! There’s always live music and singers around every corner. Grab a drink and listen/watch to the most amazing performers! A group of us went to hang out at a pub in the area, listened to live music, danced and met the singers, which we still keep in touch with today!
The center is in Little India and has everything you’re looking for at a discount! I was most interested in why they zip lock your bag once you purchase. Apparently it’s so they know you’ve already paid. But if you’re looking for cheap souvenirs or a popular purchase was a whitening tooth paste that is cheaper to purchase in Singapore.
This community has so much to offer! Be sure to wander around, eat some dosa, get souvenirs, ink your hand with henna paint and check out the gorgeous Sultan mosque.