With a stopover in Singapore on my way to Vietnam to meet my sister, I decided to extend my stay in the city. I had never been and had heard a lot about the city-state that continually reinvents itself. Two nights seemed like a good amount of time to become acquainted with Singapore. It’s one of the most expensive places to travel in the world, so keep that in mind when planning your visit. Litter is non-existent (I honestly saw someone sweeping up a single leaf at the Botanic Gardens) and chewing gum is banned. Singaporeans seem more reserved than other places I’ve visited in Asia, but friendly and polite.
I stayed at New Majestic Hotel, a boutique hotel in Chinatown. It’s a small hotel with each room designed by a different local artist.
If you’re ever in Singapore, I highly recommend staying in Chinatown. It has a distinctly local feel to it, the architecture is beautiful, and many of the shops, restaurants, and cafés are world class. Some people say Chinatown is touristy, but I found it much less touristy than other parts of the city. My hotel was only a two-minute walk from the Outram Park MRT station, which was incredibly convenient.
My favourite spots in the area are:
For Singaporean hawker food, you can’t go wrong at any of the corner stalls in Chinatown. Order a Tiger and some Hainanese chicken rice, and watch the world go by. Here are some suggestions for those who might prefer a more vegetarian-friendly option:
Breakfast: The Daily Roundup, excellent coffee, great atmosphere, and a menu consisting of sweet and savoury crepes (unlike the ones you’ll have in Europe).
Lunch: Try the dumplings and broccoli with oyster sauce at the inconspicuous Jing Huá Xiāo Chi.
If you’re after a Western breakfast, Luxe (a popular Sydney restaurant that opened in Singapore) has plenty of eggs, avocados, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc. Not to mention excellent coffee.
For a beautiful view of the Singapore skyline, head to Potato Head Folk. I’m not sure if this place is associated with Potato Head in Bali, but it’s three stories and has the most amazing atmosphere. The drinks are quite pricey (but where aren’t they in Singapore?) so order a stiff one and know that you’re paying for a great view.
For more amazing hawker stalls, venture to Newton Food Centre (Newton Station is only one stop away from Outram).
Singapore Botanic Gardens: Singapore has been described as “city in a garden,” and I can really see why after visiting the botanic gardens. I could have easily spent an entire day here. Fortunately, I ventured to the gardens first thing in the morning before the rain! It rains a lot in Singapore, which is nice when it’s 35 degrees and hella humid! I loved how everyone was running, practicing tai chi and yoga despite the heat.
Orchard ION Mall: As soon as it started pouring rain, I had no choice but to venture to one of the million malls in Singapore. The Orchard ION has a lot of high-end designer shops (Louis Vuitton, Céline, and Chanel) but also a few more affordable boutique shops by local designers. My favourite store was In Good Company for two reasons: I loved that the high quality fabrics used and the wearable styles but also at the back of the shop was the most gorgeous café, Plain Vanilla. After wandering the gardens and the rows upon rows of stores, it was enjoyable to sit down with an espresso and a freshly baked earl grey cupcake.
Another interesting thing about Singapore (and the malls in particular) is the abundance of Christmas décor. My friend, Emma mentioned Singapore’s obsession with Christmas, but I didn’t realize the scale of said obsession until I visited. The decorations are so extravagant and over-the-top (in the best possible way). And I say this as a North American where the commercialization of Christmas knows no bounds.
Sentosa Island: Singapore a bit of a user-friendly utopia; it doesn’t always feel real because everything is so perfect. Never is this truer than at Sentosa Island. Home to Universal Studios Singapore, Sentosa is a tourist hub. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I caught the MRT to the Harbourfront, but loved that I could walk 15 minutes across the bridge right to the island. The cable car is another option. Sentosa Island feels a bit like Hollywood, but more intense. There are museums, casinos, and rides, and fountains, many, many fountains.
If you have a layover in Singapore, don’t despair! Changi International Airport is rated #1 in the world and it’s easy to see why with a free movie theatre (yes, free!) butterfly gardens, and a rooftop pool. There’s also hawker food stalls that sell street food comparable to that sold in Newton! Amazing, right?
Sometimes I’d forget I was in a mega-city whilst roaming the streets of Chinatown. This neighbourhood is home to my favourite architecture, I loved the detailed pastel facades of each storefront!
In addition to my usual city guide, I thought I’d try something new and vlog my time in Singapore. I’ll be sharing my vlog via social media in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that.