Advice for First Time Travelers to Singapore17 October, 2014
When you’re looking for a different kind of vacation destination, somewhere that fuses a range of cultures both old and modern, Singapore fits the bill perfectly. It’s a multilingual, multicultural and cosmopolitan city – in fact, it’s a city-state – its Asian roots coexisting happily with the modern influences.
If you’re traveling to Singapore for the first time you should do what you’d do for any new place: find out as much as you can about its culture and attractions and plan your journey carefully.
Travel and hotels
It may be very basic advice but do check that your passport and other travel documents are up to date, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance that covers medical treatment and repatriation costs.
Hotels in Singapore literally come in all types, shapes and sizes. You can choose from a modern tower block, a unique building dating back to 1900 or one of the other numerous variations. If your travel budget is somewhat limited, guesthouses, B&Bs, budget hotels and hostels are available. At the opposite end of the price scale there are luxurious establishments such as the Fairmont Singapore, which is equal to some of the worlds most deluxe hotels. The usual advice applies here: Check a number of websites to get the best prices, also some of the individual hotel websites as they may offer special promotional deals at certain times. The Orchard area, Marina-Suntec and Chinatown are good hotel locations for accessing local attractions.
Singapore has a clean mass transit system, and there are buses everywhere. You will never have to wait very long at a bus stop and you can get almost anywhere by bus. Tourist sightseeing buses run regularly taking in all the most interesting locations. If using taxis only pick one up at an official taxi rank. This is for safety reasons.
In general Singapore is considered a very safe city; one reason why it is so popular for vacations.
Singapore is a shopper’s paradise. Orchard Road is a major shopping area with big department stores and fashion boutiques along with music stores and cinemas. The latest fashion trends are on show, but if you want to check out a whole range of international brands then the Marina Bay Area is the place to go.
As with most Asian countries electronic goods are popular, and you’ve a great chance of picking up some bargains.
If you’re looking for something a little different then head for Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam to pick up some unique souvenirs. Ethnic products are the draw here, so if you love jewelry, antiques and textiles then it’s the place for you.
It is also worth checking out some of the less touristic areas with independent boutiques such as Ann Siang Hill, Haji Lane and Tiong Bahru.
Singapore Zoo is a major tourist attraction and well worth a visit, or you could explore the Jurong Bird Park with its kaleidoscope of exotic birds. Universal Studios is especially popular with families, and there are opportunities to take a cable car ride, a ride on a riverboat or a tour to see hippos.
If gardens are your thing then visit the Singapore Botanical Gardens. The city has beautiful gardens, filled with a profusion of flowers, trees, herbs and shrubs.
You could also experience the Singapore Flyer, the world’s biggest observation wheel, with spectacular views of the city.
Singaporeans love to eat out, so as you’d expect, there is a huge range of different foods. The locals love Hainanese chicken rice, together with nasi lemak and laksa, often washed down with a drink of teh tarik, or “pulled tea.” Try a spicy tom yam soup or crispy Ayam Penyet, a flattened piece of fried chicken.
A trip to Singapore can be a very rewarding adventure. It introduces visitors to a noisy, colorful and completely different culture. Wherever you go in Singapore you’ll find a multitude of experiences as the city offers up its cultural and culinary delights. A trip to Singapore need not be prohibitively expensive either; check out flights.com for the current prices.