First time traveling to Singapore? Maybe this is not the first country that comes in mind when deciding to explore the Asian continent, but don’t underestimate this city that in my humble opinion, has a lot to offer!
Singapore makes for a perfect start point as there are many flights coming this way, hence cheaper tickets in sight and perfect to get acquaint to the rough-and-tumble of the other countries of Southeast Asia – introducing you to some of them – From Chinese to Indians and Malaysians, you can have a look and a taste on how these cultures get together and be astounded by it’s neat and skyscraper buildings.
Insiders Tip: When I say the city is spotless I’m not over exaggerating. Singapore even has a law which ban the sales of bubblegum to avoid littering – therefore bring your own as here you won’t be able to buy and be aware there are big penalties if you litter.
Are you ready to know a little bit more about Singapore? On this post you will encounter the sights that I consider essential for a first time visit to this remarkable city.
Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands hotel is well-known by owning the biggest infinity swimming pool in the world – the pool is 150m long and 57 stories above the ground. First time we went to Singapore was on Christmas time, so we decided to splurge and we booked a night here (check also my post about how we book our hotels for some tips). Although just guests can really use the infinity pool, you still can have a look because at the same floor of the pool, there is a restaurant which is open for public. Therefore if a room is not an option, grab a drink or even dine here and enjoy the incredible view of Singapore skyline.
Next to the Marina Bay Sands is the Botanical Garden, actually there’s a bridge inside of the hotel leading to a shopping mall and to the Gardens by the Bay.
If you love plants and flowers this place will leave you in awe – a perfect mix of green with technology. Singapore’s Botanical Gardens was build with the intention of adding more greenery and flora into this bustling city, and nowadays is one of the biggest attraction it has to offer. In addition it is totally sustainable – the so called Supertrees, generate solar power as well as they collect rainwater, all combined in a beautiful colourful frame, isn’t that splendid? Take a stroll here and watch the night show which happens every night at 7:45PM and 8:45PM.
Laying at the waterfront, the opposite side of the iconic Marina Bay Sands, is the national symbol of Singapore – the Merlion. With the head of a lion and the body of a fish, Merlion’s body symbolises Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, which comes from the same root as the word tasek (‘Lake’ in Malay). Its head represents Singapore’s original name, Singapura, or ‘Lion city’ in Malay.
From here you can watch the laser and water show that hotel Marina Bay Sands makes every night at 8PM and 21h30min. On Friday and Saturday an extra show takes place at 11PM, duration of 15 minutes.
Eat at Jumbo Seafood
Due to the melting pot of cultures, Singapore has a great food scenario, among so many dishes to choose from, one I would recommend to try is the Chilli Crab: stir-fried crabs deep cooked in a sweet and savoury tomato and chilli sauce. A dish that is specialty of the Jumbo Seafood restaurant chain – despite the name, this dish isn’t very spice.
Fun fact is that the traditional dish of my hometown (Paranaguá-Brazil) is also crab, (although prepared way differently) hence my exciting face on the picture above. Nevertheless this is a dish that I always come back for when in Singapore, so I would say put your bib on (yes you will need one) and give it a try!
Clarke Quay District
If you are looking for Singapore’s nightlife, this is the place to be! Here you will encounter a variety of restaurants and pubs. The best ones are the ones that has live music. My first time in Singapore we spent Christmas Eve here and we had a blast. Hoping up from one pub to another, tasting delicious cocktail drinks (read Singapore Sling) and listening to live music, which by the way, was extra special as the singer sang Brazilian songs in a
n almost perfect Portuguese! It was definitely a memorable Christmas but any night here will get you hooked!
When you feel like splurging some greenies, head to Orchad Road, here you will find the best shopping malls together with street markets. I suggest you to eat at the food court as many locals do and try the Beef Pepper Rice (more about it below), and my guilty-pleasure – take a look at the supermarkets and pharmacies, if you are curious like me and like to dive into the countries culture by checking what they shop for, specially which products they use to look always young! (those magical Asian skincare products *.* )
Beef Pepper Rice dish from Pepper Lunch
Like I mention before, you have to give this dish a try and you can find it in the Food court of the Bugis Junction shopping mall. Although simple, is full of flavour and I find particularly the way of making it interesting. You receive a hot cast iron plate with all the ingredients placed neatly in order, ready for you to do your magic work of mixing all up. And voila! You got yourself a yummy sticky ( because of the cheese) rice with the best quality beef, which, accordingly to experts, make this dish so special.
If so far you think Singapore is just a modern concret jungle, don’t forget to see this place to change your mind. This is the oldest neighbourhood of Singapore, where the first Chinese immigrants lived when arriving here. It got well-known by the cheerful colourful houses, perfect for instagram-lovers out there and besides the great heat that stroke us this day, I enjoyed walking around this area, seeing a much calmer and empty side of Singapore.
Extra Note: The name of the houses: Peranakans, are a Chinese sub-ethnic made up of people descended from Chinese with Indian or local Malay or Indonesian.
Little India and Kampong Glam
Little India – a neighbourhood with crowded streets occupied by shophouses is a great places to indulge in local food, plus a beautiful hindu temple in sight. Walk around until you find yourself at the Arab-street, here you will encounter Mosques instead of temples but equally interesting. Is like you travel to another country yet you just walked some blocks further and that’s what I most enjoy in Singapore, the mixed of culture and how they all live in a beautiful contrastive harmony.
Here is all about the vibe and conveniently, one of the most affordable neighbourhood to stay at. Also don’t miss the opportunity to take a look for the wet markets and hawker foods – this neighbourhood is the place to be if you like to dive into the gastronomic side of a culture. You will also find from clothes to electronics, and even score an interesting souvenir to take home with you.
Changi Airport Singapore
Probably the first thing you will see when arriving in Singapore is the airport. But what is the big deal about it? Oh well, if a waterfall in the middle of the airport isn’t impressive enough I don’t know how to convince you that this will be the most unique, airport experience you will have in your life. The largest indoor waterfall is located here – with 40 meter high along with an enchanted greenery lush. Just like that you can get a glimpse of what is waiting for you in this remarkable city that is Singapore.
Insiders tip: Accordingly to Yes Story youtube channel, you can get ‘lost” more than 3 full days in this airport.
I’m always coming back to this city and I play with my boyfriend that if we had to move somewhere in Asia, my choice (and his too actually) would be Singapore! Great weather all year around, good infra-structure and mix of culture makes it for an easy choice. That’s how much I love this place!
I hope after this post you are eager to see it by yourself as well!