I hope everyone’s May is going well and that you’ve managed to get everything you wanted out of this year so far.
Personally, there are a few things to report on since my last post. Most notably, I am back in the UK, having swapped Australian winter for my first European summer in four years. With my visa up and new projects on the horizon in the UK, I may have closed my Melbourne chapter for now, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of my travels: quite the contrary. In fact, if anyone has any suggestions for easy weekends away from Brighton (at home or abroad) please hit me up!
Anyway, before I came back home, there was one more trip I had to do on the other side of the world and that was to visit Singapore! This country that’s nestled between Indonesia and Malaysia, is tiny in size but huge in impact. In location, it’s the perfect layover destination between Australia and the UK, and as one of my best friends lives there, it was a no-brainer that I’d visit for a few days. So, read on to find out everything you need to know about visiting Singapore (including some local tips!)
Before you go!
Firstly, as with all travel these days, there are a few Covid- related things to bear in mind! As of May 2022, you do not need a pre-departure test to enter Singapore if you are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated counts as having two doses of an approved vaccination. The only thing you do need to do is to fill in the SG arrival card and download the Track and Trace app on your smartphone. Once in the country, you will be required to wear masks in indoor settings.
When you get there
Getting a sim card is a good idea in Singapore (particularly for solo travellers.) The most popular sim card for tourists is Singtel’s Hi! sim card which starts at just $12 for 7 days and gives you 100 GB of local data and 500 mins of local calls. You can buy a prepaid tourist sim card at the airport or at many seven elevens. Just don’t forget to bring you’ll passport to the shop when you buy this as you will need it for verification. You should also buy an EZ-Link card (more on this below.)
The centre of Singapore is extremely walkable in size, although the humidity means that it can be a little unpleasant if you are out for too long. Therefore, the easiest and cheapest way to get around the city is via public transport. If you want to take this, you need to purchase an EZ-Link card. This will allow you to use travel on Singapore’s basic bus services, MRT and LRT trains. You can buy one of these from many different venues including MRT stations and Seven-Eleven. Once purchased, just top up and go.
If you have local data, then you can also use Grab which is the local ride app and is generally cheaper than taxis.
What to do
Singapore does everything bigger and better and you could eat, shop and drink to your heart’s content in the city. However, if like me, your wallet doesn’t quite cover a Gucci shopping spree, then read on for some fun but affordable suggestions of things to do in Singapore.
Haji Lane is a must-do in Singapore. It’s the narrowest street in the city and comes alive at night with its bustling bars and restaurants. You’ll meet locals and tourists alike enjoying a Tiger beer.
Gardens by the bay
If there’s one thing that I recommend you do in Singapore, it’s to visit Gardens by the Bay. This stunning nature park spans 101 hectares in the Central Region of Singapore and consists of three waterfront gardens. It’s free to enter but you need to pay for some of the main attractions such as the Cloud Forest. We decided to just do the OCBC skyway which I was really happy with as it had spectacular views of the city and only cost $8.
If you’ve got a little bit more time, then you may want to head to Sentosa Island. This is Singapore’s island resort and it’s easily accessible from the city by road, monorail or cable car. The beach is man-made but really lovely to relax on for a day out of the city. There are plenty of beach bars to lounge at, with stunning views. in fact, you can see all the way across to Indonesia.
You can’t go to Singapore without tucking into plenty of delicious street food. Head on over to the next section to read more about this!
What and where to eat
When it comes to street food, Singapore’s hawker centres are world-renowned! If you aren’t familiar with them, Hawker centres are open-air complexes that contain many stalls that sell a wide variety of affordably priced street food. The food is delicious, cheap and so varied as it is influenced by the heavy Malay, Indian and Chinese presence in Singapore. What makes Singapore’s Hawker centres so unique is that they are the only places where street vendors actually have Michelin stars! Basically, it’s the opportunity to try award-winning food for a few dollars. Each centre operates a little differently but generally, you queue up and wait for whatever dishes you have ordered. Then you sit down to eat at one of the communal tables, usually sharing a few dishes between people. Here are some of my favourite hawker centres that we visited and what we ate there.
Chicken rice at Maxwell
Firstly, you have to try Chicken rice which is considered one of Singapore’s national dishes. This simple yet delicious dish consists of poached chicken on white rice served with soy sauce and chilli garlic dip. You can get it all over Singapore but the best place to get it is at the Tian Tian Hainanese chicken rice at Maxwell food centre.
Everything at Hong Lim Complex
This famous food hall serves a variety of Chinese, Indian and Malay food and it’s all delicious. Some of the things we tried included a Michelin starred laksa, curry puffs, Kway Teow ( a Malaysian noodle dish with a charred smoky flavour), duck rice, and to finish egg tarts.
Get your Crazy Rich Asians fix at Newton food centre
We had an absolute feast at this partially outdoor food centre as we went for my friend’s birthday. Fans of Crazy Rich Asians might recognise this hawker centre from the movie and it’s definitely one of the hawker centres where I saw the most tourists. However, that doesn’t mean the food isn’t delicious. A few of my favourite dishes included the chilli crab, mixed satay and carrot cake or Chai tow kway( a glutinous rice flour “cake” that’s made from a white radish and cooked into an omelette.)
Fun fact, despite not resembling the cream cheese frosting sponge cake we are used to, the dish is called carrot cake because In China’s Hokkien dialect, chai tow means “radish” or “carrot,” while kway means “pastry” or “rice cake.” Therefore the name comes from the loose English from Hokkien translation of “radish pastry”
Fullerton Bay rooftop bar
If you are looking to spoil yourself with a nice cocktail evening but don’t want to pay the high prices at Marina Bay Sands then I recommend the Lantern rooftop bar at Fullerton Bay Hotel. We went here as a surprise for my friends and couldn’t fault the view or the drinks!
Don’t forget to leave some time to explore the airport! It’s famous for its architecture and really stunning. Unfortunately, I spent too much time in it when my flight was cancelled but that’s another story…
So, there you have it. Those are some of my tips for having the best layover in Singapore! Do you have any more tips or recommendations of things to do next time (I’ll be back!) Don’t hesitate to get in touch.