By: Susan Gerle
I heard from many travelers that Singapore is the cleanest place on earth and after visiting the city/ country I would agree. With a population of over 5,000,000 in an area only approximately 710 sq km., it has one of the highest population densities in the world.
The powers that be made a good choice to keep the city beautiful. The fines are huge if you dare litter. Don’t get caught chewing gum and spitting it out because that also comes with a stiff fine. It’s even difficult to find gum to chew in Singapore!
I was surprised how strong the Canadian and US dollar were compared to the Singapore dollar, so the cost for food and shopping was reasonable. Accommodation in the downtown area is pricey though, especially if you are anywhere around the Marina. The newest hotel stands tall with a replica of a cruise ship on top. A cement hand, the creation of another architect, encompasses the sites around the structure.
Singapore’s architecture is stunning, a combination of ancient and new. The Chinese section of the city is bright and well cared for and even though there is an eastern influence, the European architecture is strong in the homes. Since Singapore was a vibrant international port for centuries and still is, it’s understandable.
The temples in Chinatown are also worthwhile visiting, as is the Chinese day/night market. Anything available in mainland China has made its way into the shopping Mecca in old Singapore.
For high end shopping, head for the new shopping centre located in the marina. Every Paris, London, Milan, and New York store has an outlet in the mall. Take time to have high tea in one of the cozy little restaurants with their white tablecloth decor and silver service.
Occasionally the marina offers an evening light show, which can be enjoyed from the deck of a cruise boat. Or maybe take the perfect opportunity for the ultimate in dining while watching the show. What could be more romantic than having dinner served on a ferris wheel, or the “Flyer” as it is called in Singapore. The dining experience takes 2 hours but the night view of the city is spectacular!
Two “must see” stops on my list were the Singapore Zoo and Raffles Hotel.
The Singapore Zoo was amazing. The city has created a beautiful Mecca in the centre of the city for animals from all over the world. The tranquil settings blend with the animal’s natural habitats. Give yourself at least 4 hours to walk around and take in all the sites.
Raffles is also a must visit. It is a colonial hotel situated in the core of the city within walking distance of the marina and China Town. Dwarfed now by Singapore’s sky scrapers, its regal presence still stands out. Of course I had to go into the Long Bar and have a traditional “Singapore Sling” while I was there. I was dressed too touristy though to get into the lobby of the hotel.
Singapore has made use of all their available land and the city has become a destination place. Even the Singapore airport is a great destination point. If you have a long layover, go enjoy the roof top pool or check out what is playing in the movie theatre. Need a shower or a short sleep? It’s all there for the convenience of the traveler. If you’ve never been to Singapore and have at least a 3 hour layover, the tourism committee offers free bus tours of the city. It’s a lovely way to spend a day and make it part of your holiday!