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*I’ve been to Singapore twice (in 2013 & 2016), and spent a total of 7 days in the city — it’s one of my favorite places in Asia! In this blog post, I am going to give you an overview of the city, and provide travel tips and recommendations for things like culture, attractions, food, nightlife and more. Everything you read is based off my own experiences.
General Thoughts on Singapore
Singapore is a bustling hub of culture, food, and all around good vibes. It’s the most modern city in Asia. It’s vibrant, it’s energetic, and it always leaves me fascinated.
If you think New York City is busy, just wait until you see Singapore. People are always in a hurry and they walk really fast (they are actually ranked the fastest walkers on earth). It seemed like everything was happening in fast motion, which always kept me on my toes!
You might be surprised to hear that Singapore is a tiny tropical island, made up of 6 million people (75% Chinese). It’s located just 80 miles north of the equator — so the temperature is always hot and humid. It’s tropical location provides 17 nature reserves and more than 1.4 million trees!
The thing that stands out most about Singapore is the extreme cleanliness.
Seriously — the streets are cleaner than my washing machine.
Why is everything so clean in Singapore?
Well, Singapore has some of the strictest laws in the world. There are street signs all around the city reminding everyone not to litter, smoke, chew gum, run, spit, etc. If you don’t follow the rules, then you must pay a steep fine. But nearly everyone obeys the rules, which is why Singapore is also of the safest cities in the world.
Everything from the metros, malls, restaurants and residential buildings are so clean that you can eat off the floor!
Another thing that really impressed me about Singapore was the easiness to get around.
Despite being a densely populated city, the metro system is VERY easy to figure out and there are taxis all around that are pretty cheap to use.
After being in Singapore for just a few hours, I was already confident enough to navigate myself around town. All the signs are in English (and most people can speak/understand English), so it’s almost impossible to get lost.
Alright, there is a downside…. Singapore is expensive. Really expensive.
In fact, the city just took #1 as the Most expensive city in the world by the Los Angeles Times. Aside from street food, which is reasonably priced, you wouldn’t believe how a beer or alcoholic beverage costs… And if you want to rent a flat, then good luck finding a cheap price!
Alright, let’s dive into some more quick facts:
Quick Facts on Singapore
– Currency: Singapore Dollar (SGD)
– Language: 4 official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Singlish is commonly spoken among locals
– Population: 6 million
– Singapore is made up of 63 islands, but the main island (Singapore island) has 91% of the total population
– Singapore has the 4th biggest financial center and the 5th busiest port in the world
– 75% of the population is Chinese
– The Singapore flyer is the world’s tallest ferris wheel at 165 meters high
– This bustling city is so busy that it’s known to have the fastest walkers on the planet (CNN)
Culture & People of Singapore
I love how diverse Singapore is. Before my first visit, I didn’t realize that over 75% of the population is Chinese, 10% is Indian and the other 15% is a mixture of local Singaporean and other ethnicities/expats
Most people in Singapore can speak Chinese (Mandarin) and English, and there is a unique fusion language, called Singlish, that is only spoken in Singapore. It’s basically Mandarin and English combined together. It’s really interesting how their language has evolved over the years, combining two dialects that literally have literally nothing in common.
Almost everyone that I’ve met in Singapore (both locals and expats) are extremely friendly – just like in most other Asian cities. If you meet a local Singaporean, chances are they will buy your dinner and drinks for the night. That is just how their culture goes!
What to Do in Singapore?
Just walk around the city and you will find unexpected treasures everywhere.
I am talking about incredibly modern architecture, shopping malls with river boat tours running thru them, surprisingly cheap street markets, beautiful botanic gardens surrounding the city, hawker centers (huge outdoor food courts) on every block and much more.
There are two really cool ethnic areas to explore, Chinatown and Little India.
Chinatown is probably the most legit Chinatown in the world, other than actual cities in China themselves (because so many Chinese people live in Singapore). Little India is also a unique place to check out and you’ll literally feel like you are walking the streets of India because you’ll be surrounded by thousands of Indian people — with Indian food, Indian shops and Hindi writing on all the signs.
Other popular attractions around Singapore to check out are the Singapore Zoo (the best zoo in the world in my eyes), the Botanic Gardens, the Marina Bay riverside, and Gardens by the Bay.
For a more complete list, check out my blog post called Top 10 Things to do in Singapore!
The Food in Singapore
Take my advice with a grain of salt, but Singapore is my favorite cuisine in the world!
All they do is eat in Singapore, so make sure to bring your appetite. Your taste buds will be happier than they’ve ever been once you leave this city. I always leave Singapore 5 pounds heavier than when I arrived.
I know I haven’t been everywhere, but from the 80+ countries I’ve visited, combined with my knowledge of other places, I can confidently say that nothing beats Singaporean food… at least so far.
They have these things called Hawker Centers, which are GIANT outdoor food cafeterias with more ethic food vendors than you can imagine. Most of the food is influences by Chinese and Indian cuisine, with some unique dishes that are only found in Singapore. Everything in Hawker Centers are authentic, greasy and CHEAP. I never ate a hawker meal that was over $4USD.
The most famous Singaporean dish is chili crab, which was easily the top 3 best meals of my life. It’s exactly what is sounds like: a crab that is smothered in chili.
Some of my other favorite Singaporean dishes were Wanton Mee, Chicken Rice, Laksa and Satay.
For a more complete list of the best local foods, check out my post on 8 Singaporean Foods to Try!
The Nightlife in Singapore
The main area for nightlife is called Clarke Quay (pronounced Clarke Key). I went out during the week and it was poppin’ off with loads of people!
In the Clarke Quay area, there is a beautiful riverfront (Singapore River) with many bars, restaurants and clubs surrounding the area. I guess it’s somewhat of an “upper class” or “fancy” area to party, so the prices aren’t so cheap (booze is expensive in Singapore anyways).. but it’s definitely a fun time!
*Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to book your hotels in Singapore on this link 🙂