My first impression of Singapore was that it is essentially a series of interconnected shopping malls. Mega malls mind. They even have River Island!! VERY EXCITING. We stayed at the Swisshӧtel the Stamford which is one of the tallest hotels in Asia. Accommodation is ridiculously priced in Singapore so it’s kind of an ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ situation so either book five years in advance/cozy up with an industry professional/max out the credit card. Our hotel was connected to the trés cheap metro line at City Hall. You get one S$1 back when you put your ticket back in the machine. It was nice to get some money back for once 🙂
We spent our first evening wandering around the central business district (CBD), checking out the myriad of restaurants and coffee shops in the area. You can see the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore, on the way to another famous landmark, the Cavenagh Bridge. Well actually there are two statues of Señor Raffles: the real one which is down by Victoria Concert Hall (or somewhere along those lines) and the one on Boat Quay which marks Stamford Raffles’ (English dude) original landing spot from back in the day. The statue near the concert hall is currently under a load of scaffolding so couldn’t really check it out 😦
We strolled down to see the Merlion statue – a lion/mermaid, positioned in front of the CBD with a viewing platform so tourists can get a photo with the CBD’s lights in the background. Good stuff. You get a pretty great view from this platform. The Esplanade Theatres across the water (which look like the Durian fruit) and the Marina Bay Sands resort are definitely worth using up some memory card space. The Merlion cub statue in a fountain a few metres away from the viewing platform is also worth checking out.
There are loads of places to go out in the evenings; including three specific areas dedicated to eating and drinking – Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay. Apparently restaurant owners aren’t allowed to tout for your business but that’s definitely not how it goes here!
Chinatown is definitely worth checking out – it’s fantastic – one of the best we’ve seen (even including China!!). It’s really colourful, plenty of great buildings, old shophouses, restaurants, souvenir shops…and it’s got its very own stop on the metro!!
During the day the place to be is stomping around Orchard Road, a beautiful tree-lined street. It is literally filled to the brim with shopping centres (313 Somerset, ION Orchard, Ngee Ann City/Takashimaya Shopping Centre…) Every year there’s a ‘Great Singapore Sale’ which we JUST missed. Sickening!!
General Singapore: There are signs EVERYWHERE saying ‘no this and no that’ (not literally) – EVERYWHERE!! We were warned that Singaporeans joke that their city is a ‘fine’ city. Jaywalking is taken very seriously here. We were staying just across the road from the Raffles Hotel which is also quite a Singaporean landmark. It’s even got its own (fancy schmancy) shopping arcade. The Formula 1 track is pretty easy to see all around the city. They were putting up some stands on our visit; pretty cool to say you’ve walked on a Grand Prix track.