WELCOME TO SINGAPORE!
What a surprising city Singapore turned out to be. We had done a lot of research before traveling there, and had expected the city to be ultra clean and sophisticated. But, we never expected it to be virtually “perfect”. It truly was the most wonderful place I think I have even been to! I loved it!!
First of all, it is very clean because there are very strict laws in place so that the citizens can all enjoy a good life living there. Maybe that is the reason that there are so many expats living there and tremendous job opportunities. We met a few expats on our journeys around town from Australia, Canada and India that raved about their love for Singapore.
No Visa Required: If you are a U.S. Citizen, you only need your U.S. Passport which is valid for at least up to six months and sufficient funds for your entire stay in order to visit. A yellow-fever vaccination is recommended, but not required. From my own observations, I didn’t that ANY vaccinations were needed here.
English is spoken everywhere, but you will also hear Chinese spoken. Most business establishments are happy to take MasterCard or Visa. For the MRT, you will need to use Singapore currency. The best place to change money is in one of the many Singapore malls. We exchanged $150 American dollars and had money left over at the end of our two days.
CLEANEST CITY AWARD: There is a zero tolerance for littering, chewing gum, lewd behavior of any kind, and drunkenness. Involvement with illegal drugs is taken very seriously and can even end in death. You will not see begging or homelessness here. It may exist, as Singapore is a large bustling city, but we never saw any of this kind of stuff .
What you do see are extremely happy and prosperous people enjoying their lives. In the mornings, people are seen jogging, doing Yoga in the parks, walking their dogs (with a doggie litter-bag in hand, of course), and enjoying other forms of healthy, good exercise. In general, people in Singapore are very courteous, helpful, polite and kind. They smile and are happy to answer questions or assist with directions. We even had several people offer to walk along with us to get us to the places that we wanted to see. Singapore is a heavenly country of MUCH warmth and hospitality.
Like most Asian countries, the weather is hot and very humid. TIP: Wear a hat, a GOOD sunscreen, and lightweight clothing. Make stops to drink bottled water often. There are other ways to stay cool while exploring this marvelous city. Visit the lovely air-conditioned malls, MRT stations, gorgeous churches, and other attractions in the city.
People dress well in Singapore on a daily basis. Western clothing is mostly seen. The women wear nice pant suits and dresses, while the men wear slacks with collared shirts or suits. Everyone shows pride in their appearance by keeping their skin and hair healthy, clean and neat. It seems that everyone is sculpted and naturally slender. It’s the land-of-the-beautiful-people country!
Observing the behaviors of the people is a bit like going back in time, however the city has a very “futuristic feel” with the ultra-modern skyscrapers, expansive media techno-screens everywhere, efficient transportation system, unique cable-car network system on Sentosa Island, and dazzling laser-light shows that can be seen throughout the city each night. It was all very “George Jetson” here in WONDERFUL Singapore. We felt extremely safe at all times–both during the day and at night. We absolutely loved this country and will definitely reurn!
THE SINGAPORE CHALLENGE
Our challenge was to see as much of this incredible place as possible. But, we only had two days to achieve our goals. We made one tiny mistake in the beginning of our trip by trying to walk from one district to another district. There are 28 Districts in this country, so we kept our expectations reasonable and only planned to visit about 6 districts. With the hot temperatures and our restrictions on time, our walking method soon became frustrating and exhausting. Then we discovered the wonderful Mass Rapid Transit or MRT System. HOORAY!!!
This is a squeaky-clean subway that doesn’t allow ANY food, drinks, bottled water, or smoking on the trains which is probably one reason it remains so spotless. We purchased a three-day pass for about $20 U.S. dollars each in exchange for unlimited rides on the MRT and the city buses. The MRT also has a station line that goes to the airport! Although, in the end, we opted for a Taxi instead ($28 U.S. dollars) to ensure we got to the airport in time for our International Flight home.
TIP: There are several MRT ticket options. We chose the MRT three-day pass and used it enough that we felt it paid for itself and was the best value. Many of the tickets offered come with a money-back refund. For example, when we were done with our MRT three-day pass, we got a $10 cash refund back. So, actually we only paid $10 for two days of wonderful transportation, and we also got a few discounts on certain attractions (such as the cable car transportation system on Sentosa Island.)
The MRT system is very EASY to figure out. Here is a map of the stations to look over before you go: https://www.transitlink.com.sg/images/eguide/mrt_sys_map.htm
We started our exploration from District 04 – Mount Faber, Telok Blangah, Harbourfront (MARINA BAY MRT)
We took a short walk from the cruise terminal and bought a one way ticket to District 09 – Orchard Road, River Valley (ORCHARD ROAD MRT) because we wanted to leave our luggage at the hotel. (Our hotel, the Royal Plaza on Scotts, had an MRT located on Orchard, therefore this made sense.)After leaving our bags at Royal Plaza, we walked to the following districts:
District 02 – Tanjong Pagar, Chinatown
Once we arrived here from Orchard and Scotts, we visited the following attractions:
• Smith Street Shopping area
• Jamae Mosque, which was founded in 1826.
• Sri Mariamman Temple, founded in 1827.
• Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
• The Hundred Dragons Hall
• The tea house and cultural shop
• Thian Hock Keng Temple, the oldest of the temples.
Next, we walked to…..
District 06 – Clarke Quay, City Hall
We got a good city orientation here by visiting the following attractions:
• UOB Plaza, one of three tall skyscrapers.
• Clark Quay Riverside Shopping
• Cats and Kittens Bridge
• Merlion Statue (Under construction! NO!!!!)
• Merlion Park
• Raffles Landing Site
And, then we walked to….
• Victoria Theatre
• City Hall
• Cathedral of the Good Shepherd
• Early Founder’s Memorial Stone
• The National History Museum
• Saint Andrew’s Church
• War Memorial Park
• Up and down Parliament Street
• Around Fort Canning Reservoir
And, then I said to my husband, “Honey!” I. Am. Tired. Of. Walking! There MUST be another way!
And, that is when we went to the nearest MRT station and purchased our three day pass. Honestly, I didn’t even know which MRT station we went to or where we were at that point. But we took our first train back to District 9 so that we could go to our hotel on Orchard and Scotts to check in. We drank some water, showered off our sweat, and headed back to the MRT on Orchard.
Our next stops were so much more fun traveling via the MRT. Don’t get me wrong. There is still a lot of walking to do once you reach each district. But you are walking to enjoy the attractions instead of walking across a country. Onto the next area of interest:
District 08 – Little India, Farrer Park
We had a great time walking through this area of town and saw the following:
• Rochor Canal Road, Sim Lim Square
• Serangoon Road
• Little India Arcade
• Masjid Abdul Gaffoor
• Dunlop Street
• Syed Alwi Road
• Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple (It was under construction when we were here.)
And, we visited some fun shops in the Little India area that we enjoyed:
Then we got back on the MRT and went to…..
District 01 – Raffles Place, Marina, Cecil
It was our plan to see the Marina Bay area and go to the Suntec mall area to see one of the fabulous laser light shows there. And, then Mother-Nature stepped in and gave us a different kind of light show. Torrential rains mixed with lightning had us running to the nearest Starbucks to keep our passports and cash from melting away. We also found a cute little food court nearby and realized that we hadn’t eaten a bite since breakfast, so we ordered a hamburger and fries and waited for the rain to let up. After a couple of hour with no clear skies in sight, we ran to back to the MRT and headed back to District 09 – Orchard Road, River Valley to get a good night’s rest for the following day.
After a good breakfast, we went the District 09 Orchard Road to find a way to the Botanical Gardens.
Napier MRT is the way to go and much of our time was spent in:
District 10 – Bukit Timah, Holland, Balmoral
Although, once you step outside of the Napier MRT
you are at the Botanical Gardens. Don’t get fooled into taking an excursion here. It is completely free unless you want to go into the Orchid House area of the gardens. There is truly enough to see without the orchids. We spent over two hours of walking through this amazing place. We could have spent even more time here, but we did have an agenda to keep. When you exit the gardens, there is not an MRT station available. Hello, City Bus!! We caught a bus on Ferrer Road and got off near the very familiar District 09 Orchard Road MRT and then headed for:
District 04 – Mount Faber, Telok Blangah, Harbourfront (MARINA BAY
We came back here for one reason:
To take the cable-car system network to Sentosa Island. We purchased the pass that takes you to all four stations of the island (round-trip) so that we would explore and walk around on our own. We didn’t have an interest in spending the day at Universal Studios or do any of the other extreme activities there since our time in Singapore was so limited. But, this place is a thrill-seekers paradise. My descriptions can not give this amazing place justice, so please visit to learn more: http://www.singapore-guide.com/top10/top10-attractions-sentosa.htm
So, you start your cable-car ride at Mount Faber Station. You can either stay on the car or get off at the next stop and walk around. It was a bit confusing to us, but we eventually figured out the network and got off at Sentosa Station. There, we saw beautiful peacocks roaming about a huge wax museum and a sky tower called Tiger Sky Tower. Then we took an escalator towards the KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) restaurant and got onto the Merlion Station cable-car. We got off and walked around the Sentosa Merlion area and somehow got turned around. We ended up walking through the butterfly gardens all the way down to the Sentosa beach area. I really wasn’t sorry because it was so very beautiful and there were so many photo opportunities all around. Somehow, we had missed the cable-car line for Imbiah Lookout. And, honestly, I can’t really remember how we did it, but we found our way back to Merlion Station (I think) and did get off at Imbiah, only to discover that we had already walked there. Since we had pretty much seen all that there was to see of Sentosa via the Cable-Car Network, our goal was met. So we got back on the cable-car, staying on the system all the way back to Mount Faber where we took the MRT back to our hotel to Orchard MRT for a little rest.
To better understand the network of the cable-cars on Sentosa Island, visit: https://www.onefabergroup.com/singapore-cable-car-sky-network/
Our final goal was to see that area of Marina that we had missed the previous night due to the heavy rains. So after eating at a great little noodle restaurant for dinner, we hit the pavement running!
District 01 – Raffles Place, Marina, Cecil
We opted to go back to this district and walk once more along Clark Quay as we headed towards our desired points of interest. Here is what we saw:
• Merlion Statue (Sadly, still under construction)
• Clark Quay Riverside shopping
• Raffles Hotel
• Marina Bay Sands and Gardens-by-the-Bay with SUPERTREES GROVE
• Three-level fountain at Marina Bay
• Centennial Tower
• Fountain of wealth
And, we also made it to one of our most important attractions:
• Suntec Mall and THE LASER-LIGHT SHOW!! (BRAVO!!!)
• Merlion and Esplanade Park
So, it’s clear that we achieved our challenging goals and saw all of the attractions we set out to see in our short time in Singapore. WHEN we go back, (because we WILL), I am sure we will stay longer and do things a little differently. Maybe we’ll be thrill-seekers and spend some more time on Sentosa Island. Maybe we’ll take a short ferry ride to Batam, Indonesia and get pampered for the day at the famous spa there. We would probably stay at a hotel that is closer to the Marina Bay area now that we know the MRT system so well. Although, if you like to shop, Orchard and Scotts where the Royal Plaza Hotel is located is the best area for high-end shopping. (Something we really don’t do).
As for the Royal Plaza on Scotts Hotel: It’s a clean, comfortable hotel, but rather pricey. They have a breakfast available in the morning that serves its’ purpose. There are many hotels to chose from in Singapore, so selecting a hotel isn’t easy. However, I do not believe you can go wrong with any Singapore Hotel as long as you find one that is located close to an MRT Station.
After an early breakfast, we hailed a taxi and headed to the airport for home. What a great trip! One of the best ones yet!
I hope you have enjoyed reading about our “Singapore Challenge” as much as we enjoyed experiencing it.
拜拜 (Bai-bai) or Good-bye for now…..