Oh Singapore, you have been so good to us! After traveling to Cuba earlier this year, we were so happy that we could finally go back to Asia. The concrete jungle, the greenest parks, amazing food, friendly people, good weather and a little fairytale. We can say that we both felt in love with Singapore and it is definitely not the last time that we visited this place!
Are you ready to learn a bit more about this magnificent city? Let’s go!
Different faces of Singapore
In recent years, Singapore has developed itself into a dynamic, cosmopolitan multicultural metropolis. The population consists of Chinese (biggest population), Malaysians, Indians, Eurasians, Arabs, Peranakan (descendants of Chinese traders and local Malaysian women), Europeans, Filipinos, Indonesians and Bengalese people. The languages that are spoken are Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and English. The last one is the main working language and is taught at school as well. Nowadays, six million people are living in Singapore!
We truly adored the fact that all these people with their different cultures and believes, live peacefully side by side in Singapore. Nobody bugs each other and everyone respects each other’s faith and way of life. The main populations have their own neighborhoods and this also ensures that their own traditions and habits can be followed and practiced.
If someone asks us to describe Singapore we might need a moment to think how we can describe this incredible city. Singapore has so many different faces that it is kinda difficult to describe. On one hand it is a hypermodern and super clean city, on the other hand it encounters ancient traditions with accompanying shrines. It is a melting pot of cultures where large populations have their own brightly colored villages next to the most luxurious department stores and expensive shopping centers.
Singapore is also the cleanest city in the world, but this isn’t really surprising if we tell you that fines are insanely high! If you smoke in a place where it is not allowed, you can easily get a fine of 2000 Singaporean dollar. If you’re hungry or thirsty during your metro ride, try to survive! The fine is 500 Singaporean dollar if you eat or drink something. If you throw something on the street of even spit, you can get a fine as well. We have seen locals smoking in areas where they could get a fine of 2000 Singaporean dollar, but it seemed they didn’t care. We do recommend you to be careful, you never know who is watching you!
Another thing where Singapore is well-known for is its safety. You can walk at night without issues, you can leave your personal belongings without people taking or touching it. The inhabitants are so friendly, helpful and they respect one and other.
Fun fact about personal belongings: if you go to a food center you will see tissues or other personal belongings on tables without people sitting there. The people in Singapore have a daily lunch break of one hour. They have to buy their food, consume it and go back to the office. The most efficient way for them is to grab a seat, leave tissues (mostly used) behind at the table and get something to eat. It is rude to remove their stuff and they won’t do this to your tissues when you leave them behind, so please keep this in mind.
The hub of Asia
Singapore can be seen as the hub of Asia. Not only the port of Singapore is the channel to other Asian countries (Singapore is thankful for this since this is very good for their revenue), but this city is also the place to be for the newest product releases. It is said that if a new product doesn’t succeed here, it will not be introduced in other countries. This is also one of the reasons that people for other Asian countries spend a weekend in Singapore; to shop the latest products and fashion items!
Regarding of doing business; Singapore is ranked at the top for the ease of doing business, the lack of corruption and is one of the most important financial centers in the world. You wouldn’t be surprised by the last fact; go to the Marina Bay Sands Skypark and see how many banks are owning a skyscraper!
Interesting fact: Singapore is not only good for shopping or doing business but also for gambling. It is in the top ten of world’s top gambling countries; Singapore can be found at number four.
Work mentality in Singapore
The work mentality of the inhabitants is amazing; they work a lot and if something needs to be done, they are ready to do the job. Hereby they always try to keep up the service level as high as possible.
Since many products are imported from other countries, Singaporeans work with different time zones. In order to do business with the rest of the world, a nine to five job doesn’t work for many unfortunately.
If we compare ourselves to the Singaporeans, we might be a bit spoiled. We have approximately 25-30 days for holiday, while the Singaporeans only have twelve, excluding the public holidays (they have a lot more than us, since there are so many different cultures and festivities).
Most efficient city in the world
In our point of view, Singapore is the most efficient city in the world. The inhabitants pay more taxes than we’re used to but in return the government arranged everything to the last detail and takes care of everything.
If you have been to Singapore you might have noticed the plants in the middle of the highway (road from the airport to the city center). They are actually part of a bigger plan. They can be moved aside in case of a country-wide emergency; the highway transforms into a runway where planes can take off and land. Another example is the greenery you see on buildings. The government cares about the environment and tries to lower the energy consumption. Therefore a lot of plants have been added to buildings; they regulate the temperature inside the buildings and protect the buildings from the heat.
The current government is in charge for the last fifty to sixty years and for a long time it seemed that this won’t change in the near future. Until now. Youngsters start to complain that there is a lack of creativity in the city since the government planned everything for the upcoming years. They would love to see more flexibility and creativity. The next election might be an interesting one.
Singapore, the city for foodies
A multicultural metropolis means also the place to be for foodies! Singapore has many different types of restaurants, a real pleasure for every foodie. The locals even say that food is life and restaurants will always survive. The food that is typical Singaporean is fusion-food. Because of the different cultures in Singapore, the food is mixed up too. You can taste dishes and drinks you never had before!
We personally enjoyed the food centers in Chinatown the most. There are dozens of Hawker stalls and you can choose whatever you feel like eating; rice, noodles, chicken, meat, ice cream, coffee etcetera. The food here is very cheap; for four and a half Singaporean dollars you have a big meal!
The food that you really have to try is the Hainanese Chicken Rice. This is the traditional Singaporean dish and it is sooo good! Try to buy it at Tian Tian Hananese Chicken Rice. This Hawker stall received a Michellin star. Good to know: go there early morning. The queue can be very long or he can be sold out (which happened twice to us).
Regarding the drinks you have to try the Singapore Sling cocktail. It is the most famous drink and it is made of grenadine syrup, lime juice, pineapple juice, cherry cognac, gin, Dom Benedictine and Cointreau. To drink it in style you obviously go to one of the rooftop bars.
It might be quite expensive but CÉ LA VI is the rooftop bar at Marina Bay Sands you shouldn’t miss. You have to pay twenty Singaporean dollar to go up (entrance can be found at the same spot as the Marina Bay Sands Skypark entrance) but the voucher you receive can be used for drinks. Go there at night and check out the swimming pool and the amazing skyline. It is much more impressive than during daytime!
Where to stay in Singapore?
Singapore offers many places to stay; from cheap hostels to very expensive hotels. We decided to stay in an Airbnb for the first five nights. For the last two nights we booked a room in a luxurious hotel.
The Airbnb we stayed in is called The Green Corner. The Green Corner is a villa with four different rooms; every room has its own bathroom and the kitchen and living room are shared rooms. Since we were all day out for explorations, it was fine with us. The host is very friendly and helpful, the rooms are clean, the WiFi is free, the location is good and the metro can be found just around the corner. Per night we paid only 65 euros. Not bad for Singapore!
Before we entered Singapore, we learned a valuable lesson about Airbnb’s at customs. They are illegal in Singapore! The government doesn’t allow Airbnb’s. The reason we could stay in The Green Corner is because the whole building belongs to one family. If the government will check upon the guests, they will say that we’re friends of the owners and that we’re visiting them. In that case the government can’t do anything; we’re visiting old friends, right?
We wanted to stay our last weekend in a luxurious hotel with a rooftop bar, a swimming pool with an amazing skyline view. Just relaxing after our short nights and long wander days. Therefore we booked a room at the Hyatt Andaz hotel. For our stay we paid 250 euro per night and we got ourselves a spacious room with everything we needed! Hyatt Andaz offers a breathtaking view, a nice swimming pool, great WiFi, free coffee and tea, a wide range of breakfast options, friendly and helpful staff. The hotel is located next to the metro and one street from our favorite area; Haji lane and Arab Street.
Normally we book one place for the whole week, but for Singapore we wanted to do it slightly different. After all we really recommend you to book the same way as we did. The first few days are always full or wandering around and the only thing we do in the place we stay, is sleep. It is not needed to stay in an expensive place. But for the magical touch and to get ready for the flight and upcoming workdays, it is nice to stay the last weekend in a luxurious hotel where you don’t have to worry about anything! And in the end we paid the same amount as we would do when we stay at one place. Great deal if you ask us!
Let’s give something back!
As a traveler or tourist there is something you could do for the locals; buy your food at Hawker stalls or hipster bars / restaurants which have been set up by youngsters and buy souvenirs from local artists.
When walking around in a food center, you will probably notice that most of the food, drinks and desserts is prepared by the elderly. There are not much youngsters that aim to have a Hawker stall. Which means that local Hawker stalls might disappear in the future (hopefully not, fingers crossed!). Unless the China Chinese people take over which is already the case..
By the rate of the service level and hygienic rating (A is the best) you can see if the Hawker stall is run by a local or a China Chinese. The last one often has a not so hygienic and clean stall. So please make sure you visit hawker stalls that owned by the local Singaporean people.
Another trend in Singapore is the opening of hipster bars and restaurants by youngsters. Go to Yong Siak Street to visit some of those amazing places. A recommendation for breakfast is the place called the Plain Vanilla Bakery.
Looking for souvenirs? Of course you can buy them in Chinatown, but how cool is it to bring a present that has been made by local artists? In Haji lane you can find some great stores with local products.
It was the second trip to Singapore for Denise and the first one for Pascal. Already on the first day, Singapore has been added to our list of favorite cities in the world! We have so much love to share, so keep an eye on our website since more Singapore blogs are coming soon!
In this blog we wanted to give some interesting insights about Singapore. The next ones are all about the neighborhoods, things to do in our favorite areas, food and some secret bars! Follow us on Instagram and don’t miss anything!