Singapore is a top destination for many people around the world because of its beauty, advanced technology, and unique architecture. I have already written a Beginner's Guide to this city-island-nation with things to do and see, but this postcard is my personal account of my time here. These are typical questions that people ask me about a place after I visit it, so I figured why not write a post about it. If you're thinking of visiting Singapore, I hope you find my personal account helpful:
Why travel to Singapore?
I had always wanted to go see the Gardens of the Bay that are so famous. But I had also just read so much about how Singapore was so advanced with their technology and was one of the most expensive places in the world to live. It just intrigued me because it's so different from the surrounding SE Asian countries.
How many days?
I knew it was going to be a lot more expensive than the other places we had been backpacking in SE Asia, so we only stayed for 3 days. There are definitely lots of other things we could've done, but you can easily see all the main sights in 2-3 days. It's very small, so I feel like an entire week just in Singapore might be too much (and too expensive!). So if you have a vacation planned, I would combine Singapore with either Malaysia or Bali.
It's a little bit different for me because I had been living in China for a year and then traveling in super undeveloped countries right before like Laos and Sri Lanka. So I was super impressed. All the modern amenities, having access to western food options, and unique buildings. I was so in love- I also felt almost reverse culture shock. There were so many foreigners, everyone was speaking English- I honestly felt like I was at home. It was so nice. It might be a bit different for you if you're going straight from the states, but I still think you'll be impressed!
How are the people?
In all honesty I can't really tell you what the local people are like because everyone I interacted with were all foreigners- the hostel owner, restaurant owners, and even tour operators. It's just such an international city, that everyone mixes. There's no distinction between "locals" and "foreigners." Another reason why I loved it so much and made me feel like I was back home in LA.
How's the food?
Again, there is such a wide range of food available. You can truly get anything you want- American, Middle Eastern, and the most common-Chinese. Of course there are some "traditional" Singapore dishes like- chicken rice (the usual SE Asian meal), Nasi Lemak (coconut rice + a side of protein), Satay (meat skewers with peanut sauce), and lots more. We often ate at Hawker Centers (aka food courts) which offered a wide range of foods for pretty cheap. I really enjoyed every meal we ate!
How's the communication?
Like I said before, it's such an international city so one of the national languages is English. Everyone speaks it and all the menus & signs are in it! You won't have any problems communicating.
Best experience in the country?
I personally enjoyed the light show at the Gardens by the Bay the best. We went during the day and walked the Skyway to see great views of the city. But it was even better to see it at night all lit up- the light show itself was the cherry on top!
What's the money situation?
The national currency is the Singapore dollar, but most places accept credit/debit cards or "Grab Pay." If you have the app 'Grab" downloaded (like Uber for SE Asia), you can use the app to pay for things too. But I would have some cash just in case you eat at a smaller hole-in-the-wall place. We didn't have any problems using our cards to pay for things, but better to be safe than sorry.
How much did you spend?
I averaged $40 a day for accommodation, food, transportation and entertainment. I was extremely frugal- never ate an actual restaurant (only Hawker Centers), no alcohol, and really no entertainment besides the entrance fee to the Gardens by the Bay. So obviously it depends on how you like to travel and what kind of accommodations you prefer to determine how much you'll spend per day.
Day 1: The main tourist attractions & shopping (if you have money for that!)
- The Jewel (it's connected to the airport!)
- Gardens by the Bay
- Marina Bay Sands
- Light shows (go back to Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands at night to watch the light shows)
Day 2: Dive more into the eclectic neighborhoods
- Little India
- Haji Lane
- Jubilee Bridge
Day 3: Farther away from the city center
- Peranakan Terrace Houses
- Tiger Brewery Tour
Advice for future travelers?
Bring enough money to enjoy Singapore to its full potential. We were backpacking SE Asia and only relying on our savings without any income, so we had to do everything the "cheap, backpacker" way. But if you want to enjoy the "boujee Singapore" life, make sure you have enough cash to do so.
Take a look at our time in Singapore!
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