What’s cool about Singapore?

Arch2o-Singapore-University-of-Technology-and-Design-UNStudio-+-DP-Architects-2

Singapore University of Technology and Design, what makes a visually attractive city?

 

My husband and I used to entertain Japanese friends quite a bit in Singapore, but I am now taking my daughter back home to visit Singapore. She was a wee littler thing when she last visited, and doesn’t have many memories of the country. What’s changed is that  I now have to accommodate a teenager’s tastes. So it’s time to consider – what’s hip and cool about Singapore, when I show her (as well as my other foreign visitor-friends) around Singapore. Trying to outdo STB now, I will try to sell Singapore in this blog. (Any suggestions on what to do and where to shop for the hip, cool, kids?)

So first off, where are the best places in Singapore for taking great SELFIEs???

Turning my thoughts to what’s GREAT about Singapore,  I will try now to enumerate plusses of a country the size of one tatami-mat compared to Japan, here’s what I come up with

City views

City views

THE BEST THINGS ABOUT SINGAPORE

The City VIEW!!! Bird’s-eye views

Central Business District SKYSCRAPERs photographed from Elgin Bridge.

What’s great about Singapore – like all cities, I really appreciate that as a modern city, there are plenty of places that are visually pleasingly when you try to take a 360-degree panoramic selfie.

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And then there’s all the visually great Design and Architecture… see the Marina Bay Sands Hotel

Who doesn’t want a pic. of the most expensive hotel building in the world? & of the cascading Infinity Pool at the top? See more pixes

It can be a heck of a walk on a hot day at the Esplanade(above), so use the Segway to get about; Resort World Singapore, Sentosa below.

File:Resorts World Sentosa viewed from the Tiger Sky Tower, Sentosa, Singapore - 20110131.jpg

The view from Tiger Sky Tower, Sentosa. (Visit to just brag you know who is Michael Graves and for the Michael Graves experienc

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It’s about a rich colonial and immigrant HERITAGE & HISTORY

Nobody passes up visiting the Raffle’s Hotel their first time.

Photo: Raffles Hotel

 ChiJmes is about the Old juxtaposed with the Modern.

(Chijmes is a national heritage site situated in the compound of an old girl’s convent school, Chijmes is now a popular dining, shopping and entertainment site. Chijmes is popular amongst expats, tourists and young professionals. )

Inside ChiJmes Chapel Hall (above). Must tell! about this grim bit of  trivia – Gate of Hope special door, “The Gate of Hope”. In the historical years, due to poverty, many babies were abandoned here for the Catholic nuns to look after.

Another grand one to visit would be the St Andrew’s Cathedral (below) or Armenian Street Church

Singapore's Old Colonial District Walking Tour

And then next, you can do the museum thing that all tourists do. Combine the Asian Civilizations Museum with the Singapore riverside walk.

Or the rotunda and dome of the National Museum of Singapore are worth a peek, and its exhibits too if visitors have time.


Yes, we sell our HERITAGE & HISTORY!

Raffles Evening

Desperate for a dash of colonial history and a taste of colonial luxury and decadence? (Raffles Hotel below left).

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Local heritage is also about the kitsche-ky kodak kolor and tacky and not-so-tacky souvenirs.

Wedding portrait of a Peranakan couple.jpg

Peranakan culture souvenirs and perhaps a trip to the Asian Civilizations Museum  or the Peranakan Museum(see below)

Peranakan Trail

Koon Seng Road shophouses

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Some friends ask to see night views, if you get lucky, fireworks displays or National Day are great times for lightups. [These times are also terrible for the traffic crush]. Generally the city never sleeps, but here are some things to look out for …

The city SKYLINE

The NIGHTviews by the Singapore River or by the Marina Bay!

No doubt the reason why so many Hong Kongers are here, is that they want a nightview that reminds them of Tsim Sha Tsui!

A metropoliscape must have the neons.

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What’s a trip without a RIDE of some kind?

Themepark rides at Universal Studios for the young and  bold.

Singapore Flyer, world’s largest observation wheel for all. See the NationalGeo’s fabulous photo.

Monorail, cable-car ride and a go-back-in-time-Singapore River bumboat cruise for the older and more stately …

Heartlands and durian(substitute for apple-pie!) I sometimes recommend riding the MRT to the heartlands, housing estates, eat at a hawker centre, and then back to the hotel! Just don’t ride the train during rush hour.

The “Durian” at the Esplanade, Marina Bay (above), and the real deal below.

Durio kutej F 070203 ime.jpg

Time for a mention of the Merlion, be sure to warn whoever you recommend to visit it, that it is really really small for a symbol of Singapore. Umpteen times it’s been mentioned on TV shows in Japan, that it is the most disappointing thing about visiting Singapore, everyone thinks it is as large as the Liberty Statue of the US of A or close to it.  The calendars and tourist boards do “lie” with their posters!

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But what’s a vacation for my kids/friends without souvenir shopping (for their friends back home), and a trip to the “kitschky” places (China Town and Chinese templesArab Quarter & Sultan Street mosque, Kampong Glam or Little India:

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What else do we usually say Singapore’s got to offer? It’s got lots of SUN, SAND (OK, not that much sand, compared to Japan or Hawaii) and SEA…mostly at World Resort Sentosa for the tourist, for longer-term stayers, see this page but they are never as clean or idyllic as depicted on that page!  (By the way, STB if you’re reading this, Wikipedia’s Sentosa article and photos needs upgrading desperately, the photos are so so sad, I wouldn’t want to visit it just looking at them!)

Sigh, watch the $ dollar sign flash and disappear from my purse as I take my daughter to the themepark, Universal Studios.

A trip to the outer islands, is in order, particularly to Turtle Island, for DD who loves turtles

I took my son to see the crocodiles last time!

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Not forgetting FOOD, which is usually no 1 on the kids’ list. For visiting adults, it’s a question of where to feast like the natives, but with ambience!

Raffles Hotel Kopi tiam or

 Singapore Sling at the Long Bar

Pushcart restaurants like the Red Star Restaurant or Jade Keppel Club restaurant are always a big hit for the kids and guests for the fun of ordering from 90 types of dim sum on its menu from the old-fashioned pushcart trolleys! Pushcart dimsun a MUST for first-time Japanese visitors!

See other recommendations here | Dim Sum Guide |

Jumbo restaurant for Black Pepper Crab – Black Pepper Crab is usually more suited to the taste-buds of Japanese than Chilli Pepper Crab.(see Singapore’s Restaurants dot com for more recommendations of seafood eateries)

Chatterbox for Hainan Chicken Rice at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel (mostly because of its central location), expensive though. Ground floor (1st floor to Japanese) Mandarin Orchard Hotel, Orchard Road.

Desserts to try:  mango pudding and and (kakigori) ice shavings called ice kachang, see 5 local desserts to chill out with 

Raw fruits and raw juices are expensive in Japan, but they are everywhere to be found in Singapore foodcourts, and on the streets. My husband swears by the banana and orange juice. I prefer my pineapple-orange one or a fresh coconut juice (which DH says Japanese won’t care for).

For fine Chinese dining, try the Lei Garden restaurant at Chijmes and/the Jade restaurant at Fullerton Hotel especially if you wish to try Peking Duck. Or for quality Viking buffet-fare (why are buffets called Vikings in Japan?)

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Though there are lots of places to recommend, but access and centrally located places are usually key for time-strapped visiting friends.

What’s a trip to Singapore without a huge dose of the tropical air?  My favourite most restful place to take people is to the Halia for Laksa, it never fails to impress… Besides, the Botanic Gardens is free …

… though if you’re feeling pinched, the Food-For-Thought foodcourt there is good as well.  Besides the Botanic Gardens is free …

And the Gardens by the Bay is not!  But a touristy must-see as one of the top 10 indoor garden parks of the world.

Gardens by the BayStay for the evening show.

And for a girlie getaway, I always recommend they have lunch or dine at the Beaufort Hotel and try its So Spa packages especially the volcanic Mud Pool one.

Singapore is the playground of the rich, so they say, so a visit to Singapore usually involves major luxury mall shopping preferably during the Great Singapore Sale, but expect to see a big hole in your wallet if you do.

Just one really important advice to my Japanese visitors to Singapore, don’t get caught without a foldable umbrella with all those frequent unpredictable convection rains, and try not to find yourself at rush hour or on a rainy day nowhere near an MRT subway station, because it will be pretty impossible to catch a cab then.

If all that’s not enough, see 10 best things to do in Singapore

 

[Most of the pictures used in this article are from Wikimedia Commons]

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