Hi Mum! I'm writing this one to you because I think you'd really enjoy Singapore. It's very orderly and futuristic, it's got a bit of a Canary Wharf vibe. Also putting this on my blog so there will be a advice for backpackers included.
It was such a relief to get to Singapore after months of tuk tuks, taxis and scooters. It has an MRT (train). It's well worth getting the tourist pass, for however long you're going to be there, at the train station under the airport. Then get the lovely cheap, clean, public transport to your accommodation. Also Singapore has pavements that are for walking on as opposed to driving/parking your scooter on.
Is the Singaporean dollar. If you're coming from the UK Singapore will feel like it's quite good value. If you're coming from Asia you're in for a shock (the bad kind). Everything costs more and alcohol is heavily taxed. A beer costs upwards of $10 (usd).
I did not know that English was the main language in Singapore so that was a nice surprise. The Singaporeans also speak Singlish which is English with several other languages chucked in.
For the first time my foolproof travel combo of hiking boots, hiking sandals and flip flops let me down. The nicer bars in Singapore want you to wear actual shoes.
It's a hostel but instead of a bed you have a pod. In this case a pod is a bed with a blind that is neither soundproof nor lightproof (ie. pointless.) I don't recommend the place for you mother or any solo travellers. I might have just been unlucky but it had a terrible atmosphere. Lots of people were staying there for work and had no interest in chatting. It was in the Bugis area though which is a great place to stay. Wherever you stay, try and pick somewhere close to the MRT.
Haw Par Villa: Oh boy, Haw Par Villa. It is described as Singapore's nightmare theme park which is accurate. It has dioramas depicting Chinese legends, designed to teach school children morality. It also has the ten courts of hell to show them what will happen if they ignore those teachings. In the ten courts of hell you can see little people being impaled on trees made of knives and crushed by rocks and booked alive and similar. Horrific. I had a great time. It's free and easy to get to as it has it's own MRT stop. Oh I almost forgot they also have a little Museum of Death there which is as morbid as it sounds. It looks at how death is treated in the different religions. Was great research for book 3 in my Afterlife Trilogy (shameless plug).
Southern Ridges walk: This is fabulous. It's a walk that starts near Haw Par Villa and goes through the city for miles without ever leaving parks. I started about halfway up for the Tree top walk. I highly recommend this and starting at this end to avoid climbing loads of stairs at the start (near Harbour MRT). As well as the Tree top walk you go across a beautiful bridge and up to Singapore's highest point. Take water and snacks.
Singapore Zoo: Was recommended to me as it has big trenches between you and the animal instead of fences. It has displays on climate change and conservation as well as lots of happy looking animals. I had a really lovely day here.
Gardens by the Bay: The Supertrees! They are amazing. At 7.45pm and 8.45pm every night they do a light display to music which was brilliant. You can eat at a restaurant at the top of a tree or you can buy some chips and watch from the bottom (guess which I did). It was a life highlight. There's lots to see in the rest of the gardens too. Allow a couple of hours for wandering and get to the trees slightly early for the light show to find somewhere to sit.
Cloud Forest: The Cloud Forest is one of two paid gardens within the Gardens by the Bay. Its great, a lot like the Eden project. They have created their own mountain eco system and planted the trees and flowers you'd normally find at each level. They also make their own cloud at various points during the day. There's a great display on climate change here including a film on what will happen to the world as the temperature increases degree by degree ( basically we're all screwed #spoilers). Best get to Singapore before the environmental apocalypse.
Singapore Botanical Gardens: Is both beautiful and free and has monthly free classical concerts. These are great, they get crowded so big groups should go early. You can take a picnic including your own champers.
Food and drink
Hawker Centres: These are basically food courts and they are the place to go for cheap Singaporean eats. Most malls will have one nearby and there are a lot of malls. Try Hainese Chicken which is a very simple chicken and rice dish.
Hood Bar: I went for a drink here on my own to listen to a band and had a lovely time. Mostly because a local girl decided to be my friend and made the bar staff (her friends) give me free drinks, thanks again Eliza!
Prince of Wales: The boringness of my hostel got to me and I headed to this bar in search of friends. I pretty much immediately got chatting to some travellers at the bar and then someone I knew from Vietnam walked in! If you're a solo traveller and looking for company this is absolutely the place to go. The food is pretty good too.
Skybars: Going to a rooftop bar to see the sunset is an essential Singaporean experience. I went to Loof Bar it was not a particularly high roof and did not have a view of the sun, but it had a decent happy hour and I didn't have any nice shoes so I steered clear of the swankier places.
That's about it!
Hope that's helpful.
Love you Mum, see you soon.
If you think my writing is interesting why don’t you check out my first book ‘Afterlife’? It’s like a really long blog with chapters and a thrilling storyline…
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