I lived and worked in Singapore as an audiologist for a year and five months. Although I traveled heaps for work, I made it a point to allocate time and explore Singapore like a local, a tourist and as an expat. Foremost, you need to obtain your Traveler’s Starter Pack and Guidelines:
- EZ Link Card. This will get you to places.
- Smartphone. Most of the city’s establishments are equipped with a good wi-fi, if you’re the type of person who lets you friends or your stalkers know your whereabouts this is simply a part of the essentials.
- gothere.sg. If ever you find yourself lost in city a trusty online app allows you to navigate the places better by train, by bus, by a cab or even by foot.
- Singapore Dollars or simply money. Singapore has always been on the list of most expensive cities, define your travel with a little bit of spending though using the PLASTIC (credit card) is accepted anywhere. Try sparing a dollar on the famous one dollar ice cream on the streets, enjoying it with a bread is mostly recommended. Now, go on and head off to the nearest stall and have yourself a treat.
- Sunblock. Let me remind you that the sun here does not lurk or ambush you in a surprise. It presents itself 26 to 30 degrees Celsius letting you know you’re in the tropics, suit yourself with a good sunblock and thank me after!
- Stay on the LEFT side of the escalator. The right side is meant for people who are rushing to pass.
- Everyone gets to be family, call the elderly “Aunty” and “Uncle”. In a modern scenario, don’t be surprised when you see them working. There are some things you need to do in order survive in an expensive city, sad but true.
- Converse as tourist for directions you’ll be surprised to be answered back in English or “Singlish”.
Initially before trying to live here, I’ve get to have a taste of what is to be like a tourist that was back in 2012. Everything about the country seemed to be perfect the city life, shopping, public transportation, amusement parks and museums, did I mention shopping already? It was cleanest city I’ve ever been to, something similar on how you want your city to be arranged in one of your social media games. Being a tourist, me and my friends decided to stay at Marina Bay Sands Hotel for a week. It did cost a bit of a fortune even if it was bundled with a few discounts coming from someone we knew, that’s only when it came to our senses that we are living the high life on a 6 star hotel. Chauffeured from the airport by a glamourous hotel coach, I felt like a Hollywood celebrity that time. The room was amazing, of course and top it all you’ll get to have an infinity pool on the 57th floor, you embracing all of Singapore’s skyline. Be aware that you cannot lift drinks or food from the bar if you don’t intend to consume them, as there is a sensor that would tell the staff that a product is sold once it has been lifted from the bar. Since I was attending a conference while on this trip (I just need constantly remind myself this), I chose the must-see places I should visit to make my trip complete and worth it, and proudly say that “Oh! I have experienced Singapore at its finest!”.
5 Top Places I chose to visit during my limited “Tourist-time” in Singapore:
- The iconic lotus-inspired ArtScience Museum which featured “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” and “Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal” during my visit. This museum is also known as “The Welcoming Hand of Singapore”.
- The modern architectural wonder Helix Bridge which provides a pedestrian connection across the head of the Singapore River between the city’s existing CBD and its new Bayfront district. The best time to appreciate this architectural wonder is at night time, as the stainless steel bridge consists of two helix structures that act together as a tubular truss – inspired by the form of curved DNA structure will be well lighted.
- The Universal Studios Singapore brought out the child in me! I went to this amusement park alone. Yes, alone in an amusement park. How boring could that be? Not even close to that word! I used my social butterfly special power to make friends with another tourist from Vietnam who was also travelling alone that day. We had a lot of fun together and my favourite attractions were The Mummy and Transformers.
- The famous Marina Bay Sands Skypark and Shoppes are places no one should miss when traveling in Singapore. The Observation Deck, Infinity Pool and posh restaurant and bars of MBS are actually located in the Sands Skypark. It was an experience of a lifetime to be floating in the largest rooftop infinity pool with the lovely view of the glittering city-skyline. For shoppaholics out there, who are drooling over branded stuff, posh services and fancy restaurants, the Shoppes is the place to be.
- The Little India in Singapore. The name of the place speaks for itself. It is a bustling Indian quarter. I came here primarily to shop at a 24-hour shopping mall called Mustafa Centre, which basically offers everything in a cheaper price. I am serious about this. It sells EVERYTHING! You name it, most likely Mustafa Centre has it.
After visiting Singapore as a tourist, I promised myself that I will put all efforts to be able to work and live in this progressive country. First, it’s clean and very organized. Second, there are heaps of job opportunity with enticing compensation package. Lastly, I just felt that living in Singapore must be the “Livin’ the Good Life” kind of lifestyle I have been dreaming of as a yuppie. After almost two years from my first time of visit, an opportunity to work and live in Singapore knocked on my door. Life had been good and it was a successful first year in the Lion City. I was traveling often for work around South East Asia, and I must say that it’s cheaper and more convenient to travel from Singapore compared to other neighboring countries. Direct flights are available to many destinations across the globe. Moreover, Changi Airport is world class! Not only as an airport but as a shopping haven. One of the best things about this country! I loved arriving early in the airport before my flight as much as possible, because I am excited to shop around as I don’t have to pay for GST even if I am working in the country. Naughty!
Working and living in Singapore can be bloody exhausting most of the time. So, I decided to spend time in enjoying the city with my friends whenever possible to prevent stress to get into me. We usually hangout at bars & restaurants and cafes. I also allocate time to go to amusement centres, parks, HUGE malls, and architectural wonders around Singapore. Let me enumerate to you the places to be in Singapore, where locals and expats usually go to relax and unwind.
6 Places to Chill and Dine Out in Singapore
- Let me start with my favourite. The Orgo Bar & Restaurant located at Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay, Roof Terrace. 5-star service and ambience! Imagine yourself eating and drinking in front of Singapore CBD, with Marina Bay Sands on the other side. Perfection! This restaurant is mostly known for their exquisite cocktails. However, I pay more attention to food, so I will be very specific to recommend Beef Tenderloin with herbs, potato puree, and seasonal vegetables. It’s a must-try!
- Enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with friends at Divine Bar at the so-called “Batman Building”. It’s actually called “Parkview Square”, but is more widely known as “The Batman Building” due to its design similarity to those of Gotham City in the Batman comics.
- In the midst of the bustling city, Going Om at Haji Lane, Arab Street is a cafe bar with great hipster ambience and good live music. They serve alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, which are not as pricey as other cafe bars located in prime “good time” locations. At night, around 11:00 pm to midnight, people, including me, freely dance on the street while sipping on our cocktails and gulping our beers.
- You can never go wrong with bars and restaurants along Orchard Road and Somerset. After a long clinic day, I would spend the night having dinner and a few drinks with my mates. We usually go at Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant and Malones Irish Restaurant & Bar at 313 Somerset. I would also recommend Cuppage Terrace bars and restaurants after a long day of shopping at Orchard. If you prefer to have fine dining in a reasonable price of wine and food in Singapore, I would recommend Wine Connection Bar & Bistro.
- If you want heaps of options and a bit of party, go to Clarke Quay and Riverside. Various bars, restaurants, pubs and clubs are located in this area. I usually just sit outside Hooters because I reckon that it has the best view of the Singapore River. A nice spot to chill and think about anything but work. Boys, beware and behave!
- Newton Hawker Centre is not so touristy place. Once immersed in the bustling swish and swoosh of Asian aroma, try conversing with their favourite expression “lah”, a polite excuse to call yourself a local. Seriously, food is amazing here. For people with sweet tooth, don’t forget to order Milo Dinosaur!
Apart from dining and chilling out, I also go to parks to relax. A bike ride around Sentosa, a jog at MacRitchie Resevoir Park and a walk at the Henderson Waves Bridge, Gardens by the Bay, and Singapore Botanic Gardens will always rejuvenate your soul after a busy week. You can actually check out the National Parks website of Singapore if you fancy to visit more gardens, parks, and nature.
Singapore will always have a special place in my heart. It’s a liberating city with endless possibilities. Heaps of places to visit, cultures to discover, food to reward your palate, fun activities, crazy parties, and great deals for shopping and more shopping is waiting for you in the LION CITY! RAWR.