Singapore is a city that really stole my heart. I feel as if I've left a bit of myself there. Apart from being the safest city in the world (the crime rate is zero here), it is also spectacular in its modernity, cleanliness, discipline and most of all, the people are extremely polite, friendly and helpful. I always got sweet smiles from strangers, and whenever we bought anything they would wish us goodbye saying “Thank you, have a great day”!
We flew down in Singapore Airlines. Ticket prices vary a lot, depending on how much in advance you book them. The flight from Delhi to Singapore took 3 hours 45 minutes. We found the in-flight service very warm and friendly, the seats were spacious and comfortable with a foot rest too, and a really good choice of food – either Continental or Indian. Singapore's Changi airport is one of the best according to me, if not THE best!
We took a taxi to get to our hotel. The drive through the city's tree lined roads left me impressed. Singapore was green, lush, rain-washed and clean! It was a delightful feeling to have arrived!
The Ibis at Bencoolen was an excellent find! It was great value for money, and the location was perfect. The hotel was new, clean, with good service standards. The decor was modern and simple. This is not a high-priced hotel. We were paying only S$100 per night (about 4,600 INR), which is what made it all the more amazing. Our room was small, but extremely well designed. I liked the light wooden flooring, both for the look, as well as for the way it felt under my feet. The hotel economized on the size of the room, but not on amenities, form and design. Most importantly we had free wifi! The room was a bit cramped for two people with a couple of pieces of luggage each, but manageable. The trade-off compared to the benefits was small!
The Singapore Flyer has a total of 28 capsules that take you on a thirty minute ride for a 360 degree view of Singapore. You can purchase tickets just for the ride, or for special occasions you can select one where staff will serve you drinks and food in a separate capsule. We got to see Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, and other landmarks. The best time to board is just before sunset, so that you can see Singapore by day and night. And it's best to take a seat facing the back of the wheel to get the best view.
Our tour around the town was fabulous; I really loved it. A great overview, with so much to see! A memorable part was driving down the Esplanade, which is a durian shaped performance hall. We then drove across a bridge that offered us a stunning view of The Marina Bay Sands hotel. This is a luxurious property with a casino, shopping arcade and the works! To the south was the Central Business District with its modern skyscrapers. In fact, a good bit of the land has been reclaimed from the sea since the last time I came here. The Marina Bay is a man-made freshwater reservoir of desalinated water, separated from the sea by a barrier.
Marina Bay Sands Casino
If you want to gamble, there's no better place than this! However, if not, come here for shopping, high-end eateries (celebrated well known restaurants have opened outlets here too), Broadway/West End musicals in the theatre, or just go right up to the Sky Bar for a drink at their famous infinity pool.
Note that if you do decide to gamble here, you must bring your passport. Foreigners can get in free with a passport ID, otherwise you'll have to pay $100 as entrance fee.
You can't come to Singapore and not go to Orchard Road. It's the capital of all things materialistic! Shopping malls line either side of the road, and house the world's most fashionable brands. It gets extremely crowded here, as it's the favourite haunt of, expats and tourists. Everyone comes here for one reason or another. There are plenty of decent places to eat and drink too, like Emerald Hill which has an array of cool hangout bars or Orchard Towers, that come alive only after 11 pm. For seedier entertainment (if that’s your thing) head to Geylang District, which has fantastic places to eat and some are open 24 hours!
We stayed in Little India for a day. It's like a whole block from Mumbai has been removed and placed into Singapore. The area is full of shops selling saris, Indian movies, karaoke songs (which can be quite a torture), spices, flowers and household items. Finding affordable accommodation is not easy in Singapore. Even two beds in a 12 bed dormitory room will cost about 15 dollars, and that's if you are lucky to find one. We were not, so we didn't complain when we found a Chinese hotel for some 30 USD, in a quiet place with no construction work in the neighborhood. We had become increasingly sensitive to this issue, as so far we had been woken up in the morning by sounds of sledgehammers and drilling equipment. But alas, even in Little India, at half past five the muezzin called out for prayer and we were woken up from a deep sleep again.
We used our time to extensively walk in the city. With harbor quays, British colonial style architecture, an impressive zoo, Chinatown, a forest-sized botanical and orchid garden, there's lots to see here. The metro makes commuting easy and a pleasure; it also helps that the main language is English and people are very friendly and helpful. The calm, respectful way people treat each other here really impressed us. No shouting, or pushing in queues, people first let others get out of the train before they get in, moreover there's no litter or graffiti to be seen. Though Singapore is supposed to have very tough laws and fines, we didn't see a single policeman during our stay. So I assume it's the successful combination of attitude, awareness and respect for the law that makes Singapore what it is.
A walk around the quay area in the evening is an exciting experience as the bars and restaurants along the water start opening up for business. Restaurant staff fight for your attention with gracious happy hour offers - a beer for 10 dollars for example. Partying out here is a bit on the pricey side, as is the whole city, so we skipped it and spent some time listening to a live concert at the Esplanade Theatre on the Bay.
We reached Sentosa Island by afternoon. It is one of the four main islands (Singapore comprises of 60 islands, big and small), and we had to board a cable car to get to the island. The ride over the sea was for 15 minutes and it was awesome. On the island, I got a chance to see and experience the Tropical Oceanarium, a 4-D show, sky ride, Luge (a very exciting downhill race, more like a go-kart, but without an engine) and the Dolphin Show. The highlight of Sentosa, without a doubt was definitely ‘Songs of the Sea’, a scintillating laser show. I had never ever seen a show such as this. It was extremely grand! The audience was just stunned, and it took them about 2 minutes to realize the show had ended before thunderous applause started!
Singapore is a vibrant blend of ultra-modern and traditional. There's something here to suit all age groups. Its people, culture and food will never disappoint you!