If you are planning to visit Singapore there are few things that I’ve learned about this beautiful country and that I would love to share with you.
It is very easy to discover the city by public transport.
I mostly take the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport), which rides regularly and it has very affordable prices. The MRT reaches most of the important landmarks in Singapore and many stations are connected to a Shopping center, which allows you to cool down in the air conditioning, eat a snack or do some shopping as well.
Taxis are also very good and affordable. Lately, Grab took over Uber in Singapore, which makes Grab the main Taxi company. The best is to download their application so you can order it wherever you are! Please keep in mind that taxi meters have various extra charges depending on the time of the day and usage of toll roads.
The buses are clean and comfortable and in general, it is also a very good option. Only between certain hours like early in the morning and between 18:00 and 19:00 it can take you longer because there is more traffic. The buses have also a very good air conditioning system, if you take the double-decker buses, sit upstairs in the front and you will have a panoramic view of the city! (Who needs a tourist bus?)
The best thing to move around using public transport is to buy an EZ link card, which you can also top up at any MRT station.
The local coffee is made with condensed milk
In the beginning, I was a little skeptical about drinking the local coffee with condensed milk (the so-called “kopi“), but because the local coffee is quite strong, the sweet flavor goes incredibly good together with the bitter taste of the coffee.
My favorite place to drink coffee is Toast Box which you can find everywhere and almost at every shopping center and near MRT stations. I also like Heavenly Wang which has many locations, my favorite one is at Orchard gateway shopping center, another place where you can get your daily kopi with a good slice of Kaya (coconut jam) toast, is Ya Kun Kaya.
There are many ways to order your “Kopi” coffee (take a look at the picture) Singaporeans are very specific with their requirements. The prices are affordable, a small coffee costs 1,80 SGD.
I think the cup set of the kopi is very cute. If you want to take a set as a souvenir, you can combine a visit to China Town and buy one at Sia Huat, a big shop selling all kind of kitchen accessories. The cups are on the second floor and cost around 22 SGD for a dozen.
The best place to try food is at the Hawker centers
Hawker centers are food centers with a variety of food stalls where you can have lunch or dinner. These are normally opened from 10:00 until 22:00 (there are few stalls that are opened for breakfast as well). The food is affordable and prices fluctuate between 3 to 8 SGD depending on the location.
If you see a package of tissues or another small object on the table, it means that the table is already reserved. This is very common at lunchtime when hawker centers can get very crowded. When you finish your meal, there will be some employees of the food court that will clean up your table and take your tray away. Most of the people doing this job are elderly.
Typical dishes that you will find in the hawker centers are Chicken Rice, Laksa, Thai food, Japanese food, Indonesian food, Indian food and in general, several dishes made with noodles such as soups (dishes with a good portion of vegetable are scarce).
You will notice that each stall has a letter on display, which indicates the hygiene level of the place and ensures that the food is safe to eat and prepared following several hygiene standards. “A” is the highest.
Do you love fruit?
I do love fruit and I think that fruit is a healthy snack. You can find chopped, ready to eat fruit in most of the shopping centers. Kiwi, honeydew melon, watermelon, dragonfruit (which is very rich in antioxidants), mango, apples, sweet pineapples, and oranges. Most of the time they are sold in a skewer and in a small transparent plastic bag. A piece of watermelon costs around 0,90 SGD.
“Durian, a tropical fruit originally from South East Asia, is not allowed in public transport and many public places because the smell is too strong”.
The concept of bread is different
While in other countries bakeries that bake fresh bread each day are around the corner, it can be more challenging to find them in Singapore.
There are certain places where you can buy nice sweet bread such as Bread Talk, but if you would like to buy a healthy bread with a neutral taste, for your breakfast or lunch at home, it can be difficult to find.
My favorite place to buy bread is Marché Mövenpick 313@Somerset which bakes throughout the day and it has a good variety of fresh bread such a Sourdough, baguettes and also small individual bread. The bakery is already open at 08:30 and after 22:30 they sell the leftover bread and pastries for half the price. When I buy it, I always ask them to slice it in their machine. At home, I freeze it so that I always have fresh bread!.
Another place that sells good bread is Duke bakery, but they have a minimal choice of “neutral taste” bread. Most bread is sweet (like chocolate bread) or has a specific flavor, but they taste very good! Other places where you can find fresh bread are Paul and Cedele.
Singlish is very common
In 1965 Singapore became independent and from that moment English was chosen as the official language of this city-state. But nevertheless, the various ethnic groups created their own dialect called Singlish. Its syntax and vocabulary are obtained from Malay, Cantonese, Hokkien, Tamil, Mandarin and other Chinese dialects.
After living for two years in Singapore, I still have to get used to Singlish, especially when they talk very fast I am completely lost! The good thing is that Singaporeans are very kind and if they notice that you don’t understand they will express themselves in English.
Be prepared for the warm weather
Singapore has hot weather all year round and some rain that normally comes in heavy showers that do not last too long. I would advise walking using the underpasses and connecting malls while enjoying the cool air conditioning and without getting wet.
I would recommend carrying an umbrella not only for the rain but also as protection for the sun, as some neighborhoods such as Little India and Kampong Glam can be very warm and offer little shade. I would also recommend carrying a light cardigan because it can get very cold with the air conditioning.
Some underground malls/passes are very extensive, like the Citi Link Mall (City Hall MRT), Orchard road (Orchard MRT) or Marina Bay Link Mall (Raffles Place MRT to Downtown MRT). It is a different experience walking through the “underground city” of Singapore.
You will get from Changi airport to your accommodation in no time
Changi airport has been elected the best airport in the world for several times and it is so well organized that getting through customs and reaching the taxi gate once took me only 10 minutes from the moment that I left the airplane!
Make time to visit Changi because it is a beautiful airport, you can visit the Butterfly Garden, Sunflower Garden or just admire the beautiful art.
The average price for a taxi ride from Changi airport to the city center (Orchard) is between 22 to 30 SGD (depending on the time of the day). You can also take the MRT, which costs around 2.50 SGD.
I hope that you enjoyed this article, I would love to hear your comments.
You might be also interested in:
Things to know before visiting Singapore.
itravelnet.com – Travel directory.