Singapore is one of those places where I stumble upon and find myself thinking hmmm wouldn’t mind relocating here…if it wasn’t for the humidity which is incompatible with my frizzy mop. Bordered by the waters of the Pacific and Indian Ocean, this little island is extraordinarily both culturally rich and diverse which contradicts its size. This diversity is a product of a colonial past and Portuguese occupation, the modern state is an amalgamation of Asian, Indian and Western influence, where the classical religions of the world, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism are practiced by the locals. Despite this varied demographic, Singapore is ranked as one of the safest countries in the world evidence that despite tribal differences every society has the ability to live in harmony.
Given its size you don’t need to spend a vast amount of time in Singapore, and it is ideal for an extended weekend mini break for those based in Australasia or a layover destination when travelling from one hemisphere to the next. Singapore’s diversity extends to the wide tourist demographic it caters for. Families who want to take in the sites of Singapore’s zoo or the abundance of activities available on Sentosa Island will get as much joy as solo travelers, like myself who just want walk at their own pace. The city is incredibly well structured and supported by an efficient public transport system that extends to Changi Airport. I felt completely safe and relaxed and though the humidity wore on me I was able to seek sanctuary in the many green spaces scattered throughout the city or just wait for the late afternoon showers to signal a cool change.
Foodies, techies and avid shoppers will delight in all that Singapore has to offer, however be prepared for your bank account to take a small beating, but with fantastic prices it feels almost a disservice not to indulge. When you are exhausted from your tourist antics refuel at the historic Raffles Hotel and relax with a Singapore Sling. At times, travelling solo can be lonely and visiting the Raffles bought back fond memories of lunches spent with my family when visiting as a teenager.
The Quick 5
Where did you stay?
When I first began looking for accommodation in Singapore I was overwhelmed by the choice and which districts to gravitate towards. Naturally I researched the Marina Bay Sands, but unfortunately at this point in my life it is well and truly out of my budget. After pouring through countless reviews and price comparisons I settled on the Furama Riverfront which is relatively close to Chinatown which offers fantastic food and Orchard Road for shopaholics. Overall I was impressed with the hotel and appreciated being able to cool off each evening in the pool. Unfortunately free wifi is not available to guests unless they make a booking directly via their website, but I relished being offline for a few days.
Some might find the hotel a little far out, but there is hotel shuttle service to Chinatown and Orchard Road. I wasn’t concerned by the location as I thoroughly enjoy walking and try to limit my use of public transport as I feel I discover more by foot. If you are similar than once you cross the road to the Singapore River, head east you will not only walk through Robertson and Clarke Quay but will be in the heart of the city in no time.
What inspired your travels?
I travelled to Singapore over the Easter long weekend of 2013, not only did I have a Qantas flight voucher to use but I primarily wanted to pay homage to my Great Uncle who was a prisoner of war in Changi Prison. For Australians, I feel it is an important pilgrimage to make so that we may pay our respects to the soldiers who were treated so inhumanely there. It was a solemn experience and finding by Great Uncle’s name in the POW register was both harrowing and humbling. I felt this journey gave me some much needed perspective and made by Grandfather proud.
Did you feel safe as a solo female traveler?
Absolutely! I didn’t feel threatened at all and was incredibly comfortable walking around by myself. The justice system in Singapore is incredibly severe and this transcends into a safe environment for tourists and locals alike, regardless of gender. However a low crime does not negate that crime occurs so exercise usual caution.
What would be your top must see attraction?
Of course this is highly subjective according to individual tastes and interests but the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple situated in Chinatown is one of the most impressive spiritual sites I have visited. For those who are interested in viewing relics of Buddha’s teeth then this will be a point of interest found on the fourth floor of the temple. For those searching for a serene environment in which to meditate or reflect on life this temple provides both a sanctuary and an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Overall it was an incredibly calming experience that just left me with a feeling of contentment. As this is a religious site be sure that you are dressed appropriately by covering your legs and arms.
What venue would you recommend for children?
I would assume that many families would gravitate towards Sentosa Island, but I cannot recommend Singapore Zoo enough as it unlike any other zoo I have visited because it retains that natural rainforest habitat. The zoo is open every day from 8.30am through to 6.00pm, however I would avoid visiting in the afternoon as my own experience was washed out by rainfall which happened like clockwork everyday around 3.00pm during my stay in Singapore.
Tickets are quite pricey with children between the ages of 3 – 12 charged $21.00 and adults $34.00. However, keep in mind that if you do book online through their website your will receive a substantial discount. The zoo is quite interactive which is brilliant for both the curious adult and child and is incredibly extraordinary to watch orangutans roaming freely in the trees above you.
Please note that a trip to Singapore Zoo will take careful planning especially if you intend on using public transport. The trip journey will include a train followed by a connecting bus which brings you directly to the zoo. You can organize a taxi to bring you to the premises as I did, but this set me back close to $50.00 from the city center, needless to say I caught public transport back which was efficient and budget friendly. My only advice is not to be overwhelmed by how you will get there, the experience is worth it.