After spending months traveling through Southeast Asia, most people, including myself, are surprised by just how clean and nice Singapore is. The country spends a lot of money to make the country look beautiful and provide amenities to both residents and tourists. When I ask Malaysians who have traveled to Singapore what they think of it, the most common response I get is that “it’s so clean.” And it’s true. Even the public bathrooms are nice. That’s a huge rarity in Asia! But as I noticed during my, more recent trip, it’s really only in certain areas of the city. Lesser visited areas have just as much litter as most parts of Asia.
However, there’s so many free things to do throughout the city, just walking around and taking in the colorful buildings is already fun! The country feels very similar to Hong Kong but with some Malaysian influence. There’s a reason so many people stop here during their Southeast Asia trip.
The first time I visited, I wanted to stay in the center of the city, near Clarke Quay (pronounced like key). Most hotels in this area are costly but I found a really cheap hostel in the area. It was not the cleanest place I’ve stayed in; the next time I found a cheap place in Little India instead. The city is so easy to get around in that as long as your next to a subway station, it doesn’t really matter which area you stay in.. One my first visit the only thing that I absolutely had to see was the Gardens by the Day at night and Palawan Beach in Sentosa. Other than that I just wanted to walk around and take in the city.
My trip started pretty rocky- checkout How (NOT) to Arrive in a New Country
But once I figured out my money situation- I was ready to enjoy Singapore. I was stunned by the colorful buildings and bridges that are throughout the city. I walked a lot, from Clarke Quay to The Gardens by the Bay, stopping on the way to take photos. Below you’ll find pictures from all the areas that I visited along with a Google map to plan your self-guided walking tour through the city.
Chinatown is the best place to walk around and buy souvenirs and postcards. There’s a ton of stalls and street vendors! There’s also two beautiful temples in the area One Buddhist and one Hindu. Make sure to cover up if you want to enter either temple!
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Clarke Quay is the main restaurant area of the city. The buildings all have beautiful shutters and as you walk along the river there are several beautiful bridges.
While walking from Downtown to the Esplanade, you have stunning views of the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands. The Esplanade is my favorite place to take pictures of the Singapore skyline. There’s also an outdoor concert hall here that has music on Friday and Saturday nights. Also the Mall at the Esplanade has free wifi so it’s a great place to post all those photos you’ve been taking! When I was there recently every single person over there was playing Pokemon Go! Ah!
Marina Bay stands out because of it’s beaituf
Gardens By The Bay
The Gardens have become one of the largest Singaporean landmarks. The alien-like trees are stunning especially at night!
There’s not much in Little India. A small market and a temple but the artwork and buildings are beautiful!
Sentosa & Palawan Beach
Sentosa is the more resorty area of the island. There’s a lot more families that stay out in this area. Palawan beach is the perfect spot to grab a pina colada and enjoy the view!
I took way too many photos on my very short trip to Singapore! But I couldn’t help it! The city is just so colorful!
While I was walking around, I also ate a ton of delicious food. I met up with a girl that I had meet in Vietnam and she took me to the best Bak Kut Teh place. Bak Kut Teh literally translates to meat bone tea. In Singapore, it is pork ribs cooked in a delicious peppery garlic broth. It would be the perfect thing to eat in the winter time or when you have a cold. In Malaysia, it’s less peppery, and has more of a soy sauce flavor. I’ve been told that most places in Malaysia sell it with pork intestine, so I’ve never tried the Malaysian version.
I also ate some amazing chicken rice in China town at Maxwells food stalls. It was so good I went two days in row.
I spent about 48 hours in Singapore the first time I visited and didn’t spend any money on attractions or tourist sites. I mainly just walked, took the subway and ate food. I love how walkable it is, especially since it’s difficult to walk anywhere in Kuala Lumpur. I definitely plan on going back soon and would like to check out the Night Zoo because it’s supposed to be pretty awesome.
Details: Singapore is only a 6 hour bus ride from KL and costs about 25 USD round trip (on a nice bus no less!) so I’m sure I’ll go back at some point.
Some history: It’s interesting to be how Malaysians and Singapore differ on how Singapore became and independent country. Some Malaysians say that they kicked out Singapore, mainly because of the differences in religion which is what most historians say since the government literally voted on the “expulsion of Singapore”. Since Malays wanted to have laws in line with Islamic beliefs, they didn’t want the high Chinese population of Singapore overruling their laws. They also didn’t want Singapore’s economic power to pull away political power from KL. In 1964, a year before Singapore gained independence there were race riots between the Chinese and Malays, ending in the deaths of 23 people. However, most Singaporeans say that they weren’t kicked out but rather they wanted independence because they didn’t want the rest of Malaysia using their economic power. I mean, if you look at it now, it seems like Singapore got the better deal. They seem to have a larger standing in the world overall.
Below is a Free Self Guided Tour Map to make your way through some of the best sites in Singapore! You can download it to your phone so that you don’t miss anything on your trip! I also highly recommend downloading the google map of the city to your phone!