When you hear the name Singapore, it inspires an image of a tiny, glitzy and cosmopolitan city-state – and not without reason. It is actually one of the most developed and wealthiest countries in Southeast Asia. However, many would agree that Singapore (aka Lion City) is often chosen only as a flyover or the last stop of a journey. Whether it’s due to the insanely high prices or strict laws, travellers who decide to skip Singapore are missing out on a lot. This metropolis is the ultimate shopaholic’s heaven, set in ultra modern, squeaky clean and safe surroundings, with a distinctive infrastructure, fantastic food and a multicultural environment – if only to mention a few of the many reasons for visiting.
Singapore is known globally as a financial and business hub, but it also has quite a few emerging and trendy neighbourhoods as well, such as Keong Saik, Everton Park or Jalan Besar. From craft brews and pretentious cocktails, to quirky cafés and restaurants, there is something for everyone inside these eclectic districts. However, if your motto is ‘shop til you drop’, then you should head on over to Orchard Road – this 2.2 kilometre-long boulevard is the epitome of fashion and retail, where you can find the latest trends, sales and high-end brands, as well as haute couture boutiques.
ION Orchard shopping center/123RF.COM
So you’re intrigued, but you’re not sure where to start planning? Try these three simple steps: look for flights on momondo as it’s user-friendly, beautifully designed and often has the cheapest international fares – they categorise their search results into ‘cheapest’, ‘quickest’ and ‘best’, so you can choose the one that suits you the most; then, deciding on where to stay, we suggest using Airbnb, as the accommodation always has lots of character and you can even choose to live with a local by booking a room instead of a whole place; finally, the third step is to hire a Showaround Local, like Nicole who is this week’s featured local – as a twenty-something, she’ll be able to give you a true sense of what a day in trendy Singapore is really like.
It would be tough to beat Nicole’s hectic schedule – she works as a freelance blogger and model, so her job keeps her in touch with the newest and most exciting places for locals. According to her, the most interesting places to visit are not the popular tourist hangouts, but instead the hidden gems where you can meet locals and thus, immerse yourself in the true culture of Singapore. Nicole not only speaks English fluently, but she can also help you understand the local lingo. You might hear people pronouncing English words differently, or adding a casual ‘meh’ or ‘lah’ sound, let’s say, at the end of their sentences. This linguistic phenomenon is called Singlish, a blend of Singaporean and English, which features some common words and catchphrases used by locals in daily life.
For those who like learning about the language, country and history of a place, it’s worth starting your sightseeing with a visit to the National Museum of Singapore or the ACM (Asian Civilisation Museum), just to provide yourself with a better understanding about Singapore’s past and multicultural society – on local public holidays, National Heritage Board museums are free. Also, if you enjoy flora and fauna, you can escape the busy city streets by visiting the Botanic Garden or the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve free of charge.
Yes, there’s more to the Lion City than just sleek skyscrapers and shopping malls. In Singapore, you can admire the greenery and the contrast of modern and heritage buildings as well as experience a melting pot of cultures where East meets West.