Singapore has long been a hub for travellers, with it’s airport a key junction for many long-haul flights; providing an enjoyable pit-stop for weary travellers. Many travellers simply enjoy their stop-over time in the airport, alone, with its three terminals jam-packed full of activities, shops, restaurants and even hotels that provide a quiet room with a bed and bathroom for catching up on sleep and freshening up. But those that choose to venture beyond the airport can see, in just a few short days, how dynamic and travel-friendly this little country is.
Singapore is definitely not the cheapest of places to visit but there are gems within the glitz that are budget-friendly. One such place is a little boutique hotel called Wanderlust. Located in Little India, this place is as quirky and cool as they get. The reception is an eclectic mix of furniture with a bit of a steampunk vibe, which sets the tone for the rest of the hotel. The rooms are colour-themed: Pantone, Pantone Deluxe, Mono, Mono Deluxe and Whimsical. And they are very much themed. The room we stayed in was Pantone and we saw PINK! The little touches of a Nespresso machine at the foot of the bed and earplugs for the noisy neighbours let you know that the hotel has your best interests at heart. I don’t think the ear plugs would be needed every night but one particular night we got to listen to a rendition of Happy Birthday sung in a language we weren’t too familiar with.
Breakfast is provided with the room and the restaurant follows suit of the theme as to be expected. There is a simple but suitable selection of dishes to choose from and were all equally delightful.
The location of Wanderlust is great for transportation and their handy ‘passport’ (a booklet of important and useful information provided upon check-in) comes complete with a map of their MRT (underground train transport system). The nearest station is within 5 minutes walking distance to the hotel.
A visit to Singapore is not complete without a visit to Sentosa Island, which is a popular island resort home to 2 km of long sheltered beach with numerous bars and restaurants to enjoy beachside, two golf courses, 14 hotels, and the Resorts World Sentosa, featuring the theme park Universal Studios Singapore. The island attracts some 20 million people a year and it can feel like that; however a little tip – go early! To get to Sentosa, you need to catch the MRT to HarbourFront Station then transfer onto the Sentosa express or alternatively you can head along by foot on the Sentosa Boardwalk.
We arrived prior to Universal Studios opening, which gave us ample time to explore the surrounding shops and take various photos without crowds in the mix. We were also able to secure a good spot in the line and consequently the lines to the rides within. Universal has rides for all ages, all movie buffs and all levels of bravery. The highlight on this trip was definitely the Transformers ride, which incorporates Virtual Reality into a physical space that definitely tricks your mind! Depending on how many rides and frequency of rides you want to go on, you can cover off Universal in half a day or spend the whole day there. At S$74 you want to make sure you make the most of it. Around noon, we felt we had done our dash so decided to wander along the beachfront and enjoy a couple of the bars that sit alongside the water. This was a good opportunity to cool down from the heat of Universal Studios as well as take in the calm environment of the waterfront.
Back in Singapore city, there is a plethora of restaurants and bars to enjoy – the hardest part is deciding where to go first! We settled in alongside the harbor to enjoy some local beer before heading to an outdoor eatery known as Satay St. Located in the CBD Lau Pa Sat is full of office workers by day and then the street is closed off for a series of satay huts to set up and delight your senses with all the satay barbecue skewers you could dream of. There is of course the ‘aunties’ taking care of your beer needs with jugs of Tiger beer going on the cheap. The combination of which allows you to have an amazing cheap street food experience in one of the most expensive Asian cities!
If you are lucky enough to have another day to spend in Singapore then a day on Orchard Rd shouldn’t be missed, especially for the avid shopper. Even if you’re not an avid shopper, the sheer scale of the shopping malls and the enjoyment of people-watching could make up for it. With eight departmental stores complete with several levels, you can find just about anything you could possibly need or want. The added bonus is it’s all air-conditioned so it is a welcome escape from the heat outside! Transport to Orchard Rd is made very easy via the MRT.
You should also add to your list, Clark Quay. Known as the “riverside festival village dedicated to good times”, you will enjoy wandering around the various streets and alleys of this area. It pays to head in late afternoon through to the evening, as this is when it really comes alive. Any earlier and you’ll find most places are closed. It is colourful, vibrant and provides ample choice in the food and drink department. If you are keen to try the famous Singaporean Chilli Crab, there are many places here that all claim to have the best! You can catch the MRT there but you can also catch a Riverside Taxi from Raffles Pl.
Finally, if your budget allows, treat yourself to a night in the majestic Marina Bay Sands Hotel. It is every bit as grand as one would expect from such a commanding building. That pool! Whilst it is rarely void of people, it is still incredible and absolutely photo-worthy. All the rooms come with a view of the city and you can’t beat working out in the gym 55 floors up whilst enjoying that same view. Hotel dwellers are able to head along to the SkyPark to get the full 360° view at no extra charge and it is truly spectacular. So much so, that if your budget doesn’t stretch to a stay in Marina Bay Sands then a visit to the SkyPark (general public can pay S$23) is worth it. The staff are very friendly and accommodating ensuring that all your needs are met – whether it is another cocktail in hand (think Singapore Sling) or assistance with your travel plans.
That is of course but a taste of the delights of Singapore. It is such a great little country that it’s a shame more people don’t ever get to see beyond the walls of the airport or plane. Next time your travel path takes you via Singapore airport, I highly recommend putting a few days aside to explore this great little country further.