flying over northern australia
Singapore is often described negatively in the Southeast Asian city stakes. Sure, sometimes it doesn’t feel all too different to Sydney and the focus is often on smashing your credit card in the Orchard Road mega-malls rather than any amazing sights, natural wonders or cultural activities but that’s all part of its character and I always enjoy it while I’m there. And hey, it’s clean! Really clean!
We only had a very brief overnight stay in Singapore on the way to Vietnam, but we made the most of it.
Tips on what to see, eat and where to stay below.
Chinatown – with only the morning in Singapore before our flight to Hanoi, we spent a few hours in and around Chinatown. It’s very touristy, but there are some key sights that are worth your time, and the market on Pagoda and Temple Streets are the place to pick up souvenirs to prove you’ve been!
Buddha Tooth Relic Museum – a six story Buddhist temple, it has to be one of the most peaceful buildings in Chinatown. Both a working temple with quiet spaces for meditation and contemplation, and museum, there are several floors of the stupa to visit and on the roof is a garden and prayer wheel.
Sri Mariamman Temple – You don’t even need to go inside Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple to check out its kitsch and colourful statues – just look up!
Ya Kun Kaya Toast – I’ve only ever eaten kaya toast (coconut jam on toast) in Malaysia – of course it’s as popular in Singapore as it is in KL. Set up like a traditional kopitiam, the breakfast sets and the condensed-milk sweetened coffee are great value and we could have eaten plate after plate. The staff are fantastic with tourists, telling you exactly what you should order and how to eat it to get the most out of the experience. There are several now in Singapore – we ate at the flagship in Chinatown.
Pints & Curries – Opposite a sports bar on one of Clarke Quay’s eat streets, Pints & Curries is essentially a bar with a few high tables serving curries with a strong Indian, Malaysian and Thai influence. Delicious, and right in the action.
Tong Heng – a small pastry store opposite the Buddha Tooth Relic museum in Chinatown. The BBQ pork buns were amazing and we wish we’d bought an entire bag instead of just one to share. (Clearly we were crazy).
Novotel Clarke Quay – we stayed on Clarke Quay because we knew the night would only be getting started when we arrived late in the evening from Sydney. Winding along the river front are several streets of noisy bars, restaurants and cafes that are open until the early hours of the morning. The Novotel had lovely although dated rooms, and ours overlooked the quay towards Marina Bay Sands.
Next stop: Hanoi!