Singapore – the nicest city in SE Asia!

We only spent 3 days in Singapore as it is expensive to stay there relative to other destinations in SE Asia. We stopped over for one day on our way to Manado (Indonesia), which we mostly spent shopping for important items that we had either overlooked or run out of during our first month travelling (in particular, I needed a replacement pair of sandals – I bought Keens in Singapore which have worked out much better than the cheaper version I got in London). We also spent two days on our way back from Manado, which was particularly useful as we needed to find somewhere to pick up a Japan Rail Pass (which needs to be bought outside of Japan). That time we also visited Marina Bay Sands (mainly the mall and the observation deck on the roof), but didn’t have time for much more as we got sick from something we picked up during our last day or two in Indonesia. So, mostly we saw shopping malls and the very modern, well-ordered, western-looking parts of the city – although the area of our hotel near Paya Lebar station was a little more colourful.

Some people, often those from Singapore, describe it as “sterile”, although I think that in some ways this is wrong and in others it could actually be a compliment! After travelling nearly a month in Thailand, it was nice to turn up somewhere that was clean, orderly, well looked after and with all the facilities you expect in a western city. Efficient trains from the airport and a metro/subway service to get around. Practically crime-free and it doesn’t stink! So, we sort of craved somewhere a bit more sterile and a bit less… infected! Also, I think there are areas around the city with much variety and a more asian flavour, such as Little India and Chinatown. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit these places, but they would be on the list next time we go back (as would a stay at the Marina Bay Sands hotel – if we can afford it!). The only disadvantage is that it’s relatively expensive (maybe a little cheaper than London, perhaps a similar cost to US cities outside of New York), but I think for a short stopover that the extra is worth paying.

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To top it off, Changi Airport is the most efficient and well-run airport we have ever used. We never had to wait in line for anything for more than 1-2 minutes. This takes so much hassle out of flying, if we had to do a stopover in Asia, we would always choose Singapore now – and for certain if the choice was Singapore vs Bangkok we would always take Singapore for a connection or stopover.

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