I had a great time sightseeing in Singapore. It's a diverse Asian country, full of tradition but set in a modern environment.
by Jodeci527 on March 12, 2012
Singapore is one of the more expensive countries to visit in SE Asia. If you are coming from another country such as Thailand or Cambodia, the price shock will be pretty severe if you aren't prepared. However, this doesn't mean that you can't afford to visit for a week or more. Here are a few budgeting tips to help you save a bit of cash:1. Using the metro in Singapore is a great idea. The roads aren't really pedestrian friendly, and the city is rather confusing to get around in. While walking to China Town, I once asked a uniformed police officer for directions, and he didn't know the way! Most locals don't really walk from place to place, so if you're in a hurry you're better off using the underground metro. Every ticket that you collect, save them as you can deposit them later at a machine for a small refund. 2. There's a foreign exchange currency booth at the Changi International Airport, but don't change more than absolutely necessary here. The rate which is used at the airport is far higher than the rate used by the foregin exchange companies downtown. I changed $50 USD at both the airport and downtown, and for the latter, I received almost $3 SGD extra.3. If you have a flight departing on a budget airline such as Tiger Airways, these airlines don't operate at the main airport. You have to take the metro to the Changi International Airport, then go to the basement floor to catch a bus to the budget terminal. You will need to buy a ticket from the booth at the bottom of the basement stairs, then follow the signs to the bus stop. I didn't know this in advance, and as a result, I almost missed my flight.4. Shopping in China Town is a cheap alternative to the expensive malls in the city. The prices are relatively low and if you think that an item is overpriced, the merchants are usually willing to negotiate a cheaper cost. If they are being difficult, simply walk away. Chances are, another store a mere 10 feet away may have the exact same product for a more reasonable fee. 5. Singapore has an extensive bus system, which covers areas of Singapore which are unreachable with the metro. Fares depend on the distance being travelled, but are overall very cheap. There is an online bus guide which tells you the bus numbers for the various routes, so with a little bit of homework, you won't ever need to take a taxi during your stay.
The Ruck Sack Inn is a backpacker hostel located on Hong Kong Street, Singapore. I chose this hostel mainly because of its proximity to Clarke Quay and the Singapore River, which I intended to visit during my stay. Arriving from the airport, the instructions on their website were easy to understand, and I found the premises without any hiccups.The hostel is located in a very nice area of the city, and I felt safe walking around the neighbourhood as a solo female traveler. There was a buzzer on the door of the building, so I pressed it and the door opened almost immediately. I climbed up two flights of stairs, until I saw a doorway with the sign 'Reception'. The young man at the front desk was very welcoming. While he looked up my reservation, he asked about my flight and made a few suggestions when he realized that I've never visited the city before. After he found my reservation, I paid the SGD $40 for the room plus a $20 refundable deposit for the keys to my locker and dorm room. My room was a six person dorm, and in the afternoon it was quite deserted. I stored my backpack and valubales in the locker provided, and went to the shared bathroom to shower. The shower was pretty decent for a hostel, providing both liquid soap and shampoo. The bathroom was really clean and functional, with a large vanity area where four or more girls could do their hair etc. I went out and did a bit of exploring at Singapore River and China Town, then returned to the hostel around 10pm. My bunk mates were getting ready for bed, and introductions were made. They were a pretty cool bunch, but most didn't speak fluent English. I slept comfortably in my top bunk, and awoke the next day refreshed but hungry.After getting ready for the new day, I went downstairs to the common room where the kitchen was also located. There was a complimentary breakfast of toast and jam, with free tea or coffee. It was pretty good, and I washed my dishes after eating and set them to dry. The common room was a high point at the Ruck Sack Inn 2. It was large, open and modern with a large flat screen television, colourful chairs and couches, a mini library and even a pair of guitars. The computers in the room were rather new, and each station had a headset so that guests could call home using Skype. The Ruck Sack Inn 2 was a really good choice for a budget stay in Singapore. It's located in a great neighbourhood, the price is decent and breakfast is included. When it was time to leave, I checked out and my $20 deposit was refunded. I would most definitely return.
While exploring China Town, I came across two different temples: The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Sri Mariamman. I've never seen these types of temples before, so I was happy for the opportunity to look around. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a large and prominent temple situated in China Town, Singapore. During my visit, there was a service taking place inside, and a large number of persons were taking part. I didn't want to intrude so I admired the temple from just outside the door instead. Although I didn't really understand what was going on in the service, it was captivating to watch the attendees going through their solemn motions, and the buddhist chants which echoed throughout the temple were almost melodious. Inside, the walls were filled with goregous paintings, and there were several shrines where people kneeled to pray. I didn't want to be disrespectful, so although I would have loved to photograph the event, I refrained from doing so. The exterior of the temple was a different situation however, and it was quite a beauty to photograph. The temple was of a shocking red colour, and the design reminded me of temples in China and Japan. Chinese lanterns were strung about the temple, giving the area a distinct Oriental atmosphere. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple deserves all the attention it receives as a great attraction in Singapore. Sri Mariamman TempleThis is a Hindu Temple located only a few steps away from the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. I was very intrigued by the designs and stautes which were sculpted on the entrance tower of the temple. The details on the statues were beyond elaborate, and they appeared to be painted in all the colours of the rainbow. These statues were built in several layers, each layer smaller than the one before. The artwork which was poured into the creation of the tower was extraordinary.While I gazed on the outside of the temple, a man came outside to greet me. I was rather surprised, but he seemed keen on explaining to me the different features of the temple. He insisted that I take off my shoes and actually have a proper look around. I stored my sandals into a box provided at the doorway, and silently entered the hall. There were people praying in the main room, so I didn't want to impose. Instead, I walked around the courtyard where I could see more of the fascinating sculptures up close. I never had any previous experiences with the Hindu culture, so I was very interested in everything around me. I even read some of the plaques which hung on the walls outside, much to the interest of my new friend.He then told me that there was to be a very exciting event taking place at the temple the following night. Apparently, men would be walking on hot coals! I've never heard of such as thing, and thought that it would be a great experience to have. He gave me a flyer with the history of the temple, and the different events which were being held that week. I thanked him for his help and left. Sri Mariamman was gorgeous, and I enjoyed my short visit inside.
After leaving the Singapore River, I was getting rather hungry so I decided to make a stop at China Town. The easiest way to get there would be to use the metro station at the bottom of Central Mall and get off at the China Town stop. However, I was feeling adventurous so I walked. The journey wasn't a long one, and I arrived at the entrance to China Town after approximately twenty minutes.The entrance of China Town was decorated with a large colourful banner stretching across the highway, and this was my indication that I had arrived. Singapore's China Town spanned a large area, and contained a shocking number of shops and stalls. I didn't know where to begin, so I spent the better part of 30 minutes simply walking around, trying to get my bearings. The place was packed with shoppers, and hawkers were announcing countless sales and discounts available for every item imaginable.I tend to collect souvenirs such as magnets and keychains for myself, friends and family members. I browsed around, trying to find a few nice ones amidst the confusion and bustling shoppers. Finally, I came upon a shop which wasn't as crowded, given its location away from the main lanes in China Town. Thankful for the chance to relax, I walked around the shop, choosing several little trinkets which were being sold for little to nothing! I ended up leaving with ten keychains and half a dozen refrigerator magnets, and I spent less than ten dollars! This put me in the mood to shop, and I made several other purchases including a purse and a passport case. Singapore's China Town is a fantastic place to shop, as prices are either low or negotiable.Eventually, my hunger resurfaced so I started to look for a nice little restaurant in the area to buy dinner. I came upon a very small food stall, which had a few tables and chairs outside. I decided that this was as good a place as any, and pulled out a seat. Immediately after doing so, a young man rushed out with a huge smile and several menus. I asked him for his opinion on what I should order, and he mentioned rice noodles with shrimp. Trusting in his judgement, I ordered that and a glass of fresh orange juice.While my meal was being prepared, the young man continued to talk with me, and even tried to teach me how to use chopsticks. I was quite awful at it, but it was nice to have some friendly company all the same. The meal was lovely, and I ate as much as I could, but the serving was far too large for me to finish. The orange juice was made right on the spot, and although it had a bit of pulp floating around, it was extremely refreshing. My dinner on the streets of China Town was filling and only put me out of $10 SGD. I paid my bill and continued to explore China Town. It was now dark, and the place was livelier than ever. All the bars were wide open and full of patrons. I then realized that I hadn't had a taste of the local beer, so I decided to rectify that. I entered one of the bars that were having happy hour, and ordered a Tiger Beer. It was so large, that I had to take a seat outside and spent the next half an hour drinking it and people watching. I paid a little over $6 SGD for the large bottle, and after finishing it, it was defintely time to head back to my guest house. If you're ever in Singapore, don't miss a visit to China Town. I had a blast, and I'm sure you will too!
The Singapore River is located within the heart of the city, and everything from shopping malls to thrill rides are located along its banks. The Riverwalk at Singapore is a great tourist attraction, which can cost as little or as much as you choose. The strange part about this, is the fact that the river itself is not much to look at. It's quite brown and murky, but what constantly draws people to the Riverwalk, is the large amount of activites that take place there.During the day, the Singapore River is dotted with small wooden boats which transport visitors up and down the river. These boats are mostly part of the company Singapore River Cruise, and the boats resemble tiny, colourful ferries with 'faces'. If you aren't interested in a cruise tour, you could still hop aboard one of the boats for a transfer upstream/downstream, with prices starting from $3.On one side of the river is the world famous Clarke Quay, the historic half of the Singapore River. Most of the tourist boats are docked here and as a result, there is a large number of restaurants, cafes, clubs and bars along the quay. However, what grabbed my attention the most at Clarke Quay were the GMAX thrill rides. There's a ride that's called the Reverse Bungee, which throws you up to 60 metres in the air at speeds in the range of 200 kph! I didn't feel like being airborne, so I searched for a bite to eat instead. There was a Turkish ice cream stall in Clarke Quay where I grabbed a cone of tasty chocolate goodness. Although the ice cream itself was prety good, the Turk himself was the main attraction. He served each customer their ice cream with a show! He would hand you the cone, scoop out your ice cream and give it to you. However, the moment you moved your hand, he would flip his wrist and your ice cream would disappear, leaving you with an empty cone! A small crowd would gather to watch the antics, hoping that someone would outsmart the Turk!On the other side of the Singapore River was the Central Mall. This was a very large and modern shopping mall with lots of stores, supermarkets and even it's own Metro station in the basement. I did a bit of shopping here, changed some USD into Singapore dollars for a decent rate and grabbed a coffee at Starbucks. How did I cross over the Singapore River? I used a suspension bridge! The Cavenagh Bridge is the only one of it's kind in Singapore, and is currently a pedestrian only bridge. The halfway point on the bridge is a great location to take photographs of the Singapore River, and the only traffic you need to worry about, is being jostled by other tourists.Several small parks were situated near the Singapore River, where locals would sit and simply relax. Park tables and benches were all around for this purpose, so I grabbed a seat and read from my kindle for a while. All in all, I had a great afternoon at the Singapore River. It's a nice place to spend a few hours, exercise in the morning or battle for your ice cream with a Turkish guy. I highly recommend a visit!
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