Start in Singapore, the safe country
Everyone dreams of going on holiday by themselves. With no one telling you what to do, and free time to concentrate on yourself. Why is it that this idea of a holiday all by yourself doesn’t usually turn into a reality? While there are plenty of reasons, and the biggest is that little voice inside doubting whether you can do it and whether it’s safe. On my first solo holiday, I went to Singapore by myself. Why Singapore, of all places?
At the time, both ideas (visiting Singapore and going on a solo holiday) popped into my head. I didn’t know much about Singapore at the time, but I had an image of the country as clean and safe. “The most orderly country in the world”, “a great place to live”, “a place I’d like to emigrate to” – these were the things that came to mind when I thought of Singapore. Not only that, but Singapore was chosen as the top country to visit for Best in Travel 2015 by Lonely Planet, the world’s largest travel publisher. Additionally, Singapore’s Changi Airport holds the title of the World’s No. 1 Airport based on customer satisfaction.
If you’ve been dreaming of a solo trip, but can’t get past the worries and concerns, remember Singapore. 2015 is the year for you to be courageous and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Design your own Holiday, a recommended path
In area, Singapore is about the same size as Seoul. The sights are all grouped together, making it easy for even the most novice traveller to enjoy them. The following spots can be visited in any order. If you have extra time, add one more; if you don’t have enough time, plan for the next day. It’s no problem if you end up doing some backtracking, because nothing is set in stone on a solo holiday.
1 Botanic Gardens
2 Orchard Road
3 Paradise Dynasty
4 Little India
5 The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore Chihuly Lounge
6 China Town
7 Clarke Quay
8 River Cruise
9 Singapore Flyer
10 Marina Bay Sands Hotel
11 Gardens by the Bay
Ice cream is sold from carts on the side of the road. It is cheap and delicious. Sandwiched between wafers or bread, you can choose the flavour of the ice cream. In the hot Singaporean weather, you’ll be glad for a cool treat. We recommend the raspberry!
In Singapore, you can also find Charles & Keith, the popular SPA brand that has become a hit in South Korea. While they have now entered the Korean market, their prices are even more reasonable in Singapore and the shop is well-visited by Korean travellers. They sell a lot of great, simple designs as well as wallets, bags, shoes and accessories.
Singapore is a very green city overall, and this makes it all the more fitting that the Botanic Gardens are right in the middle of the city. Singapore’s largest Botanic Gardens begin at Tanglin Gate and end at Bukit Timah Gate, travelling from south to north. Tanglin may be the main gate, but we recommend entering from Bukit Timah Gate. It’s easy to find as it’s located right next to the exit for the Botanic Gardens Station and if your next destination is Orchard Road, you can take a bus straight from the main gate for ease of movement.
The number of places that visitors can go to early in the morning is limited. However, the Botanic Gardens open at 5 am, making it a great place for travellers that like to get an early start. So, when is the best time to visit the outdoor Botanic Gardens in Singapore’s hot weather? In the morning, before the sun grows hot. If you visit in the morning, you can enjoy a nice, slow walk through the arboretum.
The Botanic Gardens are divided into a number of smaller gardens. Within the garden there are the ‘Singapore Botanic Gardens’, the ‘National Orchid Garden’, the ‘Evolution Garden’ which shows how trees have evolved (referred to as a journey through time in the brochure), the ‘Healing Garden’ with plants that are good for your health and the ‘Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden’ for the little ones.
Entrance is free, except for the National Orchid Garden. It’s worth the admission charge, so if you have time, visit there too. Famous Koreans who have visited the Botanic Gardens include Bae Yong Jun, Gwon Sang Woo and former president Roh Moo Hyun.
Now come out of the Botanic Gardens via the main gate (Tanglin Gate) and take the bus to Orchard Road. Orchard Road is similar to Seoul’s Myung-Dong area.
There are a number of shopping malls including Paragon, ION Orchard, Tangs Orchard, Ngee Ann City and others in this area. Rather than seeing them all, it’s best to concentrate on one.
Singapore’s prices are the highest in Asia, so things will not be cheap and it might be better to just enjoy some window shopping. ION Orchard is the largest mall and 313@Somerset has the most mid- to low-price brands.
If you’re tired of walking around, let’s get some food and continue on our schedule. Orchard Road isn’t just famous for shopping – its restaurants are also noteworthy. We recommend Paradise Dynasty, located in ION Orchard. Paradise Dynasty is known for its eight incredible varieties of dim sum.
One of the hardest things about travelling alone is that you don’t get to try as many different foods. So Paradise Dynasty, where you can try eight types of dim sum by yourself, is perfect for the solo traveller. While it is the only thing on the menu, you’ll be more than satisfied with all eight kinds of dim sum.
Make sure you don’t confuse Paradise Dynasty with Taste Dynasty, the restaurant you see right after getting off the escalator on the 4th floor.
Little India is a part of Singapore that seems very different to the traditional image of the city. It really is a little India right in the heart of Singapore. Even just crossing the road, it feels like India. There are lots of Indian restaurants here, but the best are Muthu’s Curry and the Banana Leaf Apolo. The Banana Leaf Apolo uses banana leaves instead of plates. Here you can see Indian food that is eaten only by hand, but don’t worry – they’ll give tourists spoons.
When it comes to shopping in Singapore, you can’t leave out Mustafa, Little India’s 24-hour shopping mall. It’s enormous and there are a variety of price points, so take a look around.
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore Chihuly Lounge
For travellers who love pastries and desserts, we strongly recommend taking Afternoon Tea here. This British tradition has remained in the former British colonies of Hong Kong and Singapore. While most hotels in Singapore have a special afternoon tea menu, they all have their own specialities, so try to go to the place that fits your own tastes.
The Ritz Carlton Chihuly Lounge is known for its afternoon menu. It starts with crisps and nibbles, and moves on to starters and three delightful courses. That isn’t the end as it is followed with 10 types of desserts including fruit, sorbet and chocolate. It is a little expensive, but you can eat as much dessert as you like. And the service is the best!
In every country you can find a China Town. If you look through the shops on each of the small alleys, you can find more reasonably priced souvenirs, so take your time walking through here. This is also where you’ll find Singapore’s signature toast: Ya Kun Kaya Toast. It is available in Korea now too, but it’s always best to try food in its own local environment and we recommend it.
Before the sun goes down, let’s move on to Clarke Quay. Clarke Quay was once the centre of Singapore, but it has long since lost that role. When the wharf was rebuilt, the area was transformed from a busy business hub to a tourist site that is now one of Singapore’s hottest places. Clarke Quay stays open later than the rest of Singapore, so in the evenings, people start heading there for its cafés, bars and clubs.
One food you have to try in Singapore is the chilli crab. Here you can find the popular Jumbo Seafood, Boat Quay and East Coast Seafood Centre restaurants, all of which are well known for their chilli crab.
Clarke Quay is easy to get to and has a good vibe, so there are always plenty of tourists. Reservations are essential. If you haven’t reserved a table in advance, you can use on-site reservations. After making an on-site reservation, look around Clarke Quay until your table is ready. Singapore’s chilli crab is delicious from the meat to the sauce. You can mix rice into the sauce or dip a warm roll in with your crab. If Jumbo Seafood’s chilli crab prices are too high, try Lau Pa Sat Market. It’s cheap, offers large portions and is quite good.
So, what is there to do in Singapore at night? One night, make sure to walk along the river and see the city lights; another night take a ride in the Singapore Flyer to see it all at once. You could get greedy and try to see it all in one night, but taking it one day at a time is recommended. When walking around the city, you will see a different view every second.
The Singapore River Cruise takes you down the river like a tour bus. You can’t get on and off, but you can choose where you embark and disembark. There are many different types of boats, some open, some closed and some in between.
If you get a Singapore Pass that includes the river cruise, Duck Tours, Singapore Flyer, City Tour Bus or other river tours, you just have to get tickets for the right time.
Listening to a night-time concert of traditional Singaporean music on the boat deck, you’ll quickly learn the meaning of a romantic night. If you take a river cruise on the first night, you can choose places you’d like to see more of and make plans for the following night.
When planning your trip, you’ll wonder if you really have to include the Singapore Flyer or not. It is a little expensive and those who have tried it often have mixed reactions. If you have never ridden a Ferris wheel before, you might want to try it for the experience, but if you’ve ridden one before and the price is a bit much, it isn’t essential. However, you will be able to see all of Singapore in a single glance, so if you have time, we do recommend it.
It’s not just the Flyer to be found that area either – there are also shops to visit and another Ya Kun Kaya Toast shop, so feel free to fill up before hopping on.
From the Flyer, the closest MRT station is Esplanade Station.
You can cross the Helix Bridge on your way to Esplanade Station from the Flyer, with great views of Singapore’s signature attraction: the Marina Bay.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel
The Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the local landmark, has become a symbol of Singapore and its biggest attraction. Construction of the hotel was completed by Ssangyong Construction and was a big event in South Korea. Outside the building in the plaza, there is a wonderful show on display. Fountains, videos, music and lasers come together to provide a free, highly entertaining show. It starts at a set time each night, so try to match the time with the river cruise to be treated to a fantastic laser light show from the deck of the cruise ship.
Seeing the Marina Bay Sands Hotel from a distance, it looks like three buildings holding up a long boat. Two-thirds of the boat shape is a swimming pool and the rest is used as a sky park. Of course, you have to have a hotel key to get into the 57th floor swimming pool, but if you go for a swim in the Infinity Pool, you will feel as if you are floating above 57 storeys of air. Let’s check out a picture to see why it makes people feel faint.
The Sky Park, on the other hand, can be used by anyone. If you don’t have plans for the swimming pool, head up to the Sky Park to enjoy the observation deck. From here you’ll forget about the heat of beautiful Singapore.
Gardens by the Bay
If you still have some energy left, follow the signs to the back of Marina Bay. Here you’ll find the Gardens by the Bay, the size of 125 football pitches. If you’ve already fallen in love with the Singapore skyline at night, the Garden by the Bay will be a perfect ending.
The Garden by the Bay is an artificial garden built to help Singapore grow plants that are difficult to grow in its tropical climate. The most important thing to see here is the unique, enormous tree called the Super Tree. It is so large that if you stand next to it, you can’t even see the end of it. At the highest point of the Super Tree, there is a restaurant, which is recommended for an exciting meal.
The Garden by the Bay is divided into indoor and outdoor areas, with the inside made up of the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. The indoor gardens have an entrance fee.
In the 015B song “It’s Only Hard to Start,” the lyrics say that, “Once you start, it only gets easier, so the beginning’s important, just stay calm”. At first, everyone feels clumsy. Going on your first solo holiday doesn’t need to be scary or a reason to worry, just get ready to have a lot of fun and enjoy yourself. Just because you’re going on holiday by yourself doesn’t mean you’ll immediately change, but it will be a great experience that you will always remember. Good Luck!
Copy/Images by Seo Ji Eun
1. Botanic Gardens
Singapore Botanic Gardens 1 Cluny Road Singapore 259569
(65) 6471-7138 / (65) 6471-7361 www.sbg.org.sg
5 am – 12 am / Nancho Museum 8:30 am – 7 pm (Botanic Gardens Free, Nancho Museum SGD 5)
2. Orchard Road
3. Paradise Dynasty
2 Orchard Turn Singapore 238801#04-12A / +65 6509 9118
11 am – 10 pm (Mon to Fri) / 10:30 am – 10 pm (Weekends, Holidays)
4. Little India
138 Race Course Road / 63921722 / 10 am – 10 pm / www.muthuscurry.com
Banana Leaf Apolo 56 Race Course Rd Singapore 218564 / + 62- 96 5995
11 am – 10 pm
145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore – 207704
Open 24 hours!
5. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Chihuly Lounge
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore Chihuly Lounge
9:30 am – 1 am
Afternoon Tea, the place I introduced. (SGD 49 per person + tax). Weekday afternoons from 2:30 pm to 5 pm.
7 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039799 / + 65 6434-5288
6. China Town
Ya Kun Kaya
18 China Street, Far East Square /
Telephone: +65 6438 3638 / www.yakun.com
Opening times: 7:30 am – 6:30 pm (Mon-Fri)
8:30 am – 5 pm (Sat-Sun)/Closed on holidays
7. Clarke Quay
30 Merchant Road # 01-01/02 Riverside Point Singapore
Tel.: +65 6532-3435
Lunch: 12 pm – 3 pm (last order 2:15 pm)
Dinner: 6 pm – 12 am (last order 11:15 pm)
8. River Cruise
9. Singapore Flyer
30 Raffles Avenue, Singapore / 08:30 am – 10:30 pm (everyday)
www.singaporeflyer.com.sg Cost SGD 33
10. Marina Bay, Gardens by the Bay
Home page: http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg
Address: 18 Marina Gardens Drive, 018953
Telephone: +65 6420 6848
Admission charge: Indoor Garden admission charge SGD 28
11. Marina Bay Sands Hotel Infinity Pool
10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956, Singapore
+65 6688 8897