Julie Singapore 13 Comments

Singapore, a city that is also a country, is the closest that we would get to the equator on our trip around the world. We were just 137 kilometers (85 miles) from the equator and wow, could we tell! This is one hot city.

We spent four days in Singapore, walking around in the sticky heat. Our taxi driver from the airport to our hotel was the first person to let us know that it had been hotter than normal the past few days. In the morning we would step out into hot, humid air. Midday was the worst but sunset offered little relief. Even at 8 pm we would work up a sweat just walking the shortest of distances. We come from the mid-Atlantic region of the US, a place that is famous for its hot, sticky, summer weather, but honestly, this was so much worse.

Interesting Facts about Singapore

Singapore is the fourth largest financial center in the world (New York, London, and Hong Kong top the list) and the second busiest container port in the world (Shanghai is number one). It is one of the most globalized cities in the world, with a third of its citizens being foreign-born nationalized citizens. Chinese Singaporeans make up much of the population, but this country is also home to Malaysians, Indians, Europeans, and Americans.  English is the common language but Mandarin and Malay are widely spoken as well.

Singapore gained independence from Malaysia in 1965 and has been known as the Republic of Singapore ever since. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, can be credited with taking Singapore from a third world country to a first world financial super power.

Singapore has some unique and rather strict laws. Taxi drivers must be national born citizens. Selling chewing gum is illegal. Go to a 7-Eleven and there will not be one pack of gum for sale but there will be an entire aisle stocked with breath mints and cough drops.

The legal drinking age is 18. Alcohol cannot be purchased past 10:30 pm. Drug traffickers are punished by death. Spitting is also illegal.

Spitting may not sound like something you would need a law against, but after going to Myanmar and India, we are all in favor of “no spitting” laws.

Basically, Singapore is a clean, modern, and safe city and our “scam radars” could relax for a few days.

In our four days in Singapore, we visited some of the more popular sights but also tried to beat the heat as well. Here were some of our favorite activities.

Buddha Tooth Relic Museum

Many times when we visit temples we get a glimpse into local life, watching people lighting incense, praying, and chanting. This would not be the case today. It seemed like the only people at this temple were curious tourists like us.

The other thing that was different about this temple was its age. Most temples we visit are very old. Tyler and Kara are both older than this temple, which opened to the public in 2007. It is named for the Buddha tooth found in a collapsed stupa in Myanmar which is now housed here. We never did see that famous tooth but we loved seeing the buddha statues lining the walls and the larger buddhas that were the centerpiece of the room.

Inside Buddha Tooth Relic

Buddha Tooth Relic Museum


Get Around on the MRT

We love getting around by metro and Singapore has a fast, clean, modern system called the MRT. During the hours that we rode the metro, the crowds were low, wait times were minimal, and the trains were air conditioned. There are designated seats for the elderly and for pregnant women, distinguished by their colorful, flowery printed seats. The advertising went as far as coming up with StandUpStacey, a character that looked like a cross between a minion and cartoon character, letting all on board know to give up their seat for those who may need it more than you.

Singapore Chinatown Metro

Stand Up Stacey

Get a Bird’s Eye View of Singapore from the Marina Bay Sands

The Marina Bay Sands is Singapore’s ultramodern hotel, a building that looks like it comes from the future. Three towers support a platform that houses an observation deck, restaurant, and infinity pool. Tyler and Kara were disappointed they couldn’t go swimming here! So were Tim and I, especially after taking in the views while standing in Singapore’s sticky heat.

Out in the distance we could see many container vessels waiting for their turn to come in to port, as well as the Gardens By the Bay, Singapore’s skyline, and the waterfront area. There was a slightly cool breeze up here, so it wasn’t totally miserable, but we were still happy to get back into the air conditioned elevator once we had our fill of the Singapore skyline.

Gardens By the Bay View

Visiting Singapore

View from Marina Sands

Overlooking Singapore

Visit The Shoppes at the Marina Bay Sands

The Marina Bay Sands is also home to one of Singapore’s upscale shopping malls. We window shopped here, looking into shops like Ferrari, Cartier, Gucci, and so many more. This is a beautiful, glitzy mall, not the type of place we do our shopping but if you are in one of the top financial centers in the world, people here need an outlet to spend all of their hard earned money. Though we didn’t go shopping here, we did dine at Din Tai Fung, my new favorite restaurant, first discovered while in Taiwan.

Marina Bay Sands

Join the Crowds at Universal Studios Singapore

Mention the words “roller coaster” and Kara’s ears perk up. She is a coaster addict and we were not going to spend four days in Singapore without paying a visit to Universal Studios. Not only were we in Singapore during hotter than normal weather but we were also unfortunately here while school was on break. We managed to beat the crowds by splurging on the Express Pass, allowing us to bypass the lines, and it was absolutely worth it. Walking past other guests waiting in line, standing in hot rooms with wait times of an hour or more, we were so glad to bypass the long lines and the misery.

The Return of the Mummy was our favorite. Not only is it a roller coaster but it was also one of the few rides where the wait was in an air-conditioned building. We also loved Human vs. Cylon, Universal Studios biggest coaster where two lines run simultaneously, racing each other.

We watched “Jurassic World” the day before coming here so touring through Jurassic Park was a little more interesting.

Tyler and Kara were very appreciative of a day spent at an amusement park and I was appreciative of Tim for buying the express pass. The day would have been torture without it.

Universal Studios Singapore

Japanese for Dinner. Yum!

We stayed near Bugis Mall, home to numerous Asian restaurants. Early in our stay we became fans of a Japanese restaurant, Ramen Champion, that we ate at over and over again. We are just getting warmed up for our travels through Japan, a little more than a week away!

Kara Ninja

Beat the Heat at Wild Wild Wet

What better way to escape the heat of Singapore than visit a water park. Tim took Tyler and Kara to Wild Wild Wet while I stayed back at the hotel, working on that huge 365 Days of Travel post that was published just a few days ago. The slides, raft rides, and water activities were tons of fun.

What was even better was making a new friend, Meng Yao. After a day at the water park, he joined us for dinner and now stays in touch with Tyler and Kara through email and Instagram.

Kara Rivenbark

Meng Tyler Kara

Our New Addiction, Llaollao Frozen Yogurt

The first day we arrived in Singapore we noticed a small stand in the mall with a very long line. They sold frozen yogurt with very simple toppings. We tried some and were hooked. At first we ate this just once a day, but before long we couldn’t walk by the mall without stopping in for some more frozen yogurt, eating it several times a day. It’s so good!

llaollao yogurt

Meeting Up With Co-workers and Friends

We had a chance to meet up with Dan and Melissa, co-workers of Tim’s from AGI. They have been living and working in Singapore for three years. Along with that comes the chance to travel through Asia, visiting places like Australia, Japan, India, and South Korea.

Meeting with Friends

We met up with Dan and Melissa in Chinatown, not far from the Buddha Tooth Relic Museum. We sampled foods like roasted chicken with rice, kueh pie tee, fried calamari, and Thai chicken, while drinking Tiger beer. It was great exchanging traveling stories and turning co-workers into friends.


Chinatown Market

Observe the Street Scene Outside of our Hotel

We stayed at the Ibis Hotel on Bencoolen. Not far from here was the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, a buddhist temple. We walked by this everyday on our way to the MRT (and on our way to more delicious Llaollao yogurt!).

Sitting under umbrellas were women selling incense, flowers, and offerings for those going to the temple. 


Visit Gardens by the Bay

On our final night in Singapore we finally made it to Gardens By the Bay, one of Singapore’s premiere tourist attractions. Here, manmade trees sparkle and tower overhead, orchids bloom, and a cloud forest is contained entirely within a glass dome.

Due to the high cost, we skipped the domes but did pay the fee for a walk on the OCBC Skyway, a walkway that is suspended from manmade trees, offering unique views of Singapore.

We were also lucky enough to see the practice run of the air show that will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence. This was Tyler and Kara’s first time watching fighter jets roar past right overhead and it was exhilarating.

Fighter Jets

Best Part of Singapore


Marina Bay Sands at Night

Where We Stayed

We spent five nights at the Ibis on Bencoolen. The location was fabulous, just a five minute walk to the Bugis MRT Station, a station that provides easy access to the main sights in Singapore. We had two twin rooms that came with good wifi, comfortable beds, coin operated laundry, and free access to a local gym. From here it was a five minute walk to the Bugis Mall, home to many restaurants and our favorite place to eat, Llaollao Frozen Yogurt.

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Singapore in 4 days


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Comments 13

  1. Avatar for Binal Doshi
    Binal Doshi

    Hi Julie,

    I first discovered your blog while planning a month-long Eurotrip with my family last year. Despite having been there 10 years ago, your blog was a treasure trove of info , especially for the Bernese Oberland region. I just came back from an 8-day trip to Singapore a couple of weeks ago (we travel very leisurely lol) and thought to share some tips so that your readers may find them useful:

    1) Getting Around: We extensively used the MRT and Bus (even more convenient than the metro). We used the EZ-Link Card (which we bought at a 7/11 on Day 1). It has a $5 non-refundable fee and you can keep loading it for use as and when required. This is what locals use and it is also far cheaper for tourists than getting the popular Tourist pass (which starts from $22 and is for 1/2/3 days).

    An even better (and cheaper) option is just using your internationally active debit/credit/forex cards. Even with a bad forex rate charged by your bank, we calculated that eventually it would have been a cheaper alternative to the EZ-Link Card.

    Important to note: The EZ-Link Card can only be loaded via cash. Only local Singapore bank cards work for loading it via the EZ-link App. So that was a slight issue. Also the leftover credit on the card can be exchanged for a cash refund at the airport Terminal 2.

    2) A must-see at Gardens by the Bay is Floral Fantasy. It is a newer and smaller addition, and simply gorgeous. I visited Singapore 10 years ago, so this time I started with this one first and we liked it better than Cloud Forest and most definitely Flower Dome.

    3) We did the Night Safari separately at 9:30 PM. And from what I found out, that was actually the best time to do it. Most people club it with the Zoo/River Wonders, and do it around 7-8 PM right when the Zoo closes and Night Safari opens. Since it is still late evening, many of the nocturnal animals are not yet out. Barring one animal, we were able to see all the rest – lions, hyenas, deers, rhino, hippo… It was the highlight of the day.

    4) One of the lesser touristy spots that we visited and absolutely loved (and is free!) are the Botanical Gardens. They were quite lovely.

    5) One common mistake that people make is to head up to the Marina Bay Sands to view the light and sound show or to sit at Merlion Park and watch it across the bay. The best (and in my opinion the only) place to enjoy it is the promenade outside the Shoppes.

    6) If you are planning to go around late June, watch out for the fireworks that happen with the rehearsals for the Singapore National Parade. They happen around 8-9 pm on the Saturdays leading up to the big day. It was a total surprise for all of us tourists taking a stroll at the Merlion Park.

    7) We bought a Go-City Explorer Pass for 7 attractions (we got it at a huge discount through their website), but I would not recommend it. Most attraction tickets can be bought through individual websites which are decent. Also, for most places you need to exchange the Pass for the individual ticket so you do have to find a ticket booth. The biggest issue was at the Night Safari which requires you to email the Go-City guys 24 hours in advance with all your details to get the tickets!

    8) Also, if you do plan to shop, carry your passports with you to claim the Tax refund at the airport.

    I hope this info is useful,

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Binal. Thank you for writing in with this info…it is very useful! Makes me want to go back to Singapore! 😊 I really appreciate you taking the time to write up this information…it will be very helpful to other readers of our website (and our future trip to Singapore, because I am sure we will return again someday). Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Holiday Deals UK
  3. Avatar for Shae

    Your blog is amazing and your adventures too! FYI it’s selling or importing gum that’s illegal, not chewing.
    Oral dental gum or medicinal/nicotine gum e.g. Nicorette can be bought at Singapore pharmacies with a prescription.

    1. Avatar for Tim Post

      Thank you for your wonderfully kind words regarding our blog and adventures! And thank you for the clarification regarding gum 🙂 Happy Travels! Tim

  4. Avatar for Cheryl

    I love your blog! I think your trip research and writing are very good, and you take beautiful pictures. Since you seem to enjoy an outdoorsy lifestyle, some activities in Singapore I think you might have enjoyed are (1) walking through the Botanic Gardens (the only tropical gardens that are a UNESCO World Heritage site, huge, gorgeous, free admission except for the orchid garden, monitor lizards, papaya trees, ginger plants, and much more), (2) hiking the MacRitchie Nature Trail (rainforest, TreeTop Walk, monkeys), and (3) taking a bumboat to Pulau Ubin (see Singapore as it looked in the 1960s, monkeys, wild boars) and riding bikes around the island.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  5. Avatar for Prashanth

    Hey Julie!

    Thanks for all the wonderful posts and detailed travel advice. I have been reading up all posts in the last few weeks; I had scheduled a trip to Osaka/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima and the likes in middle of October 2018; this was like 2 months ago, but in the aftermath of Typhoon Jebi I’ve had to cancel this now. We were in Tokyo in April and fell in love with Japan and its people; thought we’d fall in love again with a different part of the country, but seems like that will have to wait. While researching other options Singapore came to mind. Would October be a decent time to travel down there? I read about the unrelenting heat/ humidity in your post; though we’re from India, I am a little skeptical of the idea of going to a hot, sweaty, sticky place for vacation.

    Also on my mind is Laos in October; we’re too close to the dates so I’m guessing all fares would be going northwards.

    Thanks in advance for your reply!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      I don’t know how much the temperature changes in Singapore over the course of a year. We were there at the end of June. It was hot and sticky. I’m the type of person who does not do well in that kind of weather, so I had a hard time enjoying Singapore. On the other hand, Laos could be very nice in October. In our experience, it’s also a lot cheaper than Singapore. So even if prices are going up, it may not be as expensive as Singapore. It might be worth looking into. Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for Pat Stilwell
    Pat Stilwell

    Your photo of the Buddah wall produced a very interesting optical illusion. At first, I was going to ask you how you how you got the picture to push forward. When I scrolled slowly down on the photo, it seemed like the big blue Buddah was coming forward and getting bigger. I guess it was an effect caused by the background statues. I wonder if anyone else or you, yourselves perceived that effect? Honest, I have not had a glass of wine.

  7. Avatar for mr.ding

    What a wonderful experience! I just wanna have a travel like you guys owned. Thanks to give me a stimulation!

  8. Avatar for Meng Yao
    Meng Yao

    That was a pretty lengthy write-up but it was detailed and well said. Thanks for including me in too.
    p.s. my name was spelled wrongly change the ‘w’ to ‘m’ and it would be alright. Haha

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

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