Singapore: Tiny, Yet So Full of Life

Navjot Singh, a well-known British author, journalist and photographer, shares his thoughts on how to best explore Singapore. Be sure to check back in with us for some more insightful reviews from Navjot’s travel exploits.

Singapore is hip, hop and happening: this pocket-sized city-state is a tidy place of opposites where people from different backgrounds live in peaceful harmony with each other; a place where vibrant bazaars, neon lights and historic colonial splendor blend neatly with sleek and stylish hotels, chic boutiques and plenty of smart hostels. Some may consider it to be an introduction to Asia: It isn’t quite India, China or Malaysia, yet accommodates a blend of those cultures and provides visitors with a taste of Asia.

Bottom line: Singapore should be compulsory on any travel wish list.

What to See

Much of the original town plan mapped out by Sir Stamford Raffles, the British statesman who founded the city-state in 1819, still remains. It is no exaggeration to suggest that it would take weeks, if not months, to get to see and really know Singapore. Though in reality, the majority of visitors only stay for a few days while on a stopover — usually flying between Europe and Australasia on the ever popular “Kangaroo route”.

The city is arranged either side of the Singapore River. Probably the best place to commence the journey is from the Raffles’ Landing Site on the north side of the river, where the great statesman first set foot. His white marble statue is situated here, and the immediate area offers a great vantage point from which to take photos.

The Colonial District:

Then head toward North Boat Quay, through the Colonial District, and turn right onto North Bridge Road, walking past St. Andrews Cathedral and the famous Raffles Hotel with its lovely colonial-style architecture. You may wish to come back to the hotel in the evening and enjoy the iconic cocktail Singapore Sling at the hotel’s Long Bar.

The legacy of British colonial rule looms with great architectural marvels, such as the Parliament Building and the Singapore Cricket Club. Interestingly, the Supreme Court situated next door, however, looks like a UFO.

Raffles Hotel (Navjot Singh)

Raffles Hotel (Navjot Singh)

Little India, Arab Quarter and Chinatown:

Within walking distance from the Colonial District are the three distinctively Singaporean ethnic areas of Little India, Arab Quarter and Chinatown. The former two are located next to each other in the north of the Central Business District (CBD), while the latter is located in the south of the city-state.

All three areas are exclusively furnished with their own cultures: Serangoon Road and all of the narrow lanes branching off it in Little India are famous for their fortune tellers, Hindu temples, Bollywood films and songs, and the diverse authentic cuisine. Bussorah Pedestrian Mall with its surrounding lanes in Arab Quarter is a popular place to buy Arabic clothes or to see the magnificent Sultan Mosque – you can easily confuse yourself with being in Dubai or Beirut. Chinatown houses some of the best Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine in southeast Asia. Located right next to Chinatown at 244 South Bridge Road is Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple.

Central Business District (CBD):

Situated in the CBD is the ever-active Orchard Road with its labyrinth of shops and malls. If you can tear yourself away from the lure of shopping, overlooking Orchard Road is the historical Fort Canning, offering a variety of recreational activities and cultural experiences.

Clarke Quay (Navjot Singh)

Clarke Quay (Navjot Singh)

From the picturesque and trendy Clarke Quay you may wish to take wooden “bumboats” along the Singapore River, through the CBD, and all the way through to the Marina Centre, Park and Bay area at the south. Take some time to enjoy a ride on 30-meter-high Singapore Flyer; the 28 capsules provide spectacular views across to Marina Bay, Sentosa, Raffles Place and the whole Singaporean peninsula. On a clear day, Batum on Indonesia and a cluster of tiny islands can be seen in the distance. An even better view may be gained from the observation deck of the stunning Marina Bay Sands, which houses Singapore’s largest hotel as well as a jaw-dropping infinity-edge pool, one of the world’s most beautiful above-ground swimming pools.


South of the Marina area is the resort-style island of Sentosa, home to beautiful man-made beaches, the family-friendly Adventure Cove Waterpark, historic Fort Siloso, and the S.E.A. Aquarium. The latter houses more than 100,000 marine animals, ranging from dolphins to stingrays. Sentosa can be fun, but make sure you wear comfortable footwear and a hat as you’ll be walking a lot and it can be very hot.

Located farther into the island is the unique Singapore Zoo, where you can stroll along during the day or in the evening. Nearby is Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park, the River Safari. When night falls, acquaint yourself with nocturnal creatures at the Night Safari.

Gourmet Food: Singapore Style

With its multicultural country offerings, there is a wide range of culinary delights for every taste under the sun.

For the best champagne breakfast in the city, head to the Edge at the Pan Pacific Hotel. Popular with expats, the brunch is available on Sundays from 12-4 p.m.; diners can enjoy a vast array of dishes complemented with unlimited Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Sunset over Marina Bay Sands (Navjot Singh)

Sunset over Marina Bay Sands (Navjot Singh)

To get a taste of authentic Malay, Indonesian or Peranakan cuisine, make sure you spend some time at the Singapore Food Trail, an exceptional themed food street situated at the base of the Singapore Flyer. If that doesn’t leave you in awe, then book a table at the Sky on 57 at the Marina Bay Sands, which provides arguably the best views in town. Don’t leave without trying the “Crispy Scale” Coral Cod, an inspiring creation of resident Michelin chef Justin Quek. You may also try one of the many dining venues at Clarke Quay, which usually becomes lively in the evening.

Where to Stay

Try the very cool Quincy Hotel, located within a stone’s throw from Orchard Road. It offers rooms with included food, complimentary minibar and a free limo airport pick-up. Located nearby is the flawless and reassured Grand Hyatt Singapore, a charming and smart jewel offering seven sleek and stylish dining venues. Located in a quiet suburb near the CBD, the flamboyant Shangri-La Singapore is host to CHI, one of the best spas in town.

How to Get There

Singapore’s Changi Airport is a major aviation hub in the Asia-Pacific region. Singapore Airlines flies from New York JFK (via Frankfurt), Houston (via Moscow–Domodedovo), San Francisco (via Seoul or Hong Kong) and Los Angeles (via Tokyo-Narita).

United Airlines flies to Singapore from Chicago-O’Hare and Washington-Dulles (both destinations via Tokyo and/or Hong Kong).

Regional departures are available via the Middle East with carriers such as Etihad, Qatar, and Emirates.

The best way to get around, once you arrive in Singapore, is by using the ultra-modern, well-arranged and clean underground MRT, which is easy to navigate and inexpensive to use.

To learn more about Navjot and his travels, be sure to check out his website: Expert Tips

How To Get There: As noted by the author, the primary airport in Singapore is Changi Airport, located about 15 miles from downtown. More information about ground transportation is available here. The airport is served by over 60 international and regional carriers including Delta Air Lines, Qantas Airways, AirAsia and more.
Best Time To Visit: Situated just 1 degree north of the Equator, approximately 90 miles, it goes without saying that Singapore is hot all year round, with the average highs being in the mid- to high-80s. The seasons here basically boils down to how much rain are you willing to put up with. The Northeast Monsoon goes from Nov. to March, with the heaviest rainfalls between Nov. and Jan.; while the driest months are during the Southwest Monsoon, from June to Sept.

Sample Fares: Calendars display lowest roundtrip fares over the next 90 days to Singapore from:
* All fares are roundtrip including all taxes and are accurate at time of publication. For updated pricing, conduct a new search on Updates

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Featured Image: Singapore Landmark, Merlion, at Sunrise (

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