Imagine if you put China and India together, cleaned it up, condensed it down in size and then quadrupled the prices; that would give you Singapore.
It was a bit disconcerting to read in Lonely Planet that their recommended spending money was 250 US dollars a day. I’d been rather hoping to bring the whole trip in on less than that, including the flights. Didn’t happen, obviously, but I certainly didn’t spend 250 dollars a day either (more like around 100). However Singapore is expensive when compared to its Asian neighbours and it does take a bit of forward planning and budgeting.
The last time I was in Singapore was whilst I was living in Indonesia. I went on a visa run. I took the first plane out of Jakarta and headed to McDonald’s underneath the Hilton Hotel, where I was to meet the visa man. I then handed him my passport (plus an envelope of money) and was ordered to come back at four to collect my passport with visa.
It was common knowledge what was going on; the cab driver told me that at least half the people on the plane in from Jakarta would be doing the same thing. As soon as I said ‘Hilton Hotel’ he asked ‘visa run?’
I didn’t do much in between except hang around Orchard Road. I didn’t know the city well and was afraid of getting lost, not getting back in time and being trapped in Singapore without my passport.
This time I went for three days, which is probably long enough to do most of the things you want to do in Singapore. There is more to do if you have longer, but you should feel as if you’ve done the main stuff in three days.
The harbour area is nice.
Little India has great food, a few temples and shops selling tacky souvenirs.
You can get a cable car over to Sentosa and sit on the beach. There’s plenty to do there: ball games, wave machine pools, boats, a zip line and such. There’s also sea world and a butterfly sanctuary there (I didn’t go; it was all quite expensive). I did go to Siloso fort whilst I was out there, which had a lot of displays and information about Singapore during world war two, and that was very interesting.
If you’re keen on shopping Orchard Road has pretty much everything you need. It’s a nice looking street with sculptures dotted here and there and lots of air conditioned malls. Good for designer labels and electronics.
I stayed at Mercury hostel. It was ok; the staff weren’t over friendly (for that read ‘at all friendly’) but, being Singapore, it was clean and it was very close to an MTR stop. I wouldn’t stay there again if I went back though. There are loads and loads of hostels in Singapore, all at a similar price, and I doubt they ever run out of beds. Accommodation is in abundance in the cheaper end of the market and also at the luxury end; what they seem to be lacking is mid-range hotels.