During January 2011 I had a 51 hour stopover in Singapore. This is what I experienced.

Singapore AIRLINES, the cheapest option available, efficient beautiful hostesses with unique uniforms

Singapore BOTANIC Gardens – beautiful, well kept and extensive, with specialist gardens including Orchid, Marsh and Ginger gardens, also a great place for peace and tranquility, family outings, jogging / walking (yourself and your dog)

BUMBOATS on the Singapore River is an excellent way to experience the river and to get a feel for the Singapore way of life

CLEAN – Singapore is a very clean city; I experienced clean carpets at Changi airport, clean sidewalks everywhere with no traces of chewing gum, lots of rubbish bins cleaned on a regular basis and they clean the river with a cleaning net (same as for your swimming pool, just bigger) on a daily basis!

Singapore is a CITY STATE or Island Country, forming part of South East Asia, comprising 2 main land masses and numerous small islands

Singapore Sling, a classic, now world famous COCKTAIL created in 1915 at the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel consisting of dry gin, Dom Benedictine, Cointreau and cherry brandy, shaken with lime and pineapple juice with a dash of Angostura bitters & Grenadine

DUCKTOURS – a quirky or quacky way to experience Singapore on land and the water on this bus-boat vehicle

Like South Africa, they also drive on the left hand side of the road, although driving in peak traffic can turn into a stressful episode considering the local driving behavior of tailgating and frequent lane changing as well as parking & ELECTRONIC ROAD PRICING CHARGES

Singapore FLYER – an observation wheel (similar to London Eye), offers 360 degree views of the city and the sea, just on the opposite side of the Marina Bay Skypark, thus you decide, no need to do both

Singapore is also referred to as the GARDEN CITY – all public areas such as walkways, sidewalks, street / roads are beautified with well kept gardens, hedges, plants, trees, the overall feeling of green & lush prevails. Housing is generally high rise residential blocks – individual homes and private gardens are few and far between, therefore residents enjoy the public areas, many gardens and parks on the island.

Singapore River has come a long way from the 1920’s when it was lined with GODOWNS (warehouses) on either side and was the commercial hub. Today the river is beautiful, safe, clean and very user friendly after a major clean-up operation (1987) and is lined with commercial and residential property, the godowns have been restored into shops and restaurants, bridges across the river has been built to allow for easy access to and from either side

SIA HOP ON – a very convenient public transport bus service operated by Singapore Airlines at ½ price for Singapore airline passengers. This service is similar to the Hop on Hop off, with commentary, but much cheaper. (Hop On Hop Off S$29 for 24 hours)

Visiting the ‘Visit Singapore’ counter on arrival, received very pertinent INFORMATION regarding traveling to the city, what’s happening, what to do and see from a very proud ambassador to Singapore. Easy access to information also from hotels & tourist information centres throughout the city and at tourist attractions.

JOGGING along the Singapore River, stretching for approximately 12 km of easy walkways from Marina Bay inland

KEPPEL HARBOUR – the world’s busiest port and the endless stream of tankers / ships / passenger liners towards and from the harbour can best be seen from the Singapore Flyer or the Marina Bay Sands Skypark

English widely spoken, one of four official LANGUAGES, the others being Mandarin, Malay & Tamil

MARINA BAY & Marina Bay Sands Development, hotel opened in 2010 and has changed the Singapore skyline forever. The 2 600 room hotel and 45 000 delegate / 250 meeting room state of the art convention facility is only the start of a multi-billion $ development

The MERLION – is a half-fish, half-lion, created by the Singapore Tourist Board in 1964. It symbolizes the unity of the lion city and the sea

MRT – Mass Rapid Transit network or underground, operates 3 lines from 06:00 – 24:00, stations often situated in shopping centers, thus not always easy to find. This is a cheap transport option, e.g. S$2.40 for a single trip from Vivo City Shopping Centre to Clarke Quay station

NOTICE – Automatically charge a 10% service fee and 7% tax (GST) to final bills for restaurants, accommodation

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC RETAIL STORE – An interesting store featuring photos, guide books, clothing, coffee shop and other paraphernalia. My first experience at this store, only a handful of branches throughout the world at the moment

ORCHARD ROAD – situated close to the Botanic Gardens, it has a long history and today is the shopping street of Singapore, featuring many shopping centers, international brands, hotels from international hotel groups as well as Tangs, Singapore’s local department store. Although lots of shops only open late morning or around midday, they are often open till midnight.

Singapore is a busy bustling city most of the time and PEDESTRIAN crossings, pedestrian overhead bridges and under road passages not always easily accessible for a visitor. Also, pedestrians do not have right of way and as a visitor one needs to be very cautious when crossing the street.

PUBLIC SITTING SPACE is seen everywhere and always clean and well kept, a wonderful treat for a tired tourist

Many shops, restaurants and offices are situated in the vicinity of Boat QUAY, Clarke Quay & Robertson Quay

On arrival, 15 January 2011, just in time for the start of the Chinese New Year , year of the RABBIT celebrations, also enjoying the new year sales

ROBERTSON QUAY HOTEL – centrally located affordable accommodation but in dire need of refurbishment. Accommodation is Singapore is rather expensive and with the current state of this hotel at S$150 for a single room per night this is not value for money

SAFE & secure – I was moving around on my own early in the morning as well as late at night and never felt uncomfortable. Singapore has a very low crime rate but note that pick pocketing does occur, especially in crowded areas

SENTOSA Island – Sentosa, meaning peace and tranquility is a pleasure island offering accommodation, beach, water sports, golf, spa, aquarium, restaurants and a variety of other activities suitable for the whole family. One can reach the island by car, Sentosa Rider (bus), monorail from Vivo City or cable car from Mount Faber. (Getting to Mount Faber is the more tricky part – I could not manage to ascertain this information during my brief visit). Sentosa Rider – a bus service taking you to Sentosa Island (S$5 single trip, S$8 return trip) but I discovered that you can also get off Sentosa Island with the monorail for free

General Hotel SHUTTLE from airport (S$9 on way). Please note that this service is not available as a return option

The Marina Bay Sands SKYPARK is open to the public, weather permitting (S$ 20 per person) and affords 360° of the ocean and city

TASTE – Very cosmopolitan dining options available including Chinese, Cantonese, Indian, as well as many Western type restaurants and food outlets. Singaporeans are late risers, very little happens before 10 am and many restaurants only open from 12:00 noon, keep in mind that they often also stay open till very late at night

TAXI’S – clean, efficient and less expensive than normal, equipped with GPS and can do electronic receipts on request

Average TEMPERATURE throughout the year approximately 30ºC / 86ºF during the day and 23ºC / 74ºF in the evening. Most rainfall from November – January and often cloudy. Light from approx 07:00 – 19:00 (more or less throughout the year). Humidity is high all year round, thus get into the habit of drinking lots of water

TRANSIT HOTEL @ CHANGI – A very convenient cheap 24 / 7 option if you have a stopover of a few hours. Basic but comfortable rooms with bathroom situated in Terminal 1, 2 & 3. It is advisable to book in advance. www.harilelahospitality.com The Ambassador Transit Hotels, managed by Harilela Hospitality. Single occupancy S$ 69, Double occupancy S$76, based on a minimum charge of 1 block of 6 hours, additional hours charged at S$ 15 per hour. Rates subject to change without prior notice

Being caught without an UMBRELLA! Quick rain showers almost every day (November – January) with high humidity. Recommend an umbrella at all times, for sun as well as rain and weatherproof slops as running shoes get drenched within the first 5 minutes

South African citizens do not need a VISA for Singapore and no mandatory vaccinations

VIVOCITY & HARBOURFRONT – Large Shopping Centers with a variety of retail & dining options, home of the ferry and passenger liner terminal as well as monorail access to Sentosa Island

WATER – tap water is safe to drink and bottled water is also available. Public drinkable water points available everywhere. Basic health requirements are very strict

(Rate of exchange S$1 = R1.30)

2010 ranking Singapore South Africa
Population 5 076 700 49 991 300
Biggest population in the world ranking 115th 25th
Size of country 710.2 km² 1 221 037 km²
Biggest country in the world ranking 187th 25th
Density 7 022 people per km² 41 people per km²
Density ranking 3rd 170th
Source: Wikipedia

Contact me on carla@carlarossouw.com for more information and bookings.