24 Hours: A Singapore stopover
Living in Australia means getting anywhere in the world can take a LONG time. When travelling to Europe I highly recommend a Singapore stopover to break up your long haul trip.
It’s easy to get around Singapore as the train network (MRT) runs like clockwork and buses are frequent. For about $10 – $20 (SGD) you can buy a Singapore Tourist Pass for unlimited bus and train rides for 1, 2 or 3 days from Changi Airport, TransitLink Ticket Offices, or online. While it’s easy to get a bus or train, I usually opt for a Taxi as they’re fast, comfortable, convenient and relatively cheap, not to mention you can gaze out the window at the beautiful, vibrant pink/purple Singapore Orchards lining the streets. It’s also a great way get recommendations from the driver that you might not find in travel guides. A taxi from Changi Airport to the city will usually cost around $25-$30.
This time around we stayed at The New Majestic Hotel, conveniently located just a few minutes from the Maxwell Food centre in Chinatown. Built in 1890, this Colonial building is one helluva modern boutique hotel. Walking into the lobby feels like you just entered an art gallery, with installations and funky design furniture pieces, it’s no surprise that each room in the hotel is eccentric and stylishly decorated with different themes.
The staff are super friendly and helpful, and taking things to another level, each room is equipped with a handy smart phone device that guests can take out with them while they explore Singapore. With such high global roaming rates on our iPhones, we took full advantage of this device, using it for it’s GPS navigation and maps, as well as googling recommendations and reviews of places. You can also make free calls to most countries as an added bonus. Every hotel in the world should offer such a service!
With only 24 hours, we were on a mission to find the best Hainanese chicken rice. It’s considered one of the national dishes of Singapore and happens to be a favourite dish in my household. You can’t go past the well known Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (stall 10) in one of the best hawker centres, Maxwell Food Centre . Unfortunately they can sell out pretty quickly but just opposite, and a few stalls down is a stall called “Maxwell Hainanese Chicken Rice” which is arguably just as delicious. No matter which hawker centre you go to, it’s best to find somewhere to sit before ordering your food. (Reserve your seat by leaving a small packet of tissues on the table or have your travel partner sit at the table). If you’re travelling solo, never fear, it’s common to share a table so just look out for an empty seat. If you’re concerned about hygiene in the hawker centres, all stalls have a cleanliness rating from A – D posted on the front of their stall so keep an eye out. The best hawker centres are Maxwell Food Centre in Chinatown, Tekka Centre in Little India, Telok Ayer Market (more commonly known as Lau Pa Sat) in the CBD, and Tiong Bahru Market.
If you want to try Chilli Crab, another one of Singapore’s national dishes, head to where the locals go, East Coast Lagoon.
Telok Ayer Market (more commonly known as Lau Pa Sat features an array of foods like dumplings, chicken rice, fish ball noodles, and even pizza. If you find yourself in the area after 7pm, check out ‘Satay Street’. At night the street is closed off and filled with hawkers selling fresh sizzling satay sticks. I’m told stall no. 7 is the best satay.
No short trip to Singapore is complete without a bit of shopping. For the best shopping to meet all budgets, head to Orchard Rd where you will be in a shoppers paradise. As a tourist you are also eligible for a Tax Refund when you spend over $100 (SGD). Just don’t forget to make your claim before you leave Singapore. With numerous shopping malls spanning the length of the street, plan to spend a few hours. Keep an eye out for 313@Somerset features brands like Zara, Uniqlo, Esprit and Forever 21. It is also conveniently linked directly to the Somerset MRT station. ION Orchard is home to flagship stores for luxury brands such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss and the likes. You’ll also find a wide variety of high street brands like Topshop and Armani Exchange as well as the popular beauty and cosmetics shop Sephora. There’s also a huge free standing H&M store and way too many other stores to mention. Your best bet is to head to Orchard road and shop til you drop.
I also enjoy shopping at the part traditional mall/part open-air shopping district, Bugis Junction. It’s popular among young adults with shops like Topshop, Converse, Cotton On, Mango Located right above Bugis MRT station.
For bars and restaurants check out Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, situated along the river within walking distance of each other.
Unfortunately on my recent trip we shopped for a lot longer than we expected, subsequently missing out on other things we had planned to do. With so much on offer, there’s always different areas to explore and new things to discover.
Next time I have a Singapore stopover 2am: dessert bar is on my hit list…. After I feast on some chicken rice at Tian Tian’s of course.
The Other Sally x
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