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Visiting Singapore

Page Summary
  • Singapore - Asia 101
  • Crimes and fines, Phone and sim cards, Taxis and the subway, Tipping, Napkins
  • Sentosa
  • Night Safari
  • Wetland Reserve
  • East Coast Park
  • Chinatown
  • Orchard Towers
  • Geylang
Singapore is a great country to visit especially if you haven't been to Asia before. If you're thinking about visiting Asia for the first time, Singapore would be a good choice. Singapore is often referred to as "Asia 101" because you don't experience the same type of culture shock you normally get as you would visiting other Asian countries. Some of the reasons it's a good choice for first timers is a large percentage of the population speaks conversational English, it's clean, safe, and the public transportation system works well.

Crime and Punishment
Many times, when people think of Singapore they think of punishment and fines for various offenses. When I was young, there was a big story on the news about an American teenager getting caned for vandalizing a car. Over the years I heard other stories about the fines and punishment so when I got there the first time, I was worried police would be on every street corner looking for lawbreakers. It wasn't anything like that. If you just use your common sense you should be fine.

A few items worth mentioning relating to the law. If my facts are not correct or you think something should be added, I'd love to hear from you.
Quick Pictures
These pictures didn't fit in any of the of the other categories below so I'll just start with them here.
Merlion - Click to enlarge
The Merlion is a mythical creature with
the body of a fish and the head of a lion.
It's the Singapore mascot.
Singaore tshirt
A popular T-Shirt for tourists to buy.
These aren't necessarily accurate but
it makes an interesting shirt.
Singapore cigarette packages - Click to enlarge
The Singapore cigarette packages
have gross graphics on them to try
to discourage smoking.
Cream Collon food - Click to enlarge
Cream Collon snacks.
Funny name, tasty treat.

Here are some quick hints before we get into the real pictures
Phone Bring an unlocked sim phone and purchase a sim when you arrive. If your phone is locked, call your carrier and tell them you want to activate international roaming. After it's unlocked you will be able to use it with any sim. It shouldn't cost you any money unless you actually use it overseas when your normal sim is installed.

Taxi When you call for a taxi, you will have to talk to a person the first couple of times. After that, the taxi service computer remembers the last couple of pickup locations you used and allows you to chose them by pressing 1 or 2. While you wait on the line, a taxi accepts the fare and you are notified how long it will take for him to arrive. It's worth noting that some of the roads have tolls and the price is set based on the time of day.

Tipping isn't common in Singapore. Some people are even genuinely confused when you leave a tip. One time we left a tip at a restaurant frequented by many westerners and a girl that worked there ran after us with our change. We said it was a tip for her but she still didn't know what to do with it. After the guy behind the counter told her what it was, she gave it to him.

Napkins are uncommon at restaurants. If they do have them, you will often have to pay for them. Many people bring their own tissue packets when they eat out.

Airport movie theater The airport has a free movie theater. The movie plays on a loop and people come and go whenever they want. If you have extra time you need to waste when you're waiting for your departure, check it out.

Sandals are common but aren't allowed in many nightclubs.

Clarke quay and Robertson quay Clarke quay and Robertson quay (quay is pronounced key) have plenty of restaurants and hotels and is a nice area to hang out. Things are more expensive in these areas than the rest of Singapore. If you're going to go out for a night of drinking here, be prepared for a hefty bill. When we were there some of the locals were flying these UFO type remote control aircraft at the end of Clarke quay. They were flying them at night and they were lit up and pretty quiet. I'm not sure if they're still doing it but keep an eye out and go check them out if they are.

Alcohol and Cigarettes Drinking and smoking are very expensive here. The cigarette packages have some really gross graphics on them though. I bought some cigarettes just so I could bring them home for family members that do smoke.

Indians and the right and left hand Singapore has quite a few people from the country of India living there. If you interact with any of them, it's good to know that eating, handshaking and generally touching stuff should be done with the right hand. This is because the left hand is the one that's used for cleaning up after going to the bathroom. This is especially understandable if you keep in mind that tissue is often not used in the bathroom. Even holding your own burger with both hands around an Indian might get some strange looks from him or her.

Sentosa
Sentosa is one of the most popular places to visit in Singapore. Both tourists and locals visit the island.
Sentosa bridge - Click to enlarge
This sign directs you to the bridge
that brings you to the southernmost
point of the Asian continent
Southernmost point of the asian continent- Click to enlarge
An engraved rock signifying the
location of the southernmost point
of the Asian continent
Sentosa monkeys - Click to enlarge
Keep an eye out for the monkeys
Sentosa beach - Click to enlarge
Sentosa beach
Sentosa beach - Click to enlarge
Sentosa beach
Sentosa beach - Click to enlarge
A view from the Sentosa beach.
You can't forget that Singapore
is a busy shipping country.
Stingray - Click to enlarge
Feeding a stingray
Pink nose dolphin - Click to enlarge
Pink nose dolphin
Pink nose dolphin - Click to enlarge
Pink nose dolphin. The blond lady
is a volunteer from the audience.
Sentosa cable car - Click to enlarge
Cable car to/from Sentosa island.
The line for cabs was long so we decided
to leave Sentosa using the cable car.
I'm glad we did. It was a cool experience.
Sentosa cable car - Click to enlarge
Cable car to/from Sentosa island.
It enters/departs from the top of a building.
Sentosa construction - Click to enlarge
This was a view from the cable car.
There was a lot of construction going on.


Night Safari
The Night Safari was one of the coolest things I did in Singapore. It's actually more like a night zoo except it doesn't have cages. Rather than cages, the dangerous animals are behind deep trenches. The trenches are dug in a way that they're difficult to see so it makes for an interesting experience. You take a tram ride through the park, getting off and on at various places as you wish. There are often non-dangerous animals wandering around free and end up in the path of the tram. Taking flash pictures is prohibited in many areas so you don't mess up the animals night vision. Be sure to hang out by the lions for a while. We stayed in the lion area for a while and heard the male do his grunt/growl. This sounded really cool in person.
Night Safari - Click to enlarge
Fire show
Night Safari - Click to enlarge
Night Safari path
Night Safari - Click to enlarge
Night Safari show


Shopping
They say shopping is the national sport of Singapore and their Christmas decorations are quite festive.


Wetlands
Singapore has a wetlands reserve called "Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve". This is worth going to if you have the time but if it means you'll miss Sentosa or the Night Safari, I recommend skipping this. This is also a pretty good workout, especially if it's hot out so if you're not in very good shape you might want to skip it.

Getting there:
Singapore is a really small country but the wetlands area is pretty far for a taxi to drive. When we got into a taxi and said we wanted to go there, the driver said he wouldn't have stopped to pick us up if he knew that's where we wanted to go. The driver also said we were going to have a hard time getting a taxi to come back out to get us. That proved to be true. It took quite a while for a taxi to agree to come out when we wanted to leave. The official website gives public transportation directions which I would recommend looking at if you want to go. Here are the directions from the official website but I recommend you verify them. I included the link to their website below.
	Mondays to Saturdays

	Board SMRT Bus 925 from Kranji MRT Station. Alight at Kranji Reservoir
	Carpark for 15-min walk to the Reserve.
	
	Sundays and Public Holidays
	
	SMRT Bus 925 stops at Reserve's entrance.
I would definitely recommend using the bus rather than a taxi. The official website can be seen here.

Wetlands suspension bridge - Click to enlarge
This was a nice long suspension bridge
Kingfisher bird sign - Click to enlarge
Kingfisher bird information
Kingfisher bird - Click to enlarge
This bird was near the Kingfisher sign
so I believe it's a Kingfisher.
Monkeys - Click to enlarge
Monkeys on the trail. I remember traveling somewhere
that had monkeys and it was recommended we purchase
some peanuts or something similar to give to the monkeys.
We were warned if you don't, the monkeys will throw stuff
at you. I think this was the place.
Monkey - Click to enlarge
Monkey in the tree
Cool bathroom - Click to enlarge
This was a cool bathroom.
No fans are needed here.


East Coast Park
East Coast Park is the largest park in Singapore and is a nice area to go to for outdoor activities. Some of the popular things to do are jog, rent a bike, camp or even go wakeboarding using a cable tow. It should come as no surprise that there are a lot of restaurants there also. That area also has quite a few durian fruit vendors. If you want to try it, this would be a good place to do so.
east coast bike rental - Click to enlarge
The place where we rented
bikes for the afternoon
east coast bike ride - Click to enlarge
Bike riding on the path
at East Coast Parkway
wakeboarding - Click to enlarge
Wakeboarding at night. There's a
restaurant right next to this so it
makes for some good entertainment.


Chinatown area
No matter where you go, visiting Chinatown usually makes for a fun afternoon. I didn't take enough pictures there but this is what I got.
Chinatown temple - Click to enlarge
Temple outside
Chinatown temple ceiling painting - Click to enlarge
Ceiling painting
Chinatown temple art - Click to enlarge
Temple art


Places you might want to avoid if you have kids
The Orchard Towers consists of two buildings on the corner of Claymore Road and Orchard Road. There's a restaurant called the 3 Monkeys Cafe (if it's still in business) between the two Orchard Towers buildings. I wouldn't recommend going there at night if you have kids because this area is more of an "adult" area. If you don't have kids though and you would like to do some people watching, the 3 Monkeys Cafe has an outside eating area that's a good place for that.

One more word of warning about the Orchard Towers area if you decide to hang around in the bars there. While walking through building 1 on the way to the 3 Monkeys Cafe, I saw one of the bars was looking at the passports of the ladies going in and just letting the guys go in without checking theirs. I asked the guy I was with what was going on and he said they were checking to make sure the girls were actually girls.
Three Monkeys Cafe - Click to enlarge
3 Monkeys Cafe inside the Orchard Towers.
I hear it might be closed now but I would
be very surprised if a different restaurant
didn't open up in the same place.
Orchard Towers - Click to enlarge
People watching from the 3 Monkeys Cafe.
This is an area where more "adult" type
activities takes place. This road is between
the two Orchard Tower buildings and a lot
of taxis drop people off at this location.
Orchard Towers - Click to enlarge
People watching from the 3 Monkeys Cafe.
There's another good viewing spot from the
windows in the upper right of this picture.


Geylang is a road but the word "Geylang" also refers to a red-light district. This district has legal brothels as well as a lot of illegal street walker activity. As you can see in these pictures, going around there in the evening might not be the best idea if you have kids.
Geylang - Click to enlarge
Geylang. The quality of this picture isn't that
great because it was taken from inside a taxi
but I think you get the idea.
Geylang - Click to enlarge
Geylang. The quality of this picture isn't that
great because it was taken from inside a taxi
but I think you get the idea.


Things I missed
Marina Bay Sands is a hotel and casino with a really cool pool on the top. I wasn't able to go there because it was just being built the last time I was there. It's now built and I will go there the next time I visit.

Indonesia is a quick and easy trip from Singapore. There's a golf tour including lunch and transportation. Some friends did this on one trip when I wasn't there and the pictures were beautiful. Indonesia also has some really beautiful resorts (assuming the pictures I saw online are real).

Fish Pedicure OK, so this is one that I don't mind missing but I thought some people here might be interested. Basically you put your feet in a fish tank and the fish eat the dead skin off your feet. A friend of mine tried it and (not surprisingly) said it felt really weird.

In Summary
Singapore is a great place to visit for seasoned travelers as well as those that have never been to Asia before. Singapore is a good choice because it's usually very easy to find someone that speaks English, the people are (generally) friendly, it's clean, safe and getting around is easy by using a taxi or the MRT.

Happy travels.