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Two days and one night in Singapore - what to see?

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We are in Singapore in November en route to Oz and have two full days and one night to look around. We are staying at Hangout@Mt.Emily, which I believe is fairly accessible, but we really have no idea what we should priorotise to see. We like food, scenery, culture and shopping. Any suggestions gratefully received.

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    Hi, trixie2204!

    When I was in Singapore, I enjoyed spending a morning at the Museum of Asian Civilizations. Every display was a knock-out, and many different Asian cultures were represented.

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    get up really early and visit the Orchid garden section within the Botanical Garden. asian Civ museum is great. little India, Arab and Buggis street, The Singapore Flyer as evening falls give you a different perspective on teh country.

    There are tons of places to eat...the hawker stalls are all over with fabulous food. Hyatt's Straits of Malaca is a wonderful buffet type meal..but not typical buffet. They cook up much of the food when you order.

    The night zoo is also very good. I enjoyed going out to the east side and eating/shopping there.

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    As with your post on Hong Kong, your message puzzles me as to why you picked Singapore if you don’t know what is there….please get a guidebook or at the least look at Fodors above (click “Destinations”) and also see the website for the Singapore Tourism Authority at http://www.visitsingapore.com. The Luxe Guides are interesting for shopping and restaurants, they are not really tour guides but worth a look and easy to pack, go to http://www.luxecityguides.com/, you can get the series for Hong Kong and Australian cities as well.

    For ideas on what to do with your limited time, try searching for recent posts called “Help me Lay out My 2 Meager Days in Singapore” “Three Days in Singapore with Kids” and “Overnight in Singapore Anything to Do?” which myself and others have responded to. Also take a look at the website for the Singapore Tourism Authority, which has good suggestions, see http://www.visitsingapore.com.

    I always generally recommend walking around the areas of Little India, Arab Street and Chinatown which are quite interesting and have temples, mosques, little alleyways, shops, restaurants, and are more of the “Asia” people think of beyond the shopping malls of Orchard Road. A trip to Geylang to see Malay-style living is a good idea too, late evening is a good time for dinner or an after dinner snack. Some great cheap eating in these areas too. During the wandering, great things to pick up would be glass and metal bangles at the shops in Little India (and things like saris, Punjabi suits and even bidis if you want to be really funky) and incense (including Oudh) and perfume oils in the Arab Street area. You can actually have your own perfume made in Arab Street or along North Bridge Road.

    I also recommend eating, of which there is a ton, cheap and dear, of all cuisines in Singapore. (I live in Hong Kong but go to Singapore, where I used to live, to eat....) For restaurants, see a post from April and June called “Singapore Restaurants” and "One Night in Singapore, Need Great Restaurant", these have good recommendations. There is some info on Geylang and its restaurants in a post called "Overnight in Singapore - Anything to do?" There is a post from 2007 called “Restaurant List for Singapore” which I think is still pretty accurate and good.


    Another good area for a quick stroll is Goodwood Park, just behind the Goodwood Park hotel on Scotts Road just a block up from the intersection with Orchard Road. This is a circular street of "black and white" bungalows (so called for their black and white shades or awnings) left over from the British times, and it is fun to walk around and see how the Raj once lived and how some very lucky (mostly expats) live today in colonial splendor. You can see one that was recently for rent in the neighborhood at http://www.citiprop.com/cms.www/propdetail.aspx?cat=R&grp=1004&prop=1090; pretty nice at about US$18,000 a month… There is a private club there at 2 Goodwill Hill Road call the Pyramid Club, but it is mostly deserted during the day and you can nose around there to get a look at what a bungalow looks like. More black and whites can be found on Nassim Road as well as around the area of the Shangri-La hotel.

    The Asian Civilizations Museum, mentioned above, is excellent (may be the best museum in Asia) and there is a new sister museum of Peranakan history which just re-opened after a redo which would also be worth a visit. take a look at http://www.acm.org.sg/home/home.asp to see what will be on when you are there. The National Museum of Singapore is worth a stop too, as is the modern art museum. There is a loop walk in downtown Singapore of the colonial core that will give you a nice chance to see the colonial architecture and learn some history, and will include the Empress Place wing of the Asian Civilizations Museum. Singapore has many good museums, often with visiting exhibits (there was a great Louvre exhibition there recently), so do check out the website for most museums (see http://www.nhb.gov.sg/WWW/)
    to see what is on offer during your trip.

    Singapore has an excellent symphony orchestra (the SSO) which performs in a very modern, almost futuristic venue on the waterfront esplanade not too far from your hotel. They often have guest conductors, musicians or orchestras. Tickets are ridiculously cheap by US standards, take a look at http://www.esplanade.com to see if anything is on while you are there.

    On my last trip I noticed that Singapore now has a Ducks Tour, if you have ever done one, there are a lot of fun. If you haven’t these are amphibious craft that do a trip on land and then plunge into the water for a water tour, they often let kids drive the boat for a brief bit as well. I would assume this would be fun, they drive around town and going into the water near the Marina, take a look at http://www.ducktours.com.sg/index.htm. I believe this same group does a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Singapore that you may also want to although the ethnic neighborhoods are very walkable.

    For outdoor scenary, you can make a trip to Pualu Ubun, which is an island in the narrow waterway between Singapore and Malaysia, and most of it is a national park. You can rent bikes and explore the little bit of wild jungle and wildlife left in Singapore. There are some good seafood restaurant here as well. You can now even apparently stay overnight on Ubin, did not know this until recently, see http://www.kampongubin.com/. Looks pretty basic (although not really cheap!) but for an overnight could be interesting; it's a wetland/marsh and swampy area with some good bird and wildlife (and the occasional alligator), this would be good for kayaking, which I see is one of their activities, there are little waterways in the marshes to explore. The website for national parks in Singapore is http://www.nparks.gov.sg, this site is full of ideas for visits to Ubin and other parks as well, including walks in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

    There is a windsurfing area in Singapore's East Coast Park with a nice beach where you can rent lasers and windsurfers and have lunch or dinner. You can also rent bikes or rollerblades and ride along the bike paths next to the beach, take a look at the National Parks website. There are some very good seafood restaurants in this area. You can rent sailboats in the marina near Changi airport.

    You can waterski or wakeboard in the Ponggol Point area of Singapore, about a 20 minute cab ride, you can also get quite close to it by MTR. The skiing is on Selator island, in the waterway between Malaysia and Singapore. You will definitely feel like you have left the city behind. Take a look at http://www.williamwatersports.com.sg/. Closer into the city there is man-made area where you can also waterski and where international competitions are held. Take a look at http://www.extreme.com.sg/

    You can watch cricket most weekends afternoons on the Padang in downtown Singapore. The Cricket Club and the Singapore Sports club anchor both ends, and there are several fields in between. The clubs are private, but you can sit at the fields edges and watch the play.

    The Polo Club has polo matches, usually at least one Sunday a month. 80 Mount Pleasant Road Tel: 65-6256-4530, or 252-1987. This club is also private, but the rules are generally ignored on match days and you can just walk in.

    There is a day bus trip to Malaysia to visit parts of Johor Bahru, a rubber plantation and a fishing village, with a stop for lunch at the fishing village. You might run a search here, or ask at your hotel. You see part of the Royal Palace in Johur and some markets as well as the fishing village out on stilts over the water. A little touristy, but fun.

    Finally, the Singapore Sevens Rugby Tournament is November 1 and 2, not sure if this coincides with your dates. A great time even if you don't know a lot about the sport, as the game moves very fast with only 7 players a side. You should be able to buy tickets on the day, but take a look at http://www.sccrugbysevens.com/ for information, or check with your hotel. It may also be a chance to get inside the lovely Cricket Club and see it, a colonial gem.

    For shopping for souvenirs and handicrafts in Singapore, I would recommend the Holland Village area is still good for this, and is an interesting area of shops and some good restaurants. The area is off the main tourist track much more than Orchard Road (but very popular with expatriates) and it’s a short taxi ride. I have always liked a shop called Lim’s Antiques (211 Holland Avenue, #02-01), a nice collection of stuff, some antiques but a lot of new and reproductions. Also Galerie Cho Lon in Chip Bee Gardens just across the street is quite good. the Dempsey Road area is also good for restaurants (great curry place at Samy’s Curry), and there are some shops there in this nicely restored former army barracks area. The shops in the Raffles Hotel mall are rather upscale and have a nice selection of goods, the Raffles Hotel shop itself has some interesting items, and some historical type goods related to the hotel. The Asian Civilizations museum gift shops are a good place to look for local items as well.

    I think the clothes shopping in Singapore for women’s casual clothing is far superior to Hong Kong; Hong Kong is either very high end or very cheap stuff, there is nothing in between I find. (All the labels you see in the US say “made in Hong Kong”, but damned if I can find it here….) I love a chain of stores called British India, wish they would open one here. They have outlets in Raffles Shopping Centre and Millennia Walk Mall (both close to your hotel and attached by pedestrian walkways as far as I recall), Ngee Ann City Mall and Tanglin Shopping Centre. The Millennia Walk shop has some housewares too. There is sales tax in Singapore, but you can get this refunded for most items; be sure to ask about this and get the proper forms; there is a place downtown where you can get the refunds, you don’t have to lug all the stuff to the airport when you are leaving to do the refund process. (There is no sales tax in Hong Kong.)


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