Singapore or Tokyo?

Old Dec 16th, 2006, 11:31 AM
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Singapore or Tokyo?

We are planning a trip to Asia next April. Our base will be in Hong Kong where we will spend three days. We have another five days to spend somewhere else. (We are travelling with two pre-teens.) We were wondering where to go. Based on what we've read, Singapore seems nice and rather quaint, but we're actually afraid that there won't be enough to do to keep us busy for five days. Tokyo on the other hand seems to have plenty to offer but we are worried that it will be too hectic. Any thoughts?
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Old Dec 16th, 2006, 02:45 PM
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We are planning a trip for next summer that will include 6 day in Singapore...we started out planning for 2 days there then found so much that we wanted to do we extended to 3 days, and now we are planning for 6 days. http://www.visitsingapore.com/publis.../en/index.html is very informative.

We've been to Tokyo many times as we live in Japan, and it is also packed with things to do, as you seem to have already found.

That said, Hong Kong is absolutely packed with things to do. Over the years, we've been 3 times, and spent as long as a week there and not come close to seeing and doing everything. Cicerone has posted extensively about things to do, restaurants and shopping, so if you search on her name you'll pull up that information easily.

With 8 days, I'd stick to Hong Kong as there is plenty there to fill your time. Alternatively, you might do 3 days in Singapore and 5 in Bali. Or 8 days in Japan.
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Old Dec 16th, 2006, 06:54 PM
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Paris, every country in Asia offers a lot to do and see -- and every country is different. Since you've chosen Hong Kong as a starting place (good choice!) I'd suggest that you balance it with a destination that's less urban han either Singapore or Tokyo. I'd second Kim's idea of Bali as it would give a completely different side of Asia -- and your kids would love it as well.

I personally REALLY like both Tokyo and Singapore and would be able to fill up 5 days in either in a blink of an eye, but I think after Hong Kong, a non-urban, more alien-culture focused experience would be a better balance.
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Old Dec 16th, 2006, 11:24 PM
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Thanks a lot for your help. With regard to the Bali suggestion, we actually went there on our honey moon (its been a few years now)and as much as we enjoyed it then, we tend to be more interested in cities nowdays(monuments, traditional markets...just walking around in the street for hours). Since we've traveled quite a bit around europe and spend a lot of time in New york city, I guess what I am looking for is a city that can still suprise us, a place that has kept enough personality to really feel different from other cities (Jojakarta was different but a little to raw for me at the time).
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 03:07 AM
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Hi

Singapore hasn't got that much to offer but the shopping is pretty good and it is possible to have a good time checking out Sentosa Island, the zoo, the night safari etc. Tokyo is more exciting...very different from what I'm used to at least. Here is a trip report with some pictures from a trip to Tokyo last year: http://gardkarlsen.com/japan_tokyo.htm . Hope this helps a little.

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 03:31 AM
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Hi Gard, actually in doing research I had already read your trip experiences in both Tokyo and Singapore(by the way the Elvis guys in Tokyo certainly are different). Re Singapore, is the beach fairly nice? also, are the Ethnic areas (china, india ...) nice or are they really small?(like little italy in NY which is only 2 streets). Since we go to NY regularly, shopping is not that big a deal for us, Restaurants and walking around really is what we are looking for (the beach is not a goal in of itself but if the weather is nice I guess it could be an option for a few hours. I guess the question is, 5 days in Singapore, would you be bored.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 03:47 AM
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Though we haven't been yet, it's my understanding that Singapore beaches/Sentosa are not great. It is a city, so I can't imagine the water being very clean. There are better beaches on the nearby islands I've heard, like Bintan.

Singapore is a food lovers dream. Restaurants, markets, hawkers...all in one neat and tidy package. We can't imagine being either bored or hungry in Singapore.

Wouldn't be bored or hungry in Tokyo either. Or Hong Kong.

Where are you flying in from? That could make a big difference in your trip. If you are coming to Asia from the US, jet lag may be significant. Also, with only 8 days, you will lose at least 1/2 a day when you change cities, maybe more depending on the air schedule. With 8 days, I'd be inclined to avoid flights over an hour or two in length, as even that short flight will cost you at least 5 hours of travel time, and that's if everything is perfect (check out, get to airport at least 2 hours early, fly, transfer to hotel, check in).

What about staying in Hong Kong for the 8 days. Plenty to do there, and the food is great. You can even have a rural day or two if you go out to some of the islands or into the New Territories.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 05:41 AM
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Hi

It will be easier in Singapore as they speak better English in general. But maybe 5 days will be a bit much. But it is only 5-6 hours by bus to Kuala Lumpur if you want to check out a new town But check out this page http://www.the-inncrowd.com/ . This is the page of some friends of mine that run a hostel in Singapore. Their page has a lot of info on what to see and do in Singapore.

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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Thanks all. After a long day of weighing the pros and cons of both places...and after reading your suggestions which to be frank did not really help us make up our minds... since both of you basically said: "Singapore is nice but then again so is Tokyo so really both places would be perfect" we decided to go to Singapore...please don't write back saying we should have gone to Tokyo! Kim, to answer your question we will be flying from Paris, arriving in Hong Kong at 5pm (12 hour flight or so) we will then take an 8pm flight that same day from HK to Singapore where we will arrive at 11.35 PM...even as I am writting this my wife is telling me that I am crazy...too late I bought the tickets. Now the question is what to do to keep busy..I guess the beach is no longer an option...I guess we'll just eat until we drop and go to the zoo morning noon and night. If it gets too boring I'll suggest that we take the 5 or 6 hour bus ride to Kuala Lumpur (not that there even the slightest chance that my wife would accept but seeing the expression on her face would probably entertain me for a day or so).
Again thanks for everything If there is in your opinion anything to do in or around Singapore that isn't mentionned in the various sites please let me know. Otherwise as they say in Paris Au revoir
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 03:16 PM
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So you are spending the 8 days in Singapore? Plenty to do imo.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 03:59 PM
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I like Singapore but I personally would not want to spend all 8 days there for a vacation. Consider a side trip to Langkawi or Phuket for a beach vacation or KL or even Bangkok.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 04:25 PM
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So it's a week in Singapore then.

Singapore is highly compact. Much of the old ethnic charm has been sanitized to extinction, but you can still find pockets of diversity if you scratch the highly polished surface.

With kids I'd suggest you choose a hotel with a good pool area. The Shangrila offers a big tropical garden as well.

I haven't been to Bintan/Batam myself but a lot of Singaporeans like these islands (which are actually in Indonesia) as weekend getaways. I wouldn't rate them high for quality of beach, but there are some nice resorts. If you want a beach add-on Langkawi would be a good choice.

The Singapore government makes tourism effortless. They offer tons of information, good transportation, lots of choices in activities. It's somewhat overly processed -- after a while the excessive organization can get under my skin -- but still entertaining. I'm especially fond of the night safari, bird park and botanical gardens. Try to get to the botanical gardens just before dawn to see the locals doing their Chinese exercise. It's tropical and eerie as the day gradually lightens.

Food is good and varied. I bumped up a thread in which I was given excellent advice on (mostly) Western restaurants. For Asian food -- Chinese, Malay, Indian, you name it -- there are about a zillion choices. The quality and variety are excellent. We just keep going back to Newton Circus food court.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 10:07 PM
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Actually, in view of lost travel time, we will only be spending 5 days in Singapore. The last day we will be staying at the changi village hotel. It would seem that the ocean is right there and that you can canoe... so really it is 4 days in the city itself...Even I can't imagine getting bored in only 4 days. Then we are off to HK for 6 days. I printed the information provided by ciceron, it is amazing. Thanks to all of you for making our choice easier.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 10:18 PM
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You will have a wonderful time I'm sure. Consider that in Singapore, the airport is not far at all from the downtown areas...not usually more than 1/2 an hour drive. The Four Seasons lists the airport as being a 25 minute drive, as do the Shangri-la and Fullerton. Others would list similar times, and I'd think they overestimate.

You might consider not changing hotels for your last day and using the time you would spend packing, checking out, moving and checking in again enjoying the city. You could easily spend a day on Sentosa island and enjoy kayaking, the aquarium, and other stuff there without ever changing hotels. The Le Meridien Changi Village, while not bad, isn't in the midst of anything, and it sounds like you like to be in a more lively area.
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