Lounging about in Singapore
November 24, 2009 10:52 AM   Subscribe

What are some things a single traveller can do in Singapore, mid-December?

I have half of December off and am thinking of taking off to Singapore for a week or two by myself, to blow off stress and to get away from the cold. I was last in Singapore some five years ago and I remember doing Sentosa Island, the Botanical Gardens, the zoo at night and wandering around Orchard Road so the obvious, more popular items have already been done.

I have food, the national museum and galleries in mind. And maybe a quick trip over the border to get another stamp on the passport. But that's not quite a week's worth of activities. I don't plan on drinking nor going to clubs so alternative evening ideas would be nice too.

In case it matters, I am fluent in English and Cantonese and can understand bits of Mandarin. A mixture of the three got me whatever and to wherever I wanted last time so off the beaten path is cool with me.

Finally, I am also floating the idea of couchsurfing this time to really save costs and to meet some local people. Does anyone have experience with couchsurfing in Asia?
posted by tksh to Travel & Transportation around Singapore (13 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Singepore for a week (or even, two) is far too long in particular if you've been there before, I'm sorry. I advise you try something else. Remember Singapore is only 40 miles wide or so.

Visit Singapore has a list of itineraries that are quite complete. Check whether you find something there that you haven't seen before. If you still think it's worth the trip, go for it.

You could still use Singapore as a hub to discover the surrounding south-east Asia. Angkor Wat is very interesting, quite nearby and available on discount airlines.
posted by oxit at 11:17 AM on November 24, 2009

Malaysia. Usually overlooked in the rush to get to Thailand et al. Book a sleeper berth and take the train to Penang.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:25 AM on November 24, 2009

Go to Raffles for a Singapore sling. Walk Orchard Road. The Bird Sanctuary for breakfast.
posted by AuntieRuth at 11:59 AM on November 24, 2009

I really enjoyed the Night Safari at the Zoo.
posted by roue at 12:41 PM on November 24, 2009

Response by poster: Would consider going over the border to Malaysia for the stamp and for a day trip but not interested in jumping off SG as a hub this time, simply too tired to.

If there's a good beach or cafe to sit down in and people watch, I'm interested in that too.
posted by tksh at 12:53 PM on November 24, 2009

Best answer: If you just want to sit and relax around some sort of waterfront, try Clarke Quay and/or Boat Quay. If you're interested in jazz, Jazz@Southbridge around Boat Quay is a nice place to go. The Esplanade (also around the same area) is also a fairly nice place to stroll around at night, or to sit around and enjoy free music performances (go to the Concourse for free indoor music shows (usually featuring more classical / ethnic music groups), or the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre for free outdoor music shows (usually featuring more indie music bands/groups). Lots of cafes and restaurants around that area as well... and Suntec City (mall/convention centre with the world's largest fountain, I think) is within walking distance of the Esplanade as well. Suntec City is sort of built around the ring-shaped fountain - there's a ring of restaurants/cafes encircling the fountain on the lowest level of Suntec City.
Holland Village is also a nice place to go for cafes where you can sit around, relax and people-watch. Not as much human traffic as the other places I've mentioned, though.
For nice beaches, try East Coast Park or Changi Beach. There are good seafood restaurants around East Coast Park.
That's all I can think of for now... (let me know if you want more specific food recommendations)
posted by aielen at 1:29 PM on November 24, 2009

Best answer: I totally disagree with Oxit. I spent two weeks entirely in Singapore, with a one-day trip to Malaysia, and wasn't even vaguely bored the whole time. It's one of a few nations that has managed a successful fusion of varying cultures, and I've found the resulting city infinitely fascinating. Remember it was all patched together by the British as a trading hub in Southeast Asia, so you've got all sorts of ethnic groups that came as laborers and ended up staying. You've got significant populations of: Indian, Malay (of the Muslim and non-muslim variety), Arab, Han Chinese, and Paranakan.

I had tons of fun checking out Kampong Glam, also called the Arab quarter. There's lots of beautiful mosques, shopping and great food. That will take up an afternoon.Then you can check out Little India. That'll take another few hours. Afterwords, you can go to Chinatown. I suggest going at night, because the Night Market there is SO COOL.

If you're into museums , and especially history, like me, I would definitely check out the Asian Civilization Museum and the Singapore Art museum. Both have lots of cool stuff: the Asian Civ. museum was especially good at laying out a history of what early Singapore was like. Really. Sweet.

I also think it's worth checking out the Changi Prison Museum. It's fun to get an idea of Singapore's involvement in WWII, and it also helped enlighten why Singapore, and the rest of South-East Asia, still feel some animosity towards Japan. I went to the science museum too, but it was pretty non-eventful and took a long time to get to.

If you like shopping,and have done Orchard, check outVivo City. Too be honest I wasn't too into shopping, but my girlfriend was, and I did love the food courts there. Clark Quay is fun for nightlife, but you said you weren't that interested. Nonetheless, if you want to grab dinner there are lots of good restaurants overlooking the river, and its a cool experience, though fairly pricy.

I also highly suggest getting away from all the touristy attractions. The MRT, Singapore's subway, goes pretty far out into the island. It was really fun to ride it out and get off and walk around: there will always be stores, malls, etc. but it was cool to check out the outskirts. I can't remember which stops I got off at, but it was fun. There's three lines, and one of them does a giant circle around the island, so you can get a good feel for the whole island just riding it around in a loop.

Hope that helps!
posted by HabeasCorpus at 2:15 PM on November 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Check out the 'thief market' (most taxis should know how to get you there) during the day. Go to the Arab Street, Little India, Chinatown, and Geylang (The malaysian district with a tinge of red-light seediness to it) to get all of Singapore's different flavors. Walk the Southern Ridge parks over the course of a few hours.
posted by Televangelist at 2:33 PM on November 24, 2009

Response by poster: Hey guys, much thanks for the suggestions.

Yeah, I'm just looking for activities you can do slowly and by yourself. Need some time to rest and relax so (cheap + modest) places to eat, museums to wander and jazz bars fit the bill. I don't think I'll do any shopping though. Clothes were definitely more expensive than Toronto a few years ago.

Two weeks seem too long to me too but the sweetspot for airfare on CX and SQ seem to be one week or more. (And I am effectively avoiding any flight that has to touch US land to avoid hassle with US customs.)

What about lodging? The Hive was mentioned a few times in previous threads and their charges seem reasonable but couchsurfing is appealing too. I'm travelling as a single guy so is there any disadvantage of doing that?
posted by tksh at 5:13 PM on November 24, 2009

Yes, I just picked up an SQ Sweet Deal myself but I'm not going to stay in Singapore. Any more than three or four days and I'd go crazy. Seriously, your money will go twice as far in Malaysia and it's much more lively.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:00 PM on November 24, 2009

Best answer: I can't think of any disadvantages travelling as a single guy in Singapore...

I thought of a few more suggestions:
Mt Faber - you can take a cable car up to the summit where there's a nice restaurant/bar place, usually with live music at night.

Lau Pa Sat - used to be one of my favourite places in Singapore; it's a historic Victorian-style building that used to be a marketplace and is now a hawker centre / food court. It's in the business district, and near places like Chinatown, Maxwell Food Centre, and the Buddhist Art Museum (which is also worth a visit - it's free! And quite informative - I learned a lot about the relationship between Buddhist history and the trajectory of Buddhist art). It's famous for its night market and night eats (and it's pretty at night, too) - but I liked hanging out there during the day.

If you're interested in museums, there's a small museum in Little India that you could spend the afternoon at - Museum of Shanghai Toys. It's quaint and a little quirky - traces the history of Chinese toys. (I like the snowman cartoon exhibit; I could watch that on a loop...)

If you're staying at the Hive in Little India, the Prince of Wales pub is nearby if you like live music (usually indie-ish bands). I'm not sure how relaxing that might be though. Home Club is another place for upbeat indie music too (lots of indie kids there) - but that might be more energetic than relaxing...

And if you want to explore a park that's not the Botanical Gardens, you could try Fort Canning - it has an interesting history as well; there are war memorials, cannons, etc around the park since it used to be a, um, fort.
posted by aielen at 11:32 PM on November 24, 2009

Best answer: The PS.Cafe is fabulous.

(Oh and for the record I have lived in Singapore and loved it, but for the living not for the visiting.)
posted by oxit at 10:57 AM on November 25, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks again. Of what's suggested above and some other ideas I have, I think I'm actually good for a week. Now I just have to make sure I can pull it off (money-wise).
posted by tksh at 5:07 PM on November 25, 2009

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