Be a proud foreigner
Strap on your socks and sandals, get your unnecessarily large backpack, and leave the airport tag on just to make sure everybody knows that you’re not local. You’re going to visit the top places in Singapore as recommended by TripAdvisor, and you’re going to have an excellent time. Who needs silly hipster “secret” locations that aren’t really secret anyway. Plus, their deconstructed food is just plain ridiculous.
Everybody knows that the best places have the biggest crowds and the longest queues, and you’re definitely not going to miss out on the goods. See, you’re already integrating into local culture with your kiasu behaviour. Blog about your contrasting cultural experiences in one of the most Westernised countries in Southeast Asia - it’s definitely changed your perspective on how you’re going to live your life from now on.
1. Tian Tian Chicken Rice (#78 Singaporean Restaurant on TripAdvisor)
To be honest, I was taken aback by how the plain combination of chicken and rice could be Singapore’s most famous dish. Isn’t that a bit boring? I mean, I know we have deep fried cod and chips as ours, but at least you can spice it up with tartare sauce or a bit of gravy. Nevertheless, I’m not one to judge, so I decided to outsmart everyone else and Google 'best chicken rice in Singapore.'
I landed with Tian Tian Chicken Rice, a stall that had beaten Gordon Ramsey when he challenged them to a chicken rice competition.
After waiting around 26 minutes in the hot scorching sun, I decided to go all out and get a full chicken and some veg as the sides. It did come with some tasty chilli, so I literally did spice it up. I must say, the chicken was a melt-in-the-mouth wonder. The rice was delicious and full of chicken flavour as well, I could have easily eaten it by itself! The veg was alright. Not as exotic as I thought it would be, but it was a very decent ‘alright.’
2. River Safari (#66 Attraction)
We took this picture in front of the sign just to make sure everyone knows we came to the River Safari. What a great date day! #theboydidgood. We even got a random kid to help take a picture for us because we needed a cute couple pic for my Facebook cover photo. Because if it didn’t happen on social media, it didn’t really happen.
To be honest, I can’t remember much of the River Safari as I was focusing on the painful headache I was accumulating from the midday sun. I’m sure it was good fun though. But I remember seeing another part of the safari which had monkeys: they were quite cute in an ugly sort of way when they weren’t trying to steal my possessions.
As a major foodie, I like to catch up on the latest food trends. I headed to the safari’s cafe to pick up some salted egg yolk Panda Paos, because clearly that’s what all the locals eat here. I felt just like a Singaporean feasting on these cutie paos for brunch. Before poking a hole in the poor Panda’s eye and squeezing out the yolk, I made sure to catch it on Instagram’s Boomerang for every single one of my 633 followers to see so they don’t miss out on the action.
4. East Coast Park (#37 Attraction)
I wanted to go for a nice quiet stroll in a park along with thousands of other people, which is why I decided to head to East Coast Park. When I got there, I realised that it was far too hot to walk so I rented a bicycle instead. It was a very relaxing and therapeutic ride, especially when I had to brake violently multiple times for small children who were peddling at 0.2mph. Once, I accidentally rode straight into a frightened girl with a special scooter that split down the middle. I braked just in time into the middle of her scooter and peddled away quickly as her mum looked over at us with a hefty frown on her face.
Sometimes, the cooler kids rode past me with their loud speakers furiously booming metal or indie music to show the world how truly misunderstood they were. I really enjoyed listening to their music, particularly when my boyfriend and I were trying to have a conversation. I mean, after listening to his voice 24/7 for over a year now, it does get kind of boring - so the music was a nice change.
5. Orchard Road (#18 Attraction)
When it comes to crowds, Orchard Road does it the best. Crossing the road will take you approximately 10 minutes on a good day. I don’t think shopping here is cheaper than elsewhere, but the inhumane crowds and larger-than-life queues are all in the name of consumer spirit. In fact, the other day, I saw a huge crowd forming in the middle of the road. I didn’t know what was happening, so I went to join the crowd to find out. Perhaps there was a good performer, or even a celebrity? Turns out, people were just standing and taking photos of the ever-growing crowd, which attracted an even larger crowd. It was crowd-ception.
Personally, I’ll shop nowhere else. I like the sound of the Bugis market because it sounds exotic, but really, I’m just scared of haggling with the aunties and uncles because they’re loud and shout a lot.
Orchard Road on the other hand offers me a sense of home. The name even sounds familiar to Oxford Street! If that wasn’t enough, the malls even mimic the weather in London. They blast the air-con to the extent that it feels like the dead of winter in the UK. I even got a heavy cold from walking into the Longchamp in Paragon, which was a good 5 degrees Celsius colder than everywhere else. I’m glad that it was freezing though, because it wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas cold.
6. Marina Bay / Wonder Full Light and Water Show (#7 Attraction / #2 Concerts and Shows)
Is there a better place to view Singapore’s skyline than Marina Bay? Well, I wouldn’t really know because I’ve only been here a month. I decided to come 10 minutes before the “Wonder Full Light and Water show” started to avoid the crowd, but I think everybody else had the same idea as I did because it was completely jam-packed. My boyfriend and I did manage to squeeze into a little space to enjoy the free show though.
I kind of expected a few squirts of water and some casual lights to flicker about, but the lights created a short movie on the spurting jets of water. I was pleasantly surprised, and suggested to my boyfriend we come again. Turns out, they haven’t changed it since 2011 and have been playing the same clip for 5 years.
7. Singapore Botanic Garden and National Orchid Garden (#3-4 Attraction)
Despite my chronic hay fever, I had to visit the Botanic Gardens because it’s in the top 5 things to do in Singapore. The below image is one of the only pics where my nose isn’t running, or where my face isn’t frozen in a mid-sneeze. However, it’s all worth it because Singapore’s botanic garden is truly wonderful. In the free entry part of the orchids, there were three whole bunches of orchids for the Singapore’s residents to admire. There were two people tending to them: so you can really tell they value quality over quantity.
For the main area which was called the National Orchid Garden, It was $5 entry, so obviously I paid and went through to get the full experience. I walked around looking at various coloured orchids for the total of 8 minutes before I got a bit tired and sweaty and decided to grab some food.
We headed towards the garden’s cafe because it’s just so authentic. They even sell Curry Laksa, which I know is one of the nation’s fave dishes. Although the sky-high prices don’t really reflect the quality of the food, we were sat next to some really cute dogs that looked like floating clouds, so that was a plus.
8. The MRT (#2 Attraction)
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the MRT, which is the railway system in Singapore, is the second best thing to do in Singapore. I must be the ultimate tourist, as I ride the MRT at least twice a day to and from work. Sometimes, even more when I haul my ass to the gym. In fact, I ride it so much I’ve accumulated quite the number of points on Travel Smart. So far I haven’t won anything on ‘Spin to Win’ yet, but maybe one day I will.
Sometimes, the MRT is quite a thrilling ride. For example, my boyfriend wasn’t holding onto anything because he thinks he’s a big strong man who can stand on his own two feet. The train suddenly jolted to a stop and he literally fell on top an old, elderly woman with a walking stick. If her bones weren’t fragile before, they definitely are now. He apologised profusely as three people bounced out of their seats to see if she had been crushed. My boyfriend has now learnt his lesson and holds onto the vehicle’s bars in fear of squashing any more seniors.
9. Universal Studios Singapore (#1 Attraction in Sentosa)
I visited Universal Studios twice in the last two years in America, but as I’m in Singapore now which is on the other side of the world, I thought that it would be cooler. Turns out it’s just the same, but smaller. Nevertheless I decided to optimise the fact that I was in Asia, and made my boyfriend wear matching t-shirts with me, which is one of the top fashion trends here on the Eastern part of the world. You’d never catch a Westerner doing this, oh no. Not only did we look completely adorable and photogenic, but it also gave me the chance to reconnect with my oriental roots.
I told my boyfriend that I was very brave when it came to rides, and decided that we should first go on Cylon before a queue started forming. However, I didn’t realise that there would be so many loops and dives, and ended up screaming and crying throughout the whole thing. The picture for that ride didn’t turn out very nice, so I chose not to purchase it.
Overall USS was pretty fun, even though I’d already been on all of the rides at least twice, but still. I would recommend the dinosaur nuggets in the space-shippy restaurant. They look cute, which is the most important feature in food nowadays. I mean, you can’t exactly taste food on Instagram can you.
10. Gardens by the Bay (#1 Attraction)
Now, I’ll be honest - Gardens by the Bay is one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen. As you can see by my facial expression, I’m astounded by the beautiful greenery and insane architecture. My favourite part were the domes: it felt like I had stepped into the world of Final Fantasy.
I’m glad the other people liked it as much as I did, because every two seconds or so, I was forced to come to a standstill as everyone was taking photos of the same thing from a hundred different angles.
Here's me all dolled up for my date in Gardens by the Bay
In fact, I liked Gardens by the Bay so much, the second time I paid $40 extra for a seasonal pass, which allows me to visit this glorious park as much as I want within a year. I thought to myself, I’m going to go for a walk in Gardens by the Bay every day. I’ll get my money’s worth in just one more visit, basically.
It’s been over a month now and I still haven’t visited, but it’s nice that I can go back if I wanted to. I mean, it’s true there was a time I just had a crying meltdown in a mall because I didn’t afford the $3 soup and rice in the food court, but I can safely say it was definitely a wise investment.
Can you be as tourist-y as me?
It’s tough being the tourist-iest tourist out there, but the secret is to Google everything and go with the first result. Always follow the crowd, and join every queue there is. Especially if there’s free food. You’ve already paid hundreds of dollars for a plane ticket here, so you need to save every dollar you can. I know the ice-cream you just queued for 45 minutes doesn’t taste great, but let’s not forget the real purpose of food… -to sate the pangs of hunger! It’s not always to please the palate.
It doesn’t matter that everyone speaks English here, and that the locals are the most Westernised non-white people you’ve ever met - Singapore was definitely a culture shock. I mean, calling people ‘auntie’ and ‘uncle’ who aren’t related to you is just plain weird. And why would you even have edible things in your drink? You’re there to drink, not eat! However, as you’re a very open-minded and cultured being, you can now educate your friends on the small exotic island located in Southeast Asia and all of it’s unique little quirks.