Singapore, a city and country all in one!
Everyone warned us it would be expensive here and boy were they right! We used 3 of our free nights on Hotels.com for our hotel stay here and still ended up paying a good amount! (Of course, we booked through Ebates to get some extra cash back! Click our links so we get credit!)
When looking for where to stay, it really came down to what we could afford that wasn’t too far from the happening spots. Some of the fun areas seemed to be Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, Orchard Road or the Famous Marina Bay district but were all a little out of our price range. We picked The Village Hotel Albert Court which was close to little India, figuring we could always eat there if we didn’t feel like venturing out to find stuff! It was also located very close to two metro lines which was so convenient! Not only was the location great but they also threw us a complimentary upgrade to their Club Level room since we were staying there for 4 nights. Score! We were able to unload and spread out in a large and comfortable room.
Singapore had a great public transport system, the MRT. As tourists, we could buy a 1, 2, or 3 day tourist pass that allowed us to use any of the metros or busses. We were able to see the entire city so easily and was significantly cheaper than taking a taxi or uber everywhere!
We spent a lot of the time just walking around all the different neighborhoods checking everything out. We quickly realized that unless we wanted to pay $22/person to go up to the top of the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore’s famous hotel, or $33/person to go to the zoo… there really wasn’t much to do aside from walk around the malls. (Which was okay at times, considering they’re air conditioned and it’s SO hot here!) We did find some fun, free things to do like walk across the Helix bridge that spans from the Marina Bay Sands across the river! We had fun walking across and got some great views. You can check out a time lapse of us crossing it on our Instagram!
From Arab Street to Little India to Chinatown, we walked around all the neighborhoods to soak it all in. We got some great photos of the Marina Bay Sands from the bottom (since we can’t afford to go to the top!) and also checked out the Merlion at the water front, a fountain statue with the head of a lion and the tail of a fish.
One evening we went to the Garden by the Bay, which is the park beneath the Marina Bay Sands. It has humongous electric trees that light up all different colors. In the evenings they put on a light show set to music. It only lasts about 10 minutes, but it was a gorgeous sight!
We found ourselves on the hunt for a Singapore Sling because… well…it’s Singapore! You have to get a Singapore sling in Singapore, right?! We knew it was going to be expensive but decided it was okay to splurge a little for one. We quickly realized our idea of splurge and Singaporean idea of splurge were completely different things. $12..$14.. even $15 would have been okay.. but $26 for 1 drink?! That seemed to be the average no matter where we went! NO WAY could we justify spending that! We searched for dive bars to see if we could find them cheaper but it seems all the bars in Singapore are in cahoots! Okay, yes, we know it’s because liquor is just expensive here, but the prices were way over the top for us. Oh well! Maybe now whenever we have one or see one on a menu, it will remind us of trying to find a reasonably priced one in Singapore… and failing!
The Food: The main thing we wanted to check out in Singapore were all the Hawker Markets we had heard of. Huge, sometimes multi level buildings filled with almost any type of Asian food you can imagine. They varied depending on which area you were in.
Chinatown’s Hawker Market was filled with all different Chinese stalls, selling many types of noodles, fried rice, Hainese Chicken Rice (a Singapore must try!), Chili Crab and a wide selection of sweet and savory buns. We tried so many things, and it was CHEAP (Dean’s middle name). A nice break from the expense of everything else here. We tried Char Siew (Chinese Roast pork) Rice, Roast Duck with BBQ Sauce over noodles, Soy Glazed Chicken over Rice and more!
We also tried “Mr. Bakery”. At first we thought thy were going to be dessert buns and danishes but we realized it was the opposite! Savory buns! We decided to get 3 buns to share. The first was the “Signature Bun”, a golden baked bread stuffed with chicken hot dogs, mayonnaise, cheese and chicken floss (we still don’t really know what chicken floss is, but we’re assuming it’s the left over floss from when chicken clean their beaks 😉). We also tried a “slide cheese” which was a simple bun filled with what seemed to be white American cheese, I loved it! Dean’s favorite was the “Coffee Boy with Cheese” it was a dark brown bun filled with that same American style cheese. We had a little bit of translation mishap when ordering this because we asked if the coffee boy was coffee flavored and the baker said “yes, coffee!”, sadly it was only a really dark egg wash, but it was still delicious!
Little India transported us back to India, the smells (some amazing, some not so much), the sights and most importantly the food! Our favorite was two crispy samosas and a lunchtime tray of tandoori chicken, a heaping mound of buttery basmati rice, an onion and milk salsa and a papadum (crispy bread). A huge tray filled with all of this on a banana leaf for only SDG$8 ($5.50USD). It was so tasty and the atmosphere surrounding us added to the experience. You could tell we were one with the locals. The colorful buildings and the way everyone was interacting brought right us back to Mumbai. We kept walking around the Little India hawker market when a man making roti caught our eye. The same kind of thin bread that we fell in love with in KL, this time as it was made in front of our eyes it was stuffed with that same plastic wrapped American style cheese, right up my alley! Dean’s always been a huge fan of eastern flavors so when he spotted a bright pink liquid from across the way he made a bee-line. One of his faves, rosewater milk! The sweet, bright pink milk has the scent of drinking a liquid rose which is as heavenly as it sounds.
There were also others hawker centers further out, like the Old Airport Road Hawker Center that seemed to have a combination of everything. One of our loyal blog followers (Hey Stanley!) suggested we check out this specific Hawker market and it was awesome! Rows and rows of all different food stalls. Some sold similar things to each other while others were totally different. I was in the mood for Japanese and got some ramen noodles. Kind of a mistake, hot soup on a steamy hot day?! It had some funky flavors of seaweed, a crab stick and those silly little pink swirled fish cakes too.. it looked awesome but not my finest choice! Dean made a fast decision to get a crispy chicken and pork loin Chinese curry (we didn’t know there was such a thing) with rice. The crispy fried meats were amazing, and the slightly fishy brown curry sauce soaked into the rice, a delicious meal for sure! The whole thing cost SDG$10! ($7.50USD)
One street away from Chinatown we stumbled upon a great local eats place, how did we know it was for locals? To start, we were the only white people there! Second, our Hainese chicken rice, crispy lemon chicken rice and two Orange-lime-aides came to $8S($6USD)!! We had earlier walked down Food Street in Chinatown where the restaurant owners and staff stand outside yelling to you how great their food is, and the prices were insane. They were selling one plate of rice for the same price! We are always happy when we score amazing food for cheap and it’s, most importantly, authentic.
One thing we won’t soon forget is the overly strong perfumed smell of hundreds of Durians all across Singapore, inter mixed with the sweet smell of mangoes and the bright lights and colors of the markets.
Here’s our feeling of Singapore, overall. Now.. don’t hate on us.. but we don’t really see the draw as tourists. Definitely a cool city with some beautiful sights.. but we didn’t really seem to find much to DO! Being immersed in the culture was awesome, eating at the hawker centers were top priority.. but after doing that.. then what? We decided this is a 1 day city. Even a layover city. Arrive, take one of the free tours they offer for layover guests, or get a 1 day tourist pass for the metro. You can pretty much see all the main sights and take care of all the must do’s in that time. 5 days was overkill for us. To each their own, though!
Next up, Thailand! First stop; Krabi. And no, that’s not our current mood!
**We are using Ebates and Hotels.com to book everything we do! We get cash back from Ebates and earn free nights on Hotels.com so you get rewarded for doing what you would normally do anyway! On Hotels.com, they provide excellent service and will match hotel prices if you find something cheaper elsewhere. If you stay 10 nights, you get 1 free and if you become a gold member (30 stays in 1 year) you get early access to deals and special rates. Also 24/7 service. On Ebates, while the percentage cash back varies depending on the store, you legitimately get cash back on almost every store you would shop online for anyway and get a check every quarter with your savings. They also have special coupon codes to get discounts on the site that you can’t get otherwise. We’ve gotten over $500 cash back! That’s nothing to sneeze at! We get credit if you use our links (hyperlinked in the names) and would love if you could help us out! But really, you’re helping yourself too!!**