Singapore, an island city-state off the southern tip of Malaysia, was described to us by a local as “Asia for beginners.” An Asian country where English is the official language makes for an easy place for an American to explore. The twenty-two hour flight (leaving from SFO), to get there may not be every traveler’s idea of a good time, but the transcontinental flight (we flew on Philippine Airlines) was pleasant—even in coach! With multiple (hot) meal service, socks and sleep masks it was an easy trip there. We actually both slept for 13 hours on the first leg of the flight.
Much of the landscape of Singapore will feel familiar. The most populated areas, like Orchard Road, are metropolitan centers filled with many of the consumer comforts (Borders, 7-Eleven, Starbucks) of home. The financial district in Suntec City features an impressive skyline of business towers, housing domestic and international offices and most of the financial institutions.
While there is much to see and do in Singapore, from the Botanical Gardens to the Art Museum, from a beautiful zoo to the Singapore Flyer observation wheel, many will tell you that the most recommended activities in the city-state are shopping and eating.
In Singapore, the Chinese, Malay and Indian populations who blend to create the majority of the Singapore populace, have also shaped the culture and cuisine.
It is easy to travel the city-state and explore the mosques and temples representing the Buddhist (Chinese), Muslim (Malay), and Hindu (Indian) faiths of Singaporeans. The intricacies of the temples (both Buddhist and Hindu) and ornate minarets atop the mosques are unlike any we’ve seen in the United States and worth your time to seek them out. The MRT is the train system in Singapore and is one of the easiest transportation systems to navigate. At less than $20 for a 3 day pass, it’s both the cheapest and most convenient ways to explore Singapore.
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