Singapore Travel GuideAccommodation: Hostel Dorm Rooms, We Meet Again!
Long gone are the days of having a private bungalow with homemade breakfast for 15 bucks a night – in Singapore, the rates for a private room are as high as the city’s skyscrapers, starting at no less than 60 Singapore dollars. This is of course doable if you’re only visiting Singapore, and that for a week or so…but it becomes tricky when you’re doing long-term travel. Fortunately, there are many budget options with a good standard available! We stayed in a 4-bed dorm room at the 5footway.inn in Singapore’s Chinatown. At around $20 per person, this was by one of the more expensive beds – save for Australia and New Zealand) – but other than that – I really can’t complain. The place was clean, the beds relatively comfortable, the staff was nice and professional, and breakfast was included (very simple breakfast – toast and/or cereal – but better than nothing!).
Since we were staying in Chinatown , this was also the area we explored first. This city quarter is saturated with shops, restaurants, food stalls and people. Whether with a map or just winging it, ther is no shortage of interesting corners, captivating architeture, and intruiguing side streets. And it is also where you can not only explore the vibrant culture and history of the Chinese immigrants, but also visit one of the most prominent Hindu temples in Singapore.
We also spent some time at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple – a huge temple and museum complex where you can not only see tons of religious art, but also actively learn about Buddhism – the temple staff is very friendly and open for questions. There is no entry fee, but you can contribute by donating to the prayer jars that line the walls with the thousand Buddhas, and the museum section is accessible upstairs. There’s a huge collection of Buddhist art, including an entire gold-plated room where the Buddha’s tooth is housed. One of the prayer rooms also features meditation corners, where you’re welcome to enter to meditate, observe or partake.
Since this visit might take a bit longer, why not go on with some street food? On either side of the temple, both the Maxwell Centre and the Chinatown Complex offer a huge variety of hawker food stalls with tasty and well-priced dishes and snacks. Try an assortment of fruit juices, any of the signature chicken dishses, or my new favorite – popia rolls.
Another place for reasonably priced and delicious dishes is the Tekka Center in Little India. And if you are up for some shopping, hit up the Mustafa Center just down the street. You will find everything – from toilet paper to Rolex watches – under one roof. It is a bit overcrowded and cramped for my taste though, but an interesting spot to visit if you’ve some time to spare or need to buy a very random item.
Once you have a full belly, head down to Marina Bay and check out the most ridiculous building in the world: the Marina Bay Sands. To be fair though, the whole area is pretty bomb – there is an art science museum, a double helix bridge and one hell of a view. The whole circumference of the bay is optimized for walking or running, and offers something for every budget (including a casino, if you’re so inclined).
Another area worth a looooong walk are the Gardens by the Bay, located just behind the Sands. An amazing park in the middle of the urban jungled, these gardens are a true treat for a late afternoon visit, seemingly favored by locals and tourists alike. Stroll down their beautiful walkways lined with lush greenery, check out the ‘super trees’, connected by a suspended trail, or visit several indoor gardens showcasing the flora of various ecosystems.
Get Your Art on at the Singapore Art Museum
Art fans on a budget – good news! several museums offer free entry on selected days/times. For example, you can visit the Living Galleries at the National Museum every day after 6 pm, or the Singapore Art Museum on Fridays after 6 (I’m sure there are others as well). We only managed to go to the Art Museum, which had an awesome interactive exhibit going on! We had fun.
Singapore Travel Tips for Nature Lovers
Unfortunately, our schedule didn’t allow us to go out of city and check out some of the nature trails and parks in the area. If you have a bit more time to spare, we’ve heard great things about Kent Ridge Park and Sembawang Park – and you don’t need to be a pro hiker to get the most out of this experience.