Travel Tips from Locals in Your Fave Cities: Singapore

Since the release of the landmark film ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ in late 2018, there has been renewed interest in the Lion City – Singapore as an exciting travel destination, not only for its sights and sounds but also its unique vibe.  The city represents quintessential cosmopolitan Asia where cultural richness and charm from its amalgamated community of Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Eurasians meld effortlessly with the sleek high-tech cityscape and modern comforts afforded by one of the most affluent countries in the world.

Grace, a senior lecturer-mentor at the Institute of Technical Education School of Nursing, and Larry Angel, a teacher at the Raffles Girls’ Secondary School, together with their three children migrated to Singapore 14 years ago.  Here they tell us about the best of the best in their city and how to make the most of a holiday there, whether you are just passing by for a short trip, or staying to relax.

Before you go

Singapore is a very humid country.  We only have two seasons – rainy and dry.  Light clothing is a must during the summer season. Walking shoes are also necessary in Singapore, as we usually walk longer distances.


Must do’s and must see’s

When in Singapore, visit museums like the Bicentennial Experience at Fort Canning.  The museum was built to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles to Singapore in 1819.

Part of the essential Singapore holiday trip is a visit to Resorts World Sentosa, to see the many park attractions which could take you days to cover; the Marina Bay Sands with its world-famous Skypark; Jewel Mall which houses the tallest indoor waterfall; Gardens By the Bay a fantastic nature park; and the Singapore Flyer.


What to avoid

Singapore is a safe place.  This is the reason why my family migrated, especially for my visually impaired son, who thankfully, can travel around Singapore alone.  Public transport is very accessible, and all places are disabled-friendly.  My only advice for travelers is to make sure you stay hydrated.


Traveling on a budget

To save on money when you travel to Singapore, I highly recommend eating at hawker centers instead of restaurants and mall food courts.  There are so many of these centers around the city offering an amazing variety of fresh-cooked food at great prices!  Instead of using taxis, take the bus or the MRT.  The MRT, in fact, is the best way to go around the city.

To buy souvenirs, go to Chinatown, Bugis Street and 24 Hours Mustafa Shopping Centre.  You’ll be spoilt for choice.  Even better, if you are coming specifically for shopping, visit during the Great Singapore Sale (GSS) from May to June.


Best foods and places to eat

If you’re here only for a short visit, make sure you visit these areas to have a fill of local favorites – Makansutra, Lau Pa Sat (satay street sauce), Maxwell Road and Chinatown.  All of these spots are near the usual tourist spots like Esplanade and Chinatown.

If you have the time, you can also try theses highly regarded food centers.  Do expect long queues but it’s definitely worth the trouble.  Meals cost between SGD$3.00 to $5.00 – Old Airport Road Hawker Centre for prawn mee, lor mee (lomi), rojak, char kway teow (stir-fry fried flat noodles); Tiong Bahru Market for chee kuay (rice cake) and curry rice; Katong Shopping Centre for chicken rice (delicious Hainanese boneless chicken), katong laksa and laksa.


Hidden gems

These places and activities are not as popular as the usual touristic haunts, but they are highly recommended – hiking at the McRitchie Reservoir and Southern Ridges; fishing and prawning at Orto (near Khatib MRT); a visit to the Singapore Botanic Gardens; watching free concerts and other performances at the Esplanade.


Best time to visit

Singapore is great for holidays all your round.  But you might also want to time your trip to coincide with some of the most festive periods in the city.  These include Chinese New Year period – January to February, National Day – August, Formula 1 Night Race – September and Deepavali Festival of Lights – November.  Stay for at least 5-7 days, so you really get to visit all the key places and get a good feel of the city.


Kabayan comforts

If you’re feeling homesick or in need of Filipino comforts, go to Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road which is the definitive Pinoy hideout in Singapore.  Eat at Jollibee various branches around the city or Iskina Lechon (Ayer Raja).

Every Sunday morning, head out to your nearest basketball courts to see our ‘kabayan Lebron James wannabees.’ Around the city, there are also Filipinos performing in bands, and choirs like the Filipino Voice Symphony (FVS) where I am a member.  Every December, the Filipino community attends Simbang Gabi at 8PM in various churches around the city.


Grace, a senior lecturer-mentor at the Institute of Technical Education School of Nursing, and Larry Angel, a teacher at the Raffles Girls’ Secondary School, together with their three children migrated to Singapore 14 years ago.

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