It had been 20+ years since I last visited Singapore. My memories of this city state were of the best airport ever, an immaculately clean city, and everything running like clockwork. All of that still holds true and more. Singapore is often considered a ‘gateway stopover’ city to Southeast Asia & so people only stay for 1 night. Do yourselves a favor and spend some time here. It deserves your attention.
If asked which adjectives I would use to describe my experience, I suppose I would say “surprising,” “futuristic,” “forward thinking.” It is quite different from anywhere I’ve been. In only 53 years, Singapore has transformed itself from a poor fishing island country to a thriving leader of technology, commerce and living concepts.
Public Housing – Fascinating! What do you think of when you hear “Public Housing?” Go ahead and send me your thoughts on this. I’d love to hear. I imagine my pre-conceived notions of that term are similar to yours. Let me tell you that Singapore’s biggest success and shining star is their Public Housing Infrastructure. 90% of Singaporeans live in Public Housing. It is available for all income levels and their system seems to work very well.
Singaporeans are Chinese (74%), Malay (13%) and Indian (9%), with other cultures (4%) sprinkled about. It is paramount to the country that all cultures are fairly and equally represented according to their portion of the population. For instance, in a Public Housing block, 74% of the block must be Chinese, 13% Malay, 9% Indian, 4% other. That is the demographic of the population and so it is also the demographic of the public housing block.
They have a religious council in place to ensure that there is absolute tolerance of all religions. The Inter-Religious Organization of 10 (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Bahá’í and Jainism) meets regularly to discuss and organize events to promote religious harmony.
Malay is the official language, but no one can speak it. I get such a kick out of that! The spoken language is English. Hee hee!
In its goal to be the world’s greenest city, the government has mandated a 100% greenery replacement policy, which requires that any plant life lost or destroyed by city development must be replaced by greenery planted on high-rise terraces and gardens. This means that every building is required to have the same amount of greenery on site as there are square meters. If your building is 12,000 square meters, then you must plant 12,000 square meters worth of foliage. It’s pretty cool to see the creative ways this is incorporated on each building.
The popularity of the recent film “Crazy Rich Asians” has increased travelers’ curiosity in visiting Singapore. The iconic architectural marvel, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, is featured in the movie and I have gotten several requests from clients to visit Singapore because they want to swim in the amazing pool shown in the movie, which happens to be the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool. That pool is iconic and you must be a guest of the hotel to use it. You cannot sneak in, believe me, I tried and security around that pool is like Fort Knox!
Things to do in S’pore:
- Gardens by the Bay – #1 attraction and a must do! Check out the night time light show for sure. Lie on your back and just look up.
- Night Safari at the Zoo – Kind of a different way to see the animals.
- Bumboat – fun way to see the city from the water. It helps you get a lay of the land as well.
- Trishaw – More fun than a taxi, for sure.
- Botanic Gardens – A UNESCO World Heritage Site. The National Orchid Garden is phenomenal.
- Fish Spa – Yep! Have the little fishies soften up your feet.
- Hawker Stands – Try the food! With the blend of Chinese, Malay and Indian, there truly is a Singapore cuisine. It can be as exotic as you want…or not. There are even Michelin Star hawker stands. The least expensive Michelin star cuisine you’ll probably ever find – LOL!
- Rooftop gardens and bars are all the rage! Be sure to take your camera phone to one of these for sunset cocktails.
- You can even go to Universal Studios here. Sentosa Island has all of the family fun amusement stuff you could ask for. It’s only a 15-minute drive from the main city, but it feels like a completely different world.
If you go, I would suggest staying in the Marina Bay area for three nights, then spend a night or two at Capella on Sentosa Island. It’s a wonderful way to wind down before taking off for the next stop.