DK and MH ended their quick-fire tour around the region with two wonderful nights in Singapore.
DK has visited Singapore well over 100 times (yes he is that old) and there was a time in the early ’90s when it was almost a second home. For MH it was a repeat visit after an absence of almost 15 years.
Singapore has a reputation for being solid, well organised and a perfect introduction to the region for the first time traveller to Asia. It’s all so easy on the eye. Nothing intimidates and everything works. Yes all true, but in recent years there is more zest, many more interesting areas to discover and some fascinating new hotels.
And some information points. It is the only country to be granted independence without asking for it! There are four official languages – Mandarin Chinese, English (usually referred to as Singlish), Malayu (Malaysian Bahasa) and Tamil (not Hindi). It is these melting points of culture that make discovering the city so interesting.
Have a read of DK’s review:
“I think I know Singapore well. I used to be able to walk around almost blindfolded and still end up in the right place. Areas that I previously avoided have seen massive improvements in interest. We stayed at the Duxton Six Senses Hotel in the heart of China Town. Fabulous. 10 three storey shop houses converted into a classic boutique hotel. Totally atmospheric, with a black and gold design theme.
We both just loved the area. I used to know it way back and it had an edgy history, rather like Hoxton in London. But now it is just buzzing with restaurants and funky little bars.
The China Town market is 5 minutes’ walk away, and the station for getting around the city on the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit). We used the MRT frequently. So clean, modern, well signposted and cheap. They have rules that make total sense to me, so no food to be consumed and men have to have their tops covered!
We walked through the new gardens around the marina bay area, went to the top of the Marina Bay Sands, which is a must as the view is incredible. The hotel is more of an acquired taste.
We admired the numerous classic colonial buildings, which are now mainly museums. We visited St Andrews Cathedral, glanced at Raffles (currently closed for renovation), Little India district, strolled along Boat & Clarke Quay down to Fort Canning. It was all so easy and pleasurable. It was busy, but nothing as rammed as Hong Kong. And being by the river was just so relaxing.
Two Nights in Singapore – An Atmospheric City Where Everything Just Works
Next day we ventured to Orchard Road. This is the main shopping district. It’s a collection of air-conditioned upscale malls, all selling the same products. Very little unique and you can probably buy the same in London at a lower price. Probably years ago it was interesting, but now it looked so passé, unless you like Asian versions of Westfield at every corner.
Just a word on air conditioning. They like it turned up high. Outside might be hot and sunny, inside it’s like shopping in the Ice Bar!
I had met a hotelier in Bali who ran a new hotel in Singapore, The Warehouse Hotel, so we escaped from the delights of Orchard Road and took a taxi for 5 minutes. What a fantastic little hotel. 37 rooms, some facing Havelock Road, the others Singapore river. We just walked in and it grabbed us instantly. Like the Duxton, this is a hotel for the individualist who proudly rejects the corporate ubiquity that is so easy to find. They are not hotels for everyone, but that is part of the appeal.
Then it was back to China Town. It’s a series of little streets, each one with a fascinating history. Take Sago Street (Street of the Dead). Way back it was considered unlucky to have you die in the family house, so you were shipped off to a room in Sago street where you were expected to die within days. Now it’s one of the busiest and liveliest streets in the area! There are so many streets like this, each with a concise history detail.
In my view, Singapore has the best and most varied dining scene in the entire region. So many options and virtually all offer an al fresco outside option. During our short stay, we ate Chinese, Peranakan, which is a combination of Malay and Chinese, and I have to add a rather good Italian with a superb risotto. And just before we headed to the airport, we had a final drink in the smallest bar in Singapore, Junior’s Bar. It seats 10, holds 20. It has a speakeasy-style, is hidden away and changes its theme and drink menu every 6 months.
So a really good two nights in Singapore and the perfect way to end our mini-tour. We saw so much and discovered many new places and probably moved on from some old stalwarts that now look tired. That is one of the beauties of the region, things are always changing and evolving. It is never stale, there are always options. Learn more about Singapore here.
In addition to the two very unique hotels mentioned above, we did make the time to visit some larger more conventional hotels such as Mandarin Oriental, Ritz Carlton, Fullerton and Shangri-La.
Flew home on British Airways. It was on time – actually arrived ahead of schedule. New aircraft, A380, and older crew. To me, a winning combination.“