Singapore is probably the least “Asian” city in Asia. In this article I explain why it is worth visiting it.
The first time I visited Singapore, several years ago, it was a rather short trip: just for a few hours. Honestly I don’t remember much besides the fact that there was an oppressive tropical heat and Singapore was a very modern city, definitely different from any other city I visited in Europe. However, it left me with a very good impression. It was my first time in Asia though and, as you can imagine, it is not easy to be impartial when you make a similar trip for the first time.
Some considerations about Singapore
In the meantime many things have changed in my life. One of these changes is that I now live in Asia and so I can be more impartial when traveling around this beautiful continent. I have visited several capitals and one thing I learned is that when you live in the Far East you get used to the chaos pretty quickly. After a short time cities like Bangkok and Hanoi are probably not the best destinations if you want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the life in Asia. Personally I try to avoid most of the places that many Western tourists for some reason seem to love.
Singapore is a world apart. It’s the least Asian city in Asia, among all those I’ve been to: it’s not chaotic, it’s not cheap, booze it’s expensive, coffee is rather cheap (a kopi in a neighborhood bar costs less than in Italy), tap water is drinkable, the laws are very strict and are applied, it’s mostly composed of Chinese and Indians and yet it’s incredibly clean and tidy, even more than Hong Kong.
And yet despite these characteristics Singapore represents the best of Asia: the food is the best I’ve tried so far in Asia, the city is one of the best examples in the world of smart-city, people are very kind and helpful, even if crime exists (as in any other part of the world) is a very safe city (there are warning messages all around the city that remember the penalty for those harass women: stop and write), there are a lot of malls and museums to take refuge in when the heat becomes unbearable, public transport is very efficient (Rome when will you learn?!), smoking is forbidden almost everywhere (if you have spent some time in China you will understand why this is a very positive thing) and is not polluted like many other Asian cities.
Here are some interesting facts about Singapore that you may not know:
- Singapore is the second most densely populated country after the Principality of Monaco
- It is the fourth largest financial center in the world
- Its port is among the top five in terms of activity and traffic on a world scale
- 42% of the population are foreigners
- It has one of the highest concentrations in the world of millionaires in relation to population
- Singapore is often considered the most expensive city in the world, and although rankings vary from year to year, it always ranks in the first few places
Things to know before visiting Singapore
Singapore has not always been the model city it is today. In the past it was controlled by the Japanese, Siamese, Malacca and in the more recent past by the English, Japanese and for a short time was under the control of Malaysia. On August 9, 1965 Singapore became independent as the “Republic of Singapore”. A lot of people ask what country is Singapore located in? The answer is Singapore it’s a country itself and it borders with Malaysia in the north.
By the mid-twentieth century most of the population was very poor and the city was far from developed. Then a series of reforms allowed Singapore to be gradually transformed into the city it is today.
If you want to visit Singapore keep in mind that the climate is equatorial, so there are no seasons. Temperatures vary very little throughout the year. That said April and May are the hottest months, while November and December are the wettest. Between August and October there is often a cloak of smoke coming from the combustion of shrubs in nearby Indonesia. This being said, I visited Singapore in October but luckily I didn’t have any problem with the smoke.
As you can imagine accommodation in Singapore is expensive, especially compared to other states of Asia. On Booking.com there are often good offers and often you can also find good deals on Agoda. Keep in mind though that it’s a good idea to book your room a little in advance because Singapore it’s a very popular destination for tourists coming from other states in Asia.
I also suggest you book a room as close as possible to the subway (also called MRT). If you don’t have any budget problem or you want to do something special once in a while, then you should consider staying at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, one of the most iconic in the world. The infinity pool with a view of the bay is definitely worth the money.
In the next post I will give some advice on what to see and what to do in Singapore. Don’t miss it.
Have you ever visited this city? What do you think? Let me know with a comment. Here you will find the other pictures I took in Singapore. Here you will find some recommendations if you want to visit nearby Kuala Lumpur.