Singapore was the very first country that I travelled to. Considering that this was back in 2004, it was rather different to what it is today. For example, Marina Bay Sands did not exist! I recall Singapore being extremely clean. Fines were even given to those who chewed bubblegum. In fact, bubblegum isn’t sold anywhere in the country! Not even at the airport.
Given that I was 14 at the time, most of this post will be based on research that I have done, and pictures from the internet.
Great news for South Africans! Visas are not required when visiting Singapore for up to 30 days!
A list of countries which do require visas can be found here. Singapore Airlines is one of the best airlines in the world, and flies to 35 countries, including South Africa! I have had the privilege of flying with them on two occasions, both of which have been more than satisfactory. Of course there are other airline options such as Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, and Malaysian Airlines. Singapore’s Changi International Airport is my favourite airport. They are many dining options and lounges, padded seats, reclining chairs, sleeping pods, and even free massaging chairs. This airport is so comfortable that I wouldn’t mind even a 12 hour transit! For South Africans, a flight to Singapore can cost as much as R11000 in December, and as little as R7000 in March.
When booking international flights, I always use either cheapflights.com or travelstart. For those who have reservations about using such sites, my family and I have been using them for as long as I can remember and we have had no issues at all!
Considering its close proximity to the equator, Singapore is hot and humid for most of the year. Temperatures average around 31 degrees Celsius, and may be cooler in December and January, but hotter in April and May.
A monsoon season has been known to occur from November to March. I travelled in December 2004 and witnessed comfortable temperatures of around 26 degrees Celsius, and very little rain. The weather can be unpredictable so pack a little of everything! More weather information can be found here.
The Singapore dollar is the currency used throughout Singapore. For South Africans, one Singapore dollar costs approximately R9.50, making Singapore quite costly for us to visit! In terms of the U.S. dollar, $1 buys you S$1.40.
Places of Interest
Sentosa Island – This famous resort island is home to many attractions including Universal Studios Singapore and Madam Tussauds Singapore. The island is accessible via a causeway or cable car. For a day of fun for the whole family, this is definitely the place to visit. Click here for more info on times, attractions and prices.
Singapore Flyer – A giant Ferris wheel offering panoramic views of the city. Open daily from 8:30am to 10:00pm. Prices are S$33 for adults and S$21 for kids. The flyer also offers premium dining experiences.
Marina Bay Sands – If you’re an engineering enthusiast or you just have great taste in hotels, then this is the place to be. The three high-rise buildings have now become an iconic landmark in Singapore. More especially, the hotel’s infinity pool, which sits approximately 200m (650ft) above the city.
Marina Bay Street Circuit – For all the Formula One fanatics, the Singapore Grand Prix is one to tick off your list! Tickets for the actual event start at $258. For those who are not in Singapore during the event, there are driving experience packages available here.
Singaporean cuisine includes influences from China, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Noodles, curries, soups and sushi are all a part of the culinary experience that Singapore has to offer. I found a great blog which explores 25 dishes to eat in Singapore, and the best places to find them! For those of you who aren’t too keen on trying the local cuisine, there are restaurants offering continental dishes, as well as the usual fast food chains. One thing that I do remember about food is that the KFC did not taste anything like what we’re used to!
Orchard Road is the shopping hub of Singapore, offering everything from beauty and
fashion to electronics and books. Name a brand, and you’ll find it here. There are also numerous malls around if you haven’t found what you’re looking for at Orchard Road (highly unlikely). For those who steer clear of malls and would rather embrace their hipster side, Haji Lane is lined with quaint vintage stores and boutiques. Singapore is well known for their electronics, so you’ll be sure to get some amazing deals on cameras, cellphones and laptops!
Singapore is said to have an amazing nightlife, with countless bars and nightclubs! Considering my age at the time, I did not get to experience any of this. However, I did come across a very informative blog to help you plan. On my second flight with Singapore Airlines, I did have a Singapore Sling! They are absolutely delicious! The main ingredients are gin, pineapple juice and grenadine. When in Singapore, a Singapore Sling is a must-have!
During my visit, I stayed at the Orchard Hotel. As the name suggests, the 4 star hotel is located on the famous Orchard Road, and is in close proximity to many shopping, dining and nightlife options. The hotel is very comfortable and houses all the necessary facilities, with average rates of R1800 ($130) per night per room.
With all my holidays, I use booking sites such as booking.com and hotelcombined for accommodation. Once I have found a good hotel at an affordable rate, I always use TripAdvisor to view the hotel’s ratings and reviews. Looking at the guest’s actual photos also helps a lot in making a decision. Once again, for those of you who are skeptical of these sites, I have used them for every single international holiday and I have had no problems.
Singapore is a wonderful country to visit, either on its own or en-route to nearby countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia or Vietnam. Many people also stop in Singapore when visiting Australia, as it breaks up the trip well, and is almost always the cheaper travel option! This beautiful country will surely amaze you with its modern architecture, endless shopping options, and delightful culinary experience.