The Merlion represents Singapore's history as a fishing town.

The Merlion represents Singapore's history as a fishing town.

Previously, I have not written a destination story before. I have had some pretty great opportunities, but always concentrated on the airline side of things. That makes sense, since this is an airline blog, not a travel blog, but I decided to try and do something a little different . I have found that most people who enjoy airlines, also have a love of travel — so, it sort of makes sense.

I love to travel, but I do not consider myself a travel expert. This story gives a newbie-perspective on traveling to Singapore for the first time. I spent five days there with a few journalists, Singapore Airlines and the Singapore Tourism Board and figured I should share some of my main take-a-ways.

English is King
Almost everyone speaks and almost everything is in English in Singapore. It isn’t just the touristy places either, but almost everywhere you go. I have been told before, “lots of people speak English there,” but it has never been more true.

Part of me was really excited that so much was in English, but another part wished it seemed a bit more foreign.

Singapore most likely won't give you culture shock, but if you are looking for culture, you can still find it in Little India, Little China and Arab Street. This is a shot of a flower necklace maker in Little India.

Singapore most likely won't give you culture shock, but if you are looking for culture, you can still find it in Little India, Little China and Arab Street. This is a shot of a flower necklace maker in Little India.

English is one of Singapore’s official languages (Malay, Chinese and Tamil are the others). One reason English is so prevalent is Singapore didn’t break way from the United Kingdom until 1963.

If you are not well-traveled internationally, this is a great place to get your feet wet. It provides a great spring board to other Asian destinations.

The Changi Airport Rocks
I know for most people the airport is just a means to an end, but in Singapore, it is part of the destination. Unfortunately, I did not have much time to check out the airport , but I was given enough information to know that I really want to go back with some additional time on my hands. Yeah, it has 100 airlines going to about 200 cities worldwide, but that is not as cool as having the largest slide in an airport called “The Slide @ T3.” Be sure to give yourself some time to explore everything that Changi Airport offers.

Bring Shorts
Okay, this is a bit embarrassing, but if I can stop others from making the same mistake, it will be worth it — bring shorts.

Although I had some of the best food of my life while in Singapore, a much cheaper experience is going to one of the many public food markets.

Although I had some of the best food of my life while in Singapore, a much cheaper experience is going to one of the many public food markets.

Really, it is a bigger lesson about learning a bit more about the location to which you are going. I am one of those that enjoys to be told where I need to be when I start a trip and the rest will figure itself out. Well, it turns out that Singapore is only 85 miles away from the equator and I packed with business casual clothes.

When on blog-travel, I try to keep looking professional, but not bringing shorts was a HUGE mistake. I knew it was going to be hot, but I did not realize how humid it was going to be. If you somehow forget shorts when you travel there, don’t look in the resort areas. Cheapest I could find was $100 (you do not want to know the most expensive). I ended up getting some from a street vendor for $10 — deal! The moral of this story is pack for everything and check the weather reports (duh, right?).

Eat, Rest, Repeat
One of the best parts of vacation is being able to eat great food and relax. This seems like a way of life in Singapore — they aren’t afraid to eat. I am not sure how so many people are so healthy, but I love the food. There were so many great food options, it was hard to choose. From street vendors to world renowned restaurants, you cannot go wrong. Singapore really has a unique combination of Malaysian, Chinese and Indian influences in their food.

Even though I got to experience some of the most amazing food ever at places like Blu on Singapore Shangri-La’s 27th floor, nothing beats walking through a public food court and choosing from foods I had no idea what they were. From full duck heads to “shark nuggets” It is a wonderful experience, if you are not afraid of your food.

We were lucky since our trip matched up with the 18th annual Singapore Food Festival. This year’s theme was spice and they did not fail to deliver.

Little China offerred a lot of small shop options.

Little China offered many small shop options.

The Rules Are Not That Strict
I think one of the stereotypes that most Americans hear about Singapore are that the law are super strict. There is a fear that if you break one law, you will receive severe consequences. That is not the case.

On the way over, people were making jokes about chewing gum. It turns out that it is not illegal to chew gum, but it is illegal to buy or sell it. Lucky for me, since I had a pack in my bag, but decided not to chew it.

The strict rules mean that Singapore is quite safe. In some places, there was trash and graffiti, but everywhere we went, I never questioned  safety.

Get Off the Beaten Path
Pretty much anywhere you visit, it is best to (safely) get off the beaten path. There are places with very different languages and cultures that can make it difficult to explore off the beaten path, but not in Singapore. Transportation (even taxis) are dirt cheap and it is not difficult to walk around and check out side streets. You can easily find architecture that has Indian, Chinese and even British influences, which is pretty unique.

The Singapore Flyer offers a leisurly view of the entire city.

The Singapore Flyer offers a leisurely view of the entire city.

Shop, Shop, Shop
There were many shopping opportunities in Singapore-it was annoying. Well, if you like to shop, it would be great, but other than shopping for clothes that I need (ie shorts) or airline stuff, I am not into the browsing thing. However, it is hard to avoid malls and stores. Downtown you even have to go underground and through a mall just to get across the street — smart business move. No matter what your taste, from Gucci to buying frogs, there is a store with what you need.

Get Some Altitude
If heights and great views are something you enjoy, do not worry- Singapore has many options. The first strucutre I went on was the Singapore Flyer, which is a large ferris wheel that takes about 30 minutes to go around (see time lapse video). No worries if you are afraid of heights- your car in the Singapore Flyer is large enough and the wheel moves so slow, it doesn’t cause much fear.

If you want to take your Singapore Flyer experience up a notch, you can rent out a whole car and have a catered dinner. I guess quite a few wedding proposals happen while on the top — that would be a long 15 minute ride back down if she said, “no.”

The view from 1-Altitude of the Singapore Flyer and Sands Marina Bay.

The view from 1-Altitude of the Singapore Flyer and Sands Marina Bay.

The next high place to go is the Sands SkyPark at the Marina Bay. Even though the view from up top is impressive, the view from down below is a bit unreal. It looks like someone built three large buildings and put a boat up top.

The building did not come cheap, costing over $6.5billion to buy the land and build the facility. The view deck gives great views of the Merlion and Singapore Flyer. On one side is a spotting deck for anyone who pays the fee to go up and the other is an infinity swimming pool for guests of the hotel/casino.

The final place up high was 1-Altitude Gallery. It is situated on the highest point in Singapore and offers views of both the Singapore Flyer and Sands Marina Bay. I would highly suggest going at night since you can see the light show from the Sands and the Flyer lit up. It is a bit trendy with a popular bar and a lot of young people. If trendy bars aren’t your thing, I would suggest going early to avoid the crowds and enjoy the views.

The Culture With-In the Culture
There is a great mixture of culture in Singapore — you need to make sure you check out Little China, Little India and Arab Street.

When walking into some of the temples, I felt I was truly in a different culture and one with the people. Where Singapore as a whole really doesn’t give you a culture shock, checking out the smaller areas in Singapore can give you that cultural experience you are looking for.

Many of the temples were very intricate and impressive.

Many of the temples were very intricate and impressive.

Party Until Dawn
I have gotten beyond the age of partying all night, but if that is your thing, there are many options. Probably the best area is Clarke Quay along Singapore River. They have some pretty interesting places to party (they have a bar/club that is all hospital- themed). Even if you aren’t into the party scene, it is still cool to walk through the area with all the interesting lighting and people.


Catch Some Sun Rays
Singapore is a tropical climate and to really get the feel, it is best to head out to Sentosa. It is almost a resort-type area in Singapore.  From swimming dolphins to a super long zip-line to a Universal Studios, there is much to do. However, I decided to enjoy the sandy beaches and just relax. While on my balcony at the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort I had two monkeys come  visit. That was probably one of the coolest experiences I have had.

A lot more to do
There is a lot more to explore in Singapore than what I got around to. Tourism is Singapore’s largest industry, so they  make sure tourists stay happy. They have a handy website to help navigate what there is to experience.

Have you been to Singapore? Or do you live there? What more would you add for must-sees?

See more
* Time lapse video of the Singapore Flyer
*  62 photos of the Singapore trip

David is the Editor-in-Chief & Founder of AirlineReporter. He has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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That was a great read and even though I have been to Singapore twice much of what you wrote about is uncharted territory. Both times I’ve gone its been for 1 day and 1 night, and I loved every second of it. In my 10 hours at T3 I never knew there was a slide, so I will have to check that out next time I go. Unfortunately I haven’t really experienced the food there, both times I has breakfast at McDonalds and dinner at Burger King and then lunch at a local place with American food. I did find it funny that nearly every subway stopped emptied to an underground mall that went of for what seemed like city blocks, although that was nicer than walking outside on the heat and humidity. The views from atop the SkyPark are amazing, and you don’t really realize how big of a global center of commerce Singapore is until you look east and south from the SkyPark and see hundreds of ships waiting to unload at the port.


Thanks for posting your perspective. Wow – I really want to visit Singapore now! Your pictures on Flickr are awesome!

Singapore is also host to one of two night races in Formula One

Yes, good point! It is amazing to see the track pretty much run through very populated areas. There were not races going on when I was there, but it would be AWESOME to be taking the Singapore Flyer while the cars race below.


Thanks for this… I was there in April 2010 and missed some of these items… going back in Sept and this is going to be a great check-list of things to do…

Was looking forward to seeing the casino but didn’t realize they did a light show.

Appreciate the tips…


Really so interesting and helpful article.Before you go, organize a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travelers’ cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards.

deepti ahuja

Really so interesting and helpful article! I m planning to visit Singapore next month via I m sure it’s gonna be one really exciting visit as my experience with has always been awesome. Fingers Crossed :)

This is a great list & blog; I have some more things to see if I go back to Singapore.

So the Marina Bay Sands has the best rootop views (that I saw), but if you desire more, here are 2 places that are rooftop/top-floor bars/clubs. Altitude in the UOB building is pretty neat & open on top; it has a $25 SGD cover charge with 1 free drink. New Asia club in the Swissôtel The Stamford has great views, but I forget the price of entry. Might be good to call both places ahead of time to check prices, dress code, etc.

Changi Village (near the airport) is nice to get local food & see the seaside in a less crowded, older area. There is a great boardwalk along the beach there. Pulau (island) Ubin is right accross the water for a $5-10 SGD boat ride 1 way & will take you back to 1960’s Singapore. You can rent a bike to ride on the island for cheap as well. Be warned, the boats do stop at dark though. If you don’t have time for the island, grab food at the village hawker centers or the restaurant in the sailing club nearby (which has many food options if you are with picky eaters).

Little India is a great spot. The Indian food on Race Course road is good (Banana Leaf Apollo & Dehli are tried & true). There are temples in the area, lots of life with the people, and of course the famous large 24-hour shopping mall Mustafa.

I heard there was good Malaysian food in Geylang (away from the red-light stuff) from some local friends, but unfortunately didn’t make it out there.

The locals told me to try the Katong Laksa in the Katong area, so I did for $5 SGD. Laksa is a great dish if you like yellow coconut curry in soup with either seafood, chicken, or pork. It can be found at many food stand centers from what I saw. I tried Chili Crab at the Lau Pa Sat hawker center for $40 with 2 sides which is still cheaper than most restaurants. This is supposedly Singapore’s most widely known dish. There are also many Satay food stands at LPS.

There is also a very nice 737 (-400 I believe) simulator in one of the retail spaces beneath the Singapore Flyer. It’s not the most affordable of attractions but worth checking out if you haven’t had the opportunity to fly a simulator before.

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Me and my family visit Singapore in last month and its a wonderful experience there we visit most of the places there like Singapore flyer, marina bay sands, Universal studio all are amazing places we choose Singapore attractions package for visit there.

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