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6. Singapore: How to move around and where to go

Local Transport  Getting from point A to point B in Singapore is not just easy, it is also economical. An efficient public transportation network offers taxis, buses and the modern Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) rail system.

The MaxiCab airport shuttle offers a scheduled service with flexible routing to almost all hotels within the city (excluding hotels on Sentosa and Le Meridien Changi). Alighting points are flexible and any destination within the Central Business District is catered to including MRT stations. The 6-seater Mercedes MaxiCab has wheel-chair accessible features and luggage room. 

Bus services. You can easily get from one point to another by bus with an ez-link Card, which can also be used on the Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT Trains). SBS bus 36 runs between Orchard Road and Changi Airport. The public bus stations are located in Terminal 1 at Basement 2, and in Terminal 2 at Basement Level. Details of bus routes and fares are displayed at bus stations. 

SIA Hop-On. Hop onto this tourist bus service and explore the shopping, cultural and entertainment areas within the city. The SIA Hop-on covers Orchard Road, Bugis Junction, Suntec City, the Civic District, Boat Quay, Chinatown, Little India and the Singapore Botanic Gardens. 

The Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) is a modern, air-conditioned passenger train service with stations all over the city. There are two main lines – one from Marina Bay to Jurong East via Woodlands and the other from Changi Airport to Boon Lay. You can obtain a copy of A Quick Guide to MRT Travel from the Station Control Rooms in all MRT stations. For more information on both the MRT and bus services, you can refer to the TransitLink Guide which is available at SGD 1.50 in most MRT stations and bus interchanges as well as at major bookstores. 

Taxis. Over 15,000 air-conditioned cabs provide comfortable, hassle-free travel at a very reasonable cost. They can be flagged down 24 hours a day on most roads, with well-marked taxi-stands available outside most major shopping centres and hotels. At Changi Airport, the taxi stand is located just outside the Arrival Hall on Level 1 in Terminal 1, and located at the end of the Arrival Hall on Level 1 in Terminal 2 (South Wing). All taxis are metered. 

An interesting way to tour the streets of Singapore is to take a trishaw ride. We recommend that you avoid hailing a trishaw off the road. If you do, make sure that you agree on the fare to your destination before the trip commences. However, there are many trishaw tours that you can join that are run by some of the major tour operators. 

Gastronomy

The dining experience in Singapore extends beyond 3 main meals a day. Breakfast on buttered toast and kaya, a rich coconut custard jam, in an old colonial shophouse cooled by ceiling fans or enjoy a late-morning meal of Cantonese dimsum in a charming old Chinatown teahouse. 

For lunch, you may indulge in a meal of delicious pasta at a ritzy Italian restaurant, moist tender enchiladas in a cosy Mexican diner or sushi at one of the many Japanese outlets. Then in the afternoon, delight in an Asian high tea buffet in a skyscraper restaurant with an impressive view of the city. For dinner, the choice may be one of the superb French restaurants in Singapore, a seafood barbecue at an open-air food centre or perhaps New Asia cuisine in the intimate ambience of a lovingly-restored hotel. 

To round off a perfect evening, Mediterranean coffees and Belgian chocolates are wonderful complements to good company and sparkling conversation. Whatever the melange, you have the luxury of choice to make each day of dining in Singapore a memorable one. 

You might have heard stories about the Singaporean’s 24-hour passion for food. Singaporeans have also seen the bemused visitor’s look as he watches a slender young thing tuck into a hearty multiple-dish meal at 2am. And of course, there is that famous Singapore greeting. Instead of echoing the almost universal ‘Hi, how are you?’, we say ‘Have you eaten?’, and we say it in our different languages and dialects. But one word, which we all understand, and love is makan, which is the Malay word for ‘eat’. 

Look at it the way Singaporeans do. Imagine if you lived on an island that lay at the crossroads of the great East-West trade routes. Then remember that the products traded in those early days were as tantalizing and valuable as ivory, gold, silk, batik, silver thread, ebony, sandalwood, tea, sago, sugar, pepper, nutmeg, cloves and coriander. And that your fellow citizens, right from those days, made up a colourful and diverse melting pot of races and cultures. 

Now just imagine, if you put it all together, what a fascinating, exciting cuisine Singapore must surely boast. It is the stuff of romance, and tales of recipes handed down through generations of craftsmen and migrant workers, often from villages in China and India. 

Singapore food is a tasty tale about a country’s unique cultural tapestry, and the way individual strands have woven into others, and changed hue in the process. Food preparations that came to Singapore from India, China and other countries in the region may still bear the original names – but they are indelibly transformed by being ‘Singaporeanised’. 

To Singapore’s cultural tapestry, add the country’s compactness, and a great transport system that makes getting around it so convenient. Finally, add Singapore’s uncommonly strict public hygiene and food preparation rules, which make eating out – anywhere on the island – a risk-free proposition. 

Hawker centres are where you will find a veritable feast of Chinese, Malay and Indian treats. It is best to find yourself a seat before you order. Placing a packet of tissue on the table will signal to others that the table has been reserved. Sharing a table with strangers is fine if you cannot find a vacant one. 

Place your orders at each stall, state your table number and your selections. Most hawker centres have numbers on each table, however self-service is practised in some hawker centres and food courts. It is also a good way to ask Singaporeans about their favourite food or stall. Chinese dishes are served with chopsticks, though a fork and spoon will be made readily available upon request. 

When ordering seafood, you should ask for the exact price you will be charged for the dish to avoid any misunderstanding. 

Some favourite hawker centres in the city area include Bugis Street, Lau Pa Sat, Chinatown Food Street and Maxwell Road Market.

Food Courts are basically air-conditioned, indoor hawker centres. They are popular because they offer diversity of choice in a clean, modern and sometimes even upmarket setting. As with hawker centres, it is best to find a seat before you order your food. 

Some favourite food courts in the city areas include Bugis Junction, Clarke Quay, Picnic Food Court, Takashimaya Food Village, China Square Food Centre and Kopitiam. 

Prices. Singapore has a wide range of differently priced menus to suit the needs of travellers. Local fare found at hawker centres and kopitiams or open-fronted local coffee shops are very reasonably priced indeed while luxurious meals served at five-star establishments are still excellent value for money. 

Food Tours. A fun way to explore and discover the variety of cuisine available in Singapore is to take a food tour. Try the ‘Flavours of Singapore’ Tour that begins at the Spice Garden (the original site of the first Botanic Gardens) Following which, you will get to sample spicy Indian cuisine and Peranakan fare as the tour brings you to the ethnic areas of Little India and Chinatown. For more information, check with your hotel concierge or refer the Tours section. 

Culinary Academies Looking for something different to do during your visit to Singapore? Check out the many culinary programmes available in our city. Whether it’s Asian, Middle Eastern or European cuisine, there’s something for every palate. 

Entertainment

For the young and the young at heart, Singapore offers a range of night activities which will keep you partying all night long. From jazz and house music to tribal and Top 40, Singapore offers a play-list of dance clubs for any generation. Most clubs open from 10pm till 1am (Sun-Thu) and until 3am (Fri-Sat) and the dress code is generally smart casual. 

Those who want something more relaxed may enjoy a night at a number of pubs in the city or just recline comfortably at a jazz lounge where world-class jazz can be heard. 

If wine and high spirits are not for you, go for all-night bowling at one of the bowling alleys at Kallang and Marina South. After a hectic night of activity, settle down to supper at one of the many 24-hour coffee houses in the city and superb food stalls scattered throughout the island. Teochew porridge, caramel bean curd or just coffee and cake are just some satisfying ways in which Singaporeans end a pleasant evening. 

Shopping

Shopping is one of the greatest pleasures in Singapore. Part of the fun is the excellent buys and great variety of shops all over the island. Delight in a bargain at a little neighbourhood shop, pick up a quaint item or two as you stroll through colourful ethnic quarters, discover favourite buys of the droves who flock to our modern malls or be enthralled by the splendour of whole shopping cities selling everything under the sun. 

Many top hotels also have an attached shopping arcade with fine boutiques specialising in designer fashion, accessories, jewellery and watches. 

And designer brands from the fashion runways of the world can be affordable – if you know where to look. Find them at the growing number of discount shops around the city. The magic is affordable in Singapore. 

Singapore’s Central Shopping Belt extending from Tanglin Road all the way down Orchard Road and Bras Basah Road to Marina Bay has been tagged Fifth Avenue, Regent Street, Champs-Elysees, Via Veneto and Ginza for good reason. 

This is where world-class shopping abounds. A day spent browsing and buying turns into an unforgettable experience as theme designer boutiques, local and international department stores, speciality shops and bargain counters compete with outdoor cafes and gourmet restaurants for your attention. 

City & Fringe Shopping. Great shopping in Singapore isn’t confined to just Orchard Road and its surroundings. Quality goods at prices that won’t burn a hole in your pocket can be found in lots of places around the city centre. The Riverside area by River Valley Road is home to both some of the newest as well as the oldest shops in Singapore. Look in the heart of the financial district around Raffles Place and Shenton Way where the office crowd throngs the shops for a surprising variety of goodies. 

Suburban Shopping. If you’re prepared to venture further afield, you can combine shopping with a little off-the-beaten track sightseeing as well. In fact, you’ll discover some of the best bargains where most Singaporeans live, eat and shop – out in the heartlands of Singapore. 

These suburban shopping centres offer a surprisingly comprehensive range of items from branded to electronic goods at prices to delight the value-conscious and determined bargain hunter. Business hours vary from shop to shop but as a general guide, most shops are open from 11am to 9pm. 

Town centres in the larger estates of Tampines and Bishan are easily accessible by MRT. Shopping at these bustling town centres is a fascinating experience, providing insight into the local lifestyle and a chance to mingle with Singaporeans at their most comfortable. You also reap another benefit – the opportunity to tuck in local style at the numerous food centres and informal coffee shops.

Editors - Travel Media Applications | Website | + Articles

TravelDailyNews Asia-Pacific editorial team has an experience of over 35 years in B2B travel journalism as well as in tourism & hospitality marketing and communications.

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