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Singapore calling

Friday, May 06, 2011

Henna Achhpal tells you all you need to know about visiting this island country for your next vacation...

Be it the growing economy or its infrastructure that’s developing at lightning speed — this island country that barely takes up a spot on the world map makes its presence felt on a global scale. Singapore might be known for its rules and clean roads but it’s also a great tourist destination with tons to do, eat and see — so much so that we had to make this a two part series in order to incorporate all that Singapore has to offer.

best time to visit
Since Singapore has a tropical rainforest climate, you can plan your visit for any time of the year and be greeted by almost the same climate. The temperature usually ranges from 23 to 32°C (similar to Mumbai) and rainfall is expected on a daily basis so make sure you carry rain gear.

Where do I stay?
There are plenty of accommodation options to choose from, depending on your budget and preference. Hotel 81 (www.hotel81.com.sg) is a chain of value hotels with rooms starting at SG$89 (`3,225 approx.) per night. They have 20 affordable hotels spread all over Singapore so all you need to do is pick your preferred area. It’s best to look for accommodation in Central Singapore as it’s easier to get around to the various tourist spots and malls. If you’re on a shoe string budget, you should also consider a Bed & Breakfast arrangement at Sleepy Sam’s (www.sleepysams.com) that offers single rooms at the rate of SG$59 (`2,138 approx.) per night.

If your flight is scheduled to land early in the morning, make sure you have something to do or somewhere to keep your luggage as the check in time for most hotels is not before 2pm.

getting around
Getting around the city is extremely easy, with detailed indicators everywhere to guide you. The people are helpful as well but many prefer to keep to themselves. Cabs are an option but they’re expensive with fares starting at SG$3. The most convenient way to get around Singapore is by the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and bus which are well connected. Start by picking up the MRT map at any station and purchasing a SMRT card (SG$12) that can be used for the train as well as bus and can be topped up as per your use.

Where do I eat?
It’s well known that Singaporeans have a passion for food and with its ethnic diversity, Singapore does have the best to offer. If you’re one who looks for Indian food even when abroad, Little India will make you feel at home. For those who like to experiment, there’s no street in Singapore that doesn’t have a tiny eatery or a restaurant — step in to any and you’ll find something you’ll like.

Some of the local dishes are Satay (bite sized pieces of grilled meat served with spicy peanut sauce), Fried Kway Tiao (fried black noodles), Hokkien Noodles (a seafood noodle delight), Hainanese Chicken Rice and some local desserts such as Ice Kachang (flavoured ice with red beans and jelly) and Chendol (coconut based dessert). If you’re vegetarian, don’t think you’re going to bed on an empty stomach. The local street side eateries may not have too many items but the food courts at all the malls have a number of vegetarian options.

What’s more?
Whether you’re an adventure junkie, a foodie, shopaholic, gadget geek, nature lover or a devoted movie goer — Singapore has a little something for everybody! Now that you know your way around Singapore, where to stay and where you can get the best for your appetite, find out about the ten must do things when in the Lion City in the second part of our Singapore series.


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