I can finally publish the first part of my trip to South East Asia, which has just ended with the flight back yesterday. In 20 days I visited Singapore, Bali and the Gili Islands and cannot wait to tell you all. Many of you have written to me in recent weeks to know the price of the holiday, where I slept etc.
I can give you the names of the facilities, where I was fine, but it is to be understood that each has its own budget and taste, personally and as always, having arranged everything myself, I read a lot of the reviews and the instincts.
Singapore is situated in the south of the Malay Peninsula and is bordered to the north with Malaysia itself, the case of an island nation (63 islands), Singapore, as separated from the mainland by the Strait of Singapore. The name Singapore in the Malaysian translates into Singapura meaning Lion City and was founded by Sang Nila Utama, who according to legend would have landed on the island of Temasek and there he spotted a lion prowling around.
Judging it a good omen, he decided that the nation would be after the animal's name. In fact it is known thanks to archaeological finds that Singapore was already inhabited in the fourteenth century. Although not a very large nation, it is among the first for the majority in the population density, mostly concerning immigrants like Chinese, Indians and Malaysians. This mix of cultures has made the fortune of Singapore causing it to become an international metropolis and its cuisine became one of the most renowned in the world.
The best period to visit this beautiful state is between May and July, while it is not recommended between August and December because there is greater humidity. Singapore presents itself as a cluster of islands in which intersects a network of rivers and lakes that flow into the ocean surrounding. This large water resource means that there are the beautiful parks and nature reserves which make up one of the attractions of Singapore.
Among other interesting Singaporean destinations to visit are the gardens. The most famous is the Mandai Gardens where they grow different species of orchids, the most beautiful however is undoubtedly the Chinese Garden, a wonderful garden with pagoda, lakes, willows and flowers lotus, the most curious is the butterfly Park with adjoining insect museum where you can witness the natural spectacle of the fireflies.
Remaining in the theme of nature is not to miss the island of Sentosa connected to Singapore by a bridge where you can visit the 'Underwater World Sentosa a huge aquarium in which a reconstruction of the seabed, the Pulau Ubin, a fishing village and Bintan island that you are reached by a steamer.
As it missed the Crocodilarium which houses more than 1,000 crocodiles visible up close, the Zoological Garden where over 2,000 animals in six different islands among them the Kingdom of the Primates, sea lions and penguins, polar bears. Children can go around the park with miniature railway, the East Coast Park to spend unforgettable moments of relaxation in the open air, the Night Safari incredible experience that will allow you to spot more than 100 exotic species and the Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve where we practice birdwatching.
Among the curiosities, we find museums such as the history of Singapore in which it is exposed to the public life of this trading city in the nineteenth century, the museum inside the Changi Prison Chapel where you will find a collection of photos, drawings and all personal items dating back to the second World war and the Maritime museum where you can admire the beautiful models of ships and various typical boats.
And not to miss in Singapore cities is the Little India neighborhood, where lives the Indian community and to be visited is the Sri Mariamman, an ancient Hindu temple and Chinatown and the Arab street, where there are Muslim mosques with the most beautiful is the Masjid Sultan with its great golden dome.
Recall that the best way to get around and visit these beautiful monuments is to use a ezlink pass for the public, as tourism resources are the best because they have no fixed points go down and climb where you want and taxis that have very low prices.
The best areas where to stay in the hotel in Singapore are in Lavender, Bugis, China Town, Outram Park, and Marina Bay or if you can, of course, is the skyscraper with the ship and the famous Infinity Pool. The important thing however is to take the accommodation as close as possible to the MRT Metro because Singapore is not so small and we have ground to travel daily on an average of 10 to 15km to visit it!
The hotel prices are higher than average compared to the rest of Asia. Singapore is a state in itself, full of rules and prohibitions, and it is difficult to find a double, close to the metro, 4 or 3 star, below 90 € per night in August. Usually then the rooms are very small, but the important thing is that it is clean, so you can stay around all the time.
In almost the whole city it is easy to find a free WiFi, and the metro is futuristic and cheap, which is all clean but the impression is to be in the movie Truman Show. There are cameras everywhere, but really everywhere and you have the constant feeling of being monitored.
Smoking is not allowed everywhere and you will find well-defined smoking areas scattered here and there and as it is prohibited to import electronic cigarettes, it is forbidden to buy or possess chewing gum, but you will not get ever on sale.
The Durian fruit is not allowed in the subway or in a hotel, a fruit they say is yummy but has a nauseating smell, and the smell is repulsive which you can feel from a hundred meters. And of course it is forbidden to throw something on the ground, at least that we should learn it, too!
The motto of Singapore is Shop until you drop, where there are hundreds of shopping centers scattered everywhere, one attached to another who mix brands like Zara and Hermès, also if I understand what it's have a lot of the same stores. Nothing unique, however, shops that we all know.
At least you can get in there and recover from the scorching heat of the city. A nice area to visit is undoubtedly Chinatown. In Singapore, I spent 3 nights at the beginning of the holiday as a last night at the end of trip, if you want to also visit the artificial island of Sentosa, where there are all the fun theme parks, I'd say 3/4 nights are enough.
Singapore is a truly modern metropolis, commercial and financial of skyscrapers, mega-stores, restaurants and streets clean (of course if you get caught to throw the cigarette on the ground or whatever you touch heavy fines!). But Singapore is also a multi-ethnic metropolis, chaotic and colorful with its small districts, mirror the different ethnic groups living together in the same city Chinese, Malaysian, and Indians but also many other minorities. And just this aspect of Singapore has hit us and made to feel a bit like home.
What to see and do in Singapore? Here's what we saw during our trip by a few days in this island city-state of Southeast Asia.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple: in Chinatown stands this temple which as the name itself contains a Buddha's tooth. Gia from the temple, perhaps thanks to a strong smell of incense that has covered us, we can breathe a mystical atmosphere a bit Misty for our tastes! But it's when you get inside the temple that we were overwhelmed by a surreal atmosphere at a Buddhist celebration accompanied by the singing of the monks.
Little India: visiting this district of Singapore seems to be catapulted in exotic India. A place with spicy flavor in all ways in which, although in reality is a very simple district, and it is worth getting lost in the narrow streets in search of the many temples and maybe some business among the market stalls Zhujiao Centre.
Sri Mariamman Temple: the Hindu temple that is more old in Singapore is paradoxically located in the middle of Chinatown, but you know in this city ethnic boundaries dissolve. We were fascinated by this temple already from the outside, from its impressive tower that stands at the sky studded with colorful and curious statues of various deities.
Island of Sentosa: in our opinion and it seemed a bit of a hoax. Maybe because it is overly touristy, fictitious but we could not expect otherwise since it already has the beach and the palm trees are the result of human artifice. The idea was precisely to create a tropical beach a few steps away from the metropolis but its pity that just scan the sea to realize that it is an urban beach, in the heart of the Strait of Singapore, bathed by the waters invaded by countless boats so as to appear from the top of an airplane like the game of Battleship.
Marina Bay: in the south of Riverside in Singapore is this new futuristic area dominated by modern and impressive buildings that are reflected in the river. And here you will meet even the Merlion, the statue of the lion symbol of Singapore, and you can take a ride in the Ferris wheel highest in the world, for the moment, the Singapore Flyer, higher than 165 mt.
Zoo: it is said that the Singapore Zoo is one of the most beautiful in the world and a must see to be included in the attractions of the city. This zoo is always open, in which animals are housed in large open areas and not in a cage, with over 4000 species of animals and, among its attractions, there's also a night safari by chills.
In Singapore, the Changi International airport, offers an excellent opportunity to pleasantly pass the time waiting for their flight among many and I mean many restaurants and shops but also relaxing at the edge of fountains or in the butterfly garden, a small oasis in this hub of southeast Asia, to make us forget, even for a short, long and stressful flight in front of us.
The hawker, i.e. a set of stalls of food vendors, are the best place to enjoy a cheap dish, often, well cooked and plentiful. There are many in Singapore a little everywhere and there is no need to speak English to understand each other. Just indicate with your finger what you want to eat among the ingredients or exposed food and you will be served with a smile. Also often, within a few steps, in Singapore you can wander among the various cuisines from Thai, Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese, but not only, and there is something for everyone.
To find a cheap accommodation many backpackers head to Little India, an ideal, central solution where you can find many hostels and guesthouses. We, too, of course, once landed in Singapore, tried but having found no place then we've been in a nearby street in a budget hotel chain, a good solution with smallish rooms but clean. For subsequent nights, during the weekend we find a cheap one and we had to move a bit more out of the center of Singapore.
The Geylang neighborhood is the red light district of Singapore and also has numerous hotels. Geylang is very lively and real. Ahh of course, here the rule is to negotiate the price and see the room first!