Singapore–Shopping Mecca of Asia and yes, it has beaches!

This is a few days late and my excuse is that it takes 2 days to get from Israel to Sydney complicated by a slight spill that resulted in a big fat lump on my head. How do I do these things?? But, it’s still the weekend and time to head to the beach somewhere. If you are traveling to beaches with me through cyberspace, we’re off to Singapore so let’s go!

Copyright: Elle Druskin 2011

If you have never been to Asia, I think Singapore is a great place to start.
I cannot tell you how much I like Singapore and I’ve been there a number of times. Now this might sound a bit spoiled, but among the things I love about Singapore is that it is safe, and I do mean really safe, so clean you cannot believe it, compared to other cities. People are multi-lingual and they all speak English because it is their primary language. There is a wonderful blend of cultures including Malay, Indian, former British colonial, and Indonesian, and this is reflected in the marvelous food.

The orchids are magnificent, you can’t help being amazed by them everywhere you go. Weather is hot and humid, after all you are very close to the equator. There is a monsoon season in Singapore, highest rainfall is usually from November through January but it rains all year so you should bear that in mind.
Dressing Tip: Light cotton clothing is going to be the most comfortable and perfectly acceptable in Singapore.

If you have never been to Singapore, there is no doubt you will spend time shopping—it feels like the world’s biggest shopping mall, and you will go sight-seeing because there is so much to see and do in Singapore even if a fairly small place. In fact, that’s a benefit because it is so compact, it’s easy to get almost anywhere. I won’t list all the places but probably you will want to visit Chinatown, the Butterfly Park, Jurong Zoo, Underwater World, and if you are thinking about the former British Empire, you will want to go to the Raffles Hotel and at least have a drink and pretend you are back in history. You won’t have any problem finding things to do or buy—bring a suitcase with spare room because you will buy things no matter how hard you try to resist. Even if you don’t want to buy electronics, you are going to end up tempted with batiks, local artwork, crafts, etc. A very popular item to buy in Singapore is fabric and the best place to buy that is Little India. Isn’t that great? It won’t break in luggage and usually not too heavy.

Food Tip: While you are out and about, pop into Tang’s Department Store. The external façade is shaped like a pagoda and if you are not sure about local cuisine which is fabulous—try the satay, Hainanese Chicken Rice and laksa (not all at once). These are a MUST. You can go down into the basement floor of Tang’s which has a food court although there are plenty of others that are equally good. You will be with locals and not surrounded by tourists. Try a bit of lots of things at great prices. Loads of various noodle dishes if you aren’t game for other things.

Watch what the locals are eating and you will get some ideas. Remember, the cuisine is a blend of Asia, particularly Malaysian, Indonesian and Indian so why would you settle for a burger when you could try all this? Try the local fresh fruit juices too. If I remember correctly I had a great blend of green apple, carrot and ginger.

All roads or cable cars lead to Sentosa

By now, you are ready to head to the beach so how do you get there? You can choose any number of ways. The beaches are located on Sentosa Island about half a mile off Singapore City. Sentosa has been developed as a resort area so it’s full of hotels, amusements of all sorts and for the beachgoers, this is where the beaches have been created. You can actually walk there if that is your choice. There is now a boardwalk. Take the MRT (the equivalent of a subway which is so clean you could eat off the floor and I am not kidding. It’s fast, efficient and reasonably priced). Get off the MRT at Vivo City Shopping Mall. From here you can easily walk over the boardwalk to Sentosa. Alternatively, you can take the Sentosa Express from the same station which will get you to Sentosa in under five minutes. There is also a shuttle bus that operates along Orchard Street—the main street of Singapore, or you can take a cable car. Whichever route you choose, you will get a spectacular view over the harbor. Do not rent a car; you have no need for one in Singapore because public transport is so readily available, safe and affordable. Cars are not encouraged in Sentosa and you won’t need it.
Tip: I would take the cable car just for the ride around sunset, unforgettable.

Okay, now you’re on Sentosa, so what next? Take your pick.
An interesting thing about Singapore beaches—most of them, okay, all of them, are not natural. They are reclaimed land but that doesn’t detract from them. There are basically 3 beaches on Sentosa with sand imported from Indonesia or Malaysia. Does that really matter?—it’s still the beach. All of the beaches have lifeguards, by the way and they all have first aid training too.

If you are looking for activity, head straight for Siloso Beach. That’s the most likely one with beach volleyball and some water sports like canoeing. Siloso is considered the coolest beach in Singapore. There are also man made waves and a whirlpool so if you must catch a wave (surf) you can do it here at Wave House. Probably the reason this beach is considered so cool is the party atmosphere at night with clubs, restaurants, parties and bars so if that’s your thing, definitely stick around this beach. If you are hoping for a beach party, this is the most likely beach to find one going on.

Unless you are traveling with family (kids) you might want to avoid Palawan Beach. Nothing wrong with it but it is very much a family sort of beach with kids’ activities and that means the shops and restaurants cater to that kind of crowd.

Tanjong Beach does not offer the activity or amenities of the other two beaches, but if you want a bit more quiet then this is the beach for you.

Sentosa is filled with amusements and activities so you will have plenty to do if that’s what you want and chances are you will go into Singapore and come back to the island or the other way around.

There is no way you won’t enjoy Singapore. It won’t have the beach culture of other places and the number of beaches is limited but you will have so much else to do, experience and enjoy that this is a destination that is well worth thinking about.

Next stop: Bali, the island of the gods. Here’s your quiz:

The primary culture in Bali is:


Garang Asam is:
A spicy local soup
A local version of soccer
The southern beach
A local fruit

A beach for dolphin watching is:
Kuta Beach
Lovina Beach
Legian Beach
Nusa Lembogan

Things to try in Bali include:
A massage
Water skiing
Bungee jumps