Like most expats living in Southeast Asia, I’ve had many opportunities to spend a day or two exploring Singapore. Whether in rout to more exciting holidays or renewing a visa, the relative calm and order of Singapore is a welcome break. Compared to the sprawling chaotic mess of motorbikes and smog that is Jakarta, Singapore is breath of fresh air.
The key to enjoying Singapore is managing your expectations and appreciating its accessibility. Travelers rag on the city for being boring and overly predicable, but Singapore does rewards the curious traveler. For me, the highlights are world-class street food, extensive public green spaces, and the best museums in Southeast Asia.
Singapore has an abundance of healthy and delicious street food. There are literally hundreds of food courts and thousands of tiny food stalls around the city (the most famous of which you’ll find at the Chinatown Markets, off the Outram Park metro stop). At lunch they’re jammed packed with everything from well-dressed businessmen to dusty construction workers chowing down on stir-fry, soup and dumplings chock full of fresh meat, fish and vegetables.
Singaporean cuisine is a mixture of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian, with some western influences. A spicy, flavorful and filling meal will run you about $2-3, so remember, don’t shy away from the street vendors! Singapore has very high food hygiene standards.
After stuffing your face, take a walk in the Singapore Botanical Garden or Faber Park and escape from the city for a moment. Lie down on the grass and let your belly settle, why not? No one will hassle you, and yes, even the grass is clean. Singapore clearly learned a thing or two about maintaining top-notch city parks from London.
Once you’ve had your fill of nature by exploring the parks, you should drop by the Singapore Art Museum to take in Southeast Asia’s finest contemporary artwork. The completion of the National Art Gallery, Singapore, in 2015 means the addition of one more world-class institution to draw in exhibitions from Southeast Asia’s budding generation of incredibly dynamic modern artists.Singapore Art Museum
Between lunch, the park and the art museum, you have yourself a very solid day in Singapore. It’s the perfect way to get a taste for what the city has to offer. I promise, if you’ve just spent the past few weeks or months in pretty much any other southeast Asian city, you’ll leave Singapore feeling refreshed.