When you don’t have a lot of time, how do you see a new city like a local?
My latest overseas trip took me to Singapore, and having never been there before, I wanted to make the most of the experience. Everyone I’ve spoken to since coming back to Aussie land has been amazed at the amount of things I managed to squeeze in over a such a short time. I spoke for 2 days at a conference, and fit it a bunch of other amazing things.
To cut things short, I’ll give you a list of all the places and things I saw before I tell you how you can get a lot in too:
- Marina Bay Sands and Marina Bay
- Singapore Flyer
- Art Science Muesum
- Fullerton Hotel, and Fullerton Bay Hotel
- Lantern Bar
- The Loof
- National Gallery
- National Muesum
- Victoria House
- National Stadium
- St Andrews Church
- Sacred Heart Church
- Sultan Mosque + a tonne of temples
- Marina Bay Sands Light Show
- Gardens by the Bay
- Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve
- Nature Reserve
- Little India
- China Town
- Telok Markets
- Fort Canning
- Cricular Quay and Boat Quay
- Tin Tin Museum
- Tiramisu Hero
- Mustafa Centre
- Grand Prix F1 track and pits
- Malaysia, including JB and Forrest City
- as well as a multitude of shopping Centres including Marina Bay Sands Shoppes, Suntec City, and heaps more
Okay, so how did I fit that much in? Well there’s a few neat tricks. SOme of them apply only to Singapore, but there’s a lot here that you could replicate elsewhere.
This doesn’t seem to be a thing in Singapore but it was a thing for me. Most of my friends over there were like “OMG you’re walking??? Why are you walking?” And it’s a very valid point they raise. It’s hot in Singapore, it’s humid, and public transport is super cheap, not to mention they have Uber as well.
However, I wanted to walk. Sure I save a little bit of money, and keep fit, but I see so many more things. The walk from my friends’ house to the city was roughly 4km, so nothing major. Each day I’d head into town and take a different route. I had no idea what I was going to see along the way, but each day was different and AMAZING!
I discovered Fort Canning Park, found a bunch of cool temples, lots of graffiti art, some lovely churches, and just cool architecture in general. Most of these places I had no idea existed and it was amazing to simply walk and see what you could find. Just make sure you go slightly different way each time and you’re sure to see something awesome.
Find the locals
Seems simple enough right? Usually the locals have the low down on where the best places are to eat, nice spots to visit, or cool little hideaways. It wasn’t too hard for me since I was staying with a couple of locals and they were able to give me a heads up. But even when I wasn’t with them, I’d just follow the people around – like the locals. Don’t just go where all the crowds of people are, follow the people who look like they have an idea of where they are.
The other way to find locals is to meet people you already know. This might seem obvious but not everyone does it. Before you head off somewhere, check out who is in your network (social network and business contacts) and see if they’re free to meet up. They’ll have some opinions on living and working in a new place as well as what they found exciting when they first came to the city. Plus it’s an awesome way to hang out with people you already know.
Hire an Electric Scooter
Kinda seems contrary to my first point above, but this is one of the best ways to get around and see a whole bunch of stuff really quickly. This might also just be a thing for Singapore since escooters are big over there and they are easy to hire. I grabbed one for a couple of hours and went for a burn around the bay, including their national sports stadium, the Grand Prix track and more. If you’re going to a place that doesn’t do scooters, bikes are another fantastic way to get around and see things while you’re still outdoors (as opposed to being on a train or in the bus). Highly recommend!
Don’t go to the Zoo
Alright, lots of people told me how amazing the Singapore Zoo would be and I was super keen to go. When I had a chat to a friend however, he asked me what I wanted to see, which I replied with “dragons”! He informed me that the zoo, whilst really good, was a little pricey, and not necessary containing all the ‘native’ animals I wanted to see.
Being an outdoorsy person, and keen for an adventure, my friend told me of a place I was “guaranteed” to see water dragons. So we went! The wetlands housed an abundance of animals including monkeys, fruit bats, fish, turtles, crabs, birds, crocodiles (yep, we saw one!) and of course, the Clouded Dragon and Malayan Water Dragon (also known as Monitors). They were so amazing to see and in their natural habitat – and there were heaps of them!!!
So yeah, go find animals in the wild 😉 But I hear the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo is next level awesome and I plan on doing it next time I’m there.
Get top tips
Before you jet off to wherever you’re going, get top tips from friends who have been there (and have lived there). This will help you build out a good list of things instead of Googling “top things to do in Singapore”. Your friends will know what you like and can recommend some of your favourite activities.
Go to another country
Until going to Singapore, I never knew how easy it was to go to another country! In Australia, we’re surrounded by water, so it’s a big effort to go anywhere. But not so overseas. All the places are connected and you can just drive from one to another – seems obvious – but I didn’t realise the convenience of this until I went to Singapore! It’s amazing!!! I highly recommend it, so take your passport with you everywhere, and you never know you might just end up on a motorbike going to Malaysia.
Okay, so my last pieces of advice;
You don’t need to spend a lot of money. I was able to do most of the things I did by paying little or nothing at all. Getting out into nature is a cheap way to see lots of things, and walking is super fun and gives you a real sense of the culture.
Be adventurous. I was, and it paid off. I had an incredible journey and I can’t wait to do it again. I wasn’t afraid to try something new and hang out with some new friends.
Don’t plan too much. I had a list of a few things that I wanted to do each day, then I’d just see how the rest of the day would go. Instead of scheduling everything I made time to discover new things and of course, have a break. Plan some things, but not too many and just go with the flow; you’ll enjoy it.
Rest! I know it sounds crazy, but get some rest while you’re at it so you can keep doing awesome things.
Well that’s it from me. I hope you get to have your own amazing adventures and let me know if there’s any points from this that you want me to focus on in my next post.