Singapore is a great place for a stopover. If you don’t have time to leave Changi International Airport, then you’ll find not only a host of shopping and dining opportunities on offer, but also attractions and services ranging from nature walks, to art trails, to spa treatments to swimming pools. There is so much to do, the airport has a website devoted to helping you plan your time as you await your onwards flight.
This is a food mad city, where the standard greeting is not “how are you?” but “have you eaten yet?” Even at the airport you’ll be able to try all sorts of local fare, and, beyond its perimeter, you’ll find street food available island-wide. Perhaps you fancy nasi lemak – rice infused with coconut milk and spices, and served with fried chicken, fish and fiery sauce? Or would mee rebus be more to your taste? This is made of yellow egg noodles, in a sweet and salty sauce, served with hardboiled egg. Or you could try satay bee hoon – the dish known as “Singapore noodles” in the rest of the world.
Wash down your meal with a glass of buah long long juice – buah long long is a local fruit with a taste like lime crossed with plum. Or if you want something alcoholic, how about a locally-brewed Tiger beer? Or there’s always this city’s world famous cocktail: the Singapore Sling.
If you have time, you could even visit the Tiger brewery. Or you could drink a Singapore Sling where it was actually invented: at the Long Bar of the Raffles Hotel. The Long Bar is the only place in this spotless city where littering is encouraged: drinks here are traditionally served with peanuts in their shells, and, for reasons now lost to time, it’s obligatory to throw the shells on the floor. But don’t try that anywhere else in the city, or you’ll risk being fined.
If you do get a chance to explore, remember the equatorial climate! Unlike the mad dogs and Englishmen of the colonial era, plan to avoid the midday sun. Even in the cool of the morning or afternoon, you’ll need a hat, sun screen, sun glasses, and a water bottle, as well as sensible shoes.
Whatever your interests, you’ll find something to do during your stopover. Do you like art? Then how about an hour at the National Gallery, or at the Asian Civilisations Museum. Is gardening your thing? Then you must visit the famous supertrees and glasshouses at Gardens by the Bay. You like sport? Catch a game at the National Stadium. You’re a thrills junkie? Don’t miss the zip wires of Sentosa!
Above all: enjoy the skyline! After dark it is one of the most dramatic in the world, perhaps best viewed from the skypark of Marina Bay Sands.
There’s so much to do no doubt you’ll wish you had longer in the city!
Singapore resident Rosie Milne’s new book, Olivia & Sophia, goes into the lives of the two wives of Sir Thomas Raffles. It is published by Monsoon Books and also available, of course, on Amazon.
Copyright © 2016 Rosie Milne