A fast-growing country
Singapore is a sovereign city-state and island country located in maritime Southeast Asia, south of Malaysia. Due to its geographical location (close to an important trade route for ships) and a wise government, the country has accumulated enormous wealth in the last centuries. Today, Singapore is a global financial center.
In recent years, Singapore has always ranked first as the most expensive city in the world. Expensive here are especially living space and cars which are up to 3 times more expensive than in the country of manufacture. However, food and public transport are still relatively cheap.
The concrete jungle that once dominated Singapore's cityscape is slowly giving way to green skyscrapers that look more like living ecosystems than business centers. With its focus on sustainability and ecology, the nation is more and more developing into a "city in the garden".
Modern and multi-cultural
Even the border control gives you a taste of the country itself: organized and modern. The bus took me across the border and finally waited on the other side to take me to the center of the city state. Everywhere new houses are built and fancy cars drive by.
My hostel was located in Chinatown. To get there I had to use the excellent metro of the city. You can recognize the multi-culture of the city already there as the announcements in the metro are in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. The population consists mainly of Malay, Indians, Chinese and expats.
There is a district for each ethnic group, e.g. Chinatown, Little India, K-Town and also a Malay-Muslim part, Kampong Glam which with its colorful houses and the Masjid Sultan Mosque is one of the most beautiful districts.
Clean country with strict rules
The efficient Metro works on time and takes you to almost every point of the city. The government has also made the prices so low that people are more willing to use the metro instead of using cars so that traffic jams and environmental pollution are limited.
Besides its cleaniness Singapore is also known as a police state and for its strict rules. Those who say something against the government have to expect consequences. And nowhere in Singapore is it allowed to buy chewing gum. Whoever throws garbage on the streets, feeds pigeons or even does not flush the public toilet risks high penalties. I once saw the police punish two youths who had illegally skateboarded.
Accomodations often booked out
I had already booked my hostel "The Bohemian" beforehand. With almost 17 € per night it is still one of the cheaper hostels.
I actually wanted to travel to Singapore on day earlier, but the accommodations were already fully booked. It is recommendable to book the accommodation as early as possible in Singapore, due to the small size of the country, there is a chronic shortage of accommodations that is further intensified if any events take place there.
My hostel was super modern and clean. Every guest had his own cabin bed and something I had never experienced before: at the foot of each bed there was a monitor, where you could watch movies with the included headphones and the remote control.
Fascinating modern architecture
In the evening I took a short nightly walk along Marina Bay and gazed at the futuristic looking cityscape. One part of it is dominated by the large skyscrapers of the banking district. On the other side, the Marina Bay Sands is probably the most eye-catching building, which looks like an elongated boat on stilts. The resort is considered the most expensive stand-alone casino complex in the world. It also boasts hotel rooms that are booked out months in advance and a 300-meter-long rooftop garden with infinity pool.
Right next to it is the ArtScience Museum, whose architecture was inspired by the lotus blossom. Another stylish architectural piece is the Helix Bridge, whose design is based on the double-helix structure of DNA strings that glow at night.
The most visited Botanical Garden in the world
On my first full day I visited the best botanical garden I have ever seen. More than 10,000 plant species are distributed over 80 hectares land. With about 4 million visitors annually, it is the most visited botanical garden in the world. In 2015, the garden was the first site in Singapore to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Admission is free, with the exception of the orchid garden, which is definitely worth a visit. The Garden represents the forefront of orchid studies and is a pioneer in the breeding of hybrids, complementing the country's status as a major exporter of cut orchids. It houses the largest collection of orchids with more than 1,000 species.
Merlion - The symbol of the country
With the Indonesian Anya, whom I had met the evening before, I visited the Merlion, the landmark of the country. It is a mythical creature made of a lion's head, which symbolizes strength and fearlessness, and a fish body, which stands for the origin from and the connection to the sea. The sculpture, which is almost 9 metres high, constantly spouts water into the harbour of Singapore.
In the evening we watched a light show at the Gardens By The Bay (which is written about in another article) and later went back to the busy Chinatown. Preparations for the Chinese New Year were just starting there. Particularly when it comes to food, this is one of the cheapest parts of town.
Singapore by night
On my last evening I walked through the city again. At the Merlion sculpture I briefly met a Taiwanese woman who could only spare a few hours between her flights to look at the city. We watched a great light show called "Spectra" at the Marina Bay Sands, which I nearly liked even more than the one at the Gardens By The Bay. The show was colourful and very vivid, with nice music. Asians know how to do that stuff really well.
I walked on to Clarke Quay, the nightlife district of the city directly at the river. The prices for drinks are quite high in Singapore. The many well-heeled bankers and real estate agents in Singapore can afford these prices easily. So I didn't enter any bars, also because I had early morning flight the next day. After 4 days I left Singapore and flew to Indonesia.
Futuristic but expensive city
If you want to see what a city of the future looks like, you should visit Singapore. The nightly futuristic city panorama and the Gardens By The Bay can be regarded as absolute flagship projects. I also particularly liked how the city tries to include nature as much as possible in the city and uses renewable energy. Everything works flawlessly, is super clean and clearly structured in Singapore. And the government has a lot of good ideas that are driving the city forward.
Only the high prices and the somewhat too serious business atmosphere negatively struck me. There are too many "money people" here, who only care about money and work.