Singapore (I spent 3 days here, this is about right)
Of all the places I have been to, Singapore is at the top of my list of where I want to live next on an expat assignment. Well, if I make a lot of money while living there that is. A lot of travelers gripe that Singapore isn’t a fun place to visit compared to a lot of the rest of Southeast Asia. There aren’t really any beaches, it is incredibly expensive, and is mostly just a nicer version of cities from home.
All of this is true, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Singapore is a great city. Maybe it shouldn’t be at the top of your travel list, especially if you are cost-conscious, but if you can make it a layover/stopover for a couple of days, you totally should. Also, while it is the most expensive city/country in the world, part of that distinction is calculated based on the cost of owning a car, which is heavily taxed, and might throw off the numbers a bit. Still, be prepared to spend a lot more than you would in Vietnam, Thailand, and pretty much anywhere else but possibly New York or London.
Singapore is very clean (not to the extreme people say it is, but still), it is incredibly safe, organized, and has everything there you would ever want. A beer might cost $10, but you can get any kind of $10 beer you want. When you come, there is actually a lot of things to do, but also see if something is going on the weekend you are there because they host a lot of events/have a lot of concerts tour through there.
Check out the Botanical Gardens while you are there, go to Marina Bay Sands of course, and walk around the bay. For the Botanical Gardens there is also a nice local spot to eat where you can get a ton of different kinds of food and it isn’t too expensive, and then you just walk to the gardens. From there, you can walk to Marina Bay Sands.
The hotel is also host to the casino, which is comparatively quite small, and locals aren’t allowed to enter without paying a $100 fee to get in (so that locals don’t get gambling addictions I suppose). It is an incredibly expensive hotel, but it is the only way you can use the amazing pool. I tried to find a cheap way to get a room, but couldn’t figure it out for anything under $300-$400/night. Sorry guys.
The bar on top of Marina Bay Sands has an amazing view, and honestly, while crazy expensive anywhere else, in Singapore it’s not too much worse than other bars though, and so I recommend just getting a bottle of wine ($120 or so) and splitting it with 2-3 people. Come here for sunset, and get photos before and after the sun goes down.
Use Airbnb to get a place. I got really lucky and not only did I have a pretty nice place for $50/night or so, but they “upgraded” me and put me in an amazing condo in the nicest/only apartment building in the Financial District. Some nice people I met in Indonesia, who live in Singapore, showed me around and I had a blast with them. They told me the place I was staying cost a minimum of $5,000/month, and so while you may not get as lucky as I did, there is a chance you will. Even if you don’t though, public transportation is great.
View of Marina Bay Sands hotel from my apartment
Overall, Singapore is great, and is full of amazing people. They’re smart, friendly, and most are quite successful and accomplished. There are great places around the city and I really do hope to live here one day as an expat.
Country level of difficulty – 2/10