• singapore nightlife

Intro to Singapore: “Clinically Clean”?

Last week Ben and I took a last minute trip to Singapore to visit his friend from England, Dom and his Singaporean girlfriend, Massy. I have compiled so much information already on this blog, but now I feel like sharing my opinion on this new and modern country; Singapore is only 49 years old!

I have compiled lots of information in 5 different posts on Singapore, but other than my general opinions this is a nice round-up of Singapore. If you’re planning a trip, start here!

singapore skylinephoto credit: flickr

Intro to Singapore

You’d think Goa to Singapore would be an easy flight, but it was not. I highly suggest not using Air India even though we did get upgraded to business class for the last leg of the flight. We flew to Bombay, as the ticket read Bombay to Singapore… failing to mention the stop where we wouldn’t get off the plane in Chennai. It took us 9 hours just to get out of India, then 4 to Singapore! Not to mention the monitors in the brand spankin’ new Mumabi International airport were not working so we almost missed our flight.

So, starting the trip exhausted after downing some coffee, for some odd reason I was determined to see “Little India” in Singapore, as if living in India isn’t enough for me.

Read more: Luxury Guide to Singapore

singapore guide neighborhoods little indialittle India was much cleaner than real India

Although a fairly small country, there are many different neighborhoods to check out in Singapore. Singaporeans are mostly Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian. There is such a variety of culture throughout the city from food to religious buildings and language. The USD is worth a little less than the SD and the pound is worth more- just check into rates before you go.

“Clinically Clean” Singapore

As for the reputation of being “clinically clean”, I think it’s a huge exaggeration. The city is clean, but there is nothing clinical about it. Coming from India, I expected to be shocked by the cleanliness, but truly found it normal. There are laws “no spitting” “no chewing gum” “no stinky durian fruit on transportation” but they make perfect sense. Like India, some countries have a problem with spitters; it’s gross, and in Bombay and Delhi you see signs for spitting fines, it was nice not to see gum all over the streets (you can’t buy it here), and that fruit smells atrocious. These make total sense. People aren’t littering because of fines and they aren’t doing drugs because you can’t get them. I found it refreshing.

It is almost impossible to get a car in Singapore because prices are so high. For a car that costs 30,000 in the states, you’ll pay over 200,000 in Singapore. No car can be on the road that is over 10 years old. I never saw a mediocre car. Everyone is driving Mercedes, Audi, Range Rovers… and all those fancy sport cars I can’t even name! Because only the super rich can drive, all the cars are insanely cool, which adds to the “clean” reputation.

singapore guide neighborhoods
Weirdly enough, my one of my favorite things about Singapore are the town houses along the streets. They were painted with pastel beach colors and had adorable shutters. I really liked this hotel above and then was informed that’s one you go to for an hour at a time… if you catch my drift. Although searching for someone to pay, or someone to pay you for sex is illegal, the actual act of exchanging money for sex is seem as a legal business deal between to consenting adults. In conclusion: you can have sex for money, but you cannot chew gum.

Transportation in Singapore

We traveled by cab because we were being a bit lazy and the metro doesn’t stop by Dom’s house. Cabs anywhere in the city will cost you about 10-20 dollars.  There are places to queue up all over the city and sometimes lines are very long, like near Vivo City. Coming from India, seeing people stand in line properly about blew my mind. I’m becoming more Indian everyday, like eating with my hands and my new head wobble, so the Indian inside me wanted to push my way to the front of the line like a bossy Indian would.

There are local buses, but the cheapest way to travel is the metro (MRT).

If you take the NE Line (purple) you’ll stop at China Town to Clark Quay (great walkway with food and bars) and Little India. The NS (red) line takes you to Orchard Road and Marina Bay. The EW (green) will get you to Bugis and lastly, the airport.

A Guide to Neighborhoods of Singapore 

singapore guide neighborhoods

Popular neighborhoods that I visited include: Little India, Bugis, China Town, Arab Street, Clark Quay, Orchard Road, Robertson Quay, Financial District, Marina Bay, and Sentosa Island. You can read all about them on my Singapore Neighborhoods Guide: what to eat, where to shop, and what bars will make you feel fabulous, like one of Leonardo Dicaprio’s model girlfriends.

Food/Shopping/Nightlife in Singapore

There are many Hawkers, “coffee shops” and food courts around Singapore, the most famous being Lau Pa Sat or Newton’s. Food is so important in Singapore, as it’s been said all they do is eat and shop, it of course needs a post full of foodie photos. Because I stayed with a local fashion designer I got the best insight into where to shop in Singapore, including off the beaten path boutiques. Sadly, Arab Street had closed theirs by the time I arrived. The nightlife if massively expensive so for that reason I have two guides: one for backpackers looking to get drunk cheap, and one for high heel lovers who want to experience Singapore the extravagant way which in Singapore, I think really is the best way! I recommend not coming unless you have some money to burn, or else you’ll leave feeling like you killed your budget in just a couple days.

Singapore Food

Singapore Food

Singapore Food

singapore nightlife china one

Changi Airport

Lastly, when you leave the Changi airport you’ll get to see why it’s one of the best in the world. You can get pre-paid taxis here but don’t worry about being scammed. All the drivers use a meter without being asked and most have GPS (as well as security cameras). One driver spent 40 minutes telling us how Bruce Lee changed his life. The airport has places to charge and lock up your phone, big screen TVs playing soccer, comfortable seating, free internet, photo booths, a gym, mall, and swimming pool.



About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Pam March 19, 2014 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Unfortunately I’ve only transited in Changi and didn’t make it to the city (yet!) so I can’t comment on the cleanliness of it, but it shocked me that, as you mentioned, you are not allowed to chew gums in Singapore!

    • Rachel Jones March 19, 2014 at 11:51 pm - Reply

      yeah it’s really crazy about the gum. I just saw your FB comment and found your page- didn’t realize you drew your own banner. Very cool!

      • Pam March 20, 2014 at 5:37 am - Reply

        Thank you!! Yes I did, it was so much fun!
        If you ever need one, just give me a shout! :)

  2. Karyn @ Not Done Journeyling March 19, 2014 at 11:28 am - Reply

    I love the fact that you can’t buy chewing gum there. Did you know chewing gum has plastic in it? True story. That’s why it’s so hard to remove when a person spits it on the ground. Singapore has the smarts. :)

    • Pam March 19, 2014 at 2:04 pm - Reply

      Woah I didn’t know that!!
      That doesn’t sound much healthy…. :S

      • Karyn @ Not Done Journeyling March 20, 2014 at 5:12 am - Reply

        I know. It’s very disturbing, hey. :(

    • Rachel Jones March 19, 2014 at 12:14 pm - Reply

      I did not know that! Singapore is ahead of it’s time. A friend of ours that grew up in Singapore said that even on the “black market” you can’t get chewing gum.

      • Karyn @ Not Done Journeyling March 19, 2014 at 9:05 pm - Reply

        That’s awesome, that you can’t even get it on the black market. I mean, when you think about it, the idea of chewing plastic just so your jaw has something to do is really quite disgusting. lol

        • Rachel Jones March 19, 2014 at 11:56 pm - Reply

          umm yeah it’s really gross when you think of it like that lol! I’m going to stick to mints, but maybe I should google what’s in a mint!

  3. Victoria March 20, 2014 at 1:53 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel, this is a really nice post about Singapore. I know what you mean about being surprised yet not. When I went there, it was my last stop before coming home and after Thailand, China and Indonesia, it was shocking to be so clean, quiet and serene. I was even a little disappointed but you know what, it’s still a lovely country and if anyone needs a place to “calm down” then Singapore is it!

    • Rachel Jones March 20, 2014 at 3:43 am - Reply

      Yeah, you’re nice. It’s a nice escape and getaway for a weekend or so. I don’t think I could live there, but ya never know!

      • Victoria March 24, 2014 at 1:59 am - Reply

        I hear ya Rachel. More action is the norm for me too with a hint of an easy getaway in the background, to the hills or to the sea! A place like Berlin or Hong Kong for example LOL!

  4. Adam Beaumont March 27, 2014 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Singapore is a great place, its quite funny because we have similar pictures of the food. Would love to visit again, I find it astonishing they had riots there last year.

    • Rachel Jones March 28, 2014 at 4:43 am - Reply

      I didn’t know about the riots. I would like to go back as well, but I’m not sure I could live there. It’s so small.

  5. Glamourous Journeyler March 30, 2014 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    Having lived in Singapore 2 years now, it’s always interesting to hear a re-fresh take on the country. I personally still believe it is ‘clinically clean’ but more so from the fact that I find it lacks deep culture rather than the actual physical cleanliness itself. Like you would never find old crumbling buildings here; everything will always be spick and span!

    Fun fact: You CAN actually get chewing gum… only if it’s prescribed to you by a dentist =)

  6. Carlo April 17, 2016 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    I love singapore and believe that aside from clinically clean it is also very environment friendly as you can see greens everywhere..

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