Whenever I travel through a major air hub or capital city to get to my destination, I like to stop along the way. It can be a really economical way to tick a few more places off the travel bucket list, with flights often the same price or just a little extra. It’s also great for breaking up long-haul trips.
One of my favourite stopovers is Singapore. While it’s bursting with luxury hotels (hello Raffles!) I usually opt for budget accommodation so I have more to spend when I get to my main destination.
I’ve stayed at both Champion Hotels – one in the neighbourhood of Geylang – the former red-light district which boasts beautiful heritage buildings – and the other in the Financial District right near Chinatown. The latter is the perfect spot for getting the tastiest dim sum for breakfast and wandering through the local market.
The accommodation is clean and comfortable with excellent service. However, much like Singapore itself, it’s very compact. Word of warning, if you’re not super close to your roommate you may want to opt for your own room or stay elsewhere. While it is frosted, the ensuite walls are made of glass!
Things to do…
My favourite thing to do in Singapore is to head straight to the top of Marina Bay Sands to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand. The views are spectacular.
My second favourite thing to do is eat. Singapore is a real foodie haven. From the hawker centres to the plentiful food courts and fine dining establishments, there are culinary delights on every corner.
A trip to Singapore is not complete without visiting Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling at the infamous Long Bar. The gin-based pink cocktail was invented there in 1915. It is definitely an experience, although I can’t quite bring myself to throw the shells of the complimentary peanuts on the floor. The hotel, which opened in 1887, transports you back to a different era. It is a little oasis amongst the modern buildings. If you like curry, the Tiffin Room is the place to go. I also can’t seem to leave without getting something from the gift shop!
The hotel and the Long Bar are currently closed for restoration and are due to reopen in the first half of 2019.
Singapore really is a cultural tapestry. You can spend hours wandering through Chinatown, Little India and Geylang Serai, a hub for Malay culture, tasting the different specialities, seeing how people go about their daily lives and just taking it all in.
You can round off your visit with a bit of shopping along the Orchard Road. One gem I stumbled across was Baked Cheese Tart. Hailing from Hokkaido, the taste memory of these delectable treats will stay with you and provide you with fuel for more shopping.
Checking out the Gardens by the Bay is also a must. Then there’s a giant greenhouse, a night safari at Singapore Zoo and if you have more time or if you have kids Sentoza Island has a whole lot to offer – a cable car, Universal Studios and a host of resorts.
Where’s your favourite stopover?