Nature at your doorstep


You think Singapore has nothing but skyscrapers ? Wrong !!

Singapore’s climate allows great nature spots to survive in the midst of the city landscape… not only can you find vegetation on the side of the roads and many parks and forests in Singapore, but you can also occasionally bump into wild animals (not to worry, most of the time they are harmless !).

So if you ever feel like you’ve had enough of the city, just grab a bus (or mrt) and go check some of these great places. And the best thing is, there are so many of them !! Click here to learn more.

I would like to recommend these two places :

–      The Botanic Garden : very famous must-do ! A beautiful garden where you can marvel at luxurious vegetation and trees that seem to reach our for the sky… Don’t forget to stop by the Orchid Garden, definitely worth a look.

–      MacRitchie Reservoir Park : perfect for a 2-3 hours walk in a forest, with a great treetop path to enjoy the view. You might see quite a few monkeys there, as well as interesting birds and reptiles.

Also, do not forget to bring a hat, an umbrella and a bottle water when trekking, as Singapore is hot and humid and we wouldn’t want you to dehydrate !

Singapore for Dummies


You wouldn’t believe the type of questions I sometimes get… so it’s time to set the answers straight !!

1. Is Singapore in China ?

No !! Although you might have seen the word « Singapore » often associated to the Chinese community, Singapore is definitely NOT in China. It is an island city-state at the Southern End of the Malaysian Peninsula.

2. What language do people speak in Singapore ? Singaporean ?

People who live in Singapore predominantly speak English. However, there are 4 official languages : English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. Also, according to their origins, people usually speak a few different dialects (Hokkien, Teo Chew, Hainanese…). Oh, and people “speak” Singlish too ! But more on that later.

3. What is Singapore’s population ?

According to the 2010 census, there are around 5 million people in Singapore, including approximately 3,2 million Singaporean citizens, 500 000 Permanent Residents (PR), and 1,3 million non-residents (ie people who live, work and/or study in Singapore without being granted a permanent residency).

4. Are there buses and trains in Singapore ?

Of course !! Do you think Singapore is still a fishermen’s village? Taking the bus remains the most convenient way of moving around Singapore, and the train (MRT – Mass Rapid Transit) is developing fast, with new lines opening (the last part of the Circle Line opened on Oct 8th 2011).

5. Is it true that you are not allowed to chew gum in Singapore ?

Not really, you are allowed to chew gum on the streets. However, it is forbidden to sell chewing gum in Singapore (unless it is used for medical reasons). Try not to think of it as an unfair rule to prevent you from being free, but rather as any other rule created to keep the streets clean (like forbidding dog poo or spitting…!).

Local delicacies


What do Singaporeans talk about ? FOOD !!

If you really want to localise and blend in, you have to know a few typical Singaporean dishes… I can guarantee this will enable locals to relate to you easily!!

Chilli Crab – Simply a must do on the island, and there are many seafood restaurants where you can order it, like Jumbo Seafood Restaurant for instance.

Satay Sticks –  Beef, mutton or chicken on a stick, served with peanut sauce, chilli, rice cakes and cucumber. De-li-cious. Especially when you buy it as a take-away at East Coast Lagoon Food Village and eat it on the beach directly from the plastic bag while enjoying the late breeze by the sea. Hmmm.

Hainanese Chicken Rice – Some people say it’s Singapore’s national dish ! Originally from the island of Hainan in the South of China, the dish is simply boiled chicken served with rice cooked in the chicken broth. It’s even more delicious with thick black sauce !! A personal favourite 🙂

Fish head curry – or « Ikan Merah » in Malay. Red snapper head cooked in a curry and coconut sauce.

Laksa – A Peranakan (mixture of Chinese and Malay culture) specialty. Laksa is a super fragrant and quite spicy noodle soup. Curry Laksa is the best, with coconut and curry in it.

Nasi Lemak – In Malay, « nasi » means rice and « lemak » means coconut. Therefore it is rice cooked in coconut, served with peanuts, cucumbers, fried fish and sometimes deep fried chicken. Don’t worry if it’s served in a banana leaf, it’s clean (trust the Singaporeans)! A second best favourite 🙂

Bak Kuh Teh – A fragrant Chinese pork rib soup.

Char Kway Teow – Very famous in Singapore (and can also be found in Singaporean restaurants in other parts of the world too !). Thick rice noodles (« kway teow ») cooked in dark soya sauce and served with Chinese vegetables, eggs and usually prawns or beef.

Ice Kachang – Try this desert ! It’s grated ice with red bean, jelly and syrup. It looks very colourful, you can’t miss it.

These dishes are very local and can mostly be found in hawker centers, food courts or coffee shops (rarely in restaurants). For more information on where to go, be a true singaporean and refer to www.hungrygowhere.com !!

Man I’m hungry now !!

More typically Singaporean dishes available here

An Asian melting pot?


I have often been asked whether Singapore is only inhabited by Chinese people… which shows how unfortunately little is known about the origins of Singaporeans.

There are three major communities living together on the island : Chinese (approximately 75%), Malays (14%) and Indians (9%). As you know, each community more or less has its own district, as a legacy from the British colonial governement in the 1820s – Chinatown, Arab Street and Little India. And added to these 3 major races, Singapore is also home to Eurasians (people of both European and Asian descent), as well as other mixed-cultured individuals (like Peranakans for instance, descendants of both Chinese and Malay cultures).

Peranakan Kebayas. They best represent the blending of Chinese and Malay cultures

To me, the cohabitation of different races is one of the key assets that Singapore has, both politically and culturally speaking. As you might have seen, it is a key theme adressed in political messages from the government (to strengthen the feeling of unity in one nation) and which allows Singapore to stand strongly as one. As for culture, what better proof of a sucessful melting pot than Singapore’s culinary delicacies ?

If you are interested in this subject, I would recommend to visit the Peranakan Museum as well as the National Museum of Singapore to get a better insight in Singapore’s multiculturalism.

Haji Lane


I decided not to write about the major « must-do » places in Singapore (Marina Bay Sands, Sentosa, The Singapore Eye, The Raffles Hotel…) to begin with. I’d much rather share my personal experience of the city and write about the places I like most.

One of my favourite areas is definitely Haji Lane. It’s a tiny alley buzzing with energy and new ideas, where entrepreneur and artists of all ages start their own shop, a place where you can simply walk around and enjoy the atmosphere, while having a look at outlets’ fashionable and original products on display… and who knows ? You might just end up buying the item you had been looking for for a long time !

Why don’t most tourists stop by Haji Lane ?

Well you see, when you are stopping over in Singapore for a few days, guidebooks and travelling websites will recommend you to go to Arab Street to experience the “muslim district” by the mosque, but few will really tell you about the charming lane hidden between Arab Street and Bali Lane (where the Blu Jazz Cafe is, also quite famous). So as a result, you might end up walking up and down Arab Street, thinking it’s mainly full of touristy shops, and leave a little disappointed. My recommendation : take the time to walk around famous places ! You will discover quaint places that you are bound to love.

What is there to do on Haji Lane?

1. Eat

We all know this is a major subject of interest for both tourists and locals. There are a few eateries on Haji Lane that you might want to check out : the Altazzag serves delicious Egyptian food, the Bistro Parisien will provide you with French-halal food, while Piedra Negra has delicious tapas and mexican delicacies… And they are all really good!

2. Shop

Of course, you will want to shop. Haji Lane is a great place to find original designs and fashionable items, ranging from vintage clothes to home furnishing, women’s accessories and jewellery, books and DVDs, paintings… To me it is the perfect place to search for items you couldn’t find elsewhere.

3. Chill

Coffee and Ice Cream places on Haji Lane are very relaxing and not that expensive. Also, Going Om is one of my favourite spots. It’s a very nicely decorated sheesha place, with decorative paintings on the walls and a very charming second storey too. I definitely recommend it for a chilled outing.

Inside Going Om

For more information on Haji Lane, try this.