I love getting to write about the trips I take. I get to relive the experience all over again in my mind, and I get to help others plan their trips! Before I travel anywhere I always scour the web for the best places to eat / things to do, and of course check with friends (shout out to FB recommendations!) on their personal recommendations.
I’ve been to Singapore twice now for work, but I’ve been lucky enough to explore some of the country when I wasn’t in the office. I’ll probably be going 1-2 times per year, so maybe I’ll end up doing a Singapore 2.0 post in the future, but in the last 2 trips I’ve gotten to see a lot of the main attractions and eat some tasty food! Here’s the thing – Singapore is a tiny country. It’s basically a metropolitan city center that is also a country and an island. If you have no idea where it is, don’t feel bad, I literally had no clue where or what Singapore was before I went there, I just knew it existed somewhere. Geography is not my thing. So if you’re wondering, Singapore is a little island – only 277 square miles – at the southern tip of Malaysia. It used to be under UK rule so despite its multicultural people, the national language is English. Which means you don’t experience any language barriers here, which is simultaneously really convenient and also kind of disappointing since you’re in Asia and it kind of detracts from the feeling of being immersed in a totally different culture/continent. But oh well. There are 4 main groups of people who populate Singapore – Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, and Eurasian (people of both European and Asian descent). Each culture has it’s own section of the city, so you can explore each culture almost individually. It’s a tropical climate with daily temps averaging around 85-90F degrees (29-32C) in the day and 72-78F (22-26C) at night. And it’s crazy humid. I don’t have curly hair but the little hairs around my face ad neck always get frizzy and curly here – it’s almost not even worth trying to do your hair. It’s ruined as soon as you’re outside for 5 minutes. I totally love the climate here, though. Warm + sunny is where I thrive.
Where to Stay in Singapore
Both times in Singapore I stayed at the Pan Pacific Serviced Suites on Beach Rd. This is a 5 star hotel, so it’s not budget friendly, but it has a full kitchen which is why I stay there. Singapore is in Asia which means most people have no idea what Celiac Disease is, and there is soy sauce in almost everything. Which means the vast majority of food here is not gluten free, which is a total bummer. I’m pretty at peace with my food allergies/sensitivities, but the one time it really sucks is traveling – a huge part of experiencing a country is experiencing the food there, and with Celiac Disease and a dairy allergy, this is something I’ll never really get to take part in. So I stayed at Pan Pacific because it allowed me to pick up some food at the super market and make my own meals which I know will be safe for my body. They also had a really great morning breakfast with lots of foods I could eat. The scrambled eggs were just eggs and oil, there was fresh fruit and fruit juices, and they had a mini salad bar each morning! For those without a dairy sensitivity, they also had yogurt and fresh brewed lattes/espresso! Some mornings I had my own breakfast, which usually consisted of a protein shake and some fresh fruit, but other mornings I would get some scrambles eggs and a salad from the hotel breakfast!
The hotel also had a decent fitness center with free weights, a lat pull-down machine, chest press, stability balls, and cardio equipment. It did get super busy after work, so plan your workouts during the day or morning if you can. Especially since it can get pretty hot and humid in there as the day goes on! The fitness center is also right next to the hotel’s incredible infinity pool!!
What to Do in Singapore
From the pool you can see one of Singapore’s main attractions – the Singapore Flyer (ferris wheel). It’s an “observation wheel” that rises 541 feet in the air, with giant observation pods you can ride in to see Singapore from above! Which of course we did.
Singapore is a sprawling city, which means lots of tall buildings and lookouts. Another awesome place to see Singapore from above is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. This is another luxury, 5 star hotel composed of 3 tall buildings connected along the top with a big “SkyPark” observation roof which is taller than the ferriw wheel! It also has a casino if gambling is your thing. You can reserve a table on top to have some drinks and check out the view, but we didn’t know you needed to reserve anything so we just walked along the roof. It was suuuuper hot up there so I caved and got a drink – I mixed 2 flavors of slushy and had them add rum, because I’m apparently a giant child with an ID that says I can drink. The views up here were pretty awesome, though.
In the last photo you can see another of Singapore’s main attractions – the dome-like structures are Singapore’s Gardens By the Bay. This is a big nature park consisting of 3 waterfront gardens, dining, shopping, and walking paths. The park is full of gorgeous, blooming tropical plants, and the domes have themed areas like dessert plants, and even a cloud forest dome with huge waterfalls! You can seriously spend hours here so give yourself plenty of time to explore.
When in Singapore, you obviously have to stop to see the Merlion. Yes, the Merlion. It’s a lion with the body of a fish, apparently representating Singapore’s origins as a fishing town. I’m not really sure what the lion has to do with anything. But it’s basically becomes the symbol of Singapore, and so they made a giant statue of it accross from the Marina Bay Sands resort. You can see the Marina May Sands from the large dock-like structure you walk out on.
Other notable places we visited include Chinatown (of course), where you can do some shopping for souvenirs and knick knacks, eat some authentic Chinese food, and even try the durian fruit. I tried durian, and I believe everyone should, it’s just sort of a right of passage or something. If you don’t know what durian is, it’s a spikey tree fruit native to Asia, and it smells terrible. I think it smells sort of like natural gas. If you think the smell is bad, the taste is absolutely foul. I nearly threw up and had to spit it out in a trash can, but I still tried it! I don’t know why anyone would eat that crap regularly but apparently some Asian people like it.
While we were out and about one day we also stopped by the Parliament building which was neat.
Where to Eat – Gluten Free Food in Singapore
Once you’re done exploring for the day you’ll of course need to refuel with a delicious dinner! I unfortunately don’t have a ton of input in this area since I either couldn’t eat a lot of the food, or the staff had no idea what gluten was to even check, but I’ll list off the few I did try!
One of the first nights my boss brought me to this seaside restaurant to eat giant crabs. I LOVE crab, but these things were ridiculously massive. I got whatever the plain steamed crab was because there was butter in the sauces of the others, but they’re more known for their spicy crab if you don’t have any allergies!
We also ate one night at a place called FOC Restaurant and absolutely LOVED it. It’s a Spanish-style restarurant in the Chinese section of town, which was strange, but whatever. The staff knew what gluten was and they were very helpful in letting me know my options. This is a tapas-style restaurant so everyone shared their dishes, but I ate most of my selection since it was gluten/dairy free and delicious. It was super dark inside so I didn’t get any pictures, but the food was beautiful and so good. To start we had a few rounds of the swordfish skewers which I wish could have been made into a meal because they were the most delicious things in the world. Then for my main selection I ordered the squid ink rissoto (I think that’s what it was called), which was a black rice dish with clams and shrimp. FOC has a picture of it on their website since I didn’t get one:
Seriously so good. We also had a few drinks since the cocktail menu was bomb, and the bartenders will also make you surprise drinks based on your taste. My drink is the only thing I actually got a photo of! They also had gluten free dessert options, but they weren’t dairy free. Definitely eat here!! (Side note: drinks in Singapore are super expensive!)
On my last trip I only ate out once, at a Mediterranean place called Original Sin. The restaurant was 100% vegetarian, with lots of gluten free options as well. We started with the “Magic Mushrooms”, baked mushrooms with spinach and pesto, topped with a tomato-basil sauce, which they kindly made dairy free by removing the cheese. They were AWESOME. For my meal I had the vegetable tandoori – grilled veggies in tandoori spices served with rice and mango chutney. It normally comes with yogurt but they left it off for me. It also had some tofu, but only a few pieces so I just didn’t eat those (since I don’t eat soy products). This was probably my favorite meal behind FOC.
I was able to eat a few other random snacks, and you can find other gluten free options around if you’re willing to really ask about the ingredients. For example, there was a little juice shop near work which had awesome avocado smoothies, and for lunch one day I found a make-your-own Chinese soup place which I was able to eat at, even though the broth was a soybean broth which I wasn’t thrilled about. I felt fine afterwards though, and I was able to fill it with lots of veggies, some rice noodles, and some eggs for protein!
There are still a few more things I’d like to do in Singapore, like visiting the beach, so I’ll be sure to make an updated post after I visit a time or two again! Hopefully I’ll have more food options for you then too!