By Tina Nwanya
Being the travel addict that I am, naturally, I’m drawn to destinations that offer uncommon experiences that are way off the beaten paths – and that was my fascination when I decided to explore Singapore, an island city, located in South East Asia, and surrounded by Thailand, Bangkok, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.
Apart from an innate desire to see the world, I am passionate about traveling with people who exude equal passion for holidays that are therapeutic and rejuvenating; and adventures that open doors for business opportunities to the keen minded. A trip to Singapore offered all in one.
My biggest fascination about Singapore started with the stories I’ve heard about its advanced creativity in technology. That the technology in Singapore is beyond your imagination! Their transport systems would blow your mind! It’s a different world entirely. That in Singapore you have options of a machine preparing your breakfast! Your currency exchange is done with machine and that the green beauty of that country is mind blowing. That Island City-State is a place every everyone needs to be.
The fascination began with the fact that my travel budget didn’t have to break my bank and sweep up my savings. It was pocket friendly. Singapore e-visas take 3 days and 5 days maximum and are processed both at the embassy in Nigeria and in Singapore. Singapore allows evisa for Nigerians and visa on arrival for some nationals.
Visiting Singapore, even to a technology savvy tourists, Singapore is a leading innovative city. Singapore is a trusted partner for companies looking to boost their innovation capabilities in the region. Based in the heart of Asia and boasting one of the strongest innovation ecosystems in the region, companies seeking to engage in research and development will find their home in Singapore.
Setting out to do a tour of Singapore turned out to be easier than I had thought as NjeTours Limited had everything perfectly planned out with options of tailor-made travel packages which itinerary suited everything I wanted from visas to flight booking, airport pickup, welcome dinner to day and night tours, entertainments, flight exchange within the country to sea cruises!
I ensured that the trip to this global financial center with a tropical climate and multicultural population included exploring the country’s tourist sites. Return flight tickets, Singapore evisa, accommodation in a 5 star hotel… I relished my stays at the Yotel Singapore, Orchard Hotel, Fraser Suites and Marina Bay. We flew to Singapore aboard Etihad airlines with a stopover at Abudhabi.
We enjoyed daily buffet breakfast, return airport pickup and drop off, city tours which included a visit to Universal studio and Sentosa island, Wings of time, Madamme Tussauds, Garden by the bay, Marina bay skypark, Cable car ride, Night life, Street food, and a juicy goody bag! The total budget was less that Seven hundred thousand naira per person sharing!
It is worth noting that some of the most innovative companies from Siemens to Visa and ABB have their key innovation centres based out of Singapore.
Visiting Singapore gives you the opportunity to see and enjoy a harmony of Old and the New. This is highly visible in the blend of modern skyscrapers with heritage buildings all around the island-city. The old Chinese buildings in Chinatown, Muslim characteristic of Kampong Glam and Little India’s distinct sights, sounds and scents are still conspicuous among the neighbouring modern shopping malls and offices.
Other historical structures that rest within the modern metropolis reflect landmarks and memorials such as CHIJMES, Dalhousie Obelisk, Merlion Park, Old Parliament House, National Museum, Asian Civilisations Museum and WWII sites like Battle Box, Changi Chapel and Museum, Fort Siloso and Kranji War Memorial.
International mindsets co-exist harmoniously with traditional Asian values in Singapore. This blend of old customs and new urban lifestyles can be experienced through national events like the annual Chingay Parade where traditional Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian elements are showcased alongside contemporary performances.
Visitors frequently associate Singapore with the words ‘safe’, ‘clean’, ‘green’ and ‘efficient’ and its no wonder. Most expatriates will tell you that Singapore is quite possibly the safest city on Earth courtesy of its strict laws, multilingualism and enhanced security. There are no religious or racial tensions, no civil unrest and the crime rate is as low as 0.38 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants compared to 6.4 of New York City and 45.1 of Venezuela. Singapore is also “a safe city for your wealth” according to HSBC Premier.
All Singaporeans can converse in English so it’s easy to communicate and get directions even if you’re lost.
Over 50 percent of this island-city comprising of greenery, Singapore has some amazing tropical wilderness and nature-oriented attractions to be enjoyed by visitors. Nature-lovers can wander the hiking trails and encounter over 500 species of fauna, tons of monkeys and the last remnants of Singapore’s old growth forests in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
Gardens by the Bay, the newly opened seaside botanical gardens in the CBD continues to enhance Singapore’s reputation as a green city. It wow visitors with 15-story vertical gardens known as Supertrees that light up in a stunning display of color every night in addition to cloud forests and waterfalls. ‘
This modern city offers a world-class infrastructure and transport system of well-developed road networks and public transportation systems that allow visitors to access attractions conveniently and quickly. The Changi Airport provide easy and comfortable connections with over 100 airlines flying to more than 200 cities around the world.
Singapore’s pro-business environment, state of the art facilities for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE), dynamic business environment with more than 7,000 multinational companies makes it a frequently-visited city for business.
Singapore’s compactness means business travellers will find it easy to enjoy the many leisure offerings, whether it is entertaining clients, catching a show, sampling the local cuisine or buying gifts for their loved ones back home.
Singapore is an ideal launch pad for many visitors to commence their exploration of Asia. In addition to being one of the most popular flight connection stops, it is fast becoming the cruise hub of Asia.
With direct access to other Asian destinations like Sihanoukville, Nha Trang, Probolinggo, Komodo, Jakarta, Langkawi, Ho Chi Minh, Ko Samui, Semarang, Bali, Lombok, Kuantan, Penang, Phuket, Malacca, Tioman, Kuala Terrangganu, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu just to name a few, Singapore is an ideal place to embark on a fly-cruise exploration of Asia.
Singapore is a cosmopolitan society where people live harmoniously and interaction among different races is a common part of daily life. Visitors can enjoy the best of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian cultures through the many traditional and religious festivals that fill the Singapore calendar.
Singapore is one of the world’s best cities to celebrate the Chinese New Year; Hari Raya brings Malay festive decorations and food; the streets of Little India are rich with the sights, sounds and scents of Deepavali; and Churches sing with joy while Orchard road lights up during Christmas.
The cultural and religious tolerance is most clearly illustrated by temples, churches and mosques located side by side on the same street. You can see local Chinese and Hindus frequent each others’ places of worship in Chinatown and Waterloo Street. Although the festivals are culture-specific, they are nonetheless enjoyed by all residents and visitors are welcomed to join in.
Singapore is a dynamic destination that offers a diverse range of exciting activities to suit the different interests of visitors, whether they are leisure or business travellers.
In addition to the popular Singapore Zoo, Botanic Gardens and Night Safari, Singapore now boast attractions that draw even more visitors. Some of the favourites include the Marina Bay Sands casino hotel and its iconic Sands Skypark, Resort World casino resort and Universal Studios on Sentosa and Singapore Flyer, the giant Ferris wheel at Marina Bay.
24-hour entertainment precincts have also increased the appeal of Singapore’s nightlife. Discerning visitors have a myriad of activities to indulge in and places to unwind at including nightclubs such as Pangaea, Avalon and Quaich Bar, Asia’s largest whiskey bar in Resorts World Sentosa.
Singapore is widely acclaimed as a global capital for culinary innovation, encompassing not only local street food and fine dining, but also new and innovative dining concepts at all price ranges. Hawker centres scattered throughout the island-city offer visitors a plethora of cheap and uniquely Singapore-flavour favourites like ‘Char Kway Teow’, ‘Hainanese Chicken Rice’, ‘Indian Rojak’, ‘Hokkien Prawn Mee’, ‘Fried Oyster Omelette’, ‘Popiah’, ‘Laksa’, ‘Kaya Toast’ and’ ‘Mee Rebus’ just to name a few. All these are thanks to the dining scene in Singapore which has witnessed the emergence of many top quality fine-dining establishments in nearly 20 years.
Tina Nwanya and NjeTours does all year round trips to Singapore and other Asian and European countries. Next trip is 22nd -28th April 2020.
Tina Nwanya is a passionate tours operator.
She is a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, turned Tour Operator.
Tina is a dynamic, intelligent, young woman, full of energy and daring.
She is the Senior Tour Consultant and managing director of NjeTours, based in Lagos.
Tina and her tour company, NjeTours emerged one of the winners of the prestigious award of Africa Travel 100 Tour Operators in 2018 at the Akwaaba African Travel Market held at Eko Hotel and Suites Lagos.