Despite its proximity to Southeast Asia, it’s not simple to find backpacker culture in Singapore. My fellow hostel dormers were Chinese students on holiday, they were graduates from Kuala Lumpur job hunting, and they were overnighters to other areas of the globe. If you’re undeterred by a lack of fellow budget backpackers, you can still find some great bargains and a little of Singapore’s own culture.
With a casual ‘lah’ thrown on the end of sentences in the way some say ‘aye’ and a mixing pot of food culture, Singapore still has a distinct flavour for the wanderlust hungry traveller.
Nonetheless, not everyone feels this way; some find Singapore bland, too immaculate, too organised. If you’ve been backpacking a few months you may feel like a vagabond in Singapore. Shopping is a big deal here and most women I saw trotted around in cocktail dresses and stilettos while lugging several shopping bags.
But for the fresh backpacker, Singapore makes easing into long term travel painless. It is an invitation through the gates into Asia, to find solace in a country that speaks English and for me had the familiar notes of Sydney; my prior home. The culture is there, but you’ll have to look for it.
Grab your camera and capture the life of Chinatown and Little India, snag a bowl hawker market noodles and explore temples between skyscrapers. Catch a little respite from the crushing heat and wander the ritzy shopping malls. Rise early for dawn tai chi amongst the orchids in the botanic gardens or sit under the Merlion in the balmy evenings. The metro works seamlessly, the tiger beer is crisp and Sentosa Island is beckoning.
If you’re concerned about breaching your budget, don’t be. Relish the challenge of seeking out Singapore’s free attractions and hawker markets. If you thought Singapore had little to offer the backpacker, I hope I’ve changed your mind.
So what’s the delay, lah?
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