Lonely Planet names Singapore top country for travel in 2015
So the news broke on Tuesday (21st Oct ’14) that Singapore is the top country to visit in 2015. This is great news as Singapore celebrates her Golden Jubilee with SG50 just round the corner. But how are Singaporeans feeling about this?
Some of the comments are really funny too! Although sometimes I don’t know whether people really mean it or are just trying to be funny.
Anyway it’s no secret that I love Singapore despite various issues we may have. This is home after all. So I always try my best to promote our country while traveling. We’re a small city country, so many people (yes even in the 21st century) are still unaware of our existence. Some even think we are a part of China, and are surprised that English is our first language. -_-“
For others who have heard about us, they also usually joke about the chewing gum sale ban, how clean we are, and that we are a FINE country. So I always have in my iPad/iPhone a picture of Singapore on the World map, and an album of local cuisines (since I’m really proud of our hawker food) to use as a reference while talking about our country.
I even wrote about things to do in Singapore with your overseas guest!
Album on my phone. See I wasn’t kidding.
Yet despite thinking well of our own country as a tourist destination, I was still pretty surprised that Lonely Planet named Singapore Top Country for Travel in 2015.
So this got me wondering why and whether we deserved the title, thinking of all the things that make traveling convenient and interesting.
1) Tourist Infrastructure
Despite the terrible and timely train delays during peak hour, we do have a pretty decent transport system. Buses and trains more or less take you everywhere, and are well marked for tourists to navigate. I remember how taking local transport (despite being more interesting) can be quite a stressful experience even in some developed countries!
Most Singaporeans also speak English, which makes it easier for the tourists lah. Even if they have to siam our lahs, lors, shortening of sentences, and inclusion of rojak words from different languages.
Picture credit: TFTBS
Oh not to forget our World class Changi Airport. There must be a reason why at least some people know us as that 1-2 day transit/stopover on route to the other Southeast Asian countries right?
2) Glorious Food
Many people travel for food, and food in Singapore is amazing. Other than having an insane range and quality of International cuisine (think celebrity restaurants) in our cosmopolitan city, we have hearty local hawker fare that tugs at my heartstrings every time I’m away from home. Local hawker food is always the first thing I miss while traveling.
I guess it’s because we’re an immigrant country so there’s cuisine from all over. Imagine having Mee Rebus for breakfast with Teh Tarik, then Hainanese Chicken Rice for lunch, economic rice for dinner (my ex foreigner boss calls it point-point rice), before ending with a Roti John for supper. I’m not a local food expert, but that’s food from 3 different cultures that we have easy access to!
3) World Class Attractions
Picture credit: SG Guide
Other than Esplanade, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Zoo, Sentosa, Singapore Flyer, and the usual what not that we all know, we also have an excellent shopping and entertainment scene.
We may not realize, but in terms of overall attractions quality, they are up there amongst the World’s best. These attractions also often bring in World class shows and exhibitions, like Lion King at MBS sometime back, and the Pandas on loan from China at the River Safari.
4) Something is Always Happening
Picture credit: Govacation
Lonely Planet is dead right when they say “Singapore is always celebrating something.” From art and local food festivals, music concerts, some kind of run which may include luminous paint, conventions and conferences, or one of the major cultural celebrations in Singapore, there is something always happening. It’s impossible to find a quiet weekend unless you don’t want to be out.
We are also hosts to tons of international sporting events from the Formula One, WTA Championships and even football friendlies. Like the recent one between Brazil and Japan at Sports Hub.
They don’t always go according to plan, but I guess the point is that something is always happening. :P
5) Unique Cultural Growth
One of the things I look out for, and try to understand when I travel is how culture, politics, and World events shape the country and her people. It is easy to marvel at how we have progressed from third world to first world in 50years, or complain about how screwed up certain things are. But it is also very interesting to observe from a foreigner’s perspective on how Singapore is now as a result of our political situation and unique culture (or lack of it).
We are more interesting than we think. A little red dot making it’s mark in the World step by step. I mean it’s pretty amazing for a country that only requires you 1.5hrs to travel from one end to the other bring in SGD $23.5 billion in tourism receipts (STB, 2013).
So I guess with all these going we kind of deserve the title?
Here’s the full list from Lonely Planet:
- Republic of Congo
- The Philippines
- St Lucia
What do you think? Agree or disagree? Drop a comment below!