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Top 10 Aussie dollar holidays: #5: Singapore

Thursday, February 4, 2010
Getaway's fifth most improved Aussie dollar holiday destination in 2010 is Singapore, because our dollar will get you 15 percent further than last year. So Kelly Landry is putting that extra cash to good use with Singapore's most reputable activity: shopping!

Start off by familiarising yourself with the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) — it's fast, cheap and user-friendly. It costs about $2 to get around town and is clean and punctual.

Orchard Road

Orchard Road, the shopping and entertainment hub of Singapore, runs through the city and it's heaven for retail therapy. It's not as cheap as its other Asian neighbours, but you are spoiled for choice. June and July are sales times and you can get up to 70 percent off electronics and all the labels you dream of.

Ann Siang Hill

Ann Siang Hill is a mix of old and refurbished shop houses, most built between 1903 and 1941. Those who remember the city the way it was relish the sight of old Singapore — rustic facades and nostalgia of the 1960s and '70s.

It is actually a place that deserves closer inspection as it is where "lesser designers" have set up shop and you will find some fantastic buys. Fashion, furniture and art rub shoulders, with cafes, bars and chic patisseries. Singapore's launching pad for design is certainly worth a visit.

Chinatown

Chinatown's Club Street, next to Ann Siang Hill, is lined with conserved shophouses occupied by restaurants, bars and galleries. They previously housed Chinese clan associations and social clubs. Grand balls and social events were held there throughout the early 1900s.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

One of Singapore's best cultural experiences, Buddha Tooth Telic Temple is a magnificent five-storey southern Chinese-style temple. It houses what is believed to be the sacred tooth of the Buddha in a magnificent relic stupa of 420kg of gold donated by devotees. Each day the inner chamber is unveiled in a ceremony conducted by resident monks. The public can view the relic stupa but it cannot be filmed.

Architecture is inspired by the Tang dynasty, an era where Buddhism flourished in China in a golden age of artistic and cultural vibrancy.

A prayer wheel there contains hundreds of sutras written by monks so the illiterate could pray. One rotation of the wheel is the equivalent of reading all the sutras with the four doors delivering prayers to all corners of the world. Entry is free.

East Coast Park

For a little escape from the shopping and lights of the city, at East Coast Park you can rent a bicycle and enjoy 15km of seafront park. It's a favourite with locals and has bowling alleys, a golf driving range, holiday chalets, restaurants and hawker centres, sailing clubs and inline skating.

It is lit from 7pm so can be enjoyed after sunset. As you lie on the beach you can watch the coming and going of ships in one of the busiest ports in the world.

Singapore Flyer

This observation wheel is 165m high and gives 360-degree panoramic views of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. It offers some serious feng shui revolving around the number 28 which is very lucky to the Chinese — even its rotation lasts for 28 minutes. Capsules (which hold 28 people) are UV-protected and air-conditioned.

Bugis Street Night Markets

One of the best-known areas of Singapore, the Bugis Street Night Markets have undergone lots of transformation since the days of alleyways, transvestites and sailors' haunts. It is now highly urbanised and sophisticated with restored shop houses and shopping complexes.

Hints of the old character have been preserved and from 6pm it's buzzing with people checking out the hundreds of stalls selling everything from shoes and bags to perfume and jewellery. There are also loads of food stalls rated by the government to indicate cleanliness and hygiene. "A" is very good — if a stall is rated "D", keep moving! For around $20 you can feast on Singaporean, Indian, Chinese and Malaysian food cooked as you wait.

New Majestic Hotel

With a lobby ceiling stripped bare to expose 78-year old paintwork and dentist's chairs beneath vintage fans, New Majestic Hotel in Singapore's Chinatown makes a striking first impression. Thirty rooms designed by emerging Singaporean artists revolve around four concepts: Mirror Room, Hanging Bed Room, Aquarium Room and Loft Room.

The hotel's Cantonese restaurant has a glass ceiling looking directly into the pool above. It also has excellent food! Majestic Bar next door features modern Chinese cuisine, adventurous cocktails and eclectic artworks.

Location

Singapore, an island off the tip of Malaysia.

Cost

New Majestic Hotel rates begin at around $190. Breakfast, use of wireless Internet and non-alcoholic beverages are included.

Singapore Flyer costs around $24 for adults and $17 for children.

For further information

East Coast Park
Singapore
www.nparks.gov.sg

New Majestic Hotel
31-37 Bukit Pasoh Road
Singapore
Ph: +65 6511 4700
www.newmajestichotel.com

Singapore Flyer
30 Raffles Avenue
Singapore
www.singaporeflyer.com

Takashimaya at Ngee Ann City
391A Orchard Road 08-05
Ngee Ann City Tower A
Singapore
Ph: +65 6733 0337
www.ngeeanncity.com.sg

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
288 South Bridge Road
Singapore
Ph: +65 6220 0220
www.btrts.org.sg

Visas: Australians can stay up to 90 days in Singapore without a visa.

Electricity: 230V at 50Hz (British plug).

Time zone: GMT +12.

Currency: Singapore dollar.

International dialling code: +65.

Travellers should be "in date" for the standard Australia and New Zealand immunisation schedules. Depending on the time of year of travel and exact destination, other health precautions and preventions may be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information, speak to your doctor or visit www.welltogo.com.au or www.smartraveller.gov.au.

Top 10 best value places for Australians to visit

  1. US dollar up 20.95 percent
  2. Mexico peso up 20.80 percent
  3. Taiwanese dollar up 17.15 percent
  4. Thai baht up 16.18 percent
  5. Singapore dollar up 14.86 percent
  6. Japanese yen up 13.92 percent
  7. British pound up 12.98 percent
  8. Indonesian rupiah up 11.59 percent
  9. Euro up 9.78 percent
  10. Swiss franc up 9.64 percent

Source: Expedia.com.au. Figures reflect appreciation in the Australian dollar against world currencies over six months to October 2009.

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