Heading for Tokyo and Singapore… your recommendations, please!

 

Next week I shall be travelling to Tokyo and Singapore courtesy of ANA – All Nippon Airways. I’m really looking forward to the trip as it’ll be my first time in each of these destinations. I’ve done a fair bit of reseach, gathering ideas on what to see and do, but obviously I’d like to hear your recommendations, too.

Tokyo is such a vast metropolis and one that I’m excited to explore. Once just a small fishing village, it’s now home to more than 13 million people (or more than 39 million if you take the entire metropolitan area). Singapore, on the other hand, has a population of just over 5 million.

Tokyo

My flight to Singapore conveniently connects at the Haneda International Airport in Tokyo. This is where several ANA flights from the United States and UK connect to reach other popular Asian destinations, and I’m going to take the opportunity to spend a few nights in Tokyo before flying on to Singapore.

I’m intrigued by Tokyo’s transport system – the city is home to more than 500 stations apparently, as well as the most busy station in the world – Shinjuku Station – which serves in the region of three or four million travellers a day. Squeezing yourself on to one of the trains looks like it can be a challenge sometimes, too… as the following video testifies!

I’m also keen to try the food. I dined at a Japanese restaurant in London earlier this month and it was a fantastic experience, but I’m intrigued to get an insight into how authentic it was and how it compares with the food in Tokyo.

Tokyo food

The city has the most Michelin starred restaurants in the world; among them is Aragawa, a steakhouse specialising in Kobe beef that will cost you a minimum of ¥35,000 per person (that’s around 300 USD).

As part of my assignment, I’ll also be reporting back on my flight experience with ANA, as well as all the on-board amenities when flying business class. I’ll be trying out the airline’s new Takeoff App, available for both iPhone and Android. If you’re a nervous flyer, it looks to be a great little distraction to take your mind off the whole process of take-off and landing.

ANA business class

I know that ANA, as a Skytrax World 5 Star Airline, strongly values service and quality so I’ll be interested to see their level of attention to detail as far as connections, hospitality and in-flight menus are concerned. I’ve taken a peek at the menus and am torn between the Japanese and international cuisine options – the Sunomono (smoked salmon and quick-seared scallop with egg yolk vinegar) certainly sounds tempting!

ANA’s tagline is ‘By Design‘ for which they have a dedicated site that gives you an insight into their desire to achieve exactly the right level of balance in customer service; that is something that is never easy – being on hand without being too intrusive – but it certainly appears as though they’ve given it a lot of thought.

After Tokyo, I’ll take my onward flight to Singapore. This bustling city and state is one of the smallest countries in the world, yet is enormously prosperous and famous for its shopping, modern skyscrapers and celebrity chef restaurants. My interest will be captured from the moment I arrive, I’m sure… I’ve heard many things about Changi Airport, a frequent winner of multiple ‘best airport in the world’ awards.

Singapore

I only have two nights in Singapore but I’m keen to get an insight into its culture as I understand there are many beautiful mosques, churches and temples, as well as a diverse mix of influences from China, India, Malaysia and the West.

Sri Mariamman temple in Singapore

I have still yet to finalise some details, but I’m hoping to stay one night at the Raffles Hotel. It was at the Long Bar there that the Singapore Sling was first served in 1915. That might just be something I’ll have to try!

Have you ever been to Tokyo or Singapore?

What are your must-sees? What would you recommend I experience? My time will be limited but I welcome any and all suggestions. Please add a comment below to share your recommendations… thank you!

Images #1, #2, #4 and #5: Shutterstock

Image #3: ANA – All Nippon Airways

Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with ANA - All Nippon Airways. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of ANA.

Comments (48)

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  1. Marina Noble says:

    Dear Paul,
    Try staying at a ryokan in Japan and don’t miss the amazing Joel Rubichon 3 Michelin star restaurant in the Palazzo in Ebisu for dinner. Unforgettable experience.
    Marina

  2. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, Marina… great suggestions. I defintely like the idea of trying out a ryokan. Are there any you could personally recommend?

    As for Joel Robuchon, I would imagine that place gets booked up for months ahead?

  3. Al Case says:

    My favorite part of Tokyo is Yanaka. You can get there easily via the Yamanote Line from Shibuya to Nippori Station. You can also get there on the subway if you head to Sendagi Station.

    There are some great ramen shops near Takadanobaba Station. Actually you can get great ramen many places in Tokyo.

  4. Patti says:

    Tokyo is one of my favorite cities in the world.
    Since you will be in Tokyo during the sumo tournament, I recommend going to see the sumo matches. We went last January and it was a fun but also cultural experience.

  5. Paul Johnson says:

    Thank you, Al… I’ll look into that.

    And thanks, Patti… I hadn’t realised it was Sumo season, but that would be great to see. Are tickets hard to come by, do you know?

  6. Chinmoy Lad says:

    I echo Marina’s comments. While maybe not necessarily in Tokyo itself, definitely see if you have time to check out (or rather check in to) a ryokan – whether luxury or not. Some great luxury ones include Gorakadan and Hoshinoya.

    I would disagree with trying out the Joel Robuchon – while I’m sure its fantastic, when in Rome…I would suggest trying out a couple of the Japanese Michelin-starred outlets, but also just wandering around the city and eating at any ‘hole-in-the-wall’ Japanese restaurant. It’ll be a fantastic experience.

    Also, the Aman Tokyo has just opened up. Can’t be missing out on that…!

  7. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, Chin… the Aman Tokyo is already on my radar! But I would like to try out a ryokan also. Thanks for those two suggestions – I’ll take a look into those.

    And yes, I know what you mean about JR… a big part of me really just wants to sample Japanese cuisine, whether it be in an upscale restaurant or somewhere the locals would go. I’m sure I’ll find no end of options. :)

  8. Patti says:

    Paul, Sumo tickets are harder to come by on weekends but are easier on weekdays. You can search for and book tickets online before you leave-the earlier the better. We have a post on our website with tips for watching sumo if you want to check it out:)

  9. Poppy says:

    Hi Paul – I am based in Singapore – you must visit:
    - China Town, the hawker centre called Maxwell is one of the best in Singapore
    - Cocktail at Ku De Ta – sneaky tip – tell them you are going to the bar, that way you don’t have to pay to go to the viewing lounge. The bar is at Marina Bay Sands
    - Arab Street – soak up the culture, shisha and med food
    - Little India – a bustling area worth a visit
    - Satay Street – on the corner of Boon Tat – only open in the evenings. Enjoy a beer and some Satay
    - Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling, but also try their Tiffin Room restaurant
    - Sentosa – our man made fun island – have a walk along the beach / eat at the restaurants

    Hope that helps!

  10. Latikia says:

    I’d suggest seeing the Nakagin Capsule Tower, the Godzilla Memorial (be prepared for a shock), Yanaka (near Nippori Station) – warning: there are NO Starbucks, Shoto (a short way from Shibuya – lots of wine bars and eateries – Junkadelic Jalopy! and a small wooden shop famous for falafels), Shino-Kitazawa & Kichijoji (shopping, arcades, Koza sweet-shop, Inokashira Park and the Ghibli Museum)

  11. noel says:

    If you are in Tokyo must do’s include going to a high location for a view of the city, Tokyo Tower or the National Government bldg. Then a visit to the most amazing Sensoji temple in Asakusa and also the Meiji shrine in Shibuya…have a great time.

  12. Yuyamaka says:

    Tokyo has a lot of places.
    If you want to find culture of manga or OTAKU , you must go to Akihabara and Nakano Broadway.
    If you want to find old culture of Tokyo, you must go to Ginsza area,Asakusa,and Ningyocho.
    And nowadays third wave coffee is one of the trend. If you like coffee, you must go some coffee stand. They are mainly in Shibuya and area.

  13. Isao NUMANO says:

    Sumou tournament in Jan. will finish on 18 jan. If you prefer staying in Ryokan, I think Hakone(about 1 hour and half by train or car) will be good. If you staying longer I suggest to go to Nagano or etc. but time might be limitted. About in Tokyo, it is better to visit Asakusa area(down town). Visiting in a fish market)located in TSUKIJI) might be very interesteing.

  14. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, Patti… I don’t have time to sort before I go, so will look into it once I’m there (which won’t be on a weekend, so I’ve got that in my favour, at least!).

  15. Paul Johnson says:

    Lots of great tips there for Singapore, thank you, Poppy! I’ve already read a few things about Chinatown – it sounds like one not to miss if I can squeeze it into my schedule.

  16. Paul Johnson says:

    And thank you Latikia, Noel and Yuyamaka… so many varied yet great suggestions. I’m going to have to plan my time well to make the most of it!

  17. Paul Johnson says:

    Thank you for dropping by, Isao… it was great to meet you in Morocco a few months ago. The fish market at Tsukiji is definitely something I’m determined to see. Sounds like I might be unlucky with the Sumo as I arrive after the 18th, but maybe there’s somewhere where I can see training or something like that, I don’t know…

  18. Miguel says:

    Hi Paul,

    The last time I was in Singapore, Jaan (on the 70th floor of the Swissotel) didn’t disappoint: the views over Marina Bay at night are fabulous, the overall setting at the restaurant is superb, and the cuisine is really worth the visit.

    Tokyo’s still on my radar for our next trip to Asia.

    Hope you enjoy!

  19. Paul Johnson says:

    Thank you, Miguel… I’ll be sure to report back! :)

  20. Jessica says:

    Hi Paul,

    Great to see you’ll be swinging by Japan. My husband and I live in Tokyo so if you’re in need of any tips/advice/help with anything, just send us an email. The sumo tournament will end on the 25th. Just let us know if you want to go and need help with tickets. Have a great time! Love this city!

  21. Nicole says:

    Sounds like a great plan. I can only support all the suggestions made. I would like to add Tokyo’s fish market, especially because it will give up its traditional location in the center of the city next year, so maybe the last chance to visit this one. If you also want to eat there I recommend Sushi Yamazaki.
    For another personal sushi experience go to Sushi Yuu in Nishi-Azabu – great English speaking chef and reasonable prices (a little more than 100 USD per person I would say). Let us know how it all went! Enjoy.

  22. Paul Johnson says:

    Thank you, Jessica… I may just take you up on that! I actually have a one night layover in Tokyo on the 25th on my return. If it ends on that day, does that mean it will be the final bouts and therefore a really good spectacle to see (or impossible to get tickets then???).

  23. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, Nicole… actually, the fish market at Tsukiji is also mentioned just above. I’ve seen pictures but that is most definitely something I’d like to see first hand.

    Thank you for the sushi recommendations also.

  24. Isao NUMANO says:

    Hi, Puul
    Isao again.
    I have another idea to visit so called “YA-NE-SEN”(down town Tokyo) These area are maintaining old houses and changed to cafe, restaurants,shops and etc. Also many musuems there. I will be in Tokyo in Jan. and please free to contact me by e-mail or mobile. I will assist and help your staying in Tokyo.

  25. Will Tang says:

    Oh boy there are so many things to do, see and eat! I’m so excited for you :)

    I visited back in 2012 for 3 weeks and had an amazing experience exploring Tokyo and many other cities. If we’re just focusing on Tokyo here, here are a few things to get you off the ground:

    - Tsukiji Fish Market and the tuna auction is a must. With only a few years left at the current original location, this is pretty much your last chance to be able to go. My suggestion is to get there before 4AM in the morning if you want to have a chance to get into one of the two admissions.
    - The restaurants in Tsukiji are also a must try if you want to have authentic and extremely fresh sushi. Daiwa and Sushi Dai are the most popular ones and for good reason. Be ready to line up there. Ideally you get into first tuna auction admission and you immediately go to lineup at one of these restaurants.
    - You have to realize that Japan is basically composed of a bunch of neighborhoods so I would suggest exploring each one.
    Akhirabara – anime central
    Harajuku – one of my favorites for their street and Meiji Shrine
    Imperial Palace – okay not really a neighborhood but that is a pretty big area in itself), Asakusa – you’ll love it here as well with the Nakamise shopping street and Senso-ji Temple)
    Shinjuku – Modern area with lots of big shopping, an electronics area and the free TOkyo Metropolitan Government Building
    Ginza – Think New York 5th Ave
    Odaiba – Almost it’s own little futuristic neighborhood on this artificial island. Great shopping here. There’s also a really good onsen (Japanese spa) named Oedo Onsen Monogatari Hot Springs if you’re not going to go to any onsens anywhere else in Japan.
    Rappongi Hills – Didn’t get to do much here but there’s a must-go-to restaurant here in Gonpachi which was the inspiration for the Kill Bill restaurant scene.

    Hope that helps Paul!

  26. Anna Parker says:

    Naumi hotel is just around the corner from Raffles and I would really recommend it. The roof pool is awesome for views and its a small hotel so great attention! You can pop to Raffles for a Sling!! For easy eating – head to Chijmes, not local but easy. Chinatown is great fun too! Boat quay – avoid the main street and go with local knowledge, friends took us to a curry house: Punjab Da Dhaba. And finally the orchid garden (and then there is a new one opened down by Marina Bay Sands). IF you want to splurge, Equinox for supper and drinks at the Post Bar in the Fullerton

  27. Simon says:

    Hi Paul,
    You have to check out Sofitel SO in Singapore, it is in a heritage building but with modern interiors designed by Karl Largerfeld. Sent so Island also has the W Hotel, Movenpick and Capella which are all fabulous hotels. Capella was built in a former British Army building with a modern addition. Despite the hype, Marina Bay Sands is only good for the design and the view from the pool deck. The rooms are nothing special.
    Gardens by the bay are worth a visit, as are Chinatown and Little India for some great colours and food.

  28. Jessica says:

    Hi Paul,

    Although it ends on the 25th and is the day the grand champion is crowned, the overall experience isn’t necessarily going to be any more exciting than any other day. The great thing about sumo tournaments is that they are a round robin throughout the entire tournament (every sumo wrestler plays each other once). That means you get to see every wrestler fight on every day of the tournament. So it isn’t like the best of the best are fighting it out against each other on the last day necessarily. It all depends on how the draw works out and often the winner will already be decided before the final day’s play (for example, if one wrestler is already two wins up, then no one can catch him no matter what happens on the final day).

    Of course, being there on the final day is always fun but, as you suspected, tickets are much harder to come by. I’ll take a look at what’s still available and send you an email. :)

  29. Wilbur Su says:

    Hi Paul,

    If you want to see a mosque in Singapore, the Sultan Mosque is the one to see. It is in the Kampong Glam neighborhood.

    Sri Mariamman Temple is in Chinatown, and it is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple.

    Thian Hock Keng is the oldest Hokkien temple in Singapore. It is close to Sri Mariamman Temple.

    The Armenian Church is Singapore’s oldest Christian church. It is near Fort Canning Park off of Hill Street.

    St. Andrew’s Cathedral is the Singapore’s largest cathedral and it is near the Armenian Church.

  30. Fumi says:

    As Al and Isao said in their previous comments,I also Yanaka area.Since the area is at Nippori station
    where super limited express to Narita Airport stops,so it is convinient.http://bit.ly/1CbwQRL

    And at the opposite side of the station,you can find Fabric Town.Maybe male guys arent interested in textile products,but the site is popular area for women who are intrigued by fancywork.
    http://bit.ly/1CbxqPH

  31. Lash says:

    Hi Paul,

    Sounds like an exciting trip next week! Great you get to visit 2 new cities that are both unique and fascinating.

    I lived in Kyoto, Japan for 6 years, but I didn’t spend much time in Tokyo, so I dont’ have many recommendations.

    One very off-beat thing I can highly recommend if you’re in Tokyo over the weekend is to head to Yoyogi Park on Sunday morning/afternoon to see the dozens of insanely dressed local youth bands – everything from Goth to Heavy Metal to PUnk – all done at 110% full tilt. It will blow your mind.

    As for Singapore, my favorite city in the world, I’ve written many posts about best places to go & things to do there. If you’ve got time, take a read.

    For quick recommendations, I would highly recommend visiting Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Have their amazing buffet lunch in the lobby. Visit Sky Bar on the roof for sunset cocktails and insane views over the city and infinity pool. Just nearby are the fascinating Super Trees, complete with an elevated walkway – crazy views of the city from there.

    Enjoy my favorite city! Will be excited to hear what you think, what you see and do there.

    cheers, Lash

  32. Ronaldo says:

    Bonjour Paul,

    You should try
    Hainanese chicken rice (Sergeant inside Wisma atrium shopping mall food court – amazing!!)
    bak qwa (pork jerky) at Lim Chee Guan (always a long line up)
    Traditional Singaporean breakfast at Ya kun Kaya Toast To order : soft boiled eggs (eaten with a small amount of dark soy sauce and white pepper. Mix it and slurp them down) & kaya toasts with tea or coffee. (Kaya is a coconut jam)

    Bring an umbrella, always rain once during the day.

    Enjoy Singapore!
    Ronado

  33. Paul Johnson says:

    So many great suggestions, I’m struggling to keep up! :)

    Thank you everyone… I’m reading each and every one, and taking it all on board. Of course, I won’t be able to do everything on such a brief visit, but I will be looking to do as much as possible and all this fantastic feedback is really useful in helping me devise some kind of plan.

    Thank you.

  34. Khairul says:

    In Tokyo, try experience Shinjuku train station by going to all platforms during peak hour and read Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimmage (Chapter 19) on what to expect.

    Try to experience a bit of Lost in Translation by going to the place where Bill Murray had night cap before turning in at Park Hyatt Tokyo Hotel, near the Tokyo Government Building.

    Don’t plan where to eat, just go where it looks interesting and eat. Most food places are good there, even the one by the street

  35. Diana says:

    Hi Paul,
    Enjoy your trip to Japan and Singapore. We stayed at the ANA Intercontinental and loved it. I can also recommend the Business Lounge and the staff are amazing and can help you book restaurants and shows etc. I can also recommend Ruby Jack’s Restaurant if you like beef and it is only five minute walk from the ANA Intercontinental.
    Diana

  36. I’m sure you’ve alread booked your accommodations but in Singapore the Grand Hyatt is really excellent. Food, location and rooms all great. Had a drink at the Raffles and it’s something I highly recommend. Looking forad to reading about your travels to the two great Asian cities. Remember no gum chewing in Singapore!

  37. Denise says:

    The underground system is very good but familiarizing yourself with it is a challenge. Make a list of places you want to visit and try to learn the lines that go there. Many Japanese know English, however, those who don’t are too embarrassed to admit it and will pass you by. Don’t be offended. Just keep asking until you get someone who speaks the language. They’ll be very helpful.

  38. Terry Trucco says:

    What constantly impressed me when I lived in Tokyo, which admittedly was a while back, was the city’s modernity. Tokyo was the first city I ever lived in that wasn’t Western, but it felt a lot more contemporary and fearlessly modern than either London or New York did at the time. It’s been battered by deflation and other difficulties over the years, but I’ll bet it’s still forward looking, and it’s exciting to be in the midst of that kind of environment.

  39. Mirajill says:

    Hi, Tokyo is a great place to be at. Sadly we are moving out to Hiroshima this weekend.
    About ANA air, I would say it’s not that bad and expect no delay in flight unless if it’s really an emergency. For the subway lines if you see yamanote line it could get you around Tokyo quickly. You won’t have to worry about the train because. They arrive every 5-10mins,they are color coded even the signs around the train stations,they have English written below Japanese signs. And workers can somehow speak in English especially younger ones. Maybe the only thing that would take time is getting yourself a ticket. I would like to recommend you to get a pasmo card which is reload able (you can have the limited edition Tokyo card as a souvenir) it’s available online. It’s gonna cost you extra 1000yen for the card and 1000 or more to reload it. But it’s very convenient. About the people on the train usually ikebokuro,Shinjuku,shibuya have the most people. And the time, around 7-9am since workers and students are going to work it’s a bit difficult to get in as well as 4-6pm. And always stay on the left lane.

    Shinjuku-love town
    It’s best visited at night, you can go to kabukicho and there are a lot of restaurants to try please don’t ever follow people who would suddenly talk to you especially Nigerians or even English speaking Japanese to their restaurants,mind you japan is safe but sometimes precaution is always good this regards in every places you will visit in Tokyo. Because in the news these people would over charge and beat customers if they don’t pay. It’s better if you see a restaurant full of people and ofcourse open restaurants don’t worry most have pictures and prices posted outside. Kabukicho is like the red light district you will see diffrent people and their own style of entertainment even host. But there is one place called the robot bar it’s a nice place to see. Train is till 12midnight by the way.

    Shinokubo- Korean town, it’s about 15mins walk to Shinjuku it’s a small Korean place where you can try Korean foods in japan.

    Harajuku teen town – for Japanese it’s actually a town for teens, but you have to visit it here you can hit two birds in one stone, the meji shrine is a must see where you will see old style sake and a unexpected quiet and peaceful place in the heart of the city. It’s a temple and you have to walk quite a bit In a relaxing environment before you get there. And you can buy a wooden plate to write a wish,they have instructions in English on how to pray. It’s behind the train station. And ofcourse Takeshita street a long lane if Japanese stores for teens and you will find the biggest daiso shop(100yen shop) you can buy souvenirs here also. And their super sweet crepe on the street. I know your here to experience Japanese food but I just want you to know that they have 1000yen unlimited pasta and pizza on the same street 1350 if you will have unlimited drinks.

    Akihabara- the electric town,here aside from being the infamous electric city it’s also famous for anime fans there is one building right after you get down the station called the radio hall 7floors of toys and costumes,and many maid cafés along the way. And you can visit yodobashi building is a good place to check out latest electric goods. And also there is a famous mabodofu shop(tofu shop in akihabara) you can search on how to get there coz you have to walk a but from the station. And wait a bit coz there’s always a line. Most of the shops in japan have like a vending machine where you would pay and choose your food then you will give the ticket to the worker. Water and tea is usually free. Try to visit akihabara in the afternoon and wait for it to get a bit dark where you will see the electric city’s beauty. Sky tree is also near so you can see Tokyo from top view.

    Shibuya-shopping town- shopping and sightseeing. Here you will see the famous hachiko right at the train station. The dog who waited for his owner even tho he died,he has a statue. And an old style train. You will also walk the pedestrian lane which is shown in most Hollywood movies such as wolverine and Tokyo drift and resident evil famous for it’s 5000 people walking on it everyday. It’s always good to walk around where you will see tons of shops and restaurants and shibuya 109 the building where you will see the gyaru style women (circle lens and false lashes) try to visit again before night time and you will see it’s also beautiful at night. Again don’t follow Nigerians or anyone trying to pull you even at day time. They are everywhere.

    Asakusa- the holy town. Infamous for it’s temple with many shops and people. Here aside from praying and having yourself get smoked (to remove bad omen according to Japanese) you can try a lot of street foods. For 100-300 yen just buy 100yen drink at any vending machine shops believe me you can have your stomach full because of trying out each dish on every stall. Don’t forget to try okonomiyaki and the round soy sauce dipped bread. It’s been a snack for hundreds of years.

    Ueno- street food/vendor town (for me) here you will find a street where American and Chinese goods are sold,and street foods like ramen,crab,kebab,yakisoba. It’s good to visit it in the afternoon also.

    Ikebokuro-(town where other prefecture meets) it’s the nearest town in Tokyo to other prefecture so you won’t be surprised if there are many people because the station connects to near by prefectures. It’s called the sunshine town,.you can visit the aquarium,namja town(anime food street)jworld (anime world) quite pricey entrance fee tho from 850-2900yen.

    Ginza-the upperclass town. Here you will see high end shops,restaurants and izakaya(drinking places) and bars.

    Rappongi- westernised town. You will see rappongi hills. And I don’t know if they still have the illumination lights display. I hope they do so you will see it.

    Odaiba- here you will see gundam,rainbow bridge and Statue of Liberty. They also have an aquarium. If you ride the train during the day it’s like a city tour already.

    hole in the wall restaurants are great just look at the price outside restaurants but try the 100yen sushi shops and 500yen tonkatsu and udon shops. They taste good and good price. For cafés you can try Tully’s and dtour. Coffee prices range from 300-500yen. Cakes from 200-400yen. Also check out their seven elevens where you can find a lot of to go Japanese foods like onigiri. Enjoy your trip.

  40. Erica Brooks says:

    Visit Meiji Shrine. Its offers a great atmosphere and an opportunity to have a close look at Tokyo customs. Located in Harajuku this shrine is a reflection of local people’s lifestyle. You have such a big list of places now; do tell us your experience.

  41. Diane Thomas says:

    My son is heading to Tokyo next week and no doubt will come back with some awesome ideas, but too late! It sounds an amazing city – enjoy!

    Singapore can feel a little sterile at times but in the nicest way possible. After many other Asian destinations the order, cleanliness and pristine venues can seem a little strange, but after awhile you come to appreciate the multi-cultural diversity, Colonial,Indian, Malay and Chinese influences when it comes to dining, architecture and people. You will be spoiled for dining choices, theatre, bars, sights and hotel options, such a vast range – hawker stall eating is terrific, Bugis Street as good options as well as the old-fashioned Newton Circus. The cafes and restaurants along Boat Quay and Clarke Quay are lovely, especially a Vietnamese one, complete with colourful lanterns, happy hour cocktails and terrific Vietnamese food. Ku De Ta at Marina Bay Sands has awesome views, but the food is slightly underwhelming. Pool is amazing and the hotel is outstanding…stayed there last year and with the neihbouring Sky Garden is highly recommended.

    The Fullerton Hotel has nice high tea and the Marina Bay Sands mall also has some pleasant cafes as well as the lovely stores…TWG Tea House has sensational high tea, and the Louis Vuitton flagship store/island worth a look.

    Taxis are cheap, train system excellent, so getting to further away spots like Jurrong Bird Park and the Zoo are easy, the zoo breakfast fun, as well as the night safari.

    Changi airport has several terminals….Singapore Airlines main one is wonderful, other smaller ones a bit tired now.

    Have fun in Singapore – relaxing, friendly and an easy-to-enjoy destination!! Oh, and didn’t mention the shopping, also relaxing and fun, great for ladies wear, pewter, Indian in Little India and Arab Street woth exploring, but beware of fleas in carpet stores!!!!

  42. phee says:

    Singapore:
    Food:
    Jaan is one of the best restaurants in SG. Julien Royer is a great chef doing great things plus he’s a nice guy
    Bacchanalia does excellent food & cocktails & is housed in a masonic temple (it still operates just on a differnt floor)
    Burnt Ends for interesting BBQ / Charr food
    Esquina for tapas and causal dining

    Local food: so many hawker centres with great dishes but stand out local restaurants are Kok Sen in Keong Saik Road. have the fish head soup with bittergourd. Another is an indian restaurant in little india called Gandhi’s.

    Drinks:
    Beer – go to Level 33 at MBFC tower 1. (Marina Bay financial centre) the bar is located on the 33rd floor and their tanks are on the same floor too. they craned them up the outside of the building. the brewer is from Munich and the beer is sensational as well as the view.

    Cocktails
    skip Raffles… the singapore sling i have heard is premix and there are much better places to go in such a short time frame such as:
    Bar Stories (Arab st)
    24 Hong Kong St
    Jigger & Pony
    and for a really interesting experience The Library if you can find it, and if you know the password. it’s a hidden bar.

    the Grand Hyatt in orchard road has had an amazing fit out. the conference rooms are incredible and not like any conference facilities around most hotels in most cities. definitely worth looking at. Chef Soren Lascelles there is a good contact

    Singapore art museum has some wonderful exhibitions as does Singapore museum near Fort Canning park. Beautiful colonial buildings. singapore museum currently has an exhibition on the history of SG so it could be good for a visit.
    Also near by is one of the first churches built in SG. about 5 mins walking distance.
    the gardens are definitely worth a visit, but at night – that is when they become most interesting with the structures lighting up as if they are a moon scape.
    if you enjoy orchids would suggest a visit to the orchid garden near holland park.
    there are so many more places to go… but not in 2 days :-) enjoy!

  43. Paul, I love Singapore and can’t get enough of it. We always stay at Novotel Clarke Quay, great location between the Marina and Fort Canning Park. If you get a premier room request a room overlooking the bay, it includes breakfast, snacks, happy hour drinks each evening and more. Buddha Tooth Relic temple, Sentosa, Universal Studio, the Crane show at Sentosa, Gardens by the Bay, try Chilli Crab, a Singapore Sling at Raffles, Chinatown, the Night Safari and so much more I could recommend. Transport is very easy to use and cost effective, even taxis if time is precious.

  44. Paul Johnson says:

    Thank you again, everyone… so much great information to take on board that it’s all a little overwhelming! But in a good way… :)

  45. Kozue says:

    Hi, Paul! If it is not too late, how about the winter peony garden at Toshogu Shrine in Ueno, Tokyo? Peony flowers are displayed in the calm, beautiful Japanese garden with being surrounded by traditional straw fences against snow.
    It’s open only in this season – for less than 2 months. The shrine is just next to other tourist attractions in Ueno such as giant pandas in the zoo, so you’ll enjoy them on the way, too.
    It will be a special memory for this particular travel of you!

  46. Erin says:

    What a great trip! I have several Tokyo recommendations:
    1. Sensoji temple (Tokyo’s largest temple) – before going inside the temple, try some food from the yatai (food stalls) near the temple entrance (I recommend the monjayaki/okonomiyaki)
    2. Go to a depachika- depachika are department store food basements, they sell beautiful food for souvenirs or picnics. I recommend Shinjuku Isetan near Shinjuku Station
    3. Speaking of picnic – have a picnic in Shinjuku Gyoen Garden (about a ten minute walk from Shinjuku Station), there are French, English, and Japanese gardens with views of downtown Shinjuku.
    4. Roppongi Hills Mori Tower observation deck has some of the best views of the city. Go at sunset to see the skyline before and after dark.
    5. Ippudo ramen in Roppongi is hard to beat
    6. Pintokona in Roppongi is a beautiful conveyor belt sushi restaurant

    Let me know if you’d like more recommendations. Tokyo is a wonderful city. Enjoy!

  47. Erin says:

    What a great trip! Here are some Tokyo recs:

    1. Sensoji Temple (Tokyo’s largest Buddhist temple) – try the monjayaki/okonomiyaki (a sort of savory pancake) from the yatai (food stalls) near the entrance of the temple.
    2. Depachika – depachika are department store food basements. They are a great place to buy beautiful food souvenirs and picnic fare. I recommend Shinjuku Isetan near Shinjuku Station.
    3. Shinjuku Gyoen – speaking of picnics, Shinjuku Gyoen is a beautiful park for a picnic. There are French, Japanese, and English gardens with views of downtown Shinjuku.
    4. Roppongi Hills Mori Tower observation deck has some of the best views of the city. Go at sunset to see Tokyo before and after dark. Admission includes entrance into the Mori Art Museum (modern art exhibits).
    5. Ippudo Ramen in Roppongi is hard to beat. Try the tonkotsu ramen (pork bone broth).
    6. Pintokona is a beautiful conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Roppongi.

    Tokyo is a wonderful city. Enjoy!

  48. I’m going to throw in my one not to miss bar in Tokyo which is Mistral Bleu Train Bar in Roppongi. It is an old converted train car sandwiched into an alley. Ray the bartender has a great music collection and once you’ve been, you’re a regular.

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