Singapore might not seem like a big place — only 276 square miles, the entire Southeast Asian country would fit more than twice in just the city of Los Angeles — but when you are a first-time traveler to the eponymous capital city, Singapore feels maze-like and never-ending. Many prospective travelers can even feel overwhelmed just preparing an itinerary from home; there are so many distinct neighborhoods and districts, it can be difficult to narrow the choices to one base of operations for the duration of the trip.
Fortunately, Singapore is becoming one of the most desirable cities in the world: It is a green city with a forward-thinking government and excellent cuisine — what more could you want? These reasons and more have made Singapore’s American expat community one of the fastest growing around the globe. Located in virtually every neighborhood and district, expats with friendly faces and familiar tongues welcome travelers of all shapes and sizes to Singapore City, enthusiastically guiding them to the very best sights. If you are preparing for a trip to Singapore, you may want to investigate these neighborhoods to find helpful expats looking to show you a good time.
1. Orchard Road District
Orchard Road is like the Times Square of Singapore — bustling, busy, and absolutely irresistible. Chock full of shopping, dining, and entertainment venues, Orchard Road is an adult’s playground on a massive scale. Encompassing one square mile, the district is a real-life daydream for those who love cosmopolitan pleasures.
Expats and travelers who come from big cities like Los Angeles and New York City may feel more comfortable dwelling amidst the sometimes crazy atmosphere of Orchard Road, but those who can successfully survive the activity will reap many benefits. Just outside are the country’s best stores and restaurants, and cultural spots like theaters and clubs aren’t far either. Still, if you are coming to Singapore for rest and relaxation, you probably won’t find much here.
2. Tanglin District
Tanglin is a highly respected area of Singapore City because it contains most of the world’s embassies in Singapore. For the sake of simplicity, most foreign diplomats and ambassadors live in houses and condominiums within Tanglin, so if you choose to hole up here, you certainly won’t be alone in your unfamiliarity with the region. Tanglin is significantly quieter than Orchard Road, but it still boasts top shopping and dining, as well as some of the highest cultural opportunities in the land, like art galleries, museums, and Singapore’s famous Botanic Gardens.
3. Holland Village
Holland Village in Singapore is reminiscent of a popular borough in another famous city: Greenwich Village in New York City. Both are notoriously bohemian and stylish, containing vintage shops and casual eateries rather than high-end fashion outlets and Michelin-rated restaurants. Holland Village does house a large and popular shopping center, but you’ll likely see more of unique Singaporean culture in this neighborhood than in the previous two. Many expats come to Singapore specifically to enjoy this low-key vibe, so you’ll likely find plenty of friends to show you around.
4. Central Bukit Timah
Residential areas on the outskirts of downtown, like those in Central Bukit Timah, offer a suburban feel ideal for families or travelers who like the city, just not all the time. Just minutes from cultural areas like Holland Village and Orchard Road, travelers who hole up in Central Bukit Timah have access to all the excellent shopping and nightlife while they are surrounded comfortably by lush parks. You might say it feels like a home away from home, which is why so many expats flock to this neighborhood of Singapore. In addition, the region is close to the international airport, so you can easily reach your rental without help after you fly into Singapore.
If Central Bukit Timah is like the suburbs, then the Woodlands is more like the small city that abuts the larger one. The neighborhood boasts huge, inexpensive properties — bought by expats and rented by visitors — as well as the best American school in the nation, the Singapore American School. With the wealth of Americans living in this neighborhood, many visitors forget they’re outside their homeland — which might be the perfect balance between traveling the world and having the comforts of home.
6. Sentosa Island
Inarguably the most exclusive area in Singapore, Sentosa Island truly takes travelers away from it all. Homes and condos in this opulent district overlook the pristine seas, allowing for stunning views morning, noon, and night. Vacationers who travel for the promise of luxury will not be disappointed here: A renowned golf course, the country’s largest mall, and other grand attractions on Sentosa Island provide unending pleasure to visitors and inhabitants alike.
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