Alternative Visa Runs from Phuket
Trip Done: Apr 2004
Singapore is an easy city break from Phuket. It is a 1 hour 20 min flight and there are usually plenty of good deals. You can easily make your own arrangements but I booked a package deal. A 3 day/2 night trip including flights and hotel cost me 7000 baht. The package included an optional city tour that I skipped.
Singapore has a Thai consulate that is now reckoned to be the best in the region for getting multi-entry non-immigrant visas. However, that was not the purpose of my trip. I was just doing my normal leaving Thailand and returning for another 90-day stamp so I can't give any details about the Thai Consulate.
Now that Penang has stopped doing multi-entry visas, I may go for my next one in Singapore (or maybe it will finally be time to sort out that extension of stay).
My package included two nights at the reasonably centrally located Oxford Hotel. It was a fairly standard mid-range hotel. Nothing special but comfortable enough.
Now I have to say that I find short visits to big cities to generally be unsatisfying experiences. You hardly get time to orient yourself and get a feel for the place before it is time to go. Cities are naturally less personal than smaller locations. You just don't get to meet people in the same way.
Many people tell me how much they love Bangkok and what a great place it is to visit. I have been for several short visits to Bangkok and have always found it to be a dirty, grimy city with very little appeal. It is not that I am not a city person. I just think it takes time to know and love a city and for me it just doesn't happen on short trips.
So what about Singapore? Well you immediately get the feel that it is an advanced western style city. It is strikingly clean. There are many high-rise buildings and an efficient public transport system including underground train lines. The island is actually not much bigger than Phuket but has a population of 4.5 million.
And what are the attractions of Singapore? Mostly shopping. Singapore is considerably more expensive than Thailand for most things. However, you can find many things in Singapore that are not easy to find in Phuket.
Top range electronic goods for one. There are a couple of malls devoted entirely to electronic goods. A paradise for gadget freaks. Also designer label clothes, accessories, etc. You are not going to get bargains compared to Thai prices but you may find things you can't find here. On my shopping list were books, software and a few unusual food items.
The main shopping strip is Orchard Road where mall after mall will exhaust even the hardiest shopaholic. I thought the shopping malls around Chinatown offered a bit more character and better prices.
Apart from shopping? Well one of the popular tourist drop offs is to have a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel. Yes, I have to admit I did it. This famous cocktail (gin, cherry brandy, Cointreau, Benedictine, grenadine, pineapple juice, fresh lemon juice & angostura bitters) was invented at the Raffles Hotel. It cost around 400 baht - a nice cocktail but really, it is the fine surroundings of this old colonial hotel that you enjoy.
I also went across to Sentosa Island. There are a couple of reasonable beaches there and a good selection of bars and restaurants. There is also an impressive aquarium and dolphin show at Underwater World. It makes Phuket Aquarium at Cape Panwa look a little pathetic.
The two main nightlife areas seem to be Chinatown and The Quay. There are plenty of lively and funky looking bars. However, the drinks are distinctly expensive. I don't really enjoy drinking when I am on my own so I just had a wonder round and a quick couple of beers. As long as you bring plenty of money, you will not run short of evening venues.
There are apparently a number of naughty nightlife venues, Geylang being the most renowned. I, of course, did not check these out. I am told that there are a lot of Thai girls working there. Prostitution is legal in Singapore but the Thai girls are working illegally as they are all on tourist visas. I have heard a few guys in Patong say - 'what is the point of going to Singapore to pay twice as much to shag a Thai girl.'
Overall Singapore leaves me feeling a little cold. It is nice, clean, developed, efficient - to put it another way, a bit boring.