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China or Singapore?

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#1 Cerridwen

Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:45 AM

China or Singapore.  Which would you choose and why?

Things to consider include:

1. Only have 7 or 8 days.

2. Would be travelling with 3 young adults aged 17 to 22.

3. Young adults have a fairly limited budget and 2 of them have never been overseas before.

4. Could consider somewhere else besides China or Singapore but at this point that is where they want to go.

5. If you suggest elsewhere, not interested in Thailand or Bali.

ETA - if Singapore the young adults would have to get around and amuse themselves for 3 of those days.

Edited by Cerridwen, 12 October 2019 - 11:46 AM.

#2 onetrick

Posted 12 October 2019 - 11:51 AM

Singapore, for sure :) it's easy to get around, only need to base yourself in one place. Nice and clean. It is much more expensive (unless we just didnt find the right places to eat!), but I think that's ok for a short trip.
China I enjoyed, but my favourite is Xi'an (terracotta warriors) and it's not worth going just there- I dont imagine you could go to China without seeing the great wall! Shanghai was brilliant, too :) but none of those places are near each other and travel between us time and money... so for that reason alone, I'd pick Singapore.

Either way, it will be a great trip thougg!!

#3 dadwasathome

Posted 12 October 2019 - 12:04 PM

The issue for Singapore will be budget - accom is really expensive.

#4 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 12 October 2019 - 12:04 PM

I’d pick Singapore. DH has been to China a bit and says it’s a hard place to travel around. No one speaks English, lots of different customs and crowds, unfamiliar food, not ideal for first time travellers, you need a tour guide really to make the most of the 7 days according to him.
Singapore is easy to get around and English is everywhere, it’s a very soft introduction to Asia. It’s expensive, but you can save money by finding your own way around, no tour guides needed. And there are cheap and even free things to do as well. And malaysia, right next door, is very cheap, if you want to try that too.

#5 dadwasathome

Posted 12 October 2019 - 12:08 PM

I’d been thinking Malaysia as well, although prices have been going up there to.
Splurge on accom in KL rather than Singapore.

#6 No Drama Please

Posted 12 October 2019 - 12:22 PM

I’d do Singapore and Malaysia. You can go up to Singapore first then fly direct to quite a few places from there; Penang, Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu etc.

Japan is awesome but more $$ though.

#7 Apageintime

Posted 12 October 2019 - 12:27 PM

I think Singapore will be too expensive.

Vietnam is lovely and cheap with heaps to do.

#8 Kiwi Bicycle

Posted 12 October 2019 - 12:55 PM

My pick would be Malaysia or Vietnam. Malaysia, the people are more relaxed, won't hassle you as much if you are browsing at stalls etc (unlike Thailand) and most people in the cities speak a bit of English. Vietnam is as equally as cheap, you might get followed a bit by people selling stuff ( you stop at a roadside lookout with no one there and suddenly 2 motorbikes with people selling stuff appear), English not as widely spoken but the history snd scerery is just amazing.

#9 can'tstayaway

Posted 12 October 2019 - 01:16 PM


Because (has been mentioned above):
* You’ve only got limited time. The direct flight to Singapore is easy to cope with, the extra time to Shanghai/Beijing/Guangzhou I find to just push me past comfortable.  The distances within China are huge and time has to be allowed for internal travel eating into your 6/7 days.

* First overseas trip for 2 of the travellers. Singapore is easy to navigate on public transport and the taxis are cheap too. Lots of signs are in English and most people can communicate in English.

* It’s clean and not such a culture shock for first time travellers

*  It’s such a melting pot of cultures so you get to experience more in one location.

*  Accommodation can be expensive but there are great deals to be found too. It goes against logic, but I’d look for a decent hotel with a good breakfast buffet included. 3 young adults can probably share one room (double plus a rollaway). It allows something familiar for one meal a day and allows hungry people to really fill up.

*  Food - Singapore has super expensive places but if you steer away from the high end, it also has some really cheap offerings. Look to where the locals eat. I remember a Hawker centre a local took me to where the most delicious chicken rice cost approx $4.60AUD.  And I couldn’t eat it all!  A freshly pressed juice cost approx $0.80AUD.  Little India has amazing curries. There’s a place out near the airport that’s famous for authentic Thai food. It’s where a lot of domestic staff go on their day off.

*  it’s clean. I’m fussy when eating street food when travelling. Singapore is one of the few places I don’t worry about eating street food.

*  History - the colonial heritage means there is a lot of history that seems more relatable to those with a western upbringing. You can go in the tunnels that the British used in WWII and the former Ford Factory where the Brits officially surrendered to Japan.  

*  plenty to do in a small area - The Art Science museum often have interesting displays. Even if I’m not buying, window shopping is interesting compared to Australia. I’m not into it but I’ve been told the arcades and gaming is big.

#10 lizzzard

Posted 12 October 2019 - 01:48 PM

Excellent advice from CSA. I wouldn't have said Singapore but her points are very compelling (are you sure you don't work for the Singapore Tourism Association CSA? :p)

#11 Ellie bean

Posted 12 October 2019 - 01:53 PM

I think China would be a huge shock for first time travellers, I’d go to Singapore or somewhere similar

#12 can'tstayaway

Posted 12 October 2019 - 02:32 PM

View Postlizzzard, on 12 October 2019 - 01:48 PM, said:

Excellent advice from CSA. I wouldn't have said Singapore but her points are very compelling (are you sure you don't work for the Singapore Tourism Association CSA? :p)
ROFL Maybe I should apply for a job with them. I love visiting the place but I could not live there.

The government is too restrictive for my liking. I like the hyper efficiency (how easy to Changi to transit through!) and the benefits like good hygiene standards but they are quite discriminatory as well. I have a gay friend from Singapore who’s very sad that he can’t safely live in his home country with his partner. But that’s a whole separate topic.

#13 kidwrangler

Posted 12 October 2019 - 03:04 PM

I'm another vote for Singapore. It is a safe place to visit and there is a lot of free / low cost activities that can be easily accessed via public transport.

The language barrier is very low. The further you go out, the less English spoken, but we found all the locals wonderfully helpful even when not in the city. In the city much of the signage is dual language.

It is a great way to enjoy a very different culture but still feel comfortable. You can enjoy a touristy holiday, a cultural holiday, an historical holiday or a nature based holiday all within close vicinity.

#14 ghost_cat

Posted 12 October 2019 - 03:21 PM

You will need a visa for China, but not Singapore.  A tourist visa is around $110, but you may also have additional costs if you don't have any passport-sized photos to hand, or for registered post each way.

#15 Coffeegirl

Posted 12 October 2019 - 03:31 PM

I’d be going to Singapore before China with first time travellers.  Especially if they have to entertain themselves for a couple days.    
Night zoo, hawkers markets, Sentosa Island.   All things they can do on their own

#16 Cerridwen

Posted 12 October 2019 - 03:52 PM

Really helpful everyone. Thank you.

I have a three day conference to attend in Singapore early next year and was going to go by myself. Tossing around ideas to book a separate holiday with the three young adults, or combine my trip to Singapore with a short holiday include them.

So far looks like Singapore is the winner.

#17 melanieb530

Posted 12 October 2019 - 07:32 PM

Singapore for sure! Safe, great public transport, lots of things to do and see within close proximity and everyone speaks English well.

#18 Kiwi Bicycle

Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:36 PM

Look Singapore looks safe because the media is blocked from reporting on crime until after a person is sentenced. However it's as safe as Melbourne and Sydney. Just don't walk alone in dark areas etc. Pretty bad stuff happens thre, you just don't know about it...

#19 lizzzard

Posted 13 October 2019 - 02:12 PM

View Postcan, on 12 October 2019 - 02:32 PM, said:

ROFL Maybe I should apply for a job with them. I love visiting the place but I could not live there.

The government is too restrictive for my liking. I like the hyper efficiency (how easy to Changi to transit through!) and the benefits like good hygiene standards but they are quite discriminatory as well. I have a gay friend from Singapore who’s very sad that he can’t safely live in his home country with his partner. But that’s a whole separate topic.

You’re right...there is a ‘darker’ side to Singapore that wouldn’t necessarily be apparent as a visitor...and sometimes benefits visitors- the cleanliness, reliability and relative simplicity. Singapore isn’t ‘messy’ because it is an extremely controlled environment which can be a little disturbing if you’ve been raised with western individualism. I find the culture fascinating though. I am currently working with a client there and it has been (still is) a massive learning curve.

#20 The 7 Dwarfs

Posted 13 October 2019 - 09:40 PM

Singapore is my favourite SEA country, although I have not been to China. I did look at going earlier this year and the visa was one of the things that swayed me not to. 2 of my daughters are heading over there for a couple of nights at Christmas time with a grandparent.

For young people who've never traveled overseas, Singapore would be much easier as there isn't the language barrier. It's also very easy to get around.

It is not a cheap place to visit though compared to other close by countries. It's on par with here, somethings a bit cheaper, somethings more expensive. Sentosa Island is worth while visiting, depending on budget.

#21 darcswan

Posted 13 October 2019 - 10:33 PM

China is pretty full on for first time travellers, though awesome.

I love Singapore, but keep in mind its like an Asian Canberra and you might want a side trip to Malaysia. That said, there are loads of things to do - with gardens by the bay top of my list :)

Some singapore tips:

Go to hawker centres for food - $3.50 for most plates (don't get the 'upsize' plate). Chicken rice, duck noodles, pork wonton soup.. mmm.. Singapore food is the highlight

My favourite budget hotel is Hotel G at ~$150 p/n

Download Grab - the local uber, very cheap to taxi everywhere (although public transport is also cheap and reliable)

Grab a tourist sim - its like $14 for loads of data

Enjoy planning!

#22 antiq

Posted 14 October 2019 - 05:03 AM

Definitely go for Singapore, food is cheap.  You can find cheaper hotel style of accommodation places like Chinatown or Little India or in a less central position.  Transport is easy and cheap and can see plenty just by walking.
Food in hawker centres is amazing, can have breakfast under $3, e.g Indian roti prata and others.

We like China but like others said transport is a little harder, might need a tour guide/ driver for a day or two.  Further to go from Singapore.  Kuala Lumpur will be a good side trip from S'pore.

#23 threeinnyc

Posted 14 October 2019 - 05:17 AM

We used to live as expats in China, we did little bit traveling around (although still haven't been to Xi'an but someday!) I think China will offer more cultural experience for the young adults than Singapore (we've been to SG many times also).

#24 Gumbette

Posted 14 October 2019 - 09:16 AM

I've travelled to China 4 times now.  Singapore twice.  I would definitely pick Singapore.  Yes accommodation is expensive, but so is China now if you want somewhere clean.  As PP suggested there more to do in China though.  Not sure how I would fill 8 days in Singapore.

#25 can'tstayaway

Posted 14 October 2019 - 05:40 PM


Not sure how I would fill 8 days in Singapore.
Challenge accepted :)

Day 1 - if you’ve got a day time flight, chill out at hotel, have a light dinner and sleep. If you’ve had a night flight, drop bags at hotel and go for a walk to get your bearings. Head to a shopping centre for air con as the day heats up and have lunch at one of the many, many yummy restaurants. Go back to the hotel to check in, unpack,  have a swim, dinner and early bed.

Day 2 - have a lazy breakfast buffet before going to see Marina Bay Sands. Check out the shops (crazy expensive but interesting) and the Art Science Museum. Have lunch at one of the many eateries that caters to all sorts of budgets. If you’re lucky, it would have rained and cooled down before walking over to the Gardens by the Bay. Head back to MBS and go to the Sky Deck to watch the sunset. View the incredible engineering feat of land reclamation’. If the budget allows, dinner at one of the awesome restaurants and watch the light show.

Day 3 - lazy buffet breakfast again. Then head over to Fort Canning. Spend hours wandering around and absorbing the history of the place. Walk/Taxi/Uber down to Orchard Rd and to have a late lunch/early dinner and check out the insane amount of retail on that road. It where there are supposed to be some good arcades and what nots too.

Day 4 - after breakfast go on a temple trail.  There are a number of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian temples around the island. I am drawn to the Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery. There’s also one with a Buddha tooth relic if that’s your thing.  Plan to be at the Maxwell St Hawker market for lunch (Which is near the tooth relic temple). It used to be frequented by locals and less touristy than Newton Circus but after some international interest in some of the stalls, it’s become more popular. The Hainanese Chicken Rice at one of the stalks was made famous by Anthony Bourdain. There are devotees who believe the one a few stalls up is better. Food and eating out is a national sport so you’ll get passionate views if you ask a local lol.  Then walk over to Chinatown and check it out.  Go to Clarke Quay for dinner and check out the night life. It’s more of an expat area and bustling at night.

Day 5 - If they’re into animals, consider a breakfast at the zoo or a night safari dinner. I’ve not done it myself but have considered taking my kids. We’ve always just run out of time. I find the day time at the zoo too hot and filled with tourists to be pleasant. With the rest of the day, check out Little India and the Hi Di temples, mosques and amazing food stalls. You’ll find some of the best rotis there. It’s a great snack and my favourite is filled with a curried potato and vibrant fresh chutney. The night life here is buzzing and more locals than tourists. I was taken to a Spanish bar here about a year ago which had an great Spanish wine list and delicious tapas. It was so different to the day time hours.

Day 6 and 7 - go stay at Sentosa and explore Universal Studios and the Adbenture Park if that’s their thing.

Day 8 - time to pack, have last favourite meal and go back to the airport.

That’s an example of 8 days in Singapore and barely scratching the surface.

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